Thursday, February 26, 2009

A Charedi Rabbi's Diary of Israel's First Knesset Election

Rabbi Moshe Yekutiel Alpert lived from 1917 until 1955, and was a teacher in the Etz Chaim Yeshiva in Jerusalem. His father had immigrated to Eretz Yisrael from Slonim, in Belarus, in 1860. He was an active member of Agudath Yisrael, and therefore may be assumed to have been a "charedi," or fervently orthodox, Jew, such as the Israeli gentleman voting in the photo above left. These are the Jews who are so frequently and inaccurately stereotyped as "anti-Zionist." The following is the entry from Rabbi Alpert's diary for the 24th of Teveth, 5709*, which would be January 25, 1949 on the civil calendar, the day of Israel's first Knesset election following its independence:

At 5:35 A.M. my wife and I got up early, as did my brother, Reb Shimon Lev, my brother-in-law, Reb Netanel Sleduchin and my son Dov. After we drank a quick cup of coffee we dressed in our Shabbat clothes in honor of this great and holy day for which we recite: “This is the day proclaimed by G-d; let us rejoice and be happy”. After 2,000 years of Exile, actually since the six days of Creation, we have never had an opportunity as today—that we can go and vote in a Jewish State. Blessed be He that He has enabled us to live to see this day. My son, Dov, left the house at 5:45 A.M. and went off wherever he went, because he’s a big supporter of the Herut Party, and he didn’t return all day and all night.

My wife and I and my brother and brother-in-law went to the voting station of District l0, in the Hapoel Hamizrachi Building on Habashim Street, holding our State of Israel issued Identity Card in our hands. We walked the short distance from our house to the poll with great joy. We were currently living downstairs from the Dvasha Goldsmidt family in Batei Wittenberg since our house in Beit Yisrael had been hit by a rocket and was being repaired. That’s why we were assigned to vote at this station, rather than the one in Beit Yisrael.

All the way to the polling station I felt like on Simchat Torah when we dance with the Torah (during the Hakafot), but instead of a Scroll I held my Israeli Identity Card in my hand. You can’t imagine the happiness and joy I felt. At 5:50 A.M. we came to the Hapoel Hamizrachi building. We were the first ones there. Only the janitor was there, and the light were on. I asked the janitor, “Where are the polling officials? They haven’t arrived yet?” We waited until 5:54 A.M. Two members of the committee arrived. At 6:02 the chairman finally came, Mr. ----- a lawyer. I complained that he didn’t come on time because by law the polling station was supposed to be open from 6:00 A.M. The chairman apologized.

Then he announced since there was a quorum, the two committee members, an observer from Herut and himself, they could begin to work. The janitor brought the ballot box and the chairman then called me and my brother over to give honor to the elderly and asked us to witness the fact that the box was empty and observe its sealing. This was recorded in the protocol where he wrote, “I, the chairman, arrived at 6:00 A.M. (which isn’t true because we came at 5:50 and he only got there at 6:02), and at 6:23 we opened the proceedings.” The chairman said since I’m the oldest person there I would have the privilege of being the first voter.

Quivering with emotion of awe and sanctity I gave the chairman my Identity Card. He read out my name from the I.D. card and the deputy chairman wrote it on the voters list in front of him as number one. He gave me an envelope and I went into the closed off area where all the party letters were placed. With a shaking hand and a feeling of holiness I chose a note marked “Bet”, the United Religious parties’ letter, placed it carefully in the envelope and returned to the polling station. I showed them all that I only had one envelope in my hand, and then, at the moment of greatest exhilaration in my life, a moment that neither my father, nor my grandfather, nor any of my ancestors experienced, (only I had the privilege), I recited the Shechiyanu blessing and carefully placed the envelope in the ballot box. “Blessed am I and blessed is my portion!” I shook the chairman’s hand heartily and the other committee members’ hands too and went out. I waited for my wife, my brother and brother-in-law and at 6:28 we left. I went off to pray and my wife went home. A great holiday indeed!

I cannot imagine a more fervent and inspiring expression of civic pride and love for the newborn State of Israel. I pray that I should have a fraction of the same hekeret hatov, recognition of the blessings God has bestowed upon me by allowing me to be a citizen of the United States, every time that I vote.

Source: Leah Abraomowitz at the Orthodox Union Shabbat Shalom website.

