Friday, February 26, 2010

Friday Afternoon Roundup - First We Take Manhattan, Then We Take Berlin

The difference between Bill Clinton and Barack Obama's political instincts couldn't be clearer with the Health Care Summit. Clinton knew when to get out, shift focus and outplay his opponents. Obama meanwhile remains under the delusion that he's a bulldozer that can wreck anything in his path. And so the health care disaster keeps on chugging along.

About the only thing that his Health Care nationalization project has accomplished, has been to hijack Obama's office, and focus it and congress on a controversial and unpopular proposal. And just because has only gotten more unpopular, the longer it chugs along, doesn't mean that Obama is about to drop that hot potato. No, like the Spartan boy and his fox, he insists on letting it tear him to pieces in the hopes that he can push through and get his bill passed.

And so what should have been a Senate victory on a jobs bill, an issue that the public cares about, was instead overshadowed by the health care summit, an event which no one thought would accomplish anything, and to no one's surprise didn't. The Republicans weren't going to get caught flatfooted a second time, and all the session accomplished was to repeat an already old debate, while giving the Republican side more airtime for their views than had been previously possible.

At this point, Obama has to either gamble on a congress desperate enough to go for Reconciliation, even though it's wholly illegal. Or hope that ala Scott Brown, he can lure more Republicans to his side. But while Brown might have played the bipartisan tune, on a jobs bill, an issue he can always safely take to the political bank without any real hopes of a sizable backlash, few Republican Senators are going to be interested in climbing on board an unpopular bill that most Americans don't want.

So what's next? Sure Obama is hoping to at least take the GOP down with him, along with the Democratic congress, and he might succeed in convincing the public that both parties aren't worth their vote, but it's a kamikaze maneuver at best. One that requires real desperation to even contemplate. And while Obama won't face his own election for a few more years, his ability to get things done depends on congressional support. Without that he'll be stuck doing the international flybys, and delivering speeches in foreign countries that no one cares about at home, essentially turning him into Tony Blair.

Obama's lack of real Senate experienced has convinced him that if he keeps fighting hard enough, he can win. But surrounded by aggressive fighters like Rahm Emanuel in hock to their own reputation, he lacks the long view that sometimes the smarter move is to shift the topic.

The longer he focuses on health care, the more ineffectual his image becomes. And even if he somehow manages to force health care through, it will be cheered by very few on his own site. Meanwhile whether health care succeeds or fails, the odds are good that it will be the new NRA, and will take the blame for Democratic midterm losses. Which may put a definitive end to any more grand programs emanating from the White House.

But Obama instead is trying to play parliamentary politics, holding summits, debating Senators and trying to control the entire party and every single Democratic politician's election campaign. Of course despite his embrace of non-American parliamentary politics, Obama is still wedded to his contempt for the UK. A somehow baffling contempt, as unless the British killed his father, repeatedly insulting an ally is not a smart move, particularly when you have a shortage of allied forces propping up your Afghan initiative. 

Over in New York State, Andrew Cuomo's political allies continued their smear campaign targeting Governor Patterson. Cuomo, who is basically Elliot Spitzer's second act in American politics, is smart or cowardly enough, to hide out of sight, while his people spread their dirty tricks far and wide, Donald Segretti style. It's handy since once Andrew Cuomo becomes a known value, once his term at HUD and his sizable real estate donations are on the table, some skepticism might set in on whether New York really needs to put Elliot Spitzer II in the governor's mansion.

But now that Patterson has been sufficiently slimed not to run for reelection, the spotlight will be on Andrew Cuomo, who will no longer be able to keep hiding out of sight. By ending his campaign, rather than resigning, Patterson was very obviously pacifying the real source of the campaign targeting him, which didn't want him out of office, but out of the campaign. But now Cuomo will have to deal with Lazio, and if he continues hiding behind the curtain, he'll come to seem as useless as he actually is.

Tea Party leader Tim Graney, and terrorist sympathizer Ron Paul held their debate, to the disruptions and LaRouche like behavior of Paul's deranged cult of followers.

In the Kentucky Senate Primary, Genuine GOP Mom points out some double talk by Rand Paul on abortion.

Over in Dubai, the assassination has now become a fullblown circus, with the Emirati police acting with the expected professionalism and attention to detail so typical of police forces in the region. That is to say they're basically unrolling the largest conspiracy of all time, which long ago stopped making sense, but is likely to involve every nation in the world and about a thousand Mossad agents before it's done.

Dubai police on Wednesday afternoon revealed that fifteen more suspects have been connected to the mysterious assassination of Hamas terror chief Mahmoud al-Mabhouh at a hotel in the emirate last month, and that three of the suspects later fled Dubai through Iran.

