Monday, March 29, 2010

Dear Joe Klein:

Congratulations! You’ve goose-stepped the distance and landed at last, mouth-first, in the anti-Semitic sludge that is Pat Buchanan territory. Calling those with whom you disagree on Israel “treacherous” is cute, especially from a little guy who snivels about the use of harsh language—and by the way, were you too chicken actually to use the word “traitor,” or did Time’s lawyers put their pretty little Louboutin-shod feet down about that?—and now here you are, wading in the stink with the likes of Buchanan, Philip Giraldi, Taki, et al. Before this I would have said you couldn’t much like it there, but now I’m not so sure. Of course, you know that when they dream about coming to get us with the pitchforks and the lynching-ropes, it’s your face they’re seeing, too.  Just sayin’.

Happy Passover.

Your concerned co-religionist,

Bad Rachel

Friday, March 19, 2010

Diplomacy Fail, Part MCVII

Mrs. Clinton’s “rebuke” of V. Putin for the smack-around he delivered to her during her visit to Moscow by announcing Russia’s intention to launch Iran toward nuclear capability, notwithstanding U.S. pressure—read begging—not to do so: “We think it would be premature to go forward with any project at this time, because we want to send an unequivocal message to the Iranians.” 

Brooklyn Boy says: “Another full affrontal from the forces of tyranny against visiting American diplos. Since the slap came to Hillary this time, who makes the sassy 43-minute phone call to Putin? Is it Joe? Barack Obama himself? Maybe Bill should step in for his gal?”

Reuters Rewrites History

The caption accompanying this photo: “Pedestrians walk in Ramat Shlomo, a religious Jewish settlement in an area of the occupied West Bank Israel annexed to Jerusalem.”

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What You Get When You Judge a Man by the Color of His Skin

Imagine a man who’s been awarded educational prizes based on questionable merit in a corrupted system, whose youthful predilection for Marxism and Marxists he has never fully disavowed, whose adult devotion to a preacher of Coughlinesque anti-Semitism and fire-and-brimstone anti-Americanism he has expediently and only reluctantly repudiated, whose self-description as a con law professor has forced a university, tripping over itself to avoid challenging the tarting up of his resume, to offer a more “nuanced”  description of his duties there, whose political career and principal vocation over most of his life has been the promoting of the victimological approach to policy-making—and some impressively dexterous self-spinning.

Now, to steal an image from John Grisham, imagine that man is white.

Do you fill his coffers and elect him . . . to the school board? Chairman of the City Council? (Should he run for a lesser spot on the City Council first? Nah! Why waste the time?) Can you envision him as Public Safety Commissioner of, say, Birmingham, Alabama? How about Police Commissioner? Do you see him as your state senator? Or even, with some expert advice and fortuitous opponent-choosing, your U.S. senator? All of the above, maybe.

Or maybe not. If that man is, in the marvelously felicitous phraseology of Mr. Joseph Biden, “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” and you are a progressive liberal-minded intellectually-inclined elitist, apparently what you do is give him loads of your money and all your loyalty, elect him president of the United States, and congratulate yourself publicly, mightily, and often, for so doing.

But now what? Let’s say your interest runs to foreign policy. A year has passed during which your chosen one has made worse than a hash of that: It’s in deep disarray. It and he and all his dogsbodies have devalued us everywhere, pinballing reactively from crisis to disaster, and when they should be fighting withdrawing like snails into shells, leaving behind just the slime souvenir. And, worse, much worse, they’ve targeted our one true democratic friend and ally in the Middle East—a country whose existence you cherish—for censure and contempt, to your great shock and unhappiness. What do you do?

You could tell the truth about him that he’s just an articulate enough black man with none of that American-exceptionalism-trumpeting jingoism you’ve found so embarrassing, so distasteful, elsewhere, and sufficiently presentable to have qualified for your largesse, and about yourself that you’re just a racist in reverse. But that’s a remedy you probably won’t seek. There is an antidote, though, to the damage you’ve done, which requires a bit less courage than the truth-telling: Keep the hole of worry, anger, and horror your president’s enmity for Israel has bored into your heart like a mezuzah on your doorpost to remind you of who he really is, and when the time comes to open your wallet and pledge your allegiance once again, do so for somebody who has earned it by more than just the accident of the color of his skin.

