Monday, August 30, 2010

Soccer Dad

Soccer Dad

Is Obama More Like Netanyahu--Or Abbas?

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 08:58 AM PDT

The real problem undermining the Mideast peace talks, Abbas's lack of a mandate, results in a situation where Abbas is a man in exile, even among his own:

All Palestinian political factions, bar one, have denounced the direct talks, some in harsher language than others.

Only Fatah, Mr Abbas's own group, supports direct talks. Even among its members, though, there are plenty of disapproving voices.

Ordinary Palestinians, as well as the political factions, feel they have little influence on the Palestinian leadership's decisions. The Palestinian polity is broken. There is no functioning parliament. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are divided under the leaderships of rival factions. The PA government under Salam Fayyad was appointed by presidential decree and elections - presidential, parliamentary and municipal - have all been postponed indefinitely.

Even the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), which is chaired by Mr Abbas and represents Palestinian interests in international forums, including negotiations with Israel, was not properly consulted about the decision to go to direct talks. The US invitation to the talks was accepted, without a quorum as normally required by the PLO's rules, at an emergency meeting of its executive committee.

Speaking of mandates, when you compare Obama, Abbas and Netanyahu, you come up with the following comparison:

  • Obama was elected, but no longer has a mandate for his policies.
  • Abbas has failed to call for elections, so he has neither been re-elected nor has a mandate
  • Netanyahu is still serving his term in office and has Israel behind him.

And in some ways, Obama is more like Abbas than like Netanyahu.

by Daled Amos

Welcome, mr brisbane

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 05:48 AM PDT

The New York Times has a new public editor. I am skeptical of this position. In most newspapers the public editor or ombudsman has the job of explaining why the common folk don't understand the wisdom of the news gatherers. While I wish Arthur Brisbane success is his new job, this paragraph in his introduction bugged me.

"We have a substantial infrastructure for responding to public complaints. Greg Brock [senior editor/standards], Phil Corbett [associate managing editor for standards] and Bill Schmidt [deputy managing editor] all spend at least a portion of their time dealing with issues of balance, fairness, accuracy and taste raised by the public. Some cases get passed up to me or Jill [Abramson, managing editor], or to our legal counsel. We publish corrections and editor's notes, and try hard not to be overly defensive when our work is challenged.

Jill Abramson.... where have I heard that name before. Ah yes. A column by Mr. Brisbane's predecessor, Clark Hoyt.

I asked Jill Abramson, the managing editor for news, if The Times could have done the story and left out the allegation about an affair. "That would not have reflected the essential truth of why the aides were alarmed," she said.

But what the aides believed might not have been the real truth. And if you cannot provide readers with some independent evidence, I think it is wrong to report the suppositions or concerns of anonymous aides about whether the boss is getting into the wrong bed.

The story in question was one which publicized unfounded allegations about an affair between Sen. John McCain and a lobbyist, Vicki Iseman. This was one of the strongest rebukes Mr. Hoyt issued in his time as public editor. And Jill Abramson is someone whom the new public editor describes as be part of his team in responding to public complaints. Given the atrocious judgment Abramson displayed in the journalistic hit on Sen. McCain, I hope that Brisbane will make sure that her role in handling public complaints isn't too significant.

No public editor will make me happy. The corruption of the Times integrity is too great.
The best Mr. Brisbane can do is to be like the first public editor of the Times, Daniel Okrent, and acknowledge the built-in bias of the paper instead of trying to justify it. At least that way he'll maintain some integrity.

Council speak 08/30/10

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 05:46 AM PDT

The Watcher's Council has spoken. Here are this week's winning submissions!

Council Winners

Non - Council Winners

The "cbm" maneuver

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 04:51 AM PDT

Helene Cooper contributes a perfectly predictable Early Obstacle at Start of Mideast Talks, to the discussion of peace talks in the Middle East.

