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Posts For: November 30, 2012

Re: Liberals and the Race Card

As a brief follow-up to Pete’s excellent post on liberals and race, the Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers pushed back against the canard that GOP opposition to Susan Rice is racially motivated by calling out one of her fellow liberals, MSNBC talker Touré, on Twitter this morning. Noah Rothman at Mediaite has the full Twitter debate between the two, which ends in a fairly devastating victory for Powers.

Touré bases his case on the fact that John McCain called Susan Rice “incompetent,” which Touré decided was racial code. Powers tweeted back the following, which so far has elicited only silence from Touré:

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As a brief follow-up to Pete’s excellent post on liberals and race, the Daily Beast’s Kirsten Powers pushed back against the canard that GOP opposition to Susan Rice is racially motivated by calling out one of her fellow liberals, MSNBC talker Touré, on Twitter this morning. Noah Rothman at Mediaite has the full Twitter debate between the two, which ends in a fairly devastating victory for Powers.

Touré bases his case on the fact that John McCain called Susan Rice “incompetent,” which Touré decided was racial code. Powers tweeted back the following, which so far has elicited only silence from Touré:

(@Katrinanation is the Twitter handle of the Nation’s Katrina vanden Heuvel.) This is the problem with the left’s strategy of accusing opponents of racism for just about anything. Pete mentioned the ridiculous suggestion from Chris Matthews that referring to the Obama campaign as “Chicago” because of its location was racist code. Of course, the Romney campaign certainly didn’t coin this shorthand; the campaign merely followed the press’s habit of referring to each campaign by its headquartered city. But even more, “old white Republicans” aren’t the only people who use the word Chicago, of course.

And, as Touré discovered today, “old white Republicans” aren’t the only ones who use the word “incompetent.” That’s the trouble with the left’s “dog whistles”–when universally applied, they make everyone racist. And that, as Pete wrote earlier, strips the term of all significance. Good for Powers for holding her side to account.

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After UN Vote, Israel Plans J’lem Housing

Peace Now is calling this a “deal breaker for the two-state solution,” which is a great joke after yesterday’s UN debacle. This is Israel’s reply to the Palestinian Authority’s resolution, and why not? You’d think shredding the 17-year-old Oslo framework might merit some sort of response.

The New York Times reports:

As the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Friday that the decision was made late Thursday night to move forward on “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for housing units in E1, which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Israel also authorized the construction of 3,000 housing units in other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the official said.

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Peace Now is calling this a “deal breaker for the two-state solution,” which is a great joke after yesterday’s UN debacle. This is Israel’s reply to the Palestinian Authority’s resolution, and why not? You’d think shredding the 17-year-old Oslo framework might merit some sort of response.

The New York Times reports:

As the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to upgrade the Palestinians’ status Thursday night, Israel took steps toward building housing in a controversial area of East Jerusalem known as E1, where Jewish settlements have long been seen as the death knell for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said on Friday that the decision was made late Thursday night to move forward on “preliminary zoning and planning preparations” for housing units in E1, which would connect the large settlement of Maale Adumim to Jerusalem and therefore make it impossible to connect the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Bethlehem to Palestinian neighborhoods of East Jerusalem. Israel also authorized the construction of 3,000 housing units in other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank, the official said.

Whatever your thoughts on the settlements, this is hardly an eye-for-an-eye retribution. It’s not an explicit violation of any agreements by Israel. Compare that to the PA’s UN bid, which violates article XXXI, sec. 7 of the Oslo accords, which states “Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.” (It’s not as if the PA was unaware of that — a member of the Fatah Central Committee said earlier this month that the day after the vote, Oslo would be null and void).

Israel made concessions under Oslo that can’t be unmade. The PA, which has been the beneficiary of these concessions, no longer wants to stand by its own obligations. And what’s Israel’s response? Not to tear up Oslo, not to try to collapse the PA, or block funds. But to resume building in East Jerusalem, something that wasn’t considered an insurmountable obstacle to talks until recently. You can argue the construction is unhelpful, but how much does that matter when the PA is openly flouting its signed agreements on one side and Hamas is shooting missiles across the border on the other?

