This post originally appeared on the Booman Tribune.
Sister Toldjah weighs in on the whole Ken Mehlman thing:
This is a big deal, of course, because in the left’s minds, as well as the MSM’s (I know – same thing), Republicans “hate” gay people so it’s a “shocking development” to find out such a formerly high ranking GOPer would say “I’m gay.” Not only that, but this is a big deal more so to the left than the right because we all know how the far left, in particular, gleefully treats gay conservatives – very much like they treat black conservatives. That is, with the same contempt and bigotry that they accuse US of. Make no mistake about it: Mehlman’s “coming out” party has already started The Usual Suspects to crank up the Hate-O-Meter in ways only they have mastered over the years – especially when it comes to “outing” gay conservatives.
There is not a single black or openly gay Republican in Congress or in any of the 50 governor's mansions around the country. Conservatives do not like black people and they actively legislate against gay people. The contempt from the left is for people who are willing to trade their dignity and rights for a paycheck. It's a strange kind of bigotry that expects people to hold a belief system that isn't hateful towards themselves. And even my friend Mike Rogers, who is the most aggressive of the gay-outers, doesn't out Republicans who don't vote against gay rights. He only outs rank hypocrites like Ken Mehlman. Now, Sister Toldjah goes on to make an argument that conservatives are the real progressives on gay rights because they are gradually coming to accept the concept of civil unions (signaling progress) while the left is becoming ever more hateful of closeted gay Republicans who legislate against gays. I wonder if her argument is sincerely made. It appears sincere. But then the question becomes 'how along ago did she contract syphilis?' She's clearly going insane. She tries a retelling of history that explains that the traditional opposition to gay rights has come from the Christian community and that they obviously approach things from a Biblical point of view. This sometimes led to an unfortunate lack of respect for the principle of separation of church and state, but fortunately, this kind of argument is no longer necessary.
They don’t understand that there has been a gradual change over the last couple of decades on the issue of gay marriage amongst conservatives and Republicans. It used to be that Christian groups were the faces of the opposition to gay marriage, civil unions, and the like and – being Christian groups – they routinely gave Christian rationales for opposing gay marriage (and sometimes it went WAY beyond that, unfortunately), rationales that might have a strong foundation Biblically but which didn’t and don’t mesh with laws on the books that are not supposed to be Biblically based.Nowadays, most of the vocal faces of anti-gay marriage are Christian and non-Christian alike, but those (like me) who are Christians, more often than not don’t use the Christian rationale to explain the opposition because it’s not necessary. Most of us even support a civil-union type arrangment for gay couples that would give them most of the same rights that “straight” married couples have, something you wouldn’t have seen 20 years ago... ...I’m digressing a bit here, but the overall point is that, in response to Mehlman’s announcement that he’s gay, you’re going to see the “tolerant” left treat him like red meat, which the MSM will dutifully ignore, while the “intolerant” right’s response will be a lot more measured … which the MSM will also dutifully ignore via confining their “the GOP reax” segments to the Pat Robertsons of America who haven’t “spoken” for conservatives in decades. This is an almost literal 180 degree turn from how things used to be between the left and right on the issue of “gay rights,” which just shows you which side has been “progressive” on the issue – and which side has most definitely not.
The biggest problem with this addled piece is that doesn't address the central issue, which is Ken Mehlman's hypocrisy. Both as RNC chairman and as the campaign manager for the Bush/Cheney 2004 campaign, Mehlman presided over a strategy of putting anti-gay measures on the ballot, not for their own sake, but to drive conservative voter turnout. And, unlike Sister Toldjah, Mr. Mehlman does support gay marriage.
Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay.Mehlman arrived at this conclusion about his identity fairly recently, he said in an interview. He agreed to answer a reporter's questions, he said, because, now in private life, he wants to become an advocate for gay marriage...
