Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 4, 2009

Strike One

Bill Richardson today withdrew from consideration as Commerce Secretary in light of the widening pay-to-play investigation in New Mexico. It seems there are “just too many questions.” Hmm.  One has to wonder what both he and the President-elect were thinking. The New Mexico probe was always going to be revealed in the vetting process. So the question remains: did Richardson hide the ball or did President-elect Obama and his team not recognize the importance of the issue? (Both sides are finger-pointing.) Even if Richardson wasn’t candid, it is not as if the investigation was secret — as this report confirms:

The Richardson withdrawal, first reported Sunday afternoon by NBC News, raises questions about the thoroughness of the Obama team’s vetting process, which had been touted as one of the most stringent ever. Stories about the investigation of the CDR contract and of the donations by David Rubin — the president of CDR and a major Democratic contributor — to the Richardson-linked political action committees have appeared in news reports at least since August.

It is the Obama team’s first significant misstep (well, aside from directing a series of conversations with the known-to-be under-investiagtion Blago and not imploring fellow Democrats in Illinois to pass a bill for a special Senate election). With the advent of this incident and of Blago-gate, it is fair to ask whether the Chicago crowd isn’t too relaxed about the appearance of corruption. Have they gotten so used to the the stench of impropriety and the possibility of federal investigation that the alarm bells no longer sound? The Obama players are from Chicago, but they’re not in Chicago any longer.

The confluence of these two pay-to-play scandals isn’t being missed. Andrew Malcolm writes:

Unspoken by both Obama and Richardson today was the political reality that the Democrat-controlled Senate, which would have to confirm Democrat Richardson for the new Democratic president, is already in a mortifying fight with Illinois’ Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich over a similar federal “pay-to-play” probe of his operations, including the alleged auction of his nomination to fill Obama’s now vacant U.S. Senate seat with another Democrat.

There will be future incidents testing whether the Obama team has learned its lesson about insufficient scrutiny. Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel springs to mind. We’ll know progress has been made when we see the White House pressuring Congress for his removal from the Ways and Means Chair, and not scrambling to keep up with the latest investigation.

For now, the Obama transition crew has at least learned the second lesson of corruption scandals: throw the miscreants overboard fast. The first, of course, is don’t associate with them to begin with.

Bill Richardson today withdrew from consideration as Commerce Secretary in light of the widening pay-to-play investigation in New Mexico. It seems there are “just too many questions.” Hmm.  One has to wonder what both he and the President-elect were thinking. The New Mexico probe was always going to be revealed in the vetting process. So the question remains: did Richardson hide the ball or did President-elect Obama and his team not recognize the importance of the issue? (Both sides are finger-pointing.) Even if Richardson wasn’t candid, it is not as if the investigation was secret — as this report confirms:

The Richardson withdrawal, first reported Sunday afternoon by NBC News, raises questions about the thoroughness of the Obama team’s vetting process, which had been touted as one of the most stringent ever. Stories about the investigation of the CDR contract and of the donations by David Rubin — the president of CDR and a major Democratic contributor — to the Richardson-linked political action committees have appeared in news reports at least since August.

It is the Obama team’s first significant misstep (well, aside from directing a series of conversations with the known-to-be under-investiagtion Blago and not imploring fellow Democrats in Illinois to pass a bill for a special Senate election). With the advent of this incident and of Blago-gate, it is fair to ask whether the Chicago crowd isn’t too relaxed about the appearance of corruption. Have they gotten so used to the the stench of impropriety and the possibility of federal investigation that the alarm bells no longer sound? The Obama players are from Chicago, but they’re not in Chicago any longer.

The confluence of these two pay-to-play scandals isn’t being missed. Andrew Malcolm writes:

Unspoken by both Obama and Richardson today was the political reality that the Democrat-controlled Senate, which would have to confirm Democrat Richardson for the new Democratic president, is already in a mortifying fight with Illinois’ Democrat Gov. Rod Blagojevich over a similar federal “pay-to-play” probe of his operations, including the alleged auction of his nomination to fill Obama’s now vacant U.S. Senate seat with another Democrat.

There will be future incidents testing whether the Obama team has learned its lesson about insufficient scrutiny. Embattled Rep. Charlie Rangel springs to mind. We’ll know progress has been made when we see the White House pressuring Congress for his removal from the Ways and Means Chair, and not scrambling to keep up with the latest investigation.

For now, the Obama transition crew has at least learned the second lesson of corruption scandals: throw the miscreants overboard fast. The first, of course, is don’t associate with them to begin with.

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Re: Off and Running

It is interesting that I received in my email inbox Terry McAuliffe’s kick-off video, announcing his decision to enter the Virginia Governor’s race with this message: “You are receiving this message as a member of Hillaryclinton.com’s online community. Please take a look at the message below from Terry McAuliffe. Friends of Terry McAuliffe is solely responsible for the content of this message.”

