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Posts Tagged ‘position’

The Moderate Paradox

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-moderate-paradox.html

The moderate solution is deeply seductive for Republicans, who see their opposition sliding to the extreme left and believe that they can sweep up the middle by just moving a little to the left. All they have to do is moderate their position on X, Y or Z, and they will win over all the unaffiliated voters who are a natural fit for their common-sense policies.

This seems like such a no-brainer that high-profile Republicans keep earnestly and then angrily  pushing for a surrender on one point or another as the key to becoming the moderate mainstream party. But no matter how many times the Republican Party plays this game, it never stops being the “extremist” party that is out of touch with whatever the new normal is.

Like Lucy’s football, the moderate identity is a paradox. The more you pursue it, the less likely you are to reach it. Our current political grammar, which leans heavily on ideas such as moderation and extremism, was crafted by the left. Like Orwell’s Newspeak, the meaning of such words is relative and varies unpredictably. That relativism has given us the moderate Taliban and the moderate Muslim Brotherhood. Before long, it might give us the moderate Al-Qaeda member.

“Moderate” and “Extremist” are words that are used with an absolute air, as if what they refer to is clear and fixed. Actually, the value of each is relative to the other. If the range of views among Muslims is such that the Taliban are actually somewhere in the middle, then they are indeed moderate. This does not mean that they are decent people or that we can reason with them. It just means that the spectrum of Muslim views is bad enough that, within that spectrum, the Taliban fall in the middle, rather than on the extreme end.

The relativism of moderation means that there is no fixed position that can be taken which will make one moderate. If you are on a ship that is traveling between New York and London, then standing in the middle of the boat will not put you in between the two cities except during the brief period when the ship’s travel puts it at that mark. Similarly, adopting “moderate” positions when the culture is moving leftward will not make you a moderate. It will still make you a conservative.

The moderate positions of ten years ago are the conservative positions of today. Not in principle but in practice. When the culture is moving fast enough leftward, then anyone attempting to adopt a moderate position is already trying to conserve something, which makes him a reactionary in the eyes of the left.

To repeatedly attempt to be a moderate is to adopt the positions of the left at a slower rate than the culture as a whole. This is only useful as a cynical political position adopted by someone who believes in nothing at all. It is not good for anything else. That type of moderate is always standing in the middle of the ship as a showy pose, while pretending that the ship isn’t moving at all.

The practiced moderate falls afoul of Zeno’s Dichotomy Paradox. He is forever trying to reach a point that appears to be closer each time he reaches for it, but that he can never reach. But unlike that paradox, the reason that he can never reach it is because the moderate position is a moving target.

The moderate Republican calculates the position of the left, factors in the position of his party and stakes out a middle position. The Democratic Party moves six steps to the left making it extremist. And our moderate Republican decides that he has found his chance. If he just moves one step to the left, he will seize the moderate position and lay claim to the terra incognita of the middle ground. But when the Democratic Party moved six steps to the left, the new moderate position is actually three steps to the left. All that the moderate Republican has done is watered down his message and made himself slightly more palatable to the middle, but that will change next week when the Democratic Party moves another six steps to the left and the middle will move with it.

The Speed of Progressivism

Sunday, August 5th, 2012

http://sultanknish.blogspot.co.il/2012/08/the-speed-of-progressivism.html

The transformation of Chick-Fil-A from a fast food place that most liberals had never even heard of into the “Enemy of the People” is a reminder of the speed at which progressivism travels forward and backward in time. A few months ago the CEO of Chick-Fil-A would have done nothing worse than echo a consensus so mainstream that it was adopted as a campaign position by the leftiest Democrat to sit in the White House. A few months later that same position is so outrageous that it leads to mass boycotts, threats of violence and mayors of dysfunctional urban centers threatening to drive the reactionary chicken franchise out of their cities.