*The Hebrew date for the diary entry given in the title above the entry says, "FOR THE FIRST TIME IN 2,000 YEARS THE ELECTIONS FOR ISRAEL’S FIRST KNESSET TOOK PLACE, ON THE 14TH OF TEVETH, 25/1/49." However, January 25, 1949 was the date of Israel's first Knesset election, and that civil calendar date corresponds to the Hebrew calendar date 24 Teveth, 5709, not 14 Teveth.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

President Cites Questionable Bankruptcy Statistic

I hate to quibble Mr. President, and I agree with you that we need national healthcare reform, although I imagine we will differ on how to achieve it. Nonetheless, please do not make your case with highly questionable statistics.

In his Not-a-State-of-the Union address to a joint session of Congress tonight, when he discussed the need for healthcare reform, President Obama stated that healthcare costs cause a bankruptcy filing every 30 seconds. Is that a credible statement? That would be a total of 1,051,200 bankruptcy filings per year due to healthcare costs. According to statistics at, the official website of the federal court system, the total number of all bankruptcy filings for the 12-month period ending June 30, 2008 was only 967,831. True, it is highly likely that the pace of bankruptcy filings has accelerated since then. However, it is also well nigh certain that only a fraction of all bankruptcy filings are due to healthcare costs. Even in the highly unlikely event that 2/3 of all bankruptcy filings were due to healthcare costs, as opposed to unemployment, substance abuse, gambling addictions, business failures, interest rate increases, credit card debt, and all other causes, the President's factoid would be incorrect.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

We Are Too Spoiled to Appreciate Our Amazing World

"We live in this amazing, amazing world and it is wasted on the ***** generation of spoiled idiots," said comedian Louis CK on Conan O'Brien. Actually, it's several generations of spoiled idiots, including my own notorious baby boomers. A YouTube video of Louis CK's hiliarious but brief lecture on the wonders of the modern world is posted at the (Usually Barefoot) Meg blog. (HT: Mrs. Kosher Hedgehog)

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Stimulus Package As Seen By Mike Ramirez

This is a cartoon worth seeing and sending to all your friends.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Troop Surge in Afghanistan Has Begun

This story caught me by pleasant surprise. During his presidential campaign, President Barack Obama talked about the need for a troop surge in Afghanistan. Apparently he wasn't just talking. According to this AP story, 3000 troops of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team of the U.S. Army's elite 10th Mountain Division moved into the Logar and Wardak provinces of Afghanistan last month, are now stationed in combat outposts throughout those provinces, and have already engaged in clashes with Taliban insurgents. Colonel David Haight commands the 3rd Brigade Combat Team.

The antecedents of the storied 10th Mountain Division go back to the Second World War, to the campaign in Northern Italy in 1945, where the Division cleared out the mountainous regions of Tuscany and the Po Valley of German troops. In more recent campaigns, units of the 10th Mountain Division have seen action in Somalia, Iraq and in Afghanistan, even before the arrival of the 3rd Brigate Combat Team.

This is one action by the Obama Administration that the loyal opposition of the Hedgehog Blog heartily supports.

Why this Recession is Worse Than the Great Depression

Dry Bones explains all:

Global Warming Mania May Be Waning, But Watch Out For The Green Doomsayers

As successive winter storms pound California, and the midwest and east suffer through an extremely severe winter, in a column published at Jewish World View, George Will observes that world economic concerns seem to be eclipsing global warming as a political issue. This development exemplifies what Mr. Will calls "the Law of Clarifying Calamities," the principal that "real calamities take our mind off hypothetical ones." Mr. Will notes, "A recent Pew Research Center poll asked which of 20 issues should be the government's top priorities. Climate change ranked 20th. "

Mr. Will devotes much of his column to a review of the history of the "Global Cooling" scare of the 1970's (with impressive citations to articles in the news and popular science periodicals of the day). That scare was based, as the New York Times reported on May 21, 1975, on the concern that "a major cooling of the planet" was "widely considered inevitable" because it was "well established" that the Northern Hemisphere's climate "has been getting cooler since about 1950." (It appears that somehow, if one believes the New York Times then and the New York Times and Al Gore now, the earth was cooling and warming at the same time.) During the "Global Cooling" scare, the "unchallengeable" consensus of scientists was as certain that we were entering a new ice age as the consensus of scientists is certain today that our planet is warming its way to environmental disaster. We discussed this history on The Hedgehog Blog some two years ago: "An Inconvenient Truth, 1974."

After recounting the history of the global cooling mania, Mr. Will also mentions some salient facts about recent meteorological events, which may cast doubt on the phenonemon of global warming:

1. "Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979."

