Saturday, October 23, 2010

Bibi Needs More

Marty Peretz:

The failure of the peace talks was easily foreseen. Obama encumbered them with his ingenious prerequisite: that Israel stop building in the settlements. Never before had such a condition been put forth. The Israelis finally conceded the point with a ten-month moratorium. The American president is, after all, the American president. For nine months the Israelis did no construction. And for the same nine months the Palestinians did no talking. The tenth month was spent haggling.

Israel is eager to talk. Bibi Netanyahu will have enough trouble from the right wing of his cabinet (some of whom I think of as neo-fascists) in any negotiations. He simply cannot bring his simply reactionary colleagues to heel on another period of no work in the settlements without some substantial exchange.

Family Still Appointed, So Preaching Not Anointed

The New York Times on troubles at the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California -- basically $46 million in debt and (are you listening, Kathy?) the politics of family entitlement:

Things fell apart when the younger Mr. Schuller tried to institute basic good governance rules used by many nonprofit organizations. He wanted to remove anyone with a conflict of interest from the board. That meant unseating some of his sisters and their husbands as well as his parents, who were also employees.

The coup came in July 2008. Mr. Schuller said he was told his preaching was “not anointed.” A three-person Office of the President — two of whose members were his brothers-in-law — was created to run the cathedral. He was given the limited role of pastor of the local congregation, and removed from preaching on “Hour of Power.” He quit.

Dying 'Aborning

A pessimistic Washington Post summary of the state of play in the Middle East.

The View From St. John's' Window

Saturn settin'

Who Weeps For Detroit?

My St. John's friend and fellow Detroiter Tom Tierney sent some amazing photos of the Motor City in the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, then vibrant, now decayed almost beyond imagining. This one was taken downtown at the corner of Woodward and Fort St. in 1952, two years before my birth. That could be my dad in front of the bus, eying my mother in the flowered skirt. Not really, but you know what I mean.

At a luncheon on Thursday, I met another Michigander, Justin McCusker, who handles governmental relations for South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa and is writing a doctoral dissertation for USC about imaginative ways to promote Detroit's recovery. As much as 40% of the land within the city limits is vacant. Bringing it back from decades of economic dislocation and abysmal management, Justin said, will take the best ideas we have (including his; he's incredibly passionate about the subject).

To underscore how the city's trauma has slipped into the shadows, Justin asked how many of us had even heard about the Sept. 7 firestorm that destroyed 71 widely spaced Detroit homes before firefighters could even arrive. None had.

Sadness For A Sacred Place

The 129-year- old chapel on the grounds of Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria was destroyed by fire yesterday. VTS has helped train thousands of Episcopal deacons, priests, and bishops, including our own Bishop Jon Bruno in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

Visiting VTS in September for an Episcopal schools meeting, I attended Holy Eucharist and Evening prayer services in the chapel that were largely conducted by seminarians. I could tell how much they loved the space and can only imagine how they and their faculty and alumni colleagues will miss it. Let us pray for a quick rebuilding, if that's possible.

During my visit, I posted this exterior photo on Facebook, which prompted a friendly dialog between two colleagues about the relationship between the seminary chapel and Immanuel Church on the Hill. Wrote the Rev. Peter Ackerman, Immanuel's associate rector:
[W]hat is more commonly known as Seminary Chapel is in fact called Immanual Chapel or Immanuel Church on the Hill. ICOH began as an outreach of the seminary in that very space and since it was on a hill, thereby came the name. When the parish was allowed to run on its own, the seminary donated property down and across the street where they built their office, rectory, parish hall and what is known as Zabriske Chapel. So ICOH the organization is across the street, but the Immanuel Chapel, where we still worship for two service on Sundays, is on the Seminary grounds.
And so we pray for a local congregation in mourning as well.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Great Muppet Syndrome Inevitably Sets In

That's Bert (r.) and Ernie all right, in the back seat of a Cadillac in a Costa Mesa, California parking lot.