It seems then that in exchange for all those millions (hundreds of millions) he raised for the Clintons, they provided McAuliffe with an extremely valuable email contact list. That will significantly help his fundraising efforts, but it’s also likely to rekindle opponents’ attacks that McAuliffe is a national figure and a typical political operative — not the sort who has led the state in the past. If the dig at incumbent Tim Kaine is that he is “too partisan” and not enough of a deal-maker, how will McAuliffe make the case that he — the quintessential Democratic moneyman — is a good fit for the state that has largely favored nonpartisan figures? Certainly borrowing the Clintons’ mailing list complicates matters.

And speaking of Kaine, he’s now been tapped as head of the DNC. That isn’t going to go over well in his state, as the Washington Post points out:

It will also make Kaine an irresistible target in his home state among critics who have long accused him of putting partisan politics ahead of governing. State GOP leaders are sure to accuse the governor of doing what he said he would not: shift his attention away from a state during a budget crisis that demands swift action.

Kaine also previously swore off the position, declaring he didn’t view that role as “consistent with being governor.” State Republicans will, no doubt, agree. It remains to be seen whether this move will confirm Virginia’s status as a Blue state — or potentially risks a backlash just in time for this year’s governor’s race.

For now, state Republicans are licking their chops, and banking that partisan Democrats aren’t what Virginians have in mind to lead the state. McAuliffe isn’t, after all, what comes to mind when you think of  “change” or New Politics.

It is interesting that I received in my email inbox Terry McAuliffe’s kick-off video, announcing his decision to enter the Virginia Governor’s race with this message: “You are receiving this message as a member of Hillaryclinton.com’s online community. Please take a look at the message below from Terry McAuliffe. Friends of Terry McAuliffe is solely responsible for the content of this message.”

It seems then that in exchange for all those millions (hundreds of millions) he raised for the Clintons, they provided McAuliffe with an extremely valuable email contact list. That will significantly help his fundraising efforts, but it’s also likely to rekindle opponents’ attacks that McAuliffe is a national figure and a typical political operative — not the sort who has led the state in the past. If the dig at incumbent Tim Kaine is that he is “too partisan” and not enough of a deal-maker, how will McAuliffe make the case that he — the quintessential Democratic moneyman — is a good fit for the state that has largely favored nonpartisan figures? Certainly borrowing the Clintons’ mailing list complicates matters.

And speaking of Kaine, he’s now been tapped as head of the DNC. That isn’t going to go over well in his state, as the Washington Post points out:

It will also make Kaine an irresistible target in his home state among critics who have long accused him of putting partisan politics ahead of governing. State GOP leaders are sure to accuse the governor of doing what he said he would not: shift his attention away from a state during a budget crisis that demands swift action.

Kaine also previously swore off the position, declaring he didn’t view that role as “consistent with being governor.” State Republicans will, no doubt, agree. It remains to be seen whether this move will confirm Virginia’s status as a Blue state — or potentially risks a backlash just in time for this year’s governor’s race.

For now, state Republicans are licking their chops, and banking that partisan Democrats aren’t what Virginians have in mind to lead the state. McAuliffe isn’t, after all, what comes to mind when you think of  “change” or New Politics.

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The Brave Resistance

From the JPost:

[IDF officials] said that it was likely that a number of senior Hamas operatives and terror chiefs were hiding and conducting their operations from within Shifa Hosptial in Gaza City.

“Hamas operatives are in the hospital and have disguised themselves as nurses and doctors,” one official explained.

Now the Israelis have done it — they’ve forced Hamas leaders to dress up like nurses. Zionist cruelty knows no bounds.

From the JPost:

[IDF officials] said that it was likely that a number of senior Hamas operatives and terror chiefs were hiding and conducting their operations from within Shifa Hosptial in Gaza City.

“Hamas operatives are in the hospital and have disguised themselves as nurses and doctors,” one official explained.

Now the Israelis have done it — they’ve forced Hamas leaders to dress up like nurses. Zionist cruelty knows no bounds.

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Moral Clarity from Mayor Bloomberg…

…who is in Israel right now on a solidarity mission. He gave a terrific interview to CNN today in which he called Hamas the “ultimate cowards” and dismissed the proportionality hucksters as “ridiculous.” Click here to watch.

(Hat tip: Carl in Jerusalem)

…who is in Israel right now on a solidarity mission. He gave a terrific interview to CNN today in which he called Hamas the “ultimate cowards” and dismissed the proportionality hucksters as “ridiculous.” Click here to watch.

(Hat tip: Carl in Jerusalem)

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Off and Running

Former DNC Chairman and Clinton fundraising titan Terry McAuliffe makes it official: he’s going to try to buy, er, win the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia. But the  AP sounds a warning:

McAuliffe also brings a political portfolio well to the left of Democrats Mark R. Warner and [Governor Tim] Kaine, who toiled in the state party for years before they were elected governor by pledging bipartisan cooperation and campaigning as moderates.

