The Incredible Shrinking Offer Clinton Made To Netanyahu

November 16, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Remember that offer resulting from that marathon session between Netanyahu and Hillary Clinton? It was supposed to offer the kinds of goodies that were just enough for Bibi to get his cabinet to approve the 3-month extension of the settlement freeze, bring Abbas back to the peace talks, and get the talks on their way on a one-year trip to peace.

What happened?

Well, for starters-it turns out that something that was on the table previously was actually taken off the table by Clinton:

What is different about the current U.S. package from a draft version that was presented to the Israelis in September and October is that the latest one does not explicitly mention the U.S. agreeing to a long-term Israeli Defense Forces presence in the Jordan Valley – on the West Bank/Israel’s eastern front with Jordan, [Washington Institute for Near East Policy’s David] Makovsky said.

An Israeli presence there in the Jordan Valley is a key strategic point for Israel, but one that Abbas has objected to, preferring an international force (probably modeled after the UNIFIL presence in Lebanon, based on its record of enforcing UN Resolution 1701).

Secondly, what about those 20 F-35 fighter jets? The US is now hedging on those promised jets to Israel:

Supporters of the freeze have cited the US offer to give Israel 20 F-35 joint strike fighter jets worth $ 3 billion as a critical reason to support the deal; the initial details of which were hammered out last Thursday between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

But when quizzed about the weapons offer, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said, “We are committed to maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge in the region – but beyond that, I’m not going to comment.”

Not surprisingly, Netanyahu is insisting that he will not bring the proposed US offer before the cabinet until he has it in writing:

The official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will present the offer to his Cabinet only upon receiving written guarantees which “reflect the understandings reached during his talks with Hillary Clinton in New York.”

That insistence may be in response to a further change in Clinton’s offer. Arlene Kushner writes that the US may be trying to take back another promise Clinton made to Netanyahu:

A charge has been made by one Israeli official that the discontent on the Palestinian Arab side is keeping the US administration from finalizing the proposal to Israel. Tension between Israel and the US has been reported with regard to the Israeli demand that everything be in writing. According to this official, the US would like to water down the original understanding — removing the promise that no further freeze would be expected of Israel — in deference to Palestinian Arab demands.

One can only wonder what-if anything-will be left of Clinton’s promises to Netanyahu by the time the final written copy appears before Bibi’s cabinet.

At one point, the claim was that with Clinton’s promises in hand, a vote to continue the moratorium would be a sure thing, albeit by a razor-thin margin.

But now, one wonders how many of those promises the US is willing to actually stand by and put into writing.

At the very least, it does not make Hillary Clinton look good.
I guess that means now she knows how Obama feels.

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Daled Amos

Refudiate, Sarah Palin’s Made Up Word, Named “Word Of The Year”

November 15, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


An unquestionable buzzword in 2010, the word refudiate instantly evokes the name of Sarah Palin, who tweeted her way into a flurry of media activity when she used the word in certain statements posted on Twitter. Critics pounced on Palin, lampooning what they saw as nonsensical vocabulary and speculating on whether she meant “refute” or “repudiate.”

From a strictly lexical interpretation of the different contexts in which Palin has used “refudiate,” we have concluded that neither “refute” nor “repudiate” seems consistently precise, and that “refudiate” more or less stands on its own, suggesting a general sense of “reject.”

Although Palin is likely to be forever branded with the coinage of “refudiate,” she is by no means the first person to speak or write it—just as Warren G. Harding was not the first to use the word normalcy when he ran his 1920 presidential campaign under the slogan “A return to normalcy.” But Harding was a political celebrity, as Palin is now, and his critics spared no ridicule for his supposedly ignorant mangling of the correct word “normality.”

And like “normalcy,” refudiate is not a real word.

This comes from the New Oxford American Dictionary. I suppose the idea of being the guardians of the English language hadn’t occurred to them.

H/T: David Weigel

Outside the Beltway

Missing 13 Year Old Sarah Maynard Found Safe, One Arrest Made … Stephanie Sprang, Tina Herrmann & Kody Maynard Still Missing

November 14, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

13 year old Sarah Maynard who has been missing since November 10, 2010 was found safe found safe inside a Columbus Road home in Mount Vernon, OH. She has been taken to the hospital for an evaluation. According to reports, one person was taken into custody by police and charged with kidnapping. 30 year old Matthew Hoffman was arrested at his home that is approximately 10 miles from Tina Herrmann’s home.