So, it doesn't matter that Republicans (and the president, for that matter) continue to oppose gay marriage or if they're evolving to a position in favor of civil unions. The issue is Mehlman, and he's now supporting a position he cynically opposed for purely political reasons. And it isn't just some abstract issue to Mehlman. If you aren't gay then the issue of gay marriage only impacts you indirectly. But Mehlman was actually working to destroy his own rights. That is why other LGBT people are angry with him. Imagine a black man fighting for Jim Crow in the early 1960's and you get a picture of what Mehlman was doing during the middle of the last decade. That doesn't mean that Mehlman needs to be shunned. His decision to come out of the closet and lobby for gay marriage is commendable. It places him ahead of the president on the issue. But his decision won't mean a damn thing if he continues to work with the Republican Party or to help conservatives get elected.
This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune. It looks like Sarah Palin got the scalp she wanted most:
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski is battling for her political life this morning against Republican primary challenger Joe Miller, the Tea Party-backed candidate who had a slim lead as ballots continued to be counted overnight. Miller, a Fairbanks attorney, led from when the first returns came in Tuesday night, and was on the verge of pulling off one of the biggest election upsets ever in Alaska. With 84 percent of Alaska's precincts reporting around 2 a.m., Miller had 45,188 votes to 42,633 for Murkowski.
Joe Miller is promising something unprecedented for an Alaskan politician. He's promising to kill off the federal spending that Alaskans depend on for their livelihood. The recently departed Ted Stevens made his entire career on hauling federal appropriations back to Alaska. His best friend was the long-time Democratic senator from Hawai'i, Daniel Inouye. They bonded over their shared mission to build their relatively new states economically. Now, suddenly, the Alaskan Republican Party has gone 180 degrees in the opposite direction and embraced the tea bag. While it seemed unthinkable yesterday, there is now the prospect of Alaska having two Democratic senators. Whether Democratic nominee and mayor of Sitka Scott McAdams can capitalize on the schism on the right will depend on how angry Murkowski's supporters are with Sarah Palin and the outside influence of the Tea Party Express. Early indications are that feelings are raw.
Murkowski on Tuesday night took a shot at Palin, saying that when Palin resigned as governor last summer she said she would use her new national role to help out Alaska."I think she's out for her own self-interest. I don't think she's out for Alaska's interest," Murkowski said as she waited at her campaign headquarters for results to come in... ...Murkowski criticized Miller's campaign tactics, including the use of robo-calls. "It doesn't feel like it was a campaign that was run by Alaskans," Murkowski said on Tuesday night.
Despite the Tea Party's heavy investment and influence, abortion also played a major role in Murkowski's (seeming) defeat.
Murkowski's pro-choice stance is a particularly sore point, one that Miller supporters hammered her on.Tuesday's primary election also included Ballot Measure 2, which would require parents to be notified before their teens age 17 and younger received an abortion. Miller said he thinks that brought out voters who supported him over Murkowski, even though she supported the ballot measure as well. "The Prop. 2 supporters were our supporters, largely. ... Frankly I think the pro-life vote was important," Miller said on Tuesday night.
Of course, you wouldn't have known that Murkowski was pro-choice since she supported the parental notification ballot measure and voted against the confirmation of both Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan. Even so, Murkowski was what passes for a moderate Republican these days. Her biggest problem was probably the same thing that killed off Utah senator Bob Bennett's career. She is an appropriator who understands how the federal government functions and who takes responsibility for funding its agencies. At a time when the Republican Party is in full-minority opposition, there is no valid use of federal dollars in the minds of most GOP base voters. Of course, the second they have to take responsibility for funding the government again, all this bullshit rhetoric will be gone as fast as Dick Cheney can say that deficits don't matter. This result reinvigorates Sarah Palin's profile, bolsters the Tea Baggers, sends a warning shot against even modest cooperation with the Democrats, and wipes out one of the few Republicans willing to vote with the Democrats at least some of the time. It's bad all around. It's bad for Alaska. Murkowski recently became the Ranking Member on the Energy and Commerce Committee, a position of great possible benefit to Alaska's economy. Now their senior senator will be freshman backbencher Mark Begich. Alaska hasn't been this bereft of seniority in living memory. But this could open the way for Scott McAdams if he can successfully reach out to Murkowski's people. We shall see.
