Posts Tagged Politics

The Lost Light

Paul Greenberg offers this heart-twisting eulogy for a great man and the lost opportunity he symbolizes.  It’s a poignant reflection on the decline of good character and good judgment.

Are you listening, Mr. Hope and Change?

Aww, who am I kidding?

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Krauthammer on the “Two-State Solution”

It’s politics as usual. Why is the fallacy of peace with terrorists so difficult for so many to understand?

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Krauthammer on Torture

Those who insist on looking at the world in black and white are destinied to come down on the wrong side of almost every issue — even life or death.

Hat tip:  Dave Weinbaum

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Email of the Week: A Story of Socialism

An economics professor at a local college made a statement that he had never failed a single student before but had once failed an entire class.

That class had insisted that socialism worked and that no one would be poor and no one would be rich, a great equalizer.

The professor then said, “OK, we will have an experiment in this class on socialism. All grades would be averaged and everyone would receive the same grade so no one would fail and no one would receive an A.

After the first test, the grades were averaged and everyone got a B.

The students who studied hard were upset and the students who studied little were happy.

As the second test rolled around, the students who studied little had studied even less and the ones who studied hard decided they wanted a free ride too so they studied little.

The second test average was a D! No one was happy.

When the 3rd test rolled around, the average was an F.

The scores never increased as bickering, blame and name-calling all resulted in hard feelings and no one would study for the benefit of anyone else.

All failed, to their great surprise, and the professor told them that socialism would also ultimately fail because when the reward is great, the effort to succeed is great but when government takes all the reward away, no one will try or want to succeed.

Could not be any simpler than that.

Hat tip: Dave Weinbaum

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Krauthammer on bioethics in the Obama administration

“Is [Obama] so obtuse as not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.

“This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological while he is guided exclusively by pragmatism (in economics, social policy, foreign policy) and science in medical ethics.”

Read all of Charles Krauthammer’s scathingly brilliant critique here.

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Who are the Real Nazis?

Sharon and Hitler are the same. Only difference is the name. (Pro-Palestinian rally slogan, Washington, D.C., April 19, 2002).

It’s not surprising that Palestinians and their supporters have routinely made this kind of equation. But it’s another matter entirely when it comes from mainstream politicians, journalists, and academics.

Quoted in the Guardian, BBC commentator and Oxford University lecturer Tom Paulin remarked that the state of Israel has no right to exist, and that Israeli settlers should be shot dead. “They are Nazis, racists,” Paulin said. “I feel nothing but hatred for them.” Neither the university nor the BBC has taken any action against Paulin. Alas, most of the European press seem to share his sentiments. Even Archbishop Desmond Tutu recently admonished Israel for having “forgotten the collective punishment” of the Holocaust.

It staggers the imagination that only half a century after Hitler’s Nazis vilified the Jews as international criminals, the international community has been denouncing the Jews as Nazis. But if Sharon was indeed Hitler, where were the public rallies declaring death to Palestinians? Where are the arm bands imposed on every Arab Israeli? Where are the textbooks teaching Israeli school children that Arabs are subhuman beasts? Where is the ejection of Arab Knesset ministers, who make up nearly 10 percent of the Israeli parliament? Where is the desecration of mosques and Moslem holy places?

If Israel has been guilty of any crime, is not her worst crime that she is no longer weak, no longer downtrodden, no longer a sympathetic David slinging stones at some towering Goliath? Is this not the true reason, given the superficial perception that every prosperous Western nation is evil and every anti-capitalist entity is good, that the court of world opinion refuses to admit as evidence the decades of Arab aggression, the unbroken record of Yasser Arafat’s duplicity, the targeting of Israeli civilians with wholesale terrorism?.

