OpinionJournal – Best of the Web Today – November 15, 2007

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Best of the Web Today – November 15, 2007

    By JAMES TARANTO

    Editor’s note: We’re on assignment, so our column will not appear tomorrow. We’ll be back Monday.

    Today’s Video on WSJ.com: Dan Henninger on 1968, the year that won’t go away.

    Yidden Meanings
    The Concord (N.H.) Monitor misspelled a word the other day, and one reader blames the Jooz:

    What is a “kafuffle”? It’s not in the dictionary. Is it just another proofreading error? Or is it a further example of your acquiescence to the Israelization of American culture by attempting to pass obscure Yiddish words into the mainstream of the American language?

    It’s bad enough that we are steered toward war with the entire Arab world and beyond because our “friend” Israel won’t relinquish its occupation of Palestine and make peace with its neighbors. Still we are suckered into giving Israel, the 14th richest country on earth, billions and billions of our tax dollars in foreign aid every year, and we gave it carte blanche to rampage through Lebanon destroying everything in its path and inflicting collective punishment on its people, an aggression internationally condemned as a war crime, yet condoned by the Bush administration and sheepishly accepted by the American people.

    How can we hold our heads high and proud when our own county illegally attacks and invades an Arab country that had done nothing to us, killing hundreds of thousands of civilians and wrecking their entire infrastructure, clearly Bush war crimes, all for the benefit of Israel because Saddam was assisting the families of Palestinian martyrs in their struggle against the illegal Israeli occupation of their land? We shouldn’t be proud to be associated with Israel, and I don’t appreciate their insidious adulteration of our language.

    PETER DAVIS
    Laconia

    He’s a proster chamoole, this one. Besides, any shlub knows the proper spelling of “kafuffle” is “meshugas.”

    The Futility of Defeatism
    On its own, this belongs under Bottom Stories of the Day, but bear with us, because we’ve got a point to make. From CNN:

    The Democratic-controlled U.S. House Wednesday approved a war-funding bill with a timeline for troop withdrawal from Iraq and substantially less funds to conduct the war than President Bush has requested.

    The 218-203 vote was largely along party lines.

    Fifteen Democrats joined Republicans in voting against the bill while four Republicans voted in favor of it. The vote was far short of the two-thirds majority needed to override a presidential veto, which Bush has threatened.

    By The Politico‘s count, this is the Democrats’ 40th failed attempt to force retreat or surrender. (It just seems like the 400th.) And why do the Dems keep doing this? Because they think their 2006 victory was a mandate to flee Iraq. So they go back to the voters and say: Hey, we tried! We couldn’t get it done. Blame Bush!

    The trouble is, a year from now they won’t have George W. Bush to kick around anymore. If a Republican is elected president, then the Dems’ political strategy has failed, and their 2006 “mandate” for surrender is up in smoke.

    But what if Bush’s successor is a Democrat? In a way, that’s even worse for them. Hillary Clinton isn’t going to surrender, regardless of what she promises gullible primary voters; to do so would be irresponsible, and she would have to deal with the consequences. Congressional resistance to the war would melt away, as substantial numbers of Democrats side with a president of their own party (the number of antiwar Republicans would multiply, but from a very small base).

    So either way, the war goes on. But Democrats would lose the support of that portion of their base that opposes the war and not just “Bush’s war.” Their numbers may not be huge, but they are sufficient to cause big headaches for their party.

    ‘Folksy’ in Reuterville
    “The folksy president also showed he had a sense of humor,” Reuters reports. “When a reporter asked him a series of questions . . ., he joked: ‘Why don’t you shut up?’ “

    It’s hard to believe Reuters is describing President Bush as “folksy” anytime, much less in response to such an arrogant remark to a reporter.

    Hard to believe and untrue! The story actually refers to Venezuela’s ruler, Hugo Chavez. It seems Reuters has a soft spot for left-wing thugs.

    Taint Nobody’s Biz-ness if I Do
    The New York Times has published several articles by Henry Blodget, described in the most recent piece as “the author of ‘The Wall Street Self-Defense Manual’ and chief executive of Silicon Alley Insider.” Clark Hoyt, the paper’s “public editor,” has a problem with this, even though he describes Blodget as a “gifted writer”:

    Blodget is also a man with a past. In 2003, he was permanently barred from the securities industry and fined $4 million for issuing fraudulent and misleading research reports on Internet stocks, violating federal laws. . . .

    I think there are two questions here. One is whether The Times properly identifies Blodget when he writes for the paper. I don’t think so. His name was big in financial news at one time, but many readers do not know him.

    The bigger question is whether The Times should be publishing him at all. . . . I believe in second chances, and Blodget seems to be doing fine establishing a new career. But why would The Times give a former analyst who lied to investors a platform to write about financial markets? If he wanted to write about how investors can spot phony reports by analysts, that would be one thing. But each time the newspaper uses Blodget as it has, it is conferring greater expert status on him.

    These deals work two ways. The Times’s luster may help Blodget. But some of his taint rubs off on The Times.

    As blogger David Gerstman notes, Hoyt had no such reservations back in June about an op-ed by another lawbreaker:

    The . . . column was by Ahmed Yousef, a spokesman for Hamas, the party elected to lead the Palestinian government and a group dedicated to the destruction of Israel. . . .

    I agree that Yousef’s piece should have run, even though his version of reality is at odds with the one I understand from news coverage. He wrote blandly, for example, about creating “an atmosphere of calm in which we resolve our differences” with Israel without mentioning that Hamas is officially dedicated to raising “the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine,” which would mean no more Israel.

    Op-ed pages should be open especially to controversial ideas, because that’s the way a free society decides what’s right and what’s wrong for itself. Good ideas prosper in the sunshine of healthy debate, and the bad ones wither. Left hidden out of sight and unchallenged, the bad ones can grow like poisonous mushrooms.

    As Gerstman writes:

    So let’s get this straight, a guy who represents (and defends) a group [that] fires rockets at civilians is not too “odious” to appear on the op-ed pages of the Times, but a guy who misled investors but paid his debt to society it too “odious” for the hallowed op-ed pages of the Times? And that’s even though the former is writing propaganda meant to help the rocket launchers and the latter is offering expertise to help the readers?

    Trivializing Torture
    Can claims that “waterboarding” is torture be taken seriously? Here’s another datum suggesting not. Last week Newsweek’s Howard Fineman appeared on MSNBC’s “Countdown” with He Who Was Beaten Up by Little Girls. Fineman said this about waterboarding:

    The key thing is I follow Senator John McCain on this and I have talked to him about it. You know, he suffered for five years in a prisoner of war camp in North Vietnam. He’s an expert as far as I’m concerned. He says that waterboarding is torture. And that must make it so morally in this country.

    But yesterday Fineman wrote this for Newsweek’s Web site:

    George W. Bush’s cold-blooded machine had no compunction about waterboarding Sen. John McCain in 2000 or swift-boating Sen. John Kerry four years later.

    So waterboarding, in Fineman’s mind, is the equivalent of what McCain went through at the hands not of the North Vietnamese communists but of a political rival in a democratic election. If that’s the case, then we really needn’t fret over whether it’s torture.

    Man of Steel
    From an Associated Press campaign dispatch:

    [Mitt] Romney took a jab at GOP rival John McCain, the senator from Arizona, when asked a question about the influence of special interest political contributions. Romney complained that supporters of McCain are planning to organize a group that can accept unlimited donations to advertise on the senator’s behalf. McCain is the coauthor of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law, aimed at controlling special interest donations.

    “The irony is literally dripping as you look at the formation of this (group) to support Senator McCain,” Romney said.

    Literally dripping? He must have meant to say “iron.”

    Great Minds Think Alike

  • “The wonder and the beauty of it stops me cold. When you think about how each of us came into being, I think of my father Vernon and my mother Bonita, who were only together one time because she wore a poodle skirt that day. A sperm meets an egg and a life comes into being, but it is so much bigger than that. I am not here because Vernon and Bonita decided to stop on the way home from school one day. Nor are you. Your life is no accident; you were literally loved into being. You exist because God loves you.”–Oprah Winfrey, quoted by Steve Simms, author of “Your Sperm Won: Experiencing Your Value as a Championship Human Being” (1997)
  • Warren Buffett called on Congress to maintain the estate tax. . . . Heirs to vast fortunes, he said, have already won the ‘ovarian lottery’ and shouldn’t be further rewarded by the tax system.”–Bloomberg, Nov. 14, 2007

Peace Not Apartheid
Following up on our discussion this week of the attacks on Ronald Reagan by Bob Herbert and Paul Krugman*, reader Bruce Bartlett–who takes credit for starting the whole thing–writes to remind us of another 1970s racial misstep, one for which Herbert and Krugman do not seem eager to vilify the misstepper. It was described in the April 19, 1976, issue of Time:

The furor began when [Jimmy] Carter was asked in Indianapolis to explain his recent statement that there was “nothing wrong with ethnic purity being maintained” in neighborhoods. Carter replied that he wholeheartedly supports open-housing laws that make it a crime to refuse to sell or rent a house or apartment on the grounds of race, color or creed. But he opposes Government programs “to inject black families into a white neighborhood just to create some sort of integration.” Said he: “I have nothing against a community that is made up of people who are Polish, or who are Czechoslovakians, or who are French Canadians or who are blacks trying to maintain the ethnic purity of their neighborhoods. This is a natural inclination.” . . .

As the reporters persisted with their questions, Carter’s face reddened with anger, and he began to sweat. Instead of softening his language, he spoke of housing policies in terms of “black intrusion,” of “alien groups” and of “a diametrically opposite kind of family.” Some blacks began to suspect that Carter was showing signs of being a closet racist, even though his record in private and public life has demonstrated that he is not. Other critics suggested that he was using the offending words to try to win the support of white ethnics. . . .

Despite the pleas of his staff, Carter refused to retreat at first–thus giving a rare public demonstration of his obstinancy under pressure. Asked why he, a man who is generally precise and subtle in his use of language, persisted in using words that offended so many people, Carter became snappish. “You know what ‘alien’ means,” he said, “and it doesn’t have the negative connotation you are trying to put on it.” Reported Time Correspondent Stanley Cloud, who has observed Carter closely for several months: “When he is angry, he can be very, very stubborn–very much the south Georgia turtle.”

Finally, Carter backed down and apologized–and contrary to the fable, the rabbit beat the turtle!

* The former Enron adviser who went to work for Reagan’s Council of Economic Advisers after Reagan gave a speech supporting states’ rights near Philadelphia, Miss., where three civil rights workers were murdered.

Life Imitates ‘The Simpsons’

  • Kang: “Abortions for all.” [crowd boos] “Very well, no abortions for anyone.” [crowd boos] “Hmm . . . abortions for some, miniature American flags for others.” [crowd cheers and waves miniature flags]–dialogue from “Treehouse of Horror VII,” originally aired Oct. 27, 1996
  • “Ms. Rosenberg said the team members intended the sign as a personal statement that demonstrated American values and noted that it was held up at the same time some team members were singing along to ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ and waving small American flags.”–New York Times, Nov. 14, 2007

Homer Nods
In an item yesterday about a headline making reference to turtles, we used a song lyric that we thought was performed by a band called the Turtles. Several readers have written to tell us that at the time the song was recorded, the band was known as the Loving Spoonful. We regret the error.

More Trouble for Larry Craig
“Leaves Stall in Falling for Scheduled Pickup”–headline, Flint (Mich.) Journal, Nov. 14

Someone Clean It Up
“Colbert in 3-Way Tie for Va. Soils Board”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 14

But Fresh Lighter Fluid Works Better
“No Charge for 10-Year-Old Fire Starter”–headline, NewsMax.com, Nov. 13

That’s Why They’re Not Republicans
“Demos Appoint King to Lead Them”–headline, Deseret Morning News (Salt Lake City), Nov. 14

Breaking News From 1913
“Ford Touts New Technology Efforts”–headline, Ann Arbor (Mich.) News, Nov. 14

News You Can Use

Bottom Stories of the Day

  • “Man Accused in Crash Does Not Own Salon”–headline, Flint (Mich.) Journal, Nov. 14
  • “Wade Says No One Is Close to Signing With Astros Yet”–headline, Houston Chronicle, Nov. 14
  • “Cheerleading Teacher Resigns in Arizona”–headline, Associated Press, Nov. 14

The Real Enemy Is Zi–Uh, Cynicism!
Why does New Hampshire get to have the first primary in the country every presidential year? Because of the wisdom of voters like this one, who wrote to the Concord Monitor:

The coming Democratic primary will be the actual decider of the direction of our country’s future. If Hillary is chosen as the nominee, she has a solid chance of losing to a hate mob. Then we would face four more years of Republican fascism. If she wins, it’s more years of partisanship and vindictiveness–just more of the same. Or the Democrats could nominate the man who represents the breakthrough to a new era of communication and reason. The man is Barack Obama. Hillary is not electable.

PETER DAVIS
Laconia

His kvetching about Mrs. Clinton doesn’t surprise us, but his kvelling over Obama does. Given Davis’s views on the issues, we’d have taken him for a Ron Paul guy.

(Carol Muller helps compile Best of the Web Today. Thanks to Steve Edwards, Naftali Friedman, John Williamson, Mike Glasgow, Jack Archer, Jason Shanker, Bruce Bartlett, Walker Smith, Greg Faubert, Allan Grant, Curtis Laub, Ted West, Keith Jordan, Rich Lavallee, Dennis Kennedy, John Luneau, Bill Matchneer, Tim Willis, Bryan Fischer, Lee Stokes, Ed Jordan and Arlene Ross. If you have a tip, write us at opinionjournal@wsj.com, and please include the URL.)

URL for this article: http://www.opinionjournal.com/best/?id=110010867

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