One of the wonderful things about progressivism is that it defies the laws of physics and history. When the Democratic Party, a once notable national party that has been turned into a red shill for the sort of people who used to hang out in cafes and plot to blow things up in between free verse recitals, adopts a progressive position, that position instantly travels backward in time to alter history and create an entirely new past.

For example when the Democratic Party decided that its future lay not with racist white gerrymandered districts but racist black gerrymandered districts, its adoption of civil rights, formerly a Republican position that good Democrats had fought tooth and nail, actually traveled back in time transforming our nation’s history.

When the Democrats belatedly decided that black people were human beings, or at least a better bet for votes than Southern white men who were in danger of deciding that they didn’t have much in common with a party of corrupt Northern elites being painted by a corrupt Northern media as saints, the energy from this decision transformed Lincoln into a Democrat, segregation into an idea that Ike and Dick came up with in between dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and the Trail of Tears, and turned the Community Organizers who had been busy torching black orphanages and Republican newspapers in New York City and Boston as part of an organized wartime campaign to defeat the Union, into a lost page of history.

Governor George Wallace, three-time Democratic candidate for the Presidency of the United States, said, “Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever.” The real quote though it turns out is, “Progressivism now, progressivism tomorrow, progressivism forever.” History works and is revised so that the past agrees with the present.

The Democratic Party has always been at war with racism, in favor of gay marriage, illegal aliens and killing everyone over 50 to save on health care costs. The latter position hasn’t been articulated yet, but when it is, it will travel backward through time and since what will take place in the future has already occurred, it has already traveled backward in time to alter our history so that we now know that the Democratic Party has always supported killing people over 50 to save on health care costs.

This however is only a projection. History is notoriously unstable. What was the progressive pose yesterday may be an unacceptably reactionary position tomorrow. The French Revolution and the Communist Revolution and the Cultural Revolution spent a lot of time purging comrades who had failed to recognize that the new progressive position had been adopted tomorrow and had become reality yesterday and was subject to a loyalty oath today. Like Chick-A-Fil, many of them ended up being enemies of the people where they were subjected to worse things than the mayors of bankrupt cities declaring that anti-gay chicken was an unacceptable addition to the parts of their fair cities that aren’t on fire.

The Democrats borrowed their interest in black civil rights from the left, which was only working with urban minorities because it was hoping to include them in its revolutionary coalition of coal miners and lettuce pickers who would help overthrow the reactionary capitalist American Dream and replace it with a bunch of people shouting slogans and shooting each other. These days the NAACP does not look like a good bet for overthrowing America and the favorite progressive minority du jour actually keeps black slaves and hangs homosexuals.

Muslims have currently trumped blacks and gays, not to mention every other group, on the crush list of the left. And the Muslim world is one of the few places that still has slaves and kills black people in large numbers, whether it’s in the Sudan or the newly liberated Muslim utopia of Libya. The day may come when the Democratic Party and its leftist hag riders decide that slavery was progressive after all and that all men should have the right to own slaves. And then this new policy position will immediately travel backward in time and loyal comrades will turn to the little red books of DailyKos, Think Progress, the Center for American Progress and ProgressProgressProgress to learn the new official position they are obligated to learn and abide by.

The Romney Uproar In Perspective

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

To put it mildly, GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s trip to Israel didn’t go over well with spokesmen for the Palestinians, the Obama administration and a number of columnists and commentators who echoed their criticisms.

The Palestinians were incensed by Gov. Romney’s failure to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as his reference to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and his blaming “Palestinian culture” for the dismal state of Palestinian economic development without mentioning the impact of Israeli occupation. They also resented his praising of Israel’s culture as a basis for its remarkable economic progress.

Meanwhile, Obama administration officials say Gov. Romney’s Jerusalem remark was inconsistent with longstanding U.S. policy. Let’s look a little closer at the facts.

We can well understand that the Palestinians would rail against the Romney snub. But didn’t the president of the United States travel to Cairo to announce his game-changing outreach to the Muslim world and pointedly fail to visit nearby Israel?

