Saturday, January 07, 2012

Navy Destroyer Rescues Iranian Fishermen from Pirates

Chalk up another victory for the big deep* blue:
A Navy destroyer rescued 13 Iranian fishermen held hostage by Somali pirates in the Arabian Sea only days after Tehran warned the United States to keep its ships out of the nearby Persian Gulf.

Sailors from the guided-missile destroyer Kidd boarded the Iranian dhow Thursday and detained 15 Somalis after one of the fishermen was able to reveal in a radio communication that his vessel's crew was being held captive.

Faller said the decision to go to the aid of the Iranians was standard practice for the Navy when alerted that another ship needed aid. "We saw a need and moved in to help people at sea who were in distress," he said.

It is not unusual for Navy vessels to assist Iranian ships, Faller said, adding that his task force had helped an Iranian vessel last year.

Iran had been making noises about American naval presence in the area, but had only praise for the successful rescue operation.

Still, you have to wonder which will be the first GOP presidential candidate to say we should have let them die.

* I guess there is more sky than water, but water goes deeper.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Iowa Reveals the GOP's Anti-Israel Slant

For the past few years, Republicans have incessantly attempted to argue that Barack Obama -- one of the most authentically Zionist politicians America has ever seen -- is "anti-Israel". It was always a laughable claim. But it's more so given the three Republican candidates who finished in an essential dead-heat for first place amongst Iowa Caucus voters: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Ron Paul. None of them can lay a strong claim to being "pro-Israel", and two of them I think have to be considered actively antagonistic to Israel's perpetuation as a Jewish, democratic state.

Start with Mitt Romney. Romney famously declared that Obama "threw Israel under the bus" because he said a peace agreement should be based on 1967 borders. I remain baffled by what other basis there might be for a two-state solution (The partition plan? Drawing straws?), and I doubt Romney has any better idea, because I doubt Romney actually knows or cares that much about Israel's longevity.

But you know what? Spot them Romney. Let's just look at Paul and Santorum. Paul is an easy case -- his own aides admit he's been anti-Israel, and belated efforts to describe his isolationist foreign policy as the most pro-Israel act of all notwithstanding, few in the Jewish community see him as a friend.

That leaves Santorum, who is filling the niche of this year's Mike Huckabee. And like Huckabee, Santorum has come out as a one-stater, proclaiming that everyone currently residing between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean is an "Israeli" and thus the West Bank should be part of Israel, permanently. Since all Israelis must presumably be given equal rights of suffrage (among other things), this will render Israel's Jewish majority precarious at best and likely lead to its demise as a Jewish state.

He joins folks like Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) as part of the Hamas wing of the Republican Party, as the radical one-state policies they espouse bear far more in common with the ambitions of the Islamist terrorist movement than they do those of any Israeli government or serious political party. And what we've seen is that, amongst Republican voters, this sort of outlook -- one that is fundamentally apathetic, at best, towards Israel's long-term survival as a Jewish, democratic state -- is overwhelmingly popular.


A African-American teenage girl from Dallas who had been reported missing for over a year has finally been found. In Colombia. Where she was deported.

To be clear, this girl is an American citizen and speaks no Spanish. But ICE screwed up and sent her packing anyway, and she's been working in Colombia ever since. Now that her identity has finally been cleared up, negotiations are underway to bring her back to the states, but the Colombian government is currently detaining her for reasons unknown.

"Critics" of CNN Say....

Reporting on the decision of Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) to drop out of the GOP presidential primary after getting thrashed in the Iowa Caucuses, CNN feels compelled to resort to one of my least favorite journalistic constructions:
Bachmann's withdrawal is a blow to many die-hard tea party conservatives. The congresswoman, a leading populist conservative in the House of Representatives, has often led the GOP's rhetorical charge against President Barack Obama's agenda.

Critics, however, have often accused her of playing loose with facts and making irresponsible accusations. (Emphasis added)

The problem here is that it isn't a matter of "critics" saying that Bachmann plays fast and loose with the facts. It is verifiably true that Bachmann has lied on several, high-profile occasions. Indeed, CNN details these lies in the next several paragraphs, from accusing Democrats of being responsible for the Swine Flu, to claiming an Obama trip to India cost $200 million/day (and the HPV vaccine debacle could and should have been added).

But of course, it would be partisan to simply say that a politician known to lie and toss out wild, irresponsible speculations lies and tosses out wild irresponsible speculations. So they have to hide behind "critics", so they can keep themselves safely within he said/she said land.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Israel and Palestinian Envoys Talk about Talks

Israeli and Palestinian officials have been meeting in Amman, Jordan to try and reignite stalled peace talks. The talks can't actually be called "talks" because of various diplomatic corners folks have painted themselves into (most notably, Palestinian refusal to negotiate prior to a settlement freeze). But the point is it represents some sort of defrosting, and that can only be a good thing.

Of course, this means the usual suspects are trying to undermine these proto-talks. But that's always going to be part of the landscape.

Rounding the Bend

Happy 2012, people!

Jill and I had college friends over for the weekend, which was a blast. They left today, and that winds us down a little bit -- though we're taking a trip to Vegas next weekend. After that, we're pretty quiet until the end of the month.