Monday, December 12, 2011

Gingrich sticks by Palestinian comment, draws rebukes from GOP candidates

Gingrich is of course right. In the 19 century the Arab inhabitants of Eretz Israel were known as "Syrians"

Republican presidential front-runner Newt Gingrich stood by his assertion that the Palestinians are an "invented people," drawing criticism from other GOP candidates.

"Is what I said factually correct? Yes. Is it historically true? Yes," Gingrich said during a GOP debate Saturday night in Iowa. "We are in a situation where every day rockets are fired into Israel while the United States -- the current administration -- tries to pressure the Israelis into a peace process."

"Somebody ought to have the courage to tell the truth,” he continued. "These people are terrorists, they teach terrorism in their schools." Gingrich added that "it’s fundamentally the time for somebody to have the guts to say enough lying about the Middle East."

He first made the "invented people" comment in an exclusive interview with The Jewish Channel.

In response to Gingrich's comments at the debate, U.S. Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) said, "That’s just stirring up trouble."

Many prominent Jewish Republicans view Paul as an isolationist whose opposition to tough anti-Iran actions and foreign aid, including for Israel, would be bad for the Jewish state. But Gingrich also drew criticism from GOP candidates with records of strong support for Israel.

Mitt Romney, who stands first or second in most polls, said he agreed with Gingrich's comments about Palestinian terrorism, but said the former House speaker went too far in publicly questioning Palestinian peoplehood.

"I happen to agree with most of what the speaker said," Romney responded. "Except by going and saying that the Palestinians are an invented people. That I think was a mistake on the speaker’s part." Romney warned against throwing “incendiary words into a place which is a boiling pot” -- and that doing so could make things harder for Israel.

Another candidate with strong pro-Israel credentials, Rick Santorum, followed Romney's comments with similar criticism of Gingrich.

In recent days, Gingrich's campaign issued a statement stressing that despite his comments on Palestinian peoplehood, he still favors the eventual creation of a Palestinian state. The statement, released by spokesman R.C. Hammond, declares that "Newt Gingrich supports a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, which will necessarily include agreement between Israel and the Palestinians over the borders of a Palestinian state."

Hammond added, "However, to understand what is being proposed and negotiated, you have to understand decades of complex history, which is exactly what Gingrich was referencing during the recent interview with The Jewish Channel."

Gingrich's comment has been criticized in even stronger terms by an assortment of Palestinian spokesmen and liberal commentators.



Gingrich Is Inspiring—and Disturbing

The first potential president about whom there is too much information.

I had a friend once who amused herself thinking up bumper stickers for states. The one she made up for California was brilliant. "California: It's All True." It is so vast and sprawling a place, so rich and various, that whatever you've heard about its wildness, weirdness and wonders, it's true.

That's the problem with Newt Gingrich: It's all true. It's part of the reason so many of those who know him are anxious about the thought of his becoming president. It's also why people are looking at him, thinking about him, considering him as president.

Ethically dubious? True. Intelligent and accomplished? True. Has he known breathtaking success and contributed to real reforms in government? Yes. Presided over disasters? Absolutely. Can he lead? Yes. Is he erratic and unreliable as a leader? Yes. Egomaniacal? True. Original and focused, harebrained and impulsive—all true.

Do you want evidence he's a Burkean conservative? Start with welfare reform in 1996. A sober, standard Republican? Go to the balanced budgets of the Clinton era. Is he a tea partier? Sure, he speaks the slashing lingo with relish. Is he moderate? Yes, that can be proved. Michele Bachmann this week called him a "frugal socialist," and there's plenty of evidence of that, too.

One way to view this is that he is so rich and varied as a character, as geniuses often are, that he contains worlds, multitudes. One senses that would be his way of looking at it. Another way to look at it: In a long career, one will shift views, adapt to circumstances, tack this way and that. Another way: He's philosophically unanchored, an unstable element. There are too many storms within him, and he seeks out external storms in order to equalize his own atmosphere. He's a trouble magnet, a starter of fights that need not be fought. He is the first modern potential president about whom there is too much information.

