Commentary Magazine


Posts For: September 5, 2008

Sally Quinn Recants

No one in the mainstream media had been harsher on Sarah Palin than Sally Quinn. In a blistering piece in the Washington Post earlier in the week she wrote, among other things:

Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is the mother of five children, one of them a four-month-old with Down Syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make? I’m the mother of only one child, a special needs child who is grown now. I know how much of my time and energy I devoted to his care. He always had to be my first priority. Of course women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I’ve done both. Yes, other women in public office have children. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has five children, but she didn’t get heavily involved in politics until they were older. A mother’s role is different from a father’s.

But now Quinn has seen Palin with her own eyes and is singing a different tune. On Fox today with Bill O’Reilly, Quinn had this to say:

I thought that she was amazing. in her speech. She was funny and smart and poised and confident. She gave a great speech, beautifully delivered. I think she is going to be a formidable opponent. all of that I think is — I was wrong about her. and I didn’t know anything about her. I probably didn’t know any more than John McCain did a few days before he picked her.

(Well, perhaps McCain knew plenty and chose her on this basis, but that’s a quibble.) O’Reilly went on to ask her if  “your column and other columns like yours rallied the folks to her side and actually helped the McCain-Palin ticket dramatically.” Quinn answered “I  think you’re absolutely right.”

Oh my. A couple of thoughts come immediately to mind. First, kudos are in order. How often do mainstream media outlets and their columnists ever say “I blew it”? It is not easy to acknowledge error, let alone a gross and mean-spirited one. Quinn did. (My suggestion is that Palin’s first serious print interview should be with her. ) Second, could others follow? If the MSM beats a hasty retreat in the Palin Inquisition, the Obama camp will have no choice but to directly take her on or ignore Palin-mania and let it the McCain-Palin ticket ride the wave of popularity. Either would mark a sweet vindication for McCain personally and his team more generally.

No one in the mainstream media had been harsher on Sarah Palin than Sally Quinn. In a blistering piece in the Washington Post earlier in the week she wrote, among other things:

Is she prepared for the all-consuming nature of the job? She is the mother of five children, one of them a four-month-old with Down Syndrome. Her first priority has to be her children. When the phone rings at three in the morning and one of her children is really sick what choice will she make? I’m the mother of only one child, a special needs child who is grown now. I know how much of my time and energy I devoted to his care. He always had to be my first priority. Of course women can be good mothers and have careers at the same time. I’ve done both. Yes, other women in public office have children. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has five children, but she didn’t get heavily involved in politics until they were older. A mother’s role is different from a father’s.

But now Quinn has seen Palin with her own eyes and is singing a different tune. On Fox today with Bill O’Reilly, Quinn had this to say:

I thought that she was amazing. in her speech. She was funny and smart and poised and confident. She gave a great speech, beautifully delivered. I think she is going to be a formidable opponent. all of that I think is — I was wrong about her. and I didn’t know anything about her. I probably didn’t know any more than John McCain did a few days before he picked her.

(Well, perhaps McCain knew plenty and chose her on this basis, but that’s a quibble.) O’Reilly went on to ask her if  “your column and other columns like yours rallied the folks to her side and actually helped the McCain-Palin ticket dramatically.” Quinn answered “I  think you’re absolutely right.”

Oh my. A couple of thoughts come immediately to mind. First, kudos are in order. How often do mainstream media outlets and their columnists ever say “I blew it”? It is not easy to acknowledge error, let alone a gross and mean-spirited one. Quinn did. (My suggestion is that Palin’s first serious print interview should be with her. ) Second, could others follow? If the MSM beats a hasty retreat in the Palin Inquisition, the Obama camp will have no choice but to directly take her on or ignore Palin-mania and let it the McCain-Palin ticket ride the wave of popularity. Either would mark a sweet vindication for McCain personally and his team more generally.

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Re: Oprah Windbag

Perhaps, Abe, Oprah is peeved that Sarah Palin demonstrates so little patience with psychobabble, especially when it is used to justify a run for the White House. One of my favorite lines from her speech:

My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of “personal discovery.”

Palin seems, upon further reflection, to be rather ill suited to play the role of patient/guest on the Oprah coach. She exudes confidence, refuses to whine,  and emphasizes action over good intentions.  What on earth would they have in common?

A guest appearance on Grizzly Man Diaries would be a better idea.

Perhaps, Abe, Oprah is peeved that Sarah Palin demonstrates so little patience with psychobabble, especially when it is used to justify a run for the White House. One of my favorite lines from her speech:

My fellow citizens, the American presidency is not supposed to be a journey of “personal discovery.”

Palin seems, upon further reflection, to be rather ill suited to play the role of patient/guest on the Oprah coach. She exudes confidence, refuses to whine,  and emphasizes action over good intentions.  What on earth would they have in common?

A guest appearance on Grizzly Man Diaries would be a better idea.

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The “Political Cliche That Needs To Be Retired Immediately” Award for 2008

Kitchen table.

As in “I know hard-working Americans are sitting around the kitchen table…” That legendary “kitchen table” has appeared In at least six speeches over the past two weeks and in countless op-eds. That is one hard-working, sober, anxiety-filled, and yet oddly comforting piece of wood.

Maybe Americans worried about their futures are sitting around it as Joe Biden goes zooming past on Amtrak. More plausibly, they’re sitting in Barca-Loungers in front of a flat screen TV, and they discuss their worries during the commercial breaks.

Kitchen table.

As in “I know hard-working Americans are sitting around the kitchen table…” That legendary “kitchen table” has appeared In at least six speeches over the past two weeks and in countless op-eds. That is one hard-working, sober, anxiety-filled, and yet oddly comforting piece of wood.

Maybe Americans worried about their futures are sitting around it as Joe Biden goes zooming past on Amtrak. More plausibly, they’re sitting in Barca-Loungers in front of a flat screen TV, and they discuss their worries during the commercial breaks.

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Commentary of the Day

Banjo, on Noah Pollak:

Did you watch the O’Reilly interview with BO (to be continued next week). At one point, The O-e was asked a question about the war. He replied, “As Commander in Chief, I would . . .” and it sounded so implausible I didn’ catch the rest. He looked like the president of the chess club having a day-dreaming fantasy in which he beats the bully and gets the girl. It made me realize you can only take soft power so far. I was also reminded of Churchill’s fears about the conclusions Hitler would reach if he ever met Chamberlain in person. He did and we know what happened. Putin has a black belt and went tiger hunting last week.

Banjo, on Noah Pollak:

Did you watch the O’Reilly interview with BO (to be continued next week). At one point, The O-e was asked a question about the war. He replied, “As Commander in Chief, I would . . .” and it sounded so implausible I didn’ catch the rest. He looked like the president of the chess club having a day-dreaming fantasy in which he beats the bully and gets the girl. It made me realize you can only take soft power so far. I was also reminded of Churchill’s fears about the conclusions Hitler would reach if he ever met Chamberlain in person. He did and we know what happened. Putin has a black belt and went tiger hunting last week.

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Re: Where Have You Been?

My sense, John, is this is symptomatic of a campaign that has not a clue as to how to respond in the post-Sarah Palin era. “Shrill” they said of her speech. Uh, except 37 million people saw it and I’m betting virtually none of them thought so. Likewise, John McCain’s speech was some horrid attack on Obama. Uh, except it was one of the gentlest acceptance speeches in recent memory.

They really have no clear path at this point. Are they going back to the change theme even with good old Joe Biden in tow? Are they going to do the Bush-clone bit? It strikes me as evidence of a campaign that has lost its own message — Messianic change — and isn’t sure what to do about its opponents or the new VP. It really is remarkable that on a day with new unemployment number they can’t do better. It really isn’t hard: they should talk to Bill Clinton and ask how he won in 1992.

