The core of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been the refusal to recognize Jews as a people, indigenous to the region and endowed with the right to self-government. Criticism of Israeli policies often serves to obscure this fact, and peace continues to elude us. By urging the Palestinians to recognize us as their permanent and legitimate neighbors, Prime Minister Netanyahu is pointing the way out of the current impasse: he is identifying the only path to co-existence.
Saturday, October 16, 2010
Ironically, Apple had driven a radical restructuring of recorded music prices by selling $10 albums for its iPod that had cost $15 or more on CD. Apple's interference with the analogous favor that Amazon did for readers was pretty hypocritical. It also didn't work. So far, the iBook store is a failure.
Palestinian officials have said in the past they might ask the Security Council to recognize a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, in case negotiations with Israel break down. The U.S. could quickly derail such a move with a veto, and it appears unlikely the Palestinians would proceed down that path without U.S. backing. For now, Washington opposes unilateral steps.
The child saw with astonishment and alarm that his whole appearance had undergone a complete change. His face was flushed and eager, his eyes were strained, his teeth set, his breath came short and thick, and the hand he laid upon her arm trembled so violently that she shook beneath its grasp.
"Bear witness," he muttered, looking upward, "that I always said it; that I knew it, dreamed of it, felt it was the truth, and that it must be so! What money have we, Nell? Come! I saw you with money yesterday. What money have we? Give it to me."
"No, no, let me keep it, grandfather," said the frightened child. "Let us go away from here. Do not mind the rain. Pray let us go."
"Give it to me, I say," returned the old man fiercely. '"Hush, hush, don't cry, Nell. If I spoke sharply, dear, I didn't mean it. It's for thy good. I have wronged thee, Nell, but I will right thee yet, I will indeed. Where is the money?"
"Do not take it," said the child. "Pray do not take it, dear. For both our sakes let me keep it, or let me throw it away--better let me throw it away, than you take it now. Let us go; do let us go."
"Give me the money," returned the old man, "I must have it. There-- there--that's my dear Nell. I'll right thee one day, child, I'll right thee, never fear!"
She took from her pocket a little purse. He seized it with the same rapid impatience which had characterised his speech, and hastily made his way to the other side of the screen. It was impossible to restrain him, and the trembling child followed close behind.
If you're skeptical about Israel, here's your line: "It isn't serious about peace." If we're impatient with the Palestinians, we say, "If they're serious about peace, they should stop setting so many preconditions and get back to the table."
You can blame the leaders if you want to. You can also blame their people. Remember that many Israelis still refuse to accept that they are complicit in the Palestinians' plight, while many Palestinians refuse to accept Israel's right to exist. I don't think President Abbas is politically strong enough to transcend his people's prejudices. That leaves Bibi.
The presenters did differ on where a secular morality might come from. In his new best seller, “The Moral Landscape,” [Sam] Harris argues that morality is a product of neuroscience. (The good, he argues, is that which promotes happiness and well-being, and those states are ultimately dependent on brain chemistry.) Others believe morality is bequeathed by evolution, while still others would argue for ethics grounded in secular philosophy, like Immanuel Kant’s or John Rawls’s. But all agreed that nonbelievers are at least as moral as believers, and for better reasons.
Thursday, October 14, 2010
For its blog, the LA Times unearthed the clipping of its article about the controversy, written by one of the relatively few reporters Nixon trusted at the time, Lou Flemming. The blog gratuitously recaps Nixon's famous perspiration problem, which was an issue for the historic first debate on Sept. 26 but evaporated for the next three. Some felt Nixon won on Oct. 13. Too bad 20 million fewer people were watching.
Hot off the presses, a couple of highlights.
Kennedy at his deftest, parrying a thrust by Thurston Morton, GOP chief, who had said Kennedy owned Nixon an apology because Harry Truman had said that he and his party could go to hell:
Mr. Truman has his methods of expressing things. He's been in politics for 50 years; he's been president of the United States. They may - are not my style. But I really don't think there's anything that I could say to President Truman that's going to cause him, at the age of 76, to change his particular speaking manner. Perhaps Mrs. Truman can, but I don't think I can. I'll just have to tell Mr. Morton that. If you'd pass that message on to him.Nixon on the religion issue (which in 1960 was Protestant anxiety about Kennedy's Roman Catholicism), a text that Islam-bashers like Newt Gingrich should study:
[A]s far as religion is concerned, I have seen Communism abroad. I see what it does. Communism is the enemy of all religions; and we who do believe in God must join together. We must not be divided on this issue. The worst thing that I can think can happen in this campaign would be for it to be decided on religious issues. I obviously repudiate the Klan; I repudiate anybody who uses the religious issue; I will not tolerate it, I have ordered all of my people to have nothing to do with it and I say to this great audience, whoever may be listening, remember, if you believe in America, if you want America to set the right example to the world, that we cannot have religious or racial prejudice. We cannot have it in our hearts. But we certainly cannot have it in a presidential campaign.
