The Hedgehog Blog
Political and social observations from two aspiring hedgehogs who love the Isaiah Berlin essay.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
So in anticipation of that, let's take a look at why Jake Tapper, ABC's Senior National Correspondent, calls Obama "a one-man gaffe machine:"
One reason why Obama may be so forgiving (even if his campaign was not) about Sen. Hillary Clinton's assassination reference?Why does Tapper say that?
The man has been a one-man gaffe machine.
On Friday afternoon in Sunrise, Florida, Obama said, "how's it going, Sunshine?"Now, Tapper's a pretty objective guy. Not so objective is good old Brent Bozell:
Wrote the local Sun-Sentinel: "It wasn't clear if Barack Obama knew exactly where he was Friday afternoon when he spoke at his mass rally at the BankAtlantic Center."
He did the same thing in Sioux Falls, SD, calling it "Sioux City."
"Obama starts speech with a gaffe," wrote the Argus Leader.
But those are the relatively silly ones. There have also been gaffes of more consequence.
As ABC News' David Wright and Sunlen Miller wrote, Obama seemed to either think Arabic is spoken in Afghanistan or he misunderstands the nature of military translators.
More recently, Obama as he traveled through Florida seemed to give some contradictory statements about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez and the Colombian terrorist group FARC. . . .
Imagine that John McCain named a young running mate to campaign with him, and this national rookie suggested America had 58 states, repeatedly used the wrong names for the cities he was visiting, and honored a Memorial Day crowd by acknowledging the 'fallen heroes' who were present, somehow alive and standing in the audience. How long would it take for the national media to see another Dan Quayle caricature? Let's raise the stakes. What if it was the GOP presidential candidate making these thoroughly ridiculous comments? This scenario is very real, except it isn't McCain. It's the other fellow.Anyway, maybe over the next 8 years we can have fun watching the Democrats defend cringe-inducing statements by their Messianic candidate.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Taste the "Daisy:" Patton’s Petal Pushers
by Steve Finefrock
Hollywood Conservative Forum
FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in Hollywood
Tony Schwartz mastered his art of the resonance principle, given some esoteric elaboration in his 1976 book, “The Responsive Chord” – required reading for all on the Right who pretend to desire counterbalance to the Left’s many slippery techniques of winning the political combat on the electronic battleground. Combined with his later publication, “Media: The Second God” Schwartz reveals much of what made him so famous and heroic in the political-ad minds of the DNC in past decades.
Schwartz is ill now, his website essentially inactive, no longer booking speeches and consulting for his many fellows. Who is this warrior who should make us wary? He’s the intellectual godfather of the famous 1964 TV ad which has begotten a tiny taste of its technique into the mouth of Barack Obama last week. Dubya magically issued a bit of the petals of the “Daisy” commercial when he deftly noted in Israel that there are appeasers who are to be opposed.
Democrats went into high-gear to declare this an attack on them, Barack and liberalism in general. Yet, Dubya mentioned not a single domestic numbskull – his prime target was a target-rich world of European idiocy, but their American idiot-savants in domestic politics got the message. Dubya struck a resonant chord among liberals. As Schwartz did with the “Daisy” ad against Goldwater in 1964.
Without mentioning the GOP nominee, or the GOP, or even the presidential race per se until the final on-screen text, the most vicious and most effective political commercial in history ran only once during a 1964 movie-of-the-week on NBC, and generated enormous evening news coverage, which assumed the girl picking petals off a daisy, then seemingly blasted by an atomic mushroom cloud, was the likely future victim of Goldwater’s supposed extremism.
Schwartz had tapped into subconscious public anxieties already distributed aplenty by lying, scheming media who were then – as now – dedicated to distortions of any democrat opponent. Goldwater had extolled the accuracy of our missiles as capable of lobbing one “into the men’s room in the Kremlin” and thus branded by media commentators as advocating such an initiative. And so it went – as they tried similar media smears on Reagan two decades later. It didn’t work on Reagan so much, but for Goldwater’s candidacy Schwartz and the DNC tapped into existing anxieties about atomic dangers, at a time not long after the Cuban Missile Crisis had brought us so close to mushroom-filled nuclear war. [A crisis borne of a youthful, inexperienced president whom Barack so longs to emulate!]
Goldwater had made many feisty policy statements, suitable to a willing media’s cooperative distortion, and Schwartz relied on the ‘resonant chord’ in the public’s mind to smash the man’s already comatose candidacy. Fellow-travelers in this journey of joyous destruction of Goldwater included Bill Moyers, who confessed in a PBS documentary that the ad was perhaps a bit too much. Even current candidate Al Franken admits in the documentary, “Mr. Conservative” that indeed, yes, “that commercial was unfair” – many years later, when it, of course, makes no difference.
Now the resonant chord has given a tiny petal of retribution for the “Daisy” ad, to Barack and the DNC and Joe ‘plagiarism’ Biden. They recognized themselves in the Knesset comments by Dubya – and the media didn’t fail to confirm that accusation. Only conservative commentators were assertive in emphasizing the absence of Obama or any other democrat’s name, or of their beloved “Daisy” party. The resonant chord of Dubya’s words hit them where they knew they were vulnerable – they are appeasers, have been for some time: then against the Soviets, more recently for the so-called Palestinians, and continue to give resonant chords to any such characterizations.