My sense, John, is this is symptomatic of a campaign that has not a clue as to how to respond in the post-Sarah Palin era. “Shrill” they said of her speech. Uh, except 37 million people saw it and I’m betting virtually none of them thought so. Likewise, John McCain’s speech was some horrid attack on Obama. Uh, except it was one of the gentlest acceptance speeches in recent memory.

They really have no clear path at this point. Are they going back to the change theme even with good old Joe Biden in tow? Are they going to do the Bush-clone bit? It strikes me as evidence of a campaign that has lost its own message — Messianic change — and isn’t sure what to do about its opponents or the new VP. It really is remarkable that on a day with new unemployment number they can’t do better. It really isn’t hard: they should talk to Bill Clinton and ask how he won in 1992.

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They Are Grown Ups

A savvy former official from a past GOP administration had a keen observation about the McCain camp and the media feeding frenzy earlier this week. He said simply, “They don’t get rattled. They are grown ups.” I think there is evidence of this — Steve Schmidt briefly appeared on Monday, answered a few questions and then shut down further discussion coming from the campaign. This is a disciplined and confident team. And after the speech, there was virtually no end zone dancing and “we told you so” sort of reaction.

The media, of course, was pushing the notion that the McCain camp blundered by the Palin pick and hasn’t a clue what they are doing. But this was a rather spectacularly successful Convention: President Bush and Vice President Cheney were virtually non-issues, the speech of the millennium introduced the most popular candidate of the four presidential ticket participants, McCain gave a solid speech which garnered media praise and the polls are narrowing again. It might be that the McCain camp is one of the more competent ones we’ve seen, one that is overperforming and operating under perhaps the most vicious media assault ever launched against one ticket.

And Obama keeps telling us that we should judge a candidate’s future by his campaign. So should we conclude that the calm under pressure, daring, execution and discipline which characterize the McCain camp portends well for a McCain administration?

A savvy former official from a past GOP administration had a keen observation about the McCain camp and the media feeding frenzy earlier this week. He said simply, “They don’t get rattled. They are grown ups.” I think there is evidence of this — Steve Schmidt briefly appeared on Monday, answered a few questions and then shut down further discussion coming from the campaign. This is a disciplined and confident team. And after the speech, there was virtually no end zone dancing and “we told you so” sort of reaction.

The media, of course, was pushing the notion that the McCain camp blundered by the Palin pick and hasn’t a clue what they are doing. But this was a rather spectacularly successful Convention: President Bush and Vice President Cheney were virtually non-issues, the speech of the millennium introduced the most popular candidate of the four presidential ticket participants, McCain gave a solid speech which garnered media praise and the polls are narrowing again. It might be that the McCain camp is one of the more competent ones we’ve seen, one that is overperforming and operating under perhaps the most vicious media assault ever launched against one ticket.

And Obama keeps telling us that we should judge a candidate’s future by his campaign. So should we conclude that the calm under pressure, daring, execution and discipline which characterize the McCain camp portends well for a McCain administration?

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Aimless In Damascus

On Thursday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. With another round of geeky photo-ops alongside a one-time pariah in the bag, Sarkozy thus sent the strongest message yet that France has completely retreated from its prior insistence that Syria end its interference in Lebanon.

Indeed, despite Sarkozy’s own claim that he and Assad would “affirm Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,” Hezbollah – which has often used Syrian support to hold Lebanon hostage to its political demands – reacted to Sarkozy’s overture with profound optimism. On its media site al-Manar, Hezbollah hailed Sarkozy’s visit to Damascus as a “historic turn” that “asserts the importance of the role that Damascus plays and will play in the future on another level.” Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah used the occasion of Syria’s diplomatic triumph to issue his boldest defense of Hezbollah’s militancy to date. During a Ramadan iftar (break-fast dinner) hosted by the Hezbollah Support Committee, Nasrallah declared:

We are not using the occupied Shebaa Farms as an excuse to bear weapons. If the area is freed the weapons will remain because we are talking about a defensive strategy against a threatening country such as Israel.

Even for Hezbollah, the level of confidence embodied in this statement is remarkable. Not only has Nasrallah suddenly reframed the rationale of Hezbollah’s militia from “resisting occupation” to national security responsibilities, but he has done so barely a week after Hezbollah created a national incident when it shot down a Lebanese army helicopter that it believed was Israeli.

Approximately two months ago, I suspected that France’s rapid rapprochement with Syria represented a reluctant acceptance of Syria’s role in Lebanon, with Syria tacitly agreeing to restrain Hezbollah, maintain domestic Lebanese stability, and prevent another Israel-Hezbollah war. Yet, if this is even the strategy, Hezbollah’s burgeoning confidence indicates that it is failing. Meanwhile, despite signaling his interest in playing the role of peace broker, Sarkozy has derived little influence for furthering Israeli-Syrian peace from his meetings with Assad: the Syrian dictator announced in Sarkozy’s presence that he remains adamantly opposed to severing its ties with either Hamas or Hezbollah, which any agreement would require.

Which raises the question: does Sarkozy even have a realistic Syrian strategy?

On Thursday, French President Nicholas Sarkozy visited Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Damascus. With another round of geeky photo-ops alongside a one-time pariah in the bag, Sarkozy thus sent the strongest message yet that France has completely retreated from its prior insistence that Syria end its interference in Lebanon.

Indeed, despite Sarkozy’s own claim that he and Assad would “affirm Lebanon’s sovereignty and independence,” Hezbollah – which has often used Syrian support to hold Lebanon hostage to its political demands – reacted to Sarkozy’s overture with profound optimism. On its media site al-Manar, Hezbollah hailed Sarkozy’s visit to Damascus as a “historic turn” that “asserts the importance of the role that Damascus plays and will play in the future on another level.” Meanwhile, Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah used the occasion of Syria’s diplomatic triumph to issue his boldest defense of Hezbollah’s militancy to date. During a Ramadan iftar (break-fast dinner) hosted by the Hezbollah Support Committee, Nasrallah declared:

We are not using the occupied Shebaa Farms as an excuse to bear weapons. If the area is freed the weapons will remain because we are talking about a defensive strategy against a threatening country such as Israel.

Even for Hezbollah, the level of confidence embodied in this statement is remarkable. Not only has Nasrallah suddenly reframed the rationale of Hezbollah’s militia from “resisting occupation” to national security responsibilities, but he has done so barely a week after Hezbollah created a national incident when it shot down a Lebanese army helicopter that it believed was Israeli.

Approximately two months ago, I suspected that France’s rapid rapprochement with Syria represented a reluctant acceptance of Syria’s role in Lebanon, with Syria tacitly agreeing to restrain Hezbollah, maintain domestic Lebanese stability, and prevent another Israel-Hezbollah war. Yet, if this is even the strategy, Hezbollah’s burgeoning confidence indicates that it is failing. Meanwhile, despite signaling his interest in playing the role of peace broker, Sarkozy has derived little influence for furthering Israeli-Syrian peace from his meetings with Assad: the Syrian dictator announced in Sarkozy’s presence that he remains adamantly opposed to severing its ties with either Hamas or Hezbollah, which any agreement would require.

Which raises the question: does Sarkozy even have a realistic Syrian strategy?

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Russia’s Kosovo Precedent

Russia’s Vladimir Putin darkly hinted that his country would invade and dismember Georgia months before last month’s war in the South Caucasus region began. “We have Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie [Transnistria],” he said back in February of this year after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, “and they say Kosovo is a special case?” Putin has a point, but only a very small one. The overwhelming majority of Kosovars want nothing more to do with Serbia just as the majorities in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia want to secede. But there the similarities end.