Racism and religion get mixed up when it comes to President Obama. He has disclaimed the dogmatic, historic and highly political "black church." Yet he is clearly not a member of a mainstream "white church." Maybe he's a true original, refusing such a simplistic faith definition. Isn't this OK? Is there anything anti-American about it? I think he may represent the wave of the future.The photo shows 44 in an old-fashioned denominational moment last month at St. John's Episcopal Church near the White House, being totally cracked up by the Rev. Dr. Luis Leon, the rector.
On opening night, June 29, 1965, the sheriff stopped by, handed his gun to the bartender, and said, "Check my gun." The bartender fired a round into the floor and handed it back. "Works fine, Sheriff."
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
[Barack Obama] has learned that, for all his anti-Washington rhetoric, he has to play by Washington rules if he wants to win in Washington. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. “Given how much stuff was coming at us,” Obama told me, “we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who’s occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can’t be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion.”That presumes that what he did was the right thing, a matter of considerable debate. The left thinks he did too little; the right too much. But what is striking about Obama’s self-diagnosis is that by his own rendering, the figure of inspiration from 2008 neglected the inspiration after his election. He didn’t stay connected to the people who put him in office in the first place. Instead, he simultaneously disappointed those who considered him the embodiment of a new progressive movement and those who expected him to reach across the aisle to usher in a postpartisan age.
Tuesday, October 12, 2010
I basically buy the fundamental conceit of secular Zionism and want to see a homeland for the Jewish people. I think the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza are unjust and that the former is killing Zionism as a project to boot. I’m much more skeptical about the efficacy and morality of force as a tool of policy than are Israel or Hamas. I’m convinced that a peace deal is within reach in the short term if Israel is willing to take risks, and I think Israeli politicians and the Israeli public are gripped by a risk-aversion that if not checked will likely lead to national suicide.
The same man who once compared himself to Napoleon (and grandly told his lieutenants that he was at “the center of a worldwide revolution”) now grabs cheap headlines by launching bizarre rhetorical attacks.
The same politician who once saw himself as a latter-day Winston Churchill — sent by God to save Western civilization — now gets rich off political hate speech.
These days, Newt Gingrich’s modus operandi is to smear any public figure who fails to share his worldview. His insults are so overblown and outrageous that after the rhetorical dust settles, the reputation most damaged is his own.
During a discussion of the candidates' prescriptions for curing the economy, Brown jumped on Whitman's proposal to cut the capital gains tax, saying the beneficiaries would largely be wealthy people, including those who have donated $30 million to her campaign.
"How much money will you save if the tax breaks were in effect this year or last year?" Brown asked Whitman.
Whitman demurred but said, "I'm an investor, and investors will benefit from this. So will job creators, and I was a job creator. We have got to get someone in office who knows what the conditions are for small businesses to grow and thrive," she said. "Your business is politics. You've been doing this 40 years and you have been part of the war on jobs in this state for 40 years."
Would Paladino have agreed to appear at an event at which the organizers had said, OK, but no black reporters allowed? No Latino journalists? Had that happened, Paladino would have had an even bigger self-made mess on his hands than he does now.
A "No Depression" blogger, in the course of atoning for things he wishes he hadn't said over several beers, offers a compilation of quotations from and about her, including this 2000 look-back at her roots:
I remember the Byrds were happening and doing folk-rock, and I thought, there you go. So I went to the Troubador. I grew up singing Mexican music, and that's based on indigenous Mexican rhythms. Mexican music also has an overlay of West African music, based on huapango drums, and it's kind of like a 6/8 [time signature], but it really is a very syncopated 6/8. And that's how I attack vocals. Rock `n' roll comes from black music, and I came from Mexican music.Whether any of us understood that or not, let me just say this: She's the only person in the world you probably want to hear sing "Tumbling Dice" besides Mick Jagger. I remember reading that he stopped by the studio to make sure she had the lyrics down. Her 1977 version features the mighty bass guitar and the backing vocals of Kenny Edwards, who died in August.
Monday, October 11, 2010
Brown’s campaign strategy appears to be, let Whitman spend all her money while Brown leans back and declares her a spendthrift and a dilettante.
Kevin Starr, the USC historian, who went to high school with Brown, calls Brown’s non-efforts a “Zen campaign,” which seems to acknowledge that politics itself, the function and purpose of it, has “been erased in California.” Or, put another way, why have a plan if plans aren’t going to work?
“It’s an empty blackboard,” Starr says.
The transcripts of the meetings show [Moshe] Dayan, the unflappable eye-patch-wearing defense minister, at the edge of desperation. As Syrian tanks rolled toward the Galilee unimpeded, he understood that he had misread the signals.
“I underestimated the enemy’s strength, I overestimated our own forces,” he is quoted as saying in an early meeting with Prime Minister Golda Meir and others. “The Arabs are much better soldiers than they used to be.” Then: “Many people will be killed.”
Seeking a means of salvation, he urged recruiting older men and Jews from abroad.
Ms. Meir considered a clandestine trip to Washington to persuade President Nixon to help.
A colleague asked what she hoped to get.