You have to feel a measure of sympathy for McAuliffe’s Democratic primary competitors (two journeymen Virginia legislators) who are reduced to asking the guy who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Clinton campaign to restrict himself to Virginia donors. Yeah, righhht.

As political events go, this race will be one of the more critical in 2009. Pundits can quibble about the fate of the GOP, RNC candidates can duke it out, and 2012 candidates can plot and scheme all they like, but nothing changes the political landscape (or doesn’t) like a high-profile race in a key swing state. And, yes, there is a certain irony in the course of the “Obama realignment” being determined by a Clinton crony.

Former DNC Chairman and Clinton fundraising titan Terry McAuliffe makes it official: he’s going to try to buy, er, win the Democratic nomination for Governor of Virginia. But the  AP sounds a warning:

McAuliffe also brings a political portfolio well to the left of Democrats Mark R. Warner and [Governor Tim] Kaine, who toiled in the state party for years before they were elected governor by pledging bipartisan cooperation and campaigning as moderates.

You have to feel a measure of sympathy for McAuliffe’s Democratic primary competitors (two journeymen Virginia legislators) who are reduced to asking the guy who raised hundreds of millions of dollars for the Clinton campaign to restrict himself to Virginia donors. Yeah, righhht.

As political events go, this race will be one of the more critical in 2009. Pundits can quibble about the fate of the GOP, RNC candidates can duke it out, and 2012 candidates can plot and scheme all they like, but nothing changes the political landscape (or doesn’t) like a high-profile race in a key swing state. And, yes, there is a certain irony in the course of the “Obama realignment” being determined by a Clinton crony.

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Oh, To Be a Fly on the Wall

Senate appointee Roland Burris is set to meet with Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday. The former would be wise to ask only one question:

What’s the legal basis for excluding me when state Democrats declined to strip Governor Blagojevich of his appointment power and there’s not a shred of evidence that my appointment is the result of impropriety?

If the best answer Reid can muster is “Blago is a crook,” Burris has got a darn good case. And Burris knows it:

As for whether the charges against Blagojevich taint the appointment — the central argument against seating Burris — the would-be senator and his allies are citing other high-profile elected officials who acted improperly yet still carried out their duties.

“He’s exercising his constitutional responsibilities and authority,” Burris said of Blagojevich in an interview on PBS Friday. “One other example is with my good friend, President Clinton, was also impeached. He was still carrying on the duties and responsibility of the presidency.”

Referring Saturday to appointments made by Clinton and former President Richard Nixon, [Burris consultant Prince] Riley added: “Were any of their judges pulled off the bench?”

Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn — who as head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee will have the job of recruiting and winning seats for the Republicans in 2010 — is going in for the kill, according to this report:

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Reid “has led the charge to deny the people of Illinois a voice” in the process. To be sure, Republicans like Cornyn would rather see a special election in Illinois because it would give the GOP a shot at capturing the seat.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report Saturday, Reid called Blagojevich on Dec. 3 and urged him to tap either state Veteran Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth or state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both Democrats, to fill the seat. Blagojevich was arrested less than a week later on corruption charges that included allegations he was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

The paper also reported that Reid advised the Illinois governor against selecting state Senate President Emil Jones, a mentor of President-elect Barack Obama, or Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis —all of whom, Reid reportedly said, would face difficulty holding on to the seat when it is up for election in 2010.

“For the last several weeks, Senator Reid has led the charge to deny the people of Illinois a voice in choosing their next U.S. senator in a special election,” Cornyn said in a Saturday afternoon statement. “Now we learn that Senator Reid also took the extraordinary step to lobby against two sitting U.S. congressmen and the state senate Majority Leader in Illinois, and instead told Governor Blagojevich that he supported an appointment for an individual [Duckworth] who recently lost a U.S. House election.

“The people of Illinois deserve a simple explanation from Senator Reid: Why does he believe these three Illinois officeholders are ‘unelectable’ to the U.S. Senate?” Cornyn added.

The Republicans will eventually have to decide: do they voice support for sitting Burris as the legal appointee of Blago or do they continue to push for a special election to fill the seat (which is only proper if Burris isn’t already the junior Illinois Senator)? But for now they can sit back and ask impertinent questions, making the life of Reid — who, by the way, is also up for re-election in 2010 — that much more difficult.

Senate appointee Roland Burris is set to meet with Majority Leader Harry Reid on Wednesday. The former would be wise to ask only one question:

What’s the legal basis for excluding me when state Democrats declined to strip Governor Blagojevich of his appointment power and there’s not a shred of evidence that my appointment is the result of impropriety?

If the best answer Reid can muster is “Blago is a crook,” Burris has got a darn good case. And Burris knows it:

As for whether the charges against Blagojevich taint the appointment — the central argument against seating Burris — the would-be senator and his allies are citing other high-profile elected officials who acted improperly yet still carried out their duties.

“He’s exercising his constitutional responsibilities and authority,” Burris said of Blagojevich in an interview on PBS Friday. “One other example is with my good friend, President Clinton, was also impeached. He was still carrying on the duties and responsibility of the presidency.”