Monday, March 15, 2010

“The First Thing We Do, Let’s Kill All the Lawyers”

Or at any rate, the al Qaeda Seven.

After that, maybe the generals? Foreign Policy’s correspondent from Hizballah, Mark Perry, reports:

On Jan. 16, two days after a killer earthquake hit Haiti, a team of senior military officers from the U.S. Central Command (responsible for overseeing American security interests in the Middle East), arrived at the Pentagon to brief Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The team had been dispatched by CENTCOM commander Gen. David Petraeus to underline his growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving the issue. The 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint briefing stunned Mullen. The briefers reported that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region, and that Mitchell himself was (as a senior Pentagon officer later bluntly described it) “too old, too slow ... and too late.”

The January Mullen briefing was unprecedented. No previous CENTCOM commander had ever expressed himself on what is essentially a political issue; which is why the briefers were careful to tell Mullen that their conclusions followed from a December 2009 tour of the region where, on Petraeus’s instructions, they spoke to senior Arab leaders. “Everywhere they went, the message was pretty humbling,” a Pentagon officer familiar with the briefing says. “America was not only viewed as weak, but its military posture in the region was eroding.” But Petraeus wasn’t finished: two days after the Mullen briefing, Petraeus sent a paper to the White House requesting that the West Bank and Gaza (which, with Israel, is a part of the European Command -- or EUCOM), be made a part of his area of operations. Petraeus’s reason was straightforward: with U.S. troops deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S. military had to be perceived by Arab leaders as engaged in the region's most troublesome conflict.

Apparently there’s some dispute about the reliability of Mr. Perry’s reportage—the Pentagon is denying his account—but, as much as it pains me to find myself saying so, given his Arafat-stained animus against Israel, and his use of this information as a cudgel, I believe him. It’s a badly-kept secret that the Arabs have the ears of American generals, Petraeus included, alas.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sick Addiction

As a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party, whose fidelity financial and electoral all Dem administrations can and do take fully for granted, American Jewry is in a quandary right now. It’s mostly private, as its quandaries usually are when it comes to the sins of Dem presidents against American Jews and the Jewish State. As if failing to do their duty to the Party were akin to rising up in rebellion against kaiser or czar and inviting the unleashing of Cossack fury against them, the Jews who ought to have something to say about the ill wind blowing toward Israel from Mr. Obama’s office are passing their whispered worries from one to another: "Oy! What should we do? Oy! What should we say? Is it enough that X is saying something? Can we hide behind that? Do we have to say something, too? Oy!"

That Jimmy Carter managed to get 45 percent of the Jews to vote for him in 1980, despite his expressed hostility to them and to Israel; that Bill Clinton’s bullying of Itzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak and his appeasement of Yasser Arafat led directly to the Second Intifada translated not at all to a dis-allegiance to his party by the Jews; that the inexplicable, never-ending, quivering Jewish hero-worship of FDR, notwithstanding the greatness of his guilt by omission in the destruction of the Jews of Europe, should continue to this day—these are all symptoms of the sick Jewish addiction to the Party, and to the access to its leaders all the Jews money and their fealty have provided.  

Enough now, Jews!  Speak up and defend the Jewish State and the right of its citizens to build in their eternal and undivided capital, Jerusalem, against a president whos proving as inimical to you and yours as the one whose secretary of state could say “F*** the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway”lest by your almost chemical dependence on his Party and on him you find you have collaborated in the launching of the Third Intifada, or worse, and you find you are not whispering "Oy!" but saying Kaddish for the dead of Israel.  

