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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Obama No Longer Suffers from Mental Disorder

Obama no longer suffers from a mental disorder, and no, this is not from WikiLeaks.

In a recent article in The Weekly Standard entitled "American Narcissus", Jonathan V. Last writes:

"Why has Barack Obama failed so spectacularly? Is he too dogmatically liberal or too pragmatic? Is he a socialist, or an anticolonialist, or a philosopher-president? Or is it possible that Obama’s failures stem from something simpler: vanity. Politicians as a class are particularly susceptible to mirror-gazing. But Obama’s vanity is overwhelming. It defines him, his politics, and his presidency."

http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/american-narcissus_516686.html

Fortunately for Obama (and also Hillary), the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition, and narcissistic personality disorder is among the five.

The decision to eliminate narcissistic personality disorder ("N.P.D.") from the list, however, is causing no small amount of controversy. As noted in an article in The New York Times entitled "A Fate That Narcissists Will Hate: Being Ignored", Charles Zanor writes:

"One of the sharpest critics of the DSM committee on personality disorders is a Harvard psychiatrist, Dr. John Gunderson, an old lion in the field of personality disorders and the person who led the personality disorders committee for the current manual.

Asked what he thought about the elimination of narcissistic personality disorder, he said it showed how 'unenlightened' the personality disorders committee is.

'They have little appreciation for the damage they could be doing.' He said the diagnosis is important in terms of organizing and planning treatment."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/30/health/views/30mind.html

Perhaps what Dr. Gunderson fails to take into account is that N.P.D. has reached epidemic proportions and that in today's world it has become the norm.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Saad Hariri Travels to Tehran to Save Lebanon from Hezbollah

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri arrived in Iran on Saturday (see: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE6AP1BR20101126). The reason for his visit? The U.N. tribunal investigating the 2005 car bomb murder of his father, then Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, is soon to announce that Hezbollah stood behind the execution. Saad Hariri is concerned that the announcement might cause Hezbollah to attempt a coup d'état or alternatively provoke a war with Israel in order to distract public opinion. Given that Hezbollah is Iran's proxy in Lebanon and doesn't act without instructions from Tehran, Saad Hariri is hoping to convince Ahmadinejad ("the chimp" as he is known in Iran) to prevail upon Hezbollah not to act rashly.

Does this bring to mind a movie? It reminds me of a scene in "Goodfellas", when restaurant owner Sonny goes to mob boss Paulie to ask that Tommy, one of Paulie's underlings, stop terrorizing him. As an incentive, Sonny suggests to Paulie that he partner with him in the restaurant, and the following dialogue ensues:

Paulie: You know anything about this fucking restaurant business?
[Talking to Henry, the movie's protagonist and also an underling of Paulie]

Sonny: He knows everything about it. I mean he's in the joint 24 hours a day. I mean another fucking few minutes he could be a stool that's how often he's in there.

Henry: [narrating] Now the guy's got Paulie as a partner. Any problems, he goes to Paulie. Trouble with the bill? He can go to Paulie. Trouble with the cops, deliveries, Tommy, he can call Paulie. But now the guy's gotta come up with Paulie's money every week, no matter what. Business bad? Fuck you, pay me. Oh, you had a fire? Fuck you, pay me. Place got hit by lightning, huh? Fuck you, pay me.

In fact, the scene being played out in Tehran is far more tragic than that in "Goodfellas". Saad Hariri feels compelled to plead with those who ordered the murder of his father to control their hitmen. Now let's see the price Saad Hariri will have to pay (only disavowal of the U.N. indictment against Hezbollah?) and whether the deal will nevertheless cause Lebanon, like Sonny's restaurant in "Goodfellas", to go up in flames.

In retrospect, the decision this month of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee to release $100 million in military aid for the Lebanese army (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/u-s-releases-100-million-aid-for-lebanon-army-1.324411) in the hope that this might facilitate resistance to Hezbollah on the part of Saad Hariri is also proving futile. Unfortunately, Hariri has seen how "tough" Obama has gotten with the Islamic Republic of Iran and has made a calculated decision with whom he stands the best chance of survival.

Turkey's Erdogan to Receive Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights

No, this is no joke. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is traveling to Libya next week to receive the "Gaddafi International Prize for Human Rights" next week. Previous recipients of the prize include Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro.

I don't know what's worse: that the author of the Lockerbie bombing, which killed all 243 passengers and 16 crew members on Pan Am Flight 103, is handing out human rights prizes, or, that the Prime Minister of Turkey has agreed to receive an award from this monster.

And just when I was beginning to think that there could be no prize more foolish than the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Obama . . . .

[Earlier this week, Erdogan was given a leadership prize by the Union of Arab Banks, while visiting Lebanon and engaging in veiled threats against Israel. Meanwhile, Armenians in Beirut - there are 150,000 Armenians living in Lebanon -rioted in response to Erdogan's visit. Perhaps Erdogan is indeed richly qualified to receive the Gaddafi prize.]

Roger Cohen Proven Wrong Again

As noted in my prior blog entry, in an online op-ed in yesterday's New York Times entitled "The Real Threat to America" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen stated, "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

Presumably Cohen, unlike many of his readers, is aware that "to contrive" means "to plan or plot", and it is dumbfounding that no one at The New York Times thought fit to rectify this error.

Be that as it may, a mere day has gone by, and the following Associated Press story is now appearing online in The New York Times:

"Undercover agents in a sting operation stopped a Somali-born teenager from blowing up a van full of explosives at a crowded Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland on Friday, federal authorities said.

. . . .

U.S. Attorney Dwight Holton released federal court documents to The Associated Press and the Oregonian newspaper that show the sting operation began in June after an undercover agent learned that Mohamud had been in regular e-mail contact with an 'unindicted associate' in Pakistan's northwest, a frontier region where Al Qaida and Afghanistan's Taliban insurgents are strong.

. . . .

U.S. authorities have been struggling against a recent spate of terror plans by U.S. citizens or residents."

http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2010/11/27/us/AP-US-Portland-Car-Bomb-Plot.html?_r=1&hp=&pagewanted=print

No plans or plots? Yeah, right.

Cohen said in his op-ed that "America is a nation of . . . risk-taking." Anyone still interested in boarding a flight without security checks?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Roger Cohen's "The Real Threat to America": Thanks, Roger, for Letting Us Know

In an online op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "The Real Threat to America" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/26/opinion/26iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen would have us know, "it remains a mystery that the enemy — if as powerful as portrayed — has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11."