What is striking is the extraordinary divide in opinion between those who know Gingrich and those who don't. Those who do are mostly not for him, and they were burning up the phone lines this week in Washington.

Those who've known and worked with Mitt Romney mostly seem to support him, but when they don't they don't say the reason is that his character and emotional soundness are off. Those who know Ron Paul and oppose him do so on the basis of his stands, they don't say his temperament forecloses the possibility of his presidency. But that's pretty much what a lot of those who've worked with Newt say.

Former New Hampshire governor and George H.W. Bush chief of staff John Sununu told The Wall Street Journal this week: "Listen to just about anyone who worked alongside Gingrich and you will hear that he's inconsistent, erratic, untrustworthy and unprincipled." In a conference call Thursday, Jim Talent, who served with Mr. Gingrich in the House from 1993 through 1999, said, "He's not reliable as a leader." Sen. Tom Coburn, a member of the House class of 1994, called the former speaker's leadership "lacking," and according to a local press report, he told Oklahoma constituents last year that Mr. Gingrich was "the last person I'd vote for for president of the United States."

Sen. Lindsey Graham told a reporter that Mr. Gingrich could be a historic president if he has "matured as a person and is, for lack of a better word, calmed down." That is as close as most of those who've worked with him get to a compliment.

Yet the reservations and criticisms of the politico-journalistic establishment are having zero effect on Gingrich's support. In a Quinnipiac poll this week he moved into a double-digit lead over Mr. Romney in Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The antipathy of the establishment not only is not hurting him at this early date, it may be helping him. It may be part of the secret of his rise. Because establishments, especially the Washington establishment, famously count for little with the Republican base: "You're the ones who got us into this mess."

Republicans on the ground who view Mr. Gingrich from afar, who neither know nor have worked with him, are more likely to see him this way: "Who was the last person to actually cut government? Who was the last person who actually led a movement that balanced the federal budget? . . . The last time there was true welfare reform, the last time government was cut, Gingrich did it." That is Rush Limbaugh, who has also criticized Mr. Gingrich.

And that is exactly what I've been hearing from Newt supporters who do not listen to talk radio. They are older voters, they are not all Republicans, and when government last made progress he was part of it. They have a very practical sense of politics now. The heroic era of the presidency is dead. They are not looking to like their president or admire him, they just want someone to fix the crisis. The last time helpful things happened in Washington, he was a big part of it. So they may hire him again. Are they put off by his scandals? No. They think all politicians are scandalous.

The biggest fear of those who've known Mr. Gingrich? He has gone through his political life making huge strides, rising in influence and achievement, and then been destabilized by success, or just after it. Maybe he's made dizzy by the thin air at the top, maybe he has an inner urge to be tragic, to always be unrealized and misunderstood. But he goes too far, his rhetoric becomes too slashing, the musings he shares—when he rose to the speakership, in 1995, it was that women shouldn't serve in combat because they're prone to infections—are too strange. And he starts to write in his notes what Kirsten Powers, in the Daily Beast, remembered: he described himself as "definer of civilization . . . leader (possibly) of the civilizing forces."

Those who know him fear—or hope—that he will be true to form in one respect: He will continue to lose to his No. 1 longtime foe, Newt Gingrich. He is a human hand grenade who walks around with his hand on the pin, saying, "Watch this!"

What they fear is that he will show just enough discipline over the next few months, just enough focus, to win the nomination. And then, in the fall of 2012, once party leaders have come around and the GOP is fully behind him, he will begin baying at the moon.

There are many good things to say about Newt Gingrich. He is compelling and unique, and, as Margaret Thatcher once said, he has "tons of guts." But this is a walk on the wild side.



Why Do So Many People Automatically and Angrily Condemn Historical Revisionism?

Try pointing out that Hitler was a fairly mainstream Leftist by the standards of his day and you will know what this historian is talking about

Over the years, especially in writing for the general public, as opposed to my professional peers, I have been struck repeatedly by the frequency with which certain conclusions or even entire classes of conclusions elicit not merely skepticism, but angry denunciation. Again and again, I have been called a fool, a traitor, or an America-hater because of my commentaries on history and public affairs. Although I take no pleasure in these denunciations, I find myself not so much depressed by them as curious about them. I wonder why people react as they do, especially when my commentary rests—as I hope it generally does—on well-documented facts and correct logic.