2. "Besides, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare. "

Let us not be complacent, however. Global warming remains a potent political issue, since the orthodoxy of global warming is firmly established in the minds of our citizenry and abroad, floods our advertising and is dogmatically taught in our schools. The policy makers of the Obama Administration remain committed to imposing carbon caps on our industries, as if the burden of the current recession isn't heavy enough.

Nonetheless, conservatives can find common ground with environmental activists on certain aspects of the anti-global warming program. For reasons of national security, it is essential that the United States achieve energy independence and free itself from over-reliance on foreign oil and gas. An energy independence policy would entail not only increased domestic oil exploration (unfortunately probably a lost cause with the current White House and Congress), and renewed interest in nuclear power (perhaps also a lost cause), but also research and development on renewable energy, alternative fuels and all-electric vehicles. No conservative should want to continue to economically enrich and empower the regimes of Vladimir Putin, Hugo Chavez, the Iranian mullahs or the Arab oil sheiks. If carbon emissions decline as a result of implementation of a sound energy independence policy, well, it can't hurt (assuming it does not cause global cooling).

Friday, February 13, 2009

When the Quest for Middle East Peace Trumped U.S. National Security

Martin Indyk, former U.S. Ambassador to Israel during the Clinton Administration, a key player during Middle East peace negotiations in the 1990s, and more recently an informal advisor to the Barack Obama presidential campaign on Middle East issues, has authored a new book. Entitled "Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East," it is Mr. Indyk's account of the Oslo Peace Process. Jonathan Schanzer reviews Mr. Indyk's book in today's Jerusalem Post online. The most fascinating portion of the book review for me dealt not with anything in the book, but with a telling omission. Mr. Schanzer writes:

The saga begins when Indyk tells Clinton it would be possible to broker four Arab-Israeli peace deals during the president's first term. Indyk recalls that Clinton, then a diplomatic neophyte, looked him in the eye and said, "I want to do that." Five weeks into Clinton's presidency, Indyk recalls, "Middle Eastern peacemaking was the only item on the agenda" in the first National Security Council meeting on March 3, 1993. As Indyk notes, Clinton had a "strong interest in resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict to stabilize a region of vital concern." What Indyk neglects to note is that five days earlier, on February 26, Islamist radicals detonated a large bomb at the World Trade Center in Manhattan, killing six. Thus began the pattern whereby the quest for Middle East peace trumped national security.

George Santayana famously said, "Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it." One hopes for our country that President Barack Obama has learned something from the history of the Clinton Administrations foray into Middle East peace making. Perhaps still more apropos, however, is a quote that I paraphrase by memory from a George Will column: "He who the gods wish to destroy they first persuade to try to bring peace to the Middle East."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

ISRAELI ELECTION FINAL: We Know the Vote Count; Now Stay Tuned to Find Out Who Won

With one hundred percent of the ballots counted, we know the results of the Israeli election; yet Israel and the world remain in suspense over who will become Prime Minister. The pie chart above from the Jerusalem Post shows the party breakdown in the next Knesset. Tzipi Livni's personal victory over Binyamin Netanyahu was Pyrrhic indeed, as it appears most likely that her Kadima party will be headed into oppposition with Labor and the other left-wing Israeli parties.

The reason for that is best shown by this alternative pie chart, also from the Jerusalem Post, which divides the pie on a right vs. left political basis:

As Jerusalem Post editor David Horowitz notes, even though Kadima led all parties with 28 Knesset seats, the total of all of the left-of-center parties, including Labor (13), the far-lefty Meretz (3), the anti-Zionist Arab parties United Arab List (5) and Balad (3), and the communist Hadash Party (4), amounts to only 56 seats. Since Avigdor Lieberman, the leader of the secular nationalist Yisrael Beitenu Party ("Israel Our Home--15 seats and the big gainer in this election), has strongly indicated that he would prefer a Likud-led coalition over a Kadima government, Ms. Livni's only hope of forming a stable coalition government would be to buy off the Sephardic Torah Guardians Party ("SHAS"--11 seats) and United Torah Judaism (4), the two parties of fervently religious Israeli Jews, with promises of generous aid to their private religious school systems. This prospect is neither impossible, nor unprecedented, but would be very unpopular with the supporters of Ms. Livni's Kadima Party and her other potential coalition partners, many of whom might accurately be described as fervently anti-religious.

Bibi Netanyahu, on the other hand, although he must be smarting from the sharp drop in Likud support during the final days of the electoral campaign, can console himself by surveying the makings of a solid right-of-center coalition government. With Likud (27 seats), Yisrael Beitenu (15), SHAS (11), the nationalist largely religious National Union (4), the religious Zionist Jewish Home Party (3), and United Torah Judaism (4), Mr. Netanyahu would be able to present a 64-seat coalition that not only would be politically stable, but also relatively cohesive ideologically.

