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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "The Bin Laden Decade": What Tom Forgets to Say

Today, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Bin Laden Decade" (, Thomas Friedman, who is now said to be advising Obama (see:, claims that Osama bin Laden "did a number" on the Arab states, America and Israel,

"all of whom have deeper holes than ever to dig out of thanks to the Bin Laden decade, 2001 to 2011, and all of whom have less political authority than ever to make the hard decisions needed to get out of the holes."

Friedman blames the Arabs for failing over the past decade to address economic development, population growth and education. Friedman blames George W. Bush for a tax cut, Medicare prescription drug entitlement and two wars, all of which the U.S. could not afford. Friedman blames Israel for expanding West Bank settlements and destroying Israel as a Jewish democracy.

However, Friedman conveniently forgets that Obama has been President of the United States during the past two and a half years.

Observing that "Washington basically gave the Arab dictators a free pass to tighten their vise grip on their people," Friedman fails to remember that in his June 4, 2009 speech in Cairo, Obama excused the Arab states from implementing democratic reforms:

"I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other."

It skips Friedman's mind that Obama has failed to extricate the U.S. from a costly, pointless war in Afghanistan, and has even deepened U.S. involvement.

While blaming Israel for expanding West Bank settlements, Friedman fails to observe that in 2005, Israel undertook a unilateral evacuation of Gaza, which was followed by a hailstorm of missiles and rockets from Gaza directed at southern Israeli communities.

Friedman forgets that during that same bin Laden decade, Israeli Prime Minister Olmert offered Abbas an independent Palestinian state based upon the 1967 lines with land swaps, but this proposal was categorically rejected by Abbas. Does Netanyahu want to hold onto the West Bank with its 2.4 million Palestinians, as suggested by Friedman? No way, but like most Israelis, he is also unwilling to permit the return of Palestinian suicide bombings (also characteristic of the "bin Laden decade") or rocket fire from the West Bank into Tel Aviv, Haifa, Netanya and Jerusalem. Remember that Israel is only nine miles wide at its waist.

Friedman concludes:

"For all these reasons, I find myself asking the same question in Cairo, Washington and Jerusalem: 'Who will tell the people?'"

I suppose Friedman thinks that he is the chosen one. Thanks, but no thanks, Tom.

Civil War in Syria: Beginning of the End for Assad

Today for the first time, rebels in Syria fired back at the Syrian army when it attempted to enter Homs. After more than two months of peaceful protests in which more than 1,000 civilians have been murdered by Assad's security forces with the assistance of Hezbollah and Iran, the struggle has taken a new turn. As I have stated in the past, Assad will ultimately be forced to flee Syria.

Meanwhile, Obama and Hillary remain by and large silent in the face of this human tragedy. I understand that Obama is still sulking from his encounter with Netanyahu in Washington, and for this reason pointedly refused to intervene on Israel's behalf at last week's G8 summit, where Canada, but not the U.S., objected to a statement linking peace with the Palestinians to the 1967 lines.

In Damascus, where Hamas has its headquarters, Khaled Mashaal is preparing to move the terrorist organization's political wing to Qatar. Qatar, however, is refusing to host its military wing.

Hezbollah, which is armed by Syria and Iran, is also growing alarmed. Without Assad's patronage, Hezbollah's supremacy over Lebanon is threatened.

This coming Friday promises a bloodbath in Syria. Assad for his part is seeking to distract public opinion by again sending Palestinians to crash the Israeli border with Lebanon and Syria on the June 6, 1967 anniversary of the Six Day War (in Arabic, Yawm an-Naksa or "day of the setback").

Turkey, which is holding elections on June 12, is largely ignoring events in neighboring Syria, and its political leadership, busy seeking votes, is focusing on a new flotilla to be sent to break the Israeli naval blockade of Gaza in the third week of June.

Scrutinizing events in Syria and fearful for his own neck, Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has inked a unity pact with Hamas and now is in talks with Islamic Jihad.

Stay tuned.

Monday, May 30, 2011

David Brooks, "It’s Not About You"

David Brooks latest New York Times op-ed, "It’s Not About You" (, begins:

"Nearly every sensible middle-aged person would give away all their money to be able to go back to age 22 and begin adulthood anew."

Speak for yourself, David. Or perhaps, as many would claim, I am not "sensible".

Brooks's op-ed concludes:

"The purpose in life is not to find yourself. It’s to lose yourself."

Although I agree that the West is consumed by narcissism, this generalization strikes me as trite. The purpose in life for some may be to seek purpose or to "lose oneself" in the pursuit of some noble or greater cause; however, others, less privileged, are consumed by the struggle for physical and economic survival. For me, life's purpose has changed with the years and will continue to undergo modification, granting diversity, satisfaction and also gnawing self-doubt.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Paul Krugman's "Against Learned Helplessness": A New W.P.A. Program?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Against Learned Helplessness" (, Paul Krugman deplores the high level of unemployment with which the United States and Europe are saddled. Dr. Krugman tells us what he believes is the source of the problem and offers several solutions:

"The core of our economic problem is, instead, the debt — mainly mortgage debt — that households ran up during the bubble years of the last decade. Now that the bubble has burst, that debt is acting as a persistent drag on the economy, preventing any real recovery in employment. And once you realize that the overhang of private debt is the problem, you realize that there are a number of things that could be done about it.

For example, we could have W.P.A.-type programs putting the unemployed to work doing useful things like repairing roads — which would also, by raising incomes, make it easier for households to pay down debt. We could have a serious program of mortgage modification, reducing the debts of troubled homeowners. We could try to get inflation back up to the 4 percent rate that prevailed during Ronald Reagan’s second term, which would help to reduce the real burden of debt."

The "core" of the U.S. economic problem is debt? I disagree. Debt is only one of various maladies contributing to unemployment. And I certainly don't think that ringing up more debt in order to send unemployed computer programmers, or anyone else for that matter, to repair potholes is going to remedy the ailment.

Dr. Krugman fails to mention high energy costs, which are literally slowing the American economy to a snail's pace and destroying the U.S. balance of trade. What can be done to bring energy costs down? Plenty.

The U.S. is blessed with bountiful quantities of oil shale that can eliminate dependence upon foreign oil. Yes, in situ extraction can pollute ground water, but there are also solutions to this danger. An entire industry, requiring both high and low tech workers, can be spawned on American shores. (More on oil shale - I am personally acquainted with the subject - in a subsequent blog entry.)

Dr. Krugman also doesn't mention tariffs. Over past decades, U.S. manufacturing has been destroyed by cheap imports from China and Pakistan. Although Beijing and Islamabad won't be pleased, perhaps it's time to even the playing field by increasing tariffs or offering tax incentives to U.S. manufacturers in order to improve their competitiveness.

Finally, Dr. Krugman doesn't mention technological innovation. Technological innovation is a double-edged sword, which creates and destroys jobs. But without technological leadership, the U.S. economy is destined to be eclipsed, and such supremacy must be ensured, thereby also ensuring productive job growth.

A new W.P.A. program, sending overweight middle-aged persons to repair roads? It might cure obesity, but it won't make a dent in unemployment.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "Pay Attention": Egypt Passes from Arab Spring to Middle East Ice Age

Thomas Friedman has me confused. Having long sung paeans to nascent Egyptian democracy and the Arab Spring, Friedman today warns in his New York Times op-ed, "Pay Attention" (, that timely Egyptian elections will bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power, which in turn

"could inject restrictions on women, alcohol, dress, and the relations between mosque and state."

Tom quotes a "reform party leader" as saying:

“We as secular forces prefer to have some time to consolidate our parties. We must thank the army for the role it played. But it was our revolution, not a coup d’état. ... If there are fair elections, the Muslim Brotherhood will only get 20 percent.”

Let me get this straight: September elections will not be "fair" because they will come too soon and bring the Muslim Brotherhood to power?

Tom goes on to say:

"[I]t is important that senior U.S. officials engage quietly with the generals and encourage them to take heed of the many Egyptian voices that are raising legitimate concerns about a premature runoff."

In other words, Obama should plead with the Egyptian general staff to delay the vote?

What makes Friedman think that if the so-called "liberal" parties are given time to organize that they will be able to garner a larger number of representatives in the new Egyptian parliament? Perhaps he should pay attention to the statistics released by the Pew Research Center in December 2010 (

"At least three-quarters of Muslims in Egypt . . . say they would favor making each of the following the law in their countries: stoning people who commit adultery, whippings and cutting off of hands for crimes like theft and robbery and the death penalty for those who leave the Muslim religion."

Could it be that the "Arab Spring" is already behind us and that we are soon to witness a Middle East ice age? One thing is clear: Friedman has been mugged by reality.