Serving People Instead Of Serving Time

Nixon White House aide Chuck Colson on fighting crime:

When I first got out of prison and started talking about this in the late '70s and early '80s, most of my conservative friends thought I'd lost my mind, and most of them were against me. Then I began to develop my arguments and write about themI wrote two books on moral justice and restorative justice: the notion that, instead of just punishing people, you put them to work and [have them] make restitution and do serviceand frankly since then there's been a big change.

I tell my conservative friends who disagree with me, "You guys aren't being conservative. You're taking a big government solution, you're thinking prisons are going to change people and that's just not the case." I think I've converted a lot of my old conservative skeptics.

Red Sky In The West

The national angle on the Golden State waxing red, according to Adam Nagourney:
Should [Sen. Barbara] Boxer lose [to Carly Fiorina], it would increase the chances that Republicans could capture the Senate. If that were to happen, this contest could come to be viewed, in the post-mortems of Nov. 3, as the election that captured the sweep of Democratic problems. This is political ground as friendly as any that Democrats could hope for; a Republican has not been elected to the Senate here since Pete Wilson in 1988.

Doubted Thomas

I'm ambivalent about the new round of publicity about associate justice Clarence Thomas's sex life. As the Washington Post is reporting, a former girlfriend, Lillian McEwen, is speaking openly about his anatomical preferences and taste for pornography. I regret that he's being humiliated again. And yet it's possible to see how, by reopening the question of whether he lied to the Senate Judiciary Committee during his 1991 confirmation hearings, McEwen's claims could compromise his effectiveness in office, or worse.

It was during his hearings that Thomas's former staffer, Anita Hill (below), accused him of sexually-charged workplace discourse. He denied it. People's judgments about whether she was telling the truth tended to break along partisan lines. I always wondered why she'd lie and also expose herself to predictably vicious attacks from Thomas's supporters.

The Thomas-Hill controversy helped us better understand and combat sexual harassment. Thomas himself learned different lessons. His writings and statements, and now his wife's reckless heroics in calling Hill to demand an apology, demonstrate that he remains bitter. I can understand why. Of the countless men who've behaved as he allegedly did in the workplace, why did the first one pilloried before a Senate committee happen to be African-American? As pornography goes mainstream -- 25% of search engine requests are porn-related -- why does what a certain inflexibly conservative justice allegedly watched in private in the 1980s remain news?

Still, one aspect of McEwen's story does seem to be the public's business, even at this late date. She says Thomas told her he'd asked coworkers about their anatomy. It sounds like the comments Hill claimed he made. Confirmation that he behaved like a slob a quarter-century ago wouldn't be the problem. It would be the suggestion that Thomas hadn't told the truth under oath about a private matter. That's exactly what got Bill Clinton impeached and disbarred.

I've heard a couple of times lately that in politics, nothing happens by accident. And yet so far, the Thomas story is playing out like Greek tragedy rather than political conspiracy. Imagine for a moment that Hill was telling the truth. How would it feel all these years to be a fundamentally honorable person sitting on the Supreme Court by virtue of having committed perjury to save your nomination? Perhaps his unsettled feelings contributed to his wife's decision to call Hill, resulting in McEwen's decision to come forward now with her charges, which tend to corroborate Hill's, thus raising the specter of Thomas possibly having lied to the Senate.

However the sorry episode began (and it's important to remember that McEwen was shopping a manuscript about her relationship with Thomas before anyone knew about the Virginia Thomas call to Hill), it's undoubtedly occurred to somebody that the chances have increased, no matter how incrementally so far, for breaking the 5-4 moderate-conservative SCOTUS bloc that might otherwise persist for another decade. Any political machinations that may now occur wouldn't be about sex or anyone's righteous outrage about perjury. Just like the Clinton impeachment, they'd be about sheer power.