It’s a small satisfaction, a tiny petal off a very large daisy chain of endless slams on conservative ideas, distortions as diabolical as that daisy plucked clean by that child achieved 44 years ago this September. But watching Obama squirm and squeal, and Biden curse, and the DNC officials squawk with indignation as that bit o’ resonant chord vibrated on their side of the political Rubicon, was a tiny hint of what is possible this November, if:
WE LEARN THEIR PLAYBOOK.
As I stated for the Heritage Foundation speech in September, we must all continually envision Patton’s eyeballing the North African desert carnage in “Patton” as he’s defeated Erwin Rommel’s tanks forces, the prior night having reviewed Rommel’s tank warfare text. “Rommel, you magnificent bastard” squawls George C. Scott, removing his binoculars in triumph, “I READ YOUR BOOK” – and grins large, knowing he learned how to defeat his opponent, at least in part, by adapting his opponent’s own methods.
Tony Schwartz’s work is doubtlessly enhanced since his books – both over two decades old, out of print and available only thru arduous interlibrary loan – but the subconscious TV-ad basics are still as he outlined them. There are certain truths which the public has absorbed from the public discussions, key words and phrases which the voters know deep in their subconscious to be associated with democrat daisies. And we should be petal pushers like Schwartz pushed petals up the derriere of Mr. Conservative in 1964.
Dubya gave us a tantalizing taste of the Daisy technique – he hit a responsive chord that stirred up the DNC like a nest of hornets. Guilty hornets. Who know the resonance when the chord was struck in the Knesset. If the well-worn appeasement shoe fits, you should be forced to wear it. You put a badly-fitting, distorted shoe on Goldwater; now, it’s your turn in the Daisy Barrel.
Dubya’s daisy was but a taste of what is possible with this coming contest, between the ‘very old’ Mac and the very-green Barack. Obama’s color is not black, or purple, but GREEN: it is his most important shade to note and emphasize. Every resonance can and should point to his associations, and to his Color Green. Not the color of Islam – which is green but so is that of Ireland. Nor the envy color, with envy being the DNC’s motivating principle in all their policy since LaFollette and FDR and LBJ and the rest.
His color is that of the greenhorn, whose values and principles encircle so many despicable Daisy principles that the RNC hopefully – and desperately I say ‘hopefully’ – can and will competently exploit. Turn to our advantage in endless TV ads, the responsive chord of recognizable qualities which the DNC has so richly earned for over five decades.
Shove a few petals down their narrow orifices. But, be subtle – as Dubya was at the Knesset. As they were with the “Daisy” ad 44 years ago on September 7th. As 9/11 of 2001 has meaning for the nation, 9/7 of 1964 and 2004 has meaning for conservatism. It was our Waterloo and Pearl Harbor and Alamo.
Time for payback – one petal at a time, shoved carefully and subtly and with Patton’s admonition. For without using this resonant chord, the vibrations for the country at large will shake this Vital Nation to its core. Take your choice, dear voters: an oldster with gray hair, or a green-as-grass numbskull with grace, and charm, and quite startlingly bizarre political views. Which views, when elaborated with recognizable resonance, will resonate with the voters as totally UNACCEPTABLE.
Eat petals, Democrats – if we can competently serve them with Schwartz’s methods and nuance, our petal pushers can victoriously declare on November 5th: BON APPETIT.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Regular readers here know that I like to remember Medal of Honor recipients at this time of year especially. Here's a citation that tugged at my heart-strings this morning:
Private Mikio Hasemoto distinguished himself by extraordinary heroism in action on 29 November 1943, in the vicinity of Cerasuolo, Italy. A force of approximately 40 enemy soldiers, armed with machine guns, machine pistols, rifles, and grenades, attacked the left flank of his platoon. Two enemy soldiers with machine guns advanced forward, firing their weapons. Private Hasemoto, an automatic rifleman, challenged these two machine gunners. After firing four magazines at the approaching enemy, his weapon was shot and damaged. Unhesitatingly, he ran 10 yards to the rear, secured another automatic rifle and continued to fire until his weapon jammed. At this point, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader had killed approximately 20 enemy soldiers. Again, Private Hasemoto ran through a barrage of enemy machine gun fire to pick up an M-1 rifle. Continuing their fire, Private Hasemoto and his squad leader killed 10 more enemy soldiers. With only three enemy soldiers left, he and his squad leader charged courageously forward, killing one, wounding one, and capturing another. The following day, Private Hasemoto continued to repel enemy attacks until he was killed by enemy fire. Private Hasemoto's extraordinary heroism and devotion to duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit on him, his unit, and the United States Army.When I consider that at the very time Private Hasemoto was doing this, it's very likely that his family was in an internment camp back home, I am all the more amazed at his courage and devotion to duty.
You can browse through Medal of Honor citations here. I highly recommend doing so.
Friday, May 23, 2008
Krauthammer on Obama's Foreign Policy Gaffe; The Kosher Hedgehog on the President's Role in Foreign Policy
Charles Krauthammer's column today in Real Clear Politics is a must-read. He deals with Senator Barack Obama's adamant refusal to backtrack on his incredible blunder on foreign policy, his statement in a Democratic debate back on July 23 that he would meet with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, Hugo Chavez, Kim Jong Il or the Castro brothers without preconditions. As Krauthammer notes, Senator Obama has only plunged deeper into the Big Muddy River when he should have waded back ashore. Or, as Krauthammer more articulately writes, "What started as a gaffe became policy. By now, it has become doctrine. Yet it remains today what it was on the day he blurted it out: an absurdity."