According to new intelligence cited by the Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya news networks, the suspects – among them five women – came to Dubai from six European countries and from Hong Kong. Three of them were found to possess Australian passports, while the remaining twelve possessed passports from the UK, Ireland and France.

“The extensive investigation has led to a total of 26 suspects so far involved in the crime,” read a Dubai government statement quoted by Al Arabiya

It's safe to say that this is

A. Sheer lunacy

B. The Dubai police are successfully clouding any actual trail and turning the entire investigation into pure nonsense.

While the idea of Israeli agents fleeing to Iran rings as senseless to most people, Arab countries have a way of trying to blame each other for conspiring with Israel. Even when those claims make no sense at all. Especially when they make no sense at all.

The Dubai police authorities are demanding an international investigation, though it's doubtful that there's much international interest in investigating the whole mess. They're also shrieking that they have DNA and fingerprints, which is impressive only when you consider that for them to be any use they have to be matched against existing suspects.

Of course this is a helpful distraction from Dubai's own collapsing economy, its ballyhooed tallest building in in the world that had to be shut down and its mall shark tank that sprang a leak.

But someone might want to have a word with the developers of the mall, Emaar Properties. That's the same company that constructed the record-shattering Burj Khalifa skyscraper, which was shut down earlier this month after an elevator malfunctioned, trapping 15 passengers for nearly an hour before help came.

Emaar, with strong ties to the Dubai's ruling family, was struck hard by the global financial meltdown.

And it's also rather clear, that Dubai's ruling family did a lot of their construction on the cheap. They didn't spare the slave labor, but clearly they didn't spare the quality either.

Islam researcher Matthias Küntzel meanwhile has a fascinating Journal article on Dubai, which again reinforces the fact that much of Dubai's wealth is attributable to companies using it to do business with Iran.

Dubai is in fact already the "gateway to the Iranian market"—and not only for German companies. The tiny emirate is considered to be the hub for much of the world's illegal trade with Iran. Virtually nothing is produced in Dubai and yet, its activities have somehow catapulted the UAE to the top of the list of countries exporting to Iran in 2009. An astounding 80% of all Emirati imports are re-exported, one-quarter of which goes to Iran via Dubai.

Some 8,000 Iranian firms and 1,200 Iranian trading companies are registered in the emirate. Every week, about 300 flights shuttle between Dubai and Iran. Dubai has one of the world's largest artificial harbors, Jebel Ali, a mere 100 miles away from the Iranian container port of Bandar Abbas. Between 2005 and 2009, the value of goods exported from Dubai to Iran tripled, reaching $12 billion. In 2008, total German exports to the UAE reached $11 billion, an increase of 40% over the previous year. In the vehicle construction and mechanical engineering sectors, exports rose by more than 60%. The desire of the German-Emirati Joint Council to open the "gateway to Iran" even wider is therefore rather worrisome.

That's just part of the picture behind the fraud that is Dubai.

At the Jerusalem Post meanwhile, Caroline Glick has a compelling piece that argues that Europe and America have forgotten what it means to defend their own interests.

They didn’t think of the latter, of course, because Europe has no idea of what its interests are. All it knows is how to sound off authoritatively.

THIS HAS not always been the case. It was after all Europe that brought the world the art of rational statecraft. Once upon a time, Europe’s leaders understood that a nation’s foreign policy was supposed to be based on its national interests. To advance their nation’s interests, governments would adopt certain policies. And to facilitate the success of those policies they developed rhetorical arguments to explain and defend them.

Contemporary European statecraft stands this traditional foreign policy model on its head. Today, rhetoric rules the roost. If actions are taken at all, they are adopted in the service of rhetoric. As for national interests, well, the Lisbon Treaty that effectively bars EU member states from adopting independent foreign policies took care of those.

With national interests subordinated to the whims of bureaucrats in Brussels, Europe does little of value in the international arena. As for its rhetoric, as the EU’s rush to threaten Israel for allegedly killing a terrorist shows, it is cowardly, ineffectual and self-defeating.

If the Mossad did in fact kill Mabhouh, then the operation was an instance in which Israel distinguished itself from its European detractors by acting, rather than preening.

Unfortunately, such instances are increasingly the exception rather than the rule. Over the past 16 years or so, Israel largely descended into the European statecraft abyss. Rather than use rhetoric to explain policies adopted to advance its national interests, successive Israeli governments have adopted policies geared toward strengthening their rhetoric that itself stands in opposition to Israel’s national interests.

