Commentary Magazine


Posts For: February 6, 2009

Commentary of the Day

Jon Burack, on John Podhoretz:

Condemnation of Holocaust Denial has become the anti-Semite’s favorite dodge. Really, what is Holocaust Denial at this point in time other than a sign of ignorant insanity? But if you can get people to think that Holocaust Denial is the essence of contemporary anti-Semitism, any other attack on the Jew can be sold as nuance and dialogue. The key dangers to Jews in the world now are not from Holocaust Deniers, unless their psychosis is part of their anti-Zionist agendas. “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” -The Rev. Martin Luther King, 1968

Jon Burack, on John Podhoretz:

Condemnation of Holocaust Denial has become the anti-Semite’s favorite dodge. Really, what is Holocaust Denial at this point in time other than a sign of ignorant insanity? But if you can get people to think that Holocaust Denial is the essence of contemporary anti-Semitism, any other attack on the Jew can be sold as nuance and dialogue. The key dangers to Jews in the world now are not from Holocaust Deniers, unless their psychosis is part of their anti-Zionist agendas. “When people criticize Zionists, they mean Jews. You are talking anti-Semitism.” -The Rev. Martin Luther King, 1968

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Making Friends and Influencing People

Those wacky Democrats — just when you think they might be learning something they revert to form. In the Senate, George Voinovich has had enough of the non-stimulus bill and Susan Collins isn’t pleased. (Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter have not grasped the essential negotiating point here: voting “no” now is the only leverage they have to keep the pressure on for a revised bill.)

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi keeps up her appeal as the least statesman-like Speaker since, well, since forever. The latest pearl of wisdom from Pelosi who is miffed her pork-a-thon might get trimmed:

Washington seems consumed in the process argument of bipartisanship, when the rest of the country says they need this bill.

Yeah, shut up, Sens. Snowe et. al and get this done! You wonder if that is really Karl Rove in  disguise.

Perhaps this bill will get done. (I am told Reid has put the Senate in recess until 6:30 p.m. to consider the bill.) Maybe the Democrats will get a few Republicans to go along. But I think we can safely assume they haven’t carved out a broad swath of territory in the center of the political spectrum or impressed anyone with the new spirit of bipartisanship. They certainly haven’t made many Republican allies.

UPDATE: From a Capitol Hill source: “The real number I’m told is $827 billion, more than the House-passed bill, because the amendments adding money to the bill that were passed earlier are supposed to be retained.  [Senators] McConnell and McCain said on the floor this is going to cost $1.1 trillion when you add in the $348 billion in interest payments.” The Democrats have two votes –Sen. Specter (whose vote may trigger a primary challenge) and Collins. Sen. Snowe has been quiet but is the third possible vote. Minority Leader McConnell has released a statement which reads in part:

“According to the figures I’ve been given, the House bill is about $820 billion. The Senate bill, under the compromise, we believe, would be about $827 billion. Bear in mind the interest costs on either of those proposals would be $348 billion. So we’re really talking about a $1.1 trillion pending measure. A $1.1 trillion spending measure. We’re looking at a $1 trillion deficit for this fiscal year.

[.  .   .]
 
Now, if most Republicans were convinced that this would work, there might be a greater willingness to support it. But all the historical evidence suggests that it’s highly unlikely to work.  And so, you have to balance the likelihood of success versus the crushing debt that we’re levying on the backs of our children, our grandchildren, and, yes, their children. And the need to finance all of this debt which many suspect would lead to ever higher and higher interest rates which could create a new round of problems for our economy. So let me just sum it up by saying no action is not what any of my Republican colleagues are advocating.  But most of us are deeply skeptical that this will work. And that level of skepticism leads us to believe that this course of action should not be chosen. We had an opportunity to do this in a truly bipartisan basis and the President said originally he had hoped to get 80 votes. It appears that, the way this has developed, there will be some bipartisan support, but not a lot.  And it’s not likely, in the judgment of most of us, to produce the result that we all desire.  So, I will not be in a position to recommend support for this product as it has developed in spite, again, of the best efforts of those who worked on the compromise. I commend them for their willingness to try to work this out. It seems to me that it falls far short of the kind of measure that we should be passing.”

Those wacky Democrats — just when you think they might be learning something they revert to form. In the Senate, George Voinovich has had enough of the non-stimulus bill and Susan Collins isn’t pleased. (Olympia Snowe and Arlen Specter have not grasped the essential negotiating point here: voting “no” now is the only leverage they have to keep the pressure on for a revised bill.)

Meanwhile, Nancy Pelosi keeps up her appeal as the least statesman-like Speaker since, well, since forever. The latest pearl of wisdom from Pelosi who is miffed her pork-a-thon might get trimmed:

Washington seems consumed in the process argument of bipartisanship, when the rest of the country says they need this bill.

Yeah, shut up, Sens. Snowe et. al and get this done! You wonder if that is really Karl Rove in  disguise.

Perhaps this bill will get done. (I am told Reid has put the Senate in recess until 6:30 p.m. to consider the bill.) Maybe the Democrats will get a few Republicans to go along. But I think we can safely assume they haven’t carved out a broad swath of territory in the center of the political spectrum or impressed anyone with the new spirit of bipartisanship. They certainly haven’t made many Republican allies.

UPDATE: From a Capitol Hill source: “The real number I’m told is $827 billion, more than the House-passed bill, because the amendments adding money to the bill that were passed earlier are supposed to be retained.  [Senators] McConnell and McCain said on the floor this is going to cost $1.1 trillion when you add in the $348 billion in interest payments.” The Democrats have two votes –Sen. Specter (whose vote may trigger a primary challenge) and Collins. Sen. Snowe has been quiet but is the third possible vote. Minority Leader McConnell has released a statement which reads in part:

“According to the figures I’ve been given, the House bill is about $820 billion. The Senate bill, under the compromise, we believe, would be about $827 billion. Bear in mind the interest costs on either of those proposals would be $348 billion. So we’re really talking about a $1.1 trillion pending measure. A $1.1 trillion spending measure. We’re looking at a $1 trillion deficit for this fiscal year.

[.  .   .]
 
Now, if most Republicans were convinced that this would work, there might be a greater willingness to support it. But all the historical evidence suggests that it’s highly unlikely to work.  And so, you have to balance the likelihood of success versus the crushing debt that we’re levying on the backs of our children, our grandchildren, and, yes, their children. And the need to finance all of this debt which many suspect would lead to ever higher and higher interest rates which could create a new round of problems for our economy. So let me just sum it up by saying no action is not what any of my Republican colleagues are advocating.  But most of us are deeply skeptical that this will work. And that level of skepticism leads us to believe that this course of action should not be chosen. We had an opportunity to do this in a truly bipartisan basis and the President said originally he had hoped to get 80 votes. It appears that, the way this has developed, there will be some bipartisan support, but not a lot.  And it’s not likely, in the judgment of most of us, to produce the result that we all desire.  So, I will not be in a position to recommend support for this product as it has developed in spite, again, of the best efforts of those who worked on the compromise. I commend them for their willingness to try to work this out. It seems to me that it falls far short of the kind of measure that we should be passing.”

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Chavez’s Incitement

This installment of violent anti-Semitism comes courtesy of Sean Penn’s favorite demagogue:

As President Hugo Chavez intensifies his anti-Israel campaign, some Venezuelans have taken action, threatening Jews in the street and vandalizing the largest synagogue in Caracas—where they stole a database of names and addresses. Now many in Venezuela’s Jewish community fear the worst is yet to come.

Chavez artfully couches his criticism in leftist  boilerplate about the “genocidal” Israeli government, but here is where all that theoretical Third-Worldism and anti-Zionism crashes into, and sustains, real world Jew-hatred:

One week before the invasion, a Chavista columnist named Emilio Silva posted a call to action on Aporrea, a pro-government Web site, describing Jews as “squalid”—a term Chavez often uses to describe his opponents as weak—and exhorting Venezuelans to confront them as anti-government conspirators.

“Publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park,” he wrote, “shouting slogans in favor of Palestine and against that abortion: Israel.”