Thinking And Writing And Thinking

Andrew Sullivan on blogging:

And Folks, She's Episcopalian

A thoughtful profile of GOP Senate candidate Carly Fiorina.

The Hinge Of Peace

From Roger Cohen, a startlingly blunt and concise summary of the stakes and remaining chances in the stalled talks between Israel and the Palestinians. While he faults the Obama administration for its haste and naivete, he predicts direct talks will resume soon. While he believes that disappointing Palestinian expectations of a state within year could lead to more violence, he doubts both sides will muster the courage to bring it about. The key paragraph:
Netanyahu stands at Israel’s new political center, which is to the right of where it was five years ago. An iron-clad Israeli narrative exists: We removed settlements from Gaza and look what we got — Hamas rockets! That’s the prism through which withdrawal from the West Bank is viewed. You can dispute the narrative but it’s there. So Palestinians must deal with it. Their thirst for sovereignty is matched only in intensity by Israel’s insistence on security. Here lies the hinge of peace.

A Shot Across The Fox's Nose

Andrew Sullivan is right that Juan Williams' complete statement about Muslims doesn't meet the standard of gross wrenching-out-of-context set by the Obama administration when it panicked and fired Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. He continues:
The truth is: we can all have bigoted thoughts and say bigoted things because we are human beings, but we should seek to suppress them in a multicultural society within ourselves, let alone lend them actual legitimacy on air. And if you do lend them legitimacy - like Rick Sanchez did and Juan Williams did and Bill O'Reilly did and Brian Kilmeade did - I don't think it's inappropriate for a broadcasting company to say it doesn't want to be associated with it.
And here's another thing. Fox News, on which Williams appears regularly, has openly allied itself with Republicans who believed they could increase their chances on Nov. 2 by whipping up anger against Muslims, which Williams hardly discouraged, and encouraging the idea that Obama isn't Christian. I still don't think that Williams' comments, in the usual scheme of things, justified his being fired. But maybe NPR (which after all has been accused for years of liberal bias, often unfairly) was sending the message that when a news organization really does associate itself explicitly with the fortunes and tactics of a political party, the usual rules don't necessarily apply.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How Do You Not Release "Sherry Darling"?

Re-watching the wonderful HBO documentary about Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's "Darkness On The Edge Of Town" sessions in 1977-78, I'm amazed by his stubborn insistence on his vision of a formalistic, unsmiling record rooted in the bottled-up Protestant heart of small-town middle America.

He'd been listening to Hank Williams and other country artists, and they lured him far from Asbury Park and New York City. The revealing videotapes made during the sessions and integrated with present-day interviews in the documentary make clear that his notebooks were brimming with East Coast exuberance -- classic songs like "Sherry Darling" (below, in a 1984 performance in Toronto; four years before, I was in the audience), "Fire," "Talk To Me" (which he gave to Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes), "Because The Night" (which he gave to Patti Smith and which became her one and only hit), and the lusty roadhouse rocker "Ramrod" (which he saved up for "The River").

"Sherry Darling" has one of Bruce's most achingly beautiful bridges:

Let there be sunlight, let there be rain
Let the broken heart love again
Sherry, we can run with our eyes open wide before the tide

Neither it nor any of those other songs made it onto "Darkness." Too much love and joy for an album that begins, "Lights out tonight, trouble in the heartland." How many rock stars put that kind of authenticity ahead of sure-fire hits?

We'll Just Have To See

Paul Krugman on Great Britain's austerity budget:
What happens now? Maybe Britain will get lucky, and something will come along to rescue the economy. But the best guess is that Britain in 2011 will look like Britain in 1931, or the United States in 1937, or Japan in 1997. That is, premature fiscal austerity will lead to a renewed economic slump. As always, those who refuse to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it.


The Nixon angle on the Juan Williams firing, as the pundit channels the late Daniel Schorr:

I can only imagine Dan's revulsion to realize that today NPR treats a journalist who has worked for them for ten years with less regard, less respect for the value of independence of thought and embrace of real debate across political lines, than Nixon ever displayed.