I differ from both Senator Obama's defenders and detractors over what is the real issue. It is certainly not, as Senator Obama would have it, whether the United States should talk with its enemies. It is not, as some of his critics on the right would have it, that the United States must never negotiate with the sponsors of terrorism. The George W. Bush Administration participates in ongoing multilateral negotiations with both Iran and North Korea, regarding their nuclear programs. The United States has diplomatic relations with both Syria and Venezuela, and no doubt has ongoing back-channel discussions with Cuba and Iran. There is no lack of talking, although a perceptible lack of progress on many important issues.
Rather, I believe that the question put to Senator Obama by his interlocutor at the CNN You Tube debate, as well as Senator Obama's response, showed astonishing naivete, perhaps ignorance, over how foreign policy should be conducted by a President of the United States. The question was "Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?"
The President of the United States does not single-handedly conduct foreign policy. That is why his cabinet includes a Secretary of State, who in turn presides over the State Department. It is absurd to propose that the President would commit his time and prestige to meet with any foreign head of state, even an ally, but all the more so an adversary, without prior discussions that indicate at the very least reason to expect progress on substantive issues, if not an actual agreement. More often, summits follow actual diplomatic progress at lower levels that have already produced a significant agreement, with the meeting of the heads of state representing a ceremonial culmination of discussion, not their initiation.
When a U.S. President commits too much of his personal time to negotiations, the results are usually disastrous. We need look no farther back than the 2000 Camp David negotiations on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yassir Arafat was not ready to commit to an agreement with Israel. He did not want a summit meeting with President Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Negotiations at lower levels than heads of state no doubt would have revealed that fact (and perhaps did). Nonetheless, President Bill Clinton practically strong-armed the Palestinian Authority and Israel into a last-ditch summit to reach a final status agreement during his final months in office. The failure of those talks probably produced more bloodshed than had they never taken place at all. Stung and embarrassed when he was justifiably blamed for the failure of the talks, Arafat responded by initiating the so-called "Al Aksa Intifada," using Ariel Sharon's visit to the Temple Mount as an excuse. His objective, which he spectacularly achieved, was to divert world attention away from his own and Palestinian intrangience, and toward the "brutality" of the Israeli self-defensive response that he knew would follow the initiation of armed attacks on Israelis.
Senator Obama likes to describe the foreign policy of the George W. Bush Administration as "cowboy diplomacy." However, that description far better fits a situation where a U.S. President stakes his personal prestige, and that of the United States, on the successful outcome of negotiations in which the President personally participates. To do so without prior lower level discussions indicating a likelihood of tangible results, i.e., "preconditions," is folly. That was the folly of President Clinton at Camp David. That would be the folly of a President Obama if he were to seriously pursue his own foreign policy born of misstatement. Let us hope that the American electorate deprives him of that opportunity.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
I give the guy credit for going on her show and respectfully holding to his position:
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Bret Stephens, formerly the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, and now a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board, in a column appearing in The Wall Street Journal online today, examines recent efforts by Senator Barack Obama to get right with American Jewish voters, by getting right with Israel, and makes the following salient observations:
- "Take Hamas and Hezbollah, which pose the nearest threats to Israel's security. Mr. Obama has insisted he opposes negotiating with Hamas 'until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism and abide by previous agreements.' He also calls Hezbollah a 'destabilizing organization.' But if Mr. Obama's litmus test for his choice of negotiating partners is their recognition of Israel and their renunciation of terrorism, then what is the sense in negotiating without preconditions with Iran and Syria?"
- "Or take Iran, which Israelis universally see as their deadliest enemy. Yes, there are arguments to be made in favor of presidential-level negotiations between Washington and Tehran – perhaps as a last-ditch effort to avert military strikes on Iran's nuclear facilities. But does anyone seriously think Mr. Obama would authorize such strikes? Instead, Mr. Obama says he favors 'tough diplomacy,' including tighter sanctions on Iran's Revolutionary Guards Corps. Last fall, however, he was one of only 22 senators to oppose a Senate resolution calling for the IRGC to be designated as a terrorist organization, a vote that made him a dove even within the Democratic Party. Mr. Obama argued at the time the amendment would give the administration a pretext to go to war with Iran. It was an odd claim for a nonbinding resolution."
- "In the Atlantic [Monthly] interview, Mr. Obama declared that 'my job in being a friend to Israel is partly to hold up a mirror and tell the truth,' particularly in respect to the settlements. Yes, there are mirrors that need to be held up to those settlements, as there are to those Palestinians whose terrorism makes their dismantlement so problematic. Perhaps there is also a mirror to be held up to an American foreign-policy neophyte whose amazing conceit is that he understands Israel's dilemmas better than Israelis themselves."
Monday, May 19, 2008
Obama Speaks to Crowd of 75,000 in Portland; Feeds Entire Crowd With 5 Loaves and 2 Fishes!
That headline is only slightly less enthusiastic than the coverage of Senator Obama's speech in the mainstream media.
Update, May 20, 2008: Turns out that the "opener" for Senator Obama was a free concert by the popular indie rock band "The Decemberists." How many in the crowd came to see The Decemberists and how many to see the messiah?
Friday, May 16, 2008
From Debra Saunders:
[T]his decision changed little. California law already has ensured equal rights for gays and lesbians. All this ruling did is change a name.Sure enough. Now we will all watch that permanent opposition unfold before our eyes.
