Time Nears for Israel to Fish or Cut Bait

President Obama would of course prefer that an Israeli decision on attacking Iran not coincide with the American people’s decision on re-electing him, but Israel may be running out of time.

From “Nuclear Report On Iran Puts Israel in a Box,” Jodi Rudoren and David E. Sanger, NYT:

“But the agency’s report has also put Israel in a corner, documenting that Iran is close to crossing what Israel has long said is its red line:  the capability to produce nuclear weapons in a location invulnerable to Israeli attack.  With the report that the country has already installed 2,000 centrifuges inside a virtually impenetrable underground laboratory, and that it has ramped up production of nuclear fuel, officials and experts here say the conclusions may force Israel to strike Iran or concede it is not prepared to act on its own.

“Whether that ultimately leads to a change in strategy — or a unilateral attack — is something that even Israel’s inner circle cannot yet agree on, despite what seems to be a consensus that Iran’s program may soon be beyond the reach of Israel’s military capability.

“Military professionals concede the potential effectiveness of an Israeli strike is decreasing as Iran moves more of its operations underground.

“Politically, Israeli leaders are concerned they will lose leverage after the November presidential election — regardless of the result — but are also worried about a pre-election strike that angers Washington, whose support would be all the more critical in its aftermath.”

This isn’t just Israeli’s problem.  Life would be a lot easier for us if Pakistan didn’t have nuclear weapons.  Life will be a lot harder for us if Iran gets them.  Plus it will set off more proliferation in the Middle East, as unstable governments like Egypt and Saudi Arabia decide they have to have nuclear weapons if Iran does.   The combination of crazy people with 7th century mentalities and 21st century weapons is horrifying.  No one wants another war, but we have no choice — Iran must be stopped.

Condi Conservatism

From “Party of Strivers,” David Brooks, NYT:

“I see what the G.O.P. is offering the engineering major from Purdue or the business major from Arizona State.  The party is offering skilled people the freedom to run their race.  I don’t see what the party is offering the waitress with two kids, or the warehouse worker whose wages have stagnated for a decade, or the factory worker whose skills are now obsolete.

“The fact is our destinies are shaped by social forces much more than the current G.O.P. is willing to admit.  The skills that enable people to flourish are not innate but constructed by circumstances.

Government does not always undermine initiative.  Some government programs, like the G.I. Bill, inflame ambition.  Others depress it.  What matters is not whether a program is public or private but its effect on character.  Todays Republicans, who see every government program as a step on the road to serfdom, are often blind to that.  They celebrate the race to success but don’t know how to give everyone access to that race.

The wisest speech departed from the prevailing story line.  It was delivered by Condoleezza Rice.  It echoed an older, less libertarian conservatism, which harkens back to Washington, Tocqueville and Lincoln.  The powerful words in her speech were not ‘I’ and ‘me’ — the heroic individual.  They were ‘we’ and ‘us’ — citizens who emerge out of and exist as participants in a great national project.

“Rice celebrated material striving but also larger national goals — the long national struggle to extend benefits and mobilize all human potential.  She subtly emphasized how our individual destinies are dependent upon the social fabric and upon public institutions like schools, just laws and our mission in the world.  She put less emphasis on commerce and more on citizenship.

Lyin’ Ryan

From “Facts Took a Beating In Ryan’s Speech,” Michael Cooper, NYT:

“But an interesting question unfolding is whether there is a tipping point at which a candidate becomes so associated with falsehoods that it becomes part of his public persona — which hampered Vice President Al Gore during his run for president in 2000, when his misstatements on the campaign trail were used to stoke the perception that he could not be trusted in general.

“In the case of Mr. Ryan’s speech, the jury is still out.  It was received rapturously by the Republican Party faithful, but his many questionable assertions ensured that much of the analysis on Thursday focused on his accuracy more than his acumen.”

I think Ryan, who was a media favorite even among those who didn’t agree with his budget and his Medicare vouchers, has hurt himself badly.  He’s perceived differently and more warily now, and it will be reflected in the reporting and punditry about him. 


How Iran Spent Its Summer Vacation

From “Report Details Progress By Iran at Nuclear Bunker,” David E. Sanger and William J. Broad, NYT:

“Iran has installed three-quarters of the nuclear centrifuges it needs to complete a site deep underground for the production of nuclear fuel….

“The report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the last to be issued before the American presidential election, lays out in detail how Iran over the summer has doubled the number of centrifuges installed deep under a mountain near Qum.  Iran has also, the report said, cleansed another site where the agency has said it suspects that the country has conducted explosive experiments that could be relevant to the production of a nuclear weapon.”