We Need An App For That

Matthew Yglesias doesn't like the British government's budget cuts, adding:
I think it’s clear that at least one reason they’re going so far all-in in this direction is simply that the UK Tory Party is a right-of-center party that has an ideological aversion to government spending.
Bingo. I charged earlier today that those who favor massive stimulus spending do so because they have an ideological affinity for making national governments bigger and more powerful. So when's someone going to write a computer program that manipulates the macro economy based on pure empiricism instead of the hidden agendas of politicians and pundits?

The Keynes English

Focusing on Britain's drastic round of public sector job cuts, the New York Times predictably mourns European governments' abandonment of John Maynard Keynes' theory we can overspend our way out of recession. But the Times says nothing about the 300,000 private sector jobs the "Spectator" says the British economy has created this year. Did the Tory mag just make it up?

Bad Juan

I'm a big NPR fan. Firing Juan Williams was a bonehead move. Executives at the taxpayer-subsidized network took what he said out of context in the same way the White House did comments by Agriculture Department official Shirley Sherrod. President Obama ended up apologizing and offering her another job. NPR should do the same for Williams, who's one of the best (and least-predictable) commentators in the business.

No Bullhorn

At the Nixon library, it's the president's White House aides vs. the federal government over what the public gets to see about Watergate. But that's nothing compared to what the George W. Bush library is up against: Church people! The New York Times reports about a controversy over what sounds like a benign exhibition of Bush artifacts that's been assembled to mark the groundbreaking of his presidential center on the campus of Southern Methodist University in Dallas:
“I hope that a bullhorn will not become the symbol for the entry of the United States into an unjustified war and that a pistol of Saddam Hussein’s is not seen as some strange symbol of victory in that horrendous misjudgment,” said Tex Sample, an elder in the Methodist Church who helped lead the opposition to the Bush Institute’s placement at S.M.U. “That these should be the symbols of the values and commitments of the Bush administration and should now become the face of Southern Methodist University is cause for alarm.”

Sunday Sermon: "Call Us Beloved"

When the evangelist Luke was setting down his account of Jesus's life, as few as 40 years after his death and Resurrection, people's faith was already flagging. By repeating Jesus's parable of the unjust judge, Luke was telling his discouraged friends, "It gets better." In his anguish over the suicides of 12 gay students since September, that's exactly what Forth Worth city council member Joel Burns said last week about the cruel state of nature sometimes known as high school. How much better all our lives would be if we called one another by the name our Lord gave us. My Sunday sermon is here. To learn more about bullying and how to combat it, check out educator and St. John's Church member Jackie Franke's blog.

300,000 New Jobs -- In England

Fiscal austerity appears to be working in England, according to this Allister Health article in the British "Spectator":
There will be real hardship for the soldiers and public-sector workers who are laid off. But job losses will not be the main problem the British economy faces over the next few years. The overall British story now is one of steadily rising employment, with 300,000 more jobs this year. The private sector continues to create jobs faster than the government is cutting them, and by the end of the cuts there should be a million more jobs than there are today.
And this editorial in the same issue:
The newspaper headlines may speak of 500,000 public-sector job cuts over the four years, but the same unreported forecasts suggest that 1.5 million new jobs will be created over the same period. The purpose of the cuts is to create more jobs, and better-paid jobs.

[Chancellor of the Exchequer George] Osborne was...right to point out that the amount paid in debt interest — £63 billion — is lower as a result of his being more ambitious in his spending reforms. This is a tangible benefit of austerity. Confidence in Britain’s economic future has lowered the cost of government borrowing, helping to secure the supply of cheap credit on which the tentative economic recovery depends. And it is working. The economy is creating jobs faster than the government will cut jobs: the result is more jobs, less poverty and quicker recovery. This, again, is the purpose of cuts.

