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NY Times Tag

The New York Times yesterday featured an article on Hillary Clinton's electoral strategy for 2016. In short, she apparently is mimicking President Barack Obama's strategy for his second term.
Instead, she is poised to retrace Barack Obama’s far narrower path to the presidency: a campaign focused more on mobilizing supporters in the Great Lakes states and in parts of the West and South than on persuading undecided voters. Mrs. Clinton’s aides say it is the only way to win in an era of heightened polarization, when a declining pool of voters is truly up for grabs. Her liberal policy positions, they say, will fire up Democrats, a less difficult task than trying to win over independents in more hostile territory — even though a broader strategy could help lift the party with her.
There's a phrase in those two paragraphs, "era of heightened polarization," that's worth reflecting on. I know how all right thinking people lament the growing partisanship in politics, but there's a pretty clear cause and effect implicit here, though the Times won't admit it: Obama in his quest for reelection, pursuing a narrow strategy, has increased the polarization in politics. Clinton plans to follow suit. I question if this is a wise strategy for Clinton to pursue. I'm not alone.

Last week Iran's foreign minister and chief nuclear negotiator Mohammad Javad Zarif appeared in "a conversation" with columnist David Ignatius of The Washington Post at NYU sponsored by the New America Foundation. There were those in the media who described Zarif as "suave" and "diplomatic," but not everyone was impressed with Zarif's performance. Matthew Continetti went after the supposed moderate in The Appalling Mr. Zarif.
What made Zarif’s appearance all the more nauseating was his pretense of moral standing. He has none. His lecture to the United States took place as his regime held a container ship it had seized in international waters, and as evidence emerged of Iranian violations of U.N. sanctions. It is the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies such as Hezbollah and the Houthis and other Shiite militias that are fomenting and exploiting sectarian conflict in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen, and Iraq. Iran’s human rights record is abysmal. Since Zarif returned to government in the administration of Hassan Rouhani, there has been a “surge” in executions in Iran. “The authorities restricted freedoms of expression, association, and assembly, arresting, detaining, and prosecuting in unfair trials minority and women’s rights activists, journalists, human rights defenders, and others who voiced dissent” say the right-wing extremists at Amnesty International, whose most recent report catalogues the torture and cruel and unusual punishments of the Iranian regime. ... At NYU Zarif said America will have to lift sanctions on Iran “whether Senator Cotton likes it or not.” The “polite” and “respectful” audience broke into laughter—at Cotton. “I couldn’t resist,” Zarif said. No troll could.

Yesterday's New York Times editorial on the emerging nuclear deal between the West and Iran is completely delusional. I will try to tackle the editorial's arguments in the order of ridiculousness, from most to least:
Critics of any deal — including those in Congress, such as Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican of Illinois, and Senator Robert Menendez, a Democrat of New Jersey; and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel — demand complete dismantlement of Iran’s program given the country’s history of lying about its efforts to produce nuclear fuel and pursue other weapons-related activities. But their desired outcome simply cannot be achieved. President George W. Bush wasn’t able to secure that goal in 2003 when Iran had only a few dozen centrifuges, the machines that enrich uranium for nuclear fuel. Now, 12 years later, Iran has an estimated 19,000 centrifuges, not to mention scores of other facilities, including some that have been hardened to withstand a military attack.
Hold on. This is saying that a miscreant gets to determine the level of his punishment. We can't get Iran down to zero centrifuges because Iran refuses to dismantle them. This is just saying we don't have the political will to demand such a result. We haven't been able to secure that result is because we haven't tried. Certainly if we say we're going allow 6,000 or 6,500 centrifuges we're not going to get zero. But given Iran's "history of lying" we also don't know how many undeclared centrifuges it might have either. To give Iran veto power over how many centrifuges it gets to keep operating, considering its "history of lying," means that we'll be enabling it to enrich enough uranium for a nuclear bomb.