Take Israel’s positions on Iran and the Palestinians, for instance. Regarding the Iranians, Israel’s national interest is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Today, the only way to secure this interest is to use force to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations.

Given Iran’s leaders’ absolute commitment to developing nuclear weapons, no sanctions – regardless of how “crippling” they are supposed to be – will convince them to curtail their efforts to build and deploy their nuclear arsenal.

Beyond that, and far less important, the Russians and the Chinese will refuse to implement “crippling sanctions,” against Iran.

IN LIGHT of these facts, it is distressing that Israel’s leaders have made building an international coalition in support of “crippling” sanctions against Iran their chief aim. And this is not merely a rhetorical flourish. Over the past several weeks and months, Israel’s top leaders have devoted themselves to lobbying foreign governments to support sanctions against Iran.

Last week Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went to Moscow to gin up support for sanctions from the Russian government. This week, Defense Minister Ehud Barak traveled to the UN and the State Department and Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon flew off to Beijing just to lobby senior officials to support sanctions.

It isn’t simply that this behavior doesn’t contribute anything to Israel’s ability to destroy Iran’s nuclear installations. It harms Israel’s ability to do so, if only by diverting our leaders’ focus from where it should be: preparing the IDF to strike and preparing the country to withstand whatever the aftereffects of such a strike would be. Moreover, by calling for sanctions, Israel contributes to the delusion that sanctions are sufficient to block Iran’s race to the nuclear finish line.

As for the Palestinian issue, it is fairly clear that at a minimum, Israel’s interest is to secure its control over the areas of Judea and Samaria that it requires to protect its Jewish heritage and its national security. But it is hard to think of anything the government has done in its year in office to advance that basic interest.

It is argued that Israel’s interest in maintaining good relations with the US administration trumps its interest in strengthening its control over areas in Judea and Samaria that it deems vital. The problem with this argument is that it takes for granted that Israel can determine the status of its relations with the US administration. In the case of the Obama administration, it is abundantly clear that this is not the case.

President Barack Obama and his senior advisers have demonstrated repeatedly that they are interested in weakening – not strengthening – the US alliance with Israel. This week the administration condemned Israel for defining the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel’s Tomb in Bethlehem as national heritage sites. The fact that they are national heritage sites is so obvious that even President Shimon Peres defended the move.

Moreover, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, reiterated for the millionth time this week that he opposes military strikes against Iran’s nuclear installations. That is, for the millionth time, the top US military officer effectively said that he prefers a nuclear armed Iran to an Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear installations.

In the interest of strengthening Israel’s ties with a hostile administration, the Netanyahu government has adopted rhetoric on the Palestinian issue that is harmful to Israel’s national interests. It declared its support for a Palestinian state, despite the fact that such a state will define itself through its devotion to Israel’s destruction.

There's much more here, but it's an essentially compelling summation of the disease that has taken hold of the policies of the First World.

In the blog roundup, while the left was busy being outraged over the assassination of a Hamas terrorist, The New Centrist has the story of a Cuban dissident who died in prison of a hunger strike. Doubtlessly Cuba's "excellent health care system" did all it could.

Zapata’s case sparked several street protests by government critics earlier this month, including one during which police in Camagüey detained some 35 people for several hours. The detainees later complained that some of them were beaten during the roundups.

But of course the media isn't particularly interested in reporting on this. However every gang of terrorist supporters who throws rocks at Israeli soldiers protesting the fact that Israel still exists... now that gets unlimited media coverage.

Elder of Ziyon tackles the "Israel has the right to defend itself but..." argument.

The Onward James blog questions just how formidable a foe, the Taliban really are.

United States Central Command General David H. Petraeus said on Meet The Press that the Taliban is a formidable force.

I am a bit non-plussed.

Nonetheless, I suppose it depends on whose rules they fight. NATO allies fight under the Geneva Convention rules; they do not.

No question it's difficult to fight a nation, a culture, an ideology, when the declaration of war is ambiguous such as — War on Terrorism — or that NATO is there only to protect, and should be policemen hunting for criminals. I understand that collateral damage is, sadly, also the price of war. Innocent citizens, or those who are not fighting, are killed. Of course the less the better. But the jihadists do not think that at all.

The mujahideen defeated the Russians, because the Russians forgot why they were there and gave up.

