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The Freeman Affair –Steyn and Greenwald Weigh In: Are Schumer, Emmanuel, and Lieberman “Israel-centric fanatics?”

Friday, March 13, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

The controversy surrounding the brief nomination of Charles Freeman to lead the NIC has generated more dueling among the public intellectuals than any other personnel choice made yet by President Obama. Yesterday I asked Mark Steyn and Glenn Greenwald about the smash-up, as I had Christopher Hitchens the day before. I will try and add conversations about Freeman with Jeffrey Goldberg and Scott Johnson today, and will invite Andrew Sullivan as well.

What amazes me is that this very important position and this very controversial nominee and this very contentious debate has received next to no coverage in the MSM –perhaps because it is a very complicated story, and perhaps because much of the debate occurs miles above the knowledge level of most MSMers. Too bad. It has been a very revealing clash that saw a lot of unusual alliances and a lot of very sharp rhetoric. Here, for example, is one part of my conversation with Greenwald:

HH: Now you also write [at Salon.com] that “what I find most mystifying is that, Israel-centric fanatics actually think it’s a good thing for Israel to impose these sorts of Israel-based loyalty tests and orthodoxies on American politics.” Is Chuck Schumer an Israel-centric fanatic?

GG: Oh, definitely.

HH: Is Rahm Emanuel?

GG: Yes, I think Rahm Emanuel is.

HH: Joe Lieberman?

GG: Yeah, absolutely.

HH: Hillary Clinton?

GG: No, I wouldn’t say Hillary Clinton is. I mean, she certainly became a lot more supportive of Israel, and a lot more along those lines when she began running for the Senate in New York, for obvious political reasons. But I wouldn’t say that she’s a true believer. And in fact, she’s actually provoked a lot of opposition on the part of that faction by criticizing the Israelis for blocking humanitarian aid into Gaza and expanding settlements. So I wouldn’t include her in that.

HH: President Obama obviously has made his number one guy Rahm Emanuel, an Israel-centric fanatic in your words, chief of staff. Does that make President Obama an abettor of Israel-centric fanatics?

GG: No, I think he surrounded himself with a lot of people. And what he does with Israel, I think, is a big question mark. I mean, there were times when he was running in the primary when he said things like I really resent the idea that you have to support Likud in order to be considered a friend of Israel. And I thought that was quite positive. And once he got the nomination, he went to AIPAC and sort of read a standard pro-AIPAC speech. So no, I wouldn’t say the fact that he named Rahm Emanuel is evidence, dispositive evidence that he intends to take that line. I think there’s going to be a lot of factions pulling on him when it comes to Middle East policy, and we’ll see what direction he goes in.

HH: The Israeli-centric fanatics you listed, Schumer, Emanuel and Lieberman, do you think they put the interest of Israel ahead of the interest of the United States?

GG: I think they see, they believe that they’ve convinced themselves, and they operated on the premise that Israeli interests are the same as American interests, and that they don’t distinguish between those two. Do they see a conflict between them and opt for Israel over America? Or do they convince themselves that they’re equal? I can’t say what’s in their mind. What I do know is that they constantly, at the center of their political advocacy, place the Israeli interest as an overarching priority. I wouldn’t accuse them of being disloyal or anything like that, but clearly Israel plays an extremely significant role in their political view.

HH: Do they have divided loyalties in your opinion, Glenn Greenwald?

GG: Again, I mean that depends on whether they think there’s a divergence of conflict. I mean, I grew up in Miami where there’s a very strong Cuban-American community. They’re very patriotic American, but they have great allegiance to Cuba, and care about Cuba as well. Is it divided loyalty? Is it dual loyalty? Is it the fact that they have affection for other countries? There’s Irish who have that, Mexican-Americans who have that. I think that’s semantics. But clearly, there are lots of factions in this country that have affection for and dedication to foreign countries besides the United States, and absolutely there’s a large segment of Jewish-Americans who do as well.

HH: And historically, of course, the charge of divided loyalty is a cornerstone of anti-Semitic rhetoric. Do you worry about having the appearance of that rhetoric in your columns?