Silva called for protests at the synagogue, a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property, the closure of Jewish schools and a nationwide effort “to denounce publicly, with names and last names the members of powerful Jewish groups present in Venezuela.”

So, Israel’s government is “genocidal” — which logically demands that you confront local Jews for being “squalid.”

This installment of violent anti-Semitism comes courtesy of Sean Penn’s favorite demagogue:

As President Hugo Chavez intensifies his anti-Israel campaign, some Venezuelans have taken action, threatening Jews in the street and vandalizing the largest synagogue in Caracas—where they stole a database of names and addresses. Now many in Venezuela’s Jewish community fear the worst is yet to come.

Chavez artfully couches his criticism in leftist  boilerplate about the “genocidal” Israeli government, but here is where all that theoretical Third-Worldism and anti-Zionism crashes into, and sustains, real world Jew-hatred:

One week before the invasion, a Chavista columnist named Emilio Silva posted a call to action on Aporrea, a pro-government Web site, describing Jews as “squalid”—a term Chavez often uses to describe his opponents as weak—and exhorting Venezuelans to confront them as anti-government conspirators.

“Publicly challenge every Jew that you find in the street, shopping center or park,” he wrote, “shouting slogans in favor of Palestine and against that abortion: Israel.”

Silva called for protests at the synagogue, a boycott of Jewish-owned businesses, seizures of Jewish-owned property, the closure of Jewish schools and a nationwide effort “to denounce publicly, with names and last names the members of powerful Jewish groups present in Venezuela.”

So, Israel’s government is “genocidal” — which logically demands that you confront local Jews for being “squalid.”

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Speak Up

The Washington Post readily acknowledges that the Iraqi provincial elections and the success of Prime Minister Maliki were also “a victory for American goals.” The reporters dig up an unidentified senior official for this reaction:

Any election where [there is] fairness and generally aboveboard practices, where the people get a chance to vote and they’re not rioting in the streets and throwing bombs . . . is a good result. . . We should celebrate that. So far, so good.

What remains unclear is why the president or his top officials aren’t saying that and doing so on the record. Do they have a problem with success?

Even if you accept the premise that Iraq was a “mistake” or that “it wasn’t worth it,” it is the Obama administration’s responsibility to ensure Iraq remains stable, that the democratic process goes forward, and the drawing down of troops proceeds smoothly. Perhaps the studied silence is a function of not having the full foreign-policy apparatus in place. (Or maybe Christopher Hill is busy in his basic Arabic language course.) But General Odierno’s job is not made easier by the obvious lack of interest that the President is displaying in what is perhaps the only good news coming out of the Middle East these days.

The Washington Post readily acknowledges that the Iraqi provincial elections and the success of Prime Minister Maliki were also “a victory for American goals.” The reporters dig up an unidentified senior official for this reaction:

Any election where [there is] fairness and generally aboveboard practices, where the people get a chance to vote and they’re not rioting in the streets and throwing bombs . . . is a good result. . . We should celebrate that. So far, so good.

What remains unclear is why the president or his top officials aren’t saying that and doing so on the record. Do they have a problem with success?

Even if you accept the premise that Iraq was a “mistake” or that “it wasn’t worth it,” it is the Obama administration’s responsibility to ensure Iraq remains stable, that the democratic process goes forward, and the drawing down of troops proceeds smoothly. Perhaps the studied silence is a function of not having the full foreign-policy apparatus in place. (Or maybe Christopher Hill is busy in his basic Arabic language course.) But General Odierno’s job is not made easier by the obvious lack of interest that the President is displaying in what is perhaps the only good news coming out of the Middle East these days.

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What’s Not To Like?

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are quite a duo. If the Republicans wanted to invent characters as political foils they’d be hard pressed to come up with better ones.

Pelosi is a font of information — 90% of it wrong. 500 million jobs a month? Well, the boost in contraceptive funding she’s hawking will take care of that. She often has that deer-in-the-headlights appearance. Recall her run-in last summer on offshore drilling? Not a pretty sight.

Then there is Reid.  Roland Burris isn’t getting into the Senate. Oh, well . . . yes he is. Who cares about the moderate senators? Not Reid! Oh,  never mind –let’s negotiate with them all night. No, no we’re going home. For the sake of his fellow Senators (Democrats included) I hope they all have GPS handsets to follow Reid as he criss-crosses the legislative landscape. And when we get around to taxes, he’ll remind us they aren’t mandatory (even for non-cabinet appointees).

Are these two honestly the best Democrats can do? I suppose they were both adequate when it came to throwing spit balls at the Bush administration. But now they have to pass legislation that is acceptable to 60 senators, a majority of the congressmen, and a broad cross-section of Americans. They can’t make the neophyte president seem like a neophyte president. And they have to avoid appearing extreme, intransigent, and loutish. How are they doing? Not so well.

Both have helped unify the Republicans like nothing in a decade. And both have done more to sink the stimulus bill than anything the Republicans could have come up with on their own. For now at least, for Republicans, what’s not to like?

Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are quite a duo. If the Republicans wanted to invent characters as political foils they’d be hard pressed to come up with better ones.

Pelosi is a font of information — 90% of it wrong. 500 million jobs a month? Well, the boost in contraceptive funding she’s hawking will take care of that. She often has that deer-in-the-headlights appearance. Recall her run-in last summer on offshore drilling? Not a pretty sight.

Then there is Reid.  Roland Burris isn’t getting into the Senate. Oh, well . . . yes he is. Who cares about the moderate senators? Not Reid! Oh,  never mind –let’s negotiate with them all night. No, no we’re going home. For the sake of his fellow Senators (Democrats included) I hope they all have GPS handsets to follow Reid as he criss-crosses the legislative landscape. And when we get around to taxes, he’ll remind us they aren’t mandatory (even for non-cabinet appointees).

Are these two honestly the best Democrats can do? I suppose they were both adequate when it came to throwing spit balls at the Bush administration. But now they have to pass legislation that is acceptable to 60 senators, a majority of the congressmen, and a broad cross-section of Americans. They can’t make the neophyte president seem like a neophyte president. And they have to avoid appearing extreme, intransigent, and loutish. How are they doing? Not so well.

Both have helped unify the Republicans like nothing in a decade. And both have done more to sink the stimulus bill than anything the Republicans could have come up with on their own. For now at least, for Republicans, what’s not to like?

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Seeing Obama’s Hand and Raising . .

MUNICH–In the first interview of his administration, president Obama said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.” To judge by the remarks of Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani at the 45th annual Munich Security Conference, Iran is meeting Obama’s extended hand with a hand gesture of its own — the middle finger.

Larijani delivered a prize rant before an audience of American and European security types with Jim Jones, the new U.S. national security adviser, sitting front and center. Echoing the refrain of other Iranian officials, he said he would be perfectly happy to negotiate with the United States — as long as the U.S. recognized Iran’s right to go nuclear, discontinued its support for Israel, pulled all of its bases out of the Middle East, and apologized for a litany of historical sins ranging from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to the U.S. role in overthrowing Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953. He even wanted the U.S. to apologize for actions it didn’t commit, such as “encouraging Saddam Hussein to attack Iran.” This led naturally into an anti-Israel diatribe complete with pictures that Larijani held up depicting Palestinian “victims” of Israeli “atrocities.”

Having recited a long litany of America’s supposed sins, Larijani demanded: “Now with a change in tone and a few media postures, do you honestly expect this pain to go away?”

If you overlook his sophistry and his mendacity, he actually raises a good point: Why would anyone in the Obama administration expect that Iran will make substantial concessions to us based on nothing more than the new president’s willingness to negotiate? At the moment there isn’t much of an incentive for Iran to negotiate seriously because we have not managed to inflict much pain through our weak economic sanctions or any other method.

Listening to Larijiani, I was struck that he displayed the kind of passion and conviction that is utterly lacking in the comments of European politicians. They are so civilized, so ready to understand the other, so eager to be reasonable and to avoid offending anyone (other than occasionally, America). But how can they begin to understand a representative of a regime that denies the Holocaust and wants to stage another one?  The irony is that Larijani is supposed to be one of the Iranian “moderates.” Imagine what the hardliners sound like.