At Israpundit, Charles Jacobs asks whether it isn't time for a Jewish Tea Party

This campus phenomenon – the growth of the Muslim factor, the Jewish establishment’s reluctance to respond forcefully to threats and the failure of public officials to protect Jews against Muslim threats – now mirrors the situation developing for Jews off campus: As mosques, funded by Saudi Arabia, and controlled by radical Muslim organizations, expand across America – unopposed – Jewish leaders fail to respond. Here too, “making nice” – through “dialogues” and outreach programs such as “twinning” synagogues and Islamic centers – is the Jewish establishment’s primary response. And even when, as in Boston and Buffalo, such naïveté backfires, and Jews find instead of sincere and peaceful partners to shake hands with that they have been hoodwinked by Islamist anti-Semites, Jewish leaders remain silent.

Meanwhile, in contrast to the Jewish community, a significant portion of America is in rebellion against – and is in the process of challenging – its political establishment. Grass-roots frustration expressed first in raucous “town hall” meetings and now in the Tea Party movement defeated incumbent Democrats and influenced elected officials not to run for re-election. Americans are angry with both parties. Why? Former CIA official Herbert Meyer notes that Americans were shocked by “two catastrophes we hadn’t imagined our political establishment would allow to happen.” First there was 9-11, “when we discovered that for years, Al Qaeda and its allies had been waging holy war against us,” and our leaders – who knew – did not tell us. The second was “the 2008 financial crash, which revealed that our economy is a house of cards built on a pile of debt so high we cannot possibly repay it.”

Changing America’s Jewish leadership is more difficult: Jewish political leaders are not democratically elected – or replaced. As with royalty, we may get lucky from time to time with an outstanding leader. But our “leaders” are mostly selected and controlled by well-intentioned philanthropists. Many of these donors are politically liberal, and even those who are not are inherently conflict-averse and comfortable with the status quo.

Meanwhile, as we wait and pray for more effective leadership, we need to introduce the concept of “accountability” for our sclerotic Jewish leaders – perhaps by lighting grass-roots fires under them. What about a town hall meeting?

The problem with that though can be summed up by pointing out how many of these groups are basically undemocratic, and are funded by grants from Democratic politicians. This is part of a typical pattern in liberal politics, in which liberal activists run organization that claim to represent a demographic, get grants to dole out to that demographic, and encourage that demographic to support those same politicians. This is machine politics at its ugliest and there's no way to really change that culture.

Lemon Lime Moon has the equation for ending conflict

Noah David Simon takes on the Obama Administration over Rachel's Tomb

The Obama administration criticized Israel Wednesday for designating two Jewish holy sites supposedly on Palestinian territory as Israel national heritage sites but the dumb bastards in the Obama administration seem to forget that Rachel’s Tomb and the Tomb of the Patriarchs are indigenous to the Jewish people and were there thousands of years before the fabricated “Palestinians” fraudulently claimed the territory to be theirs.

For Spanish speaking readers, the REFLEXIONES SOBRE MEDIO ORIENTE Y EL MUNDO blog continues to translate some of my articles into Spanish, including my recent piece on Dubai, MAHMOUD AL-MABHOUH: MATAR A UN TERRORISTA - ANÁLISIS EXCLUSIVO and ISRAEL, EL HOLOCAUSTO Y LA LECCIÓN DE SUPERVIVENCIA

Via Religion of Peace, England's legacy comes down to this.

NO suprise that we have another sickening blatant example of the British judiciary system going soft on muslim thugs. Iraqi, Serwan Abdullah, 23, another muslim-sorry-excuse-for-a-man spat on a World War II hero's medals, worn by his proud grandson, on Remembrance Day. After committing the abhorrent and unprovoked act - the cowardly Abdullah quickly ran away.

The smirking Serwan Abdullah consistently voiced no remorse or sorrow for his despicable act:

"Abdullah showed no remorse and told officers he had done ‘nothing wrong’ adding: ' ‘I am proud of what I have done. I have no respect for him. F*** him and f*** his medals.’"

One is reminded of Philip Larkin's Homage to a Government

Next year we are to bring the soldiers home
For lack of money, and it is all right.
Places they guarded, or kept orderly,
Must guard themselves, and keep themselves orderly.
We want the money for ourselves at home
Instead of working. And this is all right.
It's hard to say who wanted it to happen,
But now it's been decided nobody minds.
The places are a long way off, not here,
Which is all right, and from what we hear
The soldiers there only made trouble happen.
Next year we shall be easier in our minds,
Next year we shall be living in a country
That brought its soldiers home for lack of money.
The statues will be standing in the same
Tree-muffled squares, and look nearly the same.
Our children will not know it's a different country.
All we can hope to leave them now is money.

...and not even the money anymore

Dear readers, enjoy the weekend. To those who celebrate Purim this sunday, Happy Purim.


Anonymous said...

