Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 20, 2008

When Was He Telling The Truth?

The McCain campaign must know that if the issue this week is campaign finance reform and Barack Obama raising gobs of money from private donors it is a big yawn for the general public. However, on credibility and authenticity they have a pickax to chip away at the holier-than-thou image of Obama, indeed the entire rationale for Obama’s candidacy. That is why McCain communications director Steve Schmidt is weaving a theme through Jerusalem, trade, taxes, and a few other top issues.

It is not quite the flip-flop charge leveled at Kerry — that was an issue of resoluteness. This is out and out fraud, the McCain people claim. He either lied when he snatched the nomination from Hillary Clinton as he ran left and promised a new era of idealism, or he’s lying now as a born again moderate. I suspect this is a theme that will not disappear anytime soon.

The McCain campaign must know that if the issue this week is campaign finance reform and Barack Obama raising gobs of money from private donors it is a big yawn for the general public. However, on credibility and authenticity they have a pickax to chip away at the holier-than-thou image of Obama, indeed the entire rationale for Obama’s candidacy. That is why McCain communications director Steve Schmidt is weaving a theme through Jerusalem, trade, taxes, and a few other top issues.

It is not quite the flip-flop charge leveled at Kerry — that was an issue of resoluteness. This is out and out fraud, the McCain people claim. He either lied when he snatched the nomination from Hillary Clinton as he ran left and promised a new era of idealism, or he’s lying now as a born again moderate. I suspect this is a theme that will not disappear anytime soon.

Read Less

Where’d That Landslide Go?

For the latest take on the electoral landscape take a look here. According to that calculation John McCain leads 220-212. And that is a rather pro-Obama calculation in that the following states are all listed as toss-ups: Missouri (11), Pennsylvania (21) Iowa (7), Ohio (20), New Mexico (5), Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), Michigan (17). (McCain certainly has credible shots at these.) And of course the fact that two traditional blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are true toss ups has to come as sobering news for Democrats.

So for now, with national polls showing Obama still within the margin of error, the McCain team must feel emboldened. And all of this was before Obama handed McCain juicy issues on trials for terrorists and the “never mind” parade of issues. It is a long way until November, but so far the general election, like the two primary races, is shirking any claim to conventional wisdom.

For the latest take on the electoral landscape take a look here. According to that calculation John McCain leads 220-212. And that is a rather pro-Obama calculation in that the following states are all listed as toss-ups: Missouri (11), Pennsylvania (21) Iowa (7), Ohio (20), New Mexico (5), Colorado (9), New Hampshire (4), Michigan (17). (McCain certainly has credible shots at these.) And of course the fact that two traditional blue states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are true toss ups has to come as sobering news for Democrats.

So for now, with national polls showing Obama still within the margin of error, the McCain team must feel emboldened. And all of this was before Obama handed McCain juicy issues on trials for terrorists and the “never mind” parade of issues. It is a long way until November, but so far the general election, like the two primary races, is shirking any claim to conventional wisdom.

Read Less

The Gaza Cease-Fire Is Over (Or Should Be)

The test of Israeli seriousness in enforcing the terms of its cease-fire with Hamas has come more quickly than expected. Here was Amos Gilad, the official who negotiated the deal for the IDF, on Wednesday:

We need a total ceasefire — all included. If tomorrow morning one single rocket is fired, it will be a violation of the agreement. There is no room for interpretation, and no mediating body is needed…Egypt, on its side, is committed to preventing the smuggling activity from Gaza. It’s simple; Egypt has a border with Gaza, through which weapons and terrorists are smuggled. Smuggling is a serious violation of the terms. Any such infraction will lead to a change in Israel’s stance from the way in which it was presented to the Egyptians.

Here is Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Gaza-based chief, today after Friday prayers:

We cannot talk about stopping smuggling because it is something beyond our ability as a government and we did not give a commitment in this regard.