Cross-posted from the Booman Tribune. While I consider a lot of the progressive anger at the administration to involve a degree of naïveté about how Congress functions, the Tea Partiers are no more informed. Alexander Burns examines in Poltico the question of whether the GOP will be hurt by all its oddball candidates. Even Republicans are struggling to understand the results of their primaries.
“A great many Americans think that the entire Washington political process is terribly broken, and they’re not interested in candidates who come from that process or defend that process,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “They’re far more attracted to people who want to radically change the status quo.”
But Washington doesn't do radical change and even if all the oddball Republicans are elected to Congress, they won't radically change the kind of legislation that it produces. What they'll do is prevent any legislation from being produced at all. It gets tiresome to keep repeating myself, but it must be understood what it means that the Senate operates by unanimous consent. It means that one ornery senator can grind the upper body to a halt. To see what I mean let's go back to July 2008:
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning a “Coburn Omnibus” for July that would wrap most if not all of the bills held by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) into one large measure to be voted on by the Senate, according to a Coburn aide and two Democratic leadership staffers.Coburn is blocking roughly a hundred bills that are generally non-controversial or have broad support. By placing a hold, Coburn prevents the bills from passing quickly through the Senate under a unanimous consent request. With floor time at such a premium, Reid would have trouble bringing up each bill for an individual debate and vote. But in a stroke of legislative creativity that may have no precedent, Reid could lump all of the bills into one package and bring up the Coburn Omnibus for a single vote. Coburn can still object, but the broad popularity of the bills means that there would likely be more than enough support for veto-proof passage. Julian Zelizer, a professor of the history of public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, said that the move is most unusual when viewed in historical context. “I haven’t heard of something like this,” he said.
As it turned out, the Tomnibus Bill didn't pass until January 2009. It was the first bill passed by this Congress (before Obama was even inaugurated). Tom Coburn made history with his unprecedented level of obstruction, but that was only a prelude to Mitch McConnell adopting the strategy for the entire party (now dubbed the 'Party of No strategy'). To take just the case of Rand Paul, he doesn't seem to differ from his father on any significant issues. Ron Paul operates in the House, which doesn't require unanimous consent. But, given how often Ron Paul is the single vote against a bill, it's obvious that there very few issues where he'd be willing to grant his consent for something Congress wants to do. If Rand Paul follows his father's example in the Senate, he'll make Tom Coburn seem like a piker. And the same thing can be said for Ken Buck in Colorado and Sharron Angle in Nevada. These people may be radicals, but they won't be rolling back the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship. What they'll do is create total gridlock. Mainstream Republicans do not always approve of Tom Coburn's actions, and he's still reasonable enough to follow his leadership most of the time when they want to cut a deal and let something proceed. But this new crop of candidates has no respect for the Senate leadership of the Republican Party. They won their nominations over the active opposition of that leadership. They are attempting to come to Washington to radically oppose the Obama administration, and cutting deals will not be big on their agenda. Washington has a way of taming radical politicians over time, but the senators who will be elected this November will serve for the remainder of Obama's presidency (whether he is reelected or not). These candidates are a threat to Obama's agenda, but they're not going to succeed in doing anything they're promising to do other than obstruct his agenda. This will lead to gridlock which infuriates 75% of the country and disillusionment for the remainder. I don't know how many of them will win, but they're a recipe for short-term disaster for the country and long-term disaster for the Republican Party
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. While I consider a lot of the progressive anger at the administration to involve a degree of naïveté about how Congress functions, the Tea Partiers are no more informed. Alexander Burns examines in Poltico the question of whether the GOP will be hurt by all its oddball candidates. Even Republicans are struggling to understand the results of their primaries.
“A great many Americans think that the entire Washington political process is terribly broken, and they’re not interested in candidates who come from that process or defend that process,” said Republican pollster Whit Ayres. “They’re far more attracted to people who want to radically change the status quo.”