In short, there was no substantive reason for the court to rule as it did. And in jumping in too soon, the judges have created a permanent opposition -- similar to the permanent opposition to abortion laws -- that would not exist if California voters had changed the law for themselves, as they eventually would have done.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Today's Events Provide a Glimpse of Life in these United States Under President Obama, Heaven Help Us
Like the vision shown Ebenezer Scrooge by the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, in Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," today we were granted a vision of "America Yet to Come" under a Barack Obama Presidency
First came the decision of the California Supreme Court, ruling that the equal protection provisions of the California Constitution require same-sex marriage, and in the process invalidating California Family Code Section 300 and Section 308.5 (passed by voter initiative on March 7, 2000 as Proposition 22).
Discussing his theory of judicial appointments this past May 8th, Senator Obama remarked:
"Now there's gonna be those five percent of cases or one percent of cases where the law isn't clear. And the judge has to then bring in his or her own perspectives, his ethics, his or her moral bearings.
"And In those circumstance what I do want is a judge who is sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power and as a consequence can't protect themselves from being being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for justice. That's been its historic role. "
The problem, of course, is that when judges begin to act on their own perspectives, ethics and moral bearings, they will do so even when the law is clear. The statutes of California overturned by the State Supreme Court today cannot be more clear. Marriage is a contract between a man and a woman. Same-sex couples are given equivalent legal rights under the State Domestic Partnership laws, as Chief Justice Ronald George acknowledges in his opinion. Nonetheless, Chief Justice George used the equal protection clause of the State Constitution, adopted in 1879 and surely never intended to validate same-sex marriage, to strike down both the will of the legislature, as expressed in Family Code Section 300, and the will of the people, as expressed in Family Code Section 308.5 as recently as March 7 2000.
That is nothing less than judicial dictatorship, abusing the checks and balances of the State Constitution and the powers the State Constitution gives to the legislative branch and to the people (through initiative and referendum). The only solution in California is a consitutional amendment establishing marriage as a contract between a man and a woman. The only solution nationally to prevent such judicial activism on the federal bench is to elect John McCain as President.
National Security, the War on Terrorism and Protection of Israel
The other glimpse into a future United States under a President Obama came as a result of the speech today by President George W. Bush before the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, on his visit to Israel to commemorate the 60th Anniversary of Israel's independence. Here are the paragraphs from the President's remarks that caused such a kerfuffle among the Democrats:
The fight against terror and extremism is the defining challenge of our time. It is more than a clash of arms. It is a clash of visions, a great ideological struggle. On the one side are those who defend the ideals of justice and dignity with the power of reason and truth. On the other side are those who pursue a narrow vision of cruelty and control by committing murder, inciting fear, and spreading lies.
This struggle is waged with the technology of the 21st century, but at its core it is an ancient battle between good and evil. The killers claim the mantle of Islam, but they are not religious men. No one who prays to the God of Abraham could strap a suicide vest to an innocent child, or blow up guiltless guests at a Passover Seder, or fly planes into office buildings filled with unsuspecting workers. In truth, the men who carry out these savage acts serve no higher goal than their own desire for power. They accept no God before themselves. And they reserve a special hatred for the most ardent defenders of liberty, including Americans and Israelis.
And that is why the founding charter of Hamas calls for the "elimination" of Israel. And that is why the followers of Hezbollah chant "Death to Israel, Death to America!" That is why Osama bin Laden teaches that "the killing of Jews and Americans is one of the biggest duties." And that is why the President of Iran dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map.
There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words. It's natural, but it is deadly wrong. As witnesses to evil in the past, we carry a solemn responsibility to take these words seriously. Jews and Americans have seen the consequences of disregarding the words of leaders who espouse hatred. And that is a mistake the world must not repeat in the 21st century.
Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)
Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away. This is a tired argument that buys into the propaganda of the enemies of peace, and America utterly rejects it. Israel's population may be just over 7 million. But when you confront terror and evil, you are 307 million strong, because the United States of America stands with you. (Applause.)
Seems like pretty unobjectionable stuff to me. Please note that the President nowhere suggests that when he says, "Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along," that he is talking about Barack Obama, or any other Democratic Party leader. If one assumes that, one must also believe that he was referring to the Democrats when he later said, "Some people suggest if the United States would just break ties with Israel, all our problems in the Middle East would go away."
Yet, Senator Obama, Senator Clinton, Senator Biden and Senator Kerrey all assumed that President Bush was talking about them. Now that's food for psychological analysis! Senator Obama remarked:
"It is sad that President Bush would use a speech to the Knesset on the 60th anniversary of Israel's independence to launch a false political attack. George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists, and the president's extraordinary politicization of foreign policy and the politics of fear do nothing to secure the American people or our stalwart ally Israel."
The lady doth protest too much, methinks.
Buckle your seatbealts, everyone. Talk radio and the blogosphere are about to go into overdrive on this one. The summary:
This just in: By a 4-3 vote, the California Supreme Court has overturned the voter-approved gay marriage ban. Here’s the opinion, authored by Chief Justice Ron George and signed by Justices Joyce Kennard, Kathryn Werdegar and Carlos Moreno. Justice Marvin Baxter authored a separate ruling, concurring in part and dissenting in part (Justice Ming Chin joined Justice Baxter’s ruling). Justice Carol Corrigan also concurred in part and dissented in part.
The Court has ruled that the state of California’s interest in upholding the ban — that is, as the court explains, “the interest in retaining the traditional and well-established definition of marriage” — does not meet constitutional muster. It “cannot properly be viewed as a compelling state interest for purposes of the equal protection clause, or as necessary to serve such an interest.”