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Giving Homosexuality a Bad Name

That’s Christopher Hitchens, who’s got a memoir coming out—one must hawk, after all, mustn’t one?—and has let it be known that when he was a young Communist-manqué studying at Oxford his sexual predilections ran to the seamy. He thinks he’ll sell books by disclosing in advance affairs with two men who went on to work for Margaret Thatcher. Maybe so, but does anyone really care who some old Tory buggers loved in their youth? And while we’re at it, could there even be an Oxford minus the buggery? No, the Hitchens sordidness lies in the insinuating, flirtatious use he is making right now of the insinuating, flirtatious bisexuality he apparently practiced back then, in his salad days as an idolizer of Che Guevara and a boy on the make. Says a man who knew him when:

I always thought that Hitchens was someone who, like a lot of people when they are handsome in youth, spent a lot of time looking in the mirror and admiring himself. That is the vein through which he drew nourishment through his life.

Wherever one stands on the homosexuality question—I’m agnostic, or would be if the “gay community” would quit trying to shove legislation down my throat—there can be no denying bisexuality’s double betrayal—you never know, whether you’re the man of the hour or the woman, when the ground on which you’re standing is going to turn to ashes—nor any denying the self-admiring “nourishment” its promiscuous conquests afford. Alas for Mr. Hitchens, the “languorous charms” he could once upon a time deploy against the objects of his desire, male and female, are no more; he’s a Dorian-Gray picture of his former self invoking the memory of it all to sell books this time around, and he’s given it—and himself—a very bad name indeed.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Not A Parody

But theres a prize for anyone who can guess who wrote it. Editorial interjections could not be avoided.

Urban life is a sacrifice of nature for culture, but it is not obvious that culture can provide the same exaltations as nature. . . . What is the metropolitan sublime? The city is built on delineations and differentiations, and its particular beauty is owed to its artifice, to its rejection of stillness, to the almost anarchic spectacle of its many relations. It is a pluralist world. It is not created for oneness or wholeness, or to strike you dumb. [ALAS. WOULD THAT IT WERE] Instead it articulately disperses you. Sometimes the art of the city has renounced these profane fascinations for an ontological ambition . . . but these experiments in timelessness seem almost like protests against the subways and the streets, in the name of a more fundamental plenitude, with no parts. . . . Sometimes even the most sophisticated man [SUCH AS MYSELF] needs to see the sky. The urban-spiritual question is whether the soul can subsist only on the experience of other people. Is the Other--the epic hero of contemporary thought--enough? . . .  I detest crowds and their oceanic effects; for me, they promise only conformity and violence. But last week the disorder of the city delivered another sort of release. . . .  On my way to work I stopped at a local filling station, and as I stood at the pump I was taken up contentedly with errands and obligations. I phoned a friend to talk about the battle of Marja [ABOUT WHICH I WAXED POETIC! EXTREMELY!]. I reviewed the plans for Purim [HMMM. SHALL I DRESS AS PLOTINUS?]. I made a mental note to check on the publication date of Saul Bellow’s letters. I looked at some girls. The public square was a rich and good place to be. And then I heard the tapping of a cane against an oil truck. . . .When I turned around, I saw a hideously mutilated man. He was tall and thin, with a dancer’s body, and dressed in jeans and a red sweater; but there was a crater where his nose would have been, and his upper lip was ripped and pulled and seemed to have been soldered to his cheek. The skin on his face was twisted and flattened, like a mask gone horribly wrong. And he was blind. The deformed man immediately emptied my mind. All my contentment was banished by the shock. For a few moments, he was everything I knew [FOR I AM PLOTINUS, AND UNIVERSES OF KNOWLEDGE ARE IN ME]. I am embarrassed to say that pity gave way to fear [THOUGH NOT, APPARENTLY, EMBARRASSED ENOUGH]. It was suddenly an uglier universe. The image of this devastation filled me with a sense of all possible horror. I lived with the shudder for most of the day. My last stop was the flower shop, and I bought thistles. [THISTLES! THISTLES, I TELL YOU!]

