Wednesday, November 20, 2013

The War Against Achievement. By Thomas Sowell.

The War Against Achievement. By Thomas Sowell. Real Clear Politics, November 19, 2013. Also at National Review Online.

A Very Dangerous Game. By Thomas Sowell. National Review Online, November 20, 2013.

NYT: Obamacare Debacle Could Kill Big Blue. By Walter Russell Mead.

NYT: Obamacare Debacle Could Kill Big Blue. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, November 20, 2013.

The Obamacare Crisis. By Thomas B. Edsall. New York Times, November 19, 2013.

No, Obamacare Isn’t an Existential Threat to Liberalism. By Sean Trende. Real Clear Politics, November 20, 2013.

Israel, the Palestinians, and Decency. By Jonathan S. Tobin.

Israel, the Palestinians, and Decency. By Jonathan S. Tobin. Commentary, November 19, 2013.


Blaming Israel appears to be in fashion these days. During his most recent trip to the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry made it clear that he blamed Israel for the continuation of the conflict with the Palestinians without so much as a mention about the latter’s ongoing refusal to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn. That trend extends even to the discussion about negotiations with Iran as the administration is making it clear that it is more worried about Israel’s position on the nuclear threat than it is about Tehran’s deceptive diplomacy, a position that many of Kerry’s cheerleaders in the media (like Fareed Zakaria of Time Magazine and CNN) is picking up. But three stories that managed not to make it into the New York Times and other major international media outlets give you a better sense of the nature of the conflict than any of those involving Kerry or the back and forth between Washington and Jerusalem.
First, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas, the blameless side of the peace talks according to Kerry, did not just welcome the terrorists freed by Israel as part of the price paid to get the PA to come back to the peace table as heroes. It now turns out that every one of these murderers was given at least $50,000 as well as a government salary and jobs.
As the Times of Israel reports:
Issa Abd Rabbo, the most veteran of the prisoners released, received a $60,000 bonus, with the PA reportedly also offering to foot the bill for a wedding should he choose to marry. He was convicted of murdering two Israeli hikers south of Jerusalem in 1984, after tying them up at gunpoint and placing bags over their heads.
Elsewhere, Palestine Media Watch reports that the Palestinian who murdered an Israeli soldier in September had used PA TV to send a cryptic message to a brother, jailed by Israel for terrorist activities, informing him that a plan to kidnap a soldier and ransom the body for his release would soon be launched. Though the plot to use the dead body of the Israeli was foiled, the killer had used a popular official PA TV program devoted to honoring imprisoned terrorists to alert the brother to the plot.
These two stories tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the nature of the Palestinian Authority. Though Kerry continues to act as if the PA is a non-violent and well-intentioned peace partner for Israel, it remains committed to perpetuating the conflict and fomenting hatred against Israel and the Jews.
But the same week that the Palestinians were celebrating terror, Israel was once again proving its humane values:
The granddaughter of Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh was evacuated to an Israeli hospital in critical condition Sunday afternoon, but was returned to her family in Gaza Monday after her condition was deemed incurable, an Israeli military spokesman said Monday. Aamal Haniyeh, 1, was suffering from severe inflammation of the gastrointestinal system affecting her nervous system, doctors in Gaza said, according to the Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.
In case you were wondering, this was the same Ismail Haniyeh who used the anniversary of the Gilad Shalit ransom deal last month to call for more “armed struggle against Israel” and has repeatedly vowed never to recognize Israel and to continue to work to destroy it. It comes as no surprise that no mention of the younger Haniyeh’s hospitalization was reported by Hamas media sources in Gaza.
That Israel would offer medical aid to the relative of a man who is actively working to kill Jews and destroy their state doesn’t make it perfect or above scrutiny. But it shows that despite the drumbeat of incitement against it throughout the world, Israel’s government and its institutions remain committed to decency in its interactions even with its most bitter foes. These are just three items amid hundreds that happen every year that tell much the same story. The so-called moderates of the Palestinian Authority are honoring terrorists and using their media to promote terror. But somehow it is only Israel that is singled out for pressure by the United States. Irrespective of what you may think about settlements or where Israel’s borders should be, these stories illustrate the vast cultural gulf that exists between the Jewish state and those who lead their Palestinian neighbors. Anyone who ignores this element of the Middle East conflict knows nothing about what the real obstacles to peace are.

Arab Netizens Pay a Visit to Algeria’s Police State. By Mohamed El Dahshan.

Arab Netizens Pay a Visit to Algeria’s Police State. By Mohamed El Dahshan. Foreign Policy, November 20, 2013. Also here.

Historian Allen Guelzo: Americans Don’t Understand the Meaning Behind the Gettysburg Address. By Daniel Wiser.

Historian: Americans Don’t Understand Meaning Behind Gettysburg Address. By Daniel Wiser. Washington Free Beacon, November 2, 2013.


Guelzo said Lincoln was “a man of no verbal wastage,” providing the thousands gathered at the dedication with a past, present, and future vision of America. The Founding Fathers “brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty” in 1776; the present crowd assembled to honor those “who here gave their lives that that nation might live”; and Lincoln urged the attendees to “highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain.”
The last part, given the historical context of the speech, is the most important, Guelzo said.
“We do not see Lincoln’s subject, the survival of democracy, as Lincoln saw it,” he said. “For Lincoln, democracy was an isolated and beleaguered island in a world dominated by monarchies and tyrants.”
Lincoln studied the terror of the French Revolution and the military dictatorship of Napoleon, followed by the 19th century revolutions across Europe that were “crushed and subverted by nascent monarchies and romantic philosophers,” Guelzo said. Democratic government “lay discredited and disgraced,” he added.
Guelzo noted a comment from the time period by Otto von Bismarck, the Prussian ruler who rose to power after Germany’s failed 1848 revolution.
“When you have governed men for several years, you will become a Monarchist,” Bismarck said. “Believe me, one cannot lead or bring to prosperity a great nation without the principle of authority—that is, the Monarchy.”
Lincoln was determined to prevent the same fate from befalling the United States, Guelzo said.
“The greatness we have not suspected in the [Gettysburg] address lies in its humility, its reminder that the question of democratic survival rested ultimately in the hands, not of czars, but in those of citizens who saw something in democracy worth dying for,” he said, adding that this meaning is not well understood by modern government officials or at “Georgetown cocktail parties.”
“What we got from Lincoln was that reminder. We could use it again today.”

America’s New Birth of Freedom: The 150thAnniversary of the Gettysburg Address. By Allen C. Guelzo. Video. A Russell Kirk Lecture. The Heritage Foundation, November 1, 2013. YouTube.

Israel’s Vitality and Vulnerability. By Peter Berkowitz.

Israel’s Vitality and Vulnerability. By Peter Berkowitz. Real Clear Books, November 18, 2013.


An engaged citizenry is demanding that government ease the harshness of economic privatization and deal with sclerotic remnants of the original socialist economy. The left has not adequately reckoned with the collapse of the 1993 Oslo peace accords, failing to see that its critique of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, no matter how morally sensitive, does not imply that the Palestinians are willing or able to make peace.