But Washington doesn't do radical change and even if all the oddball Republicans are elected to Congress, they won't radically change the kind of legislation that it produces. What they'll do is prevent any legislation from being produced at all. It gets tiresome to keep repeating myself, but it must be understood what it means that the Senate operates by unanimous consent. It means that one ornery senator can grind the upper body to a halt. To see what I mean let's go back to July 2008:
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is planning a “Coburn Omnibus” for July that would wrap most if not all of the bills held by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) into one large measure to be voted on by the Senate, according to a Coburn aide and two Democratic leadership staffers.Coburn is blocking roughly a hundred bills that are generally non-controversial or have broad support. By placing a hold, Coburn prevents the bills from passing quickly through the Senate under a unanimous consent request. With floor time at such a premium, Reid would have trouble bringing up each bill for an individual debate and vote. But in a stroke of legislative creativity that may have no precedent, Reid could lump all of the bills into one package and bring up the Coburn Omnibus for a single vote. Coburn can still object, but the broad popularity of the bills means that there would likely be more than enough support for veto-proof passage. Julian Zelizer, a professor of the history of public affairs at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School, said that the move is most unusual when viewed in historical context. “I haven’t heard of something like this,” he said.
As it turned out, the Tomnibus Bill didn't pass until January 2009. It was the first bill passed by this Congress (before Obama was even inaugurated). Tom Coburn made history with his unprecedented level of obstruction, but that was only a prelude to Mitch McConnell adopting the strategy for the entire party (now dubbed the 'Party of No strategy'). To take just the case of Rand Paul, he doesn't seem to differ from his father on any significant issues. Ron Paul operates in the House, which doesn't require unanimous consent. But, given how often Ron Paul is the single vote against a bill, it's obvious that there very few issues where he'd be willing to grant his consent for something Congress wants to do. If Rand Paul follows his father's example in the Senate, he'll make Tom Coburn seem like a piker. And the same thing can be said for Ken Buck in Colorado and Sharron Angle in Nevada. These people may be radicals, but they won't be rolling back the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or amending the Constitution to end birthright citizenship. What they'll do is create total gridlock. Mainstream Republicans do not always approve of Tom Coburn's actions, and he's still reasonable enough to follow his leadership most of the time when they want to cut a deal and let something proceed. But this new crop of candidates has no respect for the Senate leadership of the Republican Party. They won their nominations over the active opposition of that leadership. They are attempting to come to Washington to radically oppose the Obama administration, and cutting deals will not be big on their agenda. Washington has a way of taming radical politicians over time, but the senators who will be elected this November will serve for the remainder of Obama's presidency (whether he is reelected or not). These candidates are a threat to Obama's agenda, but they're not going to succeed in doing anything they're promising to do other than obstruct his agenda. This will lead to gridlock which infuriates 75% of the country and disillusionment for the remainder. I don't know how many of them will win, but they're a recipe for short-term disaster for the country and long-term disaster for the Republican Party.
This post first appeared on the Booman Tribune. One of the more interesting things discussed in Jeffrey Goldberg's piece on Israel and Iran is the way Israel views the threats of a nuclear Iran that are unrelated to the actual use of the weapons.
The challenges posed by a nuclear Iran are more subtle than a direct attack, Netanyahu told me. “Several bad results would emanate from this single development. First, Iran’s militant proxies would be able to fire rockets and engage in other terror activities while enjoying a nuclear umbrella. This raises the stakes of any confrontation that they’d force on Israel. Instead of being a local event, however painful, it becomes a global one. Second, this development would embolden Islamic militants far and wide, on many continents, who would believe that this is a providential sign, that this fanaticism is on the ultimate road to triumph.“You’d create a great sea change in the balance of power in our area,” he went on. An Iran with nuclear weapons would also attempt to persuade Arab countries to avoid making peace with Israel, and it would spark a regional nuclear-arms race. “The Middle East is incendiary enough, but with a nuclear-arms race, it will become a tinderbox,” he said. Other Israeli leaders believe that the mere threat of a nuclear attack by Iran—combined with the chronic menacing of Israel’s cities by the rocket forces of Hamas and Hezbollah—will progressively undermine the country’s ability to retain its most creative and productive citizens. Ehud Barak, the defense minister, told me that this is his great fear for Israel’s future. “The real threat to Zionism is the dilution of quality,” he said. “Jews know that they can land on their feet in any corner of the world. The real test for us is to make Israel such an attractive place, such a cutting-edge place in human society, education, culture, science, quality of life, that even American Jewish young people want to come here.” This vision is threatened by Iran and its proxies, Barak said. “Our young people can consciously decide to go other places,” if they dislike living under the threat of nuclear attack. “Our best youngsters could stay out of here by choice.”