Obviously, there is a serious disconnect here, and, I feel safe speculating, a tremendous amount of bad faith on the part of Hamas. Unless Gilad was lying — there is no reason to suspect he was — one of the central conditions of the cease-fire was Hamas’ voluntary cessation of weapons smuggling. Haniyeh now declares openly that Hamas intends not only to flout that condition, but that a stoppage in smuggling was never part of the deal in the first place. If the Israeli government cares in the slightest about upholding any perception of its own seriousness — this is in doubt — the prime minister and defense minister should declare that the cease-fire is over on account of Hamas’ decision to violate it, and resume offensive operations.

The test of Israeli seriousness in enforcing the terms of its cease-fire with Hamas has come more quickly than expected. Here was Amos Gilad, the official who negotiated the deal for the IDF, on Wednesday:

We need a total ceasefire — all included. If tomorrow morning one single rocket is fired, it will be a violation of the agreement. There is no room for interpretation, and no mediating body is needed…Egypt, on its side, is committed to preventing the smuggling activity from Gaza. It’s simple; Egypt has a border with Gaza, through which weapons and terrorists are smuggled. Smuggling is a serious violation of the terms. Any such infraction will lead to a change in Israel’s stance from the way in which it was presented to the Egyptians.

Here is Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ Gaza-based chief, today after Friday prayers:

We cannot talk about stopping smuggling because it is something beyond our ability as a government and we did not give a commitment in this regard.

Obviously, there is a serious disconnect here, and, I feel safe speculating, a tremendous amount of bad faith on the part of Hamas. Unless Gilad was lying — there is no reason to suspect he was — one of the central conditions of the cease-fire was Hamas’ voluntary cessation of weapons smuggling. Haniyeh now declares openly that Hamas intends not only to flout that condition, but that a stoppage in smuggling was never part of the deal in the first place. If the Israeli government cares in the slightest about upholding any perception of its own seriousness — this is in doubt — the prime minister and defense minister should declare that the cease-fire is over on account of Hamas’ decision to violate it, and resume offensive operations.

Read Less

I’m Sure He Didn’t

On “Hannity and Colmes” and elsewhere, John McCain has said “I really didn’t love America until I was deprived of her company.” Some on the Left are now holding up this undeniably patriotic statement as the substantive equivalent to Michelle Obama’s remark in February that, “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”

First, some context on the McCain quote. Here’s how it came about:

HANNITY: — and then I understand you didn’t get any medical help for nine days. You spent two years of this five-and-a-half-year period in solitary confinement. What does that do to a person, to spend that much time in solitary confinement?

MCCAIN: I think it makes you a better person. Obviously, it makes you love America. I really didn’t love America until I was deprived of her company, but probably the most important thing about it, Sean, is that I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve in the company of heroes.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m pretty sure that if I survived two years in solitary confinement inside a brutal enemy camp I’d come out thinking I hadn’t an inkling about love of country before that experience. In fact I’m certain that, compared to John McCain and others who have lived through similar circumstances, I don’t really know what love of country is. McCain’s statement is nothing less than a spiritual declaration of higher love for the freedoms of the U.S.

As for the birth of Michelle Obama’s national pride–she was responding to the public’s confidence in . . . her husband. If Obama supporters want to go around comparing the two statements in public, the McCain camp would be wise to encourage it. It’s hard to imagine a clearer snapshot of the relative mindsets of both camps.

On “Hannity and Colmes” and elsewhere, John McCain has said “I really didn’t love America until I was deprived of her company.” Some on the Left are now holding up this undeniably patriotic statement as the substantive equivalent to Michelle Obama’s remark in February that, “for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.”

First, some context on the McCain quote. Here’s how it came about:

HANNITY: — and then I understand you didn’t get any medical help for nine days. You spent two years of this five-and-a-half-year period in solitary confinement. What does that do to a person, to spend that much time in solitary confinement?

MCCAIN: I think it makes you a better person. Obviously, it makes you love America. I really didn’t love America until I was deprived of her company, but probably the most important thing about it, Sean, is that I was privileged to have the opportunity to serve in the company of heroes.

I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m pretty sure that if I survived two years in solitary confinement inside a brutal enemy camp I’d come out thinking I hadn’t an inkling about love of country before that experience. In fact I’m certain that, compared to John McCain and others who have lived through similar circumstances, I don’t really know what love of country is. McCain’s statement is nothing less than a spiritual declaration of higher love for the freedoms of the U.S.

