Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Narcissistic Blastoff

Maureen Dowd on Callista Gingrich:

“She’s a transformational wife,” Alex Castellanos, the Republican strategist, told me. “She’s the wife who makes the candidate think he is destiny’s gift to mankind, born to greater things.”

While a trophy wife is admired by her man, the admiring eyes of a Transformational Wife are there to propel her man to the next level. And when a woman who wants to be a Transformational Wife merges with a man who calls himself a Transformational Figure, you can expect a narcissistic blastoff.

Castellanos weaves the common tale of a “great but frustrated” man: “The first wife, and often the second, do not grasp his brilliance or grandeur. The starter wives try to confine him in their small world. But his drive to fulfill his gargantuan potential is too powerful. He rebelliously breaks conventions.

“Then he finds the muse who sees him as he sees himself. He is a man of history and belongs to something larger. She agrees that his rejections have been the fault of the audience. They cannot stare into a light so bright. She directs and channels him, saying, ‘This is what you have to do to achieve your destiny.’

“Now he is unleashed. The best and worst of him have been fed and watered.”

The Republican establishment is chasing Newt around the country with a butterfly net. But when he looks into Callista’s bright blue eyes, he’s reminded of his adolescent dreams of exploring galaxies and saving civilization.

When Barack is cocky and looks at Michelle, he might see her thinking: “You’re no messiah. Pick up your socks.” But when Newt is cocky and looks at Callista, he sees her thinking: “You are the messiah. We’ll have your socks bronzed.”

"A Change Is Gonna Come"

In London in 1987, a smoldering slow jam by Tina Turner and Robert Cray. I realized I hadn't heard her sing the blues too often. Young Bob starts his solo at 3:25. In 1963, after hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' in the Wind," Sam Cooke wrote and recorded the song as a prayer for racial justice. Hat tip to Pamela Leavey.

Ladies And Gentlemen, Keep Kicking

Historic Cruising Vessel

This is almost certainly the last photo taken of Richard Nixon. On Saturday, April 16, 1994, he was headed home from the Westchester (New York) Country Club after attending the wedding of a family friend. He's shown with his chief of staff, Kathy O'Connor (rocking that perm), and the bride's father, Bob Abplanalp, inventor of the aerosol valve and third musketeer to Nixon and Bebe Rebozo. Note as well the Chrysler limo.

On the Monday after the wedding, Nixon suffered a devastating stroke as he sat on the deck of his Upper Saddle River, New Jersey home, savoring an evening in spring and awaiting dinner. He died on Friday, April 22. The following week Kathy and his family returned his body to California, where Noah McMahon, about 2,000 other helpers, and I (then director of the Nixon library, where he would be buried next to Mrs. Nixon) were waiting. A Chapman University undergraduate, Noah volunteered to help with parking. He now runs two companies he founded, Anonymous LLC and the Giving Back Fund, and serves on the school committee at St. John's. Note as well the Chrysler limo.

Noah acquired the historic wheels several years ago from Bob Stanley of Bronxville, New York, who had bought it from Nixon's estate (of which I was co-executor). Noah had it painstakingly restored. This week, he picked up the attention-commanding license plates. He plans to lend Nixon's Chrysler to organizations for their fundraisers and silent auctions. If those whitewalls could talk!

Naftali's Revenge

John Dean, Bob Woodward, and Carl Bernstein met recently in the Nixon library's Watergate exhibit.

Chickens On The Board, Egg On The Ribbon

The Susan G. Komen for the Cure board is responsible for ensuring that the organization's non-profit purposes are being fulfilled. When the Komen staff decided to go after Planned Parenthood, I wonder what board members said and when they said it.

