Being born with a silver spoon in one’s mouth can give a young man a sense of entitlement or a sense of noblesse oblige. Michael Kranish and Scott Helman’s biography of The Real Romney unintentionally reveals that in Mitt’s case it has done the latter and, moreover, that his serious Mormonism played a central role in insuring that his horizons would not encompass merely his modern day “nobles.” This has been particularly important given his extraordinary talents strong will. Reading the book, I, a 2008 McCain voter, found myself in a position similar to that of Elizabeth Bennett as she was contemplating Fitzwilliam Darcy’s portrait, as a son, husband, father, friend, businessman, governor, “how many people’s happiness were in his guardianship! - How much of pleasure or pain it was in his power to bestow! - How much of good or evil must be done by him!” Increasingly, I came to realize that the man not only can be trusted but that he did not have “any inappropriate pride” but just enough to make sure he achieves his goals without sacrificing his honor. As in Darcy’s case, by his deeds you shall know him.
At a time Barack Obama celebrates the passage of a two month tax holiday extension after 2 years of failing to pass a budget, Israel’s finance minister’s attribution of Israel’s economic success to a move to a biannual budget should have a particular resonance in the US. Yuval Steinitz explained in an interview to the Times of India:
Why the panic? The short answer is Syria. Iran sees Syria as lips to its teeth in the same manner that China sees North Korea as lips to its teeth. The more vulnerable the Assad regime looks, the more exposed Iranian regime feels.
Today is Simchat Torah. This year Gilad Shalit Comes Home with Tears of Joy Mixed With Bitter Tears of Sorrow. What else is new? you’d rightly ask. The Jewish state has paid an exorbitant price to reaffirm the Jewish maxim that all of Israel are responsible for each other and Jews world over are going to dance with the Torah with more joyfully and committedly than usual. They understand instinctively that this sense of mutual responsibility carries the key to Jewish survival. When one part of the Jewish world falters, the other is there to pick up the slack. This aspect of Jewish history has long been celebrated. Less celebrated is the role the rejuvenated slacker plays in strengthening the tiring hands of those who helped them. Time and again the enthusiasm of the Jews rediscovering their religion serves as an adrenaline shot to the jaded comfortable communities. This has been the case of the Spanish/Portuguese survivors in the Netherlands. This had been the case of the Holocaust survivors in Israel and America and this is the case with the post Soviet Jewry today. Let us not forget, Simchat Torah the holiday used by Soviet Jews to demonstrate their willingness to pay any price for the privilege of remaining a Jew.
Last week a desperate Bashir Al Assad tried to divert world attention away from the specter of another Arab tyrant killing his own people and back to the good old perennial of the “travails” of the Palestinians whom Syria has been keeping in refugee camps for over 60 years. For a few days, he seemed to be failing. For the first time in decades the international media not only refused to play along but steadfastly exposed his ruse. But he should not have worried. Yesterday with great fanfare President Barack Hussein Obama came to his aid with his much touted “historic” speech designed to lay out a new coherent policy response to the Arab uprising. It was to be carried live around the world not only in English but in Arab and Farsi. Much of the speech ended up to consist of little more than another event forced retreat from the Cairo Speech back to the George W. Bush’s freedom agenda. But tucked into it was a call for a renewal of the Arab Palestinian negotiations based on the reconciled Hamas/Fatah Palestinian negotiation position. Consequently, Assad got up this morning to find that Obama succeeded where he failed. He focused world attention on “difficult” Netanyahu and away from Assad murdering his people. 5 more just this morning. Just look at the post speech headlines.
The navy seals’ successful targeted killing of Osama, especially coming after the tragic bungling of the attempted targeted killing of Qaddafi, went a long way towards reestablishing the military capability of the American armed forces. The same cannot be said about the confused aftermath. At issue is not merely the treatment of the body so pointedly criticized by Alan Dershowitz. Much more important is the possibility that by redirecting the world’s gaze away from the horrors unleashed by on the people of Libya and Syria, the Obama administration may be snatching defeat from the Jaws of the victory achieved by the death of Bin Laden. Killing terrorists is a necessary but insufficient strategy to win the war against Islamism. Incorporating the Middle East into the democratic camp is the effective and moral road to long term victory. But having taking the lead in the eviction of pro-American rulers, once the turn of anti-American rulers came to feel their people’s heat, Barack Obama reverted to his 2009 Iranian strategy of leading from behind, very much behind.
Yes, it has been a costly war and it is far from over . Let us not forget that declaring victory prematurely led democracies to squander their World War I victory with disastrous results. Ruling elites are never fond of releasing the reigns of power. It is only when they experience the greater freedom and safety that liberal democracy offers, do they come to terms with its greater demand for accountability. For when all said and done, democratic ruling elites, unlike autocratic ones, may and often do lose power but they find the consequences are easily manageable and the lose of power impermanent.
It should not be a surprise that Americans are losing their faith in Capitalism as they mistakenly identify it with the recent highway robbery of tax payers practiced by so called Capitalist states. For the socialization of private loss and the bout of Fed money printing is nothing less. Unfortunately, the only place tax payers were in a position to prevent their government from such action is in Iceland and they said no. FT editors are right. Other countries should follow Iceland’s example.
The Syrian uprising is roiling Tehran. Syria is the country’s major ally. That is the reason that after cheering demonstrators in Tunisia, Egypt,Yemen, Bahrain and Libya, Iran blames Jordan and Saudi Arabia for Assad’s troubles. An Arab uprising in the oil producing Iranian region is always a threat. The recent Explosions in three oil pipes in Qum could be harbinger of things to come.
