Archive for June, 2008


Israel is set to release savage killers in exchange for bodies. I hope they also release teams of assassins to follow and eliminate them. Or, better yet, give Hezbollah their bodies. Fair is fair.


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Obama’s Experience

Some people say that Obama has little experience relevant to governing. It was a striking spectacle when Kirk Watson, asked by Chris Matthews to describe Obama’s achievements, couldn’t list any. Here‘s an example of his experience, but I’m not sure it counts as an achievement:

The squat brick buildings of Grove Parc Plaza, in a dense neighborhood that Barack Obama represented for eight years as a state senator, hold 504 apartments subsidized by the federal government for people who can’t afford to live anywhere else.

But it’s not safe to live here.

About 99 of the units are vacant, many rendered uninhabitable by unfixed problems, such as collapsed roofs and fire damage. Mice scamper through the halls. Battered mailboxes hang open. Sewage backs up into kitchen sinks. In 2006, federal inspectors graded the condition of the complex an 11 on a 100-point scale – a score so bad the buildings now face demolition.

Grove Parc has become a symbol for some in Chicago of the broader failures of giving public subsidies to private companies to build and manage affordable housing – an approach strongly backed by Obama as the best replacement for public housing.

As a state senator, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee coauthored an Illinois law creating a new pool of tax credits for developers. As a US senator, he pressed for increased federal subsidies. And as a presidential candidate, he has campaigned on a promise to create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that could give developers an estimated $500 million a year.

But a Globe review found that thousands of apartments across Chicago that had been built with local, state, and federal subsidies – including several hundred in Obama’s former district – deteriorated so completely that they were no longer habitable.

Grove Parc and several other prominent failures were developed and managed by Obama’s close friends and political supporters. Those people profited from the subsidies even as many of Obama’s constituents suffered. Tenants lost their homes; surrounding neighborhoods were blighted….

Prominent among the developers involved was Tony Rezko:

Campaign finance records show that six prominent developers – including Jarrett, Davis, and Rezko – collectively contributed more than $175,000 to Obama’s campaigns over the last decade and raised hundreds of thousands more from other donors. Rezko alone raised at least $200,000, by Obama’s own accounting….

All the while, Tony Rezko was forging a close friendship with Barack Obama. When Obama opened his campaign for state Senate in 1995, Rezko’s companies gave Obama $2,000 on the first day of fund-raising. Save for a $500 contribution from another lawyer, Obama didn’t raise another penny for six weeks. Rezko had essentially seeded the start of Obama’s political career.

As Obama ascended, Rezko became one of his largest fund-raisers. And in 2005, Rezko and his wife helped the Obamas purchase the house where they now live.

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Obama and Ellison

Scott Johnson notes some powerful parallels between Barack Obama and Keith Ellison and wonders what it means. So do I. How do you feel about Hamas’s endorsement of Obama, or about Obama phone banks being run from the Gaza Strip?

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That’s how Jon Randal describes the bloggers who exposed the “death” of Muhammad al-Dura as a sham. Anne-Elisabeth Moutet asks how Charles Enderlin and French 2 TV perpetrated a fraud, and finds a culture of unaccountability and closing ranks that has little interest in the truth.

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In Memoriam: Caramel

Caramel was born on March 13, along with four brothers and sisters. He seemed to thrive, growing well and playing with the other kittens. He had the most remarkable blue eyes I’ve ever seen. He also had a sweet, gentle personality. My daughter made him a necklace to match his eyes so that we could tell him apart from his brothers more easily.

A week ago we took all five kittens to the vet for a second set of shots. Caramel weighed only one pound, less than half the next smallest kitten. Clearly, something was going wrong. Diagnosed with giardiasis, he started on medication. Soon thereafter, he stopped eating. We switched his medication and force-fed him cream and some high-calorie food. It seemed to help; he got more active, and was last seen during the night with his brothers and sisters playing with a piece of straw.

Today, however, we couldn’t find him. I came home early and searched for him for hours. Finally, I glimpsed a bit of fluff under a work table in the kitchen. It was Caramel. He was gone.

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The Supreme Court upholds the Second Amendment:

Answering a 127-year old constitutional question, the Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to have a gun, at least in one’s home. The Court, splitting 5-4, struck down a District of Columbia ban on handgun possession. Although times have changed since 1791, Justice Antonin Scalia said for the majority, “it is not the role of this Court to pronounce the Second Amendment extinct.”

Examining the words of the Amendment, the Court concluded “we find they guarantee the individual right to possess and carry weaons in case of confrontation” — in other words, for self-defense. “The inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right,” it added.

But the decision was 5-4; it could easily have gone the other way, and, if we had had a President Gore or Kerry, almost certainly would have.

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Are We Too Good to Win?

That’s Joshua Trevino‘s question as he reflects on our tendency to think that all disagreements can be addressed through dialogue. I’m reminded of Churchill’s motto to The Gathering Storm: “How the West Through Their Unwisdom, Carelessness, and Good Nature Allowed the Wicked to Rearm.” Our virtues may well prevent us from taking necessary action while it is easy. This raises two important questions: (a) Are the virtues compatible? Perhaps a good nature leads inevitably to unwisdom in the face of threats. (b) Can the good guys win without immense sacrifice? Does a good nature lead to postponement of the day of reckoning until the balance of power shifts in favor of evil?

Trevino observes that enemies of the United States always seem to prefer Democrats to Republicans, and infers from that one ought to be a Republican. Certainly, Democrats have become the party of postponement.

One flaw: The quotation he cites,

If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? But if I am for myself alone, what am I? And if not now, when?

is of course from Rabbi Hillel, in the Babylonian Talmud, Pirke Avot (The Ethics of the Fathers), 1:14.

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