Kosovo is a viable nation state of more than two million people, greater in size than its neighbors Montenegro and Macedonia which also broke free of Yugoslavia recently. (Montenegro’s secession from the Yugoslavian rump state of Serbia-Montenegro in 2006 somehow didn’t produce any hand-wringing about a “Montenegro precedent” in Russia or anywhere else.)

South Ossetia, meanwhile, has a population of around 60,000 people, the size of a small American suburb. Abkhazia’s population is less than 200,000, around the size of a large American suburb. These are not viable nation states.

Nevertheless, last week Russia recognized them as independent. Unlike Kosovo – which is formally recognized by 46 counties, including all of the G7 – no country in the world other than Russia recognizes the “independence” of Abkhazia or South Ossetia. That’s partly because what really just happened is de facto Russian annexation. Before the invasion and dismemberment of Georgia, Russia made the majority in South Ossetia and Abkhazia citizens of Russia and gave passports to anybody who asked. I just returned from a trip to Georgia, and the Russian military wouldn’t let me enter South Ossetia or even the central Georgian city of Gori because I did not have a Russian visa.

Nobody annexed Kosovo. In theory Kosovo may have been suited for annexation by Albania since around 90 percent of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians. But few Kosovars want to be part of Albania. Albania remains a dysfunctional post-communist mess of a place, though one that at least is less corrupt, authoritarian, and dysfunctional than Russia.

The biggest difference, though, is how South Ossetia and, especially, Abkhazia managed to forge themselves as autonomous regions of Georgia in the first place.

In 1989, only 17 percent of what is now Abkhazia was ethnically Abkhaz. Almost half its population were ethnic Georgians. The remaining population was made up mostly of Russians, Armenians, and Greeks. After a brutal war of ethnic-cleansing in 1992 and 1993, most of the Georgians were killed or driven out. More than 200,000 remain internally displaced persons inside their own country. Most of the Russians, most of the Greeks, and almost half the Armenians have also since left. An Abkhazian majority that wants to secede from Georgia wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for that war and the mass reduction of ethnic Georgians who lived there.

South Ossetia is more ambiguous. Unlike Abkhazia, that district did begin in the post-Soviet era with an ethnic Ossetian majority, but ethnic Georgians made up nearly a third of its population until most were driven out by Russia’s invasion last month.

Kosovo was not created by ethnic cleansing. Ethnic Albanians did not need to drive out Serbs in order to create a space where they were a majority with the plausible ability to secede. They made up the overwhelming majority before a single shot was fired in the 1999 war, just as they make up the overwhelming majority now.

Kosovo’s Albanians, however, were the victims of a massive ethnic-cleansing campaign by Serbian Nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic, whose forces displaced 90 percent of the population and drove almost 50 percent out of the country entirely. That is what Kosovo has in common with Abkhazia. Kosovo would still be empty of Albanians if NATO hadn’t escorted them back to their homes in 1999.

Kosovo wasn’t created by ethnic cleansing. Abkhazia was. If anyone in the Caucasus has something meaningful in common with the Albanians of Kosovo, it’s the Georgians who lived in Abkhazia.

The real parallel with Abkhazia is Bosnia’s Republica Srpska, the ethnic-Serb dominated region carved out of Bosnia by the recently captured war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Republica Srpska wouldn’t exist with an ethnic Serb majority if it weren’t first violently purged of Croats and Bosniaks in the mid 1990s.

Kosovo, to be sure, has something in common with Abkhazia. But the surface-level similarity exists far more for the convenience of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Ministry of Disinformation than it does on closer inspection in the real world. The Kosovo precedent, framed more appropriately, is a warning to tyrants and mass murderers that they may permanently lose territory they attempt to ethnically cleanse. Russia’s Abkhazia precedent, on the other hand, encourages ethnic-cleansing by rewarding its victors with international recognition of territory they violently carve out for themselves.

South Ossetia has a bit more in common with Kosovo. Though ethnic-cleansing has taken place there on a smaller scale, at least that district had an Ossetian majority to start out with. But its microscopic population of 60,000 makes the analogy a little ridiculous. If every disgruntled minority group of that size in the world justifies a massive foreign invasion and de-facto annexation, watch out. Few borders on Earth are so perfectly drawn along ethnic lines. Russia’s own are certainly not.

There are sensible reasons to be concerned about the Kosovo precedent, but the Abkhazia and South Ossetia precedents are far more dangerous to peace and stability in the world.

Russia’s Vladimir Putin darkly hinted that his country would invade and dismember Georgia months before last month’s war in the South Caucasus region began. “We have Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Pridnestrovie [Transnistria],” he said back in February of this year after Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, “and they say Kosovo is a special case?” Putin has a point, but only a very small one. The overwhelming majority of Kosovars want nothing more to do with Serbia just as the majorities in Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia want to secede. But there the similarities end.

Kosovo is a viable nation state of more than two million people, greater in size than its neighbors Montenegro and Macedonia which also broke free of Yugoslavia recently. (Montenegro’s secession from the Yugoslavian rump state of Serbia-Montenegro in 2006 somehow didn’t produce any hand-wringing about a “Montenegro precedent” in Russia or anywhere else.)

South Ossetia, meanwhile, has a population of around 60,000 people, the size of a small American suburb. Abkhazia’s population is less than 200,000, around the size of a large American suburb. These are not viable nation states.

Nevertheless, last week Russia recognized them as independent. Unlike Kosovo – which is formally recognized by 46 counties, including all of the G7 – no country in the world other than Russia recognizes the “independence” of Abkhazia or South Ossetia. That’s partly because what really just happened is de facto Russian annexation. Before the invasion and dismemberment of Georgia, Russia made the majority in South Ossetia and Abkhazia citizens of Russia and gave passports to anybody who asked. I just returned from a trip to Georgia, and the Russian military wouldn’t let me enter South Ossetia or even the central Georgian city of Gori because I did not have a Russian visa.

Nobody annexed Kosovo. In theory Kosovo may have been suited for annexation by Albania since around 90 percent of Kosovars are ethnic Albanians. But few Kosovars want to be part of Albania. Albania remains a dysfunctional post-communist mess of a place, though one that at least is less corrupt, authoritarian, and dysfunctional than Russia.

The biggest difference, though, is how South Ossetia and, especially, Abkhazia managed to forge themselves as autonomous regions of Georgia in the first place.

In 1989, only 17 percent of what is now Abkhazia was ethnically Abkhaz. Almost half its population were ethnic Georgians. The remaining population was made up mostly of Russians, Armenians, and Greeks. After a brutal war of ethnic-cleansing in 1992 and 1993, most of the Georgians were killed or driven out. More than 200,000 remain internally displaced persons inside their own country. Most of the Russians, most of the Greeks, and almost half the Armenians have also since left. An Abkhazian majority that wants to secede from Georgia wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for that war and the mass reduction of ethnic Georgians who lived there.

South Ossetia is more ambiguous. Unlike Abkhazia, that district did begin in the post-Soviet era with an ethnic Ossetian majority, but ethnic Georgians made up nearly a third of its population until most were driven out by Russia’s invasion last month.

Kosovo was not created by ethnic cleansing. Ethnic Albanians did not need to drive out Serbs in order to create a space where they were a majority with the plausible ability to secede. They made up the overwhelming majority before a single shot was fired in the 1999 war, just as they make up the overwhelming majority now.

Kosovo’s Albanians, however, were the victims of a massive ethnic-cleansing campaign by Serbian Nationalist leader Slobodan Milosevic, whose forces displaced 90 percent of the population and drove almost 50 percent out of the country entirely. That is what Kosovo has in common with Abkhazia. Kosovo would still be empty of Albanians if NATO hadn’t escorted them back to their homes in 1999.

