Monday, December 3, 2012

Last Call

What's this?  The Teabagger Glibertarians at Commentary Magazine believe Rand Paul is not conservative enough?  Oh do go on, boys.

Last week we noted that if Rand Paul wanted to be a serious presidential contender as opposed to a libertarian gadfly he was going to have to distance himself from his father’s extreme anti-Israel views. No one should be holding their breath waiting for the Kentucky senator to speak a word against Ron Paul, but there’s no question he is preparing to cast himself as a different kind of candidate in 2016. To that end, not only did he take the trouble to engage in an exchange with COMMENTARY about his views on Israel, but as Business Insider reported last week, he is also planning a trip to the Jewish state next month.

Trips to Israel by senators and members of Congress are so common that they are hardly newsworthy. But for a devoted opponent of military aid to the Jewish state to be journeying there for the first time is a clear sign that Rand Paul wants to be seen as someone whose views on foreign policy are not the sort of grab bag of libertarian cant and isolationism that characterizes his father’s stance. Even more telling is that Paul will be accompanied on his trip by a group of evangelical leaders. The signal being given here is that the senator wants to be seen by the Republican base as a mainstream conservative and not a libertarian outlier.

Given his opposition to military assistance and his worldview that calls for a weaker U.S. presence in the world, that won’t be easy. But the trip to Israel and Jordan is a start. But the outreach here isn’t to AIPAC and its donors, who rightly regard the younger Paul as just a more presentable version of a father who remains an implacable foe of the U.S.-Israel alliance.

Rand Paul doesn't want to blow up enough Palestinians, and this is why he has zero chance in 2016.  "Why should we give foreign aid to Israel or anybody?" may play well in Bracken County, Kentucky, but it sure as hell is going to be a major problem in states like battleground states like Florida and Virginia, and his "cut military spending" rhetoric sure as hell won't play in deep red states.

But it's his anti-Israel stuff that guarantees he'll be sunk in the primaries long before the other guys.  The big donors will turn their backs on him, and he'll be drowned in negative ads just like his dad.  Hell, it might be bad enough to cost him his Senate seat.

A guy can hope, right?

Peace Through Superior Building Power, Part 3

Apparently we're now at the "good cop, bad cop" part of the routine where the US and EU deal with Israel's latest infrastructure retaliations against Palestinians in the West bank.  Today, the role of bad cop will be played by France.

Israel's decision to approve 3,000 new homes on occupied territory drew sharp condemnation from European allies on Monday, with at least three governments summoning ambassadors to express their disapproval of an action they say undermines an already troubled peace process.

The Israeli envoy to Paris was called to a meeting late Monday morning, according to a statement from the French foreign ministry spokesman, Philippe Lalliot. France, which was the first major European country to announce support for the Palestinian effort to win recognition at the U.N., also sent a letter to the Israeli government, calling the settlement decision "a considerable obstacle to the two-state solution."

Britain and Sweden also summoned the Israeli ambassadors, and Germany said the decision would hurt Israel's ability to negotiate a long-term peace agreement.

None of the European governments openly threatened any concrete measures to punish Israel.

Well of course not, but now the chessboard is set for the US to make a few moves and give Israel some concessions of some sort and look like the good guy.  If you think Israel can freely ignore the Obama administration (which they do), they openly mock Hollande and France (which they will.)

The only question is how much Israel will get in exchange for putting these building plans on hold for a while.  Considering the UN vote, it may take quite a bit to soothe Netanyahu this time around.  It's very likely that Israel will get some serious concessions or some new toys from the Pentagon, or both...but President Obama is going to have to open up the vault in a big way.

For example, I wonder how much of the $120 million in tax revenue the Israelis are holding for the PA they will be allowed to simply keep?

All I know is that Israel will get something nice this holiday season, and the Palestinians will get the back of Netanyahu's hand.

The Kroog Versus The Next Two Years

I happen to absolutely agree with Paul Krugman's assessment of the current fiscal cliff slope talks.

Oh, boy. This isn’t going to end, even when or if a deal is reached on defusing the austerity bomb; John Boehner has just declared that he’s going to hold the full faith and credit of the United States hostage every time we hit the debt limit. Nor will it be a case of holding the nation at gunpoint until it meets GOP demands; Republicans are signaling that they don’t intend to make any specific proposals, they’re just going to yell and stamp their feet until Obama soothes them somehow.

And November proved that the vast majority of Republicans in the House are in blood-red districts designed to make sure 95% keep their jobs no matter what they do.  They feel perfectly justified in going right back to the monthly hostage-taking on everything they can just to wreck Obama's legacy, and they feel strongly that voters will blame Obama and punish Democrats with another 2010 style low-turnout backlash election that will give the GOP control of the Senate and set up, you guessed it, the mother of all impeachment battles.

And one thing to think about: if the next two years are, as they seem likely to be, one long Republican tantrum, the 2014 election is not going to be a normal midterm. It will instead be a referendum on GOP obstructionism, which may attract a lot more attention — and much higher turnout — than normal.

That's certainly the hope.  It's going to take a hell of a lot of work on the part of the Dems to get the kind of turnout they'll need to get the House back and keep the Senate, however.

No rest for the wicked, for the wicked aren't taking the next two years off.


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