And, in a way, maybe this actually is necessary for a future two-state agreement. How can the Israeli public be expected to agree to painful concessions if its leaders won’t even hold the Palestinians to account when past agreements are broken? The settlement construction is a way for Israel to show there are penalties for violating agreements while still staying within the boundaries of Oslo.

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Liberals and the Race Card

In response to the GOP opposition to Ambassador Susan Rice potentially being nominated to be secretary of state, liberals are doing what is by now second nature for many of them: playing the race card. Never mind that the opposition is based on the fact that Ambassador Rice misled (knowingly or not) the nation about the lethal attacks on the Benghazi consulate. Never mind that Republicans who are critical of Ambassador Rice were supporters of Condoleezza Rice when she was nominated to be secretary of state and, before her, Colin Powell. Never mind the fact that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is admired by many Republicans and most conservatives — and has been treated maliciously by the left.

Those facts don’t fit the libel, so they’re ignored.

The Susan Rice episode is part of a deeper malady. During the presidential campaign liberals time and again accused Republicans of being racists and of using “dog whistles.” They wanted to put African Americans “back in chains,” in the words of Vice President Biden. If a Republican criticized President Obama on his retreat on welfare work requirements, it was motivated by racism. It reached such absurd levels that some liberal commentators like Chris Matthews and John Heilemann argued that referring to Chicago was evidence of racism. (Mr. Heilemann has recently graduated to making gay jokes about Republican senators. Classy.)

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In response to the GOP opposition to Ambassador Susan Rice potentially being nominated to be secretary of state, liberals are doing what is by now second nature for many of them: playing the race card. Never mind that the opposition is based on the fact that Ambassador Rice misled (knowingly or not) the nation about the lethal attacks on the Benghazi consulate. Never mind that Republicans who are critical of Ambassador Rice were supporters of Condoleezza Rice when she was nominated to be secretary of state and, before her, Colin Powell. Never mind the fact that Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas is admired by many Republicans and most conservatives — and has been treated maliciously by the left.

Those facts don’t fit the libel, so they’re ignored.

The Susan Rice episode is part of a deeper malady. During the presidential campaign liberals time and again accused Republicans of being racists and of using “dog whistles.” They wanted to put African Americans “back in chains,” in the words of Vice President Biden. If a Republican criticized President Obama on his retreat on welfare work requirements, it was motivated by racism. It reached such absurd levels that some liberal commentators like Chris Matthews and John Heilemann argued that referring to Chicago was evidence of racism. (Mr. Heilemann has recently graduated to making gay jokes about Republican senators. Classy.)

About this I wanted to say a couple of things, the first of which is that the left in general — and MSNBC and the Congressional Black Caucus in particular — have used the charge so recklessly and promiscuously that it’s been drained of virtually any meaning. That’s terribly unfortunate, since at some point when the accusation fits, it won’t be nearly as potent as it should be. But to hear someone in politics accused of racism these days is more likely to elicit from a reasonable person a roll of the eyes than anything else. For some liberals, every Republican is George Wallace or Bull Connor. (Both men, by the way, were Democrats.)

My second observation is that I’m more inclined than in the past to believe that the left actually believes the charge. That is, in past years I felt like reflexively accusing conservatives of racism was a political weapon — a charge the left knew was false but which they thought might be politically advantageous. I’m now more of the view that those on the left actually view conservatives and Republicans as animated by malign intentions. For them, the personal is political. It’s not enough to disagree with Republicans; they cannot help but demonize those who hold views different than their own. Politics pits the Children of Light against the Children of Darkness. It is all very adolescent and very Manichean, and it is all quite harmful to politics.

This mindset exists among some on the right, to be sure, and where it does it should be confronted. But as a general matter conservatives tend to ascribe less cosmic importance to politics than do progressives. In any event, the bile that emanates from many liberal quarters is getting worse, not better. It is a consuming rage. And over time, it disfigures the heart and soul of those who are imprisoned by it.

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Abbas Wastes No Time Humiliating His Western Supporters

Going into yesterday’s UN vote on upgrading Palestinian status at the world body, the Palestinian Authority received a fair amount of support from Israeli political figures, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh. Western European leaders also supported Mahmoud Abbas’s UN stunt as a way to possibly break the peace process out of its slumber. And in an utterly predictable move, the Palestinians announced as soon as the vote was tallied that they plan to make their Israeli and Western supporters look foolish.

