Sunday, February 28, 2010

Joe Biden writes:

I have been busy. Last week as everyone knows was the big health-care summit. I’m gonna call this one a big win for team White House. A big win for working families. But I’m out there reading the blogs, reading the twitter, and I see a lot of people asking: What is old Joe doing at the summit? Now Bad Rachel, I know you wouldn’t ask that question. That’s why I write to you. You know me and Obama are closer than those brothers in Menudo. But a lot of the blogs don’t get it. So let me make this clear: Old Joe does not need to say anything at the health care summit to have an effect. Just being there lets those Republicans know We Mean Business. They see me sitting there calmly and that sends all the message they need. It went exactly as Barack and I talked about it. He wanted some of that Real Talk. I said, “No Barack, you are el presidente. You gotta take these Tea Party Republicans on yourself.” By the way, did you know Rahm calls these guys tea baggers? Had to look that up. Whoa. Naughty Alert. Leave it in the bedroom fellas. But back to health care. Barack was asking for me to take the lead. He is saying: “You know me, Joe. I am liable to say something that is gonna come out all wrong. I trip myself up. Plus you know healthcare. You’ve been in the senate since 1972. You know these issues, these people.” I can’t argue with him. I am a great point man. I think I proved that on stimulus week. But there are some things that only the top man can do. I would love to be that guy. And I would be screaming: “Put me in coach,” had this been during the campaign. But things look very different when you’re sitting in the Naval Observatory. You get a whole different perspective. Sometimes leading means not doing anything. That’s my journey. That’s where Joe’s at. So I gave Barack this one. And I think he did a great job. Sure it wasn’t Joey Biden Real Talk. But it was good enough.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Republicans ♥ Israel. Democrats? Not So Much.

According to a Gallup survey tracking attitudes about the “situation” in the Middle East, 63 percent of Americans today say their sympathies lie with Israel, while only fifteen percent express the same for the Palestinians. Which should be a comfort to supporters of the Jewish State, who have felt an icy breeze wafting from the White House over the past year, though it should not come as a surprise: Unlike the Brits, whose quivering Muslim-appeasing has lately produced a horrific rise in the anti-Semitism that poses as anti-Zionism, Americans know who their friends are. Or rather, Americans who are Republicans and Independents do. The Dems are another story:

Over the last five years, support for Israel has increased slightly among Republicans (rising from about 77% for each of the past several years to 85% today) and independents, but has stayed roughly the same among Democrats. Since 2001, however, there has been a more dramatic shift in partisan attitudes: a 25-point increase in sympathy for Israel among Republicans and an 18-point increase among independents. Even on this longer-term basis, support for Israel among Democrats has been relatively flat.

What is it about liberals and the longing for what Neal Kozodoy once so brilliantly called “the ratifying kick in the teeth?”  Why do they despise their familiars and love The Stranger who hates them—and hates them all the more for their craven pursuit of him?

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Joe Biden writes:

Happy Tuesday, Bad Rachel. I gotta tell ya. I love my job. The Veep. The Number Two. Don’t tell anyone, but it’s more like I am Number One, ‘cause I have come up with most of the ideas for this administration. When they go with something Rahm comes up with, or God forbid something from Valerie Jarrett and her little red book, they still call in old Joe to save the day. You saw it last week on the economy, you saw it on Iraq. Who’s going to Israel next month? OK. You get the picture. Joey B is holding this administration together. But I gotta tell ya, sometimes, every now and again, I miss Congress. Today is one of those days. TOYOTA Hearings! Can you believe it. These minivans accelerating too fast and stuff. Man I used to own these hearings. All the ins and outs. I hate to see some amateurs in the House miss their opportunities, so I came up with a couple of pointers for my buddy Bart Stupak.

1) At some point in the hearing, just blurt out: “You gotta be kidding me!” Then shake your head and just say at a slightly lower volume, “no. no. no.”

2) Surprise Witness. This is a Biden specialty. It doesn’t matter if what the witness says is true or not. Heck, I found some crazy lady who said John Bolton chased her all over Kazakhstan with a staple-gun. People will say anything if there are cameras.

3) When it’s all said and done and you’ve destroyed the character of your hostile witness, make sure to treat it all like it’s more out of sorrow than anger. Be the classier guy. Take the high road. Thank ‘em for their time. Slap ‘em on the back. I do this when I talk about Cheney. Great friend/evil criminal. You get the picture.