MUNICH–In the first interview of his administration, president Obama said, “If countries like Iran are willing to unclench their fist, they will find an extended hand from us.” To judge by the remarks of Iranian parliament speaker Ali Larijani at the 45th annual Munich Security Conference, Iran is meeting Obama’s extended hand with a hand gesture of its own — the middle finger.

Larijani delivered a prize rant before an audience of American and European security types with Jim Jones, the new U.S. national security adviser, sitting front and center. Echoing the refrain of other Iranian officials, he said he would be perfectly happy to negotiate with the United States — as long as the U.S. recognized Iran’s right to go nuclear, discontinued its support for Israel, pulled all of its bases out of the Middle East, and apologized for a litany of historical sins ranging from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima to the U.S. role in overthrowing Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadeq in 1953. He even wanted the U.S. to apologize for actions it didn’t commit, such as “encouraging Saddam Hussein to attack Iran.” This led naturally into an anti-Israel diatribe complete with pictures that Larijani held up depicting Palestinian “victims” of Israeli “atrocities.”

Having recited a long litany of America’s supposed sins, Larijani demanded: “Now with a change in tone and a few media postures, do you honestly expect this pain to go away?”

If you overlook his sophistry and his mendacity, he actually raises a good point: Why would anyone in the Obama administration expect that Iran will make substantial concessions to us based on nothing more than the new president’s willingness to negotiate? At the moment there isn’t much of an incentive for Iran to negotiate seriously because we have not managed to inflict much pain through our weak economic sanctions or any other method.

Listening to Larijiani, I was struck that he displayed the kind of passion and conviction that is utterly lacking in the comments of European politicians. They are so civilized, so ready to understand the other, so eager to be reasonable and to avoid offending anyone (other than occasionally, America). But how can they begin to understand a representative of a regime that denies the Holocaust and wants to stage another one?  The irony is that Larijani is supposed to be one of the Iranian “moderates.” Imagine what the hardliners sound like.

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The New Anti-NATO

Today, an official of the Collective Security Treaty Organization said the Russian-dominated grouping will create an integrated air-defense system that will cover the skies from China to Europe.  Specifically, there will be three such systems anchored by the Russian one.  Of these, a Russia-Belarus system looks like it will be the first to be put in place.

The move is just the last of a series of Russian initiatives to reclaim leadership in Central Asia and comes on the heels of a major victory for the Kremlin.  On Tuesday, Kyrgyzstan’s president, speaking from Moscow, announced his country was expelling the United States from the Manas air base, a vital link in the supply of NATO forces in Afghanistan.  The Kremlin insisted that Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s base-closure decision had nothing to do with Russia providing Bishkek $150 million in aid and $2 billion in loans as well as forgiving $180 million of its debt.  The Russians have always resented the presence of American forces in what they believe should be their sphere of influence, and now they are tightening their bonds in the region to exclude others.

“One Cold War was quite enough,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said two years ago as he tried to damp down tensions with Moscow.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to determine whether there will be another multi-decade struggle with the Kremlin.  There is one going on at this moment whether we choose to recognize it or not.

Are we completely clueless?  We still have a we-are-the-only-superpower view of the world and maintain a we-can-afford-to-ignore-hostile-acts approach.  The conciliatory tactics of the last few years failed to achieve a sustainable relationship with Moscow, so the change I can believe in is recognizing that our engagement policies have failed.  In short, we need to understand that Moscow, through a byproduct of its initiatives, is indirectly aiding the Taliban, and we should treat the Russians accordingly.  The watchword for the coming years should be “reciprocity.”

Today, an official of the Collective Security Treaty Organization said the Russian-dominated grouping will create an integrated air-defense system that will cover the skies from China to Europe.  Specifically, there will be three such systems anchored by the Russian one.  Of these, a Russia-Belarus system looks like it will be the first to be put in place.

The move is just the last of a series of Russian initiatives to reclaim leadership in Central Asia and comes on the heels of a major victory for the Kremlin.  On Tuesday, Kyrgyzstan’s president, speaking from Moscow, announced his country was expelling the United States from the Manas air base, a vital link in the supply of NATO forces in Afghanistan.  The Kremlin insisted that Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s base-closure decision had nothing to do with Russia providing Bishkek $150 million in aid and $2 billion in loans as well as forgiving $180 million of its debt.  The Russians have always resented the presence of American forces in what they believe should be their sphere of influence, and now they are tightening their bonds in the region to exclude others.

“One Cold War was quite enough,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said two years ago as he tried to damp down tensions with Moscow.  Unfortunately, we don’t get to determine whether there will be another multi-decade struggle with the Kremlin.  There is one going on at this moment whether we choose to recognize it or not.

Are we completely clueless?  We still have a we-are-the-only-superpower view of the world and maintain a we-can-afford-to-ignore-hostile-acts approach.  The conciliatory tactics of the last few years failed to achieve a sustainable relationship with Moscow, so the change I can believe in is recognizing that our engagement policies have failed.  In short, we need to understand that Moscow, through a byproduct of its initiatives, is indirectly aiding the Taliban, and we should treat the Russians accordingly.  The watchword for the coming years should be “reciprocity.”

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Bleak Days for the Jewish Left

Naomi Chazan is a former leader of Israel’s far-left Meretz party who served in the Knesset for many years. Of course that places her far to the right of most of the people who write about Israel in the Nation. So her recitation of the woes of the Israeli left there  was actually a change of pace from the litany of anti-Israel material so typical of that publication.

Not that Chazan refrains from opposing Israel’s attempts to defend its citizens against Hamas rockets. She opposed the incursion but is honest enough to admit that her views are shared by a tiny minority of Israelis and that even most on the left thought it was high time for the government to try and do something to stop the rain of missiles on northern Negev communities.

Also interesting is her “plague on both your houses” reactions to Israel’s foreign defenders and critics. On the one hand, she can’t stand the way Americans stand up for Israel since it undermines the efforts of the far left to push for more concessions. But she’s also unhappy that the opposition to the Gaza operation was generally based on opposition to any form of self-defense by the Jews:

The viciousness of the criticism of Israel has all too often crossed the thin line between condemning its actions and questioning its existence. I, along with most Israelis, refuse to accede to the demand for my own demise.

That’s the sort of sentiment that passes for hard-line Zionism at forums like the Nation.

Of course Chazan, who currently serves as president of the New Israel Fund — a group that raises money from liberal Americans to support a wide variety of causes in Israel, including some Arab groups that themselves seek to demonize the Jewish state — still isn’t prepared to draw any sensible conclusions from either the behavior of the Palestinians or Hamas’s foreign cheerleaders.

Though the policies that she has spent her life promoting have failed time after time (the reason the left is about to lose Israel’s elections next week), Chazan still thinks all the peace process needs is one more good push by President Obama. Her belief that “the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for a decent life can treat each other with mutual respect and human dignity” is only half right. Even after all that has happened in the 15 1/2 disastrous years since the Oslo Accords, most Israelis would make far-reaching concessions to achieve real peace. But the Palestinians have proven time and again that they are more interested in irredentist jihad than peace.

Since most Israelis are also uninterested in acceding to demands for their “own demise,” Chazan has found herself on the margins of her country’s politics, where she belongs. Hopefully, Obama will take that into account when he ponders whether to take the advice of those who share her blind faith in a failed process.

Naomi Chazan is a former leader of Israel’s far-left Meretz party who served in the Knesset for many years. Of course that places her far to the right of most of the people who write about Israel in the Nation. So her recitation of the woes of the Israeli left there  was actually a change of pace from the litany of anti-Israel material so typical of that publication.

Not that Chazan refrains from opposing Israel’s attempts to defend its citizens against Hamas rockets. She opposed the incursion but is honest enough to admit that her views are shared by a tiny minority of Israelis and that even most on the left thought it was high time for the government to try and do something to stop the rain of missiles on northern Negev communities.