Referring Saturday to appointments made by Clinton and former President Richard Nixon, [Burris consultant Prince] Riley added: “Were any of their judges pulled off the bench?”

Meanwhile, Sen. John Cornyn — who as head of the Republican Senate Campaign Committee will have the job of recruiting and winning seats for the Republicans in 2010 — is going in for the kill, according to this report:

Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said Reid “has led the charge to deny the people of Illinois a voice” in the process. To be sure, Republicans like Cornyn would rather see a special election in Illinois because it would give the GOP a shot at capturing the seat.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report Saturday, Reid called Blagojevich on Dec. 3 and urged him to tap either state Veteran Affairs Director Tammy Duckworth or state Attorney General Lisa Madigan, both Democrats, to fill the seat. Blagojevich was arrested less than a week later on corruption charges that included allegations he was trying to sell the seat to the highest bidder.

The paper also reported that Reid advised the Illinois governor against selecting state Senate President Emil Jones, a mentor of President-elect Barack Obama, or Reps. Jesse Jackson Jr. and Danny Davis —all of whom, Reid reportedly said, would face difficulty holding on to the seat when it is up for election in 2010.

“For the last several weeks, Senator Reid has led the charge to deny the people of Illinois a voice in choosing their next U.S. senator in a special election,” Cornyn said in a Saturday afternoon statement. “Now we learn that Senator Reid also took the extraordinary step to lobby against two sitting U.S. congressmen and the state senate Majority Leader in Illinois, and instead told Governor Blagojevich that he supported an appointment for an individual [Duckworth] who recently lost a U.S. House election.

“The people of Illinois deserve a simple explanation from Senator Reid: Why does he believe these three Illinois officeholders are ‘unelectable’ to the U.S. Senate?” Cornyn added.

The Republicans will eventually have to decide: do they voice support for sitting Burris as the legal appointee of Blago or do they continue to push for a special election to fill the seat (which is only proper if Burris isn’t already the junior Illinois Senator)? But for now they can sit back and ask impertinent questions, making the life of Reid — who, by the way, is also up for re-election in 2010 — that much more difficult.

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Getting Tougher on Israel

If Jews really “worry for a living,” as Aaron David Miller, a former Clinton peace team official contends – Miller now gives them another reason for worrying. Writing for Time, he predicts:

[T]he days of America’s exclusive ties to Israel may be coming to an end. Despite efforts to sound reassuring during the campaign, the new administration will have to be tough, much tougher than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were, if it’s serious about Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

Miller repeats a familiar complaint: “for the past 16 years, the United States has allowed that special bond to become exclusive in ways that undermine America’s, and Israel’s, national interests,” he writes. One can read similar assertions in Dan Kurtzer’s book, in which he blames his former boss, President Clinton, for “often allowing Israeli domestic politics effectively to veto critical issues” and blames President Bush for being “overly deferential to the stated political problems of the Israeli government.”

Miller argues that American support for the Gaza operation does not “make sense.” His explanation isn’t very detailed, but it has something to do with making life “unbearable for 1.5 million Gazans by denying aid and economic development.” Surely life in Gaza is hell, but what alternative Miller has for the country that merely wants to prevent a hostile organization from shelling its cities with rockets is not clear.

Miller also wants Obama to be tougher on the settlement issue. If this happens, it will come as no surprise to Israeli officials: most of them expect some “pressure” on the settlement issue, and would admit that on “illegal outposts” Israel has very few good answers. Israel has made a commitment to President Bush on this issue, and if President Obama asks Israel to show some progress Israel will have to comply.

The real question is: can the U.S. achieve more by being “balanced” and putting pressure on Israel – or can it be more effective by standing with Israel in virtually every attempt Israelis make to fight their hostile neighbors? While Arabs will be happier with an administration that’s tougher on Israel, one can argue that Israel, at least in the past, was much more cooperative when it felt safe, and much more willing to make concessions when there was no doubt of American support

Clinton got more from Rabin and Barak than George H. W. Bush got from Shamir, and George H. W. Bush got more from Israel than people might realize. Remember: the ultra-hawkish Sharon was the first Israeli Prime Minister to evacuate settlements – and this happened when Bush was in office. That’s because Sharon trusted Bush not to ask for more than is possible for Israel to give. Olmert, as Prime Minister, was willing to go much further than most of his predecessors on final-status issues for a similar reason.

If Obama is more “balanced,” if he applies more pressure, he might get some results by forcing Israelis into tough choices. But he might also discover that making Israelis feel unsafe makes them act nervously. And nervousness makes them less likely to trust both the peace process and the mediator.

If Jews really “worry for a living,” as Aaron David Miller, a former Clinton peace team official contends – Miller now gives them another reason for worrying. Writing for Time, he predicts:

[T]he days of America’s exclusive ties to Israel may be coming to an end. Despite efforts to sound reassuring during the campaign, the new administration will have to be tough, much tougher than either Bill Clinton or George W. Bush were, if it’s serious about Arab-Israeli peacemaking.

