Editors' Blog

Okay, All Good. Crisis Averted.

As you've no doubt seen, a stretch of the Northeast, from New York to Boston, is bundling down for a mammoth blizzard that may be anywhere from a historic storm to just a big storm. Our New York City staff is going to be working remotely tomorrow; our headquarters will be closed. But personally the major crisis was that I had let this epic storm coincide with our getting perilously low on my supply of Grady's Cold Brew Ice Coffee. And in case you think I'm kidding, I'm not.

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Will It Matter?

I've been reading through your responses to my earlier post on the Netanyahu/Boehner Pact and the speech imbroglio. The question many of you are asking is, Will it matter? Will it have an effect? The simple answer is, I don't know. Unfortunately, that's the complicated answer too: I don't know. With anything to do with Israeli politics in the last quarter century, an important first rule of thumb is: do not underestimate Benjamin Netanyahu. The man is a scoundrel and deeply damaging to Israel's future. But as I noted earlier, he is a master of manipulating the pliable and broken parliamentary dynamics of the Israeli state and he repeatedly made himself as necessary and he is disliked. It is amazing how many things the guy has come back from.

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A Step Too Far

There seems to be a growing backlash to the Netanyahu-Boehner speech stunt, both in the United States and Israel. As you can see from our current feature story, former Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren has said the speech threatens a rift with the US and should be canceled. I want to say more about Oren's remarks and their context. But before getting to that, a few other developments.

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Quote of the Day

"Senior American official" as quoted by Haaretz: "We thought we've seen everything. But Bibi managed to surprise even us. There are things you simply don't do. He spat in our face publicly and that's no way to behave. Netanyahu ought to remember that President Obama has a year and a half left to his presidency, and that there will be a price."

Meanwhile, Netanyahu's office has tried to paper over the confrontation by calling the congressional invitation bipartisan. But Democrats were quick to note that is not true. Even American Jewish groups who seldom allow any daylight between themselves and the Israeli government appear shocked by Netanyahu's move and are having difficulty defended it.

Yes, Republicans Want Big Time Cuts in Social Security

Over the last couple weeks, Dylan Scott has been out front on the House GOP's effort manufacture a Social Security funding crisis that would hit over the next two years. There's more than one Social Security Trust Fund. There's one that covers most retirees. There's another that covers the disability part of the program. And over the years, Congress - with little controversy - has shifted funds back and forth between the two to maintain actuarial balance. So to date, the whole push has been rather technical and framed around bean counting. But earlier this month, most notably from Rand Paul, we heard the other prong in the attack come into play.

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A Strange, Strange System

This is no news to Saudi watchers or people who keep up on the region. But I wanted to note one fact about the passing today of Saudi King Abdullah. Abdullah was 90 years old, a pretty old guy, though until quite recently fairly vital for his age. But since 1953, every Saudi monarch has been the son of the founder of the Saudi state, ibn Saud, a man who was born in 1876. To put that more crisply, every Saudi head of state who has governed this pivotal, brittle and profoundly influential petro-state during the years of its ascendency since 1953 has been the son of a man born only a decade after the US Civil War. Had transportation been more advanced and he was born a decade earlier, he could have hung out with Abraham Lincoln.

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