Kosovo wasn’t created by ethnic cleansing. Abkhazia was. If anyone in the Caucasus has something meaningful in common with the Albanians of Kosovo, it’s the Georgians who lived in Abkhazia.

The real parallel with Abkhazia is Bosnia’s Republica Srpska, the ethnic-Serb dominated region carved out of Bosnia by the recently captured war criminal Radovan Karadzic. Republica Srpska wouldn’t exist with an ethnic Serb majority if it weren’t first violently purged of Croats and Bosniaks in the mid 1990s.

Kosovo, to be sure, has something in common with Abkhazia. But the surface-level similarity exists far more for the convenience of Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Ministry of Disinformation than it does on closer inspection in the real world. The Kosovo precedent, framed more appropriately, is a warning to tyrants and mass murderers that they may permanently lose territory they attempt to ethnically cleanse. Russia’s Abkhazia precedent, on the other hand, encourages ethnic-cleansing by rewarding its victors with international recognition of territory they violently carve out for themselves.

South Ossetia has a bit more in common with Kosovo. Though ethnic-cleansing has taken place there on a smaller scale, at least that district had an Ossetian majority to start out with. But its microscopic population of 60,000 makes the analogy a little ridiculous. If every disgruntled minority group of that size in the world justifies a massive foreign invasion and de-facto annexation, watch out. Few borders on Earth are so perfectly drawn along ethnic lines. Russia’s own are certainly not.

There are sensible reasons to be concerned about the Kosovo precedent, but the Abkhazia and South Ossetia precedents are far more dangerous to peace and stability in the world.

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Oprah Windbag

The web of “spiritual” gobbledygook around the Oprah Winfrey phenomenon is as thick and tacky as the fake eye-lashes she cried off her face during Barack Obama’s speech last Thursday. But if you do decide to “Live Your Best Life” and venture into the misty realms of Oprah’s “Angel Network,” you’ll find on her web page a dropdown menu under “Spirit,” and the last option there–after “Know Yourself,” “Inspiration,” “Emotional Health,” and “Body Image”–is “Martha Beck.” Beck is one of the luminaries in Oprah’s pantheon of guru saints, and if I were her I’d be severing all ties with Oprah today.

Beck wrote a book entitled Expecting Adam about how she and her husband, both Harvard-educated success stories, decided to ignore all advice to the contrary and keep their unborn son Adam after doctors diagnosed him with Down’s Syndrome. Beck appeared on an installment of Oprah’s show called “Lifestyle Makeovers: How Well Do You Cope?” Here is a sampling of what she had to impart to Oprah and her audience:

I thought my son would make me a slave with his needs and his special problems, but instead he has set me free. . . It blew my whole world apart. My first reaction was, if I keep this baby it will ruin my life. And my second reaction was-I’m keepin’ this baby. . . He was born on Mothers Day, and I was absolutely terrified. It took me about a year to stop grieving – I was grieving the loss of an expectation. . . It was a tragedy for the person I was at the time. For the person I am now – it was the best thing that ever happened to me. . . The world teaches that if we’re not quite good enough, we have to worry about measuring-up. When Adam came, I knew he was never going to measure up. So I was able to completely embrace him and adore him exactly as he was . . . From the moment he was born, he was completely devoted to getting the most joyful experience out of every day. And he taught me how to do that . . . I felt connected to Adam’s spirit long before he was born. What I didn’t know is that he would teach me to connect with my own spirit.

You get the point. Martha Beck offered to Oprah’s audience her personal experience regarding the ultimate joy she derived from keeping her Down’s Syndrome child. This was an inspirational appearance – the message being, unmistakably: special needs children are blessings and compliments, not impediments to a rich life.

Now, Oprah has called Beck, “one of the smartest women I know,” and if she believes in a fraction of what she celebrates about Beck’s story and really wants to “start a kindness chain” as she professes on her website then she should explain to Beck, and her own audience, why she’s refusing to have Sarah Palin on her show. What greater living exemplar of all the sentiments expressed above than Sarah Palin – a woman whose unconditional love for her Down’s Syndrome child could serve as a the most effective public object lesson  imaginable. Oprah should explain to Beck, and her trusting audience, why on Dec 4, 2007, she put out a casting call for “10 to 11 year olds with DS [Down Syndrome] and good speaking skills” to “say a line for [her] Martin Luther King episode,” but after crying her eyelashes off on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” she is refusing to have on her show a mother who embodies the spirit of love and acceptance professed by Dr. King. She needs to tell Martha Beck: “Yeah, I know about your son, and I know about my whole pledge to change lives for the better and all that, but you see, the thing is I signed on to support Barack Obama, and I have to stay true to his message of hope, change, and the American promise.”

The web of “spiritual” gobbledygook around the Oprah Winfrey phenomenon is as thick and tacky as the fake eye-lashes she cried off her face during Barack Obama’s speech last Thursday. But if you do decide to “Live Your Best Life” and venture into the misty realms of Oprah’s “Angel Network,” you’ll find on her web page a dropdown menu under “Spirit,” and the last option there–after “Know Yourself,” “Inspiration,” “Emotional Health,” and “Body Image”–is “Martha Beck.” Beck is one of the luminaries in Oprah’s pantheon of guru saints, and if I were her I’d be severing all ties with Oprah today.

Beck wrote a book entitled Expecting Adam about how she and her husband, both Harvard-educated success stories, decided to ignore all advice to the contrary and keep their unborn son Adam after doctors diagnosed him with Down’s Syndrome. Beck appeared on an installment of Oprah’s show called “Lifestyle Makeovers: How Well Do You Cope?” Here is a sampling of what she had to impart to Oprah and her audience:

I thought my son would make me a slave with his needs and his special problems, but instead he has set me free. . . It blew my whole world apart. My first reaction was, if I keep this baby it will ruin my life. And my second reaction was-I’m keepin’ this baby. . . He was born on Mothers Day, and I was absolutely terrified. It took me about a year to stop grieving – I was grieving the loss of an expectation. . . It was a tragedy for the person I was at the time. For the person I am now – it was the best thing that ever happened to me. . . The world teaches that if we’re not quite good enough, we have to worry about measuring-up. When Adam came, I knew he was never going to measure up. So I was able to completely embrace him and adore him exactly as he was . . . From the moment he was born, he was completely devoted to getting the most joyful experience out of every day. And he taught me how to do that . . . I felt connected to Adam’s spirit long before he was born. What I didn’t know is that he would teach me to connect with my own spirit.

You get the point. Martha Beck offered to Oprah’s audience her personal experience regarding the ultimate joy she derived from keeping her Down’s Syndrome child. This was an inspirational appearance – the message being, unmistakably: special needs children are blessings and compliments, not impediments to a rich life.

Now, Oprah has called Beck, “one of the smartest women I know,” and if she believes in a fraction of what she celebrates about Beck’s story and really wants to “start a kindness chain” as she professes on her website then she should explain to Beck, and her own audience, why she’s refusing to have Sarah Palin on her show. What greater living exemplar of all the sentiments expressed above than Sarah Palin – a woman whose unconditional love for her Down’s Syndrome child could serve as a the most effective public object lesson  imaginable. Oprah should explain to Beck, and her trusting audience, why on Dec 4, 2007, she put out a casting call for “10 to 11 year olds with DS [Down Syndrome] and good speaking skills” to “say a line for [her] Martin Luther King episode,” but after crying her eyelashes off on the 45th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream Speech,” she is refusing to have on her show a mother who embodies the spirit of love and acceptance professed by Dr. King. She needs to tell Martha Beck: “Yeah, I know about your son, and I know about my whole pledge to change lives for the better and all that, but you see, the thing is I signed on to support Barack Obama, and I have to stay true to his message of hope, change, and the American promise.”