According to the New York Times, Komen had been dealing for years with opposition to its PP grants, though it doesn't appear that it had been more than a minor irritant. But then, the reporters continue, Komen went and hired itself a politician:
The discussion within Komen about addressing the objections of anti-abortion advocates intensified last year after Karen Handel was hired as senior vice president for public policy, several former Komen employees said. Ms. Handel, a Republican, had been secretary of state in Georgia and had run unsuccessfully for governor in 2010. During that campaign, she had spoken about ending financing for Planned Parenthood and said, “Since I am pro-life, I do not support the mission of Planned Parenthood.”
Komen decided to suspend PP funding on the flimsy pretext that it was compromised by a House investigation spearheaded by an anti-abortion member. When the move became public this week, PP's advocates pressured Komen to restore the funding. One Komen board member, lobbyist John D. Raffaelli, waxed philosophical:
Is it possible for a woman’s health organization to stay out of the abortion issue and help all women? I don’t know the answer to that yet. What we were doing before was angering the right-to-life crowd. Then, with our decision in December, we upset the pro-choice crowd. And now we’re going to make the right-to-life crowd mad all over again. How do we stop doing that?
Raffaelli is lamenting that Komen had a chicken and egg dilemma, well-known to Episcopalians and students of the Middle East. Jews and Muslims, Israelis and Palestinians have been serving chicken and eggs to one another all the way back to Abram and the Canaanites. Did church progressives leave conservatives by supporting full sacramental membership for gays and lesbians despite some conservatives' scriptural and intestinal objections, or did conservatives leave progressives by trying to take their congregations and dioceses out of The Episcopal Church in response to the progressives' moves? And did Komen inject itself into the abortion debate by funding an organization that performed abortions as well as breast screenings or by changing course and trying to end the funding?

Your answer may depend on whether you're a chicken or an egg. On this issue as on most, I'm a Denny's meat-lovers scramble. You can theoretically say that Komen took a stand on abortion (about which Americans remain profoundly divided) by funding PP breast cancer programs. But that would be political Donatism -- saying that all PP's good work for women is moot because a small percentage of its funds is used for abortions. Thanks to Komen, its work includes potentially life-saving clinical breast exams and mammogram referrals in poor neighbors where PP is the only organization available to provide the services.

If anti-abortion folks at Komen had had the courage of their convictions, only women's health organizations passing the pro-life litmus test would've been eligible for grants. But how many such organizations are there, do you imagine? Instead, they came up with the under-investigation dodge, a clever politician's maneuver that was their undoing.

I'd like to know what Raffealli and his fellow board members said to staffers who broached the policy change that would plunge Komen into chaos. It would have been one thing if anti-abortion protests were seriously interfering with Komen's events and fundraising, but there's no sign that they were. Even in that case, Komen would have had the opportunity to reassert its core mission -- saving women from breast cancer -- and promise protestors and the public that it would not be intimidated by anyone trying to pick a fight over abortion. But Komen wasn't facing a crisis. It wasn't drawn into the abortion debate. It drove in. On Friday, Komen founder and CEO Nancy Brinker said:
We do not want our mission marred or affected by politics – anyone’s politics.
Politics is what you get when you hire politicians. At least according to the Times report, Handel played a key role in developing the anti-PP policy. The board got chicken. And now Komen has egg on its ribbon.

"Give Me All Your Luvin'," Madonna

A catchy new pop song from 53-year-old Madonna, leveling the stage with upstart Lady Gaga, whom she's gently accused of borrowing the chord structure of "Express Yourself" for "Born This Way." In the video, you just know it's supposed to be infant phenomenon Gaga in the baby carriage. Plus Madonna puts her name in the song, a Gagesque move. Plus she sings, "Every record sounds the same/You gotta step into my world."

Friday, February 3, 2012

Seeing Pink Over Abortion

Todd Kelly says that as a 501(c)(3) with a mission of breast cancer awareness, prevention, and treatment, Susan G. Komen for the Cure went way off message:

I don’t have their financial records, but I’m betting that – to use a round number – no one donated money to them to help out either the Pro-Life or the Pro-Choice cause. I’m pretty sure they donated to fund breast cancer research. Large donors may file suit against Komen for the return of some or all of their historical donations, and Komen might actually lose such a suit.

By putting themselves in the position they have, the Board of Komen has ensured that their name is no longer synonymous with breast cancer research. Instead, it’s deeply entangled with the vitriolic debate on abortion. And...that’s going to be a pretty deep pit of quicksand from which to pull themselves out. Personally, I don’t know that they ever fully can. They are certainly going to take it in the shorts over time, even if they do survive. And the reason for that won’t be because they were the champion of the life of a fetus, and it won’t be because they were the champion of a women’s right to choose.