Sarah Maynard Found Safe

A 13-year-old girl who was missing with three other people was found safe on Sunday morning.

Sarah Maynard was last seen on Wednesday.  Sources told 10TV News that the girl was found safe inside a Columbus Road home in Mount Vernon.

Maynard was taken to Knox Community Hospital for evaluation, 10TV News reported.

UPDATE I: SWAT team found Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in the basement of a home in Mount Vernon, Ohio

A SWAT team found Sarah Maynard bound and gagged in the basement of a home in Mount Vernon, Ohio, Knox County Sheriff David Barber said at a news conference today.

The man who lives in the house, 30-year-old Matthew Hoffman was arrested and charged with kidnapping, Barber said.

Maynard was taken to Knox Community Hospital for evaluation, the sheriff said.

“She was being held against her will,” Barber said. “She is in good in good condition.”

Matthew J. Hoffman has been charged with Sarah Maynard’s kidnapping.

Sheriff Barber said Hoffman  listed two residences.  One was at 49 Columbus Road where Sarah was found.   The second was at 3730 Apple Valley Drive.

The second address is a home owned by Hoffman’s parents and is within walking distance to the home from which the four people were reported missing last Wednesday.

Today’s events began when The Mount Vernon News reported law enforcement officers forced entry into the home on Columbus Street around 7:45 a.m.

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Scared Monkeys

How Beer Made Us Civilized

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Charles Q. Choi interviewed archaeologist Brian Hayden on how beer may have aided in the rise of civilization:

Feasts are essential in traditional societies for creating debts, for creating factions, for creating bonds between people, for creating political power, for creating support networks, and all of this is essential for developing more complex kinds of societies… The brewing of alcohol seems to have been a very early development linked with initial domestication, seen during Neolithic times in China, the Sudan, the first pottery in Greece and possibly with the first use of maize.

(Hat tip: Max Read)

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Expecting All Of Bush Tax Cuts To Be Made Permanent?

November 13, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

Do not expect this president to agree to anything more than a temporary extension of the tax cuts.
American Thinker Blog

“The President Ultimately Made the Call”

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

GQ has another of those articles describing Eric Holder’s failed efforts to restore DOJ’s independence and sustain rule of law as Attorney General. There are a few new details in there-such as details of what torture was described in the CIA IG Report but must be among the redactions (notably, strangling of one prisoner).

As he flipped through the pages of one report, Holder told me, reading descriptions of field agents holding a power drill to the head of one prisoner, strangling another, battering some, waterboarding others, and threatening to rape their wives and children, he was filled with “a combination of disgust and sadness.”

The piece is more rich in capturing Holder’s self-denial, his attempts to ignore that his actions directly violate principles he laid out before he became Attorney General.

“But before the inauguration,” I said, “both you and the president said that habeas should apply to enemy combatants.”

“I’m not sure I ever opined on that,” Holder said.

“I could read you a quote.”

Holder laughed uncomfortably.

“Here’s the quote: ‘Our government authorized the use of torture, approved secret electronic surveillance without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants,’ and a few other things.”

Holder was silent. “But I was talking about Guantánamo,” he said. “I’m pretty sure I was talking about Guantánamo.”

But I’m most interested in a fairly subtle moment, when a former White House official (it might be someone like Greg Craig) made it clear that Obama, not Rahm, made the decision to have the White House pick the venue for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed’s trial.

“It was wildly unfortunate,” says David Ogden, Holder’s former deputy attorney general. “The president gave that decision to the attorney general. The attorney general made it. Then the White House had to deal with a political reality in Congress. And the situation was assessed as being politically untenable.” Others are less forgiving, calling Obama’s capitulation an insult to Holder and a regression to the arbitrary policy of the Bush years. “There is an important principle at stake here,” Holder told me. “You don’t shy away from using this great system for political reasons. It hampers our ability as we interact with our allies if we don’t stand for the rule of law when it comes to a case that is politically difficult to bring.” Among Holder’s political allies, the blame for KSM lay not with Rahm but Obama. “Rahm was critical,” says one former White House official. “But the president ultimately made the call.”