However, it is the President of Israel, Shimon Peres, who will decide whether Ms. Livni or Mr. Netanyahu will have first shot at forming a coalition. A product of the Labor Party, a long-time political foe of Mr. Netanyahu, and a strong advocate of territorial concessions to the Palestinians, usually in return for empty promises, the architect of Oslo, if he leads with his heart rather than his head, will allow Ms. Livni the first opportunity to try and form a government. At that point, folks, the Kadima political bazaar will be open for business for 3 weeks, and Ms. Livni will gladly pay top shekel for any Knesset faction's soul, if it is for sale.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

ISRAELI ELECTIONS: Do Not Trust the Exit Polls

Exit polls are predicting that the Kadima Party of Tzipi Livni has won 30 seats, to 28 for the Likud Party of Benjamin Netanyahu. Don't you believe it. Israeli exit polls, like those in U.S. elections, historically over-estimate the vote for left-wing parties. One need only remember the elections of 1996, when exit polls predicted a resounding victory by Labor, led by Shimon Peres, over Netanyahu. Labor and the Left loudly trumpeted their victory, announcing their intentions to wreak vengeance against the right and religious parties. Only, when counting of the actual votes was completed the next day, it was Likud that had triumphed.

I am not saying that the exit polls will be wrong this time, just that they should be viewed with a high degree of skepticism.

Another factor to take into account: The same exit polls that show Kadima taking 30 Knesset seats to 28 for Likud also show the right-wing parties with a total of 63-64 seats, enough for Likud to form a government in the 120-seat Knesset. The left-wing parties, including Kadima and Labor, have a total of only 56-57 seats. As a result, even if the exit polls are correct, the next prime minister nonetheless may be Netanyahu, not Livni.

Monday, February 09, 2009

Victor Davis Hanson on the "stimulus" package

From Prof. Hanson's "Works and Days" blog:

I think we are ignoring three things about the stimulus package. First, the
soaring deficits and mounting aggregate debt in the 2000s contributed to our
present debacle. (Yes, Bush and the Republican Congress are to be blamed for
spending sprees that cannot be explained entirely by 9/11, Katrina and the two
wars). We were already ‘stimulated’ and running a Keynesian economy, so why is
more of what got us into this trouble the solution?

Second, the crash in oil prices from $148 a barrel to less than $40 has
resulted in, along with dives in imported natural gas, a monstrous
stimulus–perhaps three-quarters of a trillion dollars per year for consumers.
Can’t we pause a month or three to see the effects of thousands of dollars in
cheaper heating and transportation costs for the American household?

Third, interest on US treasury bonds is nearing almost nothing. Yet, Asia and
Europe are still buying them. The result is that the US is receiving trillions
in free loan money that should be translating into cheap mortgages and interest
rates, and an infusion of cash that will soon kick in unexpectedly dramatic

In other words, while we scream about the Great Depression, there are
insidious, rarely mentioned stimuli already in play that are far more helpful
that borrowing a $1 trillion to redistribute and hire more government

(Addendum: Can anyone follow the politics of the simuli? Republicans
who between 2001-6 oversaw massive borrowing and spending are suddenly fiscal
conservatives when out of power; Democrats who blame the Keynesian Bush for
getting us into this mess, now want to out-Bush Bush and spend and borrow in
ways he never imagined?

Can’t Republicans say,”Sorry, we spent too much, and now, out of power, we
realize that and want to reform and go back to our core philosophies and not
spend what we don’t have it, so trust us this time.” And can’t Democrats say,
“We had no problem with Bush’s big-government deficit spending, and so we think
the answer to the current mess is to create even greater deficit spending.” At
least that would be honest, and preferrable to Republicans suddenly appearing as
Eisenhower fiscal conservatives, and Democrats trashing Bush ad nauseam while
following his expansionary policies.)


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Pure, frivolous fun

If you're like me, this will make you laugh out loud:

Video of the week: MIlton Friedman

This clip from the old Phil Donahue show is worth watching even as Congress goes about inflicting unprecedented damage on America's free enterprise system:

Note especially the strength of the ideas expressed by Milton Friedman, as opposed to Donahue's simple-minded protestations.  Note:  I'm not endorsing greed or untrammeled capitalism, just the superiority of capitalism as a model for a free society.

(HT: Instapundit.)