It’s because by trying to be either one, you can’t be the champion of fighting breast cancer.
Fair enough. I know lots of breast cancer contributors and activists. Their views on abortion probably run the gamut. But Kelly doesn't say how Komen could have avoided becoming entangled in the issue as soon as it decided to fund anything at Planned Parenthood, which has a broader portfolio, unless his argument is that it's a matter of mindset and how one communicates the single-minded passion of purpose. "Listen," Komen might say. "Our goal is to save women from breast cancer. If Planned Parenthood helps with that, we are going fund them. If BP wants to open cancer screening centers instead of car washes at your neighborhood AM/PM, we'll fund that. Others can worry about abortion, pro-lifers, and the Gulf of Mexico."

Andrew Sullivan addresses some of the ambiguities of the issue, including generational ones, here.

Photo by Reuters

Mourning In Red America?

All Republicans and Democrats of good will welcome today's report of 243,000 new jobs and a drop in the unemployment rate. Still, Feb. 3 may foreshadow Barack Obama's Nov. 6 reelection. Mitt Romney would find it almost impossible to run against a robust recovery. As is always the case with challengers in good or improving times, the GOP may find itself in the position of wishing-without-really-meaning-or-at-least-admitting-to-wish for bad news -- a stalled recovery, an autumn financial meltdown in Europe, or anything else that can be left at the door of White House. Nine months is a long time. But these are the kinds of numbers that decide elections.

"Bad Time," The Jayhawks

I never liked this Grand Funk song, but these alt.-country veterans mediate redemption. Hat tip to No Depression.


Why do New York and LA have such crummy airports?

The Real RINOs

Nicholas Kristof on Rule and Ruin, a new book by Geoffrey Kabaservice:

“Much of the current conservative movement is characterized by this sort of historical amnesia and symbolic parricide, which seeks to undo key aspects of the Republican legacy such as Reagan’s elimination of corporate tax loopholes, Nixon’s environmental and labor safety programs, and a variety of G.O.P. achievements in civil rights, civil liberties, and good government reforms,” Kabaservice writes. “In the long view of history, it is really today’s conservatives who are ‘Republicans in name only.’ ”

After all, the original Massachusetts moderates were legendary figures in Republican history, like Elihu Root and Henry Cabot Lodge. Theodore Roosevelt embraced progressivism as “the highest and wisest form of conservatism.” Few did more to promote racial integration, civil rights and individual freedoms than a Republican, Earl Warren, in his years as chief justice.

Dwight Eisenhower cautioned against excess military spending as “a theft from those who hunger and are not fed.” Richard Nixon proposed health care reform. Ronald Reagan endorsed the same tax rate for capital gains as for earned income. Each of these titans of Republican Party history would today risk mockery for these views.

Kids Today

Interviewing Madonna about her upcoming movie, "W.E.," The Daily Beast reminds us how hard adolescent girls can be on their mothers:
In December, while she was getting ready for a screening of her movie, her 15-year-old daughter, Lourdes, walked into the room and vetoed her mom’s proposed outfit: a corset with fishnets and no pants.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Obama In Iran

How can President Obama deter Iran without war? According to two veteran diplomats, by studying Richard Nixon's opening to China:

Before traveling to Beijing in 1972, Nixon outlined on his ubiquitous yellow pad three analytical pillars of his strategy: What do they want, what do we want and what do we both want? The Chinese, he continued, wanted to “build up their world credentials,” to recover control of Taiwan and to get the United States out of Asia, while the United States wanted to succeed in Indochina, establish communication “to restrain Chinese expansion in Asia” and, in the future, “reduce threat of confrontation by China Super Power.” The United States and China both wanted “to reduce danger of confrontation and conflict, a more stable Asia, a restraint on U.S.S.R.”

In the Shanghai CommuniquƩ, issued at the culmination of the meeting in Beijing, the continuing differences were highlighted, but both sides agreed to expand the common ground between them.

In developing a diplomatic strategy toward Iran, President Obama might respond to Nixon’s three questions as follows: Iran wants recognition of its revolution; an accepted role in its region; a nuclear program; the departure of the United States from the Middle East; and the lifting of sanctions. The United States wants Iran not to have nuclear weapons; security for Israel; a democratic evolution of Arab countries; the end of terrorism; and world access to the region’s oil and gas. Both Iran and the United States want stability in the region — particularly in Iraq and Afghanistan; the end of terrorism from Al Qaeda and the Taliban; the reincorporation of Iran into the international community; and no war.