It makes me wonder. An Israel largely contained to its 1967 borders, which had generously given up land they could have kept by force, living aside a viable Palestinian state, would have little trouble maintaining civil and commercial ties to the Arab world, or in presenting a united front against Persian expansionism. Having shedded it's pariah status on the international stage, it would be a place much more attractive to live for American Jews. If Israel was still menaced by rocket attacks from Lebanon or Gaza or the West Bank, everyone would see Israel as justified in fighting back. In fact, the Palestinian government would not allow these attacks to originate from their territory, because they would know that their state could be taken away as quickly as it was granted. Iran would become the pariah if they continued to send rockets for Hizbollah to fire into Israel. In any case, Iran's influence in the Arab world would be diminished. So, why doesn't Israel choose this saner path? I believe it is because too many Israelis want to keep Palestinian land in perpetuity. If Goldberg is right that Israel will unilaterally, and without notice or American permission, attack Iran no later than July of next year, then we have to consider the consequences (which Goldberg decribes):
...they stand a good chance of changing the Middle East forever; of sparking lethal reprisals, and even a full-blown regional war that could lead to the deaths of thousands of Israelis and Iranians, and possibly Arabs and Americans as well; of creating a crisis for Barack Obama that will dwarf Afghanistan in significance and complexity; of rupturing relations between Jerusalem and Washington, which is Israel’s only meaningful ally; of inadvertently solidifying the somewhat tenuous rule of the mullahs in Tehran; of causing the price of oil to spike to cataclysmic highs, launching the world economy into a period of turbulence not experienced since the autumn of 2008, or possibly since the oil shock of 1973; of placing communities across the Jewish diaspora in mortal danger, by making them targets of Iranian-sponsored terror attacks, as they have been in the past, in a limited though already lethal way; and of accelerating Israel’s conversion from a once-admired refuge for a persecuted people into a leper among nations.
I'm not convinced that Goldberg is correct is in assessment of Israeli intentions, but if he is right, what should America do now to preempt this looming catastrophe? It seems to me that the politics in Israel, America, and Iran are making it impossible to avoid a conflagration of some kind in the near future. None of these three nations appears capable of standing up to domestic opinion and coming to sane conclusions.
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. Newt is such a classy guy. He divorced his first wife (his high school geometry teacher, who he started dating when he was sixteen years-old) while she was recovering from uterine cancer. Then he dumped his second wife at the same moment she discovered she had multiple sclerosis. But he told her she was a Jaguar and he was leaving her for a Chevrolet (who was twenty-three years his junior), so I guess he was nice about it and all.
But Marianne was having problems of her own. After going to the doctor for a mysterious tingling in her hand, she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.Early in May, she went out to Ohio for her mother's birthday. A day and a half went by and Newt didn't return her calls, which was strange. They always talked every day, often ten times a day, so she was frantic by the time he called to say he needed to talk to her. "About what?" He wanted to talk in person, he said. "I said, 'No, we need to talk now.' " He went quiet. "There's somebody else, isn't there?" She kind of guessed it, of course. Women usually do. But did she know the woman was in her apartment, eating off her plates, sleeping in her bed? She called a minister they both trusted. He came over to the house the next day and worked with them the whole weekend, but Gingrich just kept saying she was a Jaguar and all he wanted was a Chevrolet. " 'I can't handle a Jaguar right now.' He said that many times. 'All I want is a Chevrolet.' " He asked her to just tolerate the affair, an offer she refused. He'd just returned from Erie, Pennsylvania, where he'd given a speech full of high sentiments about compassion and family values. The next night, they sat talking out on their back patio in Georgia. She said, "How do you give that speech and do what you're doing?" "It doesn't matter what I do," he answered. "People need to hear what I have to say. There's no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn't matter what I live."