In short, it seems that the academic and journalistic communities have just gotten too lazy to wean themselves away from the sloppy thinking of moral equivalence, the reduction of complex problems into simplistic, black-and-white constructs. And, even more disturbing, is how such narrow reasoning extends far beyond the current Mideast crisis, for it mirrors the thinking behind the last great attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

On November 24, 1933, Hitler’s National Socialist Party passed a law for the protection of animals, “designed to prevent cruelty and indifference from man … and to awaken and develop sympathy and understanding for animals as one of the highest moral values of a people.”

Over the next 12 years, doctors working for this same Nazi Party infected human subjects with such maladies as typhus, smallpox, and cholera, and imposed upon them forced sterilization, experimental surgery, and euthanasia.

Some might take comfort that at least no schnauzer puppies were mistreated. But to recognize the perversion of granting human dignity to animals while denying it to human beings is to take the first step toward understanding how a Holocaust can happen.

Moral equivalence begets moral confusion, distorting our sense of fair play so that we fail to distinguish between perpetrators and victims, between aggressors and defenders. Our well-intentioned desire to give the benefit of the doubt blinds us to simple justice until, by refusing to acknowledge evil as evil, we allow evil free reign over ourselves and over society.

Conventional wisdom insists that a Holocaust could never happen again. But some parallels between then and now are unsettling. Today, animal rights activists are pushing ever harder for legislation according human rights to gorillas and chimpanzees, following in the path of Peter Singer, the Princeton University ethics department chairman who made headlines advocating the legalized murder of deformed babies in the first month after birth.

When we start seeing animals as equal to humans, when we can no longer appreciate that human rights are a function of human responsibilities, then we’re only a step away from discarding our responsibilities and treating humans as less than animals. Similarly, when we start to see murderers as freedom fighters, we’re a step nearer to the amoral abyss at the edge of which our civil society is already faltering.

The Jews of Europe were not Hitler’s only victims. The Nazi’s exterminated blacks, gypsies, the handicapped, and the elderly. Given more time, they would undoubtedly have gone still further. Given the opportunity, their ideological successors will go just as far.

How terrifying that the specter of Holocaust once again looms over the civilized world. How much more terrifying that the world might stand idly by while it happens, or worse, hasten its arrival.

Originally published in the Miami Jewish Star Times, July 2002.

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The Road to Compromise is a Two-Way Street

Henry Clay earned his reputation as “the great compromiser” when he forestalled the outbreak of the Civil War by ten years. Even so, one has to wonder whether even Mr. Clay’s genius for mediation could save the Mideast peace process from becoming a towering embarrassment to US foreign policy.

Compromise, according to Webster’s, is “a method of reaching agreement in a dispute, by which each side surrenders something that it wants.” This shouldn’t be hard to comprehend for anyone with a background in high school civics. What does remain incomprehensible is how otherwise reasonable people might seriously apply the term “compromise” to past peace proposals, and why anyone thinks it will be different the next time around.

Definitions notwithstanding, immediately after the Camp David negotiations in the summer of 2000 the New York Times observed that Yasir Arafat’s “willingness for more talks suggests room for compromise.”

The Times deserved credit for optimism and imagination, but won few points for objective editorial insight. Indeed, only a month earlier (on July 11 of that year), the Times reported that, “The Palestinians want a settlement based on United Nations Resolution 242,” implying that if not for Israeli intransigence, there would have been peace in the region long before.

Let’s see. Resolution 242 mandates 1) the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict,” and 2) the “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”

For its part, Israel returned more than 90% of the Sinai to Egypt in 1981, and offered to give more than 90% of Judea and Samaria to the Palestinians under former Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Pretty good, for a compromise.

From the Palestinian side, however, it’s been hard to detect even a whiff of compliance. Rather, these are the ways the Palestinian Authority has terminated its claims and belligerency: all government and schoolbook maps, as well as children’s television programs, identify the whole of Israel as “Palestine;” teenagers at Palestinian “summer camps” train with automatic weapons to fight Israelis; Arafat has named squares and streets after Hamas suicide bombers; Israeli security has caught PA officials smuggling numerous weapons, including anti-tank weapons, into Israel. The list could easily fill this column.