Also interesting is her “plague on both your houses” reactions to Israel’s foreign defenders and critics. On the one hand, she can’t stand the way Americans stand up for Israel since it undermines the efforts of the far left to push for more concessions. But she’s also unhappy that the opposition to the Gaza operation was generally based on opposition to any form of self-defense by the Jews:

The viciousness of the criticism of Israel has all too often crossed the thin line between condemning its actions and questioning its existence. I, along with most Israelis, refuse to accede to the demand for my own demise.

That’s the sort of sentiment that passes for hard-line Zionism at forums like the Nation.

Of course Chazan, who currently serves as president of the New Israel Fund — a group that raises money from liberal Americans to support a wide variety of causes in Israel, including some Arab groups that themselves seek to demonize the Jewish state — still isn’t prepared to draw any sensible conclusions from either the behavior of the Palestinians or Hamas’s foreign cheerleaders.

Though the policies that she has spent her life promoting have failed time after time (the reason the left is about to lose Israel’s elections next week), Chazan still thinks all the peace process needs is one more good push by President Obama. Her belief that “the vast majority of Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for a decent life can treat each other with mutual respect and human dignity” is only half right. Even after all that has happened in the 15 1/2 disastrous years since the Oslo Accords, most Israelis would make far-reaching concessions to achieve real peace. But the Palestinians have proven time and again that they are more interested in irredentist jihad than peace.

Since most Israelis are also uninterested in acceding to demands for their “own demise,” Chazan has found herself on the margins of her country’s politics, where she belongs. Hopefully, Obama will take that into account when he ponders whether to take the advice of those who share her blind faith in a failed process.

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The Politics of Confusion

The Obama administration must be an interesting place to work. The president signs an executive order banning enhanced interrogation techniques, but leaves open the door for exceptions. Eric Holder declares water-boarding to be torture. Then Leon Panetta comes along:

Under insistent questioning from a Senate panel, Mr. Panetta said that in extreme cases, if interrogators were unable to extract critical information from a terrorism suspect, he would seek White House approval for the C.I.A. to use methods that would go beyond those permitted under the new rules.

“If we had a ticking bomb situation, and obviously, whatever was being used I felt was not sufficient, I would not hesitate to go to the president of the United States and request whatever additional authority I would need,” Mr. Panetta said in his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He gave no specifics about what interrogation methods he would suggest, but he said that the agency would always abide by the law. He also said he believed that interrogators could reliably get information from detainees using non-coercive means.

“We can protect this country, we can get the information we need, we can provide for the security of the American people and we can abide by the law,” Mr. Panetta said. “I’m absolutely convinced that we can do that.”

But he also agreed that water-boarding is torture.  So what exactly would he ask the president in a ticking-time-bomb situation to do? It really is not clear — aside from all the misdirection and sanctimonious photo-ops — how this in practice would work out any differently than the Bush administration’s rules. This is not exactly the model of transparency. Confusion, maybe. Double talk — definitely.

The Obama administration must be an interesting place to work. The president signs an executive order banning enhanced interrogation techniques, but leaves open the door for exceptions. Eric Holder declares water-boarding to be torture. Then Leon Panetta comes along:

Under insistent questioning from a Senate panel, Mr. Panetta said that in extreme cases, if interrogators were unable to extract critical information from a terrorism suspect, he would seek White House approval for the C.I.A. to use methods that would go beyond those permitted under the new rules.

“If we had a ticking bomb situation, and obviously, whatever was being used I felt was not sufficient, I would not hesitate to go to the president of the United States and request whatever additional authority I would need,” Mr. Panetta said in his nomination hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

He gave no specifics about what interrogation methods he would suggest, but he said that the agency would always abide by the law. He also said he believed that interrogators could reliably get information from detainees using non-coercive means.

“We can protect this country, we can get the information we need, we can provide for the security of the American people and we can abide by the law,” Mr. Panetta said. “I’m absolutely convinced that we can do that.”

But he also agreed that water-boarding is torture.  So what exactly would he ask the president in a ticking-time-bomb situation to do? It really is not clear — aside from all the misdirection and sanctimonious photo-ops — how this in practice would work out any differently than the Bush administration’s rules. This is not exactly the model of transparency. Confusion, maybe. Double talk — definitely.

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He’s Still Campaigning

President Obama just finished the press conference about his economic team. There’s something worrying — he’s in a crisis and leaning heavily on campaign rhetoric: “We were elected because people want change,” etc. Any opposition to the stimulus is framed as an impediment to this broad (and broadly defined) electoral mandate; any dissent is called “partisan posturing”; any hold-ups are just evidence of that dreaded “business as usual.” Any alternative propositions are the failed policies of the past. Unless he gets what he wants without delay, we will all suffer irreversibly for not understanding “change.”

The nature of Obama’s campaign has allowed him to take office with a self-righteous, ready-made language in which to cloak plain old bad decisions and poor leadership. This won’t work. A skillful appearance during the campaign could get him out of a tough spot, because the campaign was his. The government and the financial system are ours and we need them to succeed. In the two-plus weeks since President Obama has taken the oath, the American public has lost interest in his fate and gotten serious about the fate of the country. As long as our president continues to wrap national crises in the scolding language of his campaign, we have to wonder if he has yet made the same adjustment.

President Obama just finished the press conference about his economic team. There’s something worrying — he’s in a crisis and leaning heavily on campaign rhetoric: “We were elected because people want change,” etc. Any opposition to the stimulus is framed as an impediment to this broad (and broadly defined) electoral mandate; any dissent is called “partisan posturing”; any hold-ups are just evidence of that dreaded “business as usual.” Any alternative propositions are the failed policies of the past. Unless he gets what he wants without delay, we will all suffer irreversibly for not understanding “change.”

The nature of Obama’s campaign has allowed him to take office with a self-righteous, ready-made language in which to cloak plain old bad decisions and poor leadership. This won’t work. A skillful appearance during the campaign could get him out of a tough spot, because the campaign was his. The government and the financial system are ours and we need them to succeed. In the two-plus weeks since President Obama has taken the oath, the American public has lost interest in his fate and gotten serious about the fate of the country. As long as our president continues to wrap national crises in the scolding language of his campaign, we have to wonder if he has yet made the same adjustment.

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Well, If He’s Going to Be this Bad. . .

Mitt Romney in a Time interview stated that the Obama team “is off to a rocky start.” Indeed.  He gave his diagnosis:

The cabinet appointments have been subject to a disappointing vetting process. His forays into foreign affairs produced a very unfortunate comment that America has been “dictating” to other nations.

And rather than proposing and driving through Congress his own economic stimulus plan, President Obama ceded the construction to House Democrats. They in turn have come up with a pork-laden, ineffective piece of legislation which I think Americans are increasingly recognizing will not solve the economic challenges we face.

And he revealed he is writing a book. Hmm, sounds like 2012 is coming sooner than we thought.

If that “rocky” start keeps up, it may change the calculus of a lot of Republican presidential contenders. If Obama is going to be the political colossus many pundits had feared, then 2012 might be a “sit back and wait year” — a cycle ambitious GOP contenders might forgo in hopes of saving their political capital to run against a non-incumbent in 2016.  But if Obama is going to be this ineffectual and pursue such unpopular policies in the next four years — those are two very big if’s — then maybe 2012 is looking like 1992 or 1980, an opportunity to knock off a less than impressive incumbent president.

There is a skill to the positioning. You want to be in the limelight, but not wear out your welcome. You want to appear serious and sober, not peevish (Mike Huckabee) or consumed with past slights (Sarah Palin). You want to be critical, but not overtly partisan. The more you see presidential contenders writing books, offering analysis, forming PAC’s, traveling overseas, and popping up on national shows far from their home bases, the more you will know that the wheels are turning: “Could 2012 be a good year? Maybe I don’t have to wait until ’16.”

One thing we know for sure — hopefuls can save a lot of time and money by not formally organizing and campaigning until 2011. Early expenditures proved relatively inconsequential in the 2008 race. But it doesn’t mean the 2012 crop will go unnoticed. Hardly — they are all going to be coming out of the woodwork if Obama’s travails keep up.

Mitt Romney in a Time interview stated that the Obama team “is off to a rocky start.” Indeed.  He gave his diagnosis:

The cabinet appointments have been subject to a disappointing vetting process. His forays into foreign affairs produced a very unfortunate comment that America has been “dictating” to other nations.