The New York Times on Reopening of Egyptian Border with Gaza: More Slanted Reporting

Go to the lead item on the home page of The New York Times (, where we are told:

Blockade Ends, Gazans Enter Egypt With New Hopes
Hundreds of residents of the Gaza Strip arrived by the busload on Saturday to make the crossing, taking the first tangible steps out of Israeli occupation [italics added] after years of deadlocked peace talks.

Now go to the article itself (, which begins:

May 28, 2011
After Blockade, Gazans Enter Egypt With New Hopes
RAFAH BORDER CROSSING, Egypt — Hundreds of Palestinian residents of the Gaza Strip arrived here by the busload on Saturday to pass through the reopened border into Egypt, taking a tangible step out of a four-year Israeli blockade [italics added].

The New York Times is unaware that Gaza was unilaterally evacuated by Israel in 2005? The New York Times is incapable of distinguishing between "occupation" and "blockade"?

Coming after yesterday's horrifying editorials (see:, I suppose we shouldn't be surprised.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Gail Collins, "The Coyote Candidate": Rick Perry Meets The New York Times Quixote Columnist

New York Times columnist Gail Collins is on a quest: to discredit every Republican presidential hopeful prior to November 2012. In her column today entitled "The Coyote Candidate" (, she matches wits with Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas:

"He’s from the South, and he has great hair! What more could you want?

. . . .

Perry! Perry! Perry!

. . . .

So who is this man called Rick? He is, in his own words, 'the kind of guy who goes jogging in the morning packing a Ruger .380 with laser sights and loaded with hollow point bullets, and shoots a coyote that is threatening his daughter’s dog.' That really happened. In fact, it was possibly the high point of Perry’s political career.

You can see the attraction. Try to imagine the Republican convention being asked to choose between Mitt Romney, who once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of his car, and the guy who shot a puppy-eating coyote."

Where have we heard this before? Hint: See her April 15th column "Mitt! Mitt! Mitt!" (, in which she writes:

"Also, there is not a single mention in 'No Apology' of the fact that Romney once drove to Canada with the family Irish setter strapped to the roof of the car."

Now examine her May 13th column, "Presidential Primary Book Club" (, which begins:

"Newt! Newt! Newt!"

So what are we to learn from this?:

1. Gail is obsessed with hair.
2. Gail is obsessed with dog stories.
3. When going into battle, Gail recites the names of her opponents three times (that, or she is desperate to reach a prescribed word count or has started to lose her memory).

But let's cut straight to the chase: While Collins busies herself with tripe, the most recent CNN research poll ( places Rudolph Giuliani at the top of the list of possible Republican presidential candidates. Of Republicans polled, 50% said that they would not like to see Perry run for the Republican nomination for president.

Which probably means that we will soon see a new Collins column entitled "Rudy! Rudy! Rudy!"

I don't know if she will be able to dredge up any dog stories concerning Giuliani, but it is unlikely that she will be able to poke fun at his "presidential" hair.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

New York Times Editorial "The Mideast Peace Process: No Plan for Talks"

The New York Times in an editorial today entitled "The Mideast Peace Process: No Plan for Talks" (

"And while he basked in Congress’s standing ovations, Ethan Bronner reported in The Times that in Israel the trip was judged a diplomatic failure. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz said Mr. Netanyahu’s 'same old messages' proved the country 'deserves a different leader.'”

Yesterday's lead story in Haaretz entitled "Haaretz poll: Netanyahu's popularity soaring following Washington trip" (

"It's doubtful that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in his wildest, most optimistic dreams, would have dared to imagine when he set off for the United States last week that Israelis would respond to his six-day trip so enthusiastically: According to a new Haaretz poll, they are giving the visit high marks, considering it an overwhelming success."

Whatever one's view regarding President Obama's Mideast policy speech, it is again sad to see The New York Times editorial board make such a distorted declaration.

Moreover, the New York Times editorial ignores a new Smith Research poll, indicating that only 12% of Israeli Jews surveyed said Obama was more pro-Israel, while 40% said he was more pro-Palestinian (see: Israelis obviously do not trust Obama.

How is Obama to overcome that distrust, thereby overcoming innate Israeli hostility to his proposals? Since becoming president, Obama has visited Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. He has refused to visit Israel. It is time for such a visit to Israel, if he is able.

Concerning the conduct of The New York Times, which also published today a second editorial entitled "The Mideast Peace Process: Washington Makes Things Worse" (, telling us that "Washington needs to stop pandering for Jewish support" (New York Times description of the editorial on their home page), one need question their balance and motives, particularly given events in Yemen, Libya and Syria.

It never occurred to the editorial board of The New York Times that the U.S. Congress can appreciate, for example, that in 2010, Israel voted 91.8% of the time with the U.S. at the UN General Assembly (, compared with 75.4% for Canada and 74.2% for the U.K. Only Palau, 96.5%, and Micronesia, 94.0%, were higher than Israel. In contrast, Egypt and Pakistan, which receive billions of dollars in annual aid from America, voted with the U.S. 31.4% and 21.3% of the time, respectively.

Could it be that The New York Times is pandering to Obama?

Israeli Arab Mayor Prefers Swiss Democracy

In an interview published online by Haaretz (, the Israeli Arab mayor of Arabeh, Omar Nasser, claims that it was disgraceful for the U.S. Congress to applaud Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and derides Israeli democracy:

"The prime minister chose to compare democracy in Israel to the Arab world. But if he is so proud of democracy in Israel, then why doesn't he compare it to democracy in Canada or in Sweden or in Switzerland?"

Oh, yes, the blessings of democracy for Muslims in Switzerland. . . .

Apparently, Mr. Nasser has forgotten, or has chosen not to remind the readership of Haaretz, that in November 2009, 57.5% of Swiss voters decided to ban the future construction of minarets, i.e. mosque prayer towers (see:

Elsewhere in Europe, a new French law recently barred Muslim women from wearing niqabs (face veils) and burqas (outerwear that covers the entire body except the eyes and hands) in public (see:

Can you imagine how the world would react if Israel were to enact such legislation?

Yes, Mayor Nasser, the grass is always greener on the other side.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "Lessons from Tahrir Sq.": Tom Didn't Do His Homework

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Lessons From Tahrir Sq." (, Thomas Friedman dazzles us with a display of naiveté, and we can only pray that Friedman is not advising Obama, as was recently reported by Martin Peretz of The New Republic (see:

Writing from Cairo, Friedman lectures us that both the Palestinians and Israelis "have been untouched by the Arab Spring" and that they "could actually learn something from Tahrir Square". He suggests to the Palestinians:

"Announce that every Friday from today forward will be 'Peace Day,' and have thousands of West Bank Palestinians march nonviolently to Jerusalem, carrying two things — an olive branch in one hand and a sign in Hebrew and Arabic in the other. The sign should say: 'Two states for two peoples. We, the Palestinian people, offer the Jewish people a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders — with mutually agreed adjustments — including Jerusalem, where the Arabs will control their neighborhoods and the Jews theirs.'

. . . .

Crazy, I know. Bibi is reading this and laughing: 'The Palestinians will never do that. They could never get Hamas to adopt nonviolence. It’s not who the Palestinians are.'

. . . .

How about you, Palestinians, especially Hamas? Do you have any surprise in you? Is Bibi right about you, or not?”

Was it Friedman who foolishly advised Obama to include the reference to the 1967 lines -- lines resulting from the 1949 armistice, not borders, as Friedman would have us believe -- in his Mideast policy speech last week, which ruptured relations with Netanyahu on the eve of his visit to Washington?

Be that as it may, Friedman has now taken it upon himself to advise Hamas, whose charter, inter alia, calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis. Yes, Tom, that includes you.

But what about the "Arab Spring" and events at Tahrir Square?

• We know that Egyptian Muslims are still murdering Christian Copts.

• We know that women are still subject to vile abuse, as evidenced by the "Million Women March" from Tahrir Square, which was poorly attended, degenerated into a violent shoving match, and ultimately was dispersed by the police. Note also that not a single woman was appointed to the Egyptian committee assigned to draft constitutional amendments following the overthrow of the Mubarak regime.

• We know that in the southern Egyptian city of Qena, protesters have been sitting on train tracks, taking over government buildings and blocking main roads in order to impose Islamic law.

• We know that leading Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Mousa is telling us that the Camp David Accords signed between Egypt and Israel have expired, thereby paving the way for another war.

Better yet, note what another Egyptian presidential candidate, Mohamed ElBaradei, has to say about Egypt following events at Tahrir Square (

“'Right now, socially, we are disintegrating,' ElBaradei said on CNN’s 'Fareed Zakaria GPS,” . . . . 'Economically we are not in the best state. Politically it’s -- it’s like a black hole. We do not know where we are heading.'