As for the birth of Michelle Obama’s national pride–she was responding to the public’s confidence in . . . her husband. If Obama supporters want to go around comparing the two statements in public, the McCain camp would be wise to encourage it. It’s hard to imagine a clearer snapshot of the relative mindsets of both camps.

Read Less

FISA Deal

A deal to extend FISA has apparently been reached. Russ Feingold says the Democrats “capitulated.” As explained here, the telecoms, with some procedural hurdles, will get immunity for their actions in assisting the government. It is important to point out that in all of this horsing around there may well have been a gap in intelligence collection, leads lost, important calls missed. Who’s to blame? As this column explains:

House Democrats made a cold calculation in February when they allowed the foreign intelligence collection powers of the Protect America Act to lapse. They elevated the trial lawyers’ interest in a big payday over the public interest in aggressive information gathering against people trying to kill Americans. They figured, with enough bombast about the “rule of law,” few would notice that they were vesting our terrorist enemies overseas with unprecedented U.S. privacy rights.

And where was Barack Obama on this? Well, he was opposed to immunity, a position one of his key national security advisors openly condemned. As Obama advisor and former CIA agent John Brennan said:

My advice, to whoever is coming in [to the White House], is they need to spend some time learning, understanding what’s out there, identifying those key issues . . . They need to make sure they do their homework, and it’s not just going to be knee-jerk responses.

Ouch. But now the question is whether Obama will embrace the deal and add his objection to immunity for telecoms to the growingnever mind” list.

A deal to extend FISA has apparently been reached. Russ Feingold says the Democrats “capitulated.” As explained here, the telecoms, with some procedural hurdles, will get immunity for their actions in assisting the government. It is important to point out that in all of this horsing around there may well have been a gap in intelligence collection, leads lost, important calls missed. Who’s to blame? As this column explains:

House Democrats made a cold calculation in February when they allowed the foreign intelligence collection powers of the Protect America Act to lapse. They elevated the trial lawyers’ interest in a big payday over the public interest in aggressive information gathering against people trying to kill Americans. They figured, with enough bombast about the “rule of law,” few would notice that they were vesting our terrorist enemies overseas with unprecedented U.S. privacy rights.

And where was Barack Obama on this? Well, he was opposed to immunity, a position one of his key national security advisors openly condemned. As Obama advisor and former CIA agent John Brennan said:

My advice, to whoever is coming in [to the White House], is they need to spend some time learning, understanding what’s out there, identifying those key issues . . . They need to make sure they do their homework, and it’s not just going to be knee-jerk responses.

Ouch. But now the question is whether Obama will embrace the deal and add his objection to immunity for telecoms to the growingnever mind” list.

Read Less

All Comic, No Relief

Give Iran its due: the country’s leaders have a sense of humor.

Speaking in Kampala, Uganda, Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared that Iran is considering the P5+1 incentives package and will offer an answer at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, he reminded the West of their counterproposal, hinting that there should be a bargain between the two:

We also have what we call the Iranian package which we have sent to the P5+1 countries and we hope they consider it as we consider theirs.

The Iranian package can be read in full here. Comical as it is, the Iranians take it very seriously and have such constructive proposals as the following:

On the above basis, the Islamic Rebublic is will to enter into talks on cooperation to strengthen a just peace and bolster the stability and the advancement of democracy in regions that suffer from instability, militarism, violence and terrorism. Such cooperation can take place in different parts of the world–more specifically in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and Latin America. Cooperation to assist the Palestinian people to find a comprehensive plan-one that is sustainable, democratic and fair-to resolve the 60-year old Palestinian issue can become a symbol of such collaboration.

They also have “constructive ideas on the matter of nuclear proliferation – though it sounds more like a recipe to promote it rather than contain it:

With regard to the nuclear issue, Iran is ready-in a comprehensive manner, and as an active and influential member of the NPT and the IAEA-to consider the following issues:

1 – Obtaining a further assurance about the non-diversion of the nuclear activities of different cultures.

2 – Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world-including Iran.