The New York Times reports on the “day after” in Abbas’s world, and explains why negotiations are at an impasse: “Negotiations for a two-state solution have been stalled with the Palestinians, who insist on a halt to settlement building. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he is ready for negotiations without preconditions and has refused to renew a temporary freeze that expired in 2010.” There’s that genius idea of President Obama’s still haunting negotiations: the curse of the “preconditions.” Now that we know precondition demands by the Palestinians are holding up negotiations, will the UN vote change that? “With the new emphasis on the territory as occupied, Palestinian officials said, the demand for a settlement freeze was unlikely to be dropped,” the Times continues. So yesterday’s vote will make it less likely the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table.

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Going into yesterday’s UN vote on upgrading Palestinian status at the world body, the Palestinian Authority received a fair amount of support from Israeli political figures, including former prime minister Ehud Olmert and former deputy defense minister Ephraim Sneh. Western European leaders also supported Mahmoud Abbas’s UN stunt as a way to possibly break the peace process out of its slumber. And in an utterly predictable move, the Palestinians announced as soon as the vote was tallied that they plan to make their Israeli and Western supporters look foolish.

The New York Times reports on the “day after” in Abbas’s world, and explains why negotiations are at an impasse: “Negotiations for a two-state solution have been stalled with the Palestinians, who insist on a halt to settlement building. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, says he is ready for negotiations without preconditions and has refused to renew a temporary freeze that expired in 2010.” There’s that genius idea of President Obama’s still haunting negotiations: the curse of the “preconditions.” Now that we know precondition demands by the Palestinians are holding up negotiations, will the UN vote change that? “With the new emphasis on the territory as occupied, Palestinian officials said, the demand for a settlement freeze was unlikely to be dropped,” the Times continues. So yesterday’s vote will make it less likely the Palestinians will return to the negotiating table.

Let’s not forget the full extent of the disaster brought on the peace process by Obama’s freeze precondition; as Omri Ceren pointed out here last year, it ended up weakening rather than boosting Abbas, who found that it wasn’t so easy for him to climb down from the limb on which Obama had deserted him. Abbas apparently still thinks he can’t climb down.

But it will be interesting to see now how the Western supporters of Abbas’s UN move will react to this. Abbas is threatening not to come back to the negotiating table, which would debunk these supporters’ claims that the UN move would be good for the peace process. They may be tempted to push Netanyahu to accept Abbas’s preconditions–but that is the reason for the impasse in the first place. And they shouldn’t forget the can of worms they opened when they supported preconditions last time: every time Netanyahu appeared willing to consider preconditions, Abbas added to them, because the preconditions are designed to disrupt and prevent negotiations, not enable them.

Maybe Abbas will have a change of heart. But it appears for now that Abbas took everyone for a ride, and that Olmert and his ideological allies on the Israeli and Western left miscalculated. Go figure.

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Rice Has Investments in Iranian-Linked Energy Companies

Susan Rice may have more problems than just the Benghazi talking points. The potential secretary of state nominee also holds investments in energy companies that have done business with Iran, reports the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:

The portfolio of embattled United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice includes investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in several energy companies known for doing business with Iran, according to financial disclosure forms.

Rice, a possible nominee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she steps down, has come under criticism for promulgating erroneous information about the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. …

The companies in question appear to have conducted business with Tehran well after Western governments began to urge divestment from the rogue nation, which has continued to enrich uranium near levels needed to build a nuclear bomb.

Financial disclosures reveal that Rice has had $50,001-$100,000 in Royal Dutch Shell, a longtime purchaser of Iranian crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell currently owes Iran nearly $1 billion in back payments for crude oil that it purchased before Western economic sanctions crippled Tehran’s ability to process oil payments, Reuters reported.

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Susan Rice may have more problems than just the Benghazi talking points. The potential secretary of state nominee also holds investments in energy companies that have done business with Iran, reports the Washington Free Beacon’s Adam Kredo:

The portfolio of embattled United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice includes investments of hundreds of thousands of dollars in several energy companies known for doing business with Iran, according to financial disclosure forms.

