I was planning to write about the analysis of Romney’s tax plan by the Tax Policy Center that Democrats have been using to beat up on the Republican nominee this week. But now I don’t have to. Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post has done it for me. And done it very well.
As Jen explains, the Romney plan was no more than an outline of how he would reform taxes to make them broader, with compensating lower rates. The left-of-center Tax Policy Center, with little specific to work with, then made some very convenient assumptions that allowed them—and delighted Democrats—to say that Romney’s plan would involve tax increases for the middle class while the rich would, as always in Republican tax proposals, get away with not paying their fair share.
Olympics are often remembered for their hosts, or perhaps specific feats. Except for the marquee meets and match-ups, most events are quickly forgotten. Between the summer and winter events, there are 35 sports. Few people remember shooting, badminton, or table tennis; even the scandals are fleeting. Sometimes, the Olympics add new sports. Beach volleyball made its official debut in 1996, and curling—the most ridiculous of sports but oddly addictive to watch—only entered the games in 1998. But as new sports enter the Olympics, some sports fall by the wayside. Amidst the chaos in the Middle East and the partisanship which marks this election year, perhaps it’s time to take a pause, look at something lighter, and remember the ghosts of Olympics past.
Baseball was an on-again, off-again demonstration sport at many twentieth century Olympic Games: 1912, 1936, 1952, 1956, 1964, 1984, and 1988, before finally becoming an official sport in 1992. It didn’t last long, however; the International Olympic Committee (IOC) voted them out of the games in a secret ballot. Softball had a shorter run, from 1996 through 2008. The elimination of both of these was a travesty. So too was Cricket, which made it only once, in 1900. While it’s hard to take a sport seriously where the athletes break for tea and lunch, given that billions of people would disagree, perhaps it’s time cricket made a comeback.
Not so some of the others which have long ago fallen through the Olympic cracks:
You might think that even the New York Times would get tired of publishing rants from failed Israeli politicians denouncing not only their nation’s current government but also the entire society that had rejected them. But apparently the newspaper’s appetite for such tirades is undiminished as the publication of Avraham Burg’s in the Times’ Sunday edition today proved. There isn’t much that is particularly original about Burg’s piece that takes the point of view that Israel is on the brink of no longer being a democracy and is intolerant of minority views. That this is not remotely closely to being the truth is no barrier to its publication since it is exactly what American leftists want to be told. His views are an absurd conflation of egotism and blindness but his foolishness is not limited to his analysis of his own country, he also understands nothing about U.S.-Israel alliance and the strength of the across-the-board support the Jewish state has here.
In the conclusion of his article in which he envisions a post-Zionist government of Israel that will reject Jewish nationalism in favor of something more inclusive, he claims:
When a true Israeli democracy is established, our prime minister will go to Capitol Hill and win applause from both sides of the aisle.
That is, I suppose, a shot at Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he accused earlier in the piece of being a “warmonger.” But as anyone who bothered to watch Netanyahu’s address to a joint meeting of Congress last year, he was widely cheered by both Republicans and Democrats with both parties competing with each other to show their enthusiasm for their Israeli ally. This is the sort of obvious mistake that any editor, even one with no love for Israel, should have caught. That it wasn’t tells us that the gatekeepers at the Times are as out of touch with reality as Burg.
The answer should be stunningly obvious, but don’t tell Reuters. In the course of an article about the divergent fates that await victorious North Korean athletes and those who have failed, comes this:
The reality is that life is tough in North Korea in the best of times, however. International sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, a decaying economy and a defective food distribution system have left almost a third of its 24 million people poor and hungry and it has few friends besides its neighbor China.
It really takes an intellectual contortionist wearing blinders to miss so utterly the reasons for North Korea’s failure: it’s a totalitarian state that holds its own citizens in contempt. International sanctions may target the North’s weapons program but, if sanctions were waived tomorrow, the only beneficiaries would be Kim Jong-un and the military. The food distribution system is not defective, just misaligned. After all, it was the regime and military that benefited when the Clinton administration shipped food aid to North Korea. The regime maintains the Songbun, a social classification system that marks North Koreans for life. A tiny few benefit; most are disposable.
Last month President Obama noted, as he does with all major religious events, the start of the Muslim holy month Ramadan and commemorated the holiday by calling it a time to “cherish family, friends, and neighbors, and to help those in need.” That was an appropriate statement but in much of the Islamic world, it also appears to be a time to indulge in Jew hatred. While holiday specials in the United States are noted for their saccharine tone, Ramadan specials appeal to a very different sort of sentiment. As the Anti-Defamation League noted on Thursday, the 30 days of fasting and prayer has been marked in a number of Muslim countries with special television programs that are rife with anti-Semitism and intended to foment hatred of Jews and Israel.
The significant factor about these shows is not just that they are drenched in the traditional tropes of anti-Semitism in which Jews are portrayed as cheap as well as cheats and villainous victimizers of Muslims. It is that these programs are clearly crafted to appeal to a popular audience throughout the Middle East. While they can be rightly accused of promoting hatred at the same time they must also be understood as a reflection of the attitudes prevalent in Muslim societies. The producers of these shows are guilty of pandering to the deeply ingrained prejudices of the Islamic world as much as they are feeding them. That some of these shows like the Egyptian “Firqat Naji Attalha” are comedies in which the bias against Jews is merely the backdrop for humor tells us more about popular opinion in these countries than anything else. According to the MBC network, which is broadcasting the show throughout the Middle East, “Firqat Naji Attalha” gives audiences “the sweetest jokes about the ‘cheap Jew.’” Read More
The answer to that question is sure, why not? Any country able to invest the resources and organize such a spectacle, and willing to host delegations from around the world including from countries they do not recognize should have their shot. But religion should not be the determining factor. Don’t tell that to Turkey, though. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan sees the world through a religious prism. The genocide in Darfur? Impossible. After all, he argued when welcoming Sudanese dictator Omar al-Bashir. “A Muslim can never commit genocide.”
Now Erdoğan has rooted Turkey’s bid to host the 2020 Olympics in religion. “No country with a majority of Muslim population has ever hosted the Olympics,” he said while visiting London last week. “Istanbul has bid to host the Olympics five times but has never been handed the rights. This is not a fair approach.” The Istanbul 2020 logo features not the bridge between civilizations, but rather minarets and mosques. No previous Olympic emblem has featured religious symbols.
Given the hundreds of millions that both political parties and their presidential candidates have raised this year, it isn’t likely that either side will run out of cash before November. But the latest reports about how the two sides are utilizing their resources have raised an interesting question about campaign strategy. With President Obama’s campaign spending money like it’s going out of style in the spring and summer, it’s clear that despite the expectation earlier in the year that the formidable machine the Democrats have built would have a considerable financial edge, the opposite may be true. As the New York Times reports, Mitt Romney and the Republicans will likely have more money to spend in the fall campaign than their rivals.
The Democrats have spent the last couple of months going all in on nasty personal attacks on Romney that they hope, combined with spending on voter registration and other campaign infrastructure, will pave the way for an Obama victory. That’s a rational strategy but it leaves them open to some second-guessing. They are gambling that their sliming of Romney will sour the public on the GOP candidate will work. But if their charges don’t stick, they will be left to face a still viable rival in September and October who will be able to outspend them on the ground in battleground states.