President Obama will begin his one-year effort to achieve Middle East peace on Wednesday, joining a long list of his predecessors who have tried to achieve a comprehensive peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

But unlike the presidents before him, Mr. Obama will know within three weeks whether the two sides are serious this time about reaching a deal.

Really? I would have thought that he already knows that. For one thing Barry Rubin pointed out:

It is amusing to see articles claiming that this is a victory for the Obama Administration. If the U.S. government had been doing such a good job it would have been able to announce the resumption of elections in April 2009, after the visit of Abbas to Washington. The president did indeed announce the resumption of negotiations in September 2009 and nothing has happened in a year.

Moreover, it is amusing to read accounts of the resumption of talks without any mention of the fact that the sole reason it has taken so long has been the PA's resistance to negotiations.

Cooper doesn't claim that the upcoming talks will be a victory for the administration, but she hypes the idea that there will be clarity. But she doesn't acknowledge that the delay in the resumption of talks was due to a calculated fit of pique by Mahmoud Abbas, who wouldn't even go back to the negotiating table after Netanyahu agreed to a freeze on building Jewish communiites in Judea and Samaria. I would think that alone shows who's unserious.

Yet Cooper casts things like this:

Mr. Obama, administration officials said, will call on the four leaders to do all they can to settle, within a year, the final status issues: the fate of Jerusalem, the borders of a Palestinian state, the right of return for Palestinian refugees who fled their homes and the issue of Israeli security.

But on Sept. 26, Israel's 10-month moratorium on settlement construction will expire. Mr. Netanyahu appears unlikely to extend it, Israeli and American officials said. And Mr. Abbas has said that he will withdraw from negotiations if settlement activity resumes.

In other words, she has Israel up for failure. A failure to resume the freeze will lead to a collapse of the talks.

According to Ha'aretz it does not seem that Netanyahu is likely to extend it. (via memeorandum).

So what to do?

Those officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the talks, said that discussions were under way on a number of possible solutions. They include trying to get a promise from Mr. Netanyahu that Israel will exercise restraint in settlement construction, perhaps allowing construction only within existing West Bank settlement blocks, but no housing starts beyond those blocks.

Such a plan could also include early "confidence building" concessions from Israel on a few additional issues of concern to the Palestinians, officials said, including agreeing to limit Israeli Army incursions into Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank, and transferring key areas in the West Bank to Palestinian control before a final agreement is reached.

Of course! It always works, Israeli "confidence building measures." It's amazing how often we hear about "Israeli confidence building measures." (From now on "cbm" for short.) If Israel won't sweeten their offer, the Palestinians will be within their rights to walk away. Of course this failure for Israel to toss out new cbm's will be regarded as a sign of Israel's intransigence.

Did Israel withdraw from Gaza? From most of Hevron? From most of Judea and Samaria? Did Israel regard the PLO as a partner for peace even when the PLO was disregarding every single commitment it made? Does the PA/PLO still engage in incitement against Israel? Do its leaders still deny the legitimacy of Israel as a Jewish state?

I can see why we need more Israeli cbm's. The peace process is so one-sided in Israel's favor, why would the Palestinians participate? Oh wait, they want a state of their own? If their own state is so important why don't they just make a deal? Or is it simply more important to wring concessions out of Israel in exchange for nothing?

So while Israel is introducing Arabic as a second language in many of its schools, the PA continues to deny Israel's history.

I can see why cbm's are needed. And I'm not surprised that the New York Times insists they're needed, where they really aren't.

Crossposted on Yourish.

Abuminah's abominable op-ed

Posted: 30 Aug 2010 04:51 AM PDT

Ali Abuminah, the founder of the anti-Israel website, Electronic Intifada, has been given op-ed space in the New York Times. In that space he has written the highly misleading, Hamas, the I.R.A. and Us. I will have to disagree with some of my allies, as this is not the lowest the New York Times has sunk; the Times has given op-ed space to an actual member of Hamas, not just one of its sympathizers. (via memeorandum)

Abuminah writes:

Mr. Mitchell's comparison is misleading at best. Success in the Irish talks was the result not just of determination and time, but also a very different United States approach to diplomacy.