With those assumptions as a skeleton, the shape of a final agreement with Iran is imaginable.
Comparing the U.S.-Iran dilemma to Nixon's Soviet strategy in October 2009, I ventured a similar if less sophisticated argument:
Is there a package of inducements the U.S. could offer Tehran to persuade it to suspend its nuclear weapons program and cease its threats against us and Israel? That depends on whether Iran is engaged in a quasi-apocalyptic project against Israel and the West or, instead, would be willing to act rationally in pursuit of its security and economic interests. George Will argues that one reason Iran is intent on deploying nuclear weapons is that it fears a U.S. invasion such as the one we mounted against Iraq in 2003. Its fear is warranted. Would its intentions change if it had a reasonable expectation that the U.S. and Israel wouldn't attack? If we could make it worth Iran's while to remain a non-nuclear power, why in the world wouldn't we?

An Election With No Elect?

The Brown Sound In Massachusetts

One of the last moderate Republicans tries to get a full Senate term by sticking up for the president.

Back To 1996

The Economist on the Obama administration's newly announced plan to be home from Afghanistan in 2013:

Accelerating the pace of the transition and cutting the numbers of the Afghan forces inevitably risks eroding the real security gains that have been made in the south (particularly in Helmand and Kandahar provinces) since America’s “surge” in 2010. It also places in jeopardy the aim of a concentrated effort to peg back the insurgency in the still-violent east during the next two fighting seasons. Before [Defense secretary Leon] Panetta’s announcement, General [John] Allen’s job looked difficult but doable. Now it just looks difficult.

What makes all this so unfortunate is that there has recently been some progress in coaxing the leadership of the Taliban towards the negotiating table—a tribute of sorts to the potential success of the previous (as it must now be regarded) transition plan. However, a secret NATO report, leaked this week, called “The State of the Taliban”, based on interrogations with more than 4,000 Taliban and al-Qaeda detainees, painted a picture of an insurgency that is resilient and likely to remain so for as long as Pakistan believes it is in its strategic interests to give it material and moral support. The confidence undoubtedly owed something to the bravado of some of the interviewees. The Taliban’s senior leadership, better informed, may well be less optimistic about their prospects—although most Afghans yearn for peace, few want to see the return of the Taliban to Kabul. But Mr Panetta’s words, intended primarily to pander to opinion at home, can only have given them encouragement and stiffened their resolve.

So 2,000 U.S. deaths (so far), and the Taliban, who live to assassinate the spirits of girls and women, will be back in power? The mind boggles.

The Carrot And The Stick Insect

Behold the giant weta.

By The Time He Got To Phoenix

He was sleeping. David Letterman has been on TV for 30 years. This interview must've felt like half of them.

Cry Baby Watch

Hey, Newt. Just take your marbles and go home. Please.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

If You Want To Be Anonymous, Sign "John Doe"

X's lead singer is starting up an advice column for OC Weekly.

Get To Work

Blogger-in-chief Andrew Sullivan has been criticizing Mitt Romney for lying about Barack Obama. Though he has no use for Newt Gingrich, last week he admitted to a perverse hope that Gingrich would be able to perpetuate the GOP's chaos by over-performing in Florida. But this morning, Sullivan dutifully surveys the conventional wisdom, which is that Gingrich has no way to the nomination.

Here's hoping the pundits are right. In an odd commentary implying that all politicians are just like the narcissistic demagogue Gingrich and put their emotional needs ahead of the country, Chris Matthews predicts that he will stay in the race until the end just to make Romney's life miserable. If that's really Gingrich's plan, I pray his fellow Republicans will dissuade him at last in caucuses and primaries to come.