And rather than proposing and driving through Congress his own economic stimulus plan, President Obama ceded the construction to House Democrats. They in turn have come up with a pork-laden, ineffective piece of legislation which I think Americans are increasingly recognizing will not solve the economic challenges we face.

And he revealed he is writing a book. Hmm, sounds like 2012 is coming sooner than we thought.

If that “rocky” start keeps up, it may change the calculus of a lot of Republican presidential contenders. If Obama is going to be the political colossus many pundits had feared, then 2012 might be a “sit back and wait year” — a cycle ambitious GOP contenders might forgo in hopes of saving their political capital to run against a non-incumbent in 2016.  But if Obama is going to be this ineffectual and pursue such unpopular policies in the next four years — those are two very big if’s — then maybe 2012 is looking like 1992 or 1980, an opportunity to knock off a less than impressive incumbent president.

There is a skill to the positioning. You want to be in the limelight, but not wear out your welcome. You want to appear serious and sober, not peevish (Mike Huckabee) or consumed with past slights (Sarah Palin). You want to be critical, but not overtly partisan. The more you see presidential contenders writing books, offering analysis, forming PAC’s, traveling overseas, and popping up on national shows far from their home bases, the more you will know that the wheels are turning: “Could 2012 be a good year? Maybe I don’t have to wait until ’16.”

One thing we know for sure — hopefuls can save a lot of time and money by not formally organizing and campaigning until 2011. Early expenditures proved relatively inconsequential in the 2008 race. But it doesn’t mean the 2012 crop will go unnoticed. Hardly — they are all going to be coming out of the woodwork if Obama’s travails keep up.

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Re: The Daily Dearborn Independent Dish

Andrew Sullivan wonders how on earth, in this post, I could have likened him to Henry Ford and his website to Ford’s anti-Semitic rag, The Dearborn Independent.

Simple. Sullivan wrote a post yesterday arguing that neoconservatives gulled him into supporting a war against the Saddam Hussein regimer whose true, hidden, secret purpose was to create a permanent occupation of Iraq and a state of permanent war in the Middle East and Israel. And why? To benefit Israel and its most irredentist elements, a cause that is, by this analysis, more important to us neoconservatives than the fate of the United States. Since this plan was obviously not laid out step by step in an easy-to-use guidebook for Sullivan, the poor and innocent scribe so easily duped by us fiendishly clever fellows in the neocon clan, it must have been devised in secret by a — dare I say it — cabal. Of — dare I say it? — Jews.

I am, Sullivan suggests, to excuse him from any imputation of having fallen into the classic contemporary anti-Semitic caricature because he wrote a few posts attacking the Catholic Church for its behavior toward a Holocaust denier. Thanks, but no thanks.

While Sullivan may think my post cheapened COMMENTARY somehow, let me assure him that exposing the use of anti-Semitic tropes is a key part of COMMENTARY’s mission, always has been, and always will be. And, in any case, being accused of cheapening discourse by someone who spent two months making disgusting rhetorical use of a virtual speculum is high comedy indeed.

At least Charles Lindbergh knew how to fly a plane.

Andrew Sullivan wonders how on earth, in this post, I could have likened him to Henry Ford and his website to Ford’s anti-Semitic rag, The Dearborn Independent.

Simple. Sullivan wrote a post yesterday arguing that neoconservatives gulled him into supporting a war against the Saddam Hussein regimer whose true, hidden, secret purpose was to create a permanent occupation of Iraq and a state of permanent war in the Middle East and Israel. And why? To benefit Israel and its most irredentist elements, a cause that is, by this analysis, more important to us neoconservatives than the fate of the United States. Since this plan was obviously not laid out step by step in an easy-to-use guidebook for Sullivan, the poor and innocent scribe so easily duped by us fiendishly clever fellows in the neocon clan, it must have been devised in secret by a — dare I say it — cabal. Of — dare I say it? — Jews.

I am, Sullivan suggests, to excuse him from any imputation of having fallen into the classic contemporary anti-Semitic caricature because he wrote a few posts attacking the Catholic Church for its behavior toward a Holocaust denier. Thanks, but no thanks.

While Sullivan may think my post cheapened COMMENTARY somehow, let me assure him that exposing the use of anti-Semitic tropes is a key part of COMMENTARY’s mission, always has been, and always will be. And, in any case, being accused of cheapening discourse by someone who spent two months making disgusting rhetorical use of a virtual speculum is high comedy indeed.

At least Charles Lindbergh knew how to fly a plane.

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Parties, Over

Four days before Election Day in Israel and the race seems to be tightening up (see here and many other places). But what really puzzles those observers isn’t the rise of Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, or the decline of Labor. It is the fact that Israel, traditionally a country of 2 major parties (Likud and Labor), and in recent years of three major parties (Likud, Labor and Kadima), is turning into a land of 4 or 5 “major” parties – Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Labor, and maybe Shas (Shas is a little behind in the polls, but it often performs better on election day than polling reflects).

This means that an unstable political system may become even more so. This development raises the possibility that no two parties will be able to claim a clear majority, thus making a “unity” government much harder to define. On the other hand, the additional parties haven’t changed the ideological landscape all that much.

Thus the irony. On the one hand, it’s a “parliamentary” system gone wild with an unlimited menu of nuanced agendas. On the other hand, votes for particular parties have lost meaning, leaving Israel with something very similar to a presidential system. Differences between Labor, Likud and Kadima are quite slim, and choices are mostly personality-driven: a contest between Netanyahu, Livni, Barak and Lieberman. This is no longer a contest between parties, but between leaders.

And if this is a personality contest, it’s quite clear why Lieberman will be the big winner. Of course, he will not have enough votes to become the Prime Minister. But with his bluntness, aggressiveness, sarcasm, (and, yes, Russian accent)- he has the advantage of being the only candidate with, well, a distinct personality.

Four days before Election Day in Israel and the race seems to be tightening up (see here and many other places). But what really puzzles those observers isn’t the rise of Avigdor Lieberman’s Israel Beiteinu party, or the decline of Labor. It is the fact that Israel, traditionally a country of 2 major parties (Likud and Labor), and in recent years of three major parties (Likud, Labor and Kadima), is turning into a land of 4 or 5 “major” parties – Likud, Kadima, Israel Beiteinu, Labor, and maybe Shas (Shas is a little behind in the polls, but it often performs better on election day than polling reflects).

This means that an unstable political system may become even more so. This development raises the possibility that no two parties will be able to claim a clear majority, thus making a “unity” government much harder to define. On the other hand, the additional parties haven’t changed the ideological landscape all that much.

Thus the irony. On the one hand, it’s a “parliamentary” system gone wild with an unlimited menu of nuanced agendas. On the other hand, votes for particular parties have lost meaning, leaving Israel with something very similar to a presidential system. Differences between Labor, Likud and Kadima are quite slim, and choices are mostly personality-driven: a contest between Netanyahu, Livni, Barak and Lieberman. This is no longer a contest between parties, but between leaders.

And if this is a personality contest, it’s quite clear why Lieberman will be the big winner. Of course, he will not have enough votes to become the Prime Minister. But with his bluntness, aggressiveness, sarcasm, (and, yes, Russian accent)- he has the advantage of being the only candidate with, well, a distinct personality.

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Wow–That Was Fast!

Liberals may be disappointed, but conservatives are shocked. Among conservatives taken aback by the Obama semi-meltdown you hear the buzz: “Did you think it would happen this quickly?” “Aren’t you surprised how fast it happened?” The “it” is the undoing of the pretense that Obama has near-magical political powers.

Instead, what is setting in is the realization that this administration might be as bad, indeed worse, than recent ones on a basic level of competency and political dexterity.  The Obama team is resorting to crass fear mongering (“Gotta pass the stimulus, gotta pass it — no time to wait!”) and has suffered from a run of incompetent personnel blunders, an atrocious press secretary, and a startling drop in support for his signature piece of legislation.