I surely do not consider myself immune to errors, of course. But if my facts are incorrect, the critic has an obligation to say why my facts are incorrect and to state, or at least to point toward, the correct facts. If my logic has run off the rails, the critic has an obligation to state how I fell into fallacious reasoning. More often than not, however, the critic resorts immediately to name-calling and to wild characterizations of my statements and my person. Thus, I have often been called a socialist, a Marxist, a conservative, an apologist for corporations or the rich, a (modern left) liberal, or something else that by no stretch of the imagination properly describes me or my intellectual or ideological position.

Certain topics are virtually guaranteed to elicit such reactions. When I write about the welfare state and especially about government programs ostensibly aimed at helping the least-well-off members of society, I confidently expect that critics will assail me as a fascist or as an ivory-tower dweller who has no understanding of how poor people really live and no compassion for them. When I write about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in relation to U.S. economic warfare in 1939-41, I invariably attract angry personal abuse from people of delicate nationalistic sensibilities, from those chronically on the look-out for traitors, and from those who cannot imagine that the nation’s leaders, in general, and President Franklin D. Roosevelt, in particular, might have deliberately provoked a Japanese attack or refrained from warning U.S. commanders in Hawaii that an attack was coming.

When people are offended or otherwise greatly displeased by historical analysis, they often employ the term “historical revisionism” as a synonym for falsified, distorted, or doctored accounts that fly in the face of what they, their history teachers, and perhaps even the most respected university historians believe to have been the case.

The irony of such use of the term “historical revision,” which makes it practically a swear word, is that revisionism is and always has been an integral part of historical research and writing. As a rule, professional historians do not seek simply to pile up more and more evidence for what historians already generally believe. Historians who proceed in this way cannot expect to make much of a name for themselves. Instead, historians try to find new evidence and new ways of interpreting old evidence that change the currently accepted view. That is, they seek to revise the current orthodoxy. In doing so, they need not be ideological mavericks, although those who are may have an additional reason for their revisionist efforts. In short, revisionism is an unremarkable aspect of workaday historical research and writing. Why then do so many readers go ballistic about it?

One reason why revisionists are sometimes seen as subversives stems from the tendency of historians in general to accept the most fundamental aspects of their own society as right and desirable.




North Korea warns south over Christmas lights: "North Korea has warned the South against erecting Christmas lights near the heavily fortified border, saying it would retaliate against what it calls 'psychological warfare.' ... The two Koreas in 2004 reached a deal to halt official-level cross-border propaganda and the South stopped its annual Christmas illumination ceremony. But Seoul resumed the ceremony last December amid high military tensions with Pyongyang."

Airport sexual assault complaints prompt calls for on-site advocates: "Two New York politicians urged the Transportation Security Administration on Sunday to provide passenger advocates on site at airport screenings after four elderly women complained of intrusive searches by security agents in recent months. ... several elderly women came forward in the busy travel weeks around Thanksgiving to complain they were 'strip searched by TSA agents ...'"

CA: SFPD arrest 55 suppressing final Occupy camp: "Police cleared San Francisco's last remaining Occupy protest camp early today, arresting 55 people for illegal lodging. The encampment, on the sidewalk in front of the Federal Reserve Bank at 101 Market St., was the original Occupy protest site established in early October, but police had cleared it several times. The camp sprung up again Thursday after police removed campers from Justin Herman Plaza a block away."

Private venture gets go-ahead for February space station trip: "The next chapter in commercial spaceflight is due to open in February when SpaceX launches its Dragon cargo capsule for the first linkup of a private-sector craft with the International Space Station .... NASA is paying private space ventures hundreds of millions of dollars to design and build new spaceships for its use, with cargo flights to the space station scheduled to begin next year."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here (Academic) or here (Pictorial) or here (Personal)


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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