I have printed out the opinion (available here) and there is a lot to chew on - the majority opinion is 121 pages long; Justice Kennard's concurrence is 6 pages; Justice Baxter's concurrence/dissent is 26 pages; and Justice Corrigan's dissent goes on for 8 pages.
For me, Justice Baxter identifies the crux of the debate:
The majority opinion reflects considerable research, thought, and effort on aHas the Court violated the separation of powers? Is this a decision that an unelected court should make? Justice Corrigan concludes that it should not:
significant and sensitive case, and I actually agree with several of the
majority’s conclusions. However, I cannot join the majority’s holding that the
California Constitution gives same-sex couples a right to marry. In reaching
this decision, I believe, the majority violates the separation of powers, and
thereby commits profound error.
This controversy is about a symbolic goal: Will we call it "marriage" when two people of the same sex unite in a long-term, committed relationship? It is not about rights and legal status. It's about recognition.
In my view, Californians should allow our gay and lesbian neighbors to call
their unions marriages. But I, and this court, must acknowledge that a majority
of Californians hold a different view, and have explicitly said so by their
vote. This court can overrule a vote of the people only if the Constitution
compels us to do so. Here, the Constitution does not. Therefore, I must
It is important to be clear. Under California law, domestic partners
have “virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges”
available to traditional spouses. (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 45.) I believe the
Constitution requires this as a matter of equal protection. However, the single
question in this case is whether domestic partners have a constitutional right
to the name of “marriage.”
Proposition 22 was enacted only eight years ago. By a substantial
majority the people voted to recognize, as “marriage,” only those unions between
a man and a woman. (Fam. Code, § 308.5.) The majority concludes that the voters’
decision to retain the traditional definition of marriage is unconstitutional. I
Expect lots of screaming and yelling on both sides, especially this fall, as a State Constitutional amendment goes on the ballot that would make marriage between one man and one woman the only kind recognized in California. The issue may even affect the presidential race, as Barack Obama will surely support the Court's decision today, while McCain will favor civil unions and other arrangements that confer rights, but stop short of calling a gay union a marriage.
I was beginning to think that only Republicans self-destruct in the Buckeye State. Now it looks like Democrat Attorney General Marc Dann has resigned "amid the scandal of a sexual harassment investigation in his office and his extramarital affair."
Ohio's Governor Strickland, who is hoping to be the Democratic nominee for Vice President and is burnishing a religious, center-left image, pushed hard for Dann's resignation. My cynical heart tells me Strickland was looking out for himself more than for the people of his state.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
NY Times: Not Worthy of Comment
The first line of the New York Times story on Hillary Clinton's primary victory in West Virginia read, "Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton won a lopsided victory on Tuesday over Senator Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary, where racial considerations emerged as an unusually salient factor." [HT: Boker Tov, Boulder] That sentence was moved down the story in subsequent editions.
Yesterday, Jerusalem Post columnist Caroline Glick spoke to Jewish bloggers in a conference call sponsored by One Jerusalem, and I was among the bloggers who participated and asked Caroline questions after her primary talk. I urge all our readers, if they can spare the hour, to listen to the entire conference call here.
Caroline Glick was born in Chicago, and immigrated to Israel in 1991, after receiving a BA in Political Science from Columbia University, which she calls "Bir Zeit University on the Hudson." (The actual Bir Zeit University, a hot bed of Palestinian radicalism, is located near Ramallah.) She joined the Israel Defense Forces and served as an officer for 5 1/2 years. From 1994-1996, as a captain in the IDF, she served as Coordinator of Negotiations with the PLO in the office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. In that capacity she was a core member of Israel’s negotiating team with the Palestinians. Returning to geo-politics, she served as Assistant Foreign Policy Advisor to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in 1997-1998.
From 1998-2000 she earned a Master's in Public Policy from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. She is the senior fellow for Middle Eastern Affairs at Frank Gaffney's Center for Security Policy, and travels several times a year to Washington, D.C., where she routinely briefs senior administration officials and members of Congress on issues of joint Israeli-American concern.
One primary purpose of the phone conference was to promote Caroline's new book, Shackled Warrior: Israel and the Global Jihad, which is a collection of her columns from the Jerusalem Post on the global Islamist jihad and its implications for Israel and the United States. Readers, buy it from Amazon.com here! It is selling so well that it is temporarily out of stock at both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, but do not let that discourage you. It received a 5-star review at
Among the points covered by Caroline in the call:
Kudos to One Jerusalem for sponsoring the call and to Anne Lieberman at Boker Tov Boulder for suggesting it.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Here is a link to Bill Kristol's New York Times column, entitled "The Jewish State at 60," which Dennis Prager highlighted on his show yesterday. Kristol doesn't live in a fantasy world and he doesn't minimize the current threats to Israel's very existence. However, he notes:
"Still, even though the security of Israel is very much at risk, the good news is that, unlike in the 1930s, the Jews are able to defend themselves, and the United States is willing to fight for freedom. Americans grasp that Israel’s very existence to some degree embodies the defeat and repudiation of the genocidal totalitarianism of the 20th century. They understand that its defense today is the front line of resistance to the jihadist terror, and the suicidal nihilism, that threaten to deform the 21st.
What Eric Hoffer wrote in 1968 seems even truer today: 'I have a premonition that will not leave me; as it goes with Israel, so will it go with all of us. Should Israel perish, the holocaust will be upon us.'”
From 1939 to 1945, the Jews of Europe were abandoned to their fate, without any meaningful ability to defend themselves. Today, the Israeli Defense Forces are the most powerful military force in the region, and are supported heartily by the most powerful nation on earth. Notwithstanding the enlightened opinion makers at the Los Angeles Times, the Atlantic Monthly and other like-minded advocates of somehow "undoing" the "mistake" of Israel's creation, I prefer it this way.
