Or Did She?

Amazing.

As I type this, the AP is reporting here that Caroline Kennedy has not withdrawn her name for consideration at the same time that the New York Times is reporting here that she has withdrawn. And both stories have been posted in the last hour.

Whatever the outcome, this is a total circus and a national embarassment. Blame our accidental governor.

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Kennedy Withdraws (?)

Perhaps she realized that being a Senator is a real job – something she’s never had – or perhaps she realized that the position requires, you know, public speaking.

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The Missing Words

The biggest reason I did not vote for Barack Obama was my concern that he, like so many others, just doesn’t get it on terrorism, by failing to grasp the total and undeniable link between terrorism and Islam. You can’t deal with a problem if you are in total denial about its origin.

For that reason, I drew no comfort at all from President Obama’s fleeting references to terrorism in his speech yesterday. Here is what he said:

Our nation is at war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred…And for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that, “Our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken. You cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you”…To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect.

Granted, in an inaugural address you expect lofty rhetoric and not specific descriptions of policies or of particular enemies. But I would have felt a lot more comfortable if he had been willing to say “a far reaching network of Islamic extremists who perpetuate violence and hatred.” At some point he is going to have to give up the political correctness and face reality– unfortunately he is likely to learn this reality the hard way.

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A Decent Man Who Deserved Better

Here is what top adviser Mark McKinnon had to say about (now former) President Bush’s view of President Obama:

I think I can fairly report that he feels a genuine warmth for President Obama. He admires his sense of family, his relaxed and easygoing nature, and his character. He has gotten to know him during this transition period and he has a pretty good gut for people. His gut tells him Obama has what it takes to be a successful leader. Not yet tested. Not yet proved he is willing to make difficult and unpopular decisions. But the potential is clearly there.

Norman Orenstein, no Bush fan himself, adds this:

Beginning well before the election, President Bush and his chief of staff, Josh Bolten, decided to make this transition different by removing many of the usual obstacles and fostering cooperation and harmony.

What a stunning contrast between the way President Bush treated his adversaries and the way they have treated him.

Classless to the end, many of the Obama fans at yesterday’s inauguration booed and shouted obscenities when the outgoing President was introduced. I wasn’t surprised.

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Blagojevich 1, Reid 0

Clearly Rod Blagojevich got the best of Harry Reid in the Battle of Burris.

As distasteful as it appears, Blagojevich of course had every right to pick whomever he wanted to fill the Obama seat. He’s still the governor, and the law in Illinois says the governor gets to fill any Senate vacancy. End of story. Blame the people of Illinois for electing a crook. Or blame them for enacting a law which gives the governor the power to fill the seat (a handful of states call for a special election to fill such vacancies).

Harry Reid had said after the Blagojevich arrest that no Blago appointee would ever be accepted by the Senate. I wonder if Reid consulted an attorney before making that claim. I doubt it.

And Reid is as nasty and partisan as they come. Although he did not want Blagojevich to make an appointment, he also let it be known that he opposed a special election. Why? Pure partisanship- Reid knew there was a chance (though a slim one) that a Republican might win the seat.

While Burris apparently is considered a lightweight and an egomaniac, he certainly has the qualifications to serve in the Senate. It’s not like he’s an incoherent child of privilege who’s never even held a real job.

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Bail, Madoff, and the Law of Return

One of the most commonly misunderstood aspects of criminal law is the purpose of setting bail in criminal cases. The purpose of requiring bail money is to ensure that the accused comes back to court. Period. It is not meant to be punitive. The defendant who has posted his money (or home, or stock, or some other thing of value) has an incentive to return for future court appearances, lest he lose the money if he skips town. And no matter how horrific the alleged crime, the defendant who has posted bail (in the amount deemed appropriate by the court) has every right to remain at liberty- you know, that whole presumption of innocence thang.

Among those who don’t seem to understand this is CNN’s Campbell Brown, who complains here that Bernard Madoff’s bail should be revoked, basically because he is a bad guy. While there may well be valid reasons for revoking Madoff’s bail- such as violating the conditions previously set by the court – Brown is clearly clueless in making this argument:

Letting him serve his time at home for this long has been bad enough. To let him live in his luxury digs while he awaits trial would be a disgrace.

“Serve his time”? Is she unaware that at this point he has not been convicted of a crime?

One thing a court may consider in setting bail is how easy it would be for the defendant to flee the jurisdiction. Which brings me to a very interesting case currently pending in Iowa. Rabbi Aaron Rubashkin was the head of AgriProcessors, the largest kosher meatpacking plant in America. However, Rubashkin was arrested earlier this year after an immigration raid revealed hundreds of illegal and underage workers were employed at the plant. He also faces bank fraud charges.

At a hearing in November, Rubashkin was denied the chance to post bail after, among other arguments, the prosecutor argued that Rubashkin was a flight risk on the grounds that since Rubashkin is Jewish, he has the right under the Law of Return to seek citizenship in Israel. Taken to its logical end, this would mean no Jewish defendant should ever have the chance to post bail. Again, as with Madoff there may well be other valid reasons to deny Rubashkin bail. Yet at least according to this article, the judge cited this as one of the reasons for keeping Rubashkin locked up.