GG: No, I worry, my goal when I write is to describe things as truthfully and honestly as I can. I mean, obviously you can cross a line rhetorically. That’s inflammatory. I try and avoid that. At the same time, though, you know, it’s like saying is it a concern if you talk about African-Americans being imprisoned at a higher rate, that you’re playing into racist stereotypes? It’s possible to play into those racist stereotypes by discussing that reality, that there’s a high percentage of African-Americans in prison, but if you’re sober and careful and honest in your discussion, I think the charge that you’re being racist by discussing that is a bogus one, just like I think the charge that you’re being anti-Semitic if you talk about what’s obvious in front of everybody’s face, that is the import of Israel and to a lot of American Jews is just bogus.

HH: Glenn Greenwald, I appreciate you taking the time to join us, to present the anti-anti-Freeman case, and I look forward to having you back again soon.

Podcasts of all of these interviews are here.

One of my other guests yesterday, Frank Dowse of the Agemus Group, discussed the deterioration in Mexico, and sent along a link to an overview he had written a few weeks back.

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“Lessons From San Quentin”

Thursday, March 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Bill Dallas is the CEO of Church Communication Network. Before that he was an inmate in San Quentin, doing time with the very tough guys because of financial fraud. I’ll talk with him on today’s show about what’s ahead for Bernie Madoff.

Lessons from San Quentin: Everything I Needed to Know about Life I Learned in Prison

I’ll also talk with Frank Dowse of the Agemus Group about the deteriorating conditions in Mexico, and of course with columnist-to-the-world Mark Steyn about everything.

“Do Democrats Really Care About Job Losses?”

Thursday, March 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

That’s the first line in my new piece in Politico.com about the refusal by Congressional Democrats to do anything to stop the job-crushing unintended consequences of the Consumer Products Safety Improvement Act.

As noted in the article, most journalists are wholly unaware of the law’s devastating impact on hundreds of small, medium and even giant businesses. In just one of the recent blows to manufacturers, late on Tuesday Amazon.com announced it was dropping 2,500 products from its site because of CPSIA. It is impossible to calculate the damage to the producers of those products, but the shutting down of a key marketing pipeline in the middle of recession has got to be staggering.

The job losses flowing from CPSIA are real and deeply hurtful, but neither Speaker Pelosi or Leader Reid have done anything to stop the bleeding. They’d rather spray dollars at the public works projects than act quickly to save private sector manufacturing jobs which are the backbone of the economy.

“Obama, Geithner Get Low Grades From Economists”

Thursday, March 12, 2009  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

That’s the key headline from this morning’s Wall Street Journal. The heart of the economists’ critique:

[The] economists’ main criticism of the Obama team centered on delays in enacting key parts of plans to rescue banks. “They overpromised and underdelivered,” said Stephen Stanley of RBS Greenwich Capital. “Secretary Geithner scheduled a big speech and came out with just a vague blueprint. The uncertainty is hanging over everyone’s head.”

Yesterday The Hill provided a sampling not of number-crunching economists, but of veteran president-watchers –Democrats and Republicans, pundits and electeds– but the verdict was the same: Confidence in President Obama’s direction is slipping.

A few weeks of decent market gains, and much of the angst would fade, but the economy is clearly now “owned” by the president because he got the stimulus he wanted, he didn’t veto the ear-mark laden appropriations bill, and it has been four months since his election and there is still no public plan for the banks. President Obama blames President Bush at every opportunity, but that’s already an old refrain with little punch. With a trillion-and-a-half of spending at President Obama’s disposal (the stimulus, the omnibus, and the second half of TARP), voters expect a reviving market which looks out a few months.

Republicans are beginning to get their voice back, and the sense of a Democratic Administration and Congress burdened by absurd economic theories is growing. If the economy staggers along in no-to-low growth, voters will have to put the Congress back in the hands of the tax-cutting party.

Senior Democrats on the Hill may yet force the president to abandon his growth-destroying tax hikes, and to focus more on reintroducing the optimistic tone that the Chief Executive should almost always project. But their opportunity to recalibrate his course is narrowing, and the first hundred days is quickly becoming a slog through a swamp of wasteful spending and useless rhetorical attacks on the long-gone George W. Bush.

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