Newt is out there saving souls. What does his personal life have to do with anything?
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. I don't like to even think about what the next Congress will be like if the Republicans take over the House. How many of the mistakes they made in 1995 will be repeated? Will they shut the government down again? Will they harass the president with baseless investigations? Will they initiate impeachment hearings on flimsy or delusional evidence? Will the president ever sign a bill again? Will the Republicans avoid repeating certain mistakes, having learned the lessons of the recent past? It's impossible to know all the answers to these questions. The specter of impeachment hangs in the air, but its probability appears quite low. A government shutdown, on the other hand, would appear hard to avoid. And there's no question that the Committee on Oversight and Investigations, now chaired by Rep. Darrell Issa of California, would begin sending subpoenas to the White House by the truckload. On one level, things would be considerably worse than in 1995. Then, as now, there was a certain unarticulated rage at Washington, particularly around the budget deficit. Then, as it would be now, the freshman class of Republicans was filled with ideological purists pledged to make no compromise as they went about slashing cherished government programs. A Speaker Boehner would have the same problem that Speaker Gingrich faced in reining in his base and actually passing anything resembling a federal budget. But back then the Republicans had some actual policy objectives in common with the president (like Welfare Reform and deregulation) and they had some ideas (like term limits) to address that unarticulated rage. To a certain degree, after a year of brutal turbulence, Gingrich and Clinton were able to meet in the middle. I don't see how, or on what issues, that could happen this time. When a party sweeps into power on a political wave, it normally has some momentum for some kind of legislative action, but the Republicans haven't presented realistic ideas that poll well with the American public. If they win big in November, their only mandate would be to prevent the government from passing any more bills. If the Senate fell as well, Obama would need an industrial-size fan to keep his veto pen cool. Otherwise, the Senate would increase its present practice of ignoring 95% of what the House does. The Republicans' prospects of winning back the White House don't look very good at the moment, largely because they don't have any obvious candidates that have what it takes, but also because winning a Republican primary in this environment appears to be an exercise in extremism. But their chances will get decidedly worse if a little air gets let out of the progressive balloon this November. It's really unprecedented for a party to win four straight election cycles, so the Democrats would benefit from some minor losses that don't severely impact their ability to govern. A House takeover, however, could set the stage for another, much bigger Democratic wave election 2012. A Republican House will reunite and reenergize the progressive base, rally all non-whites to the Democratic side, set the Establishment media (and the Establishment itself) firmly in Obama's camp, and set the Republican nominee up for historic failure. Having said that, I don't want to live through the intervening turbulence and unpleasantness. I still hope we can lance this boil rather than seeing it rupture like an infected pustule all over our political culture.
This post first appeared on Booman Tribune. When you hear the Republicans talk about fiscal responsibility, you should really just laugh in their faces. Consider this:
A US federal watchdog has criticised the US military for failing to account properly for billions of dollars it received to help rebuild Iraq. The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US Department of Defence is unable to account properly for 96% of the [$9.1 billion allocated for Iraqi reconstruction]. Out of just over $9bn (£5.8bn), $8.7bn is unaccounted for, the inspector says. [...] The funds in question were administered by the US Department of Defence between 2004 and 2007, and were earmarked for reconstruction projects. But, the report says, a lack of proper accounting makes it impossible to say exactly what happened to most of the money.