As for the issue of Jerusalem, haven’t we all heard just about enough of the mantra that the Palestinians expect to get Jerusalem or part of it as the capital of a Palestinian state? But based on what? The UN Mandate declared all of Jerusalem to be an international city and it was only the 1948 invasion by Arab states that upset that plan as Jordan seized much of the city. Why is Arab conquest in a war of aggression more legitimate than Israel’s seizure in a war of self-defense?

And the Palestinian economy? The Palestinians pretty much share the same culture found among the various sovereign Arab states. Is any one of them a model of systemic growth? Where would they all be without the benefit of the ultimately artificial factor of oil? Aren’t they all characterized by economically and politically debilitating corruption? Why is it that not one of them has developed into a democracy? Are they all ruled by autocratic kings and dictators because Israel builds a few houses in Judea and Samaria and defends itself against murderous Palestinian thugs?

Enough already.

The Jerusalem Post reported Monday that folks in the White House were “scratching their heads” trying to figure out Mr. Romney’s Jerusalem remarks. In a speech on Sunday Romney said, “It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel.” And in an interview a short time later with CNN he said, “My understanding is the policy of our nation has been a desire to move our embassy ultimately to the capital. That is something which I would agree with. But I would only want to do so and to select the timing in accordance with the government of Israel.”

On Tuesday, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said of Romney’s comments, “Well, our view is that that’s a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties.”

He added, “I’d remind you that that’s the position that’s been held by previous administrations, both Democratic and Republican. So if Mr. Romney disagrees with that position, he’s also disagreeing with the position that was taken by Presidents Bill Clinton and Ronald Reagan.”

Since 1995, federal law has recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. The Jerusalem Embassy Relocation Act of 1995 provides that “(1) Jerusalem should remain an undivided city in which the rights of every ethnic and religious group are protected; (2) Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and (3) the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”

To be sure, Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush invoked a “national security waiver” to postpone the move, though by its terms the waiver only applied to penalties for not moving the embassy, not the requirement to move the embassy. The waiver had to be renewed every six months, which both did. However, President Bush inserted language in his waiver statements over eight years which stated: My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.” President Obama, who has also issued waivers every six months, dropped that sentence each time.

Olympic Opening Ceremonies and the Death Throes of a Civilization

Sunday, July 29th, 2012

I don’t think I was the only American weirded out on Friday by the bizarre “dancing nurses” segment at the opening ceremony for the 2012 London Olympics.  There were lots of children wriggling in hospital beds, and seemingly hundreds of nurses prancing around dressed in the garments of yesteryear.  It wasn’t clear what the artist was trying to say – and then the letters “NHS” burst out in glittering lights on the field.

Oh.  This is about the National Health Service.

[Pause.]

????????????

That realization was paired in my mind with the International Olympic Committee’s refusal to commemorate the 11 Israeli athletes killed by Yasser Arafat’s terrorists in Munich in 1972.  The IOC’s position is that it doesn’t want to “politicize” the games.

That position doesn’t hold up so well considering that 9/11 was commemorated at the opening ceremony of the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City.  In 1996, at the Summer Games in Atlanta, the IOC had a moment of silence at the closing ceremony for the victims of the Olympic Park bombing.

In 2010, at the Winter Games in Vancouver, there was a moment of silence during the opening ceremony for Georgian athlete Nodar Kumartashvili, who had died in an accident on a practice run just before the games began.

So in recent years, the Olympic authorities have commemorated the death of an Olympic athlete and the deaths of others in terrorist attacks, with a moment of silence each time in an opening or closing ceremony.  And guess what?  Last night, in the Olympic stadium, the victims of the 7/7 terrorist bombings in the London subway in 2005 were commemorated as part of the opening ceremony.  Granted, it was hard to catch; a photo montage was projected into the stadium during a lull in the prancing and acrobatics, but there was little narration to call it out.  I didn’t even notice it, and had to be told about it afterward by others who had seen it.