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“Where Have You Been for 26 Years?”

This was the question asked by Barack Obama today of John McCain, directly attacking McCain’s claim to be an agent of change. I don’t really understand why he’s going down this road, since McCain can answer, quite easily, “Here’s where I have been. I changed campaign-finance law. I changed telecommunications law. I took on the tobacco companies when other Republicans wouldn’t. I took on the cable companies when they wouldn’t let people choose what channels they might want to watch. I saw a standoff in the Senate on confirming judges and I changed a standoff into a bipartisan agreement. I took on the earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere and the breaks for oil companies you, Obama, voted for in 2005. And I helped change the war in Iraq from a defeat into what appears to be a victory. Where have you been for 26 years?”

I am not endorsing any of McCain’s potential answers here; his campaign finance law was awful, his approach on tobacco in 1997 disturbingly statist. But it makes no sense for Obama to pretend McCain hasn’t worked for reform, because it keeps the subject of McCain’s reformist accomplishments at the forefront of the campaign conversation. And that isn’t good for Obama.

This was the question asked by Barack Obama today of John McCain, directly attacking McCain’s claim to be an agent of change. I don’t really understand why he’s going down this road, since McCain can answer, quite easily, “Here’s where I have been. I changed campaign-finance law. I changed telecommunications law. I took on the tobacco companies when other Republicans wouldn’t. I took on the cable companies when they wouldn’t let people choose what channels they might want to watch. I saw a standoff in the Senate on confirming judges and I changed a standoff into a bipartisan agreement. I took on the earmarks and the Bridge to Nowhere and the breaks for oil companies you, Obama, voted for in 2005. And I helped change the war in Iraq from a defeat into what appears to be a victory. Where have you been for 26 years?”

I am not endorsing any of McCain’s potential answers here; his campaign finance law was awful, his approach on tobacco in 1997 disturbingly statist. But it makes no sense for Obama to pretend McCain hasn’t worked for reform, because it keeps the subject of McCain’s reformist accomplishments at the forefront of the campaign conversation. And that isn’t good for Obama.

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Two McCain Anecdotes

I have now had two-family related anecdotes about Senator McCain’s acceptance speech that indicate its impact may be more significant than I anticipated. The first came in an e-mail from my brother, a very smart political observer, who said (and I’m quoting him with his permission) that while McCain isn’t America’s greatest political orator,

he connected with me in a manner that I did not think possible…. [the speech] re-defined my opinion of the man, which will have a lasting impact…. I have not had as much interest (or even excitement) in a presidential race as I do in this one. That interest developed as both conventions unfolded. I never thought I could get excited about the McCain campaign, but that is now a real possibility. And for the first time in memory the vice presidential candidates play a major role (thanks to Palin).

The second data point: Earlier today I found myself sending a link of McCain’s speech to our home computer with a note to my wife, saying that I wanted our young children to watch the conclusion of his speech, which recounted his time as a POW and included his beautiful meditation on America. I told Cindy I thought it would teach our children an important lesson.

When I saw it last night, I immediately knew the coda of McCain’s speech was powerful, evocative, and deeply moving, even as I thought the policy section was not particularly memorable. But it may be that for many Americans, the conclusion was so powerful and moving, and such a tribute to the man and his love of country, that it will carry the day and make the speech more of a success, and more memorable, than I initially thought.

I have now had two-family related anecdotes about Senator McCain’s acceptance speech that indicate its impact may be more significant than I anticipated. The first came in an e-mail from my brother, a very smart political observer, who said (and I’m quoting him with his permission) that while McCain isn’t America’s greatest political orator,

he connected with me in a manner that I did not think possible…. [the speech] re-defined my opinion of the man, which will have a lasting impact…. I have not had as much interest (or even excitement) in a presidential race as I do in this one. That interest developed as both conventions unfolded. I never thought I could get excited about the McCain campaign, but that is now a real possibility. And for the first time in memory the vice presidential candidates play a major role (thanks to Palin).

The second data point: Earlier today I found myself sending a link of McCain’s speech to our home computer with a note to my wife, saying that I wanted our young children to watch the conclusion of his speech, which recounted his time as a POW and included his beautiful meditation on America. I told Cindy I thought it would teach our children an important lesson.

When I saw it last night, I immediately knew the coda of McCain’s speech was powerful, evocative, and deeply moving, even as I thought the policy section was not particularly memorable. But it may be that for many Americans, the conclusion was so powerful and moving, and such a tribute to the man and his love of country, that it will carry the day and make the speech more of a success, and more memorable, than I initially thought.

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Mad Dog and Condi

Today, Condoleezza Rice arrived in Libya, the first trip there by an American secretary of state in 55 years.  There she will share Iftar-a meal breaking the fast of Ramadan-with Muammar Qaddafi.

How nice.  Qaddafi, whom Reagan labeled the “Mad Dog of the Middle East,” is over the moon to meet “Leezza” his pet name for Rice.  The Libyan has also called her “my darling black African woman.”

Clearly, the colonel ruling Libya has lost none of his flamboyance.  And he also retains his taste for running a repressive dictatorial state.  Rice, however, speaks of Libya as “a place that is changing.”  Of course.  She will raise the issue of human rights, but no one thinks she will make progress beyond the release of a dissident, if that.  So what is she really doing there at this time?

The trip was announced only a few days ago.  Most observers seem to think the timing is linked to last month’s signing of a compensation deal with Tripoli for the victims of Libyan and American bombings.  Perhaps that is true, but Ms. Rice’s schedulers must also have been thinking of someone else, someone who definitely will not be in the tent when America’s top diplomat meets the Libyan autocrat in the shifting sands of North Africa.  That person would be an even weirder personality than Qaddafi: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

Chairman Kim, in the last few days, began the process of firing up his mothballed reactor in Yongbyon as his nuclear agreement with the United States fell apart.  It seems he is upset because the State Department has refused to take his regime off its list of state sponsors of terrorism.  The North Korean is, I think, Rice’s real audience when she notes, as she did today, the “historic decision that Libya made to give up its weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism.”  The State Department, by the way, has taken Qaddafi’s government off its terrorism-sponsors list, a point that will not be lost on Kim as he romps through his seven-story pleasure palace in Pyongyang with virginal girls from the North Korean countryside.

Kim could, of course, take a page out of Qaddafi’s notebook and reengage with the West.  He has more reason to do so because his country is headed toward another devastating famine.  Yet the North Korean is shrewder, tougher, and more resolute than his Libyan counterpart.  That means Rice can break bread with Qaddafi, but she will need to get in touch with her hard side-she has a hard side, doesn’t she?-when she next turns her attention to North Asia, as she soon must.

Today, Condoleezza Rice arrived in Libya, the first trip there by an American secretary of state in 55 years.  There she will share Iftar-a meal breaking the fast of Ramadan-with Muammar Qaddafi.

How nice.  Qaddafi, whom Reagan labeled the “Mad Dog of the Middle East,” is over the moon to meet “Leezza” his pet name for Rice.  The Libyan has also called her “my darling black African woman.”

Clearly, the colonel ruling Libya has lost none of his flamboyance.  And he also retains his taste for running a repressive dictatorial state.  Rice, however, speaks of Libya as “a place that is changing.”  Of course.  She will raise the issue of human rights, but no one thinks she will make progress beyond the release of a dissident, if that.  So what is she really doing there at this time?

The trip was announced only a few days ago.  Most observers seem to think the timing is linked to last month’s signing of a compensation deal with Tripoli for the victims of Libyan and American bombings.  Perhaps that is true, but Ms. Rice’s schedulers must also have been thinking of someone else, someone who definitely will not be in the tent when America’s top diplomat meets the Libyan autocrat in the shifting sands of North Africa.  That person would be an even weirder personality than Qaddafi: North Korea’s Kim Jong Il.