The conflict in Northern Ireland had been intractable for decades. Unionists backed by the British government saw any political compromise with Irish nationalists as a danger, one that would lead to a united Ireland in which a Catholic majority would dominate minority Protestant unionists. The British government also refused to deal with the Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein, despite its significant electoral mandate, because of its close ties to the Irish Republican Army, which had carried out violent acts in the United Kingdom.

A parallel can be seen with the American refusal to speak to the Palestinian party Hamas, which decisively won elections in the West Bank and Gaza in 2006. Asked what role Hamas would have in the renewed talks, Mr. Mitchell answered with one word: "None." No serious analyst believes that peace can be made between Palestinians and Israelis without Hamas on board, any more than could have been the case in Northern Ireland without Sinn Fein and the I.R.A.

This is the heart of his specious claim: Hamas is just like the IRA and just like the IRA was convinced to make peace by being engaged instead of shunned, so too Hamas must be engaged in order to make peace in the Middle East.

Well for this analysis to hold, for one thing, Hamas and the I.R.A. ought to be comparable. They're not.

All these contrasts come back to the one major difference between the IRA and Hamas -- religion. For the Irish, religion is not rooted in all facets of life as it is in with Israelis and Palestinians. Religion in Northern Ireland is understood as a cultural and historical force, while in the Middle East it ties Israelis and Palestinians to the same land. Furthermore, Hamas being a religious organization claims religious justifications for attempting to wipe out Israel. This factor is what differentiates the two groups and will ultimately prove how futile Hamas' reform efforts are.

Z-Word lays out how the concession to Gerry Addams would translate into terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict:

The concession of the visa to Adams, for a trip which involved nothing more than glad handing Irish American supporters of the Provisional Republican movement, may well have improved the mood of certain sectors of Sinn Féin - IRA with regard to calling a ceasefire. If the concession of US visa to Ismail Haniye for a trip that would allow him some tea drinking and back slapping with Arab American supporters were likely to lead to a complete Hamas ceasefire leading to something like a Good Friday deal between Israel and Hamas, I'd be all for it.

Let's just remind ourselves what Sinn Féin - IRA settled for in the Good Friday Agreement. They recognized Northern as an integral part of the UK, decommissioned their weapons and dissolved the military structure of the IRA. In return they got the early release of their prisoners (on license, any return to violence by the main Provisional Republican movement and they'll be straight back in the can), some policing reforms, a couple of cross border talking shops and an autonomous local assembly.

I'll try to translate that into the situation of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Hamas accepts that the West Bank and Gaza (why not?) form part of Greater Israel, a Jewish state. Hamas abandons the armed struggle and hands over its weapons to UN monitors. Israel sets up an autonomous Palestine parliament to rule the territories. As well as representative to that assembly Palestinians also get to elect some members to take care of their interests in the Knesset. In return, Israel releases Hamas's prisoners on parole, guarantees that a larger percentage of Magav recruits will be Arabs and promises to make greater efforts to promote the Arabic language and Arab culture in Israel.

Abuminah argues that John Hume - a negotiator of the peace accord for Northern Ireland - wrote an op-ed advocating for Israeli recognition of Hamas. However, that isn't the unanimous position of all those involved. David Trimble, also Nobel Lauereate for his efforts wrote:

If there is one lesson to learn from the Northern Ireland experience, it is that preconditions are crucial in ending violence and producing a settlement. Being overgenerous to extremist groups is like giving sweets to a spoilt child in the hope that it will improve its behaviour - it usually results in worse actions. Our experience suggests that while some flexibility is desirable, there have to be clear principles and boundaries. A failure to recognise this risks drawing the wrong conclusions from the recent history of Northern Ireland and fundamentally misunderstanding the peace process.