That's Osborne, above (and no, he's not 17; he's 39). England's budget cuts (an average of 4% a year in overall government spending this and the next three years) are devastating for those who lose their jobs or depend on government services. Is it worth it if it helps the economy recover? People will have a variety of answers to that question. And then there are those who insist austerity doesn't work at all, such as Paul Krugman of the New York Times, who visited Germany in June and wrote as follows (his column is reproduced here from the British Guardian, along with its links):
Many economists, myself included, regard [Berlin's] turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when FDR's premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession. And here in Germany a few scholars see parallels to the policies of Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose devotion to financial orthodoxy ended up sealing the doom of the Weimar Republic.
No sign so far in either England or Germany of such dire consequences, Meanwhile, in the U.S., after massive stimulus expenditures that have piled debt on debt, the recovery is stalling, and job creation is anemic.

When economists such as Krugman respond to the lingering crisis by arguing that we should spend even more, I'm tempted to think that their motives include an ideologically-rooted desire for the larger and more powerful and intrusive federal government that stumulus-based policies will inevitably leave behind. On the other side of the policy argument, the tea party's secretive sugar daddies talk about getting back to sound free enterprise principles, but they're just out for themselves, having benefited plenty from government largesse.

I wish macroeconomics were more of a science than an art, which might enable us to get the politicians and pundits out of it completely.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Party Animus

George Skelton:
[O]nly 55% of registered Republicans [in California] have a favorable impression of the GOP; 39% look on it unfavorably. By contrast, 75% of Democrats are favorably impressed with their party.

Blaming (Or Crediting) The Protestants

The "Economist" on the Puritan roots of U.S. support for Israel:

[The pro-Israel group] AIPAC would... wield much less influence inside the 21st-century beltway if the Puritan settlers of Massachusetts hadn’t thought of themselves as reenacting the exodus of the Hebrews from bondage in ancient Egypt. When William Bradford stepped off the Mayflower in 1620, he quoted Jeremiah: "Come let us declare in Zion the word of God." Years later, Cotton Mather spoke of the colonies as "an instrument" of the Almighty in establishing "Israel in America". These ideas entered into America’s cultural bloodstream a very long time ago, and they continue to play a crucially important role in predisposing the American people (the vast majority of whom, it should go without saying, are not Jewish) to be receptive to appeals on behalf of the more recently established Zion in the Middle East.

Ginning Up The Story

Virginia Thomas's phone call to Anita Hill, while a little weird, didn't deserve to be the lead story on the "NBC Nightly News." Does someone think President Obama might somehow get a third Supreme Court pick and the liberal-moderate wing its fifth vote?

Nation-Shopping At The UN

With peace negotiations stalled over West Bank settlements, to get their state Palestinians may turn to the body that gave Israel instant international legitimacy in 1947. Would President Obama veto it in the Security Council?

The Perils Of Insisting On Unbelief

Chris Stedman takes issue with evangelical atheists, bent on deconversion:
The nonreligious have gained a lot of traction due to the voices of "new atheism," but I believe that we are at a crossroads: We have come to a point where we can continue to express our legitimate frustrations in a way that alienates the religious, or we can look inward to find a comfort in our own convictions that will enable us to begin the courageous and important work of looking outward to respectfully engage with others.

Karma Chamomileans

The latest theory about tea party people is that they believe liberals have erred by trying too hard to keep what goes around from coming around.

Yorba Linda Sky

9:45 a.m.