Roger seems to have a very short memory. Months after becoming a U.S. citizen, Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, was given $15,000 and five days of explosives training by the Taliban earlier this year in order to plant a car bomb not far from the The New York Times building in Manhattan. When sentenced by a federal court, Shahzad declared that Osama bin Laden "will be known as no less than Saladin of the 21st-century crusade". He further declared: "Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun. Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow."

Roger has also forgotten the attempts by al-Qaeda less than a month ago to send printer cartridges containing PETN, a highly powerful odorless military grade explosive, on flights to the U.S.

These two recent incidents are among those known to the public.

Cohen goes on to write: "America is a nation of . . . risk-taking." Notwithstanding Cohen's sensitivities involving full-body scanners, I think there are few Americans willing to take the risk of boarding a flight on which a determined enemy has hidden PETN.

Full-body scan or leave my family in an explosion at 30,000 feet? Sorry, Roger, if I choose life with the accompanying indignity.

[Query: Are op-eds at The New York Times subject to fact checks? Cohen's contention that "the enemy . . . has not contrived a single terrorist act on U.S. soil since 9/11" left me stupefied. Perhaps he reached this conclusion after speaking with Congresswoman Betty McCollum, who not long ago went on record as saying that "al-Qaeda no longer poses a threat to the United States" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/10/jg-caesarea-award-for-stupidest-member.html).]

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Nicholas Kristof's "Bless the Orange Sweet Potato": Unfortunately No Warning About Vitamin A Toxicity

In his New York Times op-ed of today's date "Bless the Orange Sweet Potato" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/25/opinion/25kristof.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Nicholas Kristof observes the importance of vitamin A supplements for children in Africa: "Without enough vitamin A, small children often go blind or die."

Unfortunately, Kristof does not warn his New York Times readership that vitamin A taken in excessive amounts can be dangerous, and his readers in the U.S. and Europe should be careful before swallowing large quantities of vitamin A supplements.

Although vitamin A is important for various body functions, excess consumption of vitamin A can be toxic (hypervitaminosis A) and cause: nausea, jaundice, irritability, anorexia, vomiting, blurry vision, headaches, hair loss, muscle and abdominal pain and weakness, drowsiness and altered mental status. Chronic cases of excess vitamin A can result in dry skin, drying of the mucous membranes, fever, insomnia, fatigue, weight loss, bone fractures, anemia and diarrhea. Excess vitamin A can also adversely affect developing fetuses.

I have attempted to post a comment in response to Kristof's op-ed that details the above. In addition, I have asked The New York Times to provide an addendum to the op-ed as it appears online and also to provide a caveat in a future print edition.

Will The New York Times run the caveat, or might the dwindling circulation of the Gray Lady be further reduced as the result of vitamin A poisoning? Stay tuned . . .

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

North Korea and Obama: Pathological Bully Meets Doctrinaire Pacifist

How crazy are those North Koreans? Answer: No crazier than Obama.

Do you recall in March how the Cheonan, a 1,200-ton corvette, was sunk by a North Korean torpedo? According to the BBC:

"The patrol vessel, with 104 people aboard, sank after an unexplained explosion tore through its hull.

Several sailors also died, officials are quoted saying as divers prepared to return to the scene after daybreak.

South Korean officials played down earlier reports that it may have been the result of an attack by North Korea."

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/8589507.stm

Oh, yes, the old unexplained explosion in the hull . . .

And now, try to remember Obama's personal response to this outrage? Whoops! That's right: Always anxious to avoid a potential confrontation, Obama didn't react. Am I exaggerating? Perhaps. Three months after the incident Obama did say that North Korea should be "held to account" for the sinking of the Cheonon, and, "There has [sic - he was speaking without a teleprompter] to be consequences for such irresponsible behaviour" (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10426209). Yet, was North Korea ever "held to account"? What exactly were the "consequences"?

Obama rode into office believing that North Korea and Iran were simply misunderstood. Show them kindness and radiate the charm that brought him into the Oval Office, and they, too, could be turned around.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't work on this basis.

Remember the bully from school who demanded your lunch money? If you stood up to him on day one, he subsequently pursued weaker quarry. Heck, you didn't even have to fight. But if you were foolish enough to believe that he was just a poor misunderstood child from a dysfunctional family and attempt to befriend him, you would be going hungry for the remainder of the year.

Obama, in his infinite wisdom, never learned this lesson. Quite the contrary: One of his first foreign policy moves was to seek rapprochement with Iran, and this has blown up in his face.

But imagine now if Obama continues to appease the Islamic Republic of Iran. What will happen when Iran, armed with atomic weapons, shells territory along its disputed border with Iraq in a manner akin to that of North Korea? Or when Iran demands dominion over Bahrain? Or when Iran threatens Saudi Arabia?

Far-fetched? Just wait.

Stuxnet Shuts Down the Iranian Centrifuges

Yesterday diplomats informed the Associated Press in Vienna that Iran had been forced to shut down thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, owing to the Stuxnet worm. Today, however, Iranian Vice President Ali Akbar Salehi claimed that no damage had been done to the Tehran's bid to become a nuclear power:

"Iran's nuclear chief said Tuesday that a malicious computer worm known as Stuxnet has not harmed the country's atomic program and accused the West of trying to sabotage it.

. . . .

Salehi said details about the virus became known only after Iran's 'enemies failed to achieve their goals.'

. . . .

'From more than a year ago, Westerners tried to implant the virus into our nuclear facilities in order to disrupt our activities but our young scientists stopped the virus at the very same spot they wanted to penetrate,' Salehi said in comments carried by state TV website."

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/news/article.aspx?feed=AP&date=20101123&id=12442638

Yet, as reported by this same Associated Press article:

"According to reports released by the U.N. nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Iranian uranium enrichment capacity has stagnated in recent years after initial rapid growth. Tehran has taken hundreds of centrifuges off line over the past 18 months, prompting speculation of technical problems.

At the Natanz enrichment facility in central Iran, the number of operating centrifuges declined from 4,920 in May 2009 to 3,772 in September 2010, the IAEA said."

Earlier this month, Ralph Langner, the German computer security expert who first reported that the Stuxnet worm was designed to attack Iran's enrichment plants and the Bushehr nuclear power plant, marveled at the technical prowess of the Stuxnet worm:

"Langner said that the portion of the worm that targeted Uranium enrichment plants manipulated the speeds of mechanical parts in the enrichment process, which would ultimately 'result in cracking the rotor, thereby destroying the centrifuge.'

. . . .