3 – Cooperation to access and utilize peaceful nuclear technology and facilitating its usage by all states.

4 – Nuclear disarmament and establishment of a follow up committee.

5 – Improved supervision by the IAEA over the nuclear activities of different states.

6 – Joint collaboration over nuclear safety and physical protection.

7 – An effort to encourage other states to control the export of nuclear material equipment.

No doubt, now someone will jump at these headlines and suggest that:

1. The Iranians are prepared to negotiate and have not turned down the new incentives’ package;

2. Their counterproposal is worthy of consideration; and

3. We should seek to find a happy medium between the two instead of “imposing” our preconditions.

The Iranians will certainly try and persuade us of the above, looking into dragging the issue for many more months. Which is why, as the international community starts contemplating the next steps vis-a-vis Iran, they should be reminded that, beyond the smokescreen the Iran is putting up with its “counterproposal,” its spokesmen have already said, consistently and repeatedly, that Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment under any circumstances.

So what is there, exactly, to negotiate?

Give Iran its due: the country’s leaders have a sense of humor.

Speaking in Kampala, Uganda, Iran’s foreign minister Manouchehr Mottaki declared that Iran is considering the P5+1 incentives package and will offer an answer at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, he reminded the West of their counterproposal, hinting that there should be a bargain between the two:

We also have what we call the Iranian package which we have sent to the P5+1 countries and we hope they consider it as we consider theirs.

The Iranian package can be read in full here. Comical as it is, the Iranians take it very seriously and have such constructive proposals as the following:

On the above basis, the Islamic Rebublic is will to enter into talks on cooperation to strengthen a just peace and bolster the stability and the advancement of democracy in regions that suffer from instability, militarism, violence and terrorism. Such cooperation can take place in different parts of the world–more specifically in the Middle East, the Balkans, Africa, and Latin America. Cooperation to assist the Palestinian people to find a comprehensive plan-one that is sustainable, democratic and fair-to resolve the 60-year old Palestinian issue can become a symbol of such collaboration.

They also have “constructive ideas on the matter of nuclear proliferation – though it sounds more like a recipe to promote it rather than contain it:

With regard to the nuclear issue, Iran is ready-in a comprehensive manner, and as an active and influential member of the NPT and the IAEA-to consider the following issues:

1 – Obtaining a further assurance about the non-diversion of the nuclear activities of different cultures.

2 – Establishing enrichment and nuclear fuel production consortiums in different parts of the world-including Iran.

3 – Cooperation to access and utilize peaceful nuclear technology and facilitating its usage by all states.

4 – Nuclear disarmament and establishment of a follow up committee.

5 – Improved supervision by the IAEA over the nuclear activities of different states.

6 – Joint collaboration over nuclear safety and physical protection.

7 – An effort to encourage other states to control the export of nuclear material equipment.

No doubt, now someone will jump at these headlines and suggest that:

1. The Iranians are prepared to negotiate and have not turned down the new incentives’ package;

2. Their counterproposal is worthy of consideration; and

3. We should seek to find a happy medium between the two instead of “imposing” our preconditions.

The Iranians will certainly try and persuade us of the above, looking into dragging the issue for many more months. Which is why, as the international community starts contemplating the next steps vis-a-vis Iran, they should be reminded that, beyond the smokescreen the Iran is putting up with its “counterproposal,” its spokesmen have already said, consistently and repeatedly, that Iran will not suspend uranium enrichment under any circumstances.

So what is there, exactly, to negotiate?

Read Less

A Bad Day for New Politics

John McCain spent much of Thursday trying his best to convince voters that Barack Obama’s reneging on campaign finance reform is a breach of trust. The AP is annoyed with Obama and the networks are blasting him. Russ Feingold, good government types and Hillary Clinton provide fodder for McCain’s claim that Obama’s word can’t be trusted. The Wall Street Journal dryly noted: “The move, never attempted in three decades of public financing for presidential candidates, puts the Illinois senator in the position of being a self-styled reformer, pledged to diminish the influence of money in politics, who now plans to wage the most expensive campaign in history.”