Miller repeats a familiar complaint: “for the past 16 years, the United States has allowed that special bond to become exclusive in ways that undermine America’s, and Israel’s, national interests,” he writes. One can read similar assertions in Dan Kurtzer’s book, in which he blames his former boss, President Clinton, for “often allowing Israeli domestic politics effectively to veto critical issues” and blames President Bush for being “overly deferential to the stated political problems of the Israeli government.”

Miller argues that American support for the Gaza operation does not “make sense.” His explanation isn’t very detailed, but it has something to do with making life “unbearable for 1.5 million Gazans by denying aid and economic development.” Surely life in Gaza is hell, but what alternative Miller has for the country that merely wants to prevent a hostile organization from shelling its cities with rockets is not clear.

Miller also wants Obama to be tougher on the settlement issue. If this happens, it will come as no surprise to Israeli officials: most of them expect some “pressure” on the settlement issue, and would admit that on “illegal outposts” Israel has very few good answers. Israel has made a commitment to President Bush on this issue, and if President Obama asks Israel to show some progress Israel will have to comply.

The real question is: can the U.S. achieve more by being “balanced” and putting pressure on Israel – or can it be more effective by standing with Israel in virtually every attempt Israelis make to fight their hostile neighbors? While Arabs will be happier with an administration that’s tougher on Israel, one can argue that Israel, at least in the past, was much more cooperative when it felt safe, and much more willing to make concessions when there was no doubt of American support

Clinton got more from Rabin and Barak than George H. W. Bush got from Shamir, and George H. W. Bush got more from Israel than people might realize. Remember: the ultra-hawkish Sharon was the first Israeli Prime Minister to evacuate settlements – and this happened when Bush was in office. That’s because Sharon trusted Bush not to ask for more than is possible for Israel to give. Olmert, as Prime Minister, was willing to go much further than most of his predecessors on final-status issues for a similar reason.

If Obama is more “balanced,” if he applies more pressure, he might get some results by forcing Israelis into tough choices. But he might also discover that making Israelis feel unsafe makes them act nervously. And nervousness makes them less likely to trust both the peace process and the mediator.

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Selective Outrage

Melanie Phillips writes:

And so now begins the second and most difficult stage. Inside Israel, there is both determination and dread as tens of thousands of Israel’s conscript army are called to the front. Untold numbers of these soldiers will lose their lives as the result not merely of the genocidal aims of Hamas (and its Iranian puppet-master) but also the indifference and pusillanimity towards Palestinian terror displayed by world governments over the past six decades of Israel’s fight for survival, along with the active encouragement of genocidal Islamists by leftists, Jew-haters, Muslims and useful idiots who were on such thuggish display yesterday in the co-ordinated demonstrations in British and other western cities.

Such people have made no protest at the bombardment of Israeli towns by more than 6000 rockets in the past six years, deliberately targeting innocent civilians. They have made no protest at the way Hamas has used Gazan civilians as human shields, situating itsmurderous arsenals beneath apartment blocks, in schools and hospitals and mosques in order to maximise the numbers of civilians killed (in order to manipulate all-too pliable western opinion). No, their protest only starts when Israel finally takes the military action aimed at stopping this murderous barrage.

And when, as Noah points out, the infantile Left in America ponders the terms of “just war” ideology, they conveniently and consistently leave out the disagreeable parts of the story. As Phillips notes:

The moral inversion in the west is so egregious, so monstrous, that the better Israel is shown to behave the worse the vilification that rains down upon it. What other country in the world would show such restraint in the face of more than 6000 rocket attacks upon its citizens – 6000! – that it took seven years before going to war to put a stop to it? What other country would treat individuals – including proven terrorists – from that enemy territory in its own hospitals? What other country would continue to provide essential foodstuffs and other supplies to those enemies who continued to fire rockets at it? What other country, when finally forced to go to war to stop the attacks, would show such concern to avoid the loss of civilian life that it contacts the population in enemy territory — even households containing identified terrorists – to warn them to flee from the imminent bombardment? And what other country would, for showing such unparalleled moral scrupulousness, be vilified and libelled as Israel is?

But none of that figures in the thinking of those whose sole concern seems to be to force Israel into passivity and toleration of its own citizens’ murder and its own sovereignty’s violation. For those who fret endlessly about self-determination and civilian harm, the vitriol only flows one way. One might attribute their pleas for restraint and a return to the non-existent peace process as naiveté. But at some point the facts become too difficult to ignore. The aim of the selective critics becomes clear: Israel simply can’t, in their scheme of things, be allowed to defend itself.

