What Salam Fayyad’s departure means: “When Fayyad is gone, at least two effects are probable. First, donors will be even more reluctant to give. . . . Second, those Palestinian police forces may revert to what such groups were under Arafat: Fatah gangs. In the last year they had already begun to slip from Fayyad’s control and report more to Abbas, and this dangerous trend will now develop faster.” Read the whole thing.
How to insult a close ally. “The US is to send distinctly low-key official representation to Lady Thatcher’s funeral on Wednesday, with a delegation led by George Shultz and James Baker, who both served as US secretary of state while Thatcher was in power. While Barack Obama was invited, he has opted to send a presidential delegation comprising no serving politicians.” Doesn’t Joe Biden do funerals any more? (Former VP Dick Cheney, however, is going on his own.)
Who imagined that raising tax rates would be the end of the Obama administration tax grab? “The area most Americans consider untouchable is their retirement accounts, their IRAs and 401(k)s, which aren’t subject to tax until withdrawal. Slipping money into an individual retirement account has sometimes been difficult, but most Americans assume that their treasure may germinate undisturbed. Many people maintain several such accounts, valued souvenirs of otherwise painfully remembered job changes. Thoughts of these nest eggs growing safely kept many a citizen sane through the ruction of 2009, 2010 and 2011. This budget would crack the eggs.”
When they get done squabbling the House can begin negotiating. “President Obama is struggling to convince House Democrats that a proposed cut to Social Security benefits has a place in the deficit fight. The White House on Tuesday sent its top economic adviser to the Capitol to meet with the Democratic Caucus in an effort to soothe the outcries over Obama’s plan to cut the popular seniors benefit by adopting the so-called ‘chained CPI’ formula in his 2014 budget.” He might want to check in with Senate Dems who don’t like it either.
Why is it the president puts so much stock in Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan? “A Turkish court this week convicted one of the country’s most famous musicians for insulting Islam, highlighting building fears over protection of freedom of speech in the country.” Good grief.
Where to begin in the abortion debate? Here’s a good start: “There could be an honest debate about abortion standards and practices if pro-choice advocates acknowledged the prioritization of access over safety and quality. Kermit Gosnell’s clinic of horrors was more shocking to the conscience than the average botched abortion, but there is no shortage of horrible stories that come out of abortion clinics. This isn’t just about Kermit Gosnell – it’s about broad national norms and practices of abortion clinics nationwide.”
Because it is still possible Bashar al-Assad could win. “It would be a tragedy if, in addition to prolonging the war and increasing the suffering, America’s passivity were to allow Assad to remain in power. This would be a victory for Iran and Hezbollah and a blow to the U.S. and our interests and allies in the region. It is not too late to prevent such a dire outcome, but Obama must be willing to do more than he has done hitherto–namely, providing arms to the rebels and imposing a no-fly zone to ground Assad’s murderous air force.”