President Obama seems to have an exceedingly low tolerance for criticism and adversity. At a Democratic retreat (which, come to think of it, is a timely idea) he dropped all pretense of bipartisanship and went rip-roaring negative on the Republicans and anyone who would question the wonderfulness of the pork-a-thon. (Senators Snowe and Specter, that must mean you guys too.) Even the New York Times thought he sounded “irritated.” Just when he needs some moderate Republican help he chooses the “blunt derision” route. Well, so much for the superior temperament.

Few imagined, after a very effective campaign and a mostly skillful transition, that the first couple of weeks would be so cringe-inducing. As Charles Krauthammer summed up:

After Obama’s miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end. The nation would rub its eyes and begin to emerge from its reverie. The hallucinatory Obama would give way to the mere mortal. The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell — and that this president told better than anyone. I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.

You didn’t think it was possible for them to offend the White House press corp, at least so quickly. It didn’t seem possible they’d really let the mask of bipartisanship slip so fast. But they did –in record time. We can mull over the reasons — arrogance, inexperience, and lack of a distinct vision (“I won” doesn’t count) all factor in. But they better get their act together, and quickly. Because one thing we know: once the president has lost the mystique of power, the political high ground and the respect of the Congress, press, and public, it’s darned hard to get it all back.

Liberals may be disappointed, but conservatives are shocked. Among conservatives taken aback by the Obama semi-meltdown you hear the buzz: “Did you think it would happen this quickly?” “Aren’t you surprised how fast it happened?” The “it” is the undoing of the pretense that Obama has near-magical political powers.

Instead, what is setting in is the realization that this administration might be as bad, indeed worse, than recent ones on a basic level of competency and political dexterity.  The Obama team is resorting to crass fear mongering (“Gotta pass the stimulus, gotta pass it — no time to wait!”) and has suffered from a run of incompetent personnel blunders, an atrocious press secretary, and a startling drop in support for his signature piece of legislation.

President Obama seems to have an exceedingly low tolerance for criticism and adversity. At a Democratic retreat (which, come to think of it, is a timely idea) he dropped all pretense of bipartisanship and went rip-roaring negative on the Republicans and anyone who would question the wonderfulness of the pork-a-thon. (Senators Snowe and Specter, that must mean you guys too.) Even the New York Times thought he sounded “irritated.” Just when he needs some moderate Republican help he chooses the “blunt derision” route. Well, so much for the superior temperament.

Few imagined, after a very effective campaign and a mostly skillful transition, that the first couple of weeks would be so cringe-inducing. As Charles Krauthammer summed up:

After Obama’s miraculous 2008 presidential campaign, it was clear that at some point the magical mystery tour would have to end. The nation would rub its eyes and begin to emerge from its reverie. The hallucinatory Obama would give way to the mere mortal. The great ethical transformations promised would be seen as a fairy tale that all presidents tell — and that this president told better than anyone. I thought the awakening would take six months. It took two and a half weeks.

You didn’t think it was possible for them to offend the White House press corp, at least so quickly. It didn’t seem possible they’d really let the mask of bipartisanship slip so fast. But they did –in record time. We can mull over the reasons — arrogance, inexperience, and lack of a distinct vision (“I won” doesn’t count) all factor in. But they better get their act together, and quickly. Because one thing we know: once the president has lost the mystique of power, the political high ground and the respect of the Congress, press, and public, it’s darned hard to get it all back.

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The New York Times Opposes a Tax Increase!

It’s true. An editorial today on the parlous condition of the Broadway theater, one of the city’s chief tourist draws:

Anybody who has paid for theater tickets recently in New York City knows what a big hole they can leave in the family budget. Gov. David Paterson of New York wants to make that hole even deeper with a new theater ticket tax.

The proposal could increase ticket prices by about 8 percent, which could dim Broadway’s lights as tourists start thinking twice about that vacation in Manhattan. If tourism slumps in the city, the state’s budget problems would surely worsen along with it. Rocco Landesman, the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, summarizes his latest pleas to lawmakers this way: “Please, don’t kill your golden goose”….The last thing New York City needs is for ticket prices to go higher and more of the Great White Way to go dark.

So the editorialists at the New York Times are finally acknowledging that if you tax something, you get less of it. This is the basic reason to oppose the levying of higher taxes in every industry, or at every income level, at any time. Amazing, isn’t it, that it should take the closing of “Spamalot” to teach the Times this elementary lesson?

It’s true. An editorial today on the parlous condition of the Broadway theater, one of the city’s chief tourist draws:

Anybody who has paid for theater tickets recently in New York City knows what a big hole they can leave in the family budget. Gov. David Paterson of New York wants to make that hole even deeper with a new theater ticket tax.

The proposal could increase ticket prices by about 8 percent, which could dim Broadway’s lights as tourists start thinking twice about that vacation in Manhattan. If tourism slumps in the city, the state’s budget problems would surely worsen along with it. Rocco Landesman, the president of Jujamcyn Theaters, summarizes his latest pleas to lawmakers this way: “Please, don’t kill your golden goose”….The last thing New York City needs is for ticket prices to go higher and more of the Great White Way to go dark.

So the editorialists at the New York Times are finally acknowledging that if you tax something, you get less of it. This is the basic reason to oppose the levying of higher taxes in every industry, or at every income level, at any time. Amazing, isn’t it, that it should take the closing of “Spamalot” to teach the Times this elementary lesson?

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A Twofer

So far, several of President Obama’s administration nominees have been derailed by scandal. Several have been caught up in tax messes while others exposed as former lobbyists.

Well, with Representative Hilda Solis, Labor Secretary nominee, he’s scored a double.
First it came out that Solis had failed to reveal her involvement with a pro-union organization, American Rights at Work. And she wasn’t just on the board of directors, she was the treasurer, who had to sign off on all expenditures by the organization — including almost a quarter of a million dollars on lobbying. And ARW’s biggest concern was the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act” — a measure co-sponsored by Solis. As the Daily Standard put it, Solis was, in essence, lobbying herself.

Unusual? Certainly. Improper? Probably. Illegal? No. But she didn’t bother to disclose her conflict of interest on her financial disclosure forms to the House, and that’s a serious no-no.

As far as taxes go, Solis’s problems are pretty trivial. Her husband owns an auto repair business that has about $6,400 in outstanding county tax liens. Solis isn’t involved in the business, though. In most cases, it would be worth a joke or two, but not a major cause for concern.

But so far three Obama nominees have had their tax woes exposed. It led to the downfall of two and the continued pillorying of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The man in charge of the IRS can’t even keep his own taxes straight? As Larry The Cable Guy says: “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.” The Obama administration can’t afford to be known as the place where they embrace tax cheats, but ask everyone else to pay their “patriotic” tax hikes.

However, Solis’s tax woes are a mere distraction. If anything, they help her — they draw attention to a trivial reason to oppose her while distracting from the real problem. Her actions with the ARW — and her failure to disclose those actions, as required, to the House — constitutes a huge ethical blind spot that should not be tolerated, let alone rewarded.

Solis’s tax problems (or, more properly, her husband’s tax problems) need to be brought up quickly, and dismissed just as quickly. That would allow for more examination of her true lapse in judgment — her serving both as a member of Congress and the treasurer of an advocacy group that worked on influencing legislation, and her failure to disclose that dual role to her colleagues.

And then, if there is still time, ask her to explain just why it is such a good thing for American workers to be denied the right to decide whether or not to join a union through the sanctity of a secret ballot.

So far, several of President Obama’s administration nominees have been derailed by scandal. Several have been caught up in tax messes while others exposed as former lobbyists.

Well, with Representative Hilda Solis, Labor Secretary nominee, he’s scored a double.
First it came out that Solis had failed to reveal her involvement with a pro-union organization, American Rights at Work. And she wasn’t just on the board of directors, she was the treasurer, who had to sign off on all expenditures by the organization — including almost a quarter of a million dollars on lobbying. And ARW’s biggest concern was the Orwellian-named “Employee Free Choice Act” — a measure co-sponsored by Solis. As the Daily Standard put it, Solis was, in essence, lobbying herself.