Good, But Not Good Enough

From “The filter:  How the media will measure Mitt Romney,” Jim VandeHei and John F. Harris, Politico:

“He seemed like a comfortable and accessible figure, if hardly an electric one; there was nothing distant or exotic about his performance or personal presence.  By the end, he even showed a little punch — he finished strong, even passionately, by his standards.  On the other hand, his nods to the suffering of struggling workers, such as a reference to the person who lost a $22-an-hour job and instead takes two $9-an-hour jobs to make ends meet, rang a little hollow.  The reality is that Romney regularly interacts with few such people, and is far removed from this part of the economy.

“He managed to indict Obama without coming off as mean.  He then made his case crisply for markets versus government, the essence of his political philosophy.

“One senses that talking with Romney might be a little like chatting with the boss at the company picnic — perfectly pleasant but a bit forced.  He cleared the bar on this category, but will still likely want Ryan to handle the likability account.

His policy substance was as thin as tissue paper….  Romney didn’t even get to any policy until the end of the speech.  And even then he just announced a series of aspirations…supported by almost no detail or explanation of how he would achieve these wondrous results. Very weak.

“There were no surprises in this speech, which itself is a bit of a surprise, and disappointment.  How could Romney and his writers not have even one trick up the sleeve?

“This absence highlights what may be the biggest weakness of Romney’s speech.   He is behind in this race.  It is Romney, not Obama, who needs to somehow change the dynamic in some major way, and it is hard to see how Thursday’s speech did this.

“His performance was fine, or even pretty darn good by Romney standards.  That is probably not good enough in his circumstances.”  Emphasis added.

What Mitt Did Right

From “No silver tongue, but Mitt Romney gets job done,” Jonathan Martin, Politico:

“Mitt Romney’s acceptance speech won’t find its way into any pantheon of memorable convention addresses, but the Republican accepted his party’s nomination with remarks that will help him with swing voters in two important ways.

“Facing grim polling data about his personal appeal, the usually detached Romney finally offered a glimpse of raw emotion as he discussed his late parents and spoke of his love for his own five sons. Choking up on two occasions, Romney revealed a personal side his aides have been trying to find since he began running for president more than five years ago.

“Further, the GOP standard-bearer articulated some of the most compelling lines of attack on President Barack Obama he’s yet to deliver. Romney, grasping for an edge against a history-making incumbent who scores poorly on the economy but remains well-liked, seemed to find a new implicit message for voters: You redeemed America’s promise in 2008, it felt good, but it’s OK to let him go.

“Romney doesn’t have a silver tongue. The roof of the convention hall here was never in danger of being brought down by the crowd. But he showed that he was capable of delivering a solid but not spectacular speech with the pressure on. The broad consensus among Romney watchers: about as good as the CEO-turned-governor was going to do.”   Emphasis added.

Rove Wants Akin to Swim with the Fishes

Karl Rove, meeting with donors to his Super PAC yesterday in Tampa, urged the GOP to “sink Todd Akin,” the Missouri Senate candidate who believes that women who are “legitimately” raped don’t get pregnant.

Rove also said, “If he’s mysteriously murdered, don’t look for my whereabouts.”

Akin’s office said that since the FBI is currently investigating threats against Akin (now there’s a waste of taxpayers’ money), they didn’t find Rove funny.

The Sow’s Ear Nominee

I watched Mitt’s speech with the soft bigotry of low expectations.  I thought it was overall a well-crafted speech, well-delivered, probably the best I’ve seen him.  They took their sow’s ear of a candidate, and certainly didn’t turn him into a silk purse, but they fashioned a decent pigskin one.

I still can’t stand his little tight-lipped smirk that passes for a smile.  You’d think someone who’s been running for president for five years would have fixed that by now.

I don’t think the speech changes anything, I still think President Obama will win.  When Mitt talked about his mother’s running for the Senate and wondering why women shouldn’t have power in national affairs, he left hanging the question why we shouldn’t have power over our own bodies.   He didn’t bridge the gender gap chasm.

The attack on Putin/Russia was ill-advised.  We have a sitting President who is trying every day to get more cooperation from them on issues like Iran and Syria.  Mittens wasn’t helping.

Here’s a Ready-Made Obama Ad

Before the black Tahoe is driven off the line, a ...

This picture is certainly worth a thousand words.  Paul Ryan told the convention that President Obama closed this Janesville, Wisconsin, GM plant after he promised to keep it open.  How could he have closed it when he wasn’t president on December 23, 2008?  I doubt that any of the poor workers in this photo had much of a Merry Christmas.

Photo by Bill Olmsted for The Janesville Gazette

H/T Immoral Minority

Quote of the Day

“At some point in a debate, Obama is going to turn and challenge Romney, saying, “Mitt, you have nothing new to offer. In fact, on social issues, foreign policy, taxes, spending, Medicare and everything else, you have nothing different to offer than taking us back to what George Bush proposed. That’s what got us into this mess.’ Romney has yet to answer that question. He has until the first presidential debate October 3, in Denver, to find a response.”

Alex Castellanos, “Who won and who lost in Tampa,” CNN.com.  Castellanos is a GOP consultant who worked on Mitt’s 2008 campaign.