Chairman Kim, in the last few days, began the process of firing up his mothballed reactor in Yongbyon as his nuclear agreement with the United States fell apart.  It seems he is upset because the State Department has refused to take his regime off its list of state sponsors of terrorism.  The North Korean is, I think, Rice’s real audience when she notes, as she did today, the “historic decision that Libya made to give up its weapons of mass destruction and to renounce terrorism.”  The State Department, by the way, has taken Qaddafi’s government off its terrorism-sponsors list, a point that will not be lost on Kim as he romps through his seven-story pleasure palace in Pyongyang with virginal girls from the North Korean countryside.

Kim could, of course, take a page out of Qaddafi’s notebook and reengage with the West.  He has more reason to do so because his country is headed toward another devastating famine.  Yet the North Korean is shrewder, tougher, and more resolute than his Libyan counterpart.  That means Rice can break bread with Qaddafi, but she will need to get in touch with her hard side-she has a hard side, doesn’t she?-when she next turns her attention to North Asia, as she soon must.

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What Is Ahead

There are many more questions coming out of the conventions than answers. The two most significant are whether Barack Obama has forfeited his “change” argument with the selection of Joe Biden and whether John McCain has sacrificed his experience one by choosing Sarah Palin. I tend to think the answer is “Not really” to both. Obama is still running for the top of the ticket and McCain for the top of his. Obama still has to clear the bar as national security and McCain still must demonstrate he isn’t George W. Bush.

But the wild card is, of course, Sarah Palin. She disrupts the flow of the election in multiple ways. First, the Obama camp has confessed to running a turnout election, in part banking on a depressed Republican turnout. Problem: the Republicans are the least depressed group of people in America now. Indeed, they are in a state of Palin-induced elation. Second, no one has a clue really which segments of the Hillary Clinton vote are now up for grabs. I maintain that hard-core Democratic pro-choice voters aren’t in play, but female Reagan Democrats and apolitical women are. Third, Palin bolsters McCain’s maverick and change themes significantly. Her record, her outsider-ness and, yes, her gender give the McCain-Palin camp a large boost in the “not like other politicians” moniker. More so than the selection of Biden, the selection of Palin has muddied Obama’s monopoly on the change theme.

Then, to quote Donald Rumsfeld, we then have the unknown unknowns–those things yet to pop up. Will there be another international crisis, a mega-gaffe in a debate, or a new discovery either about Obama or Palin? Unkown. It does on one hand seem that this race has been going on forever. But this week showed we are in entirely uncharted territory.

There are many more questions coming out of the conventions than answers. The two most significant are whether Barack Obama has forfeited his “change” argument with the selection of Joe Biden and whether John McCain has sacrificed his experience one by choosing Sarah Palin. I tend to think the answer is “Not really” to both. Obama is still running for the top of the ticket and McCain for the top of his. Obama still has to clear the bar as national security and McCain still must demonstrate he isn’t George W. Bush.

But the wild card is, of course, Sarah Palin. She disrupts the flow of the election in multiple ways. First, the Obama camp has confessed to running a turnout election, in part banking on a depressed Republican turnout. Problem: the Republicans are the least depressed group of people in America now. Indeed, they are in a state of Palin-induced elation. Second, no one has a clue really which segments of the Hillary Clinton vote are now up for grabs. I maintain that hard-core Democratic pro-choice voters aren’t in play, but female Reagan Democrats and apolitical women are. Third, Palin bolsters McCain’s maverick and change themes significantly. Her record, her outsider-ness and, yes, her gender give the McCain-Palin camp a large boost in the “not like other politicians” moniker. More so than the selection of Biden, the selection of Palin has muddied Obama’s monopoly on the change theme.

Then, to quote Donald Rumsfeld, we then have the unknown unknowns–those things yet to pop up. Will there be another international crisis, a mega-gaffe in a debate, or a new discovery either about Obama or Palin? Unkown. It does on one hand seem that this race has been going on forever. But this week showed we are in entirely uncharted territory.

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Judith Warner Strikes Again

America’s most embarrassing online columnist, whose work appears Fridays on the New York Times website because  God has a sense of humor, has outdone herself today with a column on the outrage of the Sarah Palin selection:

Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.

But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.

Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?…

Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?

Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots.

Well, Judith, that depends on whether you qualify as a “real person.” If you do, then you’ve hit the nail on the head. Only it really doesn’t take being a Republican to understand this.

America’s most embarrassing online columnist, whose work appears Fridays on the New York Times website because  God has a sense of humor, has outdone herself today with a column on the outrage of the Sarah Palin selection:

Palin sounded, at times, like she was speaking a foreign language as she gave voice to the beautifully crafted words that had been prepared for her on Wednesday night.

But that wasn’t held against her. Thanks to the level of general esteem that greeted her ascent to the podium, it seems we’ve all got to celebrate the fact that America’s Hottest Governor (Princess of the Fur Rendezvous 1983, Miss Wasilla 1984) could speak at all.

Could there be a more thoroughgoing humiliation for America’s women?…

Why does this woman – who to some of us seems as fake as they can come, with her delicate infant son hauled out night after night under the klieg lights and her pregnant teenage daughter shamelessly instrumentalized for political purposes — deserve, to a unique extent among political women, to rank as so “real”?

Because the Republicans, very clearly, believe that real people are idiots.

Well, Judith, that depends on whether you qualify as a “real person.” If you do, then you’ve hit the nail on the head. Only it really doesn’t take being a Republican to understand this.

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Re: Who is Having Problems?

Jen, Biden’s comments about AIPAC, as you say, were in keeping with his peevish and often bullying personality. They reminded me of the anecdote which forms the opening two paragraphs of Michael Crowley’s New Republic profile of Biden — published in October, 2001.

It’s a bright early October morning on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden is bounding up the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building, wearing his trademark grin. As he makes for the door, he is met by a group of airline pilots and flight attendants looking vaguely heroic in their navy-blue uniforms and wing-shaped pins. A blandly handsome man in a pilot’s cap steps forward and asks Biden to help pass emergency benefits for laid-off airline workers. Biden nods as the men and women cluster around him with fawning smiles. Then he speaks. “I hope you will support my work on Amtrak as much as I have supported you,” he begins. (Biden rides Amtrak to work every day and is obsessed with the railroad.) “If not, I will screw you badly.”

A dozen faces fall in unison as Biden lectures on. “You’ve not been good to me. You’re also damn selfish. You better listen to me…” It goes on like this for a couple of minutes. Strangely, Biden keeps grinning–even fraternally slapping the stunned man’s shoulder a couple of times. When we finally head into the building, Biden’s communications director, Norm Kurz, turns to me. “What you just witnessed is classic Senator Biden.”

Obviously, this is far worse than anything Biden said about AIPAC. But it’s all a product of the same temperament.

Jen, Biden’s comments about AIPAC, as you say, were in keeping with his peevish and often bullying personality. They reminded me of the anecdote which forms the opening two paragraphs of Michael Crowley’s New Republic profile of Biden — published in October, 2001.

It’s a bright early October morning on Capitol Hill. Joe Biden is bounding up the steps of the Russell Senate Office Building, wearing his trademark grin. As he makes for the door, he is met by a group of airline pilots and flight attendants looking vaguely heroic in their navy-blue uniforms and wing-shaped pins. A blandly handsome man in a pilot’s cap steps forward and asks Biden to help pass emergency benefits for laid-off airline workers. Biden nods as the men and women cluster around him with fawning smiles. Then he speaks. “I hope you will support my work on Amtrak as much as I have supported you,” he begins. (Biden rides Amtrak to work every day and is obsessed with the railroad.) “If not, I will screw you badly.”

