Thursday, November 29, 2012

Televise the Bengasi hearings

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill on 11/29/12

Those too young to have been there might have caught the clip on YouTube. The final scene in the Monty Python classic, Holy Grail, where the mad peasants are being dragged away by the hair by London bobbies. They take advantage of the moment to shout at the TV cameras, “Look! The violence inherent in the system!” It was classic strategy of the trained apparatchik of the day to use the moment to politicize a greater purpose. In time things improved. Watergate maybe cleared the air and people for awhile began to talk straight again. But this is what we are seeing again with Susan Rice on Capitol Hill.

The use of violence at Bengasi was instantaneously utilized for a greater and broader political (propaganda) objective. The troubling thing here is that what they keep calling the “talking points” connecting the violent acts to the greater (propaganda) purpose were passed along by an American diplomat and United States Ambassador to the United Nations to five TV stations and to other media. As they are saying, they appear to have originated elsewhere; the state department, the CIA, perhaps the Obama administration. But troubling is maybe the wrong word: Horrifying is potentially the right word. Because the propagandized press “spinning” the violence was of course what was fully intended by the purveyors of the violence which we know now was related to Al Qaeda.

The bewilderment of northern New England’s rock solid senators, Kelly Ayotte and Susan Collins, coming forth from hearings to give America its first briefings had a haunting quality; a remembrance of things past. Those old enough might recall Watergate. We have seen that bewilderment before with the folkloric North Carolina venerable Senator Sam Ervin and his trusty Tennessee colleague Howard Baker, both honorable to a core, making the case then at Watergate that something was not quite right. Same here. And Americans need to know what. These hearings should be expanded and televised until we get to the bottom of it.

Friday, November 23, 2012

"Hama's Gaza Victory": Did Netanyahu capitulate?

Headline from the Wall Street Journal editorial on Fraday: “Hama’s Gaza Victory.” And their lead sentence: “The cease-fire leaves the terror group intact and politically stronger.”

“Let us be totally honest: This is not a cease-fire – it is a SURRENDER,” says Shmuel Sackett, spokesman for Moshe Feiglin who seeks “authentic Jewish leadership for Israel.”

From Arutz Sheva, Israeli National News: The Hamas terrorist organization has declared November 22, the day after its ceasefire was signed with Israel, as a public holiday in Gaza. "The Palestinian government announces that Thursday 22nd November is a national holiday of victory and an official holiday,” read a statement issued by Hamas. Hamas invited “all citizens to celebrate this occasion and visit the families of the martyrs and the wounded and those affected by the violence and to affirm national solidarity.”

“Everyone is angry at Netanyahu now for signing the cease-fire,” said Moshe Feiglin, who the New York Times not long ago said brought the Tea Party to Israel. Feiglin faces a vote to become a key member of Likud’s Knesset team on November 25. “I see myself as the representative of Liberty in the Knesset,” he said in a recent TV interview.

 “But Netanyahu's predicament is a precise reflection of post-Oslo Israeli society . . . If Netanyahu had ordered a ground invasion of Gaza, soldiers would have been killed. After a short period of time he would have pulled the troops out of Gaza without significant achievements . . . To remain in Gaza, we first have to renounce the very essence of the idea of partitioning this Land. We have to internalize that this is our Land – exclusively. We must - on a national scale - return to the Land of Israel and our Jewish identity. . . Is Israeli society ready for this type of return to ourselves?

“The Israelis want the best of both worlds: security and normalcy. But it has become quite clear that it is specifically the mental servitude to Oslo, the flight from destiny to the enslavement to normalcy and pragmatism – that has so severely compromised Israel's security.”

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

General Petraeus and the Twinkie Republic

A hundred dead on the ground in Gaza in events that will shake the foundations of diplomacy worldwide, but the big reports this week are on the rise and fall of Twinkie. Does anyone under 30 even know what a Twinkie is? Possibly a monument to Twinkie – a giant Twinkie by Claes Oldenberg  perhaps, or something thrown together on the Capital mall by Frank Gehry  - will appear; Twinkie as a remembrance to the rise and decline of the American Century.