Ahh, these Congressmen today. It’s not like the old days. I wish I was there. But the country needs Joey Biden in the White House. Back to work.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Speaking Ill of the Dead

That would be Christopher Hitchens on Al Haig, in an absolutely gob-smacking display of viciousness. (Classy of Slate to publish it, too.) Whatever it was General Haig did to make him cry so hard, it was unmanly of Mr. Hitchens—and more unseemly even than his accustomed nastiness—to air his soiled laundry so fulsomely. No shame, I guess, and no worries, either, apparently, about how he may be spoken of when he’s gone to the great void in which he so fervently believes.  

Choosing Death

The latest on the cult of death from the indispensible Palestinian Media Watch:

Mother upon news of son’s death in an Israeli air strike: “We had always hoped for his [my son’s] Martyrdom (Shahada), knowing he wanted to die as a Martyr (Shahid). Every time he went out, we would say to him, ‘May Allah be with you.’ We knew that he wanted to die as a Martyr. Praise to Allah, he sought Martyrdom, and he achieved it. My message to every mother is to sacrifice her child for Palestine."
Second woman: “By Allah, we welcome every Martyr as if he were a groom among us.”
[PA TV (Fatah), Feb. 11, 2010]

“O heroes, Allah has promised you victory. . . . Do not talk yourselves into flight. . . .
Your enemies seek life while you seek death.
They seek spoils to fill their empty stomachs while you seek a Garden [Paradise] as wide as are the heavens and the earth. . . .
Death is not bitter in the mouth of the believers. These drops of blood that gush from your bodies will be transformed tomorrow into blazing red meteors that will fall down upon the heads of your enemies.” 
[Reading and Texts Part II, Grade 8, p. 16. Schoolbook currently in use in PA schools.]

There it is—the deep, the fundamental nightmare of the Israelis: “Your enemies seek life while you seek death.”
How are the citizens of the Jewish State—for whom, as for all Jews, the essential (if difficult to fulfil) demand from God is Choose Life And Be Grateful For It (see Jerusalem Girl below); who’d desperately love to be sending their children off to grapple with literature, or physics, or even macramé after high school, but must send them off to grapple instead with an adversary that hides in hospitals and mosques and uses women and children as shields; who mourn as a nation every child of Israel killed in action; who cherish every drop of shed Jewish blood as if it were the living breathing person; whose enemies slosh through the blood of their own fallen brothers as if it were so much rain water—how are Israelis ever going to make peace with people whose death-worship is so wide and so deep that they’ve turned mothers—who’ve felt unborn life fluttering, hiccupping, kicking; and later the indescribable pleasure of the scent and feel of their babies heavy with sleep in their arms; the first enthralling toothless smiles; the first glorious infant belly laughs; heard the أمي, “Ommy!” for the first thrilling time; and wiped away the first tears of hurt—into zombies who seek and celebrate the deaths of their own children?

Jerusalem Girl writes:

they say on a clear day you can see four countries from the top of har shlomo, the highest in the eilat mountain range: israel below, jordan to the east, egypt to the west, and saudi arabia to the south. it’s early morning, but the sky is cloudless and the mediterranean sun is already bearing down. i am standing in a valley and looking up. we’re going all the way up there, someone says, pointing. all the way up there. i feel too small so i focus on my breath and my steps on the parched earth. i'm wearing red sneakers.

Praised are You, Lord our God, King of the universe who with wisdom fashioned the human body, creating openings, arteries, glands and organs, marvelous in structure, intricate in design. Should but one of them, by being blocked or opened, fail to function, it would be impossible to exist. Praised are you, Lord our God, healer of all flesh who sustains our bodies in wondrous ways.
three hours later i am standing at the top of the mountain. the expanse of tranquil desert around me seems endless and everything is still apart from the blue and white flag flapping in the breeze. i do not know who planted it but i am grateful it’s here. i feel peace here. an all- encompassing serenity i’ve only ever been blessed to feel a few times in my life and only ever in israel. up here, i know there’s more.

I am grateful to You, living, enduring King, for restoring my soul to me in compassion. You are faithful beyond measure. 

there is a sandy haze settling over the land below, and saudi arabia is nowhere in sight. someone explains the syrian-african rift but it’s meaningless to me. an interruption. my aching body is drenched in sweat and my hands, swollen from the february heat, are covered in small scratches from the jagged desert rocks i clung to as i ascended. the hebrew word for moving to israel, aliyah, means exactly that. to ascend. and up here on har shlomo i know why. i know why we cry for this land and fight for this land and love this land. i know why we cannot let go of any part of this land. this is the land of my people, and i know why.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Brooklyn Boy, Watching the Million Dollar Celebrity Invitational Last Night:

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, like watching Chris Matthews get his ass demolished on Celebrity Jeopardy.
He’s losing to Charles Shaughnessy, formerly of the Nanny, and David Duchovny, formerly of sex rehab. Do I smell a Wolf Blitzer repeat?
If you aren't watching tonight, how else would you learn that the Rocky Mountains actually run through California? Christo is on fire!
What! Wait! He’s come back completely! It happened in a flash—he had nothing in the pot so they deactivated everyone else’s buzzers and threw him a daily double. It’s b******t really.
He finishes in second place—Duchovny blew it on final jeopardy, the sex-addict bastard.”

