Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 18, 2007

Will O.J. Simpson Get What He Deserves?

On Sunday, O.J. Simpson was charged with six felonies: two counts each of robbery with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm. Las Vegas police say that Simpson broke into a hotel room with five other men to steal sports memorabilia that Simpson claims was stolen from him. Simpson, found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in a 1997 civil suit, is being held without bail.

Ten years ago, in the judgment for that civil suit, a court ordered Simpson to pay $38 million to the Goldman family. He has only paid $10,000 thus far, as most of his assets (an NFL pension, property) are protected from seizure by various state laws. The beleaguered Goldman family has had to content themselves with this state of affairs, living with the grief of a lost son, while Simpson traipses about the country playing golf, signing autographs, and writing a book hypothesizing how he would have killed his victims.

In response to Simpson’s arrest last week, Ron Goldman’s father Fred told the New York Times that “He deserves whatever he gets.” Considering that Simpson has yet to face any real penalty for the murders of two people, Goldman is right that, at this late stage, any punishment is better than nothing. But reversing Goldman’s statement, that Simpson ought to get what he deserves, is at this point nigh impossible. If that were the case, Simpson would long ago have paid his first and last visit to the San Quentin State Prison gas chamber.

On Sunday, O.J. Simpson was charged with six felonies: two counts each of robbery with a deadly weapon and assault with a deadly weapon, as well as one count of conspiracy to commit burglary and burglary with a firearm. Las Vegas police say that Simpson broke into a hotel room with five other men to steal sports memorabilia that Simpson claims was stolen from him. Simpson, found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman in a 1997 civil suit, is being held without bail.

Ten years ago, in the judgment for that civil suit, a court ordered Simpson to pay $38 million to the Goldman family. He has only paid $10,000 thus far, as most of his assets (an NFL pension, property) are protected from seizure by various state laws. The beleaguered Goldman family has had to content themselves with this state of affairs, living with the grief of a lost son, while Simpson traipses about the country playing golf, signing autographs, and writing a book hypothesizing how he would have killed his victims.

In response to Simpson’s arrest last week, Ron Goldman’s father Fred told the New York Times that “He deserves whatever he gets.” Considering that Simpson has yet to face any real penalty for the murders of two people, Goldman is right that, at this late stage, any punishment is better than nothing. But reversing Goldman’s statement, that Simpson ought to get what he deserves, is at this point nigh impossible. If that were the case, Simpson would long ago have paid his first and last visit to the San Quentin State Prison gas chamber.

Read Less

Unmasking China

Yesterday, China gave official notice of its postponement of the next session of the six-party talks to disarm North Korea. They were scheduled to begin tomorrow in Beijing.

The Chinese did not give a reason for their last-minute change in plans, but observers assume it was because the North Koreans said they would not participate. Given Pyongyang’s unprecedented cooperation with Washington during the last several months, their change of posture was unexpected.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cites sources indicating that China is in fact the cause of the trouble. The Chinese said they would provide heavy fuel oil to North Korea before the end of last month in accordance with the nuclear deal they brokered in February, but they only made the first of the planned deliveries this Sunday.

Read More

Yesterday, China gave official notice of its postponement of the next session of the six-party talks to disarm North Korea. They were scheduled to begin tomorrow in Beijing.

The Chinese did not give a reason for their last-minute change in plans, but observers assume it was because the North Koreans said they would not participate. Given Pyongyang’s unprecedented cooperation with Washington during the last several months, their change of posture was unexpected.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cites sources indicating that China is in fact the cause of the trouble. The Chinese said they would provide heavy fuel oil to North Korea before the end of last month in accordance with the nuclear deal they brokered in February, but they only made the first of the planned deliveries this Sunday.

Why would China sabotage the agreement it had put together? It’s always difficult to figure out what is happening when two Communist states deal with each other. Yet it has been apparent for some time that Beijing has not wanted North Korea, its only military ally, to grow closer to the United States. With very few exceptions, there has been progress in the six-party talks only when American and North Korean representatives have sat together without their Chinese counterparts, as they did in Berlin in January and in New York in March. China, on most occasions, has used its mediating role to keep Washington and Pyongyang apart.

I’m not saying that negotiating with Kim Jong Il’s regime is necessarily in our interest. I am suggesting, however, that China, despite all its professions to the contrary, does not want to see a reconciliation between the United States and North Korea. We should begin asking ourselves why.