Praising the sophistication of the attack code, Langner said, 'it is obvious that several years of preparation went into the design of this attack.' Describing the technological advancement it represents, he compared it to 'the arrival of an F-35 fighter jet on a World War I battlefield.' He called the technology, 'much superior to anything ever seen before, and to what was assumed possible.'"

http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?ID=196051&R=R1

So do you believe Ali Akbar Salehi that no damage has been done to the Iranian nuclear effort, given the reputation of the Islamic Republic of Iran for honesty and morality?

Moreover, who do you think was responsible for sabotaging the Iranian nuclear effort? Although I don't have the answer, if you are among the cognoscente who read this blog, you are smart enough to figure this one out by yourself.

Will there be additional surprises awaiting this Iranian enterprise? Sadly, I have already expressed my regrets to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad that I will not be able to attend the opening ceremony for the Bushehr power plant - if they ever decide they have removed all the bugs from the operational software - but will send Hugo Chavez in my stead, and when they press the button activating the reactor, I will be pleased to toast their success at a distance of several hundred miles from the meltdown.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Krugman's "There Will Be Blood"; In Case You Didn't Know, Paul, There Already Is Blood in Abundance

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "There Will Be Blood" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/22/opinion/22krugman.html?ref=opinion), Paul Krugman takes the position that Republicans have no interest in making America governable, unless they are doing the governing. Krugman expects Republicans to cooperate with Obama in increasing the limit to federal debt, extending unemployment benefits, and approving a strategic arms treaty.

All the while, Krugman ignores the other elephant in the room.

"There will be blood"? I have news for you, Paul, there already is blood, and no shortage of it. One of Obama's campaign promises was to end the war in Afghanistan. Later, as president, Obama promised Americans that he would withdraw U.S. troops in July 2011. Yesterday, we were told that NATO, i.e. the U.S., will not leave Afghanistan until 2014 (see: http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/11/20/nato.afghanistan.agreement/index.html?hpt=T2).

The monetary cost to the U.S. for this futile misadventure, which every week also results in the tragic death and maiming of American soldiers and Afghan civilians: Some $6 billion per month.

Sorry, Mr. Krugman, this is now Obama's war, and there can be no semblance of a balanced budget or a return to U.S. economic growth until Obama puts an end to this folly, which is leading nowhere.

What It Takes to Be Published by Newsweek

Note some of the incomprehensible language contained in the following blog item, entitled "Anti-Defamation League Should Withdraw Award It Gave Rupert Murdoch", written by someone named Ben Adler and published by Newsweek in "The Gaggle" (http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/the-gaggle/2010/11/18/anti-defamation-league-should-retract-award-it-gave-rupert-murdoch.print.html):

"Fox treats Palestinian and Israeli deaths unequally, and use propagandistic language, such as referring to suicide bombers as homicide bombers.

. . . .

The ADL was right to see opposition to anti-Semitism as inseparable from other forms of bigotry, and Zionism as not incompatible with a commitment to civil rights throughout the world."

Ben Adler, who tells us that Fox News has been disrespectful to "80-year-old Holocaust survivor George Soros" (poor, poor George) and has "fanned the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry" while also "encouraging homophobia, xenophobia, and anti-Latino racism", concludes his essay by stating:

"By decoupling support for Israel from the group's other supposed values, and prioritizing the former above the latter, the ADL is doing the Jewish people a disservice. It should take this opportunity to restore its integrity and credibility, before it's too late."

By what right does Adler (how old is he?) purport to speak on behalf of the Jewish people? When condemning the ADL, Adler of course forgets to mention, for example, the organization's recent condemnation of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef for "offensive and incendiary" comments (http://www.adl.org/PresRele/IslME_62/5839_62.htm).

I don't get angry easily, but have another look at Adler's contention that "Fox treats Palestinian and Israeli deaths unequally, and use propagandistic language, such as referring to suicide bombers as homicide bombers."

Am I missing something? Is Adler indeed suggesting that suicide bombers are anything other than demented ruthless killers of civilians? I am willing to bet that Adler has never witnessed a suicide bombing or its aftermath, or retrieved the severed limbs and heads of mothers and their children.

The only thing more offensive than this item by a would-be Jewish president (see: http://www.newsweek.com/authors/ben-adler.html) is the decision to publish it by Newsweek, which continues to flounder ethically and financially.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Nicholas Kristof's "A Hedge Fund Republic?": Let's Raffle Off Tom Friedman's Home

In an op-ed entitled "A Hedge Fund Republic?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/opinion/18kristof.html?hp) in today's New York Times, Nicholas Kristof complains that the U.S. has become more rapacious than a banana republic and is now mostly owned by the richest one percent of the nation's populace. Kristof's epistle follows on the heels of Frank Rich's Sunday NYT op-ed, "Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/opinion/14rich.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), in which Rich also deplores fiscal inequity in America.

Not to worry! JG, Caesarea has the solution!

As a first step to end this horrifying inequality, I propose that we raffle off the estate (as seen from above) of fellow NYT columnist Tom Friedman to the homeless. Personally, I think it will do any homeless person proud!

Are you homeless and wish to participate in the raffle? Obviously, I first need Tom's approval, but meanwhile you can send me your CV together with an essay of 500 words or less explaining why transfer of title over this estate to you will best remedy the disparity between rich and poor in the United States.

Where will Tom go? No problem. JG, Caesarea is sending him to live half the year with Nicholas Kristof, who shouldn't be troubled, given the time he spends traveling around the third world. The other half of the year will be spent by Friedman with Rich.

Given their compatible politics and similar social views, I am certain Friedman, Kristof and Rich will live happily ever after.

Or not.

"Alaska Speaks. Finally.": Gail Collins, Get Some Help. Seriously.

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Alaska Speaks. Finally." (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/18/opinion/18collins.html?hp), Gail Collins gloats over the Alaskan write-in victory of Senator Lisa Murkowski over Joe Miller of the Tea Party, who beat Murkowski in the Republican primary. Observing that Miller was Sarah Palin's pick and referring to "Bristol Palin’s continuing victories on 'Dancing With the Stars'", Collins concludes by noting with respect to Murkowski's victory:

"So not exactly a victory for oppressed womanhood. However, a definite defeat for Sarah Palin. Let’s take our little pleasures where we can get them."

Sarah Palin? Bristol Palin? Forgive me, Gail, if I acknowledge that I can go weeks and months without thinking about either of these persons. I must also own up to the fact that I have never seen "Dancing With the Stars", and if I am ever captured by Hezbollah, my worst nightmare is that they will tie me to a chair in front of a television and force me to watch this program. Yes, I'd rather be waterboarded.

But more to the point, I am worried about you, Gail.

