The Talk: A Trip to the UN

The Talk: A Trip to the UN
September 16, 2011

Ross Freiman-Mendel: The Palestinian Authority (PA) might appeal to the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) on September 20th to seek recognition for statehood. The PA hopes to receive at the very least legitimacy from the international community and the ability to participate in all the conventions and bodies of the UN. Chip, where do you stand in this debate?

Chip Lebovitz: Where I stand on the debate belies the significance of the Palestinian Authority’s decision. There is no reason that the Palestinians shouldn’t be allowed to take their case to the UN and, in fact, it is a brilliant strategic move – most likely forcing the U.S to veto a Security Council resolution. In a sense, it’s a win-win for the PA, a veto isolates Israeli support as solely stemming from the U.S. and simultaneously strengthens the Palestinian negotiating position. A successful vote establishes legitimacy for the Palestinian state.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: The PA has indeed staged a successful publicity stunt. The UN continues to cheapen its legitimacy with and respect for Israel. Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority is uninterested in a negotiating position; interest would imply that the PA is committed to peace, when in fact they strive for existential destruction. To the dismay of Israel’s enemies, the international community will have little bearing in convincing Israel to negotiate on indefensible terms.

Chip Lebovitz: That’s the inherent problem though with the American public’s position on the whole matter – it has no nuance. Seventy-three percent of Palestinians wants peace with the Jewish people, according to a 2010 Haaretz (an Israeli newspaper) poll, while 76 percent of Americans think that the Arabs want the opposite, to destroy the Jewish state. That’s a huge and depressing knowledge gap. The PA’s decision is wrong because it is a unilateral action that in the end may provide the PA with a temporary boost in negotiating power, but will in the end, just seed more long-term resentment between the two countries. What needs to happen is a return to the negotiations that the president had supported earlier in his presidency.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: There are polls and there are actions; Haaretz found 73 percent of Palestinians want peace, yet that Palestinians have been offered that — 1967 plus swaps — three times at Camp David in 2000, Taba in 2001, and Olmert-Abbas negotiations in 2008 to no avail. Having departed from the previous Turkish, Jordanian, British, and Egyptian rulers of yore, the Israelis gave the Palestinians sovereign territory in the form of Gaza, and in came “Iranian sponsored rulers [that] have devoted all of their resources to turning it into a terror base.” Peace has failed because one side has been intransigent, and successful negotiations will not happen until the PA comes to the table willing to make mutually agreed upon swaps.

Chip Lebovitz: Don’t conflate time periods and I’m not so sure the “moderate” Mahmmoud Abbas counts as an Iranian sponsored ruler. Most people I’m sure would agree that former PA leader Yassir Arafat was foolish to walk away from the Camp David deal, but Abbas is not Arafat. Right now, Israel is being increasingly isolated in the international community, in part due to a drop in Arab support stemming from the Arab Spring. Maybe part of the PA’s intransigence is due to Israeli obstinacy – refusing even the president’s request to stop building settlements in the West Bank.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: I wouldn’t characterize Abbas, who agreed to join in a unity government with Hamas as a “moderate.” I’d like to reference my opening argument, citing the possibility of peace only after the Palestinians Authority abandons its commitments for the destruction of the Jewish state. Israel is in a really unfortunate position, surrounded by enemies on all sides and friends “only ambivalently committed to its security.”

Chip Lebovitz: I wouldn’t characterize more than $2 billion in aid per year plus unmatchable access to the world’s greatest military as ambivalent commitment. The problem here is you are suggesting that the solution is in essence what the PA is doing by taking the vote to the UN: unilateral action. Peace processes require buy-in from both sides.

————————————————————————————————

Enjoy the column? Then please feel free to send feedback to chross.talk@gmail.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Don’t forget to subscribe to the blog in the top right corner of this page and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Photo Credit: Ashitakka

Grover Norquist on Shrinking Government

“(The federal government) has no business explaining to the peasants that they need to be sending more money into the king because the king would like another castle. No more castles for the stinking King, and what the king needs to do is live within the means of the peasants he’s been looting.”

– Grover Norquist on the need for less taxes and government

ChrossTalk Episode 13: Grover Norquist

Our interview with the Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Reform, is now online. We primarily discuss his organization’s taxpayer pledge which asks all candidates running for elected office to promise not to raise taxes. The full interview with Norquist is after the jump.