A dozen faces fall in unison as Biden lectures on. “You’ve not been good to me. You’re also damn selfish. You better listen to me…” It goes on like this for a couple of minutes. Strangely, Biden keeps grinning–even fraternally slapping the stunned man’s shoulder a couple of times. When we finally head into the building, Biden’s communications director, Norm Kurz, turns to me. “What you just witnessed is classic Senator Biden.”

Obviously, this is far worse than anything Biden said about AIPAC. But it’s all a product of the same temperament.

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Us vs. U.S.

Never underestimate the good sense of the gun-toting, bible-thumping, xenophobic cretins who make up our fair country. From MSNBC:

Three celebrity weeklies – OK!, People and Us Weekly – featured Sarah Palin on their cover, but one of those magazines is reportedly losing subscribers because of it.

Us Weekly, which unlike People and OK!, chose a rather caustic cover line (“Babies, Lies and Scandal”) is said to have lost thousands of subscribers in just the first 24 hours following the printing of the issue.

“I’m hearing it’s 5,000, maybe more,” says one well-placed source in the industry. Another source claimed that as many as 10,000 readers have already canceled their subscriptions. A spokesperson for Wenner Media, which publishes Us, says “it is completely false that we are losing 10,000 subscribers.” As for the 5,000 estimate, the spokesperson only said “that is false, too,” but wouldn’t comment further.

Oh, now they refrain from further comment! Back when all they had to go on was a tawdry Daily Kos campaign about deception and afflicted babies, they had no problem commenting and commenting.

Keep in mind this number represents canceled subscriptions only, and only those canceled within the first 24-hour period. Us, I suspect, does massive check-out aisle and magazine stand business. We don’t yet know how many bitter, illiterate, out-of-work, churchgoing supermarket shoppers are planning to skip over this learned and august publication while waiting for their Spam to be scanned.

The Left loves to talk about the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country. But the split that poses the greatest threat to our society is the one between the hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic bulk of middle-Americans, and the oh-so-smart people on the coasts who think they’ll get paid for throwing any old piece of trash their way.

But hey, this is actually a Left victory, too. Think of all the trees spared by the upcoming reduction in Us‘s readership. I’m sure Jann Wenner is over the moon about his contribution to the great fight against environmental catastrophe.

Never underestimate the good sense of the gun-toting, bible-thumping, xenophobic cretins who make up our fair country. From MSNBC:

Three celebrity weeklies – OK!, People and Us Weekly – featured Sarah Palin on their cover, but one of those magazines is reportedly losing subscribers because of it.

Us Weekly, which unlike People and OK!, chose a rather caustic cover line (“Babies, Lies and Scandal”) is said to have lost thousands of subscribers in just the first 24 hours following the printing of the issue.

“I’m hearing it’s 5,000, maybe more,” says one well-placed source in the industry. Another source claimed that as many as 10,000 readers have already canceled their subscriptions. A spokesperson for Wenner Media, which publishes Us, says “it is completely false that we are losing 10,000 subscribers.” As for the 5,000 estimate, the spokesperson only said “that is false, too,” but wouldn’t comment further.

Oh, now they refrain from further comment! Back when all they had to go on was a tawdry Daily Kos campaign about deception and afflicted babies, they had no problem commenting and commenting.

Keep in mind this number represents canceled subscriptions only, and only those canceled within the first 24-hour period. Us, I suspect, does massive check-out aisle and magazine stand business. We don’t yet know how many bitter, illiterate, out-of-work, churchgoing supermarket shoppers are planning to skip over this learned and august publication while waiting for their Spam to be scanned.

The Left loves to talk about the widening gap between the wealthy and the poor in this country. But the split that poses the greatest threat to our society is the one between the hard-working, God-fearing, patriotic bulk of middle-Americans, and the oh-so-smart people on the coasts who think they’ll get paid for throwing any old piece of trash their way.

But hey, this is actually a Left victory, too. Think of all the trees spared by the upcoming reduction in Us‘s readership. I’m sure Jann Wenner is over the moon about his contribution to the great fight against environmental catastrophe.

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The Enthusiasm Gap

According to the preliminary Nielsen numbers, John McCain’s acceptance speech drew a bigger audience than Obama’s:

Across all broadcast networks Thursday, Sen. McCain’s speech ended the night with a 4.8 rating/7 share, compared to Sen. Obama’s 4.3/7 average…NBC’s coverage of Sen. McCain’s speech started directly at the tail end of the opening game of NFL season, with the speech pulling in a 6.3 rating/10 share, topping Sen. Obama’s speech last week by 26%.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s speech attracted 37 million viewers to Joe Biden’s 24 million. The Republican ticket is killing its rival in terms of viewership. I’m looking forward to the thumbsucker “news analysis” pieces in the MSM about how the Obama campaign is suffering a lack of enthusiasm from the public. I kid, I kid.

According to the preliminary Nielsen numbers, John McCain’s acceptance speech drew a bigger audience than Obama’s:

Across all broadcast networks Thursday, Sen. McCain’s speech ended the night with a 4.8 rating/7 share, compared to Sen. Obama’s 4.3/7 average…NBC’s coverage of Sen. McCain’s speech started directly at the tail end of the opening game of NFL season, with the speech pulling in a 6.3 rating/10 share, topping Sen. Obama’s speech last week by 26%.

Meanwhile, Sarah Palin’s speech attracted 37 million viewers to Joe Biden’s 24 million. The Republican ticket is killing its rival in terms of viewership. I’m looking forward to the thumbsucker “news analysis” pieces in the MSM about how the Obama campaign is suffering a lack of enthusiasm from the public. I kid, I kid.

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MPAC Reacts To The RNC

Apparently, speaking factually about the threats posed to America by Islamic terrorism is “false” and “bolster[s] the credibility of would-be terrorists,” according to a news release issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in response to speeches presented at the Republican National Convention by Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani:

The Muslim Public Affairs Council expressed disapproval today over repeated comments made at the Republican National Convention last night by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Romney and Giuliani’s remarks on Islam served to equate Islam with terrorism. Making false statements only serves to increase the already high rates of violence and bigotry against Muslim Americans. Our nation faces a very real threat, but bolstering the credibility of would-be terrorists by associating them with any religion is counterproductive to our national security interests.

Riding the ebbing wave of post-9/11 fear mongering in an election season is nothing new. But our presidential candidates must ask themselves whether playing off the ignorance of a few voters worth jeopardizing the American values of pluralism and constitutional democracy?

Never mind that these two speakers aren’t still presidential candidates. Why is it that MPAC must take the extreme position of ignoring a very real threat to America and to the rest of the free world? In this same release, MPAC pulls the objectionable quotations:

“John McCain hit the nail on the head: radical violent Islam is evil, and he will defeat it!”–Mitt Romney

“For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the words ‘Islamic terrorism.’ I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe it will insult someone. Please, tell me, who are they insulting, if they say ‘Islamic terrorism?’ They are insulting terrorists.”–Rudy Giuliani

So, is MPAC suggesting that “radical violent Islam” is not evil? Or, to follow Giuliani’s thinking, is MPAC standing up for terrorists? If MPAC aims to be a serious organization which strives for the harmonious side-by-side living of persons with different religions, it must condemn in the strongest terms possible those who support terror by invoking Islam. Otherwise, it seems, one can only infer that MPAC supports the opposite–that terror in the name of Islam is permissible.

Apparently, speaking factually about the threats posed to America by Islamic terrorism is “false” and “bolster[s] the credibility of would-be terrorists,” according to a news release issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) in response to speeches presented at the Republican National Convention by Mitt Romney and Rudy Giuliani:

The Muslim Public Affairs Council expressed disapproval today over repeated comments made at the Republican National Convention last night by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani.