One week ago, you began an op-ed with the ominous title "What Everything Means" and stated, "I can’t stop thinking about the elections" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/opinion/11collins.html). Today, you are telling us the we should "take our little pleasures where we can get them."

Gail, these are not "encouraging" signs. There should be much more to your life than Sarah Palin and her progeny, and many different avenues to attain happiness. Are you as depressed as your column indicates? If so, it's time to get some help. Seriously.

Open Letter to The New York Times: A "Minor" Question of Journalistic Ethics

Open Letter to the Editors of The New York Times

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Yesterday many of you were copied on an e-mail that I sent to the Public Editor of The New York Times, stating:

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, today we have Roger Cohen stating [in his op-ed "Madam Secretary's Middle East"]:

"'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe Roger would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of hillside settlements? Also, is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

My response to the Cohen op-ed which posed these questions was of course not posted by your "moderators"; however, you can read the content of my comment at: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/

Query: Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is such use deemed ethical by The New York Times? I welcome your response.

I have received no response from the Public Editor, and as such, I ask each of you:

- What is the name of Hillary Clinton's anonymous "aide" who provided the quote highlighted by Cohen?

- Was this quote verbatim? (Although I am occasionally interviewed on television, I obviously have much to learn from this honey-tongued "aide", who is steeped in off-the-cuff linguistic style and who should be considered as a replacement for Robert Gibbs.)

- Has the policy of The New York Times changed with respect to the use of anonymous sources? Is it still the policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way”?
For the sake of good order, I would observe that I have contacted the U.S. State Department, and I have also asked them to provide me with the name of the "aide" who provided this quote. In addition, I asked the State Department to confirm that the quote attributed to this "aide" is indicative of the attitude of those surrounding Ms. Clinton and whether Ms. Clinton has indeed lost much of her sympathy for Israel, as alleged by Cohen.

Thank you for your prompt reply.

Yours sincerely,
Jeffrey

"Too Good to Check": Tom Friedman, Apologist for Obama

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "Too Good to Check" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/17/opinion/17friedman.html?hp), Tom Friedman excoriates the right for "a story circulated around the Web on the eve of President Obama’s trip that it would cost U.S. taxpayers $200 million a day — about $2 billion for the entire trip."

Okay, I agree the entire trip cost less than $2 billion. In fact, my estimate in a prior blog entry, "Obama, Asia and "Animal House" Diplomacy" (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/11/obama-asia-and-animal-house-diplomacy.html), was that the 10-day trip would cost tens of millions of dollars, which I continue to believe is accurate.

But neither a leftist or a rightist, I would ask Friedman how much this trip did in fact cost U.S. taxpayers. Naturally, Friedman does not provide the answer.

I would also ask Friedman to specify the benefits of this Asian jaunt. Friedman is again silent.

And I would ask Friedman whether this "Road Trip" was but an attempt to flee the disastrous midterm elections, which were undeniably a national referendum on Obama's first two years in office. No comment from Friedman.

Thanks, Tom, for this profound partisan analysis.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Roger Cohen's Muddled "Madam Secretary's Middle East"

In a New York Times op-ed of today's date entitled "Madam Secretary's Middle East" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/16/opinion/16iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen would have us believe that Hillary Clinton is gradually distancing herself from the warmth she expressed for Israel as a New York senator.

It is the purported policy of The New York Times that anonymous sources should be used only as “a last resort when the story is of compelling public interest and the information is not available any other way.” Yet, here we have Roger Cohen stating:

“'A bit of an epiphany,' in the words of one aide, came in March 2009 on the road to Ramallah. 'We drove in a motorcade and you could see the settlements high up, and the brutality of it was so stark,' this aide said. 'Everyone got quite silent and as we approached Ramallah there were these troops in berets. They were so professional, we thought at first they were Israel Defense Forces. But, no, they were Palestinians, this completely professional outfit, and it was clear this was something new.'"

Maybe, Roger, you would care to tell us the name of this anonymous "aide", who became so upset by the "brutality" of the hillside settlements? Is this elegant prose truly a verbatim quote, or has it been "dressed up" for publication?

Maybe, Roger, if this anonymous "aide" were to witness the aftermath of an "honor killing" of a Palestinian woman, he/she would better understand the true meaning of brutality.

According to Cohen, "Clinton has been a darling of Israelis since she her early days as a senator for New York [sic]." Nice try, Roger. You seem to have forgotten that in November 1999, Hillary participated in a function inaugurating an American-funded health initiative in the West Bank, during which Suha Arafat claimed, "Our [Palestinian] people have been submitted to the daily and intensive use of poisonous gas by the Israeli forces, which has led to an increase in cancer cases among women and children." Although the Palestinians later acknowledged that there was no basis for Suha Arafat's allegations, Hillary, who was sitting on the dais with Suha Arafat, embraced and kissed Suha.

No, I'm not saying that Hillary is pro-Palestinian. I'm also not saying that she is pro-Israeli. I am saying that my anonymous sources, who are far more reliable than those of Cohen, tell me that Hillary is 100% pro-Hillary.

[The New York Times refused to post the content of this blog entry in response to Cohen's op-ed. I sent an e-mail to the Public Editor of The New York Times with copies to all the various editors, asking whether Cohen's use of anonymous sources is in keeping with their journalistic standards. Thus far no response from any of them. In addition, I have contacted the U.S. State Department and asked if they are aware of any such conversation between Cohen and a Clinton aide, and if so, is Clinton in agreement with the views attributed to the aide. Stay tuned.]

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Bibi, Barack and The New York Times, the Official Organ of the Obama Administration

Let's examine the timeline:

October 29, 2010 -- His pre-election attempt to create the framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace having gone up in smoke, Obama stares failure in the face. Obama had invested much effort in pulling a rabbit out of a hat, including the much publicized summit in Washington, but now appears more of a foreign affairs diletente than ever. Although furious with Netanyahu for refusing a package of goodies intended to bribe Israel into extending the building moratorium for another three months, he conceals his personal wrath owing to the upcoming elections. By sheer coincidence, The New York Times publishes on this date an editorial, "Enough Game-Playing" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/30/opinion/30sat1.html?ref=editorials), which says that both the Palestinians and Israelis are responsible for the breakdown in talks, but places the onus on Netanyahu:

"President Obama made a very generous — too generous, we believe — offer to Israel, to get Mr. Netanyahu to extend the moratorium. It included additional security guarantees and more fighter planes, missile defense, satellites. Mr. Netanyahu still refused, insisting that the hard-line members of his coalition would never go along. He then added to the controversy by proposing that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

. . . .