This is also the view of former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw (h/t Daled Amos):

Could I just add one thing to that, if I may? Of course, negotiation is far, far better -- infinitely better -- than military action. As far as Northern Ireland is concerned, we welcome hugely the progress that has been made following the Good Friday Agreement. It also has to be said that before that happened, there had to be a change of approach by those who saw terrorism as the answer. And that approach partly changed because of the firmness of the military and police response to that terrorism. And if there had not been that firm response by successive British governments and others to the terrorist threat that was posed on both sides, we would not have been able to get some of those people into negotiations. We would not be marking what is a satisfactory day in the history of Northern Ireland today.

Fresno Zionism attacks Abuminah's claim of the sanctity of the Palestinian right of return.

You must give Abumimah and his friends credit for chutzpah: first, they invent a 'right' -- the repatriation of the descendants of refugees from a war that their own leaders caused -- that has never existed in history, then they breed a whole population in misery for years to make a demographic weapon of mass destruction out of them, and finally they demand that they be allowed to use it to end the Jewish state. What will remain for them to 'recognize'?

Naturally, he believes that the reason the US was tough on the British but will not get tough on Israel is the nefarious Jewish (OK, he says 'Israel') Lobby. Hamas knew about the Jewish Lobby all along.

Balfour Street makes a similar argument.

Elder of Ziyon gets to the heart of the matter with a single rhetorical question:

So according to Abunimah, for Israel to ask its negotiating partners to not demand its violent destruction is "unworkable"?

Crossposted on Yourish.

Musical monday #156

Posted: 29 Aug 2010 02:51 PM PDT

Welcome to Musical Monday a weekly feature that Elie and I alternate hosting - sometimes getting a little help from our friends. Though Yitz figured out the theme, there are still plenty of songs to be ID'd from Musical Monday #155.

1) I can make it longer if you like the style,
2) The roller-coaster ride we took is nearly at an end
3) You'll find that it's stranger than known
4) Well I feel like dirty laundry
5) I find bliss in ignorance, nothing seems to go away
6) Jimmy's got it wired, law's for hire
7) You make every man feel like a child, oh
8) I see no sense in this crying and grieving
9) I don't know why sometimes I get frightened
10) Well don't you know I'm gonna skate
11) I got six hundred miles to ride, to do one more show, oh no
12) So bring your good times, and your laughter too
13) Commit your crime in your deadly time
14) They're climbing up my waterfalls and swingin' on my vines
15) Shake it, shake it like a Polaroid Picture, shake it, shake it
16) Well, I talk about it, talk about it ...
17) It's the sound of my tears falling or is it the rain?
18) Well meet me baby down at 45th street
19) And have a seat on the same old bench, to watch the children play (huh)
20) At five o'clock it's much too crowded
21) I'm not the reason that you go stranded
22) The clothes you're wearing lately causing public scenes.
23) The neon light's on me tonight
24) Should we proclaim with such persistence
25) seesaw swingin' with the boys in the school

Congratulations to SJ, Yitz, and Clayton for solving Musical Monday #154. In case you're interested here's the backstory for Days of the Future Passed.

Other than the instrumentals, (Also Sprach Zarathrusta, A fifth of Beethoven) I knew about The Lover's Concerto, All By Myself and Could it be Magic.
I'm sure I'd heard Rap City. Thanks to TRN for help in providing the clues.
(Especially the Ludwig one!)

I was unfamiliar with Green Day's Basket Case, but when I saw that it was based on Canon by Pachelbel - my favorite piece of classical music, well I could quite believe it.
The similarity is explained here.