Melanie Phillips writes:

And so now begins the second and most difficult stage. Inside Israel, there is both determination and dread as tens of thousands of Israel’s conscript army are called to the front. Untold numbers of these soldiers will lose their lives as the result not merely of the genocidal aims of Hamas (and its Iranian puppet-master) but also the indifference and pusillanimity towards Palestinian terror displayed by world governments over the past six decades of Israel’s fight for survival, along with the active encouragement of genocidal Islamists by leftists, Jew-haters, Muslims and useful idiots who were on such thuggish display yesterday in the co-ordinated demonstrations in British and other western cities.

Such people have made no protest at the bombardment of Israeli towns by more than 6000 rockets in the past six years, deliberately targeting innocent civilians. They have made no protest at the way Hamas has used Gazan civilians as human shields, situating itsmurderous arsenals beneath apartment blocks, in schools and hospitals and mosques in order to maximise the numbers of civilians killed (in order to manipulate all-too pliable western opinion). No, their protest only starts when Israel finally takes the military action aimed at stopping this murderous barrage.

And when, as Noah points out, the infantile Left in America ponders the terms of “just war” ideology, they conveniently and consistently leave out the disagreeable parts of the story. As Phillips notes:

The moral inversion in the west is so egregious, so monstrous, that the better Israel is shown to behave the worse the vilification that rains down upon it. What other country in the world would show such restraint in the face of more than 6000 rocket attacks upon its citizens – 6000! – that it took seven years before going to war to put a stop to it? What other country would treat individuals – including proven terrorists – from that enemy territory in its own hospitals? What other country would continue to provide essential foodstuffs and other supplies to those enemies who continued to fire rockets at it? What other country, when finally forced to go to war to stop the attacks, would show such concern to avoid the loss of civilian life that it contacts the population in enemy territory — even households containing identified terrorists – to warn them to flee from the imminent bombardment? And what other country would, for showing such unparalleled moral scrupulousness, be vilified and libelled as Israel is?

But none of that figures in the thinking of those whose sole concern seems to be to force Israel into passivity and toleration of its own citizens’ murder and its own sovereignty’s violation. For those who fret endlessly about self-determination and civilian harm, the vitriol only flows one way. One might attribute their pleas for restraint and a return to the non-existent peace process as naiveté. But at some point the facts become too difficult to ignore. The aim of the selective critics becomes clear: Israel simply can’t, in their scheme of things, be allowed to defend itself.

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Liveblogging & Links

Our Israeli friends Carl in Jerusalem, Aussie Dave, and The Muqata are live-blogging the ground war. And don’t miss a couple of excellent analyses: Israel’s Gaza Strategy by Martin Kramer, and On The Ground in Gaza by Barry Rubin.

Our Israeli friends Carl in Jerusalem, Aussie Dave, and The Muqata are live-blogging the ground war. And don’t miss a couple of excellent analyses: Israel’s Gaza Strategy by Martin Kramer, and On The Ground in Gaza by Barry Rubin.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Gloria Steinem comes up with a good idea (yes, she’s long overdue) on how to solve the Princess Caroline problem. But the kicker: it involves the Kennedy actually running for office. Might be a deal-breaker for the Princess who’s only interested in public life if it doesn’t entail winning the public’s approval.

There is a reason why Caroline thinks the rules don’t apply to her: the rules have never applied to her. Even in her one semi-real job for New York City’s Department of Education she was exempt from financial disclosure rules.

Wow, ya think all that debt might be a problem for the U.S. government? Some others are worried about a “time bomb” given that “about 40 percent of the debt held by private investors will mature in a year or less, according to Treasury officials. When those loans come due, the Treasury will have to borrow more money to repay them, even as it launches perhaps the most aggressive expansion of U.S. debt in modern history. With the government planning to roll over its short-term loans into more stable, long-term securities, experts say investors are likely to demand a greater return on their money, saddling taxpayers with huge new interest payments for years to come. Some analysts also worry that foreign investors, the largest U.S. creditors, may prove unable to absorb the skyrocketing debt, undermining confidence in the United States as the bedrock of the global financial system.”

The Gray Lady pleads with the President-elect not to forget the tax increases. After all, why not tax investors and wealth-creators in a recession? (So far President-elect Obama’s advisors seem smarter than this, but time will tell whether the Obama team has more collective economic and political sense than the New York Times editorial page.  Yes, a low bar to clear, indeed.)

Victor Davis Hanson points out the edifying effect of the Gaza operation: “It is now clear that the so-called and much praised ‘international community,’ the hallowed U.N., the revered EU, all pretty much are indifferent to the survival of a democratic Israel, or are actively supportive of its terrorist Hamas enemy.” But how many times do we need to re-learn that lesson?

David Ignatius is caught in his own web of contradictions: “Obama can’t wipe this slate clean. He inherits the legacy of hatred and suspicion. But that doesn’t change the essence of the challenge before him — to help the parties in the region turn a page and get on to a new one.” Actually, there is no helping people who don’t want help. And there is no wiping the slate clean when Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But it all sounds so nice.