. . . .

'People do not feel secure,” ElBaradei said. 'They are buying guns' to protect themselves, he said.

. . . .

ElBaradei said the Egyptian economy is suffering from no investment, inflation, a budget deficit and lack of tourism."

Palestinians and Israelis should "learn something from Tahrir Square"? What lessons derive from the "Arab Spring", which is fast becoming the "Arab Winter"? Perhaps it's time for Tom to go back to school and do his homework.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Paul Krugman's "When Austerity Fails": Europe in Decline

In an op-ed in today's New York Times entitled "When Austerity Fails" (, Paul Krugman tells us that attempts in Europe to cut spending have not resulted in economic resurgence and that the U.S. should learn from this failure. Krugman writes:

"In Europe, by contrast, the pain caucus has been in control for more than a year, insisting that sound money and balanced budgets are the answer to all problems. Underlying this insistence have been economic fantasies, in particular belief in the confidence fairy — that is, belief that slashing spending will actually create jobs, because fiscal austerity will improve private-sector confidence."

. . . .

But as I said, the confidence fairy hasn’t shown up. Europe’s troubled debtor nations are, as we should have expected, suffering further economic decline thanks to those austerity programs, and confidence is plunging instead of rising. It’s now clear that Greece, Ireland and Portugal can’t and won’t repay their debts in full, although Spain might manage to tough it out."

Could it be, however, that even were these governments to attempt to spur growth with aggressive spending, their efforts would fail, provoking an even more severe crisis? Allow me to be politically incorrect for a moment and ask, hypothetically, whether Europe might be in permanent decline, owing to:

• the burden of their social welfare programs;
• an influx of unskilled persons from Turkey and North Africa, many of whom have been unable to find work and have further strained Europe's social welfare programs to the breaking point;
• the acceptance of high unemployment as the norm;
• shorter work weeks and longer vacations;
• declining birthrates.

Let's hope I'm wrong and pray that Europe will experience another renaissance.

But my point is otherwise: What works or doesn't work in Europe doesn't guarantee a similar result in the United States. Europe and the U.S. are literally and figuratively an ocean apart.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Thomas Friedman's "They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?": Nice Try, Tom, But the Revolt in Syria Is Not About Democracy

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "They Shoot Horses, Don’t They?" (, Thomas Friedman, writing from Beirut, would have us believe that the protestors being gunned down by Assad's monstrous regime are seeking "democracy":

"More than in any other Arab country today, the democracy protestors in Syria know that when they walk out the door to peacefully demand freedom they are facing a regime that has no hesitancy about gunning them down."

"Democracy prostestors"? This is a facile depiction of a rebellion having its roots elsewhere.

Notwithstanding demands by demonstrators for greater political freedom, the Assad regime is being brought down by the failure of its economy. Syria's agricultural sector employs some 30 percent of its labor force, and much emphasis has been placed in recent years on achieving food self-sufficiency and stemming rural migration. However, Syria's most important cash crop is cotton, which demands much water, and a five-year drought has had catastrophic consequences.

Syria's limited oil reserves are also dwindling.

Add to this volatile mixture the fact that Assad is an Alawite. Alawites, who comprise 10% of Syria's population, are considered by many to be a Shiite sect; however, there are those Sunnis who say that Alawites are not even Muslims. Syria's population of some 22 million is 70% Sunni, and there is much pent up hostility toward Assad, who, like his father, has sought to preserve power by populating the military and secret service leadership with fellow Alawites.

Syria's Sunnis have not forgotten how in 1982 Syrian president Hafez al-Assad, Bashar's father, destroyed much of the town of Hama and killed up to 40,000 of their coreligionists in order to suppress a revolt by the Muslim Brotherhood against his regime.

Also no mention by Mr. Friedman of the savage persecution of Syria's Kurds, who also comprise some 10% of the population, and whose villages have been particularly hard hit by the regional drought.

Mr. Friedman inquires:

"Of course, the million-dollar question hanging over the Syrian rebellion, and all the Arab rebellions, is: Can the people really come together and write a social contract to live together as equal citizens — not as rival sects — once the iron fist of the regimes is removed?"

Answer: No way, but keep asking those tough questions, Tom.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Roger Cohen's "Obama Draws the Line": Delusional

Roger Cohen has done it again. In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama Draws the Line" (, Cohen gives full vent to his vivid imagination, while seeking to support Obama's recent speech on the Middle East. As I stated in my prior blog entry (, I agreed with much of what Obama said in his speech, but opposed its timing and the manner in which it was presented, which were sure to alienate Netanyahu, an American ally, on the eve of his visit to Washington. Cohen's op-ed, on the other hand, is delusional.


"The president got 78 percent of the Jewish vote in 2008. Perhaps those words will cost him some of those votes — although sentiment toward Israel among American Jews is slowly shifting."


"The American Jewish Committee's Survey of American Jewish Opinion is usually conducted annually to gauge American Jewish attitudes towards Israel. The surveys refute claims disseminated by some in the media that Jewish support for Israel is waning in America. 3 out of 4 respondents felt very close or somewhat close to Israel, a figure slightly up from ten years ago." (


"As Obama noted, occupation is 'humiliation.'”


If occupation is "humiliation", what then are suicide bombings? If occupation is "humiliation", what then are more than 10,000 mortar rounds, rockets and missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and cities, after Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza? If occupation is "humiliation", what then is the firing of an anti-tank missile by Hamas across the border last month at a yellow Israeli school bus?


"Obama got it right. The essential trade-off is Israeli security for Palestinian sovereignty. Each side must convince the other that peace will provide it.

Israeli security begins with a reconciled Fatah and Hamas committing irrevocably to nonviolence, with Palestinian acquiescence to a nonmilitarized state, and with Palestinian acceptance that a two-state peace ends all territorial claims."


Here it is, again in full bloom: The equivalent of "Iran is not totalitarian." Sorry, Roger, but the Hamas charter irrevocably binds this organization to violence, i.e. the rejection of a negotiated solution with Israel, a refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist, and a call for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis). Indeed, Obama did get it right in his speech ( "In particular, the recent announcement of an agreement between Fatah and Hamas raises profound and legitimate questions for Israel - how can one negotiate with a party that has shown itself unwilling to recognise your right to exist."

Sorry if I don't waste more time on this twaddle.

Obama's Middle East Policy Speech: Still in Diplomatic Diapers

Although I agreed with much of what Obama had to say during his Middle East policy speech, which evidenced that he has learned, albeit belatedly, that Ahmadinejad and Assad are not to be trusted, his speech was a failure. Obama, who takes a scholastic approach to foreign policy and is indeed a talented orator, has yet to understand that if he wishes to accomplish anything in the Middle East, it will not come from soliloquies out of Washington.

The need to achieve progress in a quiet manner during discussions with partners is not entirely lost on Obama. Observe how Obama never once mentioned Saudi Arabia, despite its horrifying human rights record and discrimination against women. Obama realized that given current tensions with the Desert Kingdom, he was better off not aggravating King Abdullah from afar with condemnatory rhetoric.

However, although he had the good sense not to further alienate Saudi Arabia, Obama succeeded in embarrassing Israel's Netanyahu immediately prior to his visit to Washington. Indeed, tension has only grown since Obama told his aides on Friday that Netanyahu will never make the concessions necessary to achieve peace with the Palestinians (

Observe how Menachem Begin, an Israeli hawk, evacuated Sinai. Consider how Ariel Sharon, just as far to the Israeli right, evacuated Gaza. Likewise, my neighbor, Netanyahu, might have proven far more flexible regarding arrangements with the Palestinian Authority than Obama might have imagined, but this was before Obama shot off his mouth and placed Netanyahu on the defensive with his Likud supporters.

A two-state solution along the 1967 lines, coupled with land swaps and sharing of Jerusalem, is nothing new. Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert agreed to such arrangements, which were rejected first by Arafat and later by Abbas. Had Obama decided to wait until Netanyahu's arrival before delivering this speech and had discussed his ideas behind closed doors with the Israeli prime minister, he might have been surprised by Bibi's response.

Obama, however, likes to listen to himself and couldn't control his narcissistic impulses. A pity.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Compugen: New Discovery Method for Drug Candidates That Interfere With Protein Conformations

Compugen today issued a press release (, stating that it had developed a new method based upon in silico (by computer) prediction of previously unknown conformations of target proteins, facilitating the design of novel drug candidates:

"Compugen . . . announced today the development of a method to identify novel therapeutic candidates to interfere with disease associated protein conformations and protein-protein interactions. This new in silico method relies on the prediction of hidden conformations of the proteins of interest, which is the subject of a scientific paper to be published in the journal Bioinformatics . . . .