Jamil Anderlini reports : “In a national survey published by the party’s own mouthpiece media group in December, 73.5 per cent of respondents identified themselves as belonging to the vulnerable portion of society. More notably, nearly half of all government officials also count themselves among the same group, despite their enormous power in China’s one-party system.In a similar vein, many of the most ardent patriots and angry nationalists hold foreign passports, and send their children abroad for a western education and an offshore haven if things turn ugly at home.”
Egyptian Israeli peace treaty is much more popular in Egypt than we were led to believe. 63% of the Egyptians polled support it while only 14% oppose it. So, the Egyptian “street” is much less belligerent than MSM or the Egyptian intellectual elite would have you believe. I can hardly imagine better news. Egyptian elections are upon us and I hope against hope that this poll would diminish the candidates’ appetite to base their campaign on Israel bashing or threats to stop honoring the treaty as the wily El Baradei did recently.
Infamous Goldstone has admitted that there was a difference between Israel and Hamas. Israel did not intentionally target civilians in the Gaza war as the UN report carrying his name alleged while Hamas did.
In war speed is of the essence as the enemy always develops counter measures. So, while the world is pontificating about the amazing power of “social media” Evgeny Morozov explains dictators develop not only increasingly effective counter measures but new sophisticated ways to distribute their own propaganda:
Last Saturday, I spent a day examining the archeological discoveries displayed in the University of Pennsylvania exhibit Secrets of the Silk Road and listening to an analysis in the accompanying symposium Reconfiguring the Silk Road: New Research on East-West Exchange in Antiquity. It was a controversial exhibit. The Chinese government almost canceled it shortly before it opened and then curtailed its duration. The speakers were careful not to say anything that could annoy the Chinese or hurt their own and their Chinese collaborators’ future work. As I listened to the learned discussions I kept asking myself what was it about these mummies that so upset Chinese autocrats? Sorry, but I do not buy the notion that middle level bureaucrats acted on their own.
Transcript of Phone Interview with Sergeant Edi (Edward) Itelman 22.03.11Edi: I’m a paramedic in the army. My base is located 10 minutes from Itamar. So, Friday night, approx. 1:00 AM, I get a call that there has been a terrorist penetration in Itamar and I should come there because there are wounded. There’s a special code in the army, it was used and it meant someone’s in the village in Itamar and there’s a terrorist attack right this moment. So I take my crew, me, another medic and our driver, and we take the ambulance to Itamar.
Just when you are ready to give up, something renews your hope. I have always had a soft spot for Turkey but, recently, it took an Islamist, anti-American, anti-Israeli turn. Given Turkish tendency to muzzle the press, it took exceptional for Turkish Hurriyet Daily News columnist, BURAK BEKDİL to write, You shall not kill!
Japan is down. It is really from Three days ago, President Obama vowed to stand by its longtime ally Japan. Today, the press is filled with American criticism of Japanese handling of the nuclear emergency. So, how does Obama stand by an longtime ally? By undermining its government credibility and sowing fear amongst its population. To paraphrase the great Augustus, “It is better to be Obama’s pig, than his ally.”
Let’s be honest, no one is ready to be the president of the United States. The job is too big and the demands too unpredictable. But, some candidates are more ready than others and yes, when push comes to shove, it does make a difference as the failed Obama presidency is making more and more clear each passing day. No Democrat will have the gall to challenge the first Black American president in the manner Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter. So, it is crucial that Republicans put up a candidate who not only can win the presidency but has the ability to mend the damage the Obama presidency inflicted on the country. Since recent events high lighted yet again the intimate ties between freedom and American capabilities, Republicans have a moral obligation to appoint an experienced manager committed to rebuilding the nation’s economic and strategic might.
Why has the president behaved so accommodatingly towards Ahmadinejad and Qaddafi and so ruthlessly towards Mubarak? Because Bloody repression is acceptable by oil rich countries while bloody repression by oil poor countries is not. In other words, Obama is merely being pragmatic, argue administration mouth pieces, Mark Landler and Helene Cooper of the NYT:
It took almost a decade but the consensus that permits Muslims to stand by Islamists cost free is finally being eroded. After European prime ministers Merkel, Sarkozy and Cameron comes Peter King. American Muslims organizations and their supporters are filled with sanctimonious rage but recent emergence of Muslim American terrorists has convinced Americans that their polite silence has not been golden but dangerous. It is not enough to ask quietly “Where is the moderate Muslim million women/men march?” It is time to make clear that a price will be extracted by the absence of such marches.
The NYT is struggling with the statistics that show that state and local government workers are better compensated than private workers. Moreover, the are “rarely fired” and have better retirement benefits.
Filled with hope and trepidation I watch the unfolding of the rise of the Arab baby boom generation. Demographers know youth bulges of the type evident in the Middle East, especially unemployed ones, mean social/political upheaval leading to wars and massacres. European youth bulges preceded both the French revolution and the 1968 uprisings as well as the rise of 1930s Fascism and Cold War Communism. An economic downturn adds the kindling. Then, all that is needed is an accidental match, the type that a self immolator lit in Tunisia.
No sane watcher of US foreign relations can miss the dichotomy between the kid gloves treatment with which the Obama administration accorded Ahmadinejad and the brutal treatment accorded Mubarak. I am no fan of Mubarak but he is no Ahmadinejad. Mubarak is on his way out but the American behavior is bound to cause serious harm to US interest around the world. Already China and Russia are quick to exploit the American blunder. Chinese foreign Ministry’s spokesman Ma Zhaoxu Said “China holds that Egypt’’s affairs should be decided independently by the country without foreign interference.” Similarly, “We, in Russia, don’t want to give recommendations because we trust the wisdom of the Egyptian people and leaders as well as the government,”Russian deputy forein minister Soltanov said. “Egypt will eventually emerge from the current crisis in light of legitimate measures and dialogue.”