Well, the media swarm was frankly the harshest treatment Obama has yet received. Had Obama not declared every other politician to be worthy of scorn, I’d say this issue wouldn’t matter. Had he not made himself into the messiah of New Politics  no one would care much. But having held himself up to some mythical standard (as his opponent has been known to do, as well) he is now reaping what he has sown–the disappointment that comes with failing to live up to unrealistic expectations.Is it game-changing? Certainly not in and of itself. But there is a deception factor building on this, NAFTA, Kyl-Lieberman, Jerusalem, and perhaps even Iraq. He is no longer the candidate who ran against Hillary, when he ran into the arms of the idealists and the Left. Now on numerous policy items there are changes, big changes in a very short period of time. It is jarring, at least for those who chose to believe in the Old Agent of Change, when he now turns on a dime.

Liberal apologists won’t care or will justify the latest Obama reversal (as needful “pragmatism“) as they have all the others, but they aren’t in “play” anyway in the general election. If independent voters really do care about “authenticity,” his New Politics may become less credible, indeed the subject of ridicule. If that is the case, he’ll be back to running as a run-of-the-mill liberal pol, or worse–a weak imitation of the Clintons’ craven political maneuvering.

John McCain spent much of Thursday trying his best to convince voters that Barack Obama’s reneging on campaign finance reform is a breach of trust. The AP is annoyed with Obama and the networks are blasting him. Russ Feingold, good government types and Hillary Clinton provide fodder for McCain’s claim that Obama’s word can’t be trusted. The Wall Street Journal dryly noted: “The move, never attempted in three decades of public financing for presidential candidates, puts the Illinois senator in the position of being a self-styled reformer, pledged to diminish the influence of money in politics, who now plans to wage the most expensive campaign in history.”

Well, the media swarm was frankly the harshest treatment Obama has yet received. Had Obama not declared every other politician to be worthy of scorn, I’d say this issue wouldn’t matter. Had he not made himself into the messiah of New Politics  no one would care much. But having held himself up to some mythical standard (as his opponent has been known to do, as well) he is now reaping what he has sown–the disappointment that comes with failing to live up to unrealistic expectations.Is it game-changing? Certainly not in and of itself. But there is a deception factor building on this, NAFTA, Kyl-Lieberman, Jerusalem, and perhaps even Iraq. He is no longer the candidate who ran against Hillary, when he ran into the arms of the idealists and the Left. Now on numerous policy items there are changes, big changes in a very short period of time. It is jarring, at least for those who chose to believe in the Old Agent of Change, when he now turns on a dime.

Liberal apologists won’t care or will justify the latest Obama reversal (as needful “pragmatism“) as they have all the others, but they aren’t in “play” anyway in the general election. If independent voters really do care about “authenticity,” his New Politics may become less credible, indeed the subject of ridicule. If that is the case, he’ll be back to running as a run-of-the-mill liberal pol, or worse–a weak imitation of the Clintons’ craven political maneuvering.

Read Less

Jerusalem’s Anti-Democratic Petition

For Israel’s supporters in the United States–myself included–the Jewish state’s democratic character has always been among its foremost selling points.  Indeed, the extent to which Israel has maintained a largely free and open society even while under constant threat from its adversaries is extremely impressive.  Yet we often forget that threats to Israel’s democratic nature aren’t limited to Hamas, Hezbollah, and their ilk, but also emanate from various sectors within Israeli society.

Well, thanks to Jerusalem’s right-wing religious political leadership, we have been reminded.  Today, the City of Jerusalem petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice to prevent a gay pride parade from taking place next Thursday.  In a joint letter to the High Court in support of the petition, Mayor Uri Lupolianski and city manager Yair Ma’ayan wrote:

Past experience shows that the parade greatly offends, deliberately and unnecessarily, the feelings of Jews, Muslims and Christians, who view its sheer existence, and the blatant manner in which it takes place, as a desecration of the holy city and of the values with which they were raised.

In effect, Jerusalem’s municipal leadership is arguing that the city’s religious significance trumps its importance as the capital of a democracy-and that freedom of speech must therefore be suspended when certain theocratic sensibilities are offended.  In this vein, it is worth noting that Lupolianski and Ma’ayan are hardly open to compromise, apparently finding the parade organizers’ promise to avoid religious neighborhoods wholly insufficient.

