Friday, July 23, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

The "undisciplined"

Posted: 23 Jul 2010 03:47 AM PDT

The New York Times has a brief item:

Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, said Thursday that he had been told that members of the group would be indicted by a United Nations tribunal investigating the 2005 killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon, left.

There's very little more in the Daily Star:

Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said his party expected the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) would charge some Hizbullah members with involvement in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Speaking via video link during a news conference he had called for in the Beirut southern suburbs on Thursday, Nasrallah said he had information that such an indictment had been decided upon before 2008, but its announcement was being postponed to await more suitable political circumstances.

He expressed surprise that the decision to indict had been made

And there's this little bit:

Nasrallah said that Prime Minister Saad Hariri had visited him prior to his trip to the United States and informed him that "undisciplined" Hizbullah members would be indicted.

What does "undisciplined" mean?

Nasrallah added that Hariri had assured him that he, too, was convinced Hezbollah as an organization had not been involved.

If that is true, it just goes to show that politics is thicker than blood - for Hezbollah is well known for its rigid hierarchy, iron discipline and involvement of senior officials in all decisions at the field level. That makes it highly unlikely that Hezbollah operatives would have been involved in such an incident without the senior leadership's knowledge.

But Hariri's political survival depends on Hezbollah's acquiescence, something evidently more important to him than his family honor. He may also have concluded that if he supports the international probe, he will share his father's fate - or, alternatively, that doing so could risk renewed civil war between Hezbollah and his own March 14 movement. In such a face-off, Hezbollah would certainly win. Thus Hariri hopes to resolve the problem by distinguishing between the operatives and the organization.

Apparently it's in Sa'ad Hariri's best interest to maintain the distinction. But why does Nasrallah fear indictments? Michael Young answers:

Indictments would throw Hizbullah's strategy into disarray. For a start, the party cannot maintain Lebanon's readiness for war if it chooses to go on the offensive domestically in order to pressure Hariri and the government into denouncing the special tribunal. Nasrallah would either have to opt for domestic instability, which would only divide the country, or avoid that path, so as to preserve some sort of united front against Israel. The secretary general could not do both.

That is why Nasrallah is now focused on rallying the Shiite community behind Hizbullah, by saying the tribunal is an Israeli weapon. No one else will buy that argument. But even the Shiites are not keen to see their villages turned into parking lots, especially on Iran's behalf. Nasrallah would have his work cut out for him in holding the ground psychologically and politically for a war with Israel if indictments are issued. Shiites would still be wary of war, understandably, while Sunnis would be looking for revenge against the party they believe murdered their late leader.

Young also explains what else the investigators need to do. Apparently, despite his powerful and ruthless masters, Nasrallah still has to maintain the fiction that he's independent and puts Lebanon's interests first. And while Syria and Iran are both masters of Hezbollah, they each have slightly different interests in how they manipulate Nasrallah.

Crossposted at Yourish.

Whatever happened to consent of the governed?

Posted: 23 Jul 2010 01:52 AM PDT

The editors of the Washington Post wrap up an editorial The public deserves a hearing for a Medicare appointee with:

Dr. Berwick, as we have said previously, comes to the job with impeccable qualifications and broad support, including that of three Republican predecessors at the CMS. But he has made numerous controversial statements about which Republicans ought to have been able to question him fully. It's unfortunate that Mr. Baucus and the administration seem disinclined to have that happen, and it lends credence to suggestions that the administration was motivated not only by the asserted need for speed but also by a desire to avoid a public debate about Dr. Berwick's views.

Which leads to:

Who is playing political games now?

In it's endorsement of candidate Obama, the editors of the Washington Post wrote:

But Mr. Obama's temperament is unlike anything we've seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view.

Of course there was never any evidence that Obama wanted to hear opposing points of view and now it's clear that he certainly doesn't want voters to hear them.

Continuing this disturbing line of thought is Charles Krauthammer with Beware the Lame Duck.

It's a target-rich environment. The only thing holding the Democrats back would be shame, a Washington commodity in chronically short supply. To pass in a lame-duck session major legislation so unpopular that Democrats had no chance of passing it in regular session -- after major Democratic losses signifying a withdrawal of the mandate implicitly granted in 2008 -- would be an egregious violation of elementary democratic norms.

Perhaps shame will constrain the Democrats. But that is not to be counted on. It didn't stop them from pushing through a health-care reform the public didn't want by means of "reconciliation" maneuvers and without a single Republican vote in either chamber -- something unprecedented in American history for a reform of such scope and magnitude.

As Krauthammer observed in the beginning of his article, President Obama (and his legislative majorities) have spent all their political capital passing sweeping changes in our economic life; even bypassing the usual norms to pass what they wanted. Now will they continue flouting the legislative ground rules to preserve and even expand the role of government that they've imposed on us?

Journolist can't fool half the people

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 11:51 PM PDT

via memeorandum

As the Daily Caller releases bits and pieces of the Journalist-archives, it's interesting to see which issues were of concern to the 'listers. One of yesterday's articles focused on the 'lister's interest in framing the narrative of the selection of Gov. Sarah Palin as Sen. John McCain's running mate.

But in many other exchanges, the Journolisters clearly had another, more partisan goal in mind: to formulate the most effective talking points in order to defeat Palin and McCain and help elect Barack Obama president. The tone was more campaign headquarters than newsroom.

Indeed Palin's selection was the biggest story that day two years ago. As soon as it broke, it pushed candidate Obama's acceptance speech out of the top spot of memeorandum.

What's interesting though, is a news item I found a week later:

Meanwhile, 51% of those surveyed thought the press was "trying to hurt" Mrs. Palin with its coverage.

Perhaps most troubling for the press corps, though, was this finding: "55% said media bias is a bigger problem for the electoral process than large campaign donations."

I don't know to what degree the Journolisters drove the coverage of Palin - in those memeorandum screen shots, I didn't see any any obvious Journolist names - or if their coverage of her was symptomatic of the pervasive bias in the MSM. I don't know if the Daily Caller's reporting constitutes a smoking gun or a confirmation of something at least half the country knew to be true.

Should I be more upset that the 'listers tried to frame a narrative that was damaging to Palin (and McCain) or that their effort couldn't be differentiated from "straight" reporting.

Note: I've made a few changes from my original post for added clarity.

Submitted 07/23/10

Posted: 22 Jul 2010 10:07 PM PDT

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