Enough game-playing. Mr. Netanyahu should accept Mr. Obama’s offer and be ready to form a new governing coalition if some current members bolt."

Remarkable how the editorial board of The New York Times , from their ivory tower in Manhattan, was prepared to offer advice to the Israeli prime minister concerning the composition of his ruling coalition. Sheer hutzpah, or was there more to this than meets the eye?

November 5, 2010 -- Obama sets out on a 10-day journey to Asia, which includes visits to India, Indonesia, South Korea and Japan. The "road trip", on the heels of the Democratic midterm election disaster, costs the American public tens of millions of dollars, but fails to yield tangible results. Obama's use of teleprompters for purposes of an address to the Indian congress is greeted with derision, and his failure to to sign a free trade agreement with South Korea, which had been considered a slam-dunk before he reached Seoul, raises eyebrows. Obama is growing increasingly desperate to dispell the aura of diplomatic naivete and bumbling that have come to characterize his administration. See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/11/obama-asia-and-animal-house-diplomacy.html

November 11, 2010 -- Hillary meets with Netanyahu, and over the course of a six-hour meeting, the two, who admire one another, hammer out the guiding principles of a deal for a further construction moratorium in the West Bank. Bibi, however, must delicately convince his cabinet, so there is no announcement to the press. Given that Obama is still in the Far East, there is also a delay in briefing the U.S. president.

November 12, 2010 -- For the second time in less than two weeks and using the same language, The New York Times again lambastes Netanyahu in an editorial entitled "Politics Over Peace" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/13/opinion/13sat1.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss):

"What Mr. Netanyahu does not seem to realize is that a peace deal with the Palestinians is not a favor to President Obama. It is vital to Israel’s long-term security. If he squanders this moment, the only ones who can celebrate are the extremists.

Both Palestinians and Israelis need to do more to salvage the negotiations. Mr. Netanyahu has refused President Obama’s request to extend a moratorium on construction in the Jewish settlements for a modest 60 days. Mr. Abbas has refused to meet until the building stops. Still, we think the burden is on Mr. Netanyahu to get things moving again. Resuming the moratorium will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest.

The Obama administration deserves credit for not throwing up its hands. In her marathon session with Mr. Netanyahu, Mrs. Clinton plugged away on a package of generous (overly so, to our minds) incentives and security guarantees that might induce him to revive the moratorium and get back to the bargaining table."

Whereas in its prior editorial, the editorial board of The Times took it upon itself to counsel Netanyahu concerning the composition of his ruling coalition, now, in a fit of pique, the would-be omniscient editorial board declares that the moratorium "will in no way harm Israel’s security or national interest." Needless to say, the editorial board has not been notified by the Obama administration concerning the deal struck with Netanyahu.

November 13, 2010 -- Tom Friedman also has not learned of the deal from his friend, Obama, who is still in the Far East, and Friedman launches a savage attack against Netanyahu in a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Believe I Can Fly" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/14/opinion/14friedman.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss):

"Well, first there’s Israel’s prime minister, Bibi Netanyahu, who has been telling everyone how committed he is to peace with the Palestinians while refusing to halt settlement building as a prerequisite for negotiations. At a time when Israel already has 300,000 settlers in the West Bank, Bibi says he can’t possibly take another pause in building to test whether the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas — a man Israelis say is the best Palestinian security partner Israel has ever had — can forge a safe two-state deal for Israel. The U.S. is now basically trying to bribe Bibi to reverse his position. Maybe he will, but it’s unseemly to watch and doesn’t bode well. Rather than take the initiative and say to Arabs and Palestinians, 'You want a settlement freeze? Here it is, now let’s see what you’re ready to agree to,' Netanyahu toys with President Obama, makes Israel look like it wants land more than peace and risks never forging a West Bank deal — thereby permanently absorbing its 2.5 million Palestinians and eventually no longer having a Jewish majority. That’s the sudden stop at the end — unless the next war comes first. But, for now, Bibi seems to think he can fly."

A deal with Abbas is going to forestall a war between Israel and Hezbollah in the north? Get real, Friedman. Any such contention ignores Iranian aspirations for regional hegemony. Moreover, as has been acknowledged by Abbas, he is perfectly content to go without a deal:

"I will wait for Hamas to accept international commitments. I will wait for Israel to freeze settlements. Until then, in the West Bank we have a good reality . . . the people are living a normal life."

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803614.html

In fact, Abbas and Fatah are now at a loss what to do with the Clinton-Netanyahu agreement. As reported by the Jerusalem Post:

"Palestinian Authority officials said on Sunday that they were 'surprised' [i.e. distraught - JG, Caesarea] to hear about the latest US proposal for a three-month settlement freeze in return for a package of incentives to Israel.

Some officials in Ramallah did not hide their disappointment with the 'sudden change' in US policy which, they explained, puts the PA in a difficult situation. However, they stopped short of rejecting the US offer in public."

http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=195300

Let's make one thing clear: this stillborn attempt at brokering a deal between Israelis and Palestinians currently has absolutely nothing to do with the best interests of Israelis and Palestinians. It also has absolutely nothing to do with derailing Iranian aspirations to achieve regional hegemony or to build an atomic bomb. Rather, it has everything to do with the monumental ego of President Obama, who knows nothing of the Middle East or the manner in which negotiations are conducted in this region of the world, but who is still attempting to prove his "Nobel worth" to an ever more dubious world.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Obama, Asia and "Animal House" Diplomacy

Those of you who read this blog know that I am addicted to movies. Often I will revisit an old movie that I enjoyed when I was younger to determine whether it still has the capacity to move me, evoke a tear, or elicit a chuckle. Although dated, "Animal House" is still relevant.

Toward the end of this venerable comedy, the brothers of Delta House are informed that owing to their deplorable conduct and low grade point averages, the fraternity, following a probation hearing, is being shut down. Their response to this crisis:

"Christ, Otter, this is ridiculous. What are we going to do?"

"Road trip!"

What does "Animal House" have to do with the Obama administration? Everything. I was present in the West Wing when it was announced that the Democrats had lost the House of Representatives in a landslide rout, and I was fortunate enough to overhear the following conversation:

"Christ, Obama, this is ridiculous. What are we going to do?"

"Road trip!"

And so Obama and Co., at a cost of tens of millions of dollars to long-suffering American taxpayers, set off on a ten-day, four-nation tour of the Far East, bringing the U.S. no tangible results. I should acknowledge, however, that Obama's introduction for the first time of a teleprompter into the Indian parliament while addressing this august body did cause amusement.