But, most offensively, Lupolianski and Ma’ayan’s letter lends credibility to one of Israel’s most intolerant-and violent-political organizers.  Indeed, the campaign against the gay pride parade is being led by Baruch Marzel, who succeeded Rabbi Meir Kahane as leader of the racist Kach movement after Kahane’s assassination in 1990.  Marzel’s long list of convictions include vandalizing Palestinian vehicles in Hebron, assaulting an Israeli television crew, assaulting a police officer, assaulting Palestinians, and staging a riot in al-Duhayshah.  Moreover, prior to the 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade, Marzel called for a violent response, declaring, “The stabbing incident during last year’s parade will seem minor in comparison with what is anticipated this year. We have to declare a holy war.”

For these reasons, the Jerusalem gay pride parade represents yet another test of Israeli democracy.  Of course, if recent history is any guide, Israel will pass-meaning that the gay pride activists will be permitted to march with ample police protection.  Still, that Jerusalem’s political leadership has prioritized religious sensitivities over its democratic responsibilities-while siding with notoriously violent activists, no less-exposes the disturbing strength of Israel’s domestic anti-democratic forces.

For Israel’s supporters in the United States–myself included–the Jewish state’s democratic character has always been among its foremost selling points.  Indeed, the extent to which Israel has maintained a largely free and open society even while under constant threat from its adversaries is extremely impressive.  Yet we often forget that threats to Israel’s democratic nature aren’t limited to Hamas, Hezbollah, and their ilk, but also emanate from various sectors within Israeli society.

Well, thanks to Jerusalem’s right-wing religious political leadership, we have been reminded.  Today, the City of Jerusalem petitioned Israel’s High Court of Justice to prevent a gay pride parade from taking place next Thursday.  In a joint letter to the High Court in support of the petition, Mayor Uri Lupolianski and city manager Yair Ma’ayan wrote:

Past experience shows that the parade greatly offends, deliberately and unnecessarily, the feelings of Jews, Muslims and Christians, who view its sheer existence, and the blatant manner in which it takes place, as a desecration of the holy city and of the values with which they were raised.

In effect, Jerusalem’s municipal leadership is arguing that the city’s religious significance trumps its importance as the capital of a democracy-and that freedom of speech must therefore be suspended when certain theocratic sensibilities are offended.  In this vein, it is worth noting that Lupolianski and Ma’ayan are hardly open to compromise, apparently finding the parade organizers’ promise to avoid religious neighborhoods wholly insufficient.

But, most offensively, Lupolianski and Ma’ayan’s letter lends credibility to one of Israel’s most intolerant-and violent-political organizers.  Indeed, the campaign against the gay pride parade is being led by Baruch Marzel, who succeeded Rabbi Meir Kahane as leader of the racist Kach movement after Kahane’s assassination in 1990.  Marzel’s long list of convictions include vandalizing Palestinian vehicles in Hebron, assaulting an Israeli television crew, assaulting a police officer, assaulting Palestinians, and staging a riot in al-Duhayshah.  Moreover, prior to the 2006 Jerusalem gay pride parade, Marzel called for a violent response, declaring, “The stabbing incident during last year’s parade will seem minor in comparison with what is anticipated this year. We have to declare a holy war.”

For these reasons, the Jerusalem gay pride parade represents yet another test of Israeli democracy.  Of course, if recent history is any guide, Israel will pass-meaning that the gay pride activists will be permitted to march with ample police protection.  Still, that Jerusalem’s political leadership has prioritized religious sensitivities over its democratic responsibilities-while siding with notoriously violent activists, no less-exposes the disturbing strength of Israel’s domestic anti-democratic forces.

Read Less

Sheeba Farms

Today’s Jerusalem Post reports skepticism among Lebanese leaders on Israel’s calls for peace talks. According to the report,

Not only are many Lebanese officials skeptical that the embattled prime minister’s overtures are sincere, they also say they see little reason to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. The outstanding issues of Shaba Farms and Lebanese prisoners, they argue, can and should be resolved through an existing United Nations resolution rather than in the framework of peace talks.