He might not know how to balance a budget, but California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the basics right on Gaza: “This past year, we have seen far too much violence throughout the world, from the continued genocide of the people in southern Sudan to the horrible bombings in the city of Mumbai, to this week’s violence between Hamas and Israel. Every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorism and cold-blooded attacks on its people. Israel is no different and is right to defend itself against the unceasing violence of rocket attacks launched by Hamas.”

In a nutshell why President-elect Obama will bring more continuity than change on Middle East policy and why his Lefty fan club won’t like it: “[T]the new President will recognize that the line about ‘where you stand depends on where you sit’ matters most when you sit in the Oval Office. Regardless of what he said as a candidate, perhaps no issue defies easy change more than American policy toward Israel. There’s a reason for that: fundamentally, that policy is both right and the best available. Just because it hasn’t succeeded entirely doesn’t mean it’s wrong, unless one assumes every problem in the world is America’s fault and can be fixed unilaterally.”

Cliff May explains why there is no “peace process” with Hamas: “Hamas was created to fight and win holy wars – not to seek peace and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with infidels. Hamas wants a Palestinian state in place of Israel – not next door to Israel. And for Hamas, preventing Palestinian carnage is not a priority. That’s not a slander; it’s a fact. As Hamas parliamentarian Fathi Hamad eloquently phrased it: ‘We desire death as you desire life.’”

Some big name conservatives back Ken Blackwell for RNC Chairman.

You can’t quibble with this headline: “G.M.’s Secret Success.” Top secret, I’d say.

Germany’s Angela Merkel has also (at least before the ground invasion) been unusually forthright in condemning Hamas.

Claudia Rosett if Ban Ki-Moon is out to destroy Israel: “Or is he simply a fool, dutifully reciting excerpts from the UN’s Moral Equivalency Manual and Guide to Validating Tyrants and Terrorists of the Middle East. (Seems like they must have one … Maybe Kofi Annan left his dog-eared copy to Ban?) Or maybe it all amounts to the same thing. Whatever might be going through the Secretary-General’s head as he pops up to opine about Israel and Gaza, he sounds like he’s either pro-Hamas (which, with Iranian backing, is dedicated to destroying Israel) or living on Pluto.”

The final margin for Al Franken after the recount is now more than the number of allegedly double-counted ballots. We are getting to the point where Norm Coleman needs to consider his options – and conservatives need to consider by what standard they villify Al Gore for pursuing questionable post-election legal challenges yet support Coleman doing the same. Sometimes voters deserve the people they elect — and should remember fondly the alternative they rejected, however narrowly.

Gloria Steinem comes up with a good idea (yes, she’s long overdue) on how to solve the Princess Caroline problem. But the kicker: it involves the Kennedy actually running for office. Might be a deal-breaker for the Princess who’s only interested in public life if it doesn’t entail winning the public’s approval.

There is a reason why Caroline thinks the rules don’t apply to her: the rules have never applied to her. Even in her one semi-real job for New York City’s Department of Education she was exempt from financial disclosure rules.

Wow, ya think all that debt might be a problem for the U.S. government? Some others are worried about a “time bomb” given that “about 40 percent of the debt held by private investors will mature in a year or less, according to Treasury officials. When those loans come due, the Treasury will have to borrow more money to repay them, even as it launches perhaps the most aggressive expansion of U.S. debt in modern history. With the government planning to roll over its short-term loans into more stable, long-term securities, experts say investors are likely to demand a greater return on their money, saddling taxpayers with huge new interest payments for years to come. Some analysts also worry that foreign investors, the largest U.S. creditors, may prove unable to absorb the skyrocketing debt, undermining confidence in the United States as the bedrock of the global financial system.”

The Gray Lady pleads with the President-elect not to forget the tax increases. After all, why not tax investors and wealth-creators in a recession? (So far President-elect Obama’s advisors seem smarter than this, but time will tell whether the Obama team has more collective economic and political sense than the New York Times editorial page.  Yes, a low bar to clear, indeed.)

Victor Davis Hanson points out the edifying effect of the Gaza operation: “It is now clear that the so-called and much praised ‘international community,’ the hallowed U.N., the revered EU, all pretty much are indifferent to the survival of a democratic Israel, or are actively supportive of its terrorist Hamas enemy.” But how many times do we need to re-learn that lesson?

David Ignatius is caught in his own web of contradictions: “Obama can’t wipe this slate clean. He inherits the legacy of hatred and suspicion. But that doesn’t change the essence of the challenge before him — to help the parties in the region turn a page and get on to a new one.” Actually, there is no helping people who don’t want help. And there is no wiping the slate clean when Hamas wants to destroy Israel. But it all sounds so nice.

He might not know how to balance a budget, but California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger gets the basics right on Gaza: “This past year, we have seen far too much violence throughout the world, from the continued genocide of the people in southern Sudan to the horrible bombings in the city of Mumbai, to this week’s violence between Hamas and Israel. Every nation has the right to defend itself against terrorism and cold-blooded attacks on its people. Israel is no different and is right to defend itself against the unceasing violence of rocket attacks launched by Hamas.”