Please let no reader understand me. I do not believe that sheer military might would be sufficient to assure Israel's survival, were God to will otherwise. I trust in God over chariots, but for the most part God works through natural means, by assisting the chariot drivers who are doing his will.
God's hand has been evident to those who look for it throughout Israel's short national life. It was evident on November 29, 1947, when Stalin, a vicious anti-Semite who imprisoned and murdered Zionists in the Soviet Union, nonetheless instructed the representatives of the Soviet Union and its satellites to vote for the partition of Palestine into Jewish and Arab States. It was evident when the beleaguered new nation was able to fight off the invading armies of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Transjordan and Egypt in 1948-49. It was so openly revealed in the Six Day War of June 1967 that the whole world recognized it. It was evident at Entebbe on July 3-4, 1976. It was evident during the first Gulf War when Saddam Hussein launched 39 missiles at Israel's crowded urban areas, yet directly killed no one (although 3 elderly persons died of heart attacks from fright or shock). Just one SCUD missile, launched at the vast emptiness of Saudi Arabia, killed 28 American soldiers when it struck their barracks in Dharan. It was evident when the Soviet Union, once the most feared military power in the world, literally disappeared overnight, and hundreds of thousands of Russian Jews immigrated to Israel. All of these events occurred b'derech hateva [through natural occurrences], yet all manifested the divine protection of God again extending to the Jewish people after the horrors of the Holocaust.
Most importantly, it has been evident to all of us who choose to see that we have somehow merited in our lifetimes to witness the fulfillment of the Biblical prophecies of the ingathering of the exiles, the prosperity of the land of Israel, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem.
Consider these commentators on reborn Israel, who are even better than Bill Kristol:
"That then the Lord your God will turn your captivity, and will have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from among all the peoples where the Lord your God has scattered you. If any of you are disperced to the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you and from there He will bring you. And the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it, and He will do good for you, and multiply you more than your fathers. ... And the Lord your God will make abundant in all the work of your hand, the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your cattle and the fruit of your land, for good; for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, as he rejoiced over your fathers." (Deuteronomy 30: 2-9)
"So says the Lord God: In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the ruined places shall be built up. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, whereas it was desolate in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, 'This land that was desolate has become like the Garden of Eden; and the waste and desolate cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left around you shall know that I the Lord have built up the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate. I the Lord have spoken it and I will do it." (Ezekiel 36:33-36)
"So says the Lord of Hosts: There yet shall be old men and old women sitting in the broad places of Jerusalem, evey man with his cane in his hand due to old age. And the broad places of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its broad places." (Zechariah 8:4-5)
Monday, May 12, 2008
I was at a loss about how best to answer the doom and gloom being peddled by the Los Angeles Times on the 60th anniversary of Israel's indepencence, until one of my favorite writers, Barbara Sofer, came to my rescue with this column in the Jerusalem Post.
Barbara, not incidentally, is the wife of Israeli-American nuclear physicist and author Professor Gerald Schroeder, author of Genesis and the Big Bang, The Science of God and The Hidden Face of God. While Barbara's writing can readily make me laugh or cry, Professor Schroeder's writing always makes me think.
In today's Jerusalem Post, columnist Barry Rubin notes how the naivete evident in Senator Barack Obama's recent remarks about the crisis in Lebanon can only encourage Hezbollah, Syria and Iran to continue their present provocative course of action. Rubin writes in part:
NOW THEY have a new, albeit unwitting, ally: Senator Barack Obama, who does not understand the damage he does. His May 10 statement on Lebanon tried to sound tough, talking of "Hizbullah's power grab in Beirut... This effort to undermine Lebanon's elected government needs to stop, and all those who have influence with Hizbullah must press them to stand down immediately." Obama said he supports the Lebanese government, wants to "strengthen the Lebanese army," and "insist[s] on disarming Hizbullah."
How? By "working with the international community and the private sector to rebuild Lebanon and get its economy back on its feet."
According to the Obama world view, it's a development problem. But he doesn't understand that bombs trump business. Prime Minister Rafik Hariri followed that economic strategy; the Syrians blew him up. The only way to gain social peace is to appease Hizbullah, Syria and Iran, whose disruption blocks prosperity.
One hopes that the McCain campaign and the Republican National Committee are reading Mr. Rubin's column.
The rest of Rubin's column is equally scathing of the apparent Democratic party nominee for the U.S. Presidency, although in addition to his criticism of Senator Obama, he does not spare the present governments of the United States and Israel for their inaction while Hezbollah was rearmed by Iran and Syria, in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701:
Iran and Syria back their friends with weapons and help; the West responds with words backed by nothing. Who can blame Hizbullah and Damascus and Teheran for laughing in contempt?
Why should the Lebanese Sunni, Druze, and Christian majority risk their lives when the West doesn't help them? Every Israeli speaking nonsense about Syria making peace, every American claiming Damascus might split from Teheran, and every European preaching appeasement is engaging in confidence-breaking measures.
In the 1950s, U.S. foreign policy circles debated, "Who Lost China?" If the U.S., Europe, and the U.N. continue to stand by and watch as Hezbollah takes over Lebanon, the debate of the 2010s may be "Who Lost Lebanon?" Or more seriously, "Who Lost the Middle East?" However, one fears that if that becomes the debate topic, there will be no one left to participate in the discussion.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
The Iranian-Syrian Crescent: As Hezbollah Continues Its Conquest of Lebanon, Don't Lose Sight of the Strategic Threat to the U.S.