It is jarring to think of passing references being made to the victims of terrorism, sort of as part of the entertainment, during an event-palooza dedicated to performance and revelry.  The reason we usually have authorities solemnly asking for a moment of silence, at a carefully separated, showcased point in the proceedings, is that that’s what is appropriate for commemorating tragedy and sorrow.

But it was clearly important to the British planners to mention their dead from the 2005 terror attack in the opening ceremony.  So they did it.  For forty years, including this Olympics, no one has incorporated a commemoration of the 11 murdered Israeli athletes into an official Olympic ceremony.  Yet Olympic authorities have been assiduous about commemorating others.  Their relentless, determined failure to commemorate the Israelis in the same way is a failure to acknowledge the common humanity of Israeli Jews.

The opening ceremony for the 2012 Olympic Games couldn’t have been more stuffed with politics if it had been a bell pepper.  The Republic of Taiwan was required to march as “Chinese Taipei,” although of course that is not what the Taiwanese call their nation.  There is no nation of Palestine, yet athletes walked under a “Palestinian” flag and were announced as “Palestine.”  The “quirky” performance segment of the ceremony involved numerous references to political events in the history of Great Britain, including, of course, the paroxysm of pagan worship, complete with cavorting women, for the National Health Service.  It was a really, really political night; if a commemoration for the murdered Israeli athletes might have been “political,” that would only have guaranteed that it would fit right in.

Watching the ceremony last night, I had a profound sense of sadness for the hollow revelry.  There was no dignified memorializing of the greatness, uniqueness, and courage of Britain’s past.  There was “irreverent, idiosyncratic” entertainment, and a very long segment of writhing self-abasement before the shibboleth of socialized medicine.

We seemed to be looking last night at a moment frozen in time before a great upheaval, like the last days of lingering sunlight before World War I.  A civilization based on entertainment and ritual political worship is headed for a fall.  But then, a civilization that singles out some humans, like Israeli Jews, to show less care for – less solidarity with – is a weak and unsustainable one.  Nothing else will go right with it.

State Dept. Objects to Levy Committee’s Legalizing Outposts

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

In a Monday State Deartment daily press briefing by Patrick Ventrell, director of the press office, the latter was asked by a reporter for his reaction to the Edmond Levy committee report which recommended legalizing most outposts which until now have been either in legal limbo, or on their way to being demolished. (The transcript was redacted for this report)

The reporter asked: “There’s an Israeli Government appointed committee which was asked to look into the legality of the settlements and has come forth with a ruling saying that they believe that essentially these settlements should be authorized, which is the Prime Minister’s position. The Israeli Government hasn’t accepted this ruling yet, but sort of stands ready to be accepted. Do you take any view on this creeping legalization of the settlement process? And is this useful at this point, ahead of Deputy Secretary Burns and the Secretary’s trip to Israel? Is this the kind of thing that you like to see happening?”

Ventrell: “The U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”

Question: “So you would urge the Government of Israel not to accept this panel’s recommendation?”

Ventrell: “My understanding is this is just a panel recommendation at this point.”

Question: “Is that going to be something that Deputy Burns brings up when he’s in Israel?”

Ventrell: “I’m not sure. I can’t read out his meetings in advance.”

Question: “Is it something that you can say that you’re sufficiently concerned about?”

Ventrell: “We’re concerned about it, obviously. The Deputy Secretary will be en route, and let’s see how his meetings go and see if we can report back to you when they’re over.”