Indonesia was deemed a public relations success, but there was nothing concrete to show for the stopover, and needless to say, Obama failed to discuss human rights abuses perpetrated by this country.

In South Korea, Obama failed to sign a free trade agreement which had been considered a slam-dunk before he reached Seoul, and the G20 summit was characterized by discord and animosity.

Nothing good is expected in Japan.

But what the heck! Obama was in need of another vacation after being slapped in the face by voters around the nation. What could this inflated ego possibly do to escape their wrath?

Road trip!

Finally, Some US Leadership in the Middle East from . . . Hillary

With the approaching announcement of the findings of the U.N. tribunal concerning the murder of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and concurrent threats of violence from Hezbollah leader Nasrallah against anyone seeking to arrest members of his organization ("We will cut the hand that reaches out for any one of them"), Hillary Clinton did not mince words in an interview with the Lebanon's An-Nahar:

"U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said 'no one knows when and who the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will charge.'

'We must reiterate that no one knows what the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will do or who it will charge and when will it choose to act,' Clinton said in an interview published Friday by An-Nahar newspaper.

'Violence will not stop the work of the STL,' she said, adding that the U.S. will not bargain away its support for Lebanon.

'Hizbullah should realize that resorting to violence is incompatible with the interests of the whole of Lebanon, the interests of the Lebanese people, the interests of the region and the interests of the United States,' Clinton said.

She believed that 'Syrian behavior has not lived up to the level of our hopes and our expectations during the past twenty months.'

'Syria's performance has not lived up to its international obligations,' Clinton added.

She believed Syria 'is still able to choose another route and we hope it will do so,' stressing that U.S. dialogue with Damascus 'will not be at Lebanon's expense.'"

http://www.naharnet.com/domino/tn/NewsDesk.nsf/getstory?openform&6B70C59155B887D7C22577D9001C8323

"No one knows who the Special Tribunal for Lebanon will charge"? Apparently Nasrallah knows, given the security breach which led to the discovery by the U.N. investigation team of Hezbollah's responsibility for the murder. See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/08/game-of-death-syria-orders-ship.html

How refreshing that Hillary, unlike Obama, is willing to stand up to Damascus and Hezbollah. Also interesting are the pictures from her successful six-hour meeting on Thursday with Netanyahu. Once again, examine the body language (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-claims-progress-in-effort-to-restart-mideast-peace-talks-1.324236). These are two people who like one another.

And yes, I repeat, Hillary will be running against Obama in the 2012 primaries.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Gail Collins' "What Everything Means": How Stupid Americans Forgot that Bush Destroyed the Economy

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "What Everything Means" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/11/opinion/11collins.html), Gail Collins acknowledges that she can't stop obsessing about the recent midterm elections. According to Collins, "This could mean that the public wants to forget all about the first eight years of the 21st century and just blame Barack Obama for wrecking the economy."

Sorry, Gail, but Americans aren't stupid, as you and several of your disappointed colleagues would now have us believe:

US unemployment, January 2009: 7.7%

US unemployment, October 2010: 9.6%

In fact, Americans haven't forgotten anything. Someone promised "Change", but didn't deliver. (Yeah, it's rough holding yourself out as a messiah these days.)

And whereas Collins "can't stop thinking about the elections," others can't stop thinking about finding a job.

If the circulation numbers of The New York Times continue to plummet, perhaps, in the not too distant future, Collins will be more empathetic to those "stupid" unemployed people and less concerned with Obama's flagging popularity ratings.

Her Hideousness, Catherine Ashton, Receives a "Very Important" Letter from Iran (II)

At the end of October, EU foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton announced that the EU had received a letter from Saeed Jalili, the top Iranian nuclear negotiator, saying that Tehran is ready to restart negotiations with the P5+1 world powers over its nuclear program after November "in a place and on a date convenient to both sides." In Brussels at a summit of EU leaders, Ashton stated: "It's a very important development and we're now in touch with Iran to see if we can agree the time and the place which is possible." See: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2010/10/her-hideousness-catherine-ashton.html

On Tuesday, Iran's Foreign Ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast stated that "under no condition will we discuss the issue of fuel swap in our meeting with the 5+1 group." See: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20101109/wl_mideast_afp/irannuclearpolitics_20101109175818

Ahmadinejad today further qualified the topics open for discussion with the 5+1 group:

"Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has stressed the importance of holding talks on equal footing, saying the Islamic Republic will never talk about its absolute rights.

According to Press TV, President Ahmadinejad in an address to thousands of enthusiastic people of the central city of Qazvin on Wednesday said 'Iran is ready to hold talks on equal conditions to help settle ongoing problems; ease international concerns; and establish peace and security in the world.'"

http://english.irib.ir/news/political/item/67654-iran-never-talks-about-absolute-rights

What happened to Ashton's "very important development"? Does her inanity know any bounds?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Who Is Still Reading The New York Times (II)?

I think it is again worth noting the most highly reader-recommended comment (264 recommendations) in response to Roger Cohen's op-ed, "An Unknown Soldier", in yesterday's New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss). The comment states in its entirety:

"Thank you for your thoughtful piece.
No country currently brings more death and destruction to the planet than America. Yet we are never satiated, and our fascination with the military machine only grows like some mythical beast. When our ex-president writes that he authorized torture, there isn't a murmur in the street. In the 1960's Americans were on the streets. Today we act like mindless sheep. No politician or preacher can change the trajectory, only the people can pull America back from the abyss. Why are we waiting to call for an end to endless war and unbridled greed?"

This comment, which expresses "unbridled" anger with the United States, was also "highlighted" by The New York Times, i.e. deemed among "A selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views." Not surprisingly, all of the "highlighted" comments, which purportedly "represent a range of views", are in agreement with Cohen.

The New York Times, hijacked and veering left off a cliff, long ago lost touch with its New York readership, and it is no wonder that its circulation is in steady decline.

This newspaper's losses are unsustainable. Although the end will not come soon, it is certainly within sight.

A pity.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Roger Cohen's "An Unknown Soldier"

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "An Unknown Soldier" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/09/opinion/09iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen describes his encounter with a severely wounded veteran, assures us that Iran is nowhere near building an atomic weapon, and concludes that a "third U.S war [with Iran] is inconceivable."

Yes, Roger, war is horrifying, and as a former combat soldier, I am haunted by the faces of those whom I have known, whose bodies were mutilated while seeking to serve their country and protect their loved ones.