I saw a film screened last night in los angeles called 'Shooting Michael Moore'. A childhood friends of Moore made the film to point out the hypocricy of Moore and his films. It was informative and debunked much of the propaganda in Moore's films. Anyway, the picture of the Cuban dissident looks alot like the Cuban that was interviewed in the movie about Moore's film and he actually filmed secret video of what the Cuban hospitals are really like for cuban people, not how Moore portrays it in his propaganda.

The filmmaker told us the man has since the interview and filming been arrested. Anyway, don't think they are the same men as the man in the film was a doctor.

I'd like to know where are Michael Moore and Sean Penn when real dissidents need them?

Anonymous said...

Caroline Glick's article was outstanding, sadly accurate.

TNC said...

Hi Sultan,

Thanks for the link. Thought you might be interested in this piece on the Im Tirtzu - New Israel Fund conflict (in case you missed it):

Purim Sameach!


Trencherbone said...

"Abdullah showed no remorse and told officers he had done ‘nothing wrong’ adding: ' ‘I am proud of what I have done. I have no respect for him. F*** him and f*** his medals.’"

The Muslims' only loyalties and obligations are to the 'Brotherhood of Believers' - the Ummah . These trump and override all other loyalties and obligations, including any loyalty to their country of residence and obligation to obey its 'man-made' laws.

Anonymous said...

Happy purim too and thank you for your work. While the world is getting darker, I am grateful for the Jewish people.

Keli Ata said...

Purim Sameach again:)

I hadn't been following the whole Dubai story and know little about it other than it involved a murder, espionage and EU passports; and that the media is claiming that there will be a backlash against Israel in Europe.

As if the EU was Israel-friendly to begin with.

My thoughts though:

1. If it involved the murder of a top Hamas terrorist official, what's the problem? A success in the war on terrorism.

2. Israeli spies running to a safe house, for example, in Iran? If that were in a movie screenplay nobody would believe it.

Mark @ Israel said...

Yeah! That's right, Obama seems to think that he can persistently do something good out of his Obama haelth care bill despite negative criticism and unacceptance. I think, he needs to learn something about political game which Clinton applied when he was still the president. If however, Obama does not learn on the process, he may learn it the hard way later.

Keli Ata said...

Mark--one thing Clinton learned real fast was not to try to cram things down our throats so early into his term ie. Hillary and her health care reform plans. Clinton backed off on that pretty fast.

Too much Hillary and too much talk about health care reform alienated even Clinton supporters. He slowed down. Obama keeps pushing hard too hard.

urbanadder22 said...

About Jewish-American "leadership:" it is useless when it comes to standing up for Jews against hate. Ditto most rabbis, who appear rather to engage in "outreach" to Moslems.

Of course unless an act of arson or serious vandalism occurs, "hate cimes" against Jews are no big deal, and even then, nothing much is done. Only mass killings of Jews--especially Jewish school children--gain some attention.

But, hey!, if you're a Jew, you're asking for it, anyway.

Most American Jewish leaders have no political clout, not much in the way of testicles, and suck up to the Obama-bastard crowd.

No one pays attention to them, as they do to black and Moslem big-mouths (Sharpton, Farrakhan, doily-cap Cooper, etc.). Why is that? Because behind the black outraged mouth stand blacks on the verge of rioting and what the Moslems can bring down on the U.S. is too well known.

The Jewish leader is no threat. Jews will vote Democrat, even if a half-black Moslem is at the head of the party and the government and orders Israel about as if its Jews were his subject people.

And when have Jews shown any strength and demonstrated against their enemies? Was years and years ago. Now, their squawks are inconsequential to the ruling powers.

The idea of many naive Jews is that if we're nice to the Moslems, the Moslems will be nice back to us. This is utter crap, as we well know.

What else is there to say? Nothing. Jews nowadays deal from a position of weakness, and nobody gives a damn what is happening to them.

I could go on, but no one respects Jews and no one respects Israel. The time when people sat up and took notice of Jews who did not bend and bow to their enemies is long past (think Israeli wars,when Israel won, and did not offer excuses and try to explain why its soldiers killed Arabs who were trying to kill or were killing Jews).

Daniel Greenfield @ the Sultan Knish blog said...

Jewish-American leadership mainly consists of liberal organizations approved by Democrats and the media to speak for Jews. No one elects them. They represent a particular slice of Jews in America, liberal and urban. They do not represent American Jews as a whole.

Unfortunately their dominance represents the malaise of Jewish activism in America. There was a time when such 7 figure organization presidents sat a lot more insecurely in their padded chairs than they do today.

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