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Press Conference

A Play in One Act
By A Friend

The Scene: The Ministry of Defense, Tel Aviv
The Characters: A Reporter; an Israeli Spokesman

Reporter: Did you have anything to do with the murder of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh?

Israeli spokesman: We all have something to do with everything in the world. Read your Spinoza.

Reporter: So you don’t deny that the Mossad killed Mabhouh.

Israeli spokesman: You just did not deny, I did not deny or not deny anything.

Reporter: I don’t understand.

Israeli spokesman: Maybe the only thing to understand if you are a terrorist is that wherever you are in the world, even in room 230 of the Bustan al Rotana Hotel, you can’t escape the consequences of your actions.

Reporter: Did you just tell us the room number of the hotel suite where Mabhouh was murdered?

Israeli spokesman: I was speaking as a hypothetical. If I can add another hypothetical: Certain intelligence agencies are informed regularly of these kinds of actions and it would behoove them to stop talking or other people can talk.

Reporter: Are you threatening the chief of police in Dubai?

Israeli spokesman: Are you?

“Duke Lacrosse Accuser Charged With Attempted Murder, Assault”

Thats the headline of an AP story reporting that Chrystal Gayle Magnum, Durham, North Carolinas most famous false-rape-crier, was arrested yesterday during a domestic dispute.

Durham County jail records indicate Mangum is charged with attempted murder, arson, assault and battery, identity theft, communicating threats, damage to property, resisting an officer and child endangerment.

Of course, she’s innocent until proven otherwise. That’s how they roll down in Durham. Unless you’re a rich white boy.

Joe "Stimulus" Biden says:

If you picked up USA Today yesterday, you couldn’t miss Joey Biden. Right there. Next to the editorial. What was that? Real Talk. I was everywhere. Joe Biden stimulus day. CBS, on the internet. Everywhere you turned. Standing next to the president. Ash Wednesday. Who Dat. Who Dat. Joe Biden. That’s who. White House was thinking about sending Larry Summers or Peter Orzag. But these guys can’t reach across the kitchen table and connect with a working mom trying to put together a shopping list. She’s asking herself: “Do we have enough to buy the extra large brown eggs? I really wish I could get little Timmy those fruit roll ups.” Who is she gonna trust? Mr. Harvard University? Nope. We needed a shakeup, a Wild Card. So we got ourselves a new point man. Ladies and Gentleman, I present to you, Mr. Real Talk. See what I did. Changed the conversation. You heard of game change. Well this is Talk Change. I told real Americans about what they got from the stimulus. Did you get a paycheck last year? Well then you got a piece of stimulus. Did you not get a paycheck last year, then we gave you a piece of unemployment stimulus. They don’t need some poindexter tellin’ them this or that about the GDP. I myself don’t understand these things and I’m the vice president. I’ll be honest with you, Bad Rachel, I made up 80 percent of that editorial. Summers was screaming: “Joey. You can’t write that. It’s nonsense. It’s not true.” I put my arm around him and I said, “The American people need real talk now more than ever.” That’s what I gave ‘em. That’s what I’m gonna keep on giving ‘em. Talk Change.

Spitz Ascendant

It’s been almost two years since Mr. Eliot “Client 9” Spitzer (aka Humiliator-In-Chief of Mrs. Silda Wall Spitzer) whorehounded his Foxy self out of the governorship of New York—in case you’ve forgotten, here’s a little refresher: Purloining the name of his close friend George Fox (hope you’ve gotten some new friends, George), he registered at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C. on erev (non-Hebrew speakers see Glossary*) Valentine’s Day, 2008, for a $4,300 date with Miss Ashley Dupré, a prostitute/pop singer furnished by an “escort agency” with the classy name of Emperors Club VIP; this would be the last (as far as we know) of countless assignations with assorted ladies of the night over the years, amounting to a total of $80,000 out-of-pocket (including the cost of the spankings he liked to administer, about which see Poetry**), as he was nabbed and forced to recuse himself from all affairs of the state of New York shortly thereafter.