Hezbollah militias continued their attacks on pro-government supporters in Lebanon on Sunday, attacking Druse villages in the mountains surrounding Beirut. Encouragingly, all theree of the leading Presidential candidates have noted the seriouness of the Hezbollah threat to the Lebanese government. However, do the policies advocated by Senator Barack Obama toward Iraq and Iran show that he truly understands the strategic threat to the United States, of which the current fighting in Lebanon is just one theater?
The Hedgehog Blog first described this challenge in a post on November 21, 2006, entitled, "Iran and Syria Press Ahead to Form Line of Confrontation States." At the time, I wrote:
It seems clear that the Syria-Iran axis is applying a full-court press to achieve its strategic objective--the creation of a solid line of confrontation states ranging from Lebanon on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, through Syria and Iraq, to Iran on the Persian Gulf. This alliance would create a continuous hostile front aimed at America's allies in the region: Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Gulf States. The real target is America's influence in the region.
Speaking of the Democratic midterm election victories in 2006, when the Democratic Party regained control of both Houses of Congress, on the basis of what appeared to American sentiment against continuing U.S. military involvement in Iraq, I wrote
Rarely have the results of an American election had a more immediate impact on international affairs. Iran, Syria and Hezbollah have closely studied the developments on the American polticial scene, and have concluded that the United States has lost the will to defy their advance. Unfortunately, they may be right.
What was true in 2006 will be even more true in the 2008 Presidential Election. Consider the likelihood that the next President of the United States will be Barack Obama, and that he will make good his promise to precipitously withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq within six months of taking office. Iranian influence would dominate Iraq, even without any overt military moves. Coupled with Hezbollah control over Lebanon, the crescent of anti-American confrontation states would be complete, forming a noose tightening around the Arabian oil states.
Couple that with Democratic refusal to develop domestic oil reserves, and where would the U.S. be? From whom would we buy our oil? From an increasingly confrontational Russia, or a hostile Venezuela?
Imagine the heights to which the the price of oil, and then gasoline, would then reach. And it will not be because of oil company windfall profits.
Thursday, May 08, 2008
Los Angeles Times Ignores Israel's 60th Anniversary Except for Article Discussing Its Demise
UPDATE, Monday, May 12:
Then comes what passes in the Los Angeles Times for balance, an article by Benny Morris, entitled "Israel's Unhappy Birthday," which gloomily begins, "Israel at 60 is a sad place. It is sad despite the prosperity that is apparent at every turn." True, Morris notes, there have been some achievements:
"By most Western political and economic standards, the country is a phenomenal success story. It is one of the few states created after World War II to have emerged and remained a functioning, indeed vibrant, democracy; its citizens, including its Arab citizens (1.3 million out of a total population of almost 7 million), enjoy civil rights and the benefits of a legal system that is as free and honest as any in the West, and a social welfare basket that assures the survival of the poorest. It is a powerhouse in terms of economic, scientific and cultural creativity, with substantial high-tech accomplishments, a handful of Nobel Prize winners and a host of internationally successful writers to prove it."
But forget all that, Morris continues. When not distracted by their Independence Day picnics, angst-filled Israelis joylessly contemplate their impending doom.
Happy Birthday right back at you, Los Angeles Times. With your declining circulation and revenues, Israel will probably outlast you.
Lost in the mainstream media rush over the past 48 hours, to crown Senator Barack Obama as the Demcractic nominee and presumptive next President of the United States, are signs of the dangerous world that the next President of the United States (please, God, let it be John McCain) will have to face.
AFP reports that Hezbollah, the proxy of Iran and Syria in Lebanon, has unleashed its armed militias into the streets of Beirut, against supporters of the Lebanese government, and deadly gun battles erupted as a result. At least seven people were killed and dozens wounded. As reported in the International Herald Tribune, Hezbollah's excuse for its show of force against the Lebanese government was the announcement by the government of a probe into a private media network operated by Hezbollah, which the government understandably declared was both illegal and a threat to state security. The government also had reassigned the head of Lebanese airport security based on his alleged ties to the Islamic terrorist group. Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah (pictured above) charged that the attempt by the government to enforce the law amounted to a "declaration of war" by government against Hezbollah. "The decisions (of the government) are tantamount to a declaration of war and the start of a war... on behalf of the United States and Israel," he proclaimed.
This is a dangerous world, and every ominous news story such as this one should compel Americans to ask themselves, who do we trust to lead the United States in the face of these threats. This is not fear-mongering--it is realism. I trust John McCain.
Iraqi police commandos have captured the head of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Abu Ayyub Al-Masri, in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul in a midnight raid. Not only is this good news in and of itself, but the implications for the success of U.S. efforts in Iraq are tremendous. First, the Sunni insurgency has been dealt a major blow. Second, the Iraqi police obviously were acting on an intelligence tip, which suggests the extent to which Sunni public support of Al Qaeda in Iraq has slipped. Finally, it demonstrates the increasing competence of the Iraqi military and police forces, and the success of U.S. efforts to train them, since they apparently initiated and executed this project on their own--U.S. authorities had been unaware of the capture of Al-Masri until his capture was announced by Iraqi officials.