“Let him give whatever he has,” she replied. “Does he have tanks in Europe? Let him give them. You want Phantoms? Let him give. Let him see this as his front and not let our guts spill until he gives us one missile.”
In the end, Ms. Meir did not go. But after appealing to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, she did get Mr. Nixon to send an airlift of matériel that made all the difference in Israel’s favor in the 20-day war. Although Israel won, it was the surprise attack and near victory that Egypt and Syria have focused on, and that led Egypt to make peace with Israel five years later in exchange for a return of the Sinai.
[T]he Dead's best political statement came in a 1974 letter from Ron Rakow, then president of the Grateful Dead Record Company, to President Richard Nixon. Rakow offered the threatened officeholder an idea on how to continue his administration. "We pass our solution along to you with only the remotest expectation that you will carry it out. Since, while it is brilliant, it is not extremely logical. We have concluded that the problems referred to above would disappear, as if by magic, were you to chrome the entire White House."
"If Meg wins, that's not a big shock. She's kind of like Arnold [Schwarzenegger], and we've had mainly Republican governors" in recent decades, said Bruce Cain, a political science professor at UC Berkeley. "If Carly wins, that's a big deal.... We're going to have to stop and really think when we say California is a light blue state."Speaking of which, polls show they're both running behind their Democratic opponents.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
The brothers claim Zuckerberg got the Facebook idea from them (they got a massive settlement in real life) but hesitate to sue at first because it's not what Harvard men do. The real Winklevosses rowed for the U.S. in 2008 in Beijing. Did they deserve their portrayal? Does real Zuckerberg deserve being portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg as an angry, misogynist oddball? Was Napster co-founder and Facebook consultant Sean Parker (Justin Timberlake) really the devilish manipulator (in a San Francisco nightclub, his face is actually lit like a grinning jack-o'-lantern) who persuaded Zuckerberg to betray his best friend and founding CFO?
Sorkin, creator of "The West Wing" and writer of "Charlie Wilson's War," doesn't care. A good story, not accuracy, is the thing, he says. His dialog, including Eisenberg's byte-o-babble, is as dazzling as ever. Close your eyes when Zuckerberg's hectoring his girlfriend, and you can almost hear Mary Louse Parker telling Bradley Whitford, "Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster." The ending is poignant, but again, you don't know what it has to do with Zuckerberg and Facebook. What if your problem is that real Z, who after all is only 26, is nowhere near as interesting as 500 million members and $24 billion? Call Aaron Sorkin.
[Anderson's mentor] Drew Pearson was a liberal, very ideological and, like Nixon, was a Quaker. But he was a pacifist compared to the fundamentalist, almost evangelical strain of Quakerism that Nixon was raised in. He was very much of what we'd call a born-again Christian today.This book review by Chuck Fager includes accurate surveys of Nixon's faith journey and the struggle between fundamentalist and modernist Quakers in the early years of the 20th century. There's no question about the side of the divide on which Nixon ended up. His discipleship at Whittier College under one of the leading modernists, J. Herschel Coffin, swept away all Sunday School notions:
[A]s a result of Coffin's tutelage, ...college senior [Nixon] wrote, "My beliefs are shattered....My religious thinking has been revolutionized...." Vanished, he noted, was biblical literalism, even faith in the physical resurrection of Jesus. In their place was--what? Nixon's essays point toward a mid-thirties Protestant liberalism, focussed on "God as creator of all things," and the vaguely described "religion of Jesus" as a model for personal and social uplift, a model which included a commitment to a strengthened League of Nations.Feldstein would have done well to study the intersection of politics with conservative Protestantism as carefully as Sam Tanenhaus has done. As Whittaker Chambers' biographer recently showed, Nixon's liberal Republicanism made him the target of the conservative Protestants who moved to take over the GOP in the 1970s.
On "Fresh Air," Feldstein made other questionable assertions, including by saying that while he was in the White House Nixon "pocketed" the $100,000 than industrialist Howard Hughes gave Nixon buddy Bebe Rebozo. I don't believe the money made it out of Rebozo's safe, but maybe Feldstein's learned something new. I've just Kindled the book. When I was running the Nixon library, Tricia Nixon Cox's lawyers falsely claimed that Rebozo had said he didn't trust me with his money, so the least I can do is try to keep the facts straight about what he did with Hughes's wad.
The largest tactical question the no-faith faith faces is how aggressively to challenge and confront believers. Books, articles, and conferences? Wearing sandwich boards on street corners? Throwing Gideon Bibles into the hotel pool? More cartoons of Mohammad (let's not and say we did)? The chairman of the Center for Inquiry, dedicated to fostering a secular society, has already been ousted in part because he was considered too mellow. Purges are good; they've definitely worked for us over the centuries, as has the public denunciation of apostates. When a second member of the accommodationist clique, author Chris Mooney, said that you didn't have to believe in God to be spiritual, biologist P.Z. Myers responded:
Whenever we start talking about spirituality, I just want to puke.No worries. You guys are doing just fine!