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Can Israel Trust the U.S.


Many Americans are worried about the fallout of an Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear facilities. But, in a post at TNR, Yossi Klein Halevi, who is no warmonger, explains that Israelis ask themselves if they can trust the U.S. to honor its commitments to Israeli security and he cites a particular relevant historical precedent from May 1967.

Look for the GOP to try and demagogue the meeting between Netanyahu and Obama next Monday. But, we don't need demagoguery when such portentious and complicated issues are at stake. The worry for Israel is not that Obama may not care enough about their security, anymore than they worried about President Johnson's commitment to Israel. The worry is that the American people are so war weary, no President would feel able to come to the defense of Israel. Remember that the next time tells you about how pro-Israel George W. Bush was. Even is he was, he may have ruined the chance that any predecessor could act on Israel's behalf.

MSW Responds to


Matt Bowman has a post up at in which he chastises me for backing away from my earlier assertion that only a "fool" would accept a compromise on the HHS mandates that was promised to be reach after the election. Of course, when I made that remark originally, it was before the President announced his accommodation, so the political calculus is a bit different. The President has been spanked on the issue and, so long as certain conservative politicians and bishops do not over-reach, I think we can find a way through this to a solution that is satisfactory. But, I wish to re-assure Mr. Bowman that I have not wavered in my conviction that we should expect this to be resolved before, not after, the election.

N.B. I should add that I may be somewhat responsible for the mix-up. In posting yesterday, I mangled one sentence, and went back and changed it, but if anyone has me on an RSS feed, they got the original in which I suggested that the current proposal on the table requires the White House to fix this in the summer of 2012. In fact, the administration gave itself until 2013 to work this out.

The Boiling Politics of the Mideast


The political caldron that we call the Mideast is boiling harder than usual these days. For the past fifty years, the principal goal of U.S. foreign policy in the region has been stability, but that is a bit like hoping to lose weight while hanging out at Ben & Jerry’s every night. Seeking stability in the Mideast is a geo-strategic game of whack-a-mole, except it is not a game.

Bp DiMarzio Goes Off Reservation


I don't know what - or if - anyone at the Brooklyn Tablet was thinking when they decided to publish an editorial that seems to support the kind of anti-tax ideology being peddled by the profoundly anti-Christian devotees of Ayn Rand et al. Paul Moses at Commonweal has the story.

To be clear, there is room for disagreement about how taxes and the economy intersect. There is room for debate about the way those tax dollars get spent. But, it is news to me and every other person even remotely influenced by Catholic Social Teaching to complain that the social safety net is the problem with America's tax structure.

The State of the GOP Race


Two key facts emerged from the results in Michigan’s GOP primary. First, Mitt Romney only wins when he outspends his opponents by more than two-to-one, almost all of it going to negative advertising, and even then, and in the state he once called home, Romney barely crosses the finish line ahead of his rivals. Second, Santorum is a dreadful candidate.

To say that Romney is unloved by the Republican Party is, by now, to speak a truism. Even in Arizona, where he beat Santorum by twenty points, a majority of voters cast their ballots for someone other than Romney. Anecdotally, I had dinner the other night with a longtime Republican friend who could not tell me very much about why he was supporting Santorum, but repeated several times “He is not Romney.”

Note to Readers


Dear Readers,
Friday at 6 a.m. I will board a flight for my annual pilgrimage to Puerto Rico where I celebrate my birthday each year with old family friends, the most beautiful beaches in the world, lots of mofongo, pernil, whole fried snapper, pio nonos, and enough rum punches and margaritas to challenge the strongest of livers! I shall be bringing my computer but have two books to read and review, a major lecture to write, and I hope not to be checking the news overly much. Put differently, the blog is going on vacation for a few days too. I will likely post on the results of the Arizona and Michigan primaries next Wednesday and, God willing, will arrive back in Washington that same evening and be back with my regular blogging schedule next Thursday, March 1.

And, if you think I am ambivalent about Obama's "accommodation," that is nothing compared to the ambivalence I feel about turning - gulp! - 50!

U.S.: Secular or Christian?


Rosalind Helderman, in this morning's Post, looks at the battle over the role of faith in politics. The article focuses on some of the things Rick Santorum has said on the campaign trail that are sure to raise eyebrows, but have only come to light now that the spotlight has shown on him more closely. One thing is obvious, although no one in the GOP can bring themselves to admit it: It is true that American society and culture are more deeply religious than other Western democracies, but it is also true that our constitutional system is decidedly secular. And, Mr. Santorum is never going to acknowledge that these twin poles of religioisty and secularity have co-existed as well as they have only because in America, religion is viewed in a distinctly Protestant way, as an essentially private matter, between the individual and God.


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