Yitzhak Shamir: A Freedom Fighter for Israel

Monday, July 2nd, 2012
Yitzhak Shamir, like the biblical hero Joseph, made the long and miraculous journey from the depths of prison to the throne – the position of the executive chief, protector and provider for the nation of Israel.
Son of Jewish community leaders in (what is today) Belarus, Shamir, then named Icchak Jaziernicki, came to Israel as part of Jabotinsky’s Betar movement and joined the ranks of its affiliate underground Etzel (AKA the Irgun) under the leadership of the legendary David Raziel.
In 1941, Shamir made one of the many difficult decisions of his life. This was during height of the public debate regarding fighting the occupying British Mandate forces during WWII, while the British were taking part in the Allied struggle against the Nazis in Europe. The mainstream position held by Ben Gurion’s faction was that the fight to free the land of Israel from British rule would have to wait until the war with the Nazis was over. Raziel and Jabotinsky, after debating the issue, aligned themselves with the mainstream. The nationalist poet and visionary Yair -Avraham Stern saw the British imperialist occupiers as no less an enemy than the Nazis, and declared that he would continue to fight them until they pulled out of the holy land.
Shamir at first kept his loyalty to the party line of Betar leadership. But as he watched the British turning away ships full of Jewish refugees and sending them back to Nazi Europe or sending them to British-run concentration camps on the island of Cyprus, he realized that the British authority was not better for the Jews and that the land must be liberated from them.
He joined Yair’s small faction of the Irgun while it still called itself the “Irgun Tzvi Leumi in the Land of Israel” (the main faction under Raziel was called Irgun Tzvi Leumi). In the wake of a major British crackdown on the tiny underground, Shamir was arrested and sent to prison in Mazranear Akko, where he would meet his future wife Shulamit, who was arrested for illegally immigrating without a British permit. Shortly afterward, Stern was assassinated by the British secret police. Shamir broke out of prison and assumed leadership for the Lehi – “Freedom Fighters for Israel,” together with two others – Natan Yalin Mor and Yisrael Eldad.
Under his leadership, the organization grew and carried out major operations, which led to the British unilaterally pulling out of the land of Israel and foiling the UN plan for internationalization of Jerusalem. These efforts included the assassination of the British Minister of State Lord Moyne in Cairo in 1944 and that of UN emissary Count Folke Bernadotte in Jerusalem in 1948.
After the assassination of Lord Moyne in 1944, Shamir was arrested by the British and sent to a prison camp in Eritrea, Africa. Together with others, he escaped from the camp and succeeded in returning to the front of the war on the British in the land of Israel.
After the establishment of the State of Israel, Shamir was enlisted in Israel’s Mossad international intelligence organization. It is worth noting that in Israel’s early years, it was very rare for people not affiliated with Ben Gurion’s party to advance in public office.
In the early 1970′s, some thirty years after the great split in the movement, Shamir led the reunion by joining Begin’s political party, Herut. 1977 brought the beginning of a changeover in Israel’s political scene. That year, Shamir was appointed Chairman of the Knesset; in 1979 he became Foreign Minister, and in 1983 he became Prime Minister.
Another major challenge Shamir faced was the intense American pressure to reach a deal with the Palestinians. Shamir, a realist and advocate for the land of Israel, understood that these talks under pressure would not be in the best interest of Israel. He maintained the traditional Israeli stance against dealing with the PLO. At Madrid, Shamir sought to give nothing more than autonomy and official responsibility to the local Arab leadership in Judea and Samaria. Ultimately, these efforts were exploited and redirected by Shimon Peres and Yossi Beilin, who used this as cover to engage illicitly with the terrorist organization and enable it to control the cities of Judea and Samaria from the beaches of Tunis.
The only rest for a freedom fighter for Israel comes with his last breath. In honor of this leader and lover of Israel, I post words written many years ago by his mentor and mine – Yair-Avraham Stern:
Unknown soldiers…
Unknown soldiers, without uniforms are we,
And fear and darkness surround us.
For all of our life drafted are we;
From line only death redeems us.
In red days of riots and blood,
In the black nights of despair,
In cities, in towns, our flag is high over the flood,
And upon it: defend and conquer!
We weren’t drafted by a whip like a group of slaves,
Our blood to shed in exile on sand.
Our wish: to be free men forever, not knaves!
Our dream: to die for our land!
And from every which way, thousands of obstacles hail
On our path is placed a cruel fate;
But enemies, spies and jail
Cannot make us hesitate.
And if in the streets, in the houses we’ll fall
And we’ll be buried secretly at night,
In our stead, thousands of others will call
To conquer forever and fight.
In the tears of mothers of sons bereaved,
And in the blood of pure babies of late,
As in cement bodies to bricks will be cleaved
And the building of our homeland we’ll create!
Written by ‘Yair,’ Pesach 1932,
Translated by Shifra Shomron