Proteins are dynamic entities and can adopt a series of different conformations. However, some of these conformations are “hidden”, since they are short-lived or difficult to study experimentally for other reasons. Since this dynamic property of proteins is important for their function in healthy and diseased states, a broad view of a protein’s conformational space is crucial in many aspects of drug discovery."

Okay, what does this mean? If you're waiting for me to tell you that it's not rocket science and readily understood by persons like myself, you're mistaken. This is rocket science. Moreover, if it wasn't rocket science, it wouldn't be worth contemplating, because, as I have often said, predictive, algorithm-driven biology, based upon the most advanced computer science, is necessary to give rise to the next generation of therapeutics.

So what can we poor laymen hope to understand from this announcement?

First, the perception of proteins and their relationship to disease continues to evolve. Although the link between proteins (e.g., in excessive quantities, in insufficient quantities) and diseased states has long been known, emphasis had been placed upon their static structures. Today, it is better understood that proteins twist, turn and fold within conformational boundaries, and some of these alternate structures cause disease.

More simply stated, proteins, for the purpose of drug development, are moving targets that can be extremely hard to hit.

And if you are seeking to cure, for example, various kinds of cancer, you are going to have to contend with these alternate states.

Compugen is now saying that it can even more accurately predict the various conformational changes in protein structure, including those that are short-lived. Moreover, as we have also learned from prior announcements, they believe that they can design the peptides that are able to interfere with protein disease-associated conformations, i.e. trap proteins in their inactive state (see:, and block protein-protein interactions which give rise to disease (see:

The ability to:

(1) locate the "door" to a specific disease along the length of a given protein (proteins are generally between 50 and 2,000 amino acids in length and consist of 20 types of amino acids), which can assume multiple conformations, and

(2) block the "keyhole" with a custom designed peptide,

provides further evidence of the power of Compugen's cutting-edge science.

[As noted in prior blog entries, I am a Compugen shareholder, this blog entry is not a recommendation to buy or sell Compugen shares, and in mid-September 2009 I began work as a part-time external consultant to Compugen. The opinions expressed herein are mine and are based on publicly available information. This blog entry has not been authorized or approved by Compugen.]

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Gail Collins' "The Year of Living Adulterously": Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn

Another Thursday, and another Gail Collins op-ed, this time entitled "The Year of Living Adulterously" (, which obsesses over the sexual misdeeds and marital indiscretions of Republicans and their spouses. Collins writes in her New York Times column:

"What is it with Republicans lately? Is there something about being a leader of the family-values party that makes you want to go out and commit adultery?

They certainly don’t have a lock on the infidelity market, and heaven knows we all remember John Edwards. But, lately, the G.O.P. has shown a genius for putting a peculiar, newsworthy spin on illicit sex."

Obviously concerned with a possible Mitch Daniels candidacy, Collins pointedly observes:

"Daniels is apparently worried that a presidential run might prove embarrassing to his wife, who ditched him and the kids and ran off to California to marry a doctor and then later recanted everything and came back. I think it is pretty safe to say that this topic might come up."

I suppose Collins thinks there is no need to rehash the Monica Lewinsky affair, or to examine the current living arrangements involving the Clintons. Yes, I'm certain they're the ideal couple.

No need to mention former New York Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer and his trysts with high-priced prostitutes.

No need to mention former New York Governor David Paterson, who acknowledged having extramarital affairs.

No need to mention former New Jersey Governor James McGreevey and his extramarital affair with a male employee.

No need to mention Congressman Barney Frank and his relationship with Stephen Gobie (see:

I could continue ad infinitum; however, perhaps it is wiser to refer those who are interested to a Newsweek article entitled "Sex Scandals Through the Years: Both Parties Even" (

Of course, if the Democrats formally decide in Charlotte to run in 2012 as the "non-family-values party", I suppose that their pecadilloes will be exempt from criticism by the American electorate.

Are marital infidelity and sexual indiscretion peculiar to politicians, or are they part and parcel of the human condition?

"Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn!"

New York Times Editorial "President Obama and the Arab Spring": What Is the Source of Their Numbers?

Today's New York Times editorial entitled "President Obama and the Arab Spring" ( begins:

"It should be no surprise that the ferment in the Arab world has touched the Palestinians, whose promised two-state solution is no closer than ever. On Sunday, the anniversary of Israel’s creation, thousands marching from Syria, Gaza, Lebanon and the West Bank breached Israel’s borders and confronted Israeli troops. More than a dozen people were killed; scores were injured."

"More than a dozen people were killed"? What is the source of their numbers? On Israel's border with Syria it is known that at least one, but no more than two persons died when thousands, bussed to the border by Assad, broke down the fence and entered Israel. The fact that more didn't die is evidence of the restraint displayed by the Israeli army when confronting this throng of persons crossing into Israel.

On the Lebanese border my sources tell me that up to four persons died when trying to enter Israel, but most if not all of these persons were shot by the Lebanese army while attempting to control the rioting. Anyone reading this New York Times editorial would be led to believe that Israel was responsible for all of the deaths. This was not the case.

So how did the editorial board of The New York Times determine that "More than a dozen people were killed"? Perhaps The New York Times is basing its account upon a report from the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency (; however, Ma'an is known for prejudicial reporting.

Further along in the editorial, The New York Times writes:

"President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority wants a deal but seemed to give up after Mr. Obama couldn’t deliver a promised settlement freeze."

Abbas wants a deal? What kind of a deal? As I noted in my prior blog entry (, Abbas is content to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, but this does not involve recognition of Israel. Moreover, his recent pact with Hamas belies any intention to reach a peace agreement with Israel.

The New York Times owes its readers explanations.

[I have sent an e-mail to Andrew Rosenthal and Arthur Brisbane of The New York Times, inquiring whether this editorial violates this newspaper's standards of ethical journalism. Let's see if either of these gentlemen replies.]

Monday, May 16, 2011

Mahmoud Abbas's New York Times Op-Ed "The Long Overdue Palestinian State": Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire

Concerned over Netanyahu's forthcoming speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress, Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian National Authority, decided to weigh in with a New York Times guest op-ed entitled "The Long Overdue Palestinian State" ( My good friend Mahmoud, whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority ended in 2009, but who unilaterally decided to remain in office, contends that Palestine is prepared to become an independent state:

"We have the capacity to enter into relations with other states and have embassies and missions in more than 100 countries. The World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have indicated that our institutions are developed to the level where we are now prepared for statehood. Only the occupation of our land hinders us from reaching our full national potential; it does not impede United Nations recognition."

Like many other Israelis, I want nothing more than an independent Palestine, which will enable Palestinians to enjoy the fruits of liberty and determine their own destiny. I also have no opposition to East Jerusalem serving as their capital, as was proposed by Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert. Moreover, there is no question in my mind that Abbas & Co. are capable of establishing embassies, operating banks and delivering the mail. But does brother Mahmoud have the will or capacity to prevent terrorist organizations from firing missiles at tiny Israel? Herein lies the crux of the matter.

Abbas succeeds in glossing over his recent unity pact with Hamas without even mentioning the name of this political party, which is classified as a terrorist organization by the U.S., the European Union, Canada and Japan. Did Abbas really think that by not mentioning his pact with Hamas, whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis), this omission would be overlooked?

No mention either of the recent incident at Joseph's tomb, where an unarmed Israeli civilian who had come to pray at Joseph's tomb in Nablus (such visitations by religious Jews occur regularly), was shot dead in cold blood by the Palestinian police (see: This hardly inspires confidence.

Read brother Mahmoud's op-ed again. What else is missing? There is no mention of whether he is prepared to recognize Israel. Sure, he is currently willing to establish a Palestinian state along the 1967 borders, but nowhere does he say that he intends this as a permanent arrangement or that this is tantamount to recognition of Israel. Brother Mahmoud writes:

"Once admitted to the United Nations, our state stands ready to negotiate all core issues of the conflict with Israel. A key focus of negotiations will be reaching a just solution for Palestinian refugees based on Resolution 194, which the General Assembly passed in 1948."

Apparently, recognition of Israel is one of those "core issues," which leads to the conclusion that Abbas, like Hamas, is seeking the establishment of a Palestinian state coupled with "hudnah," i.e. a mere temporary truce with Israel.

Assistance to Palestinian refugees? Absolutely, but what about those 900,000 Jews who since 1948 were evicted from their homes in the Muslim Middle East, deprived of their property, and also sent to live in squalid tent cities? Don't they deserve a "just solution"?

And for the sake of accuracy, note how Abbas fails to mention that it was the Palestinians who refused to accept the 1947 UN General Assembly partition plan, which would have created an independent Palestine more than 60 years ago. He also has forgotten that most of the land designated by the UN for that Palestinian state was appropriated by Egypt and Jordan until 1967.