Just Say Yes

Thomas Friedman:
[W]hen America asks Israel to do something that in no way touches on its vital security but would actually enhance it, there is only one right answer: “Yes.” It is a measure of how spoiled Israel has become that after billions and billions of dollars in U.S. aid and 300,000 settlers already ensconced in the West Bank, Israel feels no compunction about spurning an American request for a longer settlement freeze — the only purpose of which is to help the United States help Israel reach a secure peace with the Palestinians. Just one time you would like Israel to say, “You know, Mr. President, we’re dubious that a continued settlement freeze will have an impact. But you think it will, so, let’s test it. This one’s for you.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Take It Like A Whitman

Joanna Weiss is surprised that Meg Whitman, California's GOP gubernatorial candidate, made such a big deal about a Jerry Brown aide's vulgarity:
The notion that the billionaire head of a Fortune 500 company would be crushed — or even surprised — at a little trash talk is absurd. And if she’s somehow deeply wounded by an aide on a cellphone, how would she handle a rambunctious State Assembly? The fact that she can slough off slurs should be a badge of honor — and a model for women who want to play the game.

The Most Devastating Ad Of The Year


"They Just Didn't Trust Ed Cox"

Fellow Republicans trash Nixon's son-in-law.

Nixon in '12

Via Palin and Malek, says Andrew Sullivan.

What Israel?

Visit Israel, and you'll learn that its people don't agree on what it stands for. Religion? Ethnicity? Zionism? Democracy? Making sure the Holocaust never recurs? Behaving better than its enemies? More on the question from an LA Times article about Benyamin Netanyahu's effort to persuade the Palestinians to recognize Israel as Jewish state:
Even Israelis don't agree on what "Jewish state" should mean, Palestinians say. Secular Israelis worry such terminology would increase the mix of religion and state. Many Orthodox Jews, meanwhile, believe the Torah forbids the formation of a Jewish state until the arrival of the Messiah. The lack of consensus is one of the reasons Israel never drafted a constitution.

Great Guy

Guy Clark was born in west Texas during the first year of World War II. I think we must be related. I love his sly phrasing and picking. This performance of a medley of two songs, "Old Friends" (not Paul Simon's song, but one Clark wrote with his wife and another songwriter) and "LA Freeway," was broadcast on Irish TV in 1990. Jerry Jeff Walker had a hit with "LA Freeway" in the 1970s, when I first heard and loved it.

I don't know how this music -- Clark, Joe Ely, Robert Earl Keen, Townes van Zandt, Steve Earle -- got in my blood. I've only been to Texas a few times, including once in the early 1990s, during a presidential libraries conference, when I visited a now-defunct club in Austin, La Zona Rosa, and saw Ely play the R. E. Keen song "The Road Goes On Forever" as a swirling scrum of UT students held their Lone Star bottles in the air. Plus I was with Joe at a show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano in 1994. It was right after Paul Kelly's opening set (another cousin, from Australia), and we happened to be the men's room at the same time.

Hat tip to the good people at "No Depression"

Rain's A Pain, But Fewer Houses Will Burn Down

Lightning strikes over Palmdale, California early Tuesday as a low pressure system brings unsettled wet weather to southern California. (Photo and caption by AP/Mike Meadows)

Doubtful Thomas

Virginia Thomas's behavior is coming close to compromising her husband's position on the Supreme Court.

No Separation Of Church And Politics

Heck yes we have the right to ask candidates about religion, says the "Economist":

Some atheists, such as Richard Dawkins, believe that religious education is a form of child abuse. It should be considered perfectly appropriate to ask an atheist candidate whether he agrees with this blatantly intolerant position. Various religious groups, meanwhile, encourage their members to believe things that might clash with the requirements of holding high office. Mormons teach that the head of their church is a prophet of God and his mouthpiece on earth. A large portion of evangelical Protestants affirm biblical inerrancy and reject science as a method for determining the truth about the natural world. Many Pentecostals believe that God is directing world history toward an apocalyptic cataclysm in the Middle East.

Monday, October 18, 2010

War Is Peace

A bishop quitting the Anglican Church for Rome calls the Church of England "fascist" for disrespecting those who oppose ordaining women as bishops.