‘U.S. Should Recognize Jerusalem As Israel’s Capital’: An Interview with Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries (D-Brooklyn) is a candidate in New York’s 8th Congressional District in the June 26 Democratic primary.

In general, should the U.S. “tilt” towards Israel in disputes with its neighbors? What is the basis for your position?

Israel’s status as our most robust ally in the world, and the important Middle

Eastern region, is grounded in over 60 years of shared struggle and mutual interest. Our presumptive and strongly supportive posture toward Israel in its disputes with its neighbors should remain an important part of American foreign policy.

Is Israel treated fairly in the UN and its affiliated agencies? Generally, Should the United States support Israel when it is attacked in the UN and other international organizations?

I agree with the current U.S. diplomatic position to support Israel in the United Nations and other international forums. Israel has been subjected to unfair attacks in the UN and I strongly support efforts by the United States to continue to come to Israel’s defense within that body. The United States should continue to exercise its veto in the UN Security Council whenever doing so would protect the safety and security of Israel.

Do you believe, as does President Obama, that the 1967 borders, with “swaps,” should be the starting point for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on final borders? Why?

A consistent United States position that both sides must make compromises with which they are uncomfortable in order to bring about a meaningful and lasting peace is appropriate. However, the Administration must also make sure to balance its position regarding the starting points for negotiations with realities of Israel’s security situation and the tough neighborhood in which it resides. The discussion concerning borders must be addressed in concert with other matters related to Israel’s relations with its neighbors and the Palestinians. With the turmoil in Syria being just the most recent of the unstable situations in the region, the safety of the Israeli people must be paramount in determining the starting point for any negotiations.

Hakeem Jeffries looking at rockets fired on Sderot, Israel.

For these reasons, I disagree with the use of the 1967 borders as a rigid starting point for negotiations.

Should Israel commit, in advance of negotiations, to the release of Palestinians whom it has jailed for violence committed against Israelis?

First, it is essential that Palestinian authorities recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, a fact that the United Nations formally acknowledged in 1948 and the United States has reaffirmed on many occasions. Indeed, good faith negotiations can only occur if each party recognizes the other’s legitimacy and right to exist.

The release of prisoners is a matter best reserved for negotiations rather than serving as a precondition to starting those negotiations.

Should American policy favor Israel’s retaining the major Jewish population centers in settlements in the West Bank? Why?

Yes. Any dismantling of what in many cases have essentially become small cities is neither practical nor desirable.

Do you believe American policy should be to support Israel retaining all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital? Why?

I believe that American policy should recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

However, we should also help bring about a resolution that deeply respects the ethnic, religious and geographic divisions that have existed for thousands of years within a city that is so holy to adherents of three different religions. Do you believe that parochial school students and their parents are entitled to the same assistance for the secular portion of their education as public school students and their parents?

Secular education in parochial schools can be supported through the creative use of tax code, as stated below.

What is your position on tuition vouchers generally? Tuition Tax credits?

I strongly support the use of tuition tax credits to help ease a significant financial burden on parents who choose a religious education as most appropriate for their children. As a lifetime member of the Cornerstone Baptist Church, the importance of a religious education is something that I understand based on deep, personal experience. The Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment as consistently interpreted by the U.S. Supreme Court should permit use of the tax code in the area of religious education.

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