The lowest rung of a parking garage is a forsaken place, a prison without prisoners [I AM DEEP]--the gray, dank netherworld of the urban conceit. When I drove down to the bottom of the cave on a recent afternoon, the luckless man who sits there instructed me to back my car up all the way to the far wall, [WAIT, THIS IS GOING TO BE FASCINATING] past a row of cars that were parked perpendicularly to mine. I was listening to Yo-Yo Ma play the love theme from Once Upon a Time in the West, the greatest melody that Puccini never wrote. [DO YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE? SOMETIMES I'M TOO SUBTLE BY HALF.] Maybe it was the long warm line of the music, but when I put the car into reverse and began to move smoothly backwards, something happened. All heaviness, inside and outside, disappeared. As I glided by the parked cars I watched them glide by me, as if I were standing still and they were in motion, and in the steady wafting procession--like the quietly turning pages of those wall calendars in the old movies, or the cherry blossoms loosened by the teasing breezes and floating into the Tidal Basin in early spring--in a sweet moment of indefinite suspension--I had a glimpse of the flow, an intuition of perfect evanescence. [FOR ONLY I, AND POSSIBLY WALT WHITMAN, CAN FIND THE BEAUTY IN A PARKING GARAGE.] It was over quickly, but the gladness was overwhelming. I left the building in a grateful daze, and not even the important street and its important people broke the spell. In that featureless pit, a sensation of infinity! Is there really no place without grace? I do not take kindly to such uplift, but the event in the garage could not be argued away. I strolled around the block to ponder my blessing, and then proceeded to my office, and the more impure transience of my work.

Theres more, but Ill spare you. Remember, you get a prize for guessing!

Jay-Z Sizes Up the Situation Room

I love hip-hop. I find the driving double/triple beats and harsh rhythms of language thrilling and interesting.* That makes me a benighted off-kilter-middle-aged right-wing bohemian (© Ruthie Blum Leibowitz) white chick, but I don’t mind. Some people think this is Art. As a big fan of rapper Jay-Z, especially The Black Album (2003) and American Gangster (2007), and as an admirer of his gifted and bountifully beauteous wife, Beyoncé, I was delighted to see the two of them enjoying a parlay in the White House Situation Room with some of their friends today, and especially so to see Jay-Z sitting in the chair the president of the United States sits in when he makes an appearance for a top-secret, principals-only meeting with his national-security staff.  

Were Jay & Bey & Co. issued the relevant security clearances? Do we even care anymore? Dems in the White House flout the rules, some of them with abandon. Reverence for the office of president takes wing, along with the observance of protocol. But never mind the politesse: Is an amazingly successful businessman-slash-rapper who rose from the mean streets of Brooklyn to world-wide fame and fortune less qualified to deal with the vicissitudes, the obstacles, the demands, the crises of foreign policy and national security than Mr. Obama’s little coterie of Chicago-pol friends who’ve been running it so surpassingly excellently thus far? Who’s to say?

*My raps: One’s here and one’s below. The one about Al Sharpton may be a little dated, but the language that’s in both of them is perfectly G-rated.  

by Li’l RayRay

It’s amazin’ Revren’ Al you think you all that phat—
With that marcel-hair and that Rolex-wear you thinkin’ you all that?
When a black man get shot down, you talkin’ ‘bout race and disgrace,
Talkin’ ‘bout the black man always put down in his place—
Amadou, Mumiah, Treyshawn, Donte, and the rest.
But you don’t care ‘bout no justice when it’s the white man’s quest.
What about justice for my man Lantz?
Shmulik, Yossele, Yonkel, Feivish,
Gunned down in the street ‘cause they be wearin’ payis.
What’s the matter, Revren’ Al, you not feelin’ their race?
What’s the matter, Revren’ Al, don’t like no yiddishkeit playas?
No Talmud, Rashi, Rambam, Hebrew Bible?
You not feelin’ the man ‘cause what’s black is his shtreiml?
‘Cause he crackin’ the Cel-Ray and eatin’ knishes from Schimmel’s?
It’s a shondeh, Revren’ Al, you thinkin’ you all that!