Not-So-Poor Poor Meg

More from John Judis's Jerry Brown profile. First, a modern-day iteration of Harry Truman's famous "Poor Ike -- it won't be a bit like the Army" comment about the circumscribed civilian elected executive:
Daniel Zingale, who was deputy chief of staff for former governor Gray Davis and a senior adviser to Schwarzenegger, draws a sharp contrast between the two candidates. Brown, he says, “should know what he is getting into. He has always been someone who liked to rock the boat, and I think that fits the time.” Whitman, he says, “does not have any idea what the job is like ... For a CEOer like her, who is used to telling the comptroller what to do, it would be a rude awakening to discover that the comptroller is going to be running against you in the next election. She doesn’t know how powerless she is going to be.”
And Judis's conclusion:

If Whitman’s money prevails, the legislature will quickly disabuse her of her plans, and if she is smart, she will decide, as Schwarzenegger finally did, to govern from the center and not the right. But if Brown can win in spite of his shoestring campaign, he won’t have to endure a similar initiation—he knows how Sacramento works. He stands a much better chance than Whitman of breaking the fiscal deadlock, and his cleanenergy program could restore California’s place as a vanguard of American industry. And if that’s not enough, there’s another consideration: A Brown administration, whatever its faults, would be infinitely more entertaining.

The Cover-Up Continues

I've always liked Jerry Brown, Democratic candidate for governor of California, as has John Judis at the "New Republic." But as I read along dreamily in Judis's new profile of the candidate, this brought me up short:
[In 1992 Brown] sold [his] mansion, moved to Oakland, and installed himself as the aging leader of a commune, describing himself as a “recovering politician.” He also had a regular radio show on Berkeley’s KPFA, where he aired opinions on capitalism and globalization that would not have been out of place on the World Socialist Web Site. He once referred to President Bill Clinton and Congress as “criminals” who “continue to destroy this country and the world itself.” (Most transcripts of the broadcasts have recently been removed from the Web.)
Uh, why, by whom, and at whose suggestion?

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jerusalem Night Moves

The Palestinians publicly say they'll relinquish their historic demand for the "right of return" -- Arabs to their former homes in Israel -- in exchange for statehood, another incentive for Prime Minister Netanyahu to make a major concession on West Bank settlements.

Meanwhile, his complicated governing coalition may be fraying. Could a new coalition with centrist, pro-negotiation Kadima, Israel's largest opposition party, make it easier for Bibi to go to China?

Nixon In Cuomo's Corner?

Not too long ago, the tea party's media boosters were saying that establishment critics of TP-approved candidates missed the point by dwelling on some of the candidates' scandalous backgrounds, questionable characters, pervasive gaffes, or glaring lack of experience or qualifications. It didn't matter if mainstream critics said they were wing nuts. Voters would know that kind of elitist hoo-ha when they saw it. All that mattered, it was confidently said, was that, once elected, they'd do the right thing on taxes and spending.

But then came New York GOP gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, the TP's most bracing brew, who's mad as hell, who's going to clean up Albany with a baseball bat, and who's polling 24% compared to the 59% lead -- that's a 35-point spread -- now enjoyed by an archetypal political insider and big-government dynast, Democrat Andrew Cuomo.

Makes you wonder what might've happened if state GOP chairman Ed Cox (above) hadn't helped clear the way for Paladino by spending the first half of the year trying to deny the nomination to a more presentable conservative, Rick Lazio, by manufacturing a primary challenge from Lazio's left. Lazio beat back Cox only to be hit on his other flank by Paladino, who was advised by another Nixonite, consultant Roger Stone. Stone got his start in the dirty tricks apparatus launched in 1972 by Nixon aide Dwight Chapin.

It was just the kind of of dual enfilade that Nixon loved -- when performed on Democrats, that is. Since Paladino won the primary in September, Stone has been urging him to soften his presentation, but it's apparently too late. On the other hand, Nixon always liked Andrew's dad, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. Politics works in mysterious ways.