Continue reading

The Talk: A Feast of Presidential Jobs Plans

The Talk: A Feast of Presidential Jobs Plans
September 9, 2011

Chip Lebovitz: This week America was treated to a jobs plan trio. GOP president candidates Jon Huntsman and Mitt Romney began the week by tossing their plans in the ring, only to be followed up by the actual president outlining his plan in front of a joint session of Congress last night. Which of the three plans did you find to be the most convincing?

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Obviously of the three, Huntsman and Romney have more conservative bents, thus I value their plans over Obama’s. Considering the specifics, Huntsman demonstrates the greatest understanding of what needs to be done. Romney’s plan is too timid and, considering his weak performance in Massachusetts, I put little faith in vague promises of spending cuts.

Chip Lebovitz: You’ve missed the main thrust of these plans, and it’s important to put these plans in context – they are campaign plans. They aren’t suppose to focus on the granular in order to avoid staking out damaging positions that might hurt them in the general election. Do you think that wanting to end the Alternative Minimum Tax, one of the most popular tax breaks, is going to go over well for Huntsman in a general election? Furthermore, you also missed the point of Romney’s plan; it’s more a veritable stew of tax cuts and more oil drilling than spending cuts, only guaranteeing $20 billion a year: no vague promises there.

Ross Freiman-Mendel: Of the two plans, Romney’s is more vague and affords him more wiggle room. On tax reform, for example, he says that he’s in favor of it “in the long run” and outlines only nominally how those reforms would manifest. That’s instructive. In contrast, Huntsman provides Krauthammer-esque specifics (a plus for me)! Regardless of what Romney promises — and citing one specific doesn’t obscure the fact that the plan is generally vague — his record in Massachusetts pales in comparison to Huntsman’s; if he can’t perform the task as Governor, why should I believe he’ll do it as the president?

Continue reading

The Forgotten Three

Entry requirements will prevent every candidate from participating at Wednesday night’s GOP Presidential debate. Some of these candidates like Representative Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.) as well as former Governors Gary Johnson of New Mexico and Buddy Roemer of Louisiana bring unique perspectives to the campaign and deserve a voice and a podium at these intra-party debates. We were fortunate enough to talk to these three contenders this week. Clicking on the pictures below will take you to the corresponding discussion.

Update: Representative McCotter will unfortunately be unable to speak with us due to scheduling conflicts.

Buddy Roemer (Wednesday Morning)

Governor Gary Johnson (Wednesday Afternoon)

Representative Thaddeus McCotter

Governor Buddy Roemer on Missing Today’s Debate and Campaign Finance Reform

“My ideas are different. I talk about money, and its corrupting influence in politics. I talk about special interests, which do bank and healthcare reform but don’t talk about nation reform. And I talk about unfair trade, because I don’t think you can create jobs in America in the 21st century unless you get a level playing field. These are my issues and nobody else talks about them. I need a debate to get known what I feel about those things.”

– Former Governor Buddy Roemer on why he should be in tonight’s debate

An edited transcript of our discussion with Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of Louisiana, Buddy Roemer is below:

Chip Lebovitz: The guidelines for Wednesday night’s debate are that a candidate must have polled at four percent in a national poll since November 2010. Are those fair? Especially given the fact that candidates like Jon Huntsman and Newt Gingrich are averaging roughly 2 percent in the polls.

Buddy Roemer: Well it is arbitrary. No doubt about it. You know it; I know it. It could be higher; it could be lower; or it could be another test entirely. It could be activity in the primaries. If a candidate declares, is he active? Does he debate with other candidates? Does he meet in forums? Does he go town-to-town? There could be a determination of the veracity of a campaign. But they’re all arbitrary. I’m not overly anxious about it. I need a debate; there’s no question about it.

My ideas are different. I talk about money, and its corrupting influence in politics. I talk about special interests, which do bank and healthcare reform but don’t talk about nation reform. And I talk about unfair trade, because I don’t think you can create jobs in America in the 21st century unless you get a level playing field. These are my issues and nobody else talks about them. I need a debate to get known what I feel about those things.