Read Less

HillaryCare 2.0

The most interesting thing about Hillary Clinton’s rollout of her health care plan yesterday was not the substance of the plan—which is not much different from what John Edwards and Barack Obama have offered—but the cautious and defensive tone she and her campaign have taken toward it. Clinton constantly repeated, during the rollout, that this idea was different from the “HillaryCare” proposal of 1993. “This is not government-run,” she told a cheering audience, “there will be no new bureaucracy.”

The chief reason for Hillary’s circumspection, of course, is her leading role in the Democrats’ last health care debacle. In one respect it actually seems like she is probably over-reading the importance of that line on her resume—how many voters really remember the ‘93 debacle or think of it as a great shadow over Hillary Clinton? This seems like a Washington cliché that has taken on a life of its own.

In another respect, her caution is absurd and misleading. The notion that an entirely new scheme of nationalized health insurance regulation will involve “no new bureaucracy” is risible. The idea that the new public insurance options to be part of the menu on Hillary’s plan won’t expand government-run coverage is ludicrous.

Read More

The most interesting thing about Hillary Clinton’s rollout of her health care plan yesterday was not the substance of the plan—which is not much different from what John Edwards and Barack Obama have offered—but the cautious and defensive tone she and her campaign have taken toward it. Clinton constantly repeated, during the rollout, that this idea was different from the “HillaryCare” proposal of 1993. “This is not government-run,” she told a cheering audience, “there will be no new bureaucracy.”

The chief reason for Hillary’s circumspection, of course, is her leading role in the Democrats’ last health care debacle. In one respect it actually seems like she is probably over-reading the importance of that line on her resume—how many voters really remember the ‘93 debacle or think of it as a great shadow over Hillary Clinton? This seems like a Washington cliché that has taken on a life of its own.

In another respect, her caution is absurd and misleading. The notion that an entirely new scheme of nationalized health insurance regulation will involve “no new bureaucracy” is risible. The idea that the new public insurance options to be part of the menu on Hillary’s plan won’t expand government-run coverage is ludicrous.

And more importantly, Clinton’s approach (and that of the Democrats generally) will create increasingly government-run care in more profound ways over time. Their response to the growth of health insurance premiums is to introduce new regulations and a new payer into the system. But introducing a new payer into the system does not reduce costs (on the contrary, as Medicare shows us, it tends to increase them), and Clinton has not offered any other serious way to reduce costs. She has offered, in the end, only a way to shift some costs to the government—and yet she still claims that would not shift control to the government.

He who pays the piper calls the tune. The emerging Republican approach to health care would have patients (rather than employers) pay—and would offer some aid to those who can’t. Hillary’s approach would have the government pay, and whether she wants to acknowledge it or not, would therefore have bureaucrats call the tune.

She is right to worry that government-managed health insurance will scare voters. But she is wrong to insist that her plan doesn’t qualify for the title.

Read Less

Hamas, Three Months After

It has been three months since Hamas took power in Gaza, and what a short, strange trip it’s been. In the beginning, Hamas spokesmen assuaged the consciences of credulous op-ed page editors everywhere with submissions that promised an enlightened, progressive Islamist government. One spokesman wrote in the New York Times that “Our sole focus is Palestinian rights and good governance.” He also said in a Washington Post op-ed that Hamas’s ambitions in Gaza are actually western ambitions: “self-determination, modernity . . . and freedom for civil society to evolve.” Another wrote, in the Los Angeles Times, that “Gaza will be calm and under the rule of law—a place where all journalists, foreigners, and guests of the Palestinian people will be treated with dignity.” (At the time he offered no word on how many yoga studios and organic food stands would be opened.)

The English-language spokesmen for Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups have long since mastered the democratic political lexicon, and the number of westerners eager to be taken in by such clichés has always been high. But now that Hamas has been in power for a quarter-year, it has an actual political track record to observe. And this record shows that Hamas, in defiance of the fervent wishes and predictions of its western apologists, has behaved exactly as many of us predicted at the beginning of the summer: In ideology, ambition, and style of governance, Hamas has come to resemble most closely its major regional patron, Iran.