The Lebanese are right. The issue of the Sheeba Farms should be solved based on existing UN channels and resolutions. As UN Security Council Resolution 1310, adopted on 27 July 2000, recites

as of 16 June 2000 Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000(S/2000/460).

That means there is nothing to negotiate on the matter–it is not for Lebanon to stake a claim on the Sheeba Farms and it is not for Israel to return the Sheeba Farms to Lebanon, given that according to the UN Israel has complied with Resolution 425 in full.   It stands to no reason that Olmert should concede on this point. The Sheeba Farms issue has been settled for eight years,  and reopening it means giving in on a pretext that Hezbollah has exploited far too long to justify its blatant violations of UN resolutions, Lebanese law, and the Taif agreements.   So why is Olmert offering what Israel should keep?

Today’s Jerusalem Post reports skepticism among Lebanese leaders on Israel’s calls for peace talks. According to the report,

Not only are many Lebanese officials skeptical that the embattled prime minister’s overtures are sincere, they also say they see little reason to engage in bilateral talks with Israel. The outstanding issues of Shaba Farms and Lebanese prisoners, they argue, can and should be resolved through an existing United Nations resolution rather than in the framework of peace talks.

The Lebanese are right. The issue of the Sheeba Farms should be solved based on existing UN channels and resolutions. As UN Security Council Resolution 1310, adopted on 27 July 2000, recites

as of 16 June 2000 Israel had withdrawn its forces from Lebanon in accordance with resolution 425 (1978) and met the requirements defined in the Secretary-General’s report of 22 May 2000(S/2000/460).

That means there is nothing to negotiate on the matter–it is not for Lebanon to stake a claim on the Sheeba Farms and it is not for Israel to return the Sheeba Farms to Lebanon, given that according to the UN Israel has complied with Resolution 425 in full.   It stands to no reason that Olmert should concede on this point. The Sheeba Farms issue has been settled for eight years,  and reopening it means giving in on a pretext that Hezbollah has exploited far too long to justify its blatant violations of UN resolutions, Lebanese law, and the Taif agreements.   So why is Olmert offering what Israel should keep?

Read Less

Under the Truck

David Brooks–who actually is fond of Barack Obama–writes:

Back when he was in the Illinois State Senate, Dr. Barack could have taken positions on politically uncomfortable issues. But Fast Eddie Obama voted “present” nearly 130 times. From time to time, he threw his voting power under the truck. Dr. Barack said he could no more disown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than disown his own grandmother. Then the political costs of Rev. Wright escalated and Fast Eddie Obama threw Wright under the truck. Dr. Barack could have been a workhorse senator. But primary candidates don’t do tough votes, so Fast Eddie Obama threw the workhorse duties under the truck. Dr. Barack could have changed the way presidential campaigning works. John McCain offered to have a series of extended town-hall meetings around the country. But favored candidates don’t go in for unscripted free-range conversations. Fast Eddie Obama threw the new-politics mantra under the truck. . . .But Thursday, at the first breath of political inconvenience, Fast Eddie Obama threw public financing under the truck.

Brooks doesn’t know whether to be horrified or impressed. But the voters are likely to be confused.

After all, the post-racial, post-partisan, idealistic Obama has virtually disappeared from the scene. But wasn’t that his “hook”–his way of escaping the not-so-secret fact that he is a garden variety ultra-liberal? After all, if he’s going to be a calculating, conniving, unprincipled politician, why couldn’t the Democrats have had Hillary Clinton?

The problem is especially acute for someone with no national track record. For someone new to the national political stage Obama has to introduce himself to the public and get them to feel comfortable with him. But if there is no clear profile (Opportunist? Reformer? Chicago pol?), that task becomes considerably harder and the prospect of an untested leader that much scarier for voters. Is he going to stick to his guns on his agenda or wither under opposition? Is he going to be firm with rogue leaders when he has proven so willing to reverse course on so many topics even before sitting down for tea? We just don’t know.

One thing is for sure: voters won’t have to bother figuring out what the New Politics is all about. (Hint: It’s the Old Politics, gussied up with hundreds of millions of dollars.)