Saturday, February 07, 2009

FROM THE PHONE BOOTH: The Smallest Space in Hollywood

Here is the latest in an intermittent series of guest posts by Steve Fnefrock of the Hollywood Conservative Forum.

Lynne Cheney, Prom Queen:
Are Hollywood Conservatives Ready for Primetime Politics?
Steve Finefrock
Hollywood Conservative Forum

For the growing Hollywood Conservative movement, it’s useful to know how some of the ‘seeds’ of its genesis became planted. Lynne Cheney wrote a seething 1993 National Review essay about “Dave” being a betrayal of her expectations of Hollywood’s contractual terms with her. At that time, my response was limited in its reach, before the web made it a more friendly distribution model. Lynne’s complaint?

The film was based on her brief best-seller, “The Body Politic” for which Hollywood had bought the movie rights, leading her to believe it would reflect her novel’s original political/cultural point-of-view when it hit the big screen.


As is Hollywood’s style, regardless of political POV, the plot was ratcheted up from her VP lookalike protagonist [a conservative community organizer] to become the main man in the Oval Office. And of course, they FLIPPED the hero-villain balance. This was her volatile complaint in NR: Hollywood re-made her story into their propaganda. Doubling the insult, they did so with excellent implementation of all the craft of the art of cinematic storytelling. The Flip was an effective flip-off to her story’s original design, and her values.

Kevin Kline’s character, Dave Kovic, was originally a conservative hero, and his replacement for a vile liberal president was supposed to convey a POV from the right. My response to Lynne’s surprise and indignation, to a tiny audience, was:

What did you expect, Lynne?

It's their sandbox.
If we want a sandbox, we must build our own.

That refrain, nay mantra, has been pounded off my keyboard and amidst frenetic recruiting for a decade-plus, to every conservative I could find, in HWD and along the Potomac, including some long-known Big Dawgs on the right who practice professionally in the political precincts. The Hollywood Conservative Forum managed to briefly tease the motto, Bringing The Potomac To The Palisades.

Now, BigHollywood is bringing multiple voices together, including Michael McGruther’s question, where’s the money from our friends in the power centers of conservative politics? Why can’t we make movies with our money, employing our ideas, for our audience?

McGruther reveals that he’s worked with a liberal writer thru the past election cycle, converting that artiste’s words into cinematic cash via his own creative capacities, and now finds he’s unappreciated upon being ‘outed’ as a conservative. Hmmmm, think maybe he might have been better guided by finding a contemporary Lynne Cheney property instead?

Along this tortuous pathway, my surprising discoveries included that 1) there are more conservatives in H’W’D [Variety’s frequent abbreviation] than I’d ever imagined, and 2) they need only find each other to then organize into making a contemporary Lynne Cheney property into a rightwing “Dave” that would suit her POV and the audience thirst for quenching entertainment. Then I found 3) even conservative creatives are remarkably clueless as to politics, business reality, and the dark-arts of getting-things-done.

Add #4: as many scoundrels and numbskulls travel unmolested among us as do among ‘them’ in this game, with as much mendacity, narcissism and ineptness as one might only hope would be unique to the typical leftwing artistes in HWD. One dream was dashed during a dash for political relevance for HWD conservatives, in 2003-05, as oodles of carefully gathered and nurtured political capital were invested in persuading the Potomac pros to take the Palisades seriously.

But, conservative coneheads in HWD reduced that hard-earned, precious political 401k account into a 101k, or less, and thereafter the recapitalization began, with a solo attempt which legitimized the HWD conservatives with the Potomac pros: a 2007 speech to the Heritage Foundation showed some insiders, both live and on Memorex [C-SPAN], that there are folks in HWD with conservative values and competence at the craftwork required to make ideas into satisfying entertainment.

My theme to Heritage Foundation patrons was:
HWD conservatives [HWC] need only a Moses and money [as quoted in The Nation magazine’s website that very day; oh, yes, they were monitoring their enemy, via HF’s life-video feed on its website], for the battalions of skilled, eager soldiers are already present in the bowels of the beast, working and earning and honing their craft. The fuel is there, but a spark of leadership and the oxygen of funding will complete that fire-triangle of conservative entertainment.
During my Captain Dreyfus reenactment in the summer of ’04, I’d lost my dream of a certain republican organization in Hollywood displaying political gravitas and moxie, working toward earning the right for a Christmas banquet and dance of luminaries, thus entitled to invite as our speaker and ‘prom queen’ the aforementioned Lynne Cheney. The dreamy goal was to gather a crowd of erstwhile, competent, committed conservative agents, producers, writers, directors, DPs, ADs, et al. And demonstrate that her “Dave” lament would never happen again to her intellectual property successors. No more ‘flipping’ of conservative intellectual material.