In a nutshell why President-elect Obama will bring more continuity than change on Middle East policy and why his Lefty fan club won’t like it: “[T]the new President will recognize that the line about ‘where you stand depends on where you sit’ matters most when you sit in the Oval Office. Regardless of what he said as a candidate, perhaps no issue defies easy change more than American policy toward Israel. There’s a reason for that: fundamentally, that policy is both right and the best available. Just because it hasn’t succeeded entirely doesn’t mean it’s wrong, unless one assumes every problem in the world is America’s fault and can be fixed unilaterally.”

Cliff May explains why there is no “peace process” with Hamas: “Hamas was created to fight and win holy wars – not to seek peace and sing ‘Kumbaya’ with infidels. Hamas wants a Palestinian state in place of Israel – not next door to Israel. And for Hamas, preventing Palestinian carnage is not a priority. That’s not a slander; it’s a fact. As Hamas parliamentarian Fathi Hamad eloquently phrased it: ‘We desire death as you desire life.’”

Some big name conservatives back Ken Blackwell for RNC Chairman.

You can’t quibble with this headline: “G.M.’s Secret Success.” Top secret, I’d say.

Germany’s Angela Merkel has also (at least before the ground invasion) been unusually forthright in condemning Hamas.

Claudia Rosett if Ban Ki-Moon is out to destroy Israel: “Or is he simply a fool, dutifully reciting excerpts from the UN’s Moral Equivalency Manual and Guide to Validating Tyrants and Terrorists of the Middle East. (Seems like they must have one … Maybe Kofi Annan left his dog-eared copy to Ban?) Or maybe it all amounts to the same thing. Whatever might be going through the Secretary-General’s head as he pops up to opine about Israel and Gaza, he sounds like he’s either pro-Hamas (which, with Iranian backing, is dedicated to destroying Israel) or living on Pluto.”

The final margin for Al Franken after the recount is now more than the number of allegedly double-counted ballots. We are getting to the point where Norm Coleman needs to consider his options – and conservatives need to consider by what standard they villify Al Gore for pursuing questionable post-election legal challenges yet support Coleman doing the same. Sometimes voters deserve the people they elect — and should remember fondly the alternative they rejected, however narrowly.

Read Less

The Luxury of Telling the Truth

Rarely in history has there been so wide a discrepancy between what diplomats are saying in public and what they are saying behind closed doors. Simply put, Hamas has been a thorn in the entire world’s side. Though they cannot say it in public, Arab leaders tacitly approve of Israel’s military campaign, because Hamas is not just Israel’s enemy, it is also an arm of Iranian-backed Islamism, something that undermines regimes in places like Egypt and Jordan.

Europe’s leaders struggle to find the balance between de rigueur condemnation of Israel and the silent acknowledgment that the Jewish state really had no choice in the matter. The White House, with little to lose and a track record of putting things more bluntly than most diplomats find tasteful, has made its sympathy for Israel clear. But almost everywhere else, leaders still cannot bring themselves to say what they think: That after days and weeks and years of raining rockets on Israeli civilians, Hamas must be stopped.

One notable exception is the government of the Czech Republic, which today enjoys the presidency of the European Union. (Another nice bit of timing, that.) A spokesman for the presidency declared that “from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step [the IDF ground offensive] as a defensive, not offensive, action.” The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said in an interview that Hamas had removed itself from any serious political discussion, and pointed out that Hamas deliberately puts its military targets in civilian centers.

“Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? … ” Schwarzenberg added. “I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth.”  

Rarely in history has there been so wide a discrepancy between what diplomats are saying in public and what they are saying behind closed doors. Simply put, Hamas has been a thorn in the entire world’s side. Though they cannot say it in public, Arab leaders tacitly approve of Israel’s military campaign, because Hamas is not just Israel’s enemy, it is also an arm of Iranian-backed Islamism, something that undermines regimes in places like Egypt and Jordan.

Europe’s leaders struggle to find the balance between de rigueur condemnation of Israel and the silent acknowledgment that the Jewish state really had no choice in the matter. The White House, with little to lose and a track record of putting things more bluntly than most diplomats find tasteful, has made its sympathy for Israel clear. But almost everywhere else, leaders still cannot bring themselves to say what they think: That after days and weeks and years of raining rockets on Israeli civilians, Hamas must be stopped.

One notable exception is the government of the Czech Republic, which today enjoys the presidency of the European Union. (Another nice bit of timing, that.) A spokesman for the presidency declared that “from the perspective of the last days, we understand this step [the IDF ground offensive] as a defensive, not offensive, action.” The Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, said in an interview that Hamas had removed itself from any serious political discussion, and pointed out that Hamas deliberately puts its military targets in civilian centers.

“Why am I one of the few that have expressed understanding for Israel? … ” Schwarzenberg added. “I am enjoying the luxury of telling the truth.”  

Read Less




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