David Brooks–who actually is fond of Barack Obama–writes:

Back when he was in the Illinois State Senate, Dr. Barack could have taken positions on politically uncomfortable issues. But Fast Eddie Obama voted “present” nearly 130 times. From time to time, he threw his voting power under the truck. Dr. Barack said he could no more disown the Rev. Jeremiah Wright than disown his own grandmother. Then the political costs of Rev. Wright escalated and Fast Eddie Obama threw Wright under the truck. Dr. Barack could have been a workhorse senator. But primary candidates don’t do tough votes, so Fast Eddie Obama threw the workhorse duties under the truck. Dr. Barack could have changed the way presidential campaigning works. John McCain offered to have a series of extended town-hall meetings around the country. But favored candidates don’t go in for unscripted free-range conversations. Fast Eddie Obama threw the new-politics mantra under the truck. . . .But Thursday, at the first breath of political inconvenience, Fast Eddie Obama threw public financing under the truck.

Brooks doesn’t know whether to be horrified or impressed. But the voters are likely to be confused.

After all, the post-racial, post-partisan, idealistic Obama has virtually disappeared from the scene. But wasn’t that his “hook”–his way of escaping the not-so-secret fact that he is a garden variety ultra-liberal? After all, if he’s going to be a calculating, conniving, unprincipled politician, why couldn’t the Democrats have had Hillary Clinton?

The problem is especially acute for someone with no national track record. For someone new to the national political stage Obama has to introduce himself to the public and get them to feel comfortable with him. But if there is no clear profile (Opportunist? Reformer? Chicago pol?), that task becomes considerably harder and the prospect of an untested leader that much scarier for voters. Is he going to stick to his guns on his agenda or wither under opposition? Is he going to be firm with rogue leaders when he has proven so willing to reverse course on so many topics even before sitting down for tea? We just don’t know.

One thing is for sure: voters won’t have to bother figuring out what the New Politics is all about. (Hint: It’s the Old Politics, gussied up with hundreds of millions of dollars.)

Read Less

Quick Look Around

Least surprising headline ever.

Possibly the most uninformed take on Mitch McConnell ever. (The reporter really thinks he needs “hounding” to attack Democrats? He might want to check out this speech.)

Democrats have figured out that opposition to offshore drilling is not a political winner. Jim Webb especially, who hate it so much he’s willing to impair his VP chances.

Another Iraqi army success story you won’t find on the front page of a major U.S. newspaper.

And the Washington Post resorts to ridicule because even the editors can’t pretend the audacity of hope is anything more than audacity. (It’s not the promise-breaking, but the “self-congratulatory back-patting” that’ll get you everytime.)

UPDATE:

The Washington Post did manage to slip the Iraq story in — on page 13. The reporter shares this nugget: “The operation in Amarah is planned, led and executed by” Iraqi security forces, Lt. Col. Paul Swiergosz, a U.S. military spokesman, said in an e-mail. Swiergosz said Iraqi troops had demonstrated in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul that “they are capable of planning and conducting successful, largely independent operations.”

Least surprising headline ever.

Possibly the most uninformed take on Mitch McConnell ever. (The reporter really thinks he needs “hounding” to attack Democrats? He might want to check out this speech.)

Democrats have figured out that opposition to offshore drilling is not a political winner. Jim Webb especially, who hate it so much he’s willing to impair his VP chances.

Another Iraqi army success story you won’t find on the front page of a major U.S. newspaper.

And the Washington Post resorts to ridicule because even the editors can’t pretend the audacity of hope is anything more than audacity. (It’s not the promise-breaking, but the “self-congratulatory back-patting” that’ll get you everytime.)

UPDATE:

The Washington Post did manage to slip the Iraq story in — on page 13. The reporter shares this nugget: “The operation in Amarah is planned, led and executed by” Iraqi security forces, Lt. Col. Paul Swiergosz, a U.S. military spokesman, said in an e-mail. Swiergosz said Iraqi troops had demonstrated in Basra, Sadr City and Mosul that “they are capable of planning and conducting successful, largely independent operations.”

Read Less