Wednesday, May 07, 2008
60 Years Young: Happy 60th Birthday, Israel!
Sixty Years Young: In Israel, Memorial Day, commemorating the memory of those who have given their lives to defend Israel's existence, precedes Independence Day. Memorial Day, which this year fell on Tuesday night and Wednesday daytime, is marked by a moment at noon when sirens sound and the entire nation stops for a moment of silence. That somber atmosphere gives way at nightfall to the joyous celebration of Israel's indepencence. In Israel, the celebration of the 60th anniversary of her independence has begun. Pictured above, one of the newest Israelis, a Russian immigrant who arrived on Monday, shows his Independence Day spirit. Below, the lighted skyscrapers in Tel Aviv symbolize the prosperous modern state that the Jewish people have with the help of God built in Israel over the past six decades, despite almost constant war or threats of war.
Tuesday, May 06, 2008
The New York Post is reporting today that Long Island financier Morris Talansky is at the center of the bribery scandal that could bring down Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. The Post reports, "Millionaire financier Morris Talansky - who runs an investment firm out of his home in Woodmere - allegedly passed money to Olmert while the politician was mayor of Jerusalem in the '90s, sources said."
It remains to be seen whether the Israeli Justice Ministry and police will move to lift the court-imposed ban on media publication of information about the ongoing investigation, now that an American newspaper has revealed Talanksy's role in the investigation.
The Post reported further:
"Talansky - a philanthropist and political contributor to everyone from Rudy Giuliani to Bill Clinton - is in Jerusalem, where he has an apartment, preparing to head to a closed-door court hearing as early as today, sources said.
"The 75-year-old was earlier questioned about the alleged scheme almost immediately after arriving in the country for Passover, and he implicated Olmert, sources have said."
Monday, May 05, 2008
Will Israel's long national nightmare soon be over? There are signs. In recent days, the Olmert government has once again been rocked by political corruption scandal that apparently reaches to the Prime Minister's office. Olmert has been subjected to renewed interrogation by the National Fraud Unit. A court-imposed news blackout has kept details of the public, but that will be partially lifted on Tuesday. Earlier this morning, as reported by the Jersualem Post, officials in the police and the attorney general's office were quoted by Army Radio as saying the that findings that have been accumulated so far are "reliable" and "will shock the country" when they are revealed. Opposition leaders in the Knesset are predicting openly that Olmert's Kadima-Labour led coalition government will soon fall apart, leading to new elections. That does not sound good for the Olmert government, or for the hopes of the President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for a meaningless Israeli-Palestinian "peace treaty" by the end of the Bush Administration. The Lord works in mysterious ways.
UPDATE, 5/5/2008 @ 8:45 p.m.:According to the Jerusalem Post, Israeli police are now saying that the media blackout concerning the ongoing investigation will continue. A statement released by the police and Justice Ministry cited the exceptional circumstances behind the police investigation of the Prime Minister as justifying the information ban. The statement, in the form of a letter signed by Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said:
"We are well aware of the public interest and need to receive information. Indeed, the situation in which the reigning prime minister is interrogated under caution, while no information, general lines of inquiry, or the substance of the suspicions against him are released creates difficulties for the public, as well as legal-constitutional challenges."
"At the same time… there is a vital public interest not to thwart the investigation and not to harm chances of discovering the truth."
The officials promised "to closely monitor the situation… with a view to allow, as early as possible, the release of information to the public."
Meanwhile, the Jerusalem Post reported, opposition politicians from the Likud Party have been quick to capitalize on the latest scandal eminating from the Olmert government. Likud faction chairman Gideon Sa'ar, speaking in the Knesset, said:
"It is inconceivable that from investigation to investigation Olmert continues with negotiations about concessions. Between investigations, don't touch the lands of Judea and Samaria. Don't you dare to place a hand on Jerusalem. It isn't one of your apartments up for sale. Don't pass on secret messages to [Syrian President Bashar] Assad that Israel is ready to leave the Golan Heights because it is not true. You don't have a majority in the house to continue your process of unilateral concessions."
The phrase, "It isn't one of your apartments," was a veiled reference to one of several prior corruption probes into the affairs of Ehud Olmert. The Israeli premier was suspected of having received an effective bribe when he and his wife purchased the west Jerusalem home in 2004 for an estimated 300,000 dollars below market price. In return, Olmert's associates are alleged to have helped the firm that refurbished the property to gain construction permits from Jerusalem city hall, which Olmert headed as mayor between 1993 and 2003. The investigation did not lead to criminal charges or prosecution, due to insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.
Interestingly enough, that Olmert scandal is rather reminiscent of the sweetheart home purchase by Senator and U.S. Presidential candidate Barack Obama, from his next-door neighbor Antoin "Tony" Rezko, who is currently himself on trial for criminal fraud. Should Obama win the Presidency, and should Olmert manage to hold onto his office into 2009, the two politicians might find that they have a good deal in common. Let's hope that both are denied the opportunity.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Islamist suicide bombers and like-minded terrorist "martyrs" are often described as having been "married" to the 72 black-eyed virgins of Paradise. The death announcements of such "martyrs" in the Palestinan press often take the form of wedding, not funeral, announcements. "With great pride, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad married the member of its military wing…the martyr and hero Yasser Al-Ashami, to 'the black-eyed,'" read one suicide bomber's death notice.
Well, it turns out that those 72 brides are not only black-eyed virgins, they are hot! Watch and listen as Saudi cleric Omar Al-Sweilem graphically extols the physical charms of the black-eyed virgins of Paradise. [MEMRI TV, Arabic with English subtitles provided by MEMRI.] It almost made me want to become a jihadist.
Friday, May 02, 2008