Alas, Hollywood Conservatives are not yet deserving of any Lynne Cheney as their prom queen. They keep pissing away political capital offered them, both by this belabored Captain Dreyfus and later would-be political players. Not that no one in HWD possesses sufficient gravitas to play the game. But far too many conservatives are as inane about learning that syllabus of gravitas as any we see in the person of George Clooney or Rosie O’Donnell. Not quite as crazy, but every bit as clueless.

McGruther notes “how the liberal grass roots movement has been well watered and cared for by rich caretakers who use their money, power and influence to invest in a future they desire, not one that’s best for all people. The media and entertainment world quietly vets and weeds out young conservatives so that we can’t disrupt the slow browbeating of the pop-culture addicted public with entertainment of substance that may awaken their better senses.”

Not all the weeding of conservatives, at least in HWD, is achieved by spades and herbicides wielded by lefties. McGruther also laments, “Truth is, we conservatives have no real backing other than core beliefs we know to be universally true. Where’s our David Geffen?”

The core question is, Where’s HWD conservative seriousness? Are HWD conservatives to be trusted with $50 million, or $150 million, or a half-billion of some dedicated conservative cabal’s hard-earned capital? Your every action, or inaction, or misbegotten errors, comprise a continuous audition to any prospective ‘Geffen’ of the right.

Then McGruther jumps to the chase, one raised by wee little moi for a dozen years: “I’m calling on wealthy conservatives everywhere to please step forward and donate to the grass roots of the Republican Party. Fund our version of websites like Media Matters and Let’s get a conservative movie fund going…”

Again, as in all HWD processes, one who seeks to play with the Big Dawg needs to impress the Big Dawg that the wee little dawg ain’t going to piss away the Big Dawg’s capital – be it political, intellectual, artistic or fiscal. Just as with earning any greenlight, your prior box office indicates your likely future performance.

The ignored truth, a genuine inconvenient truth to those who inflicted the French Army General Staff practices on a conservative Captain Dreyfus, is that already six Big Dawgs on the Potomac were watching the “movement” during an opportune period of late ’03 thru the election of ’04. The HWConservatives pissed it away. They displayed gargantuan pettiness, astronomical minimalism in gravitas, and brutal insensitivity to the Rules of the Game. Their patron saints are Henry VIII and Robespierre.

Soon, a Hollywood Conservative may arise in the political firmament, and that leader may be the focus of HWC enthusiasm. Will this come about? Might there be a “300” of committed combatants? Maybe. BigHollywood recently expressed some ambitious demands upon the Potomac conservative professionals – not all that bright a slam-down, but indicative of moxie and ambition, in a coda ‘yes we can’ proclamation. And every “300” contains the makings of Ephialites: the ambitious, narcissistic hunchback who betrayed the 300, since he was denied what his own selfish pride demanded. Self over group, ego over Cause.

The question to ponder, as such an opportunity may come about, is simply: WILL HWC BE AS STUPID AS BEFORE? Does HWC understand the first rule of politics, the Latinate quid pro quo – and its more modern derivative, Dance With Them That Brung Ya To The Dance? Plainly some of the Soros klan, the focus of McGruther’s piece, seem to grasp these classic rules [as featured in Chris Matthews’ instructive political guidebook “Hardball”].

So far the answer is, No Way, No How. In the coming political cycle, the stakes are bigger than helping reelect Dubya. It’s crucial to stop the Socialist Juggernaut, and even in California there is a role for conservatives, including those in HWD. But dissing Lynne Cheney’s cousins in the political professional ranks ain’t no way to persuade her to attach her gravitas by accepting the crown of prom queen. Ya want Lynne as prom queen? Then start acting like you got your ducks in a row.

More Leonidas, less Ephialites. Or to apply a remarkable political movie’s apt metaphor, aka “Charlie Wilson’s War” [funded by a Soros peer, Jeff Skoll]: More Gust, less wind.

Starting with not insulting the professional political ducks already in a row, who would eagerly help HWC, but are hesitant to throw good capital after wasted capital. If you aspire to swim among professional political capitalists, act like one. So far, HWC has been a toxic asset, or a playpen reeking with too many toxic asses. And the ass is supposed to be the symbol of the democrats.

If a leader rises, who shall support him or her? A Hollywood Conservative who plays the rules written along the Potomac will need Palisades conservatives who know those rules, and honor them relentlessly. And reliably. Maybe the stakes are higher this time, and there will be less Captain Dreyfus and more Winston Churchill.