As for Romney's campaign so far, yesterday I sent Sullivan this comment:
Imagine being a moderate Republican, fiscally prudent and leaning to the center on gay rights and abortion. Your one time in government, that's just how you behaved. But now you want to be president. You could switch parties, but you grew up in the GOP, you believe in its historic values, and you think that with the right leadership it could again be the broad-gauge, non-ideological party of Lincoln and your own father. But you realize that only a Republican president could lead in that direction, and to be nominated you have to navigate the fire swamp that the party's become. What would your campaign look like?
This explains rather than excuses Romney's rhetorical excesses. I'm not yet for him or Obama. In the fall campaign we need and deserve a serious conversation between serious people with records they can't evade. Health care, gay and women's rights, Palestine, and deterring Iran without war are vital issues. Most important is the harrowing fact of 12 million-20 million unemployed, men and women who deserve a government that enables them to thrive. With a Congress that obstructs Obama out of spite, electing Romney may at least enable collaboration on economic growth and jobs. Either that, or we could throw some of the bums out out of the House.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Elite Media, Secret America Lovers

Romney Hates Holocaust Survivors

Newt Gingrich approved this message, one of the sickest ever. The facts are here. With these vengeful tactics, the cry baby is writing the last chapter of his political biography.

Imagining A Different 1968

Mitt's not the new Nixon.

Antichrist? But Where's He On The Life Issue?

Rick Perlstein argues that Christian evangelicals are already getting over their worries about an LDS nominee and president:
[Their critical language was] strikingly similar to the way they characterized Catholics generations ago. As the Baptist college president quoted by the [New York] Times put it, they fear "the Mormon Church will use [Romney’s] position around the world as a calling card for legitimizing their church and proselytizing people." But they're getting over it. Here is Billy Graham's much more political son Franklin, for instance, speaking in December on the air of Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network: "the fact that he is a Mormon doesn’t bother me at all."

That's the way cultural change works in America: the rest of us discard a prejudice that the right still clings to; in the fullness of time, the right comes around too, deploying clever rationalizations to forget they ever bore the prejudice in the first place.
But it's not exactly a matter of discarding religious prejudice. The faithful have just realized that the purpose of political activism is obtaining policy outcomes. Perlstein notes the antipathy to Barack Obama shared by evangelicals and conservative Roman Catholics and shows how they first linked up over abortion and gay rights. Romney will probably win them if they're sure he's not squishy on social issues. But the most theologically conservative won't ever get over his religion. Untold thousands are saying to themselves even as they vote for Mitt: "Nice guy. Too bad he's going to hell."

Even more interesting than the demons of religious prejudice that conservative evangelicals and their political toadies are keeping under wraps for politics' sake are the ones they're proudly taking out for a walk. In 2010 Newt Gingrich and others in and out of government made constitutional history by arguing that U.S. citizens who were Muslims should not be permitted to worship as they choose within a certain distance of the World Trade Center. Just as insidious is the implicit conservative evangelical proposition that mainline Christians --such as Obama, for instance -- aren't Christian at all.

"The Maker," Daniel Lanois and Emmylou Harris

Heavenly duet. Hat tip to No Depression.

In Dutch With Nancy

Gingrich grasps for Reagan's torch. Mrs. Reagan snatches it back. Maybe she remembers that Gingrich called her husband a weak, incompetent, impotent failure.

Not A Mitzvah To Mitt

One of Newt Gingrich's most recent wild attacks on Mitt Romney wasn't kosher, according to Commentary:
Romney’s decision was not, as Gingrich claims, a choice to “eliminate kosher food for elderly Jewish residents under Medicare.” First of all, it was a choice made by the nursing homes themselves, not the Massachusetts government. Second, it was never actually going to prevent kosher residents from accessing kosher food. And third, Romney’s decision wouldn’t have cut anything – he simply vetoed additional funds, keeping funding at the status quo during a budget crisis year. Which means Gingrich’s comments have little basis in reality.

Clash Of Civilizations? What Civilization?

After 22-year-old Storai (her only name) is murdered by her mother and husband in northern Afghanistan for not giving birth to a boy, experts reflect on the status of women:

Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women, which runs shelters for abused women, said that while she had seen cases in which women were bullied by their husbands through pregnancy, and that sometimes a husband even took a second or third wife if the first wife continued to have girls, murder was unusual.

“Girls are looked down upon in Afghanistan,” Ms. Naderi said. “I have heard of many cases where the wife is threatened with violence and beaten up, but I have never heard of a woman being killed for having a girl.”

Heather Barr, an Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that there was a cultural tolerance for violence against women and impunity for men who committed it, and that recent efforts to protect women had had scant effect.

“What is most disappointing,” Ms. Barr said, “is that the 2009 Elimination of Violence Against Women Law was supposed to change this, and it has had very little impact so far.”