The whole piece seems to lay out Holder’s angst as he decides to stick around after being stripped of his independence. Given this detail-the the President himself replaced justice with politics-he really ought to think seriously about regaining his principle by leaving.

Related posts:

  1. As Axe Slams Rahm from One Side, Greg Craig Slams from the Other
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  3. The Anonymous Coward Returns


“God Made It” Ctd

November 12, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

About those poppy seeds

The birth of a couple’s first child is supposed to be a joyous occasion — and for the first three days, it was for Elizabeth Mort and her partner Alex Rodriguez. But then the commonwealth of Pennsylvania took their young daughter away after the hospital where she was born reported the mother for testing positive on a drug test. Her drug of choice? An "everything" bagel from Dunkin’ Donuts.

"The best thing in my life had been taken from me and there was nothing I could do to get her back," Mort says. For five excruciating days, officials with Lawrence County Children and Youth Services (LCCYS) kept mother away from child, all based on a positive drug test they didn’t even bother to investigate — and which the hospital never even informed the mother about.

Scott Morgan seethes over the story.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

A Veteran’s Story Made for the Movies

November 10, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

One meets some of the most interesting, some of the most endearing people sometimes by pure chance.

So it happened that I met an unassuming young lady, a veteran, about two years ago. She had been an Air Force medic during Operation Southern Watch in 1999. She is a hero who was awarded the Airman’s Medal, one of the highest military decorations for heroism involving risk of life.

I wrote about her shortly after I met her and, again, on the occasion of Veterans Day here.

About two months ago, I met a fascinating not-so-young man, also a veteran. He served as a B-17 bombardier in Europe during World War II. He is also a hero and, in addition, he continues to be a hopeless romantic.

On the occasion of Veteran’s Day tomorrow, I have written about him:

I met John just a couple of months ago.

He told me he was of French descent. That, I believed immediately.

He also told me he was 90 years old. That, I could hardly believe.

He then told me his life story. I could say “unbelievable,” but that would be an understatement.

As will become apparent, the story of John Tschirhart is one that you would only expect to see in a compelling, haunting movie about romance, amour, passion and heartbreak; about war, suffering, intrigue, spies and heroism and, yes, perhaps some stronger stuff, too, but we’ll keep this one PG-13.

To read the rest of the fascinating story about this World War II veteran, please click here.

Photograph courtesy John Schirhart, bottom row, left.

The Moderate Voice

“God Made It” Ctd

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 

A reader writes:

I don't think it's entirely accurate to describe something as extensively bred and manipulated as marijuana as "a naturally occurring weed," any more than it would be to say the same of the latest prize-winning hybrid tea rose. You're talking about something intensively cultivated, messed with, genetically tweaked. If it were legal, most of those fancifully-named varietals in the dispensaries would have patents attached to them, just like all the mint varietals at, say,, an herb specialist in Canada.

Speaking of Richters, here's what they have to say about opium poppies:

Because opium poppy seeds are used in baked goods and other foods, they are legal to possess and use in most countries. But growing the plants, even if only for seeds or as an ornamental flower, may not be strictly legal in many of those same countries. Still, a long history of cultivation in flower gardens suggests that authorities choose to overlook the plants as long as they are not grown for opium. If you have any concerns about the legal status of growing these poppies in your garden, please seek legal advice before planting.

There are lots of things Richters says it can't legally ship to the US. Some are just invasive pests (e.g. kudzu), but others are banned as psychotropic drugs of one kind or another. Whether this is just Richters being cagey, or an actual US government ban, I don't know. But it's simply not true that there's no legal cloud over other psychotropic plants. Peyote? Coca? "Magic mushrooms"? Ma huang?

And I don't get the significance of your "without processing" disclaimer. It is supposed to matter that all you need to do with MJ is set it on fire, as opposed to those tedious fermentation processes you have to use with hops and grapes, or whatever the hell is involved in making cocaine and heroin? What possible moral difference can that make?

Another passes along the above video and writes:

Botany of Desire has a fascinating segment on cannabis.  Starting at 12:30 they explain how cannabis has evolved.  "The key to that transformation was stripping away the rule of nature and replacing it with our own."