Unusual? Certainly. Improper? Probably. Illegal? No. But she didn’t bother to disclose her conflict of interest on her financial disclosure forms to the House, and that’s a serious no-no.

As far as taxes go, Solis’s problems are pretty trivial. Her husband owns an auto repair business that has about $6,400 in outstanding county tax liens. Solis isn’t involved in the business, though. In most cases, it would be worth a joke or two, but not a major cause for concern.

But so far three Obama nominees have had their tax woes exposed. It led to the downfall of two and the continued pillorying of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. The man in charge of the IRS can’t even keep his own taxes straight? As Larry The Cable Guy says: “I don’t care who you are, that’s funny right there.” The Obama administration can’t afford to be known as the place where they embrace tax cheats, but ask everyone else to pay their “patriotic” tax hikes.

However, Solis’s tax woes are a mere distraction. If anything, they help her — they draw attention to a trivial reason to oppose her while distracting from the real problem. Her actions with the ARW — and her failure to disclose those actions, as required, to the House — constitutes a huge ethical blind spot that should not be tolerated, let alone rewarded.

Solis’s tax problems (or, more properly, her husband’s tax problems) need to be brought up quickly, and dismissed just as quickly. That would allow for more examination of her true lapse in judgment — her serving both as a member of Congress and the treasurer of an advocacy group that worked on influencing legislation, and her failure to disclose that dual role to her colleagues.

And then, if there is still time, ask her to explain just why it is such a good thing for American workers to be denied the right to decide whether or not to join a union through the sanctity of a secret ballot.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Well if he got the kids the darn puppy, maybe this problem could be eliminated.

Peter Baker thinks the Obama administration’s tax cheaters could well have a lasting impact. Well, it would help if the tax cheats stopped popping up.

For one thing, it’s called attention to the problems of the Democrat in the NY-20 race. His excuse isn’t holding up: “But according to copies of tax documents provided to Politico, two of the tax liens (totaling $744) were issued prior to the company’s merger with IXL Inc. in January 1998. And the third lien for unpaid sales tax, which totaled $20,800, covered a time period when the company was under Murphy’s management. The $20,800 lien was paid off five months late in December 1999, but the two smaller liens are still due.”

Is Tim Geithner on thin ice? “Geithner played by the prominent-people’s rules, cut corners on his taxes, found religion, said he was sorry, said he was sorry again, and won Senate confirmation as Treasury secretary by a vote of 60-34. It was the narrowest margin for a Treasury secretary in more than half a century. If Obama screwed up in nominating and backing Daschle, the former Senate majority leader who ponied up $140,000 in back taxes and interest, what does that say about his support for Geithner?”

Okay, Robert Gibbs is not Scott McClellan — but close. Notice the press laughing at him.

For an explanation as to why investors and businesses are still spooked look no further than some of the Democrats’ policy plans. Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes: “As well as protectionism, cuts in defense spending, unionization by intimidation, and arbitrary environmental standards, the economic stimulus bill would open the floodgates of deficit spending. The ensuing debt would burden Americans far into the future.The Democrats, who control both the White House and Congress, should know better. No wonder consumers are scared, financial markets are tumbling, and unemployment continues to rise.”

Remarkable: “Eighty-one percent of Americans say the stimulus bill should be a bipartisan effort. Just 13 percent think it is okay for a bill to be passed with only the backing of the Democratic majority. There are signs that Americans are receptive to Republicans’ push to increase the proportion of tax cuts in the stimulus bill: Asked whether higher government spending or tax cuts for business would be more effective in ending the recession, 59 percent choose the tax cuts. Just 22 percent prefer more government spending.” And not surprising: “Nancy Pelosi is unknown to most Americans, but she gets a 3-to-1 negative rating from those familiar with her.” Must be those 500 million people who are losing their jobs every month.

I’m not sure the Obama team yet understands this: “Bipartisanship isn’t just Super Bowl cookies; it requires Mr. Obama forcing his own party to make ideological concessions.”

But the Democrats sure got Lindsay Graham revved up.

TNR is right that Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has a tax problem (No, you can’t make this up),  but seems confused on what the job entails: “Given how integral job-creation is to the stimulus, it’s an especially inopportune time for the Obama administration to be without a Labor Secretary.” To be clear, the Labor Department has nothing to do with job creation. However, a number of policies including card check are indeed job killers. I bet the interim appointee could function for months, years maybe, without anyone much noticing.

On Afghanistan, Joe Lieberman wisely warns: “First and most importantly, we need a surge in the strategic coherence of the war effort. As we learned in Iraq, success in counterinsurgency requires integrating military and civilian operations into a seamless and unified strategy. In Afghanistan, we do not have in place a nationwide, civil-military campaign plan to defeat the insurgency.”

Aren’t you glad the politics of fear and polarization have been declared dead by the Left ? Someone should tell Paul Krugman: “It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.” That nice Olympia Snowe and that tough Marine Jim Webb want to put the nation at risk? Shocking!

Well if he got the kids the darn puppy, maybe this problem could be eliminated.

Peter Baker thinks the Obama administration’s tax cheaters could well have a lasting impact. Well, it would help if the tax cheats stopped popping up.

For one thing, it’s called attention to the problems of the Democrat in the NY-20 race. His excuse isn’t holding up: “But according to copies of tax documents provided to Politico, two of the tax liens (totaling $744) were issued prior to the company’s merger with IXL Inc. in January 1998. And the third lien for unpaid sales tax, which totaled $20,800, covered a time period when the company was under Murphy’s management. The $20,800 lien was paid off five months late in December 1999, but the two smaller liens are still due.”

Is Tim Geithner on thin ice? “Geithner played by the prominent-people’s rules, cut corners on his taxes, found religion, said he was sorry, said he was sorry again, and won Senate confirmation as Treasury secretary by a vote of 60-34. It was the narrowest margin for a Treasury secretary in more than half a century. If Obama screwed up in nominating and backing Daschle, the former Senate majority leader who ponied up $140,000 in back taxes and interest, what does that say about his support for Geithner?”

Okay, Robert Gibbs is not Scott McClellan — but close. Notice the press laughing at him.

For an explanation as to why investors and businesses are still spooked look no further than some of the Democrats’ policy plans. Diana Furchtgott-Roth writes: “As well as protectionism, cuts in defense spending, unionization by intimidation, and arbitrary environmental standards, the economic stimulus bill would open the floodgates of deficit spending. The ensuing debt would burden Americans far into the future.The Democrats, who control both the White House and Congress, should know better. No wonder consumers are scared, financial markets are tumbling, and unemployment continues to rise.”

Remarkable: “Eighty-one percent of Americans say the stimulus bill should be a bipartisan effort. Just 13 percent think it is okay for a bill to be passed with only the backing of the Democratic majority. There are signs that Americans are receptive to Republicans’ push to increase the proportion of tax cuts in the stimulus bill: Asked whether higher government spending or tax cuts for business would be more effective in ending the recession, 59 percent choose the tax cuts. Just 22 percent prefer more government spending.” And not surprising: “Nancy Pelosi is unknown to most Americans, but she gets a 3-to-1 negative rating from those familiar with her.” Must be those 500 million people who are losing their jobs every month.

I’m not sure the Obama team yet understands this: “Bipartisanship isn’t just Super Bowl cookies; it requires Mr. Obama forcing his own party to make ideological concessions.”

But the Democrats sure got Lindsay Graham revved up.

TNR is right that Labor Secretary nominee Hilda Solis has a tax problem (No, you can’t make this up),  but seems confused on what the job entails: “Given how integral job-creation is to the stimulus, it’s an especially inopportune time for the Obama administration to be without a Labor Secretary.” To be clear, the Labor Department has nothing to do with job creation. However, a number of policies including card check are indeed job killers. I bet the interim appointee could function for months, years maybe, without anyone much noticing.

On Afghanistan, Joe Lieberman wisely warns: “First and most importantly, we need a surge in the strategic coherence of the war effort. As we learned in Iraq, success in counterinsurgency requires integrating military and civilian operations into a seamless and unified strategy. In Afghanistan, we do not have in place a nationwide, civil-military campaign plan to defeat the insurgency.”