But it’s hard to keep a woodman down, as Bill Clinton will attest, and today, in happy news for those of us who’ve sorely missed that special Spitzer je ne sais quoi, the New York Post reports he has begun the climb back into the political fray, bowed but unbroken—and maybe not all that bowed—acting as an unofficial adviser to New York’s current governor, the hapless David Paterson, whose campaign for re-election is basically in the toilet:

One source said Spitzer has indicated he might help Paterson raise some desperately need campaign cash, which would remain confidential until the next Board of Elections filing, on July 15.
Spitzer was also described as giving Paterson “some strong suggestions on how to handle” the state’s massive deficit, including the possibility of closing some corporate tax loopholes to raise an extra $1 billion.

(Handling money being no object to $80,000-man.)

“Sources said the advice has largely gone through an intermediary, instead of direct strategy sessions.” No surprise here: Going through an intermediary is something with which “E. C.” Spitzer has had rather a lot of experience.

*Glossary—erev: on the eve of (before).


O, schadenfreude, your name, your lovely name, is “Client 9”!
 “I disappoint my Spitzy self and wife,” he testifies.
“But how I love the spanky-spanky valentine!”
(“In case things get too rough your safe word’s ‘Silda’,” he confides.)
“Yo, dude,” says she, “for $4300 plus mini-bar I’ll eat my hanky
If you like, and yank your wanky the whole time.” 

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Beichman’s Law

Arnold’s November 4, 2004 column in the WashingtonTimes

A few weeks ago in a San Francisco taxicab, I began chatting with the driver, a middle-aged man with a foreign accent. Like an ambitious Henry Higgins, I spotted his accent as Middle Eastern, probably Iranian, judging from his visible identification card atop the windshield.

He was impressed with my guess, and so we chatted on. He told me that in Iran before the overthrow of the shah he had been the equivalent of a major in the Iranian Air Force. He and his family lived well in a Tehran area surrounded by other family members. But he became involved in revolutionary activity against the shah and his tyrannical secret police -- the SAVAK, as it was known.

He was arrested by SAVAK agents, beaten up and given a choice, a so-called trial and an inevitable jail sentence or he could go into exile with his immediate family leaving behind parents and grandparents. He left Iran, came to the U.S. and then found a job hacking in San Francisco.

As he talked, his voice began to tremble as he asked the question all disillusioned revolutionaries inevitably ask: Were we better off before the Iranian revolution? Could it be that the shah and his secret police were better for the Iranian people than the Ayatollah Khomeini and his mullah successors? The mullahs ruled Iran with an iron fist, he said, far worse than the shah and SAVAK. Why far worse?

Because the clerics had turned opposition to the government into treason to Shia Islam, and therefore punishable by religious courts. Theocracy meant a mullah's interpretation of the Koran decided all judicial verdicts, whether beatings, stoning, execution or rarely, exoneration. The verdict came from God's prophet and was therefore unamendable.

The cabdriver was the victim not only of his immediate circumstances but also of an old political problem formulated by Edmund Burke: "Too often the political choice is between the disagreeable and the intolerable." The shah's regime was more than disagreeable, yet as one who knew something about Iran in the days of the shah before 1979, I can say Iran was a far more open society than it is today. It was not a theocracy, and if you minded your own business the chances were you would be left alone. Half the population had civil rights they've lost since the theocrats took over. I refer to Iranian women in the days of the shah. They were free to an extent undreamed of in neighboring Arab countries.

"Oh, if I had only known," the cabdriver exclaimed.

What he and his onetime fellow-revolutionaries didn't know is that since the first real revolution of 1789, the post-revolutionary years have, judging by history, been worse than the status quo ante. However awful czarist Russia might have been before 1917, it was paradise compared to what happened when Vladimir Lenin and Josef Stalin took over. However awful Chiang Kai-shek might have been before 1949, it was paradise compared to what happened when Mao Tse-tung took over. Were the people of Vietnam better off under Ho Chi Minh's dictatorship than under French colonialism? When Kwame Nkrumah took over Ghana, he threw his opposition into jail; he shot and killed striking longshoremen, which British colonialism wouldn't have dared do. Are Cubans better off under Fidel Castro than in the days of his dictatorial predecessor, Fulgencio Batista? A 1970 editorial in a Lagos, Nigeria, newspaper dared suggest Nigerians were better off under British colonialism than with independence granted in 1960, which turned into a civil war over Biafra a decade later that took a million lives.

I will end by enunciating Beichman's Law:

With the single exception of the American Revolution, the aftermath of all revolutions from 1789 on only worsened the human condition.