Ehud Barak had been prepared to overlook all that. But then the Camp David talks broke down anyway, largely because of Palestinian insistence of absolute sovereignty over East Jerusalem. Yet Jerusalem has been the heart and soul of Israel for over 3000 years, the holiest site on earth according to Jewish tradition and the Old Testament. The Arab’s spiritual capital is Mecca, whereas Jerusalem is merely a religious and historical footnote, not mentioned by name even once in the Quran. What’s more, from 1948 to 1967, when Jordan controlled East Jerusalem, not one Arab ruler visited the city, except Jordon’s own King Hussein. Electricity and water services were neglected, and no government offices or cultural centers were set up there.

So what does the Palestinian Authority want? What it has always wanted: everything. The very concept of compromise appears utterly foreign to the thinking of Palestinian leaders, and is entirely absent from their behavior. It’s hard to see what the PA has ever thought it’s bringing to the negotiating table, except for the vague promise of controlling terrorism and the hazy commitment of conceding Israel’s right to exist, a right already granted by the United Nations over half a century ago.

In hindsight, it’s also hard to see what Ehud Barak hoped to accomplish by bargaining away so much for so little. According to Mideast analyst David Makovsky, Mr. Barak’s objective was “peace without illusions.” Peace between governments, the former Prime Minister believed, is the only possible goal presently within grasp; peace between peoples is generations away.

Mr. Barak assumed that once a treaty is signed, all of Israel’s Arab neighbors will abide by its conditions, gradually leading to normalization and the eventual cessation of the hateful rhetoric that foments Arab violence.

The trouble is, there’s no evidence it would work. Whatever the terms, any deal that produces even the coldest peace must rest on the foundation of compromise, a foundation that doesn’t exist. The indoctrination of children with hatred of Israel continues, even in Egypt, nearly three decades after it grudgingly traded political recognition for the return of its land.

Other Arab nations have refused to offer even this little olive branch; they have never demonstrated the slightest willingness to compromise. Neither Israel nor the United States should take another step forward until they do. Let us hope that the new U. S. president will learn from the errors of his failed namesake and not put his hope in false promises that have already led nowhere.

Adapted from an article originally published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, 2 August 2002

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Beware of “Brilliance”

What do Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, and Woodrow Wilson have in common? They were exceptionally intelligent men who were largely ineffective presidents.

Jonathan Rosenblum makes a pointed case for how the new administration is making the same mistake — confusing intellect with wisdom — and the possible consequences for US policy toward Israel.

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When he’s right, he’s right

“And part of what we’re going to need is for the folks on Wall Street who are asking for help to show some restraint, and show some discipline, and show some sense of responsibility.”

Thank you President Obama, for condemning corporate irresponsibility in a way George Bush was never able to manage.  $18 billion in bonuses for the guys largely responsible for our collapsing economy is, by almost anyone’s account, obscene.

Of course, speaking of irresponsibility, this was after Congress rewarded fiscal incompetence with 350 billion dollars — no strings attached and with no oversight. 

But expect things to get worse before they get better.  One thing you can say about history is that we rarely learn from it.  Sooner or later, however, either the people will find their voice and rise up in a populist revolution or the next great depression will usher in the apocalyptic pre-messianic era.

In the meantime, look for Rod Blogojevich to get his own talk show or a multi-million dollar book contract.

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Terror is the New Communism

Hey, I got a social disease!

Remember that line from West Side Story?  It seems that the street gangs of half a century ago may have had more on the ball than college students today.  Especially in light of the deeply disturbing conversation on a plane recounted here by Dennis Prager.

Apparently, from the lofty view of the ivory tower, terrorism is merely a foil for the political right to wield in its pernicious agenda to trample our civil rights — just like Communism was only a threat in mind of Joseph McCarthy.

With apologies to Ann Coulter, McCarthy was one of the great criminals of American history.  With apologies to academe, Communism was much worse.

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