But let's not hold any of this against dear Mahmoud, who, practiced in the art of taqiyya, i.e. lying to gullible non-believers, must do what he must do in order to survive.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Maureen Dowd's "Corsets, Cleavage and Fishnets": Republicans Are Not to Blame?

Maureen Dowd's latest New York Times op-ed, "Corsets, Cleavage and Fishnets" (, highlights some of the shows to be aired next season on U.S prime time television, including a remake of "Charlie's Angels," "Playboy Club" and "Pan Am."

Sorry, Maureen, I read this column twice, but couldn't find the sentence attributing this new crop of rubbish, emanating from liberal Hollywood, to Tea Party Republicans.

[I wish to thank those of my friends who have been kindly calling to remind me that almost 40 years ago, my sister was a Playboy bunny in Chicago. I might also mention that this blog entry, submitted as an online comment in response to Maureen's op-ed, was censored by The New York Times.]

Thomas Friedman's "I Am a Man": What About "I Am a Woman"?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "I Am a Man" (, Thomas Friedman explains why he is able to smile while observing the Arab Spring unfold:

"The smile? A Libyan friend remarked to me the other day that he was watching Arab satellite TV out of Benghazi, Libya, and a sign held aloft at one demonstration caught his eye. It said in Arabic: 'Ana Rajul' — which translates to 'I am a man.' If there is one sign that sums up the whole Arab uprising, it’s that one."

Unlike Tom, I will smile when I see a sign at a demonstration in the Muslim Middle East saying "I am a woman".

Perhaps such a sign would mark the end of "honor killings" against women, female genital mutilation, the stoning to death of women for alleged adultery, lashings and prison for women who have undergone gang rape, discrimination against women at institutions of higher learning, and a host of other injustices perpetrated against women throughout the Muslim Middle East.

Perhaps the sign "I am a women" would mean that gatherings similar to the recent "Million Women's March" from Tahrir Square in Cairo, which was attended by only several hundred women, could be held without violent abuse from male bystanders and without being dispersed by the police.

Indeed, when I will see the sign "I am a woman" displayed proudly and fearlessly throughout the capital cities of the Muslim Middle East, I too will be able to smile. Unfortunately, I'll probably need to wait many more years to see this become a reality, if it ever occurs during my lifetime.

[This blog entry, submitted as an online comment in response to Tom's op-ed, was censored by The New York Times.]

Sharia Justice in Iran: Literally an Eye for an Eye

In 2004 in Iran, Majid Movahedi threw a jar of acid into the face of Ameneh Bahrami, thereby blinding and disfiguring the woman, after she refused to marry him. Today, pursuant to the verdict of a Tehran court in accordance with Sharia law, Bahrami will blind Movahedi. As reported by The Guardian (

"Majid Movahedi, 30, is scheduled to be rendered unconscious in Tehran's judiciary hospital at noon on Saturday while Ameneh Bahrami, his victim, drops acid in both his eyes, her lawyer said.

. . . .

According to Iranian media, Bahrami's lawyer, Ali Sarafi, has said: 'A very good sentence has been given and an appropriate method has been adopted so that the convict will be blinded by few drops of acids in eyes after he is rendered unconscious.'"

According to The Guardian, Iranian officials have endorsed the verdict, owing to a spate of recent acid attacks. Doubt persists, however, whether Movahedi will be blinded in both eyes, given that Bahrami, in a 2009 interview, said that he would lose just one eye inasmuch as "each man is worth two women" pursuant to Iranian law.

Yet another nightmare from a land of savagery.

[Iran's semi-official Fars news agency reported today that the blinding of Mavahedi has been postponed. The delay in carrying out the court's verdict is undoubtedly the result of international outrage.]

Friday, May 13, 2011

Roger Cohen's "The Tony Awards": What Cohen Doesn't Tell Us

Op-eds are of course opinion pieces, but when published by a leading national newspaper, you would expect some small attempt at balance and adherence to the facts. Such was not the case in Roger Cohen's most recent New York Times column, "The Tony Awards" (, in which he expresses his annoyance with the cancellation, subsequently reversed, of a City University of New York honorary degree to be awarded to Tony Kushner.

Cohen writes:

"A two-state solution is the only strategic and moral answer to the wars since 1948 that have left countless Palestinians bereft of home and dignity".

What Cohen doesn't tell us:

Some 900,000 Jews living in the Muslim Middle East were also forced to abandon their homes and property since 1948. In addition, Jews were expelled from their homes in the Old City of Jerusalem and Hebron in what was once the British Mandate for Palestine.

Cohen writes:

"Its spark [the spark of Judt's binational idea] was that the current impasse is untenable: Israel cannot be at once Jewish and democratic if it permanently disenfranchises millions of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank."

What Cohen doesn't tell us:

A presidential election was held by Palestinians in 2005 and parliamentary elections were held by Palestinians in 2006, but it was Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank that, owing to their violent feuding, refused to hold subsequent elections. Abbas unilaterally extended his term as president of the Palestinian National Authority in 2009.

Cohen writes:

"Kushner told me . . . Americans are realizing there is 'a terrible need for a dose of debate' on Israel and that 'silent acquiescence' to those 'whose politics are based substantially on fantasy and theological wishes' is dangerous."

What Cohen doesn't tell us:

During a single weekend in April 2011, some 120 mortar rounds, rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza at civilian targets in southern Israel. Also last month, an anti-tank missile was fired from Gaza at a yellow Israeli school bus. There was no element of fantasy or anything theological about these attacks, which substantially shape Israeli politics.

Cohen writes:

"Criticism of Israel is not betrayal of Israel."

What Cohen doesn't tell us:

Criticism of Israel is indeed not betrayal of Israel. Kushner, however, is not "criticizing" Israel, but rather calling into question its right to exist. Kushner was quoted by The New York Sun as saying in 2002, "I've never been a Zionist. I have a problem with the idea of a Jewish state. It would have been better if it never happened."

Cohen writes:

"The Kushner affair, like the Judt affair before it, is important in that Israel’s political compass is guided to some degree by its sense of the American mood. That mood, beginning in the White House, is of growing impatience."

What Cohen doesn't tell us:

According to a February 2011 Gallup Poll (, "Americans' views toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict held fairly steady over the past year, with a near record-high 63% continuing to say their sympathies lie more with the Israelis. Seventeen percent sympathize more with the Palestinians."

Kushner and his honorary degree? I couldn't care less. More important is how Cohen plays fast and loose with the facts when he writes about Israel.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Nicholas Kristof's "A Rite of Torture for Girls": Indeed, and What About Egypt?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "A Rite of Torture for Girls" (, Nicholas Kristof deplores the practice of female genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision. Writing from Somaliland, Kristof describes this abomination, intended to deprive women of their sexual drive, which can lead to a host of medical problems:

"This is one of the most pervasive human rights abuses worldwide, with three million girls mutilated each year in Africa alone, according to United Nations estimates. A hospital here in Somaliland found that 96 percent of women it surveyed had undergone infibulation.

. . . .

But it is clear that the most effective efforts against genital mutilation are grass-roots initiatives by local women working for change from within a culture. In Senegal, Ghana, Egypt and other countries, such efforts have made headway.

. . . .

Although some Christians cut their daughters, it is more common among Muslims, who often assume that the tradition is Islamic. So a crucial step has been to get a growing number of Muslim leaders to denounce the practice as contrary to Islam, for their voices carry particular weight."

"Headway" in working for change in Senegal, Ghana and Egypt? What about Egypt? As reported by DHS in a June 2009 report (

"While over 90% of Egyptian women age 15-49 have been circumcised, the 2008 Egypt Demographic and Health Survey (EDHS) indicates that female circumcision rates are declining and that support for the practice is waning.

Four in five (81%) young women age 15-19 have been circumcised compared to 94% of women age 24-29. This marks a substantial decline in female circumcision in recent years. Female circumcision is least common among those with secondary or higher education; only 87% of women with secondary or higher education are circumcised compared to 98% of women with no education.

Women’s support of female circumcision is also decreasing. The 2008 EDHS reports that only 63% of ever-married women believe that female circumcision should continue, compared to 82% in 1995. In 2008, more than one-third of women and one-quarter of men believed that female circumcision should be stopped."

Sure, these statistics would appear to indicate progress, but not nearly enough.