Troubling.

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File This Under “Duh”

A new study by the New York City Department of Health shows that those who engage in binge drinking are more likely to have sex, and also more likely to get an STD. Shocker.

The sad part is that our tax dollars were used to make this “discovery.”

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Change I Believe In

This probably won’t come as a surprise to Israelis, but I feel it is worth noting because it has received little coverage in the United States: While much of the world predictably condemns Israel, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has voiced her strong support for Israel’s military action, as described here by the Jerusalem Post:

Merkel placed the blame for Israel’s military operation squarely on Hamas’s rocket attacks and stressed that Israel has the right to defend its territory and citizens. “The terror of Hamas cannot be accepted,” said Merkel in her New Year’s address. According to her spokesman Thomas Steg on Monday, she said in a conversation with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that the responsibility for the conflict lies “clearly and exclusively” with Hamas. Merkel demanded that Hamas “immediately and permanently” stop its rocket attacks on Israel.

The article goes on to explain that Merkel has been fiercely attacked by the German left for supporting Israel.

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Israeli Soldiers’ Hats

Every time I see photos (like this one) of Israeli soldiers going into battle…

israeli soldier helmets

…I can’t help but asking a very trivial question- what is that helmet-cover, the thing which looks like a chef’s hat (or oversized shower cap)?

Well, according to this article in Slate, it’s called a mitznefet, and is used to camouflage the helmet, making its appearance less distinctive and noticeable. Now you know.

As for more substantive thoughts about the current situation, Charles Krauthammer nails it as usual.

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Palestinian Split?

Well this is interesting. The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, whose blogging on Israel I always enjoy, notes this development:

I’ve been talking to friends of mine, former Palestinian Authority intelligence officials (ejected from power by the Hamas coup), and they tell me that not only are they rooting for the Israelis to decimate Hamas, but that Fatah has actually been assisting the Israelis with targeting information.

For a brief lesson on the recent history of Gaza, and why the current violence is solely attributable to Hamas, I refer you to this column from Ephraim Sneh, chairman of the Israeli political party Yisrael Hazakah (Strong Israel).

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Unequivocal

While the rest of the world predictably condemns Israel for its supposedly “disproportionate” response in Gaza, here is the White House statement:

Hamas has once again shown its true colors as a terrorist organization that refuses to even recognize Israel’s right to exist. In order for the violence to stop, Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel and agree to respect a sustainable and durable cease-fire.

This from a President who is about to leave office, and who received minimal support from the Jewish community.

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Apologies, Please

For months, Andrew Sullivan and a host of other conspiracy theorists questioned whether Sarah Palin was really the mother of baby Trig, suggesting instead that she was covering up for the “real mother”, her daughter Bristol. Yes, some of the same people who call for more “civility” in our political discussions, and ask that campaigns be more “issue-oriented”, were engaging in this sort of disgusting and baseless insinuation.
Well now that Bristol has had a healthy 7-pound baby — just seven months after Trig’s birth, thereby rendering it impossible for Bristol to have given birth to Trig– I wonder if Sullivan et al will admit they were wrong, and apologize. Doubtful.

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At Least She’s Articulate

We know she has zero political experience. But Caroline Kennedy apparently couldn’t pass a high school debating class. Talking about New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, she offfered this gem:

“You know, I think, you know, we’re sort of, uh, sharing some of this experience. And um, as I’ve said, he was a friend, a family member, and um so, and uh obviously, he’s, you know, he’s also had an impressive career in public office.”

This was hardly an isolated moment- according to Politico.com, she managed to use the phrase “you know” 138 times during her interview with the New York Times. The folks at Gawker suggest she hire a vocal coach.

I have two thoughts on this. First, imagine how hard the media would have pounced if Sarah Palin sounded this idiotic.

My second observation is this: critics have always assumed that George W. Bush owed his Yale and Harvard degrees to his family connections. Judging from Ms. Kennedy’s inability to string together a sentence, can we now make the same assumptions about her?

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She’s A Joke

One would expect the New York Times to be a sympathetic outlet for Caroline Kennedy’s “candidacy”. Guess again. This article paints her as utterly clueless.

But the best part by far is when she insults the reporters:

But when asked Saturday morning to describe the moment she decided to seek the Senate seat, Ms. Kennedy seemed irritated by the question and said she couldn’t recall. “Have you guys ever thought about writing for, like, a woman’s magazine or something?” she asked the reporters. “I thought you were the crack political team.”

Smart move.

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Ouch!

“If [Hillary Clinton] gets a race against John Edwards and Barack Obama, she’s going to be the nominee. Gore is the only threat to her, then. … Barack Obama is not going to beat Hillary Clinton in a single Democratic primary. I’ll predict that right now.” —William Kristol, Fox News Sunday, Dec. 17, 2006

Oh my. To read this, and other amazing examples of poor foresight, check out the “10 Worst Predictions” here at Foreign Policy magazine.

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