Back in December of 2013, a woman named Justine Sacco boarded a plane in New York that was bound for South Africa. She was planning to visit family for the holidays. She tweeted what was perceived as a politically incorrect message to her tiny Twitter following and by the time she landed, she was national news. While she was in the air, her tweets were discovered and promoted by writers at Gawker and BuzzFeed and then the rest of the Twittersphere went into a fury. Professor Jacobson addressed the issue:
Yesterday was the worst Twitter day of all time. Or at least the worst that I remember. Some lady no one had ever heard of and who had about 100 followers at the time sent the Tweet above. The tweet went viral.... Whoever started it, plenty of websites picked up on it and ran with it to feed the mob and not miss out on clicks and eyeballs. By the time I saw it, long after she became a hunted woman, my first impression was similar to that of John Nolte at Looks like the type of “white privilege” claptrap we read almost weekly at or Some liberal white person coming to grips with her privilege and wanting the whole world to know about it.... Racist? You’d need to know a lot more. Maybe shoot her a tweet back and ask what she meant, or look her up and send her an email before proclaiming her to be a racist. But no one could do that. She was on an airplane to visit her native South Africa. For 11 hours. And in those 11 hours she became a hated and hunted woman.... Greg Gutfeld summed it up best:
Ms. Sacco was fired from her job as a result. Here's a video report ABC News provided at the time:

In the months leading up to the first Supreme Court Obamacare decision, there was a concerted media and Democratic effort to portray the legitimacy of the Court, and particularly the legacy of Chief Justice John Roberts, as dependent on the outcome. The argument went that holding Obamacare's mandate to be unconstitutional would be such a huge interference in the political process that the Court would lose its supposed role as neutral referee and become a political player. Because as we all know, that has never happened before (/sarc), see, Roe v. Wade, etc. This pressure reportedly caused Roberts to change his vote, and to join with the for liberal members of the Court in finding the mandate justified under Congress' taxing power. Now the media pressure is mounting on Obamacare II, the subsidy case the Court accepted this term. The issue is whether the statutory language of Obamacare permits subsidies (the only way Obamacare policies are affordable for most) on the federal exchange set up when most states refused. This issue of statutory interpretation is not exceptional legally, except that the political stakes are so high. If the statute is read not to permit the subsidies, Obamacare likely crumbles of its own weight. Enter Linda Greenhouse, Supreme Court and judicial reporter for The NY Times, with scare mongering about the legitimacy of the Court, The Supreme Court at Stake: Overturning Obamacare Would Change the Nature of the Supreme Court:

Did you think it was impossible for the Times to say something nice about anyone at FOX News? I did too, until I read this column by Jim Rutenberg:
The Megyn Kelly Moment Kelly, who is now 44, grew up in Ailes’s America, in a middle-class suburb of Albany called Delmar. She was the youngest of three children, worked as a fitness instructor and went to Mass most Sundays. Her father was an education professor at the State University of New York at Albany, and her mother ran the behavioral-health department at a Veterans Administration hospital. As a teenager in the late 1980s, she lived in a mall rat’s bubble of tall hair, leg warmers and Bon Jovi; one of the popular kids, she was the type who also had friends among the other groups at Bethlehem Central High School, with names like the Dirties (hackeysack-playing stoners) and the Creamies (choir geeks). Reality intruded early. Ten days before Christmas, when Kelly was 15, her father died of a heart attack. He had canceled some of his life-insurance coverage just two months earlier. Money had been tight, and Kelly’s mother had to worry about the mortgage and other expenses. In her senior yearbook, Megyn listed her future hopes in three words: “College, government, wealth.” Kelly took a high-school aptitude test that, in a perhaps rare moment of accuracy for such tests, suggested that her ideal career was news. She applied to Syracuse in hopes of attending its well-regarded communications program; she was accepted to the school but rejected from the program, so she majored in political science instead.
It's a very long piece but worth reading in full. Of course, not everyone on the left is happy about Kelly's success.

On Sunday, the New York Times ran an editorial that compares President Barack Obama with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani---they're clearly both moderates facing hard liners in their own governments---and provided an explanation Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei's intransigence, claiming:
But Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will have the last word on any agreement, voiced new doubts on Wednesday about whether “the enemy” — America — could be trusted to really lift sanctions. His skepticism is not unfounded. President Obama has the authority to temporarily ease sanctions on Iran, and he has done that to a limited extent by allowing Iran to receive about $700 million per month in assets frozen abroad under the terms of an interim nuclear agreement that has been in place since November 2013. Even so, the power to permanently lift most sanctions lies with Congress, where many members deeply mistrust Tehran, and Republican leaders have said that new and stronger sanctions are near the top of their to­do list in the new Congress. Such a move might be justified down the road if negotiations collapse, or if Iran cheats on its commitments. But at this stage it could easily undermine the talks, split the major powers and propel Iran to speed its nuclear development.
The Times acknowledges that Khamenei, despite Obama's (overly generous) outreach, still considers the United States his "enemy." This, of course, is not a one-time remark by Khamenei, who regularly rants against "global arrogance" (read: the United States).