Today, however, I am also haunted by the face of Ehsan Fattahian, a 26-year-old Kurdish activist, who was executed by hanging in Iran exactly one year ago. He was originally charged with "working with armed opposition groups" and sentenced by an Iranian Revolutionary Court in 2008 to 10 years in prison. Ehsan and his family vehemently denied the charges, but when he appealed the verdict, he was sentenced to death on the charge of "moharebeh", i.e. enemy of God.

Today, I am haunted by the face of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, who is soon to be executed in Iran, but it is not certain whether she will be stoned to death in accordance with her original sentence or hanged. Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, initially was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery, but owing to international protests, the Iranian government later convicted her of murdering her husband, although the man who killed her husband was identified and imprisoned. Ashtiani's son and attorney are in jail after being arrested last month, and her former lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, has fled Iran.

Today, I am haunted by the faces of the seven Baha'i leaders - Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Vahid Tizfahm and Mahvash Sabet - who were each sentenced to ten years of imprisonment by the Islamic Republic of Iran for alleged espionage, propaganda activities against the Islamic order, and "corruption on earth." Or more to the point, they were sentenced to prison for having the audacity to believe in the gentle teachings of a prophet who arrived on this earth after Mohammed.

And yes, I am also haunted by the faces of 16-year-old Mahmoud Asgari and 18-year-old Ayaz Marhoni, who were publicly hanged in Edalat ("Justice") Square in Mashhad, Iran in 2005 for homosexuality.

Roger, these are some of the persons you ignored in 2009, when you sought to convince us that "Iran is not totalitarian" and encouraged rapprochement with a regime that murders and tortures minorities, homosexuals, women, journalists and political dissidents.

Sure, war with the Islamic Republic of Iran, which we now know is complicit in the killing of U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, must be avoided if humanly possible. Yet, given your mistaken past analysis regarding the "benevolence" of Iran's leaders, given that you do not speak Farsi, and given that you are not a nuclear scientist, on what basis do you suggest to us that Iran is nowhere near building an atomic weapon and that there is no conclusive evidence that Iran has even made the decision to build one?

And if you are yet again mistaken? . . .

Will U.N. Indictment of Hezbollah for Hariri Murder Set the Middle East Ablaze?

According to a Wall Street Journal article entitled "U.N. Indictments Near in Lebanon Killing", written by Jay Solomon and Margaret Coker, the U.N. tribunal investigating the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri will soon be indicting various members of Hezbollah, and it is feared that the findings could result in renewed fighting among Lebanese Shiites, Sunnis, Christians and Druze:

"The United Nations-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri is moving to indict between two and six members of the militant group Hezbollah by year-end, according to people briefed on the tribunal's work, stoking fears of renewed sectarian strife in the Middle East country.

The U.S. has scrambled to bolster support for the tribunal and the pro-Western government of Lebanon in the face of threats of violence from Hezbollah if the indictments are handed down.

Among those being looked at in the U.N. probe, according to the people briefed on it, is Mustafa Badreddine, a senior Hezbollah military commander and brother-in-law of Imad Mugniyah, who was among the Federal Bureau of Investigation's most-wanted men before his death nearly three years ago.

Mr. Mugniyah is alleged by U.S. officials to have overseen a string of terrorist attacks against American interests in the 1980s, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Marine Corps barracks in Beirut that killed 241 servicemen. Mr. Mugniyah, who was killed in a 2008 car bombing in Damascus, Syria, is also believed by U.N. investigators to have played a role, along with his brother-in-law, in the car bombing in downtown Beirut that killed Mr. Hariri and 22 others, according to the people briefed on the probe.

The rising tensions inside Lebanon have significantly undercut the Obama administration's efforts to mend relations with Syria, among the suspects in Mr. Hariri's murder. The U.S. has coveted better ties with Damascus, both to stabilize Lebanon and underpin the broader Arab-Israeli peace process. Washington has also hoped to weaken Syria's military alliance with Iran.

In recent months, however, Syrian officials have called for the ending of the U.N. tribunal. And U.S. officials have publicly charged Damascus with transferring increasingly sophisticated missiles to Hezbollah."
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703665904575600374005892944.html

However, renewing sectarian fighting within Lebanon is only one possible scenario. In order to divert the attention of the Arab street from the murder, Hezbollah might well seek to inflame the Israeli-Lebanese border. Thus, it is no accident that Israel is attempting to eliminate any excuse for renewed violence by announcing this weekend its plans for the unilateral evacuation of the northern part of Ghajar village, population 2,200, which is bisected by the Israeli-Lebanese border. See: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=194301

Also prepared, however, for any contingency, Israel has now decided that its new "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system will be kept in the center of the country and shipped to the south or the north in accordance with developments. See: http://www.jpost.com/Israel/Article.aspx?id=194423

Obama's courting of Damascus by way of John Kerry as his special emissary? Demonstrably bootless, impotent and embarrassing.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Who Is Still Reading The New York Times? Can Online Advertising Save This Newspaper?

Who is still reading The New York Times? As evidenced by their dismal third quarter financial report, the picture remains grim. According to a recent article by Brett Pulley of Bloomberg:

"New York Times Co., publisher of the namesake newspaper, posted third-quarter sales that fell short of analysts’ estimates as advertising and circulation revenue declined.

Third-quarter sales slid 2.7 percent to $554.3 million, the New York-based company said today in a statement. Analysts had predicted $558.8 million on average, according to a Bloomberg survey.

. . . .

Chief Executive Officer Janet Robinson is trimming costs as revenue slumps. The company, faced with competition from News Corp.’s Wall Street Journal, has posted a sales decline in 10 of the past 11 quarters. Readers are also increasingly seeking their news from the Web, where stories are updated more frequently."
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/print/2010-10-19/new-york-times-loss-narrows-as-pension-expenses-fall-revenue-declines.html

Although it would appear that The New York Times is hoping to be saved by digital advertising, my belief is that this source of revenue will also ultimately be impacted by the newspaper's radical leftist content and policies, including tolerance of anti-Semitic readers' comments, which have alienated much of its New York area readership.

Wherein lies the core of The New York Times online readership? Examine content from two of the most popular readers' comments in response to a October 30 op-ed, entitled "Can the Dude Abide", by The Times's queen bee, Maureen Dowd (http://community.nytimes.com/comments/www.nytimes.com/2010/10/31/opinion/31dowd.html?sort=recommended):

"To put it succinctly, we liberals continue to speak English and mistakenly assume voters do the same. Wrong: voters speak Bumper Sticker. We need to swallow our pride and start speaking it as well, even as we continue to speak intelligently to those of our base who 'know the secret handshake.' We must immediately counter every loud and catchy lie with louder and catchier facts--and do so more often!!!!"