But you do remember the ‘gratitude’ the Brits displayed, once Winnie saved their tiny little island from Nazi invasion? They turned him out of office even as the ashes were still smoking in defeated Berlin. As our godmother, Clare Booth Luce famously uttered, as her mantra: No good deed goes unpunished.

That kind of HWC mental state will leave McGruther writing the same column, with the same question, and the same endless frustration, for year after year after year – until he tires of promoting liberals’ property and converting them into piles o’ cash. Will HWC learn how to herd ducks? Play by the rules of ducking? If so, the pros on the Potomac will reconsider directing their examining gaze toward the Palisades.

Want Lynne? Better get busy – at this slow, but accelerating, rate of earning your spurs, making your bones, proving your mettle, Lynne will be a dottering octogenarian before that invitation is deserving of acceptance. Here’s a step toward gravitas, starting with McGruther: Sign up intellectual property with a conservative spin that deserves your talent and contacts. Spend some of your OWN political and professional capital to advance the cause.

Curse the cold, weary political darkness in a liberal HWD? Sure, that’s okay – some Yiddish wag claimed that mankind developed the capacity for speech in order to express a deep inner need to complain. Most political ‘discourse’ [and dramatic dialogue] is endless kvetching. But we need to move more toward the model of Fox News Channel – decades of kvetching about media bias didn’t change the reality, until money, moxie and Moses recruited the pre-existing journalistic talent that already leaned right.

So, complain as you feel required – and light a candle.

Stop The Flip.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step, of not spending your professional capital to help lefties convert their talent into cash. Want those mysterious conservative bigwigs to invest in HWC? Start by investing your own risk-capital, in your own kind, for your own property. Put your own skin in the game before yearning for others’ hard-earned greenbacks.

Then, just maybe Lynne will listen. And I hear she’s a great dancer. But don’t wait until she needs a hip replacement.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Did Danny Pearl Die In Vain?

This week marks the seventh anniversary of the murder of kidnapped Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. He was abducted and killed in Pakistan by Al Qaeda. The photo at right was taken by his merciless captors just prior to his slaying. In a moving column in today's Wall Street Journal Opinion Journal online, entitled "Daniel Pearl and the Normalization of Evil," his father, UCLA Professor Judea Pearl, examines how Western academics, journalists and politicians, especially former President Jimmy Carter, have "defined deviation down," in the words of the late Senator and UN Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan, by legitimizing terror as a legitimate political tactic.

President Obama Accepts Blame for Nominees' Tax Problems--All Well and Good--But What About Ties to Special Interests?

In a stunning turnabout, the Associated Press reports that Tom Daschle, President Barack Obama's nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services and to be the White House "health czar" for implementation of health care reform, today requested that his name be withdrawn from consideration for confirmation. Just yesterday evening pundits still predicted that, despite revelations over a failure to fully pay his income tax liabilities, the one-time Senate Majority Leader would win confirmation from his former Senate colleagues. Dashcle's withdrawal came just 3 hours after another Obama nominee, Nancy Killefer, nominated to be the government's chief performance officer, withdrew her name from consideration because she didn't want her mistakes regarding payment of payroll taxes to her household help to be a distraction.

In two televised interviews today, President Obama made clear that the buck stops on his desk. He accepted full blame for the bungled nominations, telling NBC "I'm frustrated with myself" for unintentionally sending a message that there are "two sets of rules" for paying taxes, "one for prominent people and one for ordinary folks."

I applaud the President for accepting responsibility--that's an example I would like to see more politicians follow, including Republican office holders.

However, the news accounts do not indicate whether President Obama takes responsibility for violation of one of his campaign pledges. He repeatedly attacked John McCain during the election campaign for alleged ties to lobbyists and special interests, and said that lobbyists would have no place in his administration. However, it is unlikely that Mr. Dashcle's nomination was sunk by his tax problems alone. What I suspect really doomed Mr. Dashcle were revelations over his lucrative financial ties to the very health care industry interests that he would be in charge of regulating as Secretary of Health and Human Services and architect of national healthcare reform. As the AP story notes:

Daschle also was facing questions about potential conflicts of interests related to speaking fees he accepted from health care interests. He also provided advice to health insurers and hospitals through his post-Senate work at a law firm. The controversy has undercut Obama's promise to run a more ethical, responsible and special interest-free administration.

Daschle is not the President's only nominee who has ethical issues. As reported by, William Lynn, the nominee for Deputy Secretary of Defense, may be precluded from serving due to the Obama Administration's tough new retrictions on former lobbyists serving in government.