She said rules in the penal code specified that a husband could kill his wife for having had sex outside of marriage. Even the civil code has rules allowing a husband to take a second wife if the first one is not procreating satisfactorily, Ms. Barr said.

Monday, January 30, 2012

"Wrote A Song For Everyone"

Mavis Staples and Wilco's Jeff Tweedy; song by Creedence Clearwater Revival. Hat tip to TheFix.

Don't Wait For November, Mr. Abbas

Will Oremus on the relentlessly pro-Israel Sheldon Adelson, whose $10 million for Newt Gingrich's super-PAC is among the largest individual gifts in history in support of a single candidate:
When [Gingrich] talks tough on Palestine, it’s fair to question whether he’s espousing his true beliefs or parroting a line from his benefactor. There’s no question that Gingrich has been paid for by Sheldon Adelson. It’s up to voters to decide whether he’s been bought.
In fairness to Gingrich, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum are taking virtually the same line on the Middle East. Near-fanaticism about Israel is an oblation that is freely offered in the GOP.

Electing any one of them would probably invigorate the peace process. World opinion against Israel, the Islamist breeze from the Arab spring, and Obama's carefully tempered support for the Jewish state are encouraging the Palestinians to think Israel's halcyon days are past. So they've dragged their feet in the Obama administration, torpedoing the 2010 talks with preconditions on West Bank settlements and then focusing on trying to get UN recognition for not-yet-Palestine. A GOP ascendency would encourage progress in negotiations by providing renewed clarity to those who may be uncertain about Israel's right to exist or intention to do so indefinitely.

The longer Palestinians wait for their country, the more settlements Israel builds and the smaller their country gets. Don't wait for November, President Abbas. If you would prefer Obama, then give him a feather for his cap: A Rose Garden ceremony with you and Bibi following a breakthrough agreement in principle on Palestine. Just say yes.

Born This Way: Free

Frank Bruni defends Cynthia Nixon.

Smiling All The Way To The White House

During the Watergate years of 1973-74, Ronald Reagan looked like a loser because of his unstinting support of Richard Nixon, from whom most (though not all) Republicans eventually fled as though he carried the plague. In a recent talk at Penn's Walter H. Annenberg school (endowed by Nixon and Reagan's mutual friend, who also brimmed with Reaganesque cheer), Rick Perlstein, at work on an 800-page book about Reagan and the 1970s, says 40's critics were missing the potency of optimism:
Pundits presumed the country wanted politicians who shared self-pity about the terrible meal history was serving them -- the politics of malaise, you may say. Of course it turned out they preferred Ronald [his] unshakable conviction that it was the most wonderful thing he'd ever eaten, and that the worse things got, the more forcefully and resourcefully he would figure out a way to reveal an underlying redemption underneath....

Thus in his first term, when Nixon was just an old regular president, he was available for Reagan's criticism. In his second, when he became the public symbol of all that was chaotic in a world that was falling apart, then Reagan became Reagan. [Nixon] could not but be inexorably defended. There was a logic to everything Reagan said about Watergate -- that Nixon was one of the good guys, a protector, that good guys are always innocent; and that even if it should happen that they somehow weren't, Watergate did not involve genuine crimes; and even if it did, it revealed nothing essential about the American character, which was a transcendent character simply by virtue of being American.

It was just this sort of performance of blitheness in the face of what others called crisis that was fundamental to who Ronald Reagan was... It was fundamental to why he made so many others feel good, which was fundamental to what he would become and how he changed the United States.

Do Palestinians Want A State?

Evelyn Gordon:
If the Palestinians had any real interest in obtaining a state, they wouldn’t need to be bribed, cajoled and arm-twisted just to get them to hold talks with the only party that can actually give them one –Israel.

But to admit that is to admit the entire peace process is a fraud and a failure, and that is too painful. It’s much more comfortable to keep pretending that peace could be achieved if Israel would just give a little more.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Speaker Moonbeam

Got $1 trillion?