Read More

It has been three months since Hamas took power in Gaza, and what a short, strange trip it’s been. In the beginning, Hamas spokesmen assuaged the consciences of credulous op-ed page editors everywhere with submissions that promised an enlightened, progressive Islamist government. One spokesman wrote in the New York Times that “Our sole focus is Palestinian rights and good governance.” He also said in a Washington Post op-ed that Hamas’s ambitions in Gaza are actually western ambitions: “self-determination, modernity . . . and freedom for civil society to evolve.” Another wrote, in the Los Angeles Times, that “Gaza will be calm and under the rule of law—a place where all journalists, foreigners, and guests of the Palestinian people will be treated with dignity.” (At the time he offered no word on how many yoga studios and organic food stands would be opened.)

The English-language spokesmen for Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups have long since mastered the democratic political lexicon, and the number of westerners eager to be taken in by such clichés has always been high. But now that Hamas has been in power for a quarter-year, it has an actual political track record to observe. And this record shows that Hamas, in defiance of the fervent wishes and predictions of its western apologists, has behaved exactly as many of us predicted at the beginning of the summer: In ideology, ambition, and style of governance, Hamas has come to resemble most closely its major regional patron, Iran.

The new climate in Gaza is fearsome. Hamas has banned unapproved public gatherings, routinely beaten political opponents, intimidated journalists, and imposed a de facto regime of shari’a law. The internal purge continues, with regular death threats against Fatah loyalists and in many cases the firings of Fatah-associated doctors and other professionals. The only parts of the Gaza economy that still have a pulse are those bankrolled by foreign aid. In a long report in yesterday’s Washington Post, Scott Wilson gives readers a taste of the new Gaza:

After Friday prayers in recent weeks, Fatah supporters have marched through Gaza’s streets in protest against the Hamas administration. “Shia! Shia!” the demonstrators shouted, an insulting reference to the Sunni Muslim movement’s inflexible Islamic character and financial support from the Shiite government of Iran.

Their numbers have swelled into the thousands, and Hamas’s patience appears exhausted. The Palestinian Scholars League, an Islamic council dominated by Hamas clerics, issued a fatwa early this month prohibiting outdoor prayer.

The past three months have also been a test of the theory that power would moderate Hamas. After Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections in January 2006, many people—including President Bush—predicted that a certain pragmatism finally would be forced on the Islamist group, and that it would be compelled to shift its focus from terrorism to the humdrum of daily governance.

But the decline of Gaza has not given Hamas’s leaders a moment’s pause in their pursuit of an external war against Israel and an internal war against Fatah. Rockets are fired from Gaza on a daily basis, and attempted infiltrations of Israel, many of them for the purpose of abducting another IDF soldier, are a regular occurrence. In many ways Hamas has been emboldened by the continued arrival, regardless of its terror war, of foreign aid money and water and electricity from Israel. Hamas, in other words, has been given the ability to run a consequence-free jihad.

The only good news to come out of all this is that at least for now, the movement to “engage” Hamas—most popular in Britain and Europe—has fallen into dormancy. Such calls might be revived as planning for the Bush administration’s regional conference intensifies, but the Hamas leadership may yet prove to be so ideologically stubborn and politically obtuse that even people like Daniel Levy and Colin Powell will not be able to help.

Read Less

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane!

As Gordon Chang points out on these pages, there is ongoing speculation on what Israeli aircraft targeted in the early hours of September 6, when they entered Syrian air space, flew all the way to the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border, and dropped a load of heavy bombs (perhaps aided by special ground forces who were safely helicoptered in and out of the area). Whether it’s a nuclear facility run jointly by Iran and North Korea, or a missile base, or an arms shipment for Hizballah, or a Russian-made modern air defense system, one thing is clear from all the reports: the Syrian military still cannot tell the difference between an Israeli F-15 and a seagull.

As Gordon Chang points out on these pages, there is ongoing speculation on what Israeli aircraft targeted in the early hours of September 6, when they entered Syrian air space, flew all the way to the Syrian-Iraqi-Turkish border, and dropped a load of heavy bombs (perhaps aided by special ground forces who were safely helicoptered in and out of the area). Whether it’s a nuclear facility run jointly by Iran and North Korea, or a missile base, or an arms shipment for Hizballah, or a Russian-made modern air defense system, one thing is clear from all the reports: the Syrian military still cannot tell the difference between an Israeli F-15 and a seagull.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.