In an op-ed published in The New York Times on Monday, former American peace negotiator Dennis Ross wrote that it's time to hold the Palestinians responsible for turning down peace.
Since 2000, there have been three serious negotiations that culminated in offers to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Bill Clinton's parameters in 2000, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's offer in 2008, and Secretary of State John Kerry's efforts last year. In each case, a proposal on all the core issues was made to Palestinian leaders and the answer was either "no" or no response. They determined that the cost of saying "yes," or even of making a counteroffer that required concessions, was too high. Palestinian political culture is rooted in a narrative of injustice; its anticolonialist bent and its deep sense of grievance treats concessions to Israel as illegitimate. Compromise is portrayed as betrayal, and negotiations -- which are by definition about mutual concessions -- will inevitably force any Palestinian leader to challenge his people by making a politically costly decision. But going to the United Nations does no such thing. It puts pressure on Israel and requires nothing of the Palestinians. Resolutions are typically about what Israel must do and what Palestinians should get. If saying yes is costly and doing nothing isn't, why should we expect the Palestinians to change course?
Abbas, as Ross noted, torpedoed the American-sponsored peace process last year (just as former Israeli negotiator Tzipi Livni recently recounted) only to see political pressure brought to bear on Israel. Ross ends by asking, "But isn't it time to demand the equivalent from the Palestinians on two states for two peoples, and on Israeli security? Isn't it time to ask the Palestinians to respond to proposals and accept resolutions that address Israeli needs and not just their own?"

Today the New York Times, predictably, blamed Israel for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' efforts to internationalize the Palestinians conflict with Israel. According to the Times, it is Israel's fault that Abbas attempted to get the United Nations Security Council to impose an agreement on Israel and, failing that, to apply to join the International Criminal Court (ICC). In an editorial today, The Palestinians' Desperation Move, the Times argues:
Mr. Abbas began this week by insisting that the Security Council approve a resolution to set a deadline for establishing a Palestinian state, including the phased withdrawal of Israeli forces from the West Bank by the end of 2017. After heavy lobbying by the United States and Israel, the resolution received only eight of the nine votes needed to pass in the 15-member council. The fact is, the United States, which voted against the measure, supports a Palestinian state. And France, which broke with the Americans and voted in favor, acknowledged reservations about some of the details. Following this defeat, Mr. Abbas moved swiftly on Wednesday to take an even more provocative step in joining the International Criminal Court, through which the Palestinians could bring charges against Israeli officials for cases against their settlement activities and military operations. While he was under strong pressure from his constituents to do this, he knew well the cost might be great. “There is aggression practiced against our land and our country, and the Security Council has let us down — where shall we go?” Mr. Abbas said at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Note that the Times describes these moves not as wrong, but as counterproductive.

In a recent essay, Jonathan Spyer identified the likely approach the anti-Netanyahu coalition - specifically Isaac Herzog of Labor and Tzipi Livni of Hatnua - will take in preparation for the Israeli elections on March 17. Spyer writes, "The belief underlying the Israeli center-left’s campaign is evidently that if Israel is 'boxed in' it is because of its own 'extremists' and that the solution to this is greater accommodation to the U.S. administration." There's a problem with this approach, though: it may not resonate well with Israeli voters.
But if this is indeed to be the thrust of the center-left’s campaign in the elections, success is likely to continue to elude it. Israelis are deeply aware both of the threats that surround them, and of the cold attitude of the current U.S. administration toward their country. A campaign which seeks to blur or obscure these or to claim that they are largely of Israel’s own making is likely to win its proponents a further term in the opposition.
We only have to go back to last week, when Roger Cohen of the The New York Times published an interview with former Israeli peace negotiator Tzipi Livni, to see how true Spyer's assessment is. Livni, in the column, identifies Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud  Abbas as the one who torpedoed the American-sponsored peace process by failing to accept an American framework agreement, attempting to bolster a unilateral bid for statehood by signing international treaties and finally by agreeing to a unity government with Hamas. Yet even as Livni recounted Abbas refusal to negotiate in the middle of the op-ed, at the beginning and end of the article she asserts that only she and those aligned with her are moderates seeking peace. The problem is the disconnect between her accounting of Abbas' intransigence and her insistence that Likud is what's preventing peace is rather obvious. She can't convincingly claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is the major obstacle to peace when she herself has documented how Abbas scuttled the American peace efforts.