I ask myself why Kristof did not write about this issue during his recent sojourn in Cairo, where he extolled the downfall of Mubarak. Likewise, Kristof didn't tell us about the "Million Women's March" from Cairo's Tahrir Square two months ago, intended to coincide with International Women's Day, but which brought out only several hundred persons. As reported by The Guardian (

"There have been ugly scenes in Tahrir Square as hundreds of women, many of whom had recently faced tear gas alongside men during the protests that toppled Hosni Mubarak, attempted to hold a 'Million Women's March' in Cairo to highlight their hopes of playing an active part in building a new Egypt.

They were harassed and intimidated by a counter-protest made up of mainly men objecting to the call for a new constitution allowing women to stand for the Egyptian presidency.

As the women, who were marching on International Women's Day, found themselves surrounded they chanted 'the people want to bring down women' – a variation on the 'the people want to bring down the regime' chant that became the Egyptian revolution's battle cry.

"Women were caught in the middle and groped," witness Ahmad Awadalla said. "When I tried to defend them they said, 'why are you defending women? Are you queer?'" These scenes were repeated until the army dispersed the crowd."

While in Cairo, Kristof also didn't write about the ongoing horrors being perpetrated against Egypt's Christian Copt minority. This past Saturday, Muslims attacked the Saint Mina Church in the Cairo suburb of Imbaba with firebombs and gunfire, resulting in 10 dead and 186 wounded (see:

Why didn't Kristof write from Cairo about the persecution of the Copts or female genital mutilation? Is it because these stories didn't jibe with his otherwise rosy picture of nascent Egyptian democracy? Such columns certainly would have provoked the Muslim Brotherhood, and Kristof might have quickly learned that he had overstayed his welcome in Egypt.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thomas Friedman's "Bad Bargains": Moderates in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Bad Bargains" (, Thomas Friedman would have us believe that the ruling systems of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are to blame for creating Osama bin Laden and that they continue to endanger the future of the many moderates in those countries. Friedman ends this column by stating:

"Hence, my conclusion: We are surely safer with Bin Laden dead, but no one will be safe — certainly not the many moderate Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who deserve a decent future — without different ruling bargains in Islamabad and Riyadh."

The ruling systems in these countries are to blame? There are "many moderate Muslims in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan"? Again, Friedman is busy deluding himself.

Polls are rare in Saudi Arabia; however, according to the results of a 2004 poll published by CNN in 2004 (

"Almost half of all Saudis said in a poll conducted last year that they have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden's sermons and rhetoric".

How's that for "moderation" from the Saudi populace?

In Pakistan, polls are more easily conducted, and a July 2010 poll of Pakistanis by the Pew Research Center ( found:

• 85% favor segregation of men and women in the marketplace.
• 82% favor stoning adulterers.
• 82% favor whippings/cutting off hands for theft/robbery.
• 76% favor the death penalty for people who leave Islam.

Now that's a whole lot of "moderation" from the majority of Pakistanis. But wait, there's more. This same Pew poll of public opinion in Pakistan also found:

"America's overall image remains negative in Pakistan. Along with Turks and Egyptians, Pakistanis give the U.S. its lowest ratings among the 22 nations included in the spring 2010 Pew Global Attitudes survey -- in all three countries, only 17% have a favorable view of the U.S. Roughly six-in-ten (59%) Pakistanis describe the U.S. as an enemy, while just 11% say it is a partner. And President Barack Obama is unpopular -- only 8% of Pakistanis express confidence that he will do the right thing in world affairs, his lowest rating among the 22 nations."

It is not only the ruling systems in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan that are to blame for the rise of bin Laden and his ability over the course of a decade to elude retribution. These ruling systems reflect the absence of moderation among an overwhelming majority of these country's inhabitants, which falls afoul of Friedman's fanciful theories.

Should the U.S. continue to provide Pakistan with billions of dollars of aid each year? You decide.

David Brooks's "The Missing Fifth"

In a thought provoking op-ed entitled "The Missing Fifth" ( in today's New York Times, David Brooks bemoans the fact that one-fifth of American men in their prime working ages are unemployed. Brooks suggests reasons for their inability to find jobs:

"Part of the problem has to do with human capital. More American men lack the emotional and professional skills they would need to contribute. According to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 35 percent of those without a high school diploma are out of the labor force, compared with less than 10 percent of those with a college degree.

Part of the problem has to do with structural changes in the economy. Sectors like government, health care and leisure have been growing, generating jobs for college grads. Sectors like manufacturing, agriculture and energy have been getting more productive, but they have not been generating more jobs. Instead, companies are using machines or foreign workers."

Brooks's solution:

"It will probably require a broad menu of policies attacking the problem all at once: expanding community colleges and online learning; changing the corporate tax code and labor market rules to stimulate investment; adopting German-style labor market practices like apprenticeship programs, wage subsidies and programs that extend benefits to the unemployed for six months as they start small businesses."

Brooks suggests diverting money from health care, which "provides comfort to those beyond working years", to "programs that spark reinvigoration."

But will the learning of remedial English or basic computer skills at community colleges actually spark "reinvigoration"? Do apprenticeship programs only provide temporary relief from joblessness at reduced wages? Will the opening of small businesses remedy the problem?

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (

"Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more. Census data report that 69 percent of new employer establishments born to new firms in 2000 survived at least 2 years, and 51 percent survived 5 or more years. Survival rates were similar across states and major industries."

If we are looking to reduce unemployment by creating new small businesses, these are not encouraging figures.

Absent from Brooks's op-ed is the role of innovation on the shrinking job market. Mr. Brooks might consider, for example, how, in past decades, advances in typesetting involving computers and lasers eliminated thousands of jobs in the newspaper industry. Today, the Internet, the dissemination of tablet PCs and Kindles, and the free availability of instant news sources could easily deliver a death blow to much of this sector.

We live in a different world, demanding specialized skills and expertise from an ever declining number of persons, and regrettably this new higher level of unemployment is not susceptible to a quick fix.

Monday, May 9, 2011

New York Times Editorial "They Should Be Condemning Syria": Unbounded Naïveté (II)

Today, in an editorial entitled "They Should Be Condemning Syria" (, The New York Times informs us that Syria should not be elected later this month to the United Nations Human Rights Council:

"It is outrageous that Syria is even being discussed for membership. Since the uprising began more than seven weeks ago, President Bashar al-Assad’s security apparatus has repeatedly responded with deadly force, including firing live ammunition at a funeral and seizing critically wounded demonstrators from a hospital. Hundreds are believed to have been killed, including 14 on Sunday. Thousands have been arrested or are missing.

. . . .

Electing Syria would make a mockery of the Council — one from which it might never be able to recover. And it would make a mockery of all the countries that voted for Syria. Syria must be dropped from the slate."

The New York Times would have us believe that it is still possible to "make a mockery of the Council"; however, this is hardly imaginable, given its past history:

• Since its creation in 2006 and until 2010, the UNHRC has condemned Israel in 32 resolutions.
• These 32 resolutions comprise some 48% of all resolutions passed by the Council.
• In 2006, alleged human rights abuses by Israel were made a permanent feature of every UNHRC session.
• As of April 2007, Israel was the only country to be specifically condemned by the UNHRC.

Syria's election to the UNHRC is very much in keeping with this august organization's raison d'être, and instead of protesting Syrian membership, The New York Times should instead be reviewing the 2009 decision by the Obama administration to join the Council.

New York Times Editorial "A Fatah-Hamas Deal": Unbounded Naïveté (I)

Yesterday, in an editorial entitled "A Fatah-Hamas Deal" (, The New York Times told us:

"Ultimately, a successful Palestinian state will need to have all its people, from both the West Bank and Gaza, working together to build a stable and prosperous future. The recent agreement between the two main factions — Fatah, which leads the Palestinian Authority and has committed to peace with Israel, and Hamas, which has committed to Israel’s destruction — is not the answer."

However, The New York Times declares that the U.S. must not cut off funds to the Palestinian Authority, which would eliminate Washington’s leverage over a new government and "shift the political balance dangerously toward Hamas."

The New York Times continues:

"Other reconciliation attempts between Fatah and Hamas have imploded, but Mr. Abbas seems to believe this will advance his push to get the United Nations General Assembly to recognize a Palestinian state. Above all, his sudden willingness to deal with his enemies in Hamas is a sign of his desperation with the stalled peace process."

Abbas has turned to Hamas out of "desperation with the stalled peace process"? What is the basis for this balderdash?

All that matters to Abbas, whose term as president of the Palestinian Authority should have ended in 2009, is to retain power. As Abbas indicated in May 2009 to Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post (, he couldn't care less about "the stalled peace process":

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

So why is Abbas now ostensibly pressing for Palestinian statehood? Answer: Following the wave of unrest in the Arab world, he is deathly afraid that West Bank Palestinians will rise up against his one-man, one-party rule, which is rife with corruption. Notwithstanding his hatred for Hamas, he is currently pursuing a ruse intended to persuade Palestinians that his concern extends beyond his own welfare.