Do you hear a similarity? :-)

1) The gleam in your eyes is so familiar a gleam
* (1959) "Once Upon a Dream" in the Disney movie Sleeping Beauty - based upon a waltz in Tchaikovsky's ballet Sleeping Beauty.
2) My heart was captured, my soul surrendered
* (1960) "It's Now Or Never" by Elvis Presley - based on O Sole Mio by di Capua.
3) "" (1962) Give Tchaikovsky the blues? Not Cracker.
* (1962) "Nut Rocker" by B. Bumble and the Stingers - based on Tchaikovsky's "March of the Wooden Soldiers" from the Nutcracker Suite
4) So he reads to us from something called Ulysses
* (1963) "Hello Mudduh, Hello Fadduh! (A Letter From Camp)" by Allan Sherman - based on Ponchielli's "Dance of the Hours" from La Gioconda
5) "" (1964) Not exactly rhapsody.
* (1964) "Rap City" by The Ventures - based on Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5 in G minor
6) How gentle is the rain
* (1965) "A Lover's Concerto" by The Toys - based on J.S. Bach's Minuet in G from the Anna Magdalena Notebook.
7) The past is filled with silent joys and broken toys, laughing girls and teasing boys,
* (1966) "Past, Present and Future" by The Shangri-Las - based on Ludwig van Beethoven's Piano sonata No. 14, "Moonlight"
8) I was feeling kind of seasick
* (1967) "A Whiter Shade Of Pale" by Procol Harum - (loosely) based on J.S. Bach's Orchestral Suite No. 3, Air (commonly known as Air on a G String) and Cantata 140 "Sleepers Awake".
9) Tales of mystic days of old are hidden in these walls
* (1968) "Hall of the Mountain King" by The Who - inspired by Edvard Grieg's Peer Gynt Suite
10) Don't know what I'm gonna do another week in telephoning...
* (1968) "Prelude B - I'm so Glad" by Deep Purple on Shades of Deep Purple - nicely lifted from Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade: The Sea and Sinbad's Ship,
11) One mighty voice that will bring a sound, that will ring forevermore.
* (1970) "A Song of Joy" by Waldo De Los Rios for Miguel Rios - based on Beethoven's Ninth Symphony
12) "" (1972) The monkey bone's connected to the spaceship
* (1972) "Also Sprach Zarathustra" [i] by Deodato - a funk arrangement of Richard Strauss' composition of the same name
13) I carry the dust of a journey
* The Sage from (1972) "Pictures at an Exhibition" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer - entire album based on the work by Modest Mussorgsky
14) Every garden grows one
* (1972) "Song Sung Blue" by Neil Diamond - based on Mozart's "Piano Concerto No. 21", second movement
15) I bring time, and I can take you through
* (1973) "Joybringer" by Manfred Mann's Earth Band - based on "Jupiter - bringer of jollity" from Gustav Holst's The Planets suite
16) Like the mountains in springtime, like a walk in the rain
* (1974) "Annie's Song" by John Denver - based on Peter Tchaikovsky Symphony No. 5, second movement
17) Sweet Melissa,
* (1975) "Could It Be Magic" by Barry Manilow - quotes extensively from Chopin's Prelude in C minor
18) "" (1975) Trumpet blasts for average guys.
* (1975) "Fanfare for the Common Man" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer - based on Aaron Copland's work of the same name.
19) When I dial the telephone nobody's home
* (1976) "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen - based on Sergei Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2
20) "" (1976) 750 mL of Ludwig
* (1976) "A Fifth of Beethoven" [i] by Walter Murphy - disco version of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, featured in Saturday Night Fever
21) Cause I couldn't bear to see it end, just like me and you
* (1976) "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" by Eric Carmen - based on Rachmaninoff's Second Symphony
22) Just got back from the downtown palais
* (1977) "Rockaria" by The Electric Light Orchestra - based on "Un Bel Di" from Puccini's "Madame Butterfly"
23) Neurotic to the bone
* (1994) "Basket Case" by Green Day - based on Johann Pachelbel's Canon in D Major
24) Youre the love of my life and the breath in my prayers
* (1999) "Love of my Life" from Supernatural by Santana and Dave Matthews - based on the third movement from Johannes Brahms's Symphony No. 3


No comments: