Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

I suppose I'm thankful for the subject of the last post, but I'm also thankful for many other things -- great family, great friends, great opportunities, and a great platform to express myself every day. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

DeLay Found Guilty

Former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX) has been found guilty of all counts by a Texas jury. He faces five years to life in prison for money laundering charge, plus two to 20 years for conspiring to illegally funnel corporate money to various Texas Republican candidates. He could also get probation.

This case was very messy, with allegations that even some of the judges involved were in the pocket of the DeLay machine. But the indictment was a beautiful day in my life. And the conviction is no less sweet.

DeLay maintains his innocence and is expected to appeal.

The Missing Voice

The Washington Post has added Jennifer Rubin to their stable of writers. I can't express how thrilled I am that the author of one of the more infamous anti-Semitic hit pieces in the past couple of years is joining America's preeminent political paper.

Meanwhile, a Goldblog reader points out the emergent trend of conservative pro-Israelism being expressed in seemingly anti-Israel ways. Cites include Rep. Ros-Lehtinen's break-up of Israeli/Cuban rapprochement, Rep. Eric Cantor (R-VA) trying to make it easier for Congress to vote against aid for Israel by decoupling it from the general foreign aid bill, and the hilariously-named Emergency Committee for Israel backing ex-Rep. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who voted against aid for Israel on several occasions, in his successful Senate bid against Rep. Joe Sestak (D-PA).

... and adding to the list, Republican opposition to the new START treaty. Anybody who is worried about Iran's nuclear ambitions has to be worried about the proliferation of loose nuclear material floating around. Israel, of course, has more to fear than most from nuclear proliferation extending to Iran, which is why START is so clearly critical to its long term security needs.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Back Home

Thanksgiving at my place! Everyone's invited (not really).

Meanwhile, a club shut down a pre-paid party for Harvard and Yale alums because too many Black people were on the guest list.

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Friend of My Enemy ...

Potential rapprochement between Israel and Cuba, sparked by Fidel Castro's surprisingly direct condemnation of anti-Semitism in relation to anti-Israel politics, now looks to be off, thanks to the timely intervention of Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), incoming chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Ros-Lehtinen has a reputation for being pro-Israel, but an even stronger one for being anti-Castro, and was exceptionally displeased at seeing the wide rift between Israel and Cuba be even partially bridged. Prime Minister Netanyahu has apparently written a letter of apology to Rep. Ros-Lehtinen.

I don't want to overstate things -- it was hardly the case that Israel and Cuba were on the verge of becoming besties until Ros-Lehtinen stepped in. And likewise, I don't consider what Ros-Lehtinen did to be inappropriate -- she has policy preferences which she is entitled to exercise, and furthering the isolation of Cuba matters more to her than countering the isolation of Israel. That's useful knowledge for me to have, but we're allowed to have differences of opinion.

I do think that Jeffrey Goldberg's wry comment about the relative power of "lobbies" is well-taken. But more fundamentally, this whole notion about who "controls" whose foreign policy -- that it is some unique abomination if the US adopts anything but a reckless, devil-may-care attitude towards how our foreign policy decisions impact other countries -- is substantively absurd. Countries (particularly, we'd hope, friendly countries) are constantly in dialogue with each other and adopt their policies to match the desires of their friends. Sometimes that means Israel varies its policies to suit allies in the US, and sometimes vice versa. Of course, here I think the policy Israel is being forced to pursue to appease Rep. Ros-Lehtinen is substantively bad for both them and us, but the process itself is decidedly normal.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Presto! Property

Stewart Baker on intellectual property:
Conservatives — and especially libertarians — seem like a cheap date on this issue. You’d think libertarians would have been in the forefront of objecting to governmental intrusions into our lives at the behest of a special interest — let alone the creation of a new class of quasicriminals, defined as more or less everyone who entered high school after 1996, who can be investigated and prosecuted whenever the government or some member of industry decides that they are too troublesome.

But no. For a lot of libertarians, judging by the comments to David’s post, all the RIAA has to do is call its new government-created entitlement a form of property, and, presto bingo, it’s sacrosanct.

Come to think of it, maybe I can persuade readers here that TSA’s new enhanced security measures are just fine — as long as we enforce the rules by giving all the passengers on the plane a “property” right not to travel with people who refuse body imaging and enhanced patdowns. Instead of relying on oppressive government regulation, we’d just let the passengers collect millions in “statutory damages” from noncompliant travelers.

He's riffing off of Larry Lessig's Free Culture here. The whole post is worth a read.