“The consequences of Bush and Rice’s passivity were disastrous. Israel didn’t lose the war, but it didn’t win, either, and that’s what it had to do to maintain its image of invincibility, which has long deterred hostile neighbors from contemplating aggression. Hezbollah didn’t win, but all it had to do was not lose, and it clearly achieved that goal, enhancing its reputation as the power that had stood up to the Zionists and faced them down.” In his discussion of the recent Mideast summit in Annapolis (which publicly aimed to kickstart peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and privately aimed to pry Syria further away from Iran), Slate‘s Fred Kaplan brings up a crucial — and missed — opportunity for diplomacy last year, during the Israel-Lebanon crisis. “(By the way, this may have been the genesis of a new Israeli verb, lecondel—in Hebrew, ‘to Condel,’ short for ‘to Condoleezza’ — meaning, as the New York Times’ Steven Erlanger has explained, to come and go for meetings that produce few results.)” And, speaking of political linguistics, it turns out that Annapolis, however picturesque, might not have been the best place to hold the summit — In Arabic, “Annapolis” roughly translates to “I am the Police.”
“‘They started out watching me bust my ass, and I became part of their lives,’ Knievel said. ‘People wanted to associate with a winner, not a loser. They wanted to associate with someone who kept trying to be a winner.” Robert “Evel” Knievel, 1938-2007.
“In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views…All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong.” The vagaries of the simmering “Schtup-gate” (so coined by Salon‘s Joan Walsh) and Qatargate controversies aside, it seems the Giuliani campaign suffers from an even more basic problem: Its candidate just makes up numbers as he sees fit. “‘He’s given us a lot of work up until now,’ said Brooks Jackson, the director of Annenberg Political Fact Check, which is part of Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania that has corrected statements by candidates in both parties.“
“‘Embarrassing,’ Zach Randolph said…’I don’t know what else to say.‘” Sadly, the Knickerbocker meltdown continues. In an nationally-televised game on TNT, the Knicks get blown out in Boston, 104-59, “their third-worst loss and their second-worst scoring performance of the shot-clock era.” (The only reason it wasn’t the worst-ever was because Nate Robinson hit a 37-foot three-pointer at the final buzzer.) “In an incredible display of surrender, with 8:09 left and the Celtics mounting a 50-point lead on Eddie House’s jumper, a Knicks fan sitting behind the basket ripped off his blue Knicks jersey, threw it onto the court in a rage and marched up the stairs and out of the building as Celtics fans applauded.” I saw that guy (yes, I was watching this fiasco rather than the Cowboys-Packers game), and knew exactly how he felt. Really, how much worse does it need to get? Look at the picture above — It’s only the second quarter, and nobody’s listening to Isiah. Fire him already.
In more intriguing New York area news, Obama and Bloomberg do breakfast in midtown. “[Bloomberg spokesman Stu] Loeser said among the topics discussed were global warming, homeland security, education, and the economy. He added that Bloomberg wasn’t there for any other agenda such as joining forces as Obama’s wingman against Clinton.” (And, keep in mind, the mayor dined with Chuck Hagel this past week as well.) Still, Bloomberg does appear to be an Obama fan. When he tested the waters for his own bid this past summer, it was suggested Hizzoner wouldn’t run against the Senator from Illinois.
“It ought to be borne in mind that Romney is not a mere rank-and-file Mormon. His family is, and has been for generations, part of the dynastic leadership…It is not just legitimate that he be asked about the beliefs that he has not just held, but has caused to be spread and caused to be inculcated into children. It is essential. Here is the most salient reason: Until 1978, the so-called Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was an officially racist organization.” Slate‘s Chris Hitchens explains why Mitt Romney needs to start being more forthright about his Mormonism. I’m inclined to agree — if nothing else, he needs to clear the air as Kennedy did in his 1960 address to Southern Baptists (a strategy Romney avoided in his run against JFK’s little brother in 1994.)
A self-proclaimed paragon of virtue, Governor Romney has recently been publicly tsk-tsking Barack Obama’s candor about his drug use. But I doubt I’m the only American who’d feel more sanguine about my child experimenting with marijuana than he or she espousing some of the notions that the Mormon Church declared holy writ within my lifetime. “[I]n antebellum Missouri and preaching against abolition, Smith…announced that there had been a third group in heaven during the battle between God and Lucifer. This group had made the mistake of trying to remain neutral but, following Lucifer’s defeat, had been forced into the world and compelled to ‘take bodies in the accursed lineage of Canaan; and hence the negro or African race.’ Until 1978, no black American was permitted to hold even the lowly position of deacon in the Mormon Church, and nor were any (not that there were many applicants) admitted to the sacred rites of the temple.” As Hitchens aptly points out, “Mitt Romney was an adult in 1978. We need to know how he justified this to himself, and we need to hear his self-criticism, if he should chance to have one.” Update: Facing a surprising (to him) Huckabee surge among Christian conservatives, Mitt Romney announces he’ll discuss his faith in a major speech next Thursday, akin to Kennedy’s 1960 address. I presume he won’t be delving into this former aspect of his faith, but you never know.
Quite a few new movie images popping up on the grid today…Then again, it’s that time of year, when the mags roll out the 2008 previews. Here, it appears to be Take Your Son (Shia LaBoeuf) to Work Day for Henry Jones, Jr., PhD (Harrison Ford). Steven Spielberg’s Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull is slated to arrive May 22, 2008, and it, like The Dark Knight, should have a trailer kicking around relatively soon. (A few more pics of Indy looking suitably grizzled are over here at AICN.)
“‘It’s already done, basically,’ the insider describes.” Is the Hollywood writers’ strike, now entering its fourth week, close to resolution? According to one report, definitely maybe. “I was told not to expect an agreement this week. But my source thought it was possible that the strike could be settled before Christmas.“