Arnold Beichman, 1913-2010

Arnold Beichman, one of nature’s noblemen—or at any rate, because he would have dismissed that title with a guffaw, one of God’s most magnificent creatures (never mind his complicated relations with God)—died today at the age of 96. How often do we mourn the death of a beloved friend by saying, “Oh, he was in the prime of his life. He died too soon?” By “prime” we usually mean what you get to have, if you are lucky, in your late middle age: the blessings of good health and vigor, children and grandchildren, and freedom from many of the cares and anxieties that dogged your youth. And indeed, Arnold experienced all of those joys, and more. But those of us who had the great good fortune to know and love him—three generations of us, in my family—thought of him as a man in his prime until the end of his days. As the editor of Commentary beautifully tells us:
What a life he lived! I'm talking about a man who grew up on the Lower East Side, a Yiddish-speaking son of a pious working-class father who made his way to Columbia University in the late 1920s — there to edit the Columbia Spectator along with the man who would be his lifelong friend, Herman Wouk. In the 1930s he worked for what was called the "exploitation department" of Warner Bros., I believe, writing press releases about Jimmy Cagney's command of Yiddish and showing Cagney around New York during a publicity tour. (He knew Babe Ruth too.) He then became a journalist, and had a storied career, going from the New York Herald Tribune to PM to other places, as a labor reporter and city editor and foreign correspondent. He wrote cover stories for Newsweek about the anti-imperialist wars in Africa in the late 1950s and 1960s. In his 50s he decided he needed to educate himself better and went to get himself a Ph.D. in history, then became a teacher, and then, in his 60s, embarked on yet another career as a Sovietologist of distinction. He was writing regularly until he was 95.
But what Arnold was, first and foremost, was a man of roaring enthusiasm, a man who always looked forward — it was why he never sat down to write a memoir, I think, even though he had a great one in him, because he didn't want to look back. There was a reason for this. A great family man, he had lost one of his beloved children to suicide; the only time he ever spoke of it to me was when he was speaking passionately (as he spoke of everything) about his atheism — and revealed suddenly that he wasn't really an atheist at all, but a man who in a state of permanent anger at God for what had happened to his son. That he survived that blow, and thrived in spite of it, and kept himself moving, driving motorcycles into his 60s and flying planes into his 80s and spending the springs and summers tending to apple orchards and writing books and columns with his beloved wife, Carroll, on her family farm in Naramata, BC, a hundred million worlds away from the streets below Houston that he had haunted as a child of the tenements, until this very last summer, testified to a greatness of spirit unique in my experience.
A man couldn’t have a more splendid obit, and the world couldn’t have had a more splendid man.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An Interview with Joe Biden

Our estimable contributor went the extra mile during his war of words with Dick Cheney the other day and attacked New York’s Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly as well, accusing them, as only he could, of exaggerating the projected cost of trying Khaled Sheikh Mohammed in their city. “The mayor came along,” he said, with the distinctive Biden grin in place, “and said the cost for providing security to hold this trial is x-hundreds of millions of dollars which I think is much more than would be needed.”
I contacted him this morning to ask him about that.
Bad Rachel: Can you describe the reasoning process that brought you to conclude that “x-hundreds of millions of dollars” is “much more than would be needed” to provide security for the trial of 9/11 mastermind KSM in the city he attempted to destroy, and can you explain why you believe that the mayor of New York is not in a position to make that calculation?
Joe Biden: Oh Bad Rachel. Old Joe has known Mike Bloomberg since he had one Telex machine and a rotary phone. That is one smart Jew, and I would be the last guy as a working class Catholic to question a Jew when it comes to money—oh there I go again—OK, leave it. Real Talk! But this is a classic example of pushing the price up. New York is hurting. I know that. We all know that. Everyone is hurting since Bush caused this financial 9/11. I love Bush too. But he is responsible for millions of American kids not going to college. I get it. But these trials shouldn’t cost that much. I grew up in Scranton. We had some bad, bad characters over there. I remember when we had a trial, we needed to pay for a soap box, folding chairs and a crock pot for mother's famous Irish stew. These guys knew the score. Tough as nails. Like Khaled Sheikh Mohammed but from Scranton. Scranton had its own Taliban for a while. We called them the Kelly boys and they would sock ya harder than Jack Dempsey. So we could handle this kind of thing.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Joe Biden says:

I was just sitting down here on the special Amtrak train the secret service gave me after a couple motorcade incidents to read the blog and there it was. Bad Rachel. I said to myself, “Joey, ya got to set her straight. God love her. Who runs foreign policy for the Obama administration? I do. They all know it.” As my mother from Scranton always said, stand up and take the heat. So here it is. Joe Biden runs foreign policy. Big Joe is pulling the strings. Chairman, Senate Foreign Relations Committee. I talk to leaders. I’ve been talking to leaders since Frampton came alive. Barack Obama was probably in Indonesia when I was talking to world leaders. I’m not supposed to say that kind of thing, and don’t get me wrong, Barack Obama is one of the most articulate members of his racial community . . . uh . . . You know what, I’m leaving that in. Wild Card. But I am running the show. Afghanistan? I called it. Told the Times I didnt. But I did. I told Obama, you can’t just drone your way out of this. This is an insurgency. All facets of power. Smart Power. Brilliant Power. Anyway, He said to me, “Joey, you're right.” That’s why I love being the VP. Obama and I are on the same wave length. It’s like me and old Dick Lugar. I just have to talk and he sees it. It’s downright weird. But I wanted to make the boss look good. I learned that growing up in Scranton working as a child in a shirt-factory mine. Make the boss happy and read your law books. So I took the fall. Made it seem like it was Barack’s idea. The truth of the matter is this was Cheney’s idea. But don't tell anyone that. I love Cheney. We’ve known each other since the Muppets took Manhattan, but he is an out of touch war criminal. But let's get back to the point. I am running the whole thing. Why do they send Joey to Israel? Cause they need me. I have a secret weapon. Real Talk. When they get a piece of Real Talk, not straight talk like McCain, it’s very different. I learned it from leaders. Real Talk. Netanyahu, Arafat, Abbas, it doesn’t matter. No one is talking to them like I can. I get in there and I look at Abbas and I say: “You gotta cut this out. This is not how to lead. I know. Big Joe knows world leaders.” Then I tell Bibi—I’ve been calling him Bibi since I met him at the Washington Institute—“You gotta cut this out. This is not peace. It’s not leadership. I knew Rabin. He talked to me when I was a senator.” And that’s just a taste of Real Talk. The real Real Talk is much better, but that Real Talk is classified and I can’t share it.

Hillary and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Foreign Policy Day(s)

In a way, you can’t blame her for her haplessness, secretarially speaking. Her own experience with matters foreign—being “shot at” by Bosnian “snipers,” for one, or, for another, kissing Suha Arafat while Mrs. Arafat’s blood-soaked husband was shoveling the untold millions he’d stolen from his miserable flock into Swiss bank accounts—has been somewhat . . . insubstantial. And in any case, she’s not exactly in charge. The Obamic foreign policy, such as it is, seems to be being formulated and conducted as much (maybe more?) from the West Wing as from Foggy Bottom, and by people even less familiar with the issues than she, who’ve done almost nothing in their lives but run political campaigns—and that’s in Chicago, where a little cold hard cash and some cold stiff bodies voting at graveyard polling stations can get anyone elected—and who are still in essence running a campaign today, though they call it a presidency.

But really. Wouldn’t she be better off saying nothing at all than repeating (at a “Townterview With Al Jazeera”—eeeek!) drivel like this:
I am hopeful that this year we will see the commencement of serious negotiations that will cover every issue that is outstanding. Obviously, those are the ones that have to be decided between the parties; no one can dictate to either the Israelis or the Palestinians what the outcome should be. They must make those decisions themselves. But the United States is very focused on being a facilitator and a help in every way possible to achieve that outcome. And we are working hard on it, we are working hard on it every day. And we hope that we will see the kind of break-through this year that everyone is anticipating.
As if those same negotiations haven’t been commenced a thousand times and shepherded to total failure by a host of peace-drunk U.S. presidents (including her husband), secretaries of state, and envoys, pressuring one Israeli prime minister after another to make concessions—impossible and intolerable concessions—to a bunch of Palestinian terrorists-turned-“statesmen”?

Or this:
I can only tell you what so many leaders tell me, which is that they worry about Iran's intentions. They worry about whether Iran will be a good neighbor, and will live peacefully. . . . And the question is, what can Iran do in order to allay the worries and the fears of their neighbors? And that is what we are trying to encourage Iran to consider. And yet, I don't see much progress there, to be honest. I just wish that we could tell you that there was more progress.
Why does she think those leaders are telling her their tales of woe? It’s not because they want to bask in the comfort of her motherly embrace (though it is said by people who work for her that she takes care of her own). It’s because they still hope against hope, despite much evidence to the contrary, that her boss will stand up at last and take the mullahs down—and their Hizballah and Hamas and al Qaeda proxies along with them.