Opportunistic Advertising

What happens on the streets of New York City when Yushi leave blank space

The Two Altered States Solution

I thought I was being naive by proposing that the Palestinians accept Israel's offer of 95% of the West Bank. I'm a hard-bitten realist compared to Yoav Peled and Horit Herman Peled, who call on the Jewish state voluntarily to transform itself into an Arab state:

Instead of pursuing the mirage of a two-state solution, would-be peace makers should recognize the fact that Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories in fact constitute one state that has been in existence for nearly forty-five years, the longest lasting political formation in these territories since the Ottoman Empire. (The British Mandate for Palestine lasted thirty years; Israel in its pre-1967 borders lasted only nineteen years.) The problem with that state, from a democratic, humanistic perspective, is that forty percent of its residents, the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza, are non-citizens deprived of all civil and political rights. The solution to this problem is simple, although deeply controversial: establishing one secular, non-ethnic, democratic state with equal citizenship rights to all in the entire area between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.

Not An Enemy. They Just Wanted To Beat Him.

In a "60 Minutes" profile of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, correspondent Steve Kroft said that Goodell's father, Sen. Charles Goodell (R-NY), was on the Nixon White House enemies list. Not true. The list is here; a longer list of political opponents is here. Neither contains Goodell's name.

Nor, however, was he on the White House secret Valentine list. Gov. Nelson Rockefeller appointed Goodell, a congressman, to finish Sen. Robert Kennedy's term after his 1968 assassination. Because of his opposition to the Vietnam war, in the 1970 midterms Goodell lost the support of the state's powerful Conservative Party, which nominated James Buckley, who won -- and later made history by calling for Nixon's resignation during Watergate.

Goodell may have concluded that he was on somebody's list after Vice President Spiro Agnew called him "the Christine Jorgensen of the Republican Party" for waxing from a conservative congressman to a liberal, anti-war senator (and therefore, presumably, less of a man, according to the mentality of Agnew, the proto-Newt Gingrich of the Republican Party). Jorgensen, who'd had gender reassignment surgery, asked Agnew for an apology; he refused.

So Goodell wasn't an official enemy. Nixon just wanted him out of the Senate. I can well understand why his family might consider this a distinction without a difference. But we fight for every yard in a cloud of dust at The Episconixonian.

Georgia! Georgia!

In an article entitled "Deconstructing a Demagogue," Timothy Egan reports that Newt Gringrich's insults come straight a playbook he wrote back when he mattered:
Back in 1994, while plotting his takeover of the House, Gingrich circulated a memo on how to use words as a weapon. It was called “Language: A Key Mechanism of Control.” Republicans were advised to use certain words in describing opponents — sick, pathetic, lie, decay, failure, destroy. That was the year, of course, when Gingrich showed there was no floor to his descent into a dignity-free zone, equating Democratic Party values with the drowning of two young children by their mother, Susan Smith, in South Carolina.

Today, if you listen carefully to any Gingrich takedown, you’ll usually hear words from the control memo.

He even used them, as former Assistant Secretary of State Elliott Abrams wrote in National Review Online this week, in going after President Reagan, calling him “pathetically incompetent,” as Abrams reported. And he compared Reagan’s meeting with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev to “the most dangerous summit for the West since Adolf Hitler met with Neville Chamberlain in 1938 in Munich.”

Egan has no doubt that Gingrich is intentionally using racially provocative language:
It was Gingrich, even before Donald Trump, who tried to define the president as someone who is not American — “Kenyan, anti-colonial.” And there he was earlier this week, pumped by a big audience in Sarasota, Fla., reflecting back at him these projected fears. When he said he wanted to send President Obama back to Chicago, the crowd took up a chant of “Kenya! Kenya!”

Calling Obama “the best food stamp president ever” is a clear play on racial fears. In the crash of the last year of George W. Bush’s administration, food stamp use surged, but Gingrich would never associate a white Texan president with dependency.

The Book On American Renewal

Obama borrowed it from Romney's library.