This preoccupation with Twinkie might constitute what psychologists call transference. But this is why Sarah Palin and us rubes in the once and future Tea Party scornfully call the institutionalized pundits of bipartisan politics the "nerd prom" - Sarah Palin' s phrase.  Because there is a shared ego joy and entertainment among those in attendance in dumbing it down and keeping it light, even in the most for boding times. 

And surely the Patraeus affair wins journalism's Twinkie Award this year - we might hold these events annually. The story was of course the torrid liaison that America's first general who with Secretary of Defence Robert Gates and very few others brought chaos out of conflict in the misbegotten Iraq invasion and restored perspective to our presence in the world. But that was the Twinkie story. The real story is two-fold; combat between the CIA and FBI is now as strange and frightful as J.J. Abrams vision of twisted plot and deception in “Alias.” And the big issue here, still overlooked,  is that they went into Petraeus' email and disgraced him on personal issues to discredit him; that is, to "take him down" as a competitive public figure as they would in a tawdry TV drama.

Petraeus classically embodies what we in earlier times may have called the warrior/scholar; the classic man of honor and dependability. But there is no honor in the Twinkie Republic. It is scorned there. There can be none. They are antithetical.

But the very big issue here is as Judge Andrew Napolitano has written, If they can do it to him, they can do it to you. "Who's next," asked the Judge?

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

(if Obama wins) Waiting for Rick Perry, Palin and Patraeus

Waiting for 2016: Elizabeth Warren, Sarah Palin, Perry, Christie, Bush and David Petraeus

By Bernie Quigley

For The Hill, 11/7/12

"To win, Obama and Romney seemed willing to say anything." Robert Samuelson, Washington Post, 11/5/12, Guy Fawkes Day

This is a good day for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who so hoped for an Obama win that he embarrassed himself during the tragic storm in New Jersey by virtually endorsing Obama. And it would then be a good day for Jeb Bush who sees himself as Christie's number two in 2016. A Romney victory would have prevented that future for the Bush Dynasty. And it is a bad day for Bill Clinton’s wistful and unlikely dynasty as his hopes are dashed now for Hillary in 2016. No question, the Dem nomination in 2016, the party threadbare after eight years of Obama, will go to that charming Okie grandmother, Elizabeth Warren, the anti-Palin who brought corn pones and countrification from the hardscrabble heartland to Harvard. But it is a very good day for Sarah Palin too who will now, as she said clearly last month, challenge the very existence of the Republican Party and the eastern establishment as she has been doing from the first.

It is she who will advance the real themes beyond the insurgent cracker uprising that is the Tea Party: States rights, sound money and constitutional government. But Texas Governor Rick Perry could bring them to the mainstream. Jeb Bush is too close to the establishment, Palin too close to the hillbilly fringe.

WHY THE REPUBLICANS LOST: To paraphrase the Divine Miss M, when it is 3am in LA, it is still 1957 in the Republican Party. The recent Republican primary proved one thing: Republicans are provincial. They hope to hold on to a dead past and it has prevented them from moving forward. My daughter, in high school then, said in watching one of the Republican debates that “they don’t seem normal.” The Beatles have landed and the Republicans are still trying to promote the surefire and steady Perry Como list. They have fallen under the malevolent influence of the few and the strange; the few who work at The Weekly Standard and its tailings with their freakish and nihilist assertions like, “Jesus told his followers to carry swords.” And most in the lineup – Romney in particular -  are to culture and politics as Lawrence Welk is to music and dance. Provincialism is a way of saying, "go away, we don't like you" and voters get the message: And the Confederate subset which decries itself to be "Christian" with signs following - nationalizing the rebel cry of George Wallace and Jerry Falwell  in hopes of a return to the 1800s carries an odious suggestion.

A third party, for the first time since the 1830s, now has two wings, the one conservative with Ron Paul, the other liberal with Gary Johnson. These are birth pains. But we do not need a new political party. Conservatism needs to build a new party within the framework of the existing Republican Party, just as the Democrats did between the age of Eleanor Roosevelt and Adlai Stevenson and the age of Jack Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. The time is getting right for this and the shoe fits Palin, Rick Perry and potentially David Petraeus to bring maturity here in 2016 and for Chris Christie and Jeb Bush to bring opposition.