Regarding your statement that "we do not ban poppies in America, even though some could be processed for opium" - actually, poppies are illegal in the US, though it's weirdly and subjectively enforced. Michael Pollan wrote a great article about it.


We do not ban poppies generally, but we do ban opium poppies.  In 19th century America, opium poppy was a popular ornamental, and came in different colors.  It grows taller than other species of poppy, and gives a brilliant display of flowers.  Then growing it in your flower garden was banned.

As for poisonous mushrooms, many of them require tree partners to grow, and the cultivation techniques have not been worked out.  For example, try intentionally growing amanita phalloides, aka "the destroying angel" (severe liver damage in every bite! Delicious too.)  If you should succeed, you should try to get a masters thesis in botany out of it.  People have repeatedly tried and failed to grow morels, which are edible, delicious, and highly sought after by gourmets.  (I found some once in the woods and had them fried in butter.  Niiice.) 

Problem?  In nature, they grow symbiotically in the company of trees.  So, intentional cultivation of many species of poisonous mushrooms, or many non-poisonous species such as morels and truffles, is not the potential problem you make it out to be.  The mushrooms we do know how to cultivate came to be cultivated because people took the effort to figure it out due to market demands, and without fail, they are not the kind of mushrooms which form symbiotic relationships with plants.


You wrote, “We do not ban poison ivy, or inflict legal penalties for those who have it in their yards.” That is not entirely true. In Minnesota, for example, “noxious weeds” are banned by statute. Poison ivy and hemp are among the 11 designated plants (PDF). Landowners technically have a legal responsibility to eradicate. Of course, in reality, no one is ever punished for failing to spray poison ivy.

I understand that current marijuana crops are highly horticulturalized products. But my point remains: it can still exist as a simple weed. I stand corrected, however, on the banning of various plants, and vastly more informed on this whole topic because of Dish readers's knowledge and expertise. Thanks.

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The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

“God Made It”

November 9, 2010 · Posted in The Capitol · Comment 


A reader writes:

In defending the legalization of pot, you rely very heavily on an appeal to nature: "My view - regardless of the arguments back and forth about the effects of marijuana - is simply that it is absurd for any government to prevent people from growing a naturally-occurring plant that requires no processing to provide humans with pleasure."

What does it matter whether or not marijuana is naturally-occurring?

It seems to me that what matters here is the drug's effect on individuals and society, not the purely accidental fact that the drug happens to come from a plant. If marijuana were made in a factory, would you be less in favor of its legalization? Suppose a method was discovered for efficiently producing THC in a lab - should this "synthetic pot" be any less legal than the grows-in-the-ground variety? Why? Or suppose that crack cocaine grew straight out of the ground - would this count as a reason to favor its legality? Or suppose a hypothetical plant that caused people to punch other people in the face. Would the fact that it's naturally occurring make you any more or less inclined to outlaw this plant?

My point, of course, is that the controlling issues in any drug debate are the pleasures and harms caused by the drug - not where the drug originates or how it's produced.

Another writes:

While I support the legalization of MJ, I wonder if you also think this applies to coca plants and opium poppies.  You can chew the leaves of coca plants directly for a buzz - should that be legal to grow?  Opium poppies need processing to produce opiates.  Does it make sense to legalize them and simply make the processing of them illegal?

The case for legalization rests on much firmer ground than the fact that this substance grows naturally. But I do find it interesting when a government tries to ban a resilient, naturally occurring weed that can grow in gardens - just because it can provide pleasure to human beings. And the fact that we have to come up with weird analogies - a plant that caused people to punch others in the face! - reinforces this point. And we do not ban poppies in America, even though some could be processed for opium. We do not ban poisonous mushrooms. We do not ban poison ivy, or inflict legal penalties for those who have it in their yards. I don't know of many crops, like hemp, that are also banned, even though their uses are manifold and were once integral to the US economy.

And yes, I do think that banning certain industrial or chemical procedures that try to turn naturally occurring substances into something more potent is the same thing as banning nature itself. There's something poetic about government's absurd over-reach when it reaches down to the very earth and declares itself master.

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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