McCain: "I'm Ashamed Of The Supreme Court"

As cosponsor of 2002's McCain-Feingold legislation, John McCain (shown here meeting President Nixon on his 1973 return from a Hanoi POW camp) has impeccable campaign finance reform credentials. He's never liked the Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United, and as a supporter of Mitt Romney, he likes it even less. Previously pro-CU Republicans who are outraged at free-spending super-PACs because of the chaos they've caused in primary season will probably fall in love with them again when the GOP nominee goes up against Barack Obama's $1 billion in the general election. McCain's anger has the virtue of consistency and integrity:

"Now we have a casino owner and his wife," said McCain on Sunday, putting "$10 million into the race" to keep Gingrich's candidacy alive. Sheldon Adelson, the casino owner and Gingrich's friend, "makes a lot of his money out of Macau," McCain said, raising the specter of foreign money in American politics. Beyond his business success, Adelson is known for his right-wing views on Israeli politics, manifested through his strong support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"On both sides we have these incredible amounts of money and I guarantee you there will be a scandal," McCain continued. It was unclear, however, whether by "both sides" he meant Republicans and Democrats or Gingrich and Romney. Pro-Romney groups have spent twice as much as pro-Gingrich groups in Florida.

McCain made similar criticisms of the post-Citizens United landscape on Wednesday during a conference call to voice his support for Romney. "I think the outside super PACs and others is so disgraceful that I'm ashamed of the United States Supreme Court in their decision on United," McCain said.

Just Say Yes

For a moment, imagine if Palestinians said yes to the creation of Palestine. An utterly naive proposition, I know. But instead of insisting on the chimera of “1967 borders with land swaps,” imagine if Palestinian negotiators in Amman provisionally accepted Israel's latest reported territorial offer, with the security wall essentially defining the international border and all West Bank settlements persisting as part of Israel. Many believe Israel must withdraw west of the 1967 green line, but let's assume that it won't and no one can make it do so. The concession would cost Palestine the equivalent of two-thirds of Anaheim’s land mass. If you find authorities who say it would actually be two Dearborns, the advantages of immediate statehood would be the same. What should matter is if Palestinians get enough land to run a country, settlements and all. A slightly smaller Palestine now would be infinitely better for its people and the region than a larger one in five or ten years or never.

Myriad issues would remain -- settlement security, water rights, transportation, and border crossing rights for Palestine’s citizens. If Israel balked at the PNA’s bold move, we would see which side was the stumbling block once and for all. If not, we may hope that in return Israel would stop building settlements and promise post-statehood talks on the status of Jerusalem, where Israel has the stronger claim (notwithstanding the likely presence on the holy mountain of pre-Davidic indigenous peoples). Israel thrived with its capital in Tel Aviv. For the time being, the Palestinians ought to be able to do so in historic Ramallah.

I understand President Abbas and Fatah would run afoul of their Islamist cousins, Hamas, by abandoning the green line and immediate access to a Jerusalem capital. The Hamas leader, Khaled Meshal, plans to step down soon, some say because he has his eye on a bigger job. Would that be Abbas's? In Israel, Prime Minister Netanyahu has to worry about his obstructionists, too.

But it's not just extremists who are delaying peace. Significant swathes of both populations aren’t sure they want two permanent states. Israel expresses its ambivalence, its resentment over having to cede land to Arabs and fear of what will happen to its security if it does, by continuing to build settlements on occupied territory. Palestinians expressed theirs by spurning prior Israeli concessions and letting the Obama peace initiative fizzle over the secondary issue of settlement construction. Many Palestinians, perhaps a majority, still don't believe Israel has a right to exist, and they may be thinking that someday soon, it won’t. Watching events in Egypt, they may expect that the Arab spring will give way to a winter gale of Islamist hostility toward Israel. Until the Amman talks, to increase the external pressure on Israel, Abbas had been focusing not on negotiations but UN recognition. Many Palestinians who do favor two states believe a demographic reunification of Israeli and Palestinian Arabs will eventually put an end to the Jewish nation.

Which is why a security wall state, or any other breakthrough anytime soon, is a fantasy. Palestinians and their advocates find it more advantageous to invoke the international consensus against the occupation, proclaim the illegality of settlements, and continue to make comparisons to apartheid (prevalent in the Arab, Muslim, and haredim worlds against women but not in Israel against Arabs). Israel and her friends prefer to talk about the Palestinians as an invented people who are Jordan's problem, remind critics that Israel won the West Bank in a war provoked if not started by Arabs, and reliably promise that it would win the next one against any nation or group that dislikes its negotiating tactics. But none of the maps and legends, the endless game of historical, geographical, rhetorical tit for tat, would matter if both sides were fully committed to having two permanent states – because if they were, the states would probably exist.