Monday, March 1, 2010

What Fills Empty Leftist Heads and Columns

David Corn asks “Are Democratic Presidents Smarter Than Republican Presidents? “ And wouldn’t you know it? The answer is Yes! Democratic presidents are veritable geniuses—tops of their classes, brilliant orators, connoisseurs of facts, and champions of analysis, while poor Cro-Magnon Republicans are knuckle-draggers all (okay, George H.W. Bush is kinda smart, just not interested), left-behinders in the pre-Darwinian soup who have never read a book—but if they have it was probably a comic book—and not one of them gifted enough to have led “a seven-hour gabfest on a complex policy matter, being able to master the specifics and nuances, and field questions about in-the-weeds details as Obama did.”

Yet it is all too easy to envision either Bill Clinton or Jimmy Carter hosting an event like the health care summit and doing a fine job. Weeks before he moved into 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., Clinton, well known for his lust for policy wonkery, demonstrated his talents. In December 1992, as president-elect, he skillfully played host a two-day economic summit in Little Rock with 300 business and labor leaders.

And don’t just take Mr. Corn’s word for it. He’s got James Fallows backing him up on Jimmy Carter:

With his moral virtues and his intellectual skills, he is perhaps as admirable a human being as has ever held the job. He is probably smarter, in the College Board sense, than any other president in this century. He grasps issues quickly. He made me feel confident that, except in economics, he would resolve technical questions lucidly, without distortions imposed by cant or imperfect comprehension.

Still, all condescending preening (“By the way, a new scientific report finds that self-identified liberals have higher IQs”) and nastiness (see Christopher Hitchens on Reagan for some middle-school-sexual-confusion-type malice) aside, even Mr. Corn is forced to admit that “there’s not necessarily a direct connection between intelligence and leadership,” and closes by asking “Maybe the question is, not which presidents are smarter, but whether it matters?” (If that is a question.)

But maybe it is. When you’re comparing the men who brought down the Berlin Wall and the Cold War along with it, liberated the people of Iraq from their butcher dictator and declared war against our terrorist enemies with the men who presided over the Iranian hostage crisis, gas lines, and our national malaise, and sullied the office of the president in a very big way, does it really matter who scored higher on his SATs?

Purim in Meah Shaarim

Oh Naqba, My Naqba!

The Palestinians seem to be in thrall to some force that commands them to relive continuously the most painful moment of their own history; to mire themselves in a swamp of self-pity; to prevent themselves from rising above the lot imposed upon them by the Arab League’s 1947 refusal to countenance the establishment of a Jewish State in their midst and its ill-fated 1948 war against the Jews; and to render themselves susceptible to repeated acts of betrayal by their own brethren. 

Yet, despite the culpability of the Arab League in their misery—whose promises of quick destruction for the Jews and a quick return for them they so willingly swallowed (after they seemed so willingly to have swallowed the anti-Semitic bile spewing from the Nazi-collaborating Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, who spent the years of World War II flitting between Mussolini’s Rome and Hitler’s Berlin importuning the Germans to bomb Tel Aviv, among other things)—the cry of accusation against Israel, Oh naqba, my naqba! Oh, catastrophe, my catastrophe! has remained on their lips—and often enough on those of their Israel-averse supporters in the “human-rights community,” the media, and the U.N., as well—in the decades since.  

Naqba Day, inaugurated by the bloody-handed Yassir Arafat in 1998—in between intifadas—observed by Palestinians the world over every May 15 (closely coinciding almost every year with Israel’s Independence Day) with demonstrations, speeches, even the occasional dancing and balloon-releasing, and considered the most important day of the year for them, will be coming around again in a matter of weeks. And with the trumped-up Palestinian fury simmering still over Israel’s decision to declare the Cave of the Patriarchs and Rachel’s Tomb Jewish heritage sites—which they indisputably are—it is not inconceivable that the Hamas successors of al-Husseini and Arafat will seize the day, so to speak, and escalate their violence against the Jews.  

The naqba is the siren song of the Palestinians: Their endless listening to it has done incalculable damage to their collective spirit. Their continuing to believe in the return they were duped into believing in so many years ago can only put the nationhood they claim to long for further out of reach. There will be no return—that’s the reality. If they face it, there’s hope for them. If they don’t, there’s only the hell and suffering of their statelessness.