Romney and Giuliani’s remarks on Islam served to equate Islam with terrorism. Making false statements only serves to increase the already high rates of violence and bigotry against Muslim Americans. Our nation faces a very real threat, but bolstering the credibility of would-be terrorists by associating them with any religion is counterproductive to our national security interests.

Riding the ebbing wave of post-9/11 fear mongering in an election season is nothing new. But our presidential candidates must ask themselves whether playing off the ignorance of a few voters worth jeopardizing the American values of pluralism and constitutional democracy?

Never mind that these two speakers aren’t still presidential candidates. Why is it that MPAC must take the extreme position of ignoring a very real threat to America and to the rest of the free world? In this same release, MPAC pulls the objectionable quotations:

“John McCain hit the nail on the head: radical violent Islam is evil, and he will defeat it!”–Mitt Romney

“For four days in Denver, the Democrats were afraid to use the words ‘Islamic terrorism.’ I imagine they believe it is politically incorrect to say it. I think they believe it will insult someone. Please, tell me, who are they insulting, if they say ‘Islamic terrorism?’ They are insulting terrorists.”–Rudy Giuliani

So, is MPAC suggesting that “radical violent Islam” is not evil? Or, to follow Giuliani’s thinking, is MPAC standing up for terrorists? If MPAC aims to be a serious organization which strives for the harmonious side-by-side living of persons with different religions, it must condemn in the strongest terms possible those who support terror by invoking Islam. Otherwise, it seems, one can only infer that MPAC supports the opposite–that terror in the name of Islam is permissible.

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Who Is Having Problems?

This piece from the NY Sun details Joe Biden’s latest gaffe, which is more than a gaffe really. It is further evidence of poor temperament, something that no amount of study can solve. Putting aside the merits of his dispute with AIPAC, the tone and the fact that he is in a public spat with a key representative group from a key constituency says something about his fitness for high office. His mouth and penchant for verbosity are only part of the Biden problem. He is incapable of behaving with restraint, modesty and discretion — the very qualities you expect in a leader in high office.

Coincidentally, the Washington Post reports that Sarah Palin had an entirely polite and well-received meeting with AIPAC. Granted they likely didn’t discuss details of current negotiations but she did manage to leave a nice impression. She knows enough not to pick a public fight with a respected organization.

Josh Block, AIPAC spokesman, had this to say in answer to my inquiry about the Palin meeting: “We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel. She also expressed her support for the special friendship between the two democracies and said she would work to strengthen the ties between the United States and Israel.” After the Biden flap, AIPAC and Biden also rushed to mend fences, with Biden putting out a written statement praising AIPAC and Block telling me: “Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship. He’s been a staunch supporter of US aid to Israel, a leader in the fight against Palestinian terrorism, and is a vocal advocate of the special relationship between the two democracies. We look forward to continuing to work with him in the senate or in the White House.”

But the Biden incident and the need for damage control by Biden (or the Obama team) should be a warning. It gets to the nub of the experience issue. Part of experience is the ability to turn to the public and present evidence that you can successfully operate in delicate situations. Does Biden have such a record? Or does he have an unblemished record of bluster, obnoxious behavior (forget his exchange with Prime Minister Begin–consider his conduct in the Judge Bork hearings) and verbal insults? Is this really the man who should be a heart beat away from the Presidency?

And come to think of it, was all of this discovered in the vetting process? Perhaps he was a last minute substitution when Governor Tim Kaine’s selection became untenable in light of the Russian invasion of Georgia. This we won’t know because the MSM is uninterested and unconcerned.

So when the MSM is done embarassing themselves about the ludicrous treatment of Palin and wants to assure the voters they are “just doing their job” maybe they should turn to the gaffe machine, a contretemps waiting to happen, on the other ticket.

This piece from the NY Sun details Joe Biden’s latest gaffe, which is more than a gaffe really. It is further evidence of poor temperament, something that no amount of study can solve. Putting aside the merits of his dispute with AIPAC, the tone and the fact that he is in a public spat with a key representative group from a key constituency says something about his fitness for high office. His mouth and penchant for verbosity are only part of the Biden problem. He is incapable of behaving with restraint, modesty and discretion — the very qualities you expect in a leader in high office.

Coincidentally, the Washington Post reports that Sarah Palin had an entirely polite and well-received meeting with AIPAC. Granted they likely didn’t discuss details of current negotiations but she did manage to leave a nice impression. She knows enough not to pick a public fight with a respected organization.

Josh Block, AIPAC spokesman, had this to say in answer to my inquiry about the Palin meeting: “We had a good productive discussion on the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship and we were pleased that Gov. Palin expressed her deep, personal commitment to the safety and well-being of Israel. She also expressed her support for the special friendship between the two democracies and said she would work to strengthen the ties between the United States and Israel.” After the Biden flap, AIPAC and Biden also rushed to mend fences, with Biden putting out a written statement praising AIPAC and Block telling me: “Joe Biden is a strong supporter of the US-Israel relationship. He’s been a staunch supporter of US aid to Israel, a leader in the fight against Palestinian terrorism, and is a vocal advocate of the special relationship between the two democracies. We look forward to continuing to work with him in the senate or in the White House.”

But the Biden incident and the need for damage control by Biden (or the Obama team) should be a warning. It gets to the nub of the experience issue. Part of experience is the ability to turn to the public and present evidence that you can successfully operate in delicate situations. Does Biden have such a record? Or does he have an unblemished record of bluster, obnoxious behavior (forget his exchange with Prime Minister Begin–consider his conduct in the Judge Bork hearings) and verbal insults? Is this really the man who should be a heart beat away from the Presidency?

And come to think of it, was all of this discovered in the vetting process? Perhaps he was a last minute substitution when Governor Tim Kaine’s selection became untenable in light of the Russian invasion of Georgia. This we won’t know because the MSM is uninterested and unconcerned.

So when the MSM is done embarassing themselves about the ludicrous treatment of Palin and wants to assure the voters they are “just doing their job” maybe they should turn to the gaffe machine, a contretemps waiting to happen, on the other ticket.

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Jobs

The jobs number, reflecting a leap in unemployment to a five-year high of 6.1%, is bad news for the economy. But is it unalloyed good news for Barack Obama? The argument with John McCain boils down to “George Bush ruined the economy, McCain is more of the same” vs. “Obama will raise a ton of taxes and make things worse.” It seems that the first argument is already “factored in” to the poll numbers and voters’ antipathy toward another GOP president, although that sentiment can become more acute. But my sense is that McCain has yet to fully explain to voters what Obama has in mind and why this is a bad thing for the very issue they are concerned about–jobs.

I do expect McCain’s team to ramp up and to go after this issue in the debates. Is now really the time to hike income, corporate and capital gains taxes? Obama is either going to have to flip-flop yet again or explain what economic theory supports the view that tax increases create jobs.

The jobs number, reflecting a leap in unemployment to a five-year high of 6.1%, is bad news for the economy. But is it unalloyed good news for Barack Obama? The argument with John McCain boils down to “George Bush ruined the economy, McCain is more of the same” vs. “Obama will raise a ton of taxes and make things worse.” It seems that the first argument is already “factored in” to the poll numbers and voters’ antipathy toward another GOP president, although that sentiment can become more acute. But my sense is that McCain has yet to fully explain to voters what Obama has in mind and why this is a bad thing for the very issue they are concerned about–jobs.

I do expect McCain’s team to ramp up and to go after this issue in the debates. Is now really the time to hike income, corporate and capital gains taxes? Obama is either going to have to flip-flop yet again or explain what economic theory supports the view that tax increases create jobs.

Read Less




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