Tzipi Livni, Israel's former peace negotiator, dropped a bombshell yesterday when she explained in an interview with New York Times columnist Roger Cohen, how Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas torpedoed the American sponsored peace process earlier this year. One would think that Abbas, who claims he wants a state for his people would try and negotiate one. Instead he took unilateral actions that alienated even the likes of Livni. For those who believe that the Palestinians would benefit from statehood, Abbas' behavior is incomprehensible. Why would Abbas pass up a chance to negotiate for a state for his people, something which conventional wisdom tells us would benefit not only the Palestinians, but the whole Middle East as well? (In fact. Abbas may be refusing to compromise with Israel because Palestinians don't want him to.) But that isn't the only recent report of Palestinian leaders putting their own concerns ahead of those of their people. Neri Zilber of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy wrote Gaza's Explosion Waiting to Happen for Politico earlier this week. The central part of Zilber's report focused on the infighting between Fatah and Hamas, that has delayed the rebuilding of Gaza. Fatah, for its part, is supposed to take control of Gaza, but as one Fatah official asked "How do you expect me to go work in the Gaza Strip 'when the Qassam Brigades [Hamas’s elite military wing] goes ahead of me in both power and weapons?'” Zilber summed up the issue:
Seven years of Hamas control over Gaza would be gradually replaced by the Fatah-dominated PA, billions of dollars in donor aid would flow in, and the Gazan people would be liberated from the continued rule of an internationally-designated terrorist organization (and the continued need for an Israeli and Egyptian blockade around the territory). Or at least that was the idea. But all these plans are on hold as Hamas and the PA engage in a game of political chicken, staring each other down , a reality confirmed to me over the past month in conversations with nearly two dozen Israeli and Palestinian officials (from both Fatah and Hamas), international diplomats and non-governmental sources based in Israel and the West Bank, some of whom requested to remain anonymous so as to speak more freely.

In his column yesterday, anti-Israel columnist Roger Cohen of The New York Times talked to Tzipi Livni, candidate for prime minister and Israel's peace negotiator, about why the John Kerry-sponsored peace talks failed earlier this year. Livni tells of the three ways the Palestinians destroyed the peace talks. The administration in March had presented a framework for both sides.
Livni considered it a fair framework, and Netanyahu had indicated willingness to proceed on the basis of it while saying he had reservations. But Abbas declined to give an answer in what his senior negotiator, Saeb Erekat, later described as a “difficult” meeting with Obama. Abbas remained evasive on the framework, which was never made public.
One part of the framework was to accept the 1967 lines (really the 1948 armistice lines) as the basis of negotiations. In other words, Netanyahu made a major concession here and Abbas still refused to play ball. Still at the behest of the administration talks continued and a few weeks later, the Palestinians were at it again.
Then, Livni said, she looked up at a television as she awaited a cabinet meeting and saw Abbas signing letters as part of a process to join 15 international agencies — something he had said he would not do before the deadline.
Abbas offered the excuse that Israel was stalling. Still, this was a unilateral action outside the framework of negotiations and a broken promise. Finally, there was this:

Dueling editorials in the leading liberal papers today take vastly different approaches to the Obama administration's ransoming of Alan Gross from Cuba. On the one hand The New York Times hailed the move (and even featured the editorial translated into Spanish for those Cubans allowed to have internet access):

The administration’s decision to restore full diplomatic relations, take steps to remove Cuba from the State Department list of countries that sponsor terrorism and roll back restrictions on travel and trade is a change in direction that has been strongly supported by this page. The Obama administration is ushering in a transformational era for millions of Cubans who have suffered as a result of more than 50 years of hostility between the two nations.

Mr. Obama could have taken modest, gradual steps toward a thaw. Instead, he has courageously gone as far as he can, within the constraints of an outmoded 1996 law that imposes stiff sanctions on Cuba in the pursuit of regime change.