Now, they don’t let me in, but I am growing. Depending on the poll, I’m at one percent and occasionally at two. I was once at three, and four weeks ago I was at zero. I am patient. This is marathon. The election is not tomorrow. I see candidates rise and fall weekly – I’m not into that. I’m into issue development, and I’m concentrating in New Hampshire. We’re building a precinct-by-precinct organization; it’s like I were running for Governor of New Hampshire. We have limited funds – One hundred dollars is my limit. We have to spend them wisely and well. We have money in the bank. Last week was my best campaign fundraising week – about 35,000, which is about one ticket to an Obama fundraiser (laughs). The debates are very important to me to get known after being 20 years out of politics. I am irritated (laughs) that I haven’t been asked, but I am patient.

Chip Lebovitz: David Weigel of Slate has argued that you and other similar candidates like Gary Johnson and Thaddeus McCotter suffer from this negative feedback loop. You aren’t in the debates because you don’t have the requisite support but don’t have the support because you lack the name recognition that comes with being in the debates. How do you break out of that cycle, in time for the September 22nd Fox News debate?

Buddy Roemer: I’m 67, so I have some experience at building banks, campaigns, and ideas. The tried-and-true method I’ve always enjoyed is persistence, patience, focus, and it will happen. Anytime I get a crowd, I do well. I went to the Tea Party Express in New Hampshire – I was the only candidate at all three forums, and I had a crowd, and I received such a terrific response. I must be opportunistic, flexible in my approach, but persistent. I work every day at this. I believe it will happen.

Continue reading

Governor Gary Johnson on Being the Bubble Candidate

“Well that would just be real substance. Do you want to balance the budget? Ok, over what period of time? I would advocate balancing the budget immediately. What would you do when it comes to jobs? I would throw out the entire federal tax system and replace it with the fair tax.”

– Former Governor Gary Johnson on what will be missing from tonight’s debate

An edited transcript of our discussion with Republican presidential candidate and former Governor of New Mexico, Gary Johnson is below:

Chip Lebovitz: The guidelines for Wednesday night’s debate are that a candidate must have polled at four percent in a national poll since November 2010. Are those fair? Especially given the fact that you actually received more support than Jon Huntsman in a recent CNN poll.

Gary Johnson: I am getting excluded. I am the guy on the bubble every time they come up with their assessment on what these debates should be about. That is what it is. I’m working hard in New Hampshire. The focus for me is to do well in New Hampshire, hoping that a good showing there would give me an earpiece in other states.

Chip Lebovitz: Do you think you’ll have a better chance at making it into the Spetmeber 22nd debate?

Gary Johnson: I have no reason to believe that I’ll be included. I have no reason to believe. The things that I can control are how many people I get to talk to and meet-and-greet in New Hampshire. In essence, I’m running for President of the United States in New Hampshire.

Chip Lebovitz: Onto the debate itself, what should the candidates be discussing that you think might not be brought up?

Gary Johnson: Well that would just be real substance. Do you want to balance the budget? Ok, over what period of time? I would advocate balancing the budget immediately. What would you do when it comes to jobs? I would throw out the entire federal tax system and replace it with the fair tax.

Chip Lebovitz: One question that is almost guaranteed to be asked is how the candidates plan to reduce our deficit. You along with a majority of the candidates have signed the Cut, Cap, and Balance plan. Given this preponderance of support of the CCB, how do you set your deficit reduction plan apart from the rest of the field?

Gary Johnson: That pledge relative to my (overall deficit reduction) proposal doesn’t go near far enough. The pledge doesn’t really do anything besides moving forward in a positive way. I’m promising to submit a balanced budget to Congress in the year 2013, and I’m promising to veto legislation, in which expenses exceed revenues.

Continue reading

Jim Tankersly on This Week’s Series of Job Speeches

“At one of these Washington dinners reporters go to every once and while… I sat next to a Hollywood agent randomly who told me, ” I think the president is overexposed. If I were running his publicity, I would be running him out there a lot less often.”

– Jim Tankersly on if the president has given too many speeches recently.

ChrossTalk Episode 12: Jim Tankersly

Our interview with Jim Tankersly is now online. Tankersly is an economics correspondent for the National Journal. Check out some his work for the Journal here.

He also recently wrote about the impact newly nominated Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors, Alan Krueger, might have on the president’s economic policy.

We’d like to thank Jim Tankersly for joining us.