Rice, a possible nominee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she steps down, has come under criticism for promulgating erroneous information about the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans. …

The companies in question appear to have conducted business with Tehran well after Western governments began to urge divestment from the rogue nation, which has continued to enrich uranium near levels needed to build a nuclear bomb.

Financial disclosures reveal that Rice has had $50,001-$100,000 in Royal Dutch Shell, a longtime purchaser of Iranian crude oil. Royal Dutch Shell currently owes Iran nearly $1 billion in back payments for crude oil that it purchased before Western economic sanctions crippled Tehran’s ability to process oil payments, Reuters reported.

Some of the companies, including Rice’s largest holding, Royal Dutch Shell, have stopped doing business with Iran but still owe debts to the country. It’s still a concern that Rice kept those investments, and I imagine she’ll have to get rid of them — or better yet, set up a blind trust — if she’s nominated.

The Washington Post reports that information about Rice’s Iran-linked investments was circulated by Republicans on the Hill, and promoted quietly by Democratic staffers, who suggested it would hold up her nomination:

On Thursday, Republicans on Capitol Hill began circulating information about Rice’s investments connected to Iran. Asked about the disclosure revelations, one senior GOP official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to discuss the topic, said, “This news adds to the list of questions about Susan Rice — not only her public statements, but now there are broader concerns about her past record.” Democratic staffers also said on condition of anonymity for the same reason that the investments would prompt questions of her if she is nominated.

Another play by John Kerry supporters? Senate Republicans have appeared to be lobbying for their colleague Kerry — another top candidate for secretary of state — over Rice for the past week. The investment story could hurt Rice with conservative hawks and Israel supporters, so it’s notable it broke the same day as Rice’s aggressive defense of Israel at the UN. She seems to be the favored candidate for mainstream Jewish and pro-Israel groups, and it will be interesting to see what impact, if any, this revelation has on that.

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The Point of an Insulting Offer

On “Special Report” last night, Charles Krauthammer explained why Republicans are right to reject Tim Geithner’s “fiscal cliff” offer (via NRO’s Eliana Johnson):

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On “Special Report” last night, Charles Krauthammer explained why Republicans are right to reject Tim Geithner’s “fiscal cliff” offer (via NRO’s Eliana Johnson):

“This is almost unheard of. I mean, what do they expect? They obviously expect the Republicans will cave on everything. I think the Republicans ought to simply walk away. The president is the president, he’s the leader. They are demanding that Republicans explain all the cuts that they want to make. We had that movie a year and a half ago, where Paul Ryan presented the budget, a serious, real budget with real cuts. Obama was supposed to give a speech at which he would respond with a counter-offer. And what did he do? He gave a speech where he had Ryan sitting in the front row. He called the Ryan proposal un-American, insulted him, offered nothing, and ran on Mediscare in the next 18 months. And they expect Republicans are going to do this again?

Republicans are going to walk on this. And I think they have leverage. Yes, for congressional Democrats, it will help them in the future if Republicans absorb the blame, because we’re going to have a recession. But Obama’s not running again, unlike congressional Democrats. He’s going to have a recession, 9 percent unemployment, 2 million more unemployed, and a second-term that’s going to be a ruin. That is not a good proposition.”

The administration’s “offer” — $1.6 trillion in tax increases (twice as much as the GOP suggested it would accept) and another stimulus deal and Congress gives up its power to control the debt ceiling — is insulting. Either the administration wrongly thinks starting with a laughable offer is going to end in a fantastic final deal for them, or it doesn’t want to reach a deal at all.

If the former is true, then Obama really is clueless about how to negotiate. Presenting a ridiculous first offer — especially after Republicans indicated they were willing to compromise on tax revenues — is not the way to kick off the process. It is the way to insult the recipient, create an adversarial environment, advertise your lack of seriousness, and potentially shut down any hope of reaching a deal acceptable to both sides.

And that may be the point. Krauthammer is right that Obama is going to be faced with the fallout of going over the fiscal cliff during his last term. But maybe Obama doesn’t really care about the fallout. If his goal is to crush congressional Republicans and help Democrats win back the House in 2014 — which would allow him to push through more of his legislative agenda — then going off the cliff may be exactly what he wants to do.

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