Unity between Fatah and Hamas? Not a chance; however, the editorial board of The New York Times has swallowed the Abbas stratagem hook, line and sinker.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Thomas Friedman's "End of Mideast Wholesale": Road Apples

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "End of Mideast Wholesale" (, Thomas Friedman today showcases his ignorance and arrogance regarding Israel and developments in Egypt. Friedman writes:

"For the last 30 years, Israel enjoyed peace with Egypt wholesale — by having peace with just one man, Hosni Mubarak. That sale is over. Today, post-Mubarak, to sustain the peace treaty with Egypt in any kind of stable manner, Israel is going to have to pay retail. It is going to have to make peace with 85 million Egyptians. The days in which one phone call by Israel to Mubarak could shut down any crisis in relations are over.

Amr Moussa, the outgoing head of the Arab League and the front-runner in polls to succeed Mubarak as president when Egypt holds elections in November, just made that clear in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Regarding Israel, Moussa said: 'Mubarak had a certain policy. It was his own policy, and I don’t think we have to follow this. We want to be a friend of Israel, but it has to have two parties. It is not on Egypt to be a friend. Israel has to be a friend, too.'”

Amr Moussa wants to be "a friend of Israel"? Apparently, it never occurred to Friedman that Amr Moussa is capable of saying one thing to The Wall Street Journal, intended to soothe Western sensibilities, while saying something quite different to the Egyptian media. Friedman still doesn't understand that in the Muslim Middle East, prevarication, i.e. taqiyya (see:, is sanctioned from above when seeking to vanquish non-believers.

Observe the "other" Amr Moussa speaking with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Masri Al-Yawm on April 21, 2011 (

"The Camp David Accords signed between Egypt and Israel have expired and no longer govern the situation, Arab League secretary-general and potential Egyptian presidential candidate Amr Moussa has said.

Moussa, who participated in the negotiations with Israel in 1978, made the statements during a discussion with Egyptian youth.

He added, 'What governs the relationship between the two countries is the Arab Peace Initiative of 2002 and the Egyptian-Israeli treaty.'"

Or in other words, Moussa is paving the way for another war with Israel.

As noted by Eric Trager in an article entitled "The Throwback" ( in The New Republic:

"Despite having represented the combined interests of the Arab world’s 22 autocracies for the last decade, he is now the frontrunner to succeed Mubarak in what could be Egypt’s first-ever truly democratic presidential election. And Moussa owes his startling political ascendance primarily to one thing: his shameless exploitation of anti-Israel demagoguery for political gain.

. . . .

As Egypt’s top diplomat, Moussa immediately projected an adversarial approach toward the United States and Israel. One of the first issues he handled was the Madrid Peace Conference, which the George H.W. Bush administration hoped would help shape a new regional order following the Persian Gulf War. When Israel insisted that the administration push for the repeal of a U.N. General Assembly Resolution that equated Zionism with racism as a precondition for joining the peace conference, Moussa demanded that the issue be tabled until after the conference, and Egypt was ultimately absent from the vote.

. . . .

He declared that U.S. support for Israel 'poisoned' the peace process, and, after the U.S. presented evidence of a Libyan chemical weapons program to the Mubarak regime, Moussa publicly denied that such evidence existed. He backed Yasser Arafat’s refusal to compromise on Jerusalem during and after the failed Camp David summit in the summer of 2000; called on the Arab world to support the Palestinian Intifada in October of that same year; and declared the Palestinians’ 'right of return' to Israel a 'sacred right,' over strong U.S. objections."

Friedman believes it is incumbent upon Israel to befriend this man? Thanks for the gratuitous advice, Tom, but you know what you can do with it.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Maureen Dowd's "Killing Evil Doesn’t Make Us Evil": We're Finally in Agreement

A hypothetical:

A small atomic bomb with a timing device is set to explode in Manhattan within an hour. There is no time to evacuate the island, and if the bomb goes off, at least a million people will die.

The person who planted the bomb has been apprehended. You read the person his/her Miranda warning, whereupon this person demands to see an attorney. What do you do? Are there indeed instances when the lives of a million people take precedence over the right to legal counsel?

In this same vein, Maureen Dowd today justifies the killing of Osama bin Laden in an op-ed in The New York Times entitled "Killing Evil Doesn’t Make Us Evil" (, and for once, we are in agreement. Deriding the usual cast of characters from the Left, who are busy bemoaning the fact that bin Laden was sentenced to death without a trial, Dowd writes:

"Only fools or knaves would argue that we could fight Al Qaeda’s violence non-violently.

President Obama was prepared to take a life not only to avenge American lives already taken but to deter the same killer from taking any more. Aside from Bin Laden’s plotting, his survival and his legend were inspirations for more murder.

. . . .

Morally and operationally, this was counterterrorism at its finest.

We have nothing to apologize for."

Exactly. The United States is at war with terror, and in a rare demonstration of courage, determination and cunning, America eliminated a monster intent on killing more innocent civilians and placed the world on notice that perpetrators of mass murder can hide, but they ultimately cannot escape justice.

Let's not mince words: The killing of bin Laden was a "targeted assassination", ordered by President Obama. The Left winces in disgust when they hear "targeted assassination", characteristically attributed to Israel in its war against Hamas, whose suicide bombers have killed hundreds of Israeli civilians in furtherance of its charter, which calls for the murder of all Jews.

Unfortunately, the war on terror - like the hypothetical atomic bomb in Manhattan - often leaves no choices, and if it is necessary to eliminate a mass murderer by means of targeted assassination, so be it.

I agree with Dowd that President Obama took enormous personal risk by sending Navy Seals to Abbottabad, instead of bombing bin Laden's hideout from the air, thereby saving the lives of children living in the complex, and Obama deserves our heartfelt gratitude for ridding the world of this fiend.

The Wall Street Journal's "Hamas Leader Nods to New Partners": Et tu, Brute?

In a Wall Street Journal article entitled "Hamas Leader Nods to New Partners" (, Charles Levinson and Matt Bradley write:

"Hamas has scaled back its use of violence in recent years, halting suicide bombings and reining in the firing of rockets at Israel. Still, Hamas militants in the West Bank were responsible for a number of shootings of Israeli settlers in the West Bank last year. Last month, Hamas militants in Gaza fired an antitank missile at an Israeli school bus, killing one child."

Hamas "halted" suicide bombings? This is incorrect. The fence between the West Bank and Israel, closure of Israel's border with Gaza, and security cooperation between Israel and Fatah ended this horror.

Hamas "reined in" the firing of rockets? Over the course of a single weekend in April 2011, some 120 mortar shells, rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza at civilian targets in southern Israel. This barrage ceased only after Israel retaliated and Hamas discovered that the "Iron Dome" anti-rocket system was bringing down their Grad missiles.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published Jimmy Carter's guest opinion piece entitled "Support the Palestinian unity government" (, in which he advised the United States to support a Palestinian unity government to be created by Hamas and Fatah. Ignoring recent outrages perpetrated by Hamas against civilians in southern Israel, Carter warned that if the Quartet did not support the unity government, Israel could face "a new round of violence" (see:

On Wednesday, The New York Times published a contributor op-ed entitled "Hurting Moderates, Helping Militants" ( in which someone named Nathan Thrall tried to persuade us that if Israel doesn't negotiate with Hamas, something worse could come along (see:

Now The Wall Street Journal would also have us believe that Hamas has been reining in terror?

Et tu, Brute?

Robert J. Mrazek's "To Kingdom Come"

In a blog entry written in May 2010 (, I recounted how, 28 years ago, I hosted a meeting between a visiting U.S. Congressional fact-finding delegation and Major Hadad, commander of the South Lebanese Army, at the Arazim Hotel in Metula, which is a stone's throw from Israel's northern border. Among those participating in the meeting was Congressman Robert J. Mrazek from Long Island. Bob and I instantly became friends, and I avidly followed his political career, which included a run for the U.S. Senate. As a congressman, Bob wrote the law that saved the Civil War Manassas (Bull Run) battlefield from being developed into a shopping mall.

The years went by, and Bob abandoned politics in order to pursue a successful literary career, which has included both fiction and non-fiction. Earlier this year, NAL Caliber published Bob's latest book, "To Kingdom Come", which describes the September 1943 deep penetration attack by the American Eighth Airforce against Stuttgart, Germany, from the vantage point of those who participated in the mission.

As noted in "To Kingdom Come", the casualty rate among American bomber crews in 1942 and 1943 was in excess of 50 percent, and only one man out of five completed the original combat tour of 25 missions.