An editorial in The New York Times today about the ongoing P5+1 nuclear talks with Iran warns about the dire consequences of the two sides not reaching an agreement.
The consequences of failure to reach an accord would be serious, including the weakening of President Hassan Rouhani of Iran and his foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, who count as moderates in Iran, and who, like President Obama, have taken a political risk to try to make an agreement happen.
That would be terrible. Rouhani and Zarif would be weakened!  Or would it? How much political power does Rouhini have anyway? And if they have any real political power, how moderate are they anyway? As far as the first question, well, they don't call Ayatollah Ali Khamenei the Supreme Leader for nothing. In an investigative report last year, Reuters showed that Khamenei using the organizations under his control has amassed a huge fortune by property seizures. David Daoud recently wrote:
More importantly, the Rahbar [the Supreme Leader] effectively decides who will or will not be the public face of his rule—that is, who will or will not be the president of Iran. Khamenei selects the 12 members of the Shura-ye Neghahban (“Guardian Council”), which is tasked with vetting and approving presidential candidates based on their allegiance to the ideals of the Vilayat-e Faqih. The Western media often calls Iranian leaders like ex-president Mohammad Khatami and current president Hassan Rouhani “moderates” or “reformers,” but the Guardian Council’s policies render such a characterization absurd. No genuine moderate or reformist candidate can get through the Council’s dragnet. In effect, then, the vetting process and the Rahbar’s ultimate authority negate any possibility of material change in Iran’s foreign or domestic policies.
In other words not only is Rouhani not the ultimate power in Iran, he wouldn't have achieved even his limited authority unless he was a true believer in the system. Rouhani is only a "moderate" in that he's willing to talk to the West to achieve his goals, but his goals and views are identical to those of Khamenei.

Remember when President Barack Obama said that the United States will "always have Israel's back" when it comes to Israel's security---especially in regards to Iran's nuclear program? Or when Secretary of State John Kerry said that with Iran "no deal was better than a bad deal?" They were lying. The administration's aim is to make a deal with Iran even as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warns that the emerging deal "is a threat to the entire world, and, first and foremost, this is a threat to us." Kerry's negotiation team continues to operate from a premise that "any deal is better than no deal." The Los Angeles Times is now reporting that the administration has sweetened its deal to allow Iran 4000 operational centrifuges.
The Obama administration has sweetened its offer to Iran in ongoing nuclear negotiations, saying it might accept Tehran operating 4,000 centrifuges, up from the previous 1,300, according to a semiofficial Iranian news agency. The Mehr news agency also said Monday that Iran and the six world powers seeking to negotiate a nuclear deal remained divided over how much uranium-enrichment capacity the Middle East nation should be allowed to maintain, and how to lift punitive sanctions from its economy.
Ray Tayekh, a critic of the current negotiations, observed that "the U.S. sweetener may encourage Iran to drag out negotiations to see what better offer it might receive after a few more months of talks."

Few publications were more enthusiastic about last year's election of "moderate" Hassan Rouhani as president of Iran than The New York Times. Perhaps some of that enthusiasm stemmed from the possibility of engaging in commercial enterprises with the regime in Tehran. Ira Stoll editor of SmarterTimes noted the other day that The New York Times is promoting a tour of Iran accompanied by one of its journalists, Elaine Sciolino. After noting some of the peculiarities of the deal, Stoll writes:
There's no mention at all in the Times promotional language about the tour of Iran's status as a state supporter of terrorism, of its pursuit of nuclear weapons, or of its human rights abuses. For information about those abuses, anyone considering plunking down nearly $7,000 for the pleasure of accompanying a Times journalist on a "relaxing evening and dinner" after antique shopping in Iran may want to consider, first, browsing the State Department's latest human rights report on Iran. It reports that under Iranian law, "a woman who appears in public without an appropriate headscarf (hijab) may be sentenced to lashings and fined." It also says that "The law criminalizes consensual same-sex sexual activity, which may be punishable by death or flogging."

The NY Times made a rather large error the other day, and then issued a correction:
"...[Our article] gave an incorrect comparison between efforts by the president to seek allies' support for this plans and President George W. Bush's efforts on such backing for the Iraq War. The approach Mr. Obama is taking is similar to the one Mr. Bush took; it is not the case that "Unlike Mr. Bush in the Iraq war, Mr. Obama has sought to surround the United States with partners."
Hot Air points out that the Times is hardly alone in its egregious error (or was it a purposeful falsehood, otherwise known as a lie?) What's more, what took the Times ten days to figure it out, when the Times own contemporaneous coverage of the Iraq War easily refuted it? It's the old "fool or knave" question again. You might ask why we should care anymore, and I have to admit I care a lot less than I once did, because I have grown accustomed to the MSM's tendency toward stupidity/ignorance, reckless disregard for the truth, propensity to lie, blatant bias, and intense and shameless arrogance. But the process by which the Times and the rest of the MSM forms the opinions of the public (and it still is highly influential in doing so) remains a huge problem.
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