Aren’t you glad the politics of fear and polarization have been declared dead by the Left ? Someone should tell Paul Krugman: “It’s time for Mr. Obama to go on the offensive. Above all, he must not shy away from pointing out that those who stand in the way of his plan, in the name of a discredited economic philosophy, are putting the nation’s future at risk. The American economy is on the edge of catastrophe, and much of the Republican Party is trying to push it over that edge.” That nice Olympia Snowe and that tough Marine Jim Webb want to put the nation at risk? Shocking!

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The No-State Solution

In the last ninety years, there have been ten formal peace proposals, every one of them accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs.  The two-state solution, having already had more lives than a cat, is now on its way out, the casualty of one-too many Arab rejections.  After a trip to Sderot, Michael Yon yesterday reported:

The idea of a two-state solution, once popular with many Israelis, is evaporating. More and more Israelis are coming to believe that any appeasement with the Palestinians is merely a reward for terrorism. And so it is. The Palestinians have become prisoners by their own hand. The hand that builds the bombs, wields the guns, and welds the rockets, has caused a fence to be built around them.

They are isolated and imprisoned. But it’s not only Israel who’s done this. The Gaza Strip borders Egypt, and Egypt has done the same. . . . If the Palestinians truly were a peaceful lot, victims only of Israel, one might think that they would have free entry into Egypt. But they do not.

George Mitchell will now take on the task of the prior Secretary of State, who transformed herself into a special envoy, overseeing a year-long negotiating process with endless trips to create a Palestinian state as her “legacy” – and came up dry.  No one reasonably thinks the new envoy will succeed.

In place of the two-state solution, some favor a one-state solution.  But that proposal is a non-starter for several reasons – beginning with the fact it is not intended as a solution but as a means of dismantling Israel as a Jewish state.  It is most often used simply to threaten Israel if it does not make the concession du jour.  In any event, it is impractical:  Fatah and Hamas cannot live in a single state even with themselves.

Some favor a three state solution, featuring Hamastan and Fatahland, perhaps in federations with Egypt and Jordan.  But not only do Egypt and Jordan not support it; neither do the Palestinians.  A poll published this week found that 1% favor it.  Egypt and Jordan might favor a one-state solution as long as Israel is the state at risk; if the solution is for Egypt or Jordan to do the absorbing, they see the same existential threat Israel does.

That leaves, by process of elimination, the no-state solution.  The State Department has become so wedded (against all evidence) to a Palestinian state as a “solution” that it has failed to consider that the real solution may be no state at all.  This solution would be patterned on what Israel and Egypt agreed upon in their 1978 peace treaty:  eventual Palestinian autonomy, without control of borders or airspace.

The no-state solution would be better than the one-, two- and three-state ones, because (like democracy compared to other forms of government) it would be the worst except for all the others.  But unlike the others, it might one day be possible.

In the last ninety years, there have been ten formal peace proposals, every one of them accepted by the Jews and rejected by the Arabs.  The two-state solution, having already had more lives than a cat, is now on its way out, the casualty of one-too many Arab rejections.  After a trip to Sderot, Michael Yon yesterday reported:

The idea of a two-state solution, once popular with many Israelis, is evaporating. More and more Israelis are coming to believe that any appeasement with the Palestinians is merely a reward for terrorism. And so it is. The Palestinians have become prisoners by their own hand. The hand that builds the bombs, wields the guns, and welds the rockets, has caused a fence to be built around them.

They are isolated and imprisoned. But it’s not only Israel who’s done this. The Gaza Strip borders Egypt, and Egypt has done the same. . . . If the Palestinians truly were a peaceful lot, victims only of Israel, one might think that they would have free entry into Egypt. But they do not.

George Mitchell will now take on the task of the prior Secretary of State, who transformed herself into a special envoy, overseeing a year-long negotiating process with endless trips to create a Palestinian state as her “legacy” – and came up dry.  No one reasonably thinks the new envoy will succeed.

In place of the two-state solution, some favor a one-state solution.  But that proposal is a non-starter for several reasons – beginning with the fact it is not intended as a solution but as a means of dismantling Israel as a Jewish state.  It is most often used simply to threaten Israel if it does not make the concession du jour.  In any event, it is impractical:  Fatah and Hamas cannot live in a single state even with themselves.

Some favor a three state solution, featuring Hamastan and Fatahland, perhaps in federations with Egypt and Jordan.  But not only do Egypt and Jordan not support it; neither do the Palestinians.  A poll published this week found that 1% favor it.  Egypt and Jordan might favor a one-state solution as long as Israel is the state at risk; if the solution is for Egypt or Jordan to do the absorbing, they see the same existential threat Israel does.

That leaves, by process of elimination, the no-state solution.  The State Department has become so wedded (against all evidence) to a Palestinian state as a “solution” that it has failed to consider that the real solution may be no state at all.  This solution would be patterned on what Israel and Egypt agreed upon in their 1978 peace treaty:  eventual Palestinian autonomy, without control of borders or airspace.

The no-state solution would be better than the one-, two- and three-state ones, because (like democracy compared to other forms of government) it would be the worst except for all the others.  But unlike the others, it might one day be possible.

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Reid vs. The Moderates

Harry Reid seemed in no mood early on Thursday to compromise with moderates. He had his votes and he appeared ready to ram things through. But what about the President’s encouraging words to Olympia Snowe? He wouldn’t stiff her and the other moderates, including Red State Democrats who are complaining about all the junk in the bill, would he?

Just that morning, Jim Webb had been on MSNBC saying:

My staff went through this thing a couple nights ago.  We found more than $100 billion of items that really don’t meet those criteria and that’s part of the debate we’re having right now, do we add something with those, or can we take those out?

Well, by early evening Reid sounded more contrite. Perhaps lots and lots of “work” could set things straight. And then after a few hours they all packed up and went home. It seemed that Reid could not, after all, jam through a vote.

We’ll see how it plays out. But time is not on the side of those wanting to preserve the stimulus pork. The public is on to it and doesn’t like it one bit. Aside from the substance of the arguments over the bill, the President’s credibility for dealing fairly with the key swing votes in the Senate is at issue. A Senate Republican adviser had this take:

But if Reid’s going to say no way, the pressure returns to people like Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh, and Claire McCaskill who have been all over TV talking about all the problems they have with this bill.

The moderate Senators are compiling a list of $90B worth of junky spending to take out of the bill. They may in fact succeed in making the bill more palatable to some Senators — while taking an axe to the Pelosi wish list. That will set the stage for an interesting conference committee. But in the meantime it is painfully obvious that Reid has lost control of the process. I’m sure President Obama can sympathize.

Harry Reid seemed in no mood early on Thursday to compromise with moderates. He had his votes and he appeared ready to ram things through. But what about the President’s encouraging words to Olympia Snowe? He wouldn’t stiff her and the other moderates, including Red State Democrats who are complaining about all the junk in the bill, would he?

Just that morning, Jim Webb had been on MSNBC saying:

My staff went through this thing a couple nights ago.  We found more than $100 billion of items that really don’t meet those criteria and that’s part of the debate we’re having right now, do we add something with those, or can we take those out?

Well, by early evening Reid sounded more contrite. Perhaps lots and lots of “work” could set things straight. And then after a few hours they all packed up and went home. It seemed that Reid could not, after all, jam through a vote.

We’ll see how it plays out. But time is not on the side of those wanting to preserve the stimulus pork. The public is on to it and doesn’t like it one bit. Aside from the substance of the arguments over the bill, the President’s credibility for dealing fairly with the key swing votes in the Senate is at issue. A Senate Republican adviser had this take:

But if Reid’s going to say no way, the pressure returns to people like Ben Nelson, Kent Conrad, Mary Landrieu, Evan Bayh, and Claire McCaskill who have been all over TV talking about all the problems they have with this bill.

The moderate Senators are compiling a list of $90B worth of junky spending to take out of the bill. They may in fact succeed in making the bill more palatable to some Senators — while taking an axe to the Pelosi wish list. That will set the stage for an interesting conference committee. But in the meantime it is painfully obvious that Reid has lost control of the process. I’m sure President Obama can sympathize.

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