Or, worst of all—and most devastatingly revealing of Mr. Obama’s worthlessness and her own inadequacy, this:
And I don't know whether the reaction that the Iranian Government had to the election, and now the opposition trying to express itself -- which we fully support their right to do so -- has made the Iranian Government even, you know, more unwilling to open up and talk with their friends and their neighbors about how to prevent the concerns from escalating. I wish that Iran would take a different approach. The United States, under President Obama, would really welcome a positive, normal relationship with Iran. But you can't do that unless there is something coming back to you. And there hasn't been. So, I wish that we could be having a town hall in Tehran. I wish that we could be having this conversation with members of the opposition and members of the government, and students from all points of view. But we are not. . . . So, our challenge is, how do we try to influence Iran to be a good neighbor and to treat its own people fairly and decently? And anyone who has answers to those questions, I really would love to hear them.
“Anyone who has answers to those questions, I really would love to hear them.” It would be laughable if it weren’t so pathetically scary.

Joe Biden writes:

People say to me, “Joey. Why are you writing for Bad Rachel? She’s a neocon. You’re Vice President. Shouldn’t you be working on some electoral compromise in Iraq?” And you know what, you’re right. I am the Vice President. But here is something you don’t know, buddy. I’m a wild card. I’m like that card in the Uno deck. Draw Four. You never know with Joey Biden what I’m thinking, what I might say. Remember on the campaign trail, when I predicted a foreign policy crisis for Obama (PS we’ve had like 10 so far, 4 of ‘em we’re not telling the public about)? That’s Me. That’s the Biden promise. I’m going to shake things up. And I can’t think of a better forum for the wild card than Bad Rachel. We’re both wild cards. You don’t know what you’re gonna get. That’s my style. Ask Clarence Thomas. He came to his confirmation hearing thinking we’d be talking about the constitution and his legal philosophy. Then BOOM! Wild Card Biden! Before you know it, we got ourselves a circus talking about pubes on soda cans and Long Dong Silver. Anyway. Wild Card. Think about it.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Contributor Joe Biden writes:

So there I was on the Amtrak, and I was thinking Dick Cheney, God love him, my friend Dick Cheney, he is probably worse than Pol Pot. It was because Democrats opposed the surge that the surge worked. If we had gotten behind the winning strategy, the enemy would have known it was too soft. We needed to oppose it in order for it to succeed.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Mr. Obama Speaks to the Muslim World, Again

"We Are the World” and other Obamic platitudinousnesses were delivered by video to this weekend’s gathering of wonks American, wonks European, wonks Middle Eastern, and wonks Asian in Qatar:  
Assalaamu alaykum. And on behalf of the American people—including Muslim communities across America—greetings as you gather for the 7th U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha.
 Well, Wa’alaikum Assalam back atcha!
I want to thank all those whose support has made this Forum possible, especially the Amir of Qatar, the government of Qatar and the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution. It is fitting that you gather again in Doha—a place where our countries come together to forge innovative partnerships in education and medicine, science and technology.
 Too bad the Middle East’s greatest innovators in education, medicine, science, and technology can’t be there to forge partnerships with these conferees. Quite a few of them could really use the help. No worries, though: After George Mitchell has established Peace between Israel and “Palestine” (see below), creating two states living side by side in perfect harmony, Arab leaders won’t have to keep running off to Clinics Cleveland and Mayo when they get sick, and Palestinians won’t need to send their children to Hadassah Hospital for treatment. Oh yeah, and all the rest of the world’s ills will be healed, too.
As leaders in government, academia, media, business, faith organizations and civil society, you understand that we are all bound together by common aspirations—to live with dignity, to get an education, to enjoy healthy lives, to live in peace and security, and to give our children a better future.
 Yes. “We are the world/We are the children/We are the ones who make a brighter day/So let's start giving/There's a choice we're making/We're saving our own lives/It's true we'll make a better day/Just you and me.” (But faith organizations?)
Yet you also know that the United States and Muslims around the world have often slipped into a cycle of misunderstanding and mistrust that can lead to conflict rather than cooperation.
 Gee. Would that be anything like the “cycle of violence?”
That is why in Cairo last year I called for a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based on mutual interest and mutual respect. I laid out a vision where we all embrace our responsibilities to build a world that is more peaceful and secure. It has only been eight months since Cairo, and much remains to be done. But I believe we’ve laid the groundwork to turn those pledges into action.
 See “We Are the World” above.

The United States is responsibly ending the war in Iraq; we are removing all our combat brigades from Iraq by the end of August, and we will partner with the Iraqi people on behalf of their long-term security and prosperity. In Afghanistan and beyond, we are forging partnerships to isolate violent extremists, reduce corruption and to promote good governance and development that improves lives. We remain unyielding in pursuit of a two-state solution that recognizes the rights and security of Israelis and Palestinians. And the United States will continue to stand for the human rights and dignity of people around the world.