When liberals say that Republicans use the federal treasury for looting, this is what we mean. Maybe you object to spending tax money on hunger or health care for kids. Maybe you don't want blacks and latinos to get a helping hand from the federal government. But how do you feel about the Department of Defense losing track of 8.7 billion dollars? We gave them over nine billion dollars to rebuild Iraq and they can't even tell us where they spent five percent of the money. That is looting. That is a total lack of accountability that enables people to walk off with pallets of U.S. dollars without anyone asking questions. The Republicans are not fiscally responsible. They use the government to enrich themselves by cutting high-end marginal tax rates, estate taxes, dividends and captital gains taxes, and by stealing from the rest of us. It's just that simple.
This will do little to help U.S.-Israeli relations.
There is one video Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, must be praying never gets posted on YouTube with English subtitles. To date, the 10-minute segment has been broadcast only in Hebrew on Israel’s Channel 10. [Editor’s note: A version of the Natanyahu video with English subtitles is now available and can be viewed, together with the translated English transcript, here.] Its contents, however, threaten to gravely embarrass not only Mr Netanyahu but also the US administration of Barack Obama.The film was shot, apparently without Mr Netanyahu’s knowledge, nine years ago, when the government of Ariel Sharon had started reinvading the main cities of the West Bank to crush Palestinian resistance in the early stages of the second intifada. At the time Mr Netanyahu had taken a short break from politics but was soon to join Mr Sharon’s government as finance minister. On a visit to a home in the settlement of Ofra in the West Bank to pay condolences to the family of a man killed in a Palestinian shooting attack, he makes a series of unguarded admissions about his first period as prime minister, from 1996 to 1999. Seated on a sofa in the house, he tells the family that he deceived the US president of the time, Bill Clinton, into believing he was helping implement the Oslo accords, the US-sponsored peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, by making minor withdrawals from the West Bank while actually entrenching the occupation. He boasts that he thereby destroyed the Oslo process. He dismisses the US as “easily moved to the right direction” and calls high levels of popular American support for Israel “absurd”. He also suggests that, far from being defensive, Israel’s harsh military repression of the Palestinian uprising was designed chiefly to crush the Palestinian Authority led by Yasser Arafat so that it could be made more pliable for Israeli diktats.
Here's the video: When Ariel Sharon ordered the invasion of the West Bank, he wanted to destroy the Palestinian Authority as an entity. That's why the Israeli troops removed all their computers and dismantled their police stations. They wanted to make it so that Arafat couldn't govern effectively. For eight years the international community had worked to help Arafat build the tools he would need for eventual self-governance. After the invasion, almost all of that progress had been destroyed. This is one of the keys to understanding the behavior of Israel's behavior under both Sharon and Netanyahu's leadership. The Second Intifada has a horrendous campaign, indefensible, in my mind, on any level. But the response to it was to destroy hope itself and leave the Palestinians with no path forward. In this video clip, Netanyahu makes clear that he has no intention of making a peace that would be 'a march to the 1967 borders' or anything remotely resembling that. He also shows contempt for Americans, calling our 80% support of Israel 'absurd.'
This post originally appeared on Booman Tribune. I've mentioned before that I think John McCain's selection of Sarah Palin to be his running-mate was the single most irresponsible political act since a lame-duck President James Buchanan did nothing while half the country seceded from the Union. And it is still having negative consequences. One of those consequences is the creation of a new kind of candidate. The Republican nominee for U.S. Senate in Nevada is Sharron Angle. Ms. Angle announced she was having a press conference yesterday, but she gave a three-minute speech and then refused to answer any questions. She has announced that she intends to only answer questions from right-wing media because right-wing media outlets are the only ones that allow her to solicit donations. The Republicans' candidate for U.S. Senate in Kentucky, Rand Paul, is pursuing a similar media strategy. Basically, we now have a breed of candidate that is unashamed to admit that their ideas are so radical that they cannot withstand the light of day. And, yet, they're still running for office and have a chance to win. It reminds of the episode of Seinfeld where the media executives asked Jerry and George why the public would watch their proposed sitcom about nothing, and George said 'because it's on teevee." Why would anyone vote for Paul or Angle? Because they're on the ballot. That's what they're counting on. And, thanks to John McCain, it just might work.