The Stuttgart mission was a failure: Owing to dense cloud cover, the American B-17 Flying Fortresses failed to identify their target, and without accompanying fighter support, they were chewed up by German Focke-Wulfs and anti-aircraft fire. Many of the Flying Fortresses, after circling Stuttgart three times, also ran out out of fuel on the way back to England.

Bob Mrazek tells the stories of the U.S. servicemen who ordered the mission, who died or were wounded, who were captured in Germany, who escaped with the assistance of the French underground, and who landed and were interned in neutral Switzerland.

I could not put this remarkable book down.

I've waited a few days before describing my reading experience. I still find myself admiring the courage of this slowly dwindling generation of Americans, who never flinched when carrying out their duty. Today, in an era of narcissism and instant gratification, how many of us would be willing to contend with such odds and knowingly make the ultimate sacrifice?

Thank you, Bob, for this stunning achievement.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Nathan Thrall's "Hurting Moderates, Helping Militants": Hamas Is Now Moderate?

On Tuesday, we were treated to Jimmy Carter's Washington Post guest opinion piece entitled "Support the Palestinian unity government" (, in which he advised the United States to support a Palestinian unity government to be created by Hamas and Fatah. Ignoring recent outrages perpetrated by Hamas against civilians in southern Israel, Carter warned that if the Quartet did not support the unity government, Israel could face "a new round of violence" (see:

In the same vein and equally inane was Nathan Thrall's contributor op-ed entitled "Hurting Moderates, Helping Militants" ( in Wednesday's New York Times, in which Thrall, who we are told is "a Middle East analyst at the International Crisis Group", would have us believe that if Israel doesn't negotiate with Hamas, something worse could come along:

"There [in the Gaza Strip], several years of isolation have led not to the weakening of Hamas but to the strengthening of even more uncompromising enemies of the Jewish state.

. . . .

On Monday, Hamas self-defeatingly sought to bolster its flagging Islamist credentials by mourning the death of Osama bin Laden and praising him as an Arab holy warrior — just days after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ominously warned that 'Israel would not recognize any government in the world that included members from Al Qaeda.'

In reality, the likelihood of such a government is slight, but if Israel continues to oppose Palestinian reconciliation, Mr. Netanyahu’s nightmare may become less of a fantasy.

Repeating the mistakes of the past will only strengthen Hamas’s Salafi jihadi challengers, who proliferated the last time Palestinians were penalized for their votes and could one day pose an even greater threat to Israel."

Indeed, five years of isolation have not dislodged Hamas. On the other hand, there have been almost no suicide bombings in Israel since Hamas has been isolated. Nathan chooses to ignore, for example, how "moderates" from Hamas perpetrated the Park Hotel Passover massacre, which killed 30 Israeli civilians exactly nine years ago, and wounded another 140.

Whereas it may be easy for Nathan, who holds an M.A. in political science from Columbia University and lives in New York, to ignore the Park Hotel massacre and paint Hamas as "moderate", I, on the other hand, have three children and live some 10 miles away from the Park Hotel. No, I don't have a degree in political science from Columbia that permits me to determine that Hamas is moderate. Quite the contrary, my experience combating terror is non-academic, including, inter alia, some 30 years in the regular army and the reserves, witnessing from up close the "moderation" of Hamas.

True, the Park Hotel massacre happened nine years ago, but the firing by Hamas of a Kornet anti-tank missile at a yellow Israeli school bus occurred only one month ago, as did a barrage of 120 mortar shells, rockets and missiles fired by Hamas at civilian targets in southern Israel over a single weekend.

Needless to say, Nathan fails to observe that the Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews (you can't get more moderate than that, right, Nathan?) and rejects a negotiated solution to the conflict with Israel. Thus, the organization's ongoing refusal to renounce violence as the means to its ultimate end, the destruction of Israel, should come as no surprise (see, most recently:

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh stated in December:

"We said it five years ago and we say it now ... we will never, we will never, we will never recognize Israel."

In short, thanks for the thought provoking "analysis", Nathan; however, this is one instance where I take Ismail Haniyeh at his word.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Jimmy Carter's "Support the Palestinian unity government": Jimmy Struggles to Remain Relevant

In a Washington Post guest opinion piece entitled "Support the Palestinian unity government" ( on Tuesday, an ever narcissistic Jimmy Carter, struggling to remain relevant, advises that the United States support a Palestinian unity government to be created by Hamas and Fatah. Carter writes:

"This is a decisive moment. Under the auspices of the Egyptian government, Palestine’s two major political movements — Fatah and Hamas — are signing a reconciliation agreement on Wednesday that will permit both to contest elections for the presidency and legislature within a year. If the United States and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel. If they remain aloof or undermine the agreement, the situation in the occupied Palestinian territory may deteriorate with a new round of violence against Israel."

A "new round of violence against Israel"? Excuse me, Jimmy, but what were those 120 mortar shells, rockets and missiles fired by Hamas from Gaza at civilian targets in southern Israel over a single weekend last month? Perhaps Carter also thinks that the firing of a Kornet anti-tank missile by Hamas at a yellow school bus in southern Israel in April was something other than an act of violence (see:

Carter continues:

"I have observed three elections in the Palestinian territory, and these institutions have already administered elections that all international observers found to be free, fair, honest and free of violence."

Yes, Jimmy, but what came afterwards? As I recall, there was a nasty little civil war in Gaza in June 2007 between Hamas and Fatah that left 118 Palestinians dead. In fact, it was literally "raining men" when Hamas and Fatah threw their opponents off highrise buildings (see: Subsequent democratic elections in Gaza or the West Bank? Not a chance, but a round of applause nevertheless for the "free, fair, honest and free of violence" elections that brought Hamas to power!

Carter adds:

"I urged Hamas’s leaders to stop launching rockets, and they attempted to negotiate a lasting mutual cease-fire."

Hamas "attempted to negotiate a lasting mutual cease-fire" at Carter's urging? Excuse me, but was this before or after Hamas declared bin Laden an "Arab holy warrior"?

Carter next brags about his discussions with Khaled Meshal in Damascus:

"In my talks with Hamas leader Khaled Meshal, he said Hamas would accept a two-state agreement that is approved in a Palestinian referendum."

Yeah, and Jimmy was stupid enough to believe him. Funny how Carter is no longer telling us about his special relationship with Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad, whom Carter is proud to have known since he was a college student (see: Even at age 86, Carter has yet to realize that lying is endemic to the Muslim Middle East (see:, but what the heck -- as long as The Washington Post is still willing to provide this narcissist with a pulpit, the sun continues to shine for Jimmy.

Maureen Dowd's "Cool Hand Barack": Something Is Rotten in the State of Pakistan

In her New York Times op-ed entitled "Cool Hand Barack" (, Maureen Dowd rakes Pakistan over the coals for its failure to cooperate with the U.S. in hunting down bin Laden:

"And that is exactly where President Obama now finds himself. He will now have to sort through the bazaar of Pakistan’s deceptive stories and deal with lawmakers angry about giving $20 billion since 9/11 to a country where Osama was comfortably ensconced. For years, top Pakistanis have said that Osama was dead or in Afghanistan.

Even Condi Rice proclaimed she was shocked to find 'Geronimo' settled in Abbottabad for six years, living in plain sight in a million-dollar house in an affluent suburb near a military base and the Pakistani version of West Point. As one of Osama’s neighbors put it: 'It’s the closest you can be to Britain.'

At a House homeland security subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Representative Patrick Meehan asked the question about Pakistan that is ricocheting through Washington: 'Does it reflect to some extent some kind of divided loyalty or complicity in some part, or incompetence or both?'”

Indeed, it is time for Washington to come to grips with reality: Pakistan has been working both sides of the street.

Although reluctant to forego billions of dollars in U.S. aid, Pakistan's ruling elite has also had to contend with a significant minority of its citizens that sypathizes with al-Qaeda and has perpetrated repeated acts of violence against the regime in order to "keep it in line". Since March 2009, there have been 19 attacks by the Pakistani Taliban and allied terror groups against the Inter-Services Intelligence ("ISI") and military and police facilities in large Pakistani cities (see:

For its part, the ISI has been alleged to have been involved in the horrifying November 2008 terror attack in Mumbai, India (see, for example:

As such, Pakistan's denunciation of the raid that killed bin Laden as "unauthorized unilateral action" should come as no surprise (see:

Should the U.S. continue to shower billions of dollars in civilian and military aid upon Pakistan? No way.

In a similar vein, I hope the editorial board of The New York Times will no longer call upon "Congress to pass long-stalled legislation to establish special trade preference zones in Pakistan" (see:

It is also time for columnist Nicholas Kristof to reconsider his naïve support for a reduction of U.S. tariffs on Pakistani garment exports in order to fight extremism (see: