Blow, Cohen and Collins

In “Republican Insecurity” Mr. Blow says we’re in a cycle dominated by frustration among G.O.P. voters dissatisfied with national politicians — and increasingly afraid on a number of fronts.  Thanks, Faux Noise…  Mr. Cohen, in “The Assassination in Israel That Worked,” says Rabin, the warrior-peacemaker, was replaced by Netanyahu, the fearmonger, and Messianic Zionism rose.  In “Fear, Loathing and Republican Debaters” Ms. Collins says the candidates don’t want voters to have any peaceful dreams.  Here’s Mr. Blow:

I watched, with disenchantment and disquiet, Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate in Las Vegas, as candidate after candidate talked about how he or she would execute a war against the Islamic State, as if such a war was inevitable, if not already underway.

They tossed this idea of war around so blithely, like the human toll was almost inconsequential, as if recent history hasn’t taught us that war begets war and creates the very instability that terrorist groups can exploit.

I must say that Rand Paul was a bit of an exception here, saying:

“What we have to decide is whether or not regime change is a good idea. It’s what the neoconservatives have wanted. It’s what the vast majority of those on the stage want. They still want regime change. They want it in Syria. They wanted it in Iraq. They want it in Libya. It has not worked.”

Paul continued:

“Out of regime change you get chaos. From the chaos you have seen repeatedly the rise of radical Islam. So we get this profession of, oh, my goodness, they want to do something about terrorism, and yet they’re the problem because they allow terrorism to arise out of that chaos.”

Paul was right, of course, but that didn’t stop the other candidates from beating the drums of war until their elbows ached.

Carly Fiorina said: “One of the things I would immediately do, in addition to defeating them here at home, is bring back the warrior class — Petraeus, McChrystal, Mattis, Keane, Flynn. Every single one of these generals I know. Every one was retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear.”

(PolitiFact rated the assertion that all five generals left as a result of being frank with the president as “mostly false.” This woman has such a hard time just sticking to the truth.)

It has been said that this Republican cycle is dominated by fear and frustration among Republican voters who are not satisfied with national politicians and are becoming increasingly afraid on a number of fronts.

The anger I agree with completely, but I prefer another way of phrasing — or possibly explaining — the fear: overwhelming insecurity.

I would posit that most of the issues that get traction in these debates, and indeed have gotten traction among Republican voters this cycle, have to do with a tremendous insecurity about power and safety — terrorism, the economy, immigration, gun rights, refugees, exploding drug addiction among white youth, policing, all of it.

We live in an America that is changing in dramatic demographic ways right before people’s eyes. Many of our largest cities are already majority-minority or soon will be. The electoral map, altered by this growing number of minority voters, makes it increasingly difficult for Republicans to win the presidency, even as they enjoy overwhelming successes on the state and legislative levels.

Indeed, Marco Rubio’s failed attempt to pass comprehensive immigration reform as a member of the Gang of Eight may prove to be an Achilles’ heel for his campaign.

When Rubio suggested that the too-calculating-to-be-trusted Ted Cruz had a record of being somewhat reasonable on some areas of immigration, Cruz summoned the bad juju of every used car salesman who ever lived, and gleefully shot back:

“Look, I understand that Marco wants to raise confusion, it is not accurate what he just said that I supported legalization. Indeed, I led the fight against his legalization and amnesty bill. And you know, there was one commentator that put it this way that, for Marco to suggest our record’s the same is like suggesting ‘the fireman and the arsonist have the same record because they are both at the scene of the fire.’ He was fighting to grant amnesty and not to secure the border, I was fighting to secure the border.”

Cruz is still playing frenemy to the real estate developer, waiting for him to slip and fall, waiting for the chance to attract his supporters. But Cruz and Rubio are appealing to different wings of the party, so theirs can be a bare-knuckled brawl.

Jeb Bush even sought to link the immigration insecurity to the drug addiction insecurity, saying: “Clearly, we need to secure the border. Coming here legally needs to be a lot easier than coming here illegally. If you don’t have that, you don’t have the rule of law. We now have a national security consideration, public health issues, we have an epidemic of heroin overdoses in all places in this country because of the ease of bringing heroin in. We have to secure the border.”

This, I am sure, plays well among Republican voters who have made their insecurities readily apparent to pollsters.

For instance, the Pew Research Center on Tuesday published a piece, “Five Facts About Republicans and National Security,” that included the following observations:

1. For Republicans, international concerns now dominate.

2. Republicans broadly support an aggressive approach toward the Islamic State and global terrorism.

3. Republicans are more concerned than Democrats about a number of overseas security threats.

4. In September, Republicans opposed the United States decision to accept more refugees.

5. Most Republicans associate Islam with violence.

Want to understand why the Republican primary session — including last night’s debate — seems like such an absurdity to those of us who feel grounded in the belief that smart solutions can be arrived at, solutions that don’t involve bombing Middle Eastern countries until we can determine whether “sand can glow in the dark”? There is one word you have to keep in mind: “insecurity.”

They’re all hiding under the bed, peeing their pants…  Next up we have Mr. Cohen:

The assassination two decades ago of Yitzhak Rabin, the warrior who became Israel’s peacemaking prime minister, has proved one of the most successful in history.

Like Mahatma Gandhi, assassinated by a Hindu fanatic, Rabin was killed by one of his own, a fanatical Jew who could not abide territorial compromise for peace. Yigal Amir, the assassin, was a religious-nationalist follower of Baruch Goldstein, the American-born killer of 29 Palestinianworshipers in Hebron in 1994.

Reason ebbed. Rage flowed. The center eroded. Messianic Zionism, of the kind that claims all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River as God-given real estate, supplanted secular Zionism of the kind that believes in a state of laws.

An opportunistic right-wing politician named Benjamin Netanyahu, who had compared Rabin to Chamberlain, rose to power. He may supplant David Ben-Gurion as Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, but his legacy looks paltry beside the founding father of Israel.

A warrior-peacemaker was lost to an assassin’s bullet in 1995. A marketer fearmonger replaced him. Leadership, in its serious sense, disappeared. Without leadership, every problem is insurmountable. With it, no problem is unsolvable.

It will soon be a half-century since Israel took control of the West Bank and backed the settlement movement that now sees several hundred thousand Jews living east of the Green Line, enjoying Israeli citizenship and various state handouts. Why then has Israel not asserted its sovereignty over all territory and granted the vote and other democratic rights to all inhabitants?

The answer is simple: too many Palestinians. Asserting sovereignty would have meant the end of the Jewish state. Israel chose instead the undermining of its own democracy. As Gershom Gorenberg has put it, Israel has “behaved as if the territories were part of Israel for the purpose of settlement, and under military occupation for the purpose of ruling the Palestinians.”

This policy is corrosive. No democracy is immune to running an undemocratic system on part of the land it controls. Across the Green Line, millions of inhabitants are noncitizens. This is the combustible “one-state reality” of which Secretary of State John Kerry spoke this month.

The noncitizens are Israel’s colonized Palestinians. Oppression and humiliation are hewn into the topography of the West Bank. Israel, through the settlement movement, has undermined its Zionist founders’ commitment to a democratic state of laws.

Vikram Seth, the novelist, has observed: “The great advantage of being a chosen people is that one can choose to decide who is unchosen.”

The great disadvantage of Messianic Zionism is that it makes it impossible for Israel to be a Jewish and democratic state. It makes violence inevitable.

Since October more than 20 Israelis and more than 100 Palestinians have been killed in what some are calling a third intifada. This is the status quo. Three Gaza wars since 2008 are the status quo. Israel today is a miracle of rapid development perched on the brittle foundation of occupation. Stabbings are the status quo.

The Palestinian leadership has been hopeless. It is divided. It is corrupt. It lacks democratic legitimacy. It has wallowed in the comforting embrace of injustice rather than making the tough decisions to end it. It has opted for theater over substance. It incites against Jews. Time, as the last 67 years demonstrate, is not on the Palestinian side.

None of this annuls Palestinians’ right to a state called Palestine in the West Bank and Gaza, nor the long-term interest of both sides in working to that end. Rabin hated what Palestinians had done. Still, for Israel’s security, he chose peace.

The cornerstone of Israel’s United Nations-backed legality was territorial compromise, as envisaged in Resolution 181 of 1947, calling for two states, one Jewish, one Arab, in the Holy Land. This was humankind’s decision, not God’s.

The covenant Jews bore around the world was a covenant of ethics, not a covenant granting Jews the hills of Judea and Samaria forever. Its core is the idea that what is hateful to yourself should not be inflicted on your fellow human being. It must apply to the strong Jew of Israel as much as to the cowed Jew of the diaspora.

As the liberal Israeli daily Haaretz has recently chronicled, various U.S. entities and nonprofit organizations, for which donations are tax-deductible, provide funding for the settler movement opposed by the United States government.

Daniel Kurtzer, a former American ambassador to Israel, summed up why this is unacceptable: “The government — and we, the public — are subsidizing an activity which undermines government policy.”

The Obama administration has understandably tired of providing the fig leaf of a “peace process” to Israeli and Palestinian leaders. But it can set down a marker by making public its view of a territorial compromise at or close to the 1967 lines, with agreed swaps. It can seek leverage in its opposition to settlement growth. It can close American tax loopholes that benefit Israeli settlers. It can try to make Rabin’s assassination a little less successful.

And now here’s Ms. Collins:

Well, the big Republican presidential debate is over and the message is clear: Be afraid. Be very afraid.

“America has been betrayed,” began Chris Christie, setting the tone for the night, which might be described as bellicose paranoia. The betrayers were President Obama and Hillary Clinton. His example of the terror they have wrought was the Los Angeles school system, which closed Tuesday after an email threat from someone who described himself as a Muslim terrorist.

“Think about the mothers who will take those children tomorrow morning to the bus stop wondering whether their children will arrive back on that bus safe and sound,” Christie said darkly. “Think about the fathers of Los Angeles who tomorrow will head off to work and wonder about the safety of their wives and their children.”

This is probably not the time to point out that the governor of New Jersey seems to have a rather retro view of the roles of mothers, who are likely to be heading off to work themselves. But here’s the thing: The threat was a hoax. New York got the same message and kept classes going after officials determined that the writer was not only a phony, but a phony who had no clue how to sound like either a Muslim or a terrorist.

The lesson from Los Angeles would seem to be that the country needs to find a way to operate in a calm and rational manner, aware of the possibility of disaster but cleareyed about the fact that the odds against a terrorist attack at any particular place or time are astronomical. We are most definitely not in need of politicians trying to scare the pants off the voting public.

“We haven’t heard a lot about Ronald Reagan’s city on a hill,” the questioner Hugh Hewitt said rather plaintively, yearning for some optimism. The audience was getting the Ronald Reagan who blew up a wagon full of gunpowder in “Cattle Queen of Montana.”

The topic was national defense, and Donald Trump seemed stumped by a question about the three ways America could conduct nuclear attacks — from air, land or sea. “I think, I think for me, nuclear is just the power, the devastation is very important to me,” the front-runner said.

Not a problem. He can hire somebody who knows about nuclear weapons. Somebody really great.

The campaign’s current up-and-comer, Ted Cruz, expressed enthusiasm for carpet-bombing, a tactic he seemed to be unaware the United States hasn’t used since Vietnam, and one that he apparently imagines could be targeted so strategically that it would kill only terrorists.

On the plus side, Jeb Bush did perk up a bit. About time. I am privileged to be on the Jeb! campaign mailing list and his pre-debate missives were possibly the most pathetic in recent presidential history. (“… I need to know you’re with me. Are you, Friend? Do you have my back? If so, please chip in just $1 right now to say you’re on my team tonight.”)

Let’s see, what else? Several candidates seemed to think terrorism on U.S. soil is entirely due to “political correctness.” Carly Fiorina promised to bring back “warrior class” generals like David Petraeus who “retired early because they told President Obama things that he didn’t want to hear,” skipping the part about giving classified materials to a biographer with whom he was having an extramarital affair.

But the real battle was over who could make things sound more dire, or offer solutions more drastic. Trump wants to target the families of terrorists, and he drove home the point by repeating his story about the World Trade Center attackers sending all their loved ones back to the Middle East in advance. (“… they wanted to watch their boyfriends on television.”) The fact that the terrorists had no families or girlfriends in the United States never seems to take the steam out of this argument.

Christie got a Facebook question from a young woman who thought it was a little uncharitable to rule out accepting any refugees, including orphans under the age of 5. “Now listen, I’m a former federal prosecutor. …” he responded. All told, Christie mentioned being a former prosecutor five times during the debate, giving the distinct impression that in the wake of 9/11, he was the only thing standing between New Jersey and oblivion.

His answer to the question was that the 5-year-olds have to stay out: “And it was widows and orphans, by the way, and we now know from watching the San Bernardino attack that women can commit heinous, heinous acts against humanity just the same as men can do it. And so I don’t back away from that position for a minute.”

In summary: Kill the families. Screw the orphans. Carpet-bomb Syria, but in a targeted way. Send Jeb Bush a dollar. On to 2016.

FSM save us all…


One Response to “Blow, Cohen and Collins”

  1. Not too hot Not too cold Not just right Says:

    It’s hard to comprehend the complete lack of understanding Mr. Cohen portrays of being a Jew in the Middle East. In simplistic terms he brings out the most predictable argument of granting democracy to terrorists intent on murdering you. I guess he agreed with regime change like Mr. Blow argued against in his description of the Republican debate.
    Historical reference and ensuing changes under the umbrella of assassination makes life in Israel surrounded by Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Hamas and Fatah for starters so simple. All u have to do is lay down your arms and do what? I guess Mr. Cohen has benefactors in Belgium who would rather parcel out pieces of the West Bank under the guise of labeling misdeeds of manufacturing. It’s even absurd to mention it must less defend the nonsense Mr. Cohen describes. Everything would be allright if only Israel stayed behind it’s borders. That’s the starting pointing of every argument given by supporters of Hamas and Fatah. There is no peace in the Middle East. Grab a gun or get out. And when u have no place to go stand and fight. It’s criminal to justify your beliefs Cohen when u give a free ride to Fatah and Hezbollah. Rabin was under the scope of war and peace for a long time. He had his turn. It turned deadly. The nation could just have easily stayed the course. Your theme will make for a few laughs in Moscow, Tehran, Damascus and Sweden.

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