Again, all well and good, and kudos to the President--unless he makes an exception for Mr. Lynn, because of the need for his unique expertise, in which case one suspects that exceptions of necessity will soon erode the Adminstration's policy.

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Nothing is New Under the Sun

A friend of the Hedgehog sent Lowell this yellowed copy of a political cartoon published in Zurich on November 28, 1958, over 50 years ago. (Click on the image to enlarge.) It depicts Egypt, personified by its then President and dictator, Gamal Abdul Nasser, repeatedly provoking a peaceful Israel, which just wants to go about development of its land, personified by David Ben-Gurion, its founding Prime Minister. Other Arab countries, Turkey and the Soviet Union watch Nasser's repeated attacks with great amusement until Israel finally retaliates. Immediately the international community reacts with shock and protest at the disproportionate Israeli response. Truly, King Solomon was right; there is nothing new under the sun.

The inclusion of the caricature of Turkey, on the far right of the international spectators, is especially timely given the crisis in usually good Turkish-Israeli relations over the Gaza fighting, highlighted by the outspoken attacks on Israel at Davos last week, by Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan.

What is interesting is that in 1956, when Nasser's Egypt harrassed Israel from Gaza and the Sinai, Egypt controlled Gaza and the Kingdom of Jordan governed the so-called West Bank. There were no "occupied territories," other than the State of Israel within the 1949 ceasefire lines, no settlements and no "obstacles to peace." Indeed, there was not yet even a Palestine Liberation Organization, to say nothing of Hamas. Yet there was no peace. Also, no one was pressing for creation of a Palestinian Arab State in the West Bank and Gaza. Funny about that. As George Will once memorably wrote, "Israel is not being provocative. To the Arab world, Israel's being is provocative."

Caracas Synagogue Trashed; Chavez Blames Opposition

Ha'Aretz reports that some 15 armed men broke into a Caracas synagogue late Friday night, overpowering two security guards, destroying religious objects and spraying anti-Jewish graffiti slogans such as "We don't want murderers," and "Jews get out." The attackers ransacked the synagogue sanctuary and offices, doing so much damage that it was impossible to hold Sabbath morning services there on Saturday morning.

The attack came amid rising tension between the Venezuelan government of President Hugo Chavez and Israel. The Venezuelan strong man last month expelled Israel's ambassador and cut diplomatic ties with the Jewish State as a protest against Israel's military action in Gaza.

Chavez condemned the defiling of the synagogue, blaming it on his political opponents. "It must be asked ... who benefits from these violent incidents. It is not the government, nor the people, nor the revolution." He he suggested opposition leaders plotted the attack to reduce his chances in a February 15 referendum on a constitutional amendment that would let him stay in office after his term ends in 2013.

Others were skeptical of Chavez's charges. The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) referred to the attack on the synagogue as a "modern day Kristallnacht," referring to the Nazi Germany pogrom of November 9-10, 1938, a single night of anti-Jewish attacks in which Gestapo-led mobs murdered 91 Jews, destroyed some 200 synagogues, and ransacked thousands of Jewish businesses. The Nazi regime arrested 25,000-30,000 Jews and sent them to concentration camps. The name "Kristallnacht," literally "chrystal night," referred to the enormous number of windows shattered in Jewish-owned shops and businesses.

Even someone such as myself, who holds Chavez in low regard, would have to conclude that the ADL's description suffers from unfortunate hyperbole, typical of that organization. However, it shows that the ADL views the Chavez condemnation of the attack and his attribution of blame to his political opposition as a probable part of a propaganda exercise that included the attack itself.

A more apt comparision with this synagogue desecration would have been to the pogroms organized by the Czarist government of Russia in the early 1900's--low-level violence designed to terrorize and repress the Jewish population without doing a great deal of violence. In this regard, the ADL correctly stated that the attack was "directly related to the atmosphere of anti-Jewish intimidation promoted by President Chavez and his government apparatus."

Tom Daschle, Taxes, and The News Media

From Just One Minute:

Daschle supported Obama, eventually opposed the war after falling victim to
Bush's lies in 2002, and has been reliably pro-choice and in favor of
legislating higher taxes on high earners (despite a more flexible attitude about
actually paying them), so I assume he will get a pass on this. Obviously, if he
were a greedy Republican this would be disqualifying.

Sunday, Feb. 1, 6:30 p.m.--The Kosher Hedgehog adds: Karl Rove quipped on Fox News this morning that between Tom Daschle and Timothy Geithner, the Obama Administration is fast developing a reputation as a tax haven.