This comment, recommended by 1,039 New York Times readers, bespeaks the arrogance, condescension and elitism which have also come to characterize this newspaper's editorial line.

The second most popular comment:

"We should be careful not to abandon this president. Clearly, he must be one of the most intelligent, reflective, capable, and charismatic Americans ever to have held the office. Certainly a welcome surprise as our next president, and at a critical moment in our history. The redemptive grandness of his historical irony should not be forsaken. That a man, whose moment is inextricably linked to the heritage of America's quintissential story of radical oppression, became president at the uncertain and volatile peak of elite corporate political power (of both the Clinton and Bush presidencies, though I believe history will show Bush the far, far worse) is a poetic justice that we should not fail to court. Obama needs to be pushed to the left."

Observe the stereotypical denunciation of corporate America combined with the demand that Obama toe the leftist line. Not surprisingly, this comment, recommended 1,004 times, was also "highlighted" by The Times, i.e. deemed to be one of "the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views."

Sure, there is a place for publications representing all political views; however, given the radicalization of The New York Times, I believe that it cannot sustain its global overhead as it loses paying middle-of-the-road readership.

Will I pay to read Maureen Dowd, Roger Cohen, Frank Rich and friends? Not a chance. Nor do I believe that the more radical readership of The Times , if charged for "premium material", will be willing to reach into their pockets to subsidize this sinking ship, fast going the way of the Berkeley Barb.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Hillary Rules Out Presidential Bid: Yeah, Right

Busy doing extremely important things for the Obama administration in that world hot spot New Zealand, Hillary Clinton ruled out a primary challenge, following the Democrat's debacle on Tuesday:

In New Zealand on Friday, Clinton told a pair of television interviewers that she won't run for president even in the aftermath of this week's congressional midterms that saw Republicans take control of the House and make big gains in the Senate. Some have suggested that Clinton should take advantage of President Barack Obama's unpopularity to make a new bid.

She said she is very happy doing what she is doing as America's top diplomat and would not be the first female president of the United States.

She told one interviewer that the United States "should be" ready to have a woman as commander in chief. Yet, when asked if that could be her, she answered: "Well not me, but it will be someone."

Asked by another interviewer if she would rule out a White House run in 2016 or before, she replied: "Oh yes, yes."
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20101105/ap_on_re_as/as_us_clinton_presidency_4

Of course, Hillary is known for never lying, particularly regarding tricky landings in Bosnia under sniper fire.

But how can we know Hillary is fibbing this time? Observe Bill Clinton's November 3 op-ed in The New York Times, "Finish Rabin's Work" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/04/opinion/04clinton.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=Finish%20Rabin's%20Work&st=cse), which is intended to evince friendship for Israel in the face of Obama's hostility. Mind you, the Clinton's have a binding agreement that bars Bill from interfering with Hillary's work, and this opinion piece was sanctioned in advance by Hillary, who is already seeking to court the alienated Jewish community in the U.S.

Look for her resignation as Secretary of State in early 2011.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani: Obama, Say Something!


Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is soon to be executed in Iran, although it is not certain whether she will be stoned to death in accordance with her original sentence. According to CNN:

"Authorities in Tehran, Iran, have given the go-ahead to execute a woman who initially was sentenced to death by stoning, according to an activist working on her behalf.

However, what method will be used to execute Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani is unclear, said Mina Ahadi, spokeswoman for the International Committee Against Stoning. The execution could happen as soon as Wednesday, she said, citing information received from a source in Tabriz, Iran, who is close to Ashtiani's family.

Ashtiani initially was sentenced to death by stoning for adultery. The Iranian government later said she was also convicted of murdering her husband, but her lawyer and family dispute that.

. . . .

Ashtiani, 43 and a mother of two, drew international attention when she was sentenced to death by stoning. She concedes that she was convicted of adultery, as initially reported, but says she was acquitted of murder. 'The man who actually killed my husband was identified and imprisoned, but he is not sentenced to death,' she said in August.

. . . .

Ashtiani's son and her attorney are still in jail after being arrested last month, Ahadi said. Also still detained are two German journalists.

. . . .

Ashtiani's other former lawyer, Mohammad Mostafaei, is being protected by European diplomats after he fled to Turkey from Iran."

http://edition.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/11/02/iran.woman.execution/index.html?hpt=T2

Obama, it's time to say something! Your charm campaign aimed at Iran and the world's other leading tyrannies has failed miserably, and it's time to change course. Nothing has been or will be gained by appeasing Ahmadinejad and his henchmen in Tehran.

You've just received a slap in the face from the American electorate, and it's time to wake up to reality.

Speak up! Save a life, save the world!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Roger Cohen: "Get Bold, Barack" Or "Get Real, Roger"?

In a New York Times op-ed entited "Get Bold, Barack" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/02/opinion/02iht-edcohen.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss), Roger Cohen today expresses his disappointment with the president and observes that "the disappointed are not misguided but rational, even scientific." (Apparently, Cohen is always receptive to adulation, even if it need come from himself.) In this same modest vein, Cohen writes with regard to Obama:

"He needs to become serious about balancing the budget. He needs a foreign policy that reflects a changed world not a churlish Congress."

Become serious about balancing the budget? A rational, even scientific Cohen fails to acknowledge that Obama's deficit budget over the past two years has been squandered on the escalation of a senseless ground war in Afghanistan and on bonuses for bankers, instead of being spent on infrastructure, education and jobs for middle class, working families. Instead of fiscal stimulus, we have witnessed an Obamination, which will not be reversed anytime soon.

A foreign policy that reflects a changed world not a churlish Congress? Stop right there! Congress has absolutely nothing to do with Obama's dismal human rights record, involving a refusal to acknowledge human rights abuses in China, Iran, Egypt, Burma, Sudan, Saudi Arabia, Syria and a host of other countries. Obama rode into power believing that he could "make nice" to some of the world's most oppressive regimes and wean them from their evil ways. And although Obama has succeeded in alienating long-standing allies such as Poland, the Czech Republic, the Ukraine, Britain, India, Japan, Columbia and Israel, his overtures to tyranny have been met with scorn and derision.

Sorry, Roger, but this "bold" foray into foreign affairs is Obama's sole responsibility, although perhaps you should acknowledge your own support for the president's failed attempt at courting Tehran, which necessitated turning a blind eye to murder, torture and horrific abuse of Kurds, Baha'is, Sunni Muslims, homosexuals, women, journalists and political dissidents.

Blame Obama's tolerance of human rights abuses on Congress? No dice! Again, this was quintessential Obama.

Get bold, Barack? Get real, Roger!