To Read: Dana Milbank views the ferocious intensity of Senator Graham's objection to the Hagel nomination as part of an attempt to woo his South Carolinian constituents-
Not too long ago, Graham had been in deep trouble with South Carolina conservatives because of his talk about climate-change legislation, his votes for both of Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, his criticism of the Bush administration’s wiretapping and interrogation programs, and his championing of “Grahamnesty” immigration reforms.
But the gradual repositioning has apparently worked. A survey by Public Policy Polling in December found that the percentage of Republicans saying they would vote for him in a primary has climbed to 51 percent from 37 percent in January 2011.
Quote: "The biggest foreign policy problem facing the United States right now is not too much U.S. engagement, but the danger of a world in which we increasingly refuse to lead. There are few global challenges that can be solved without decisive American leadership", Senator Marco Rubio criticizing Obama's foreign policy in a FP opinion piece.
Number: 198, the number of states in which republicans have an advantage of over 5 in the PartisanVoting Index.
To Read: The New Republic's Leon Wiesletier reflects about the idea of Israel being 'almost completely fenced in'-
The spectacle of the Jewish state behind walls is a melancholy sight. Historically and philosophically, it is a disappointment; and a failure, too, if you believe that Israeli action or inaction is responsible for some of the enmity—it is not remotely responsible for all of the enmity—that drives it to shut itself in. Of course Tel Aviv and its environs, the metropolitan miracle on the coast, is the antithesis of a confinement—it feels like the future, even if sometimes also like a fool’s paradise; and there is no wire and no concrete that cannot be digitally breached. Porousness comes in many forms. The notion that Israel is a ghetto is false and cheap. There is cosmopolitanism inside the enclosure. But Israel’s isolation is both voluntary and involuntary, a choice and a fate. Physical walls crumble more easily than mental walls.
Quote: “(Avigdor Liberman) failed to gain the confidence of the international community and therefore should not be foreign minister. I supported him because it was part of my job… “If after four years in office, this is the outcome, he should try the Treasury portfolio”, former deputy foreign minister and leading witness in Liberman's trial, Danny Ayalon, talking about his former boss.
Number: 46, the percentage of Israeli adults with higher education degrees (the second highest in the world, after Canada).
The Middle East
Read: John Traub sees the challenges facing Obama with Morsi as reminiscent of America's dealings with Yeltsin after the collapse of the Soviet Union-
That is very much where President Barack Obama stands today with Egypt and Morsy. There's nothing Obama can do to affect the likely Islamic cast of Egypt's new constitution. But the White House's reluctance to criticize Morsy after he played a very useful role brokering a truce between Israel and Hezbollah has made it that much easier for Egypt's leader to follow his worst impulses. Obama seems to have pushed all his chips on Morsy, as Clinton did on Yeltsin -- though the Egyptian leader's secular rivals seem so feckless that it's easy to understand Obama's logic. The Clinton administration pushed a giant $22.8 billion package through the IMF for Russia, which Moscow promptly misused. That won't happen with Egypt, which is now balking at the IMF's conditions. But the Obama administration must adopt a less Morsy-centric policy. "You don't try to pick winners," Larry Diamond says. "You defend the process." And Washington can't issue blank checks, even though Egypt urgently needs financial help. At the very least, U.S. aid should be directed away from the military and towards security sector reform, as Congress is now considering.
Quote: "I warn the Israelis... that the resistance in Lebanon will not remain silent in the face of any aggression against Lebanon. They know that all it takes is a few rockets for their airports, ports and power plants to be plunged into darkness", Hezbollah leader, Hassan Nasrallah, warning Israel.
Number: 100,000, the number of 9mm pistols the Egyptian interior ministry has decided to buy in order to help policemen defend themselves against increased lawlessness.
The Jewish World
To Read: Forward's Adam Gregerman examines the possible impact the retirement of Pope Benedict might have on Jewish-Catholic relations-
The next pope will likely lack any personal connection to the Shoah and the shock it posed to Catholic anti-Jewish teachings. Its bracing influence will inevitably diminish over time, along with the impetus for engagement with Jews. If the pope is from outside North America or Europe, he may know few Jews and view other interreligious relationships as more important. At the same time, it may be easier for some Catholics to dissent from contemporary pro-Jewish teachings. Benedict’s affirmation of God’s covenant with the Jews and opposition to a mission to the Jews, for example, have been questioned by some prominent theologians. Though they are in the minority, the growing ranks of conservatives in the church give the Jewish community reason for concern.
Quote: “MK Calderon stood on the speakers’ platform... and then the realization suddenly hit us; we are seeing in a live broadcast the new enlightenment, the new forces that have arisen and want to annihilate haredi society in its current form”, a Haredi newspaper, Kikar Hashabbat, responds to Ruth Calderon's ground braking Knesset speech.
Number: 4,024,461, the number of people who follow Sarah Silverman on Twitter.