January 04, 2009
Getting Over the Lebanon Syndrome
Tel Aviv, Israel With mixed feelings and fingers crossed, Israelis watched their sons and daughters enter the Gaza Strip for a ground operation Saturday evening. For many of them, it was personal--Israel is a small country, a tight-knit society, and almost everyone knows someone now in the line of fire. But for almost all of them, it was also a moment of shared national sobriety and seriousness. “We must win this” was the common phrase one could hear from people on the street, from mothers to wounded soldiers on the radio, from the occasional military commander.
Back to the Front
Dawn, the morning after Israel's ground incursion into Gaza. Last night, I received an emergency IDF call-up order--via SMS. Israel, 2009. Gone are the days when such commands were hand-delivered or broadcast in code over the radio. Gone are the prearranged assembly points in town where members of various units would meet and file into specially-mobilized buses. Today we travel to our bases individually, often by cab.
Suppose that, instead of paying for gas each time they filled up, drivers paid a fixed sum every six months to cover their fuel costs. This sum would vary based on the driver's age, type of vehicle, and location, but wouldn't change with the number of miles driven. It sounds absurd, of course, but it's exactly what happens in the auto-insurance market.
January 01, 2009
WASHINGTON -- Political circuses just don't get any better than this--unless you happen to care about a new administration taking power in the midst of national and international catastrophes.Gov. Rod Blagojevich knows how to make life hell for his enemies, who now encompass almost everyone in the Democratic Party, including President-elect Barack Obama.Yet "almost everyone" is the operative phrase.
December 31, 2008
There are so many things that make The Wall Street Journal editorial page a source of personal fascination--the undying faith in voodoo economics, the staunch defense of executive privilege and disdain for independent counsels during Republican presidencies alternating with disdain for executive privilege and staunch defense of independent counsels during Democratic presidencies--but perhaps the most intriguing is the wildly promiscuous use of quotation marks. Over the years, it's become an obsession of mine. Like most of us, the Journal uses scare quotes to signify that a term is misleading.
The Year of the Sports Fan
The credit market is shut tight. The foreclosure numbers will make you cry. The economy is tanking and getting worse. And amidst all this bad news--hell, because of it--we have a prediction to make: 2009 will be the Year of the Sports Fan. Finally.For far too long, blue-collar fans have had a hard time getting noticed. The Astrodome in Houston might have installed the country’s first luxury box in 1965, but it was around the early ’90s when teams started assiduously catering to business executives. That’s when you began to see candy apple martinis and Caesar salads at the ballpark.
No Bias, Yes Bull
The other day I played a leading role in a Michelle Malkin syndicated column about liberal media bias. Her complaint provides an interesting glimpse into the feverish workings of the paranoid mind of the far right.Malkin begins by citing a recent Washington Post article about Barack Obama’s fanatical exercise routine. Malkin describes the reporter, Eli Saslow (who she calls Zaslow) as “adoring” and “smitten,” which is the sort of hyperbole you’d expect in this kind of thing. Then comes the gotcha.
Hamas is a Taliban State
Maybe the Israeli government will concede to a cease-fire. We'll see.But it is clearer in my mind than ever why a cease-fire between Jerusalem and the regime in Gaza will never hold. Even the so-called cease-fire in place since the summer was not remotely close to a true pause in the fighting. That is, in the fighting from the other side of the frontier. Day-in and almost every day-out, rockets were launched from Hamas territory, and Israel did not fight back.
No Bias, Yes Bull
The other day I played a leading role in a Michelle Malkin syndicated column about liberal media bias. Her complaint provides an interesting glimpse into the feverish workings of the paranoid mind of the far right. Malkin begins by citing a recent Washington Post article about Barack Obama's fanatical exercise routine. Malkin describes the reporter, Eli Saslow (who she calls Zaslow) as "adoring" and "smitten," which is the sort of hyperbole you'd expect in this kind of thing. Then comes the gotcha.
Best Of Tnr 2008: Secrecy And Safety
Jack Goldsmith, the former head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel under the Bush administration, gives an insider perspective on the legality of government sanctioned wiretapping and the possibly dangerous role of the press (citing specifically a 2005-2006 New York Times series of articles) in playing the part of government watchdog: And then there are the more diffuse harms caused by the Times' revelations.