The parallelism, excellent! We’ll pull out of Iraq, soon and responsibly (is there any other way?); also, we’ll close our eyes and click our heels together three times and wish upon a star over and over again until Israelis and Palestinians reach Peace; in return you, in Afghanistan and beyond, will become modern, woman-respecting democrats because of our forged partnerships (and a few troops? Oh, never mind them!). And, oh yeah, we’ll go on standing for human rights and dignity in . . . let’s see . . . okay, not Iran, not Burma, not China, not Honduras, not Cuba . . . but somewhere. We’ll let you know.

And while the United States will never waver in these efforts, I also pledged in Cairo to seek new partnerships in Muslim communities around the world—not just with governments, but with people, to address the issues that matter most in our daily lives. . . . Since then, my administration has made a sustained effort to listen. We’ve held thousands of events and town halls—with students, civil society groups, faith leaders and entrepreneurs—in the United States and around the world, including Secretary Clinton’s landmark visit to Pakistan. And I look forward to continuing the dialogue during my visit to Indonesia next month.

Secretary Clinton’s landmark visit to Pakistan? Really? Landmark? Other secretaries of state have been to Pakistan—even the ladies. Condi Rice was there at least a few times. Madeleine Albright went, too. Maybe it was landmark on account of its being the first visit by a secretary of state after we changed its name to Pah-kee-stahn?
Whatever. “This dialogue has helped us turn many of the initiatives I outlined in Cairo into action.” And by “action” we mean “partnering,” about which more here. In brief, though, that’s “partnering” for education, economic development, science & technology, and global health & food security. Noble pursuits all. (Wait—what happened to climate change? Maybe we’ll get to that in the summer.)

None of this will be easy. Fully realizing the new beginning we envision will take a long-term commitment. But we have begun. Now, it falls to us all, governments and individuals, to do the hard work that must be done—turning words into deeds and “Writing the Next Chapter” in the ties between us, with faith in each other, on the basis of mutual respect. . . . Thank you coming to Doha in that spirit. Thank you for your work to advance the principles we share—justice and progress, tolerance and the dignity of all human beings. . . . Let us succeed together. And may God’s peace be upon you.

And just when we thought it was going to be easy to fully realize the new beginning through the hard work of turning words into deeds and “writing the next chapter!”

Friday, February 12, 2010

Sic Transit Gloria Kennedy

(With apologies to Emily Dickinson)
“Sic transit gloria Kennedy,”
How hath that tedious family,
“Dumb, drinkimus, drugimus,”
Kept afloat so lengthily?

Oh “veni, vidi, Patrick J!”
Caputski is thy dynasty!
And oh “memento mori”
The loss of that verbosity!

Down from the Legislature
The voters bid him go—
He'll quit before they fire him—
He’s felt which way the wind doth blow!
“Good bye, Sir, I am going;
My rehab calleth me—
But grieve not for me when I leave—
I’ll needlepoint and basketweave!”

Farewell thou flowery prolix blatherers!
Companions low and boon!
We’ve done with all thy sodden lathering—
Godspeed thou rambling prolix goons.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Climate Change in Washington, D.C.

Snowfall During Global Freezing, 1898-99: 54.4”
Snowfall During Global Warming, 2009-10: 54.9”

Oh, Wouldja Please Just Put a Sock In It, Meghan?

“She has been a public figure for most of her life,” says Wikipedia of 25-year-old Meghan McCain, and she’s living up to every expectation for a girl who’s famous for no reason other than the happy accident of her birth. Like all good little celebrities these days, she’s embraced a cause. But it’s not the Darfur Genocide, or Freedom for Burma, or the Oppression of Women in Muslim Lands. It’s publicity. Her own. And she’s done a hell of a job getting it. In fact, you could say she’s her own Lizzie Grubman.

The daughter of “maverick” Republican Senator John McCain is a “maverick” herself—that is, maverick as McCain-lovin’ liberal commentators mean it: She’s an über-cool politics chick with lots to say of the conventional-thinking NYTimesish variety, and she’s got credulous lefties lapping up her disses of conservatives like kittens at cream bowls. Only a few days ago she treated the moron quintuplets of “The View” to a little peroration on Tom Tancredo and the Tea Party Movement (“This rhetoric will continue to turn off young voters, and anybody that says different is smoking something—period”) and lectured them on the failings of her father’s erstwhile running-mate, whom she criticized for suggesting “that President Obama could improve his re-election chances by declaring war on Iran.” “You should never go to war unless it’s the absolute last circumstance,” she warned.

Really? We didn’t know that until you told us, Meghan. Any more similarly astute political guidance from the Daily Beast’s breast aficionado? Whoopi will be grateful to get it.