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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Obama Defends Israel Policy at Manhattan Home of American Jewish Congress Chairman

As reported in a Reuters article in The Jerusalem Post entitled "Obama defends Israel policy at New York fundraiser" (, Obama yesterday participated in a fundraiser at the home of Jack Rosen, Chairman of the American Jewish Congress, which raised $300,000 for Obama's re-election campaign. After Rosen stated, "it would be remiss for me not to say there are many in the Jewish community who are concerned" about the relationship between Israel and the US, Obama replied:

"I try not to pat myself too much on the back, but this administration has done more for the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration. We don't compromise when it comes to Israel's security ... and that will continue."

Also as reported by Reuters, Rosen sought to reassure the president by observing:

"America has never been as supportive of the state of Israel as President Obama and his administration."

The article goes on to state that Obama has "been credited for taking a tough line with Iran, Israel's arch-enemy."

Unlike Rosen, I live in Israel, not in Manhattan, and still serve in the IDF reserves. My oldest son serves as a reservist in the paratroops, my daughter serves as a medic in an elite combat unit, and my youngest son has just received his first enlistment order. Unlike Rosen, I do not believe that the Obama administration "has done more for the security of the state of Israel than any previous administration," and I am convinced that his re-election would threaten the existence of Israel.

The central premise of the Obama administration's foreign policy in the Middle East, stitched together by radical Israel-hater, Samantha Power, is that Israel foments all tension in the region. This thesis has been disproven by the so-called "Arab Spring," yet the Obama administration persists in demanding compromise only from Israel, notwithstanding the refusal of Palestinian President Abbas to acknowledge the legitimacy of a Jewish state. Freed from the constraints of re-election, no one knows what life-threatening concessions Obama and Power might seek to ram down Israel's throat.

Although I am not a supporter of the Likud, I am appalled by the manner in which Obama has sought to demonize and delegitimize Netanyahu, by showing him out the back door of the White House and villifying him in discussions with Sarkozy, for which he has yet to apologize.

After becoming president, Obama was quick to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, but pointedly avoided landing in Israel. Today, given the hostile reception he would face in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, there is little chance of an Obama visit. I suppose one should be asking, who knows better about Israel's security, Jack Rosen or those living in this country and facing 50,000 Hezbollah rockets and missiles?

Obama has taken "a tough line with Iran"? Poppycock! Obama spent his first year in office appeasing this tyrannical regime. His secretary of defense, Leon Panetta, recently ruled out any military option to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons (see:, and unlike the UK, Obama refuses to sanction Iran's central bank.

With friends like Obama, who needs enemies?

Concerning the American Jewish Congress, go to their website (, and you will find three requests for donations: "Donate" in the upper toolbar, "Make a Donation Online" midway down on the left, and "Support the vital work of the American Jewish Congress, Donate" at the bottom. My thought about donations to the American Jewish Congress and the funds collected for Obama's re-election at Rosen's home: A pity the $300,000 was not given instead to those living in the impoverished southern Israeli town of Sderot, who live under constant threat of bombardment from Gaza and whose homes were never visited by Obama.

Gail Collins, "The Mitt Romney Pardon": More Gas From Gail

Another Thursday, and who would ever begin to imagine?: Another Gail Collins New York Times op-ed about Mitt Romney, entitled "The Mitt Romney Pardon" (

Collins is obsessed with Romney, and in past weeks, we have seen such winsome op-ed titles as "Mitt and Begonia-Gate," "The Curse of the Mitt," and "Mitt, Mitt, Mitt." She writes about Romney with even greater regularity than Roger Cohen writes of his own personal bugaboo, i.e. Israel. And then there is that lame "running joke" about Seamus the dog, which has her fans in breathless anticipation how she will introduce this twaddle into her next opinion piece.

As I noted yesterday, I think the current field of Republican candidates for president is an embarrassment, and I am sickened that Gingrich has become a frontrunner for the nomination. And yes, Romney is a notorious flip-flopper, but the Republicans do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy. Consider how Obama has reversed himself over the past three years:

• He promised to close Guantanamo.
• Although he has been a primary beneficiary of donations from financial institutions, he now sympathizes with OWS.
• Although he condemned Bush administration "extra-legal" behavior, he has actively engaged in targeted killings using drones and has come out in favor of "prolonged detention."
• He deviated from his timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.
• No escalated US ground involvement in Afghanistan.
• He promised to recognize the Armenian genocide, but now avoids the topic in order to pacify Turkey.
• With the economy in a tailspin, he has not kept his promise to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
• Although he signed an executive order restricting former lobbyists from working in his administration for at least two years, William Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist, was appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense.

But not a word about any of this from Gail. For her it's all about Seamus the dog. I wonder if during dinner parties she regales those around the table with this insipid story. I pity them.

Thomas Friedman, "The Arab Awakening and Israel": Horsefeathers

I ordinarily don't say all that much about myself or my family by way of this blog. Although well over 50, I still serve as a reservist in the Israeli army, but no longer in a combat unit. However, like many who have served in combat units, I have my nightmares and acknowledge my "survivors guilt," and I have never forgotten how our Tel Aviv apartment shook when Scuds from Iraq fell on the city during the First Gulf War. My oldest son, an infant during the First Gulf War, but now a reservist in the paratroops, has already had his first intimate brush with death, and watched his officer die a few steps away several short years ago. My daughter is currently serving as a medic in an elite combat unit.

Given all of the above, and given the 50,000 rockets and missiles being aimed at Israel by Hezbollah, not to mention the arsenals in Gaza and Iran being readied for the Zionist enemy, you just can't imagine the pleasure I get from reading Thomas Friedman's New York Times advisory missives, written from his mansion in Maryland.

In "The Arab Awakening and Israel" (, Friedman would explain to us the dilemma faced by Israel:

"Israel is facing the biggest erosion of its strategic environment since its founding. It is alienated from its longtime ally Turkey. Its archenemy Iran is suspected of developing a nuclear bomb. The two strongest states on its border — Syria and Egypt — are being convulsed by revolutions. The two weakest states on its border — Gaza and Lebanon — are controlled by Hamas and Hezbollah."

Thanks for alerting me to the danger, Tom. Friedman's prescription for addressing the danger is for Israel to support Palestinian Prime Minister Fayyad:

"Israel has an Arab awakening in its own backyard in the person of Prime Minister Salam Fayyad of the Palestinian Authority. He’s been the most radical Arab leader of all. He is the first Palestinian leader to say: judge me on my performance in improving my peoples’ lives, not on my rhetoric. His focus has been on building institutions — including what Israelis admit is a security force that has helped to keep Israel peaceful — so Palestinians will be ready for a two-state solution. Instead of rewarding him, Israel has been withholding $100 million in Palestinian tax revenues that Fayyad needs — in punishment for the Palestinians pressing for a state at the U.N. — to pay the security forces that help to protect Israel. That is crazy."

Well, first let's get our facts straight concerning the funds which have been withheld for all of one month, as a result, inter alia, of Fatah-Hamas unity talks. As reported by The Jerusalem Post (

"Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to convene his senior cabinet on Wednesday to decide on the release of $100 million in Palestinian tax revenue that Israel has been withholding since the beginning of the month.

While it was not immediately clear whether Netanyahu would convene his forum of eight senior ministers to decide on the matter, or whether it would be raised at the weekly security cabinet meeting of 14 ministers, one senior government source said the prime minister has a majority in both forums for freeing up the funds."

Okay, so Tom's a little behind the curve, but is Friedman also unaware that Netanyahu was personally responsible for reducing the number of West Bank checkpoints from 41 to 15 over the past three years, thereby contributing to growth in West Bank GDP?

Friedman admonishes Israel to "strengthen Fayyadism":

"This would not only help stabilize Israel’s own backyard — and prevent another uprising that would spread like wildfire to the Arab world without the old dictators to hold it back — but would lay the foundation for a two-state solution and for better relations with the Arab peoples. Remember, those Arab peoples are going to have a lot more say in how they are ruled and with whom they have peace. In that context, Israel will be so much better off if it is seen as strengthening responsible and democratic Palestinian leaders."

Ah, yes, "responsible and democratic Palestinian leaders." I suppose Tom is referring to Palestinian Authority Chairman Abbas, who has now served two years beyond his term and refuses to hold democratic elections in the West Bank. Then there is also Abbas's ongoing flirtation with Hamas, which in addition to firing rockets and mortar shells into southern Israel on almost a daily basis, calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis. Then there is also the very recent decision of Abbas to pay honorariums to released terrorists using US aid (see:

By all means: let's provide Abbas and Fayyad with our unbridled support. Thank you, Tom, for your profound insights, which have made my morning that much brighter. I just want to pinch your chubby cheeks.

[As indicated above, Israel's inner cabinet today approved the release of Palestinian tax revenue withheld since the beginning of the month.]

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Maureen Dowd, "My Man Newt": Republicans Have Greater Talent for Hypocrisy Than Democrats

After a brief absence from the op-ed page of The New York Times, Maureen Dowd is back with "My Man Newt" (, in which she savages Romney and Gingrich:

"Mitt Romney is a phony with gobs of hair gel. Newt Gingrich is a phony with gobs of historical grandiosity.

. . . .

Romney is a mundane opportunist who reverses himself on core issues. Gingrich is a megalomaniacal opportunist who brazenly indulges in the same sins that he rails about to tear down political rivals.

Republicans have a far greater talent for hypocrisy than easily cowed Democrats do — and no doubt appreciate that in a leader."

Let's get this straight: I think the current field of Republican candidates for president is an embarrassment, and I cannot begin to fathom how Newt Gingrich has become a frontrunner for the nomination. On the other hand, the Republicans do not have a monopoly on hypocrisy.

Consider how Obama has reversed himself over the past three years:

• He promised to close Guantanamo.
• Although he has been a primary beneficiary of donations from financial institutions over the years, he now understands the underpinnings of OWS.
• Although he condemned Bush administration "extra-legal" behavior, he has actively engaged in targeted killings using drones and has come out in favor of "prolonged detention."
• He deviated from his timetable for withdrawing troops from Iraq.
• No one would have ever imagined that he would escalate US ground involvement in Afghanistan.
• He promised to recognize the Armenian genocide, but now avoids the topic in order to pacify Turkey.
• With the economy in a tailspin, he has not kept his promise to create a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants.
• Although he signed an executive order restricting former lobbyists from working in his administration for at least two years, William Lynn, a former Raytheon lobbyist, was appointed Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Hypocrisy or the exigencies of office, i.e. a slap in the face from reality? Whichever you choose, Obama has been anything but honest.

A more recent example of Obama's tartuffery? Observe what New Jersey Governor Chris Christie had to say about Obama's reluctance to become involved with the deliberations of the supercommittee encharged with debt reduction (

"I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for? It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”

Now if only Christie were to become angry enough to backtrack and announce his candidacy for the Republican nomination . . .

Monday, November 28, 2011

The New York Times and Israel Bashing: Yes, The New York Times Is Anti-Semitic

Consider the contributor op-eds that have been published by The New York Times in recent weeks concerning Israel. On November 18, there was Shmuel Rosner's "The Voice of a Woman" (, which sought to highlight the unwillingness of some Orthodox Jews serving in the Israeli army to listen to women's voices. As observed by Rosner, "I can’t educate my daughter to serve in a military that would excise women from the public sphere to accommodate the radical demands of the super pious."

Rosner, however, described the rare exception, not the rule. My daughter serves as a medic in an elite combat unit of the Israeli army and has never once encountered a problem of the kind that Rosner depicted. I have also served some 30 years in the Israeli army as a regular soldier and a reservist and have also never encountered such a situation. Sure, what Rosner has written makes for an interesting story, and yes, there are ultra Orthodox Jews, as opposed to Orthodox Jews, who object to women singing. But the bottom line is that women form an integral, critical part of the Israeli armed forces, and their rights are honored and respected.

On November 22, The New York Times published Sarah Schulman's "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'" ( The theme of Schulman's opinion piece as described by the Times: "Israel is promoting its gay rights advances internationally to make it seem modern, veiling its violations of Palestinians’ human rights." In response, David Harris made mincemeat of Schulman in his opinion piece in The Jerusalem Post, "“Israel and ‘Pinkwashing’”: What was the New York Times thinking?" (

"Touting 'Israeli gay life' to 'conceal' the 'continuing violations of Palestinians’ human rights'? Give me a break.

Does such convoluted thinking also mean that if Israel heralds its tenth citizen to win a Nobel Prize or the latest advances in life-saving medical technology, this is again nothing more than a smokescreen to distract attention from the 'real' issues, in Schulman’s mind, and needs to be blown out of the water?

. . . .

Again, let me be clear. Schulman is not the main issue here, whatever her insidious outlook.

Rather, it’s the decision of a leading newspaper to allocate coveted space to 'Israel and Pinkwashing,' whose author, described only as a professor, doesn’t even believe in Israel’s right to exist, irrespective of how it deals with gay issues. 'Whitewashing the Truth' might have been a more fitting title."

See also my blog entry, "Sarah Schulman, "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'": She Knows a Helluva Lot About Lesbianism but Little About Israel" (, which expressed my surprise that even Andrew Rosenthal and friends would publish Schulman's highly politicized twaddle.

On November 25, The New York Times published Gershom Gorenberg's contributor op-ed, "Israel's Other Occupation" (, which focused on the recent "burning of a mosque in Tuba Zangaria, an Arab community in northern Israel, and the subsequent desecration of Arab graves in Jaffa." But as observed by Jonathan Tobin of Commentary in his "Contentions" piece, "Left's Critique of West Bank Settlers Doesn't Stop at the Green Line" (, in response to Gorenberg:

"Anti-Jewish violence in the West Bank is a daily occurrence that liberal journalists either choose to ignore or rationalize as justified, because they see the presence of Israelis in the territories as inherently illegitimate. The same mindset has led the press to treat a regrettable case of arson against a mosque inside Israel as a harbinger of pogroms against Arab citizens. As with the West Bank, far more numerous incidents — especially in the Galilee — in which Israeli Arabs have targeted Jews are treated as either unimportant or just ignored."

I am certainly not claiming that the authors of the above New York Times opinion pieces, which are critical of Israel, are anti-Semitic. In fact, I believe it is important to draw attention to any discrimation against women or violence directed against Israel's Arab minority. Rather, I am stating that we have witnessed an inordinate amount of "ink" spilled by The New York Times on its op-ed page over the past two weeks, using Jews and Israelis to cast Israel in an unfavorable light. How is it possible that tiny Israel merits so much negative attention from the Times? And why have there been no counterbalancing opinion pieces, highlighting, for example, Israel's scientific and cultural achievements?

According to the "working definition of anti-Semitism" of the European Forum on Antisemitism (

"Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include:

. . . .

Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation."

Query: Which other democratic foreign nation is being subjected by The New York Times to such a barrage of criticism? For example, you will barely see reference to Turkey on the op-ed page of the Times, notwithstanding its imprisonment of journalists and discrimination against women.

The European Forum on Antisemitism states that "the overall context" must be considered when examining the issue of anti-Semitism, and I welcome such an examination. Consider my protracted correspondence with senior editors of The New York Times concerning repeated instances of the vilest expressions of anti-Semitism in online readers' comments in response to op-eds and editorials, which were posted by the "moderators" of the Times (see, for example: and Sure, after I protested the appearance of this racial abuse, some of the comments were deleted, but the ugly phenomenon continued (see, for example:

Have you ever seen racist online New York Times readers' comments directed against any minority other than the Jews? I haven't. Only the Jews have been deemed fair game by the Times.

In short, there is no mistaking the stench of the new anti-Semitism of the Left, wafting from the opinion pages of the moldering Gray Lady.

Roger Cohen, "Doctrine of Silence": Foreign Policy Is Obama's "Strongest Suit"

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Doctrine of Silence" (, Roger Cohen questions the use of unconventional methods of warfare by the Obama administration, including drone attacks, to thwart al-Qaeda and to subvert Iran's nuclear weapons development program. Always seeking a new way to "slime" Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, Cohen writes:

"In general, it’s hard to resist the impression of a tilt toward the extrajudicial in U.S. foreign policy — a kind of 'Likudization' of the approach to dealing with enemies. Israel has never hesitated to kill foes with blood on their hands wherever they are.

This is a development about which no American can feel entirely comfortable."

Just to set the record straight, Ehud Olmert of the Kadima Party, who was prime minister of Israel prior to Netanyahu and who offered Abbas peace along the 1967 lines with land swaps and sharing of Jerusalem's holy places, also agreed to "targeted killings" (see, for example: But why should Cohen concern himself with the facts?

Cohen concludes:

"Just because it’s impossible to talk about some operations undertaken within this doctrine does not mean the entire doctrine can remain cloaked in silence.

Foreign policy has been Obama’s strongest suit. He deserves great credit for killing Osama bin Laden, acting for the liberation of Libya, getting behind the Arab quest for freedom, winding down the war in Iraq, dealing repeated blows to Al Qaeda and restoring America’s battered image.

But the doctrine of silence is a failing with links to his overarching failure on the economy: it betrays a presidential reticence, coolness and aloofness that leave Americans uncomfortable."

"Foreign policy has been Obama's strongest suit"? Given the deteriorating state of the US economy, perhaps this is true, but it is hardly a compliment.

Yes, Obama deserves credit for killing bin Laden and assassinating other al-Qaeda leaders, but how can one claim that he acted "for the liberation of Libya"? The flag of al-Qaeda is now flying over Benghazi, and as observed by Caroline Glick in her most recent Jerusalem Post column (

"In Libya, after facilitating Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow, the US is faced with the prospect of dealing with an even more radical regime that is jihadist, empowered and already transferring arms to terror groups and proliferating nonconventional weapons. If the Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment acknowledge the hostile nature of the new regime and refrain from supporting it, they will be forced to admit they sided with America’s enemies in taking down Gaddafi."

Obama merits praise for "getting behind the Arab quest for freedom"? Although Obama was quick to bring down US ally Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, he was loathesomely late in calling for the departure of Syria's president, even as Assad murdered thousands of his countrymen. This was indeed an instance where Obama "led from behind."

Re the winding down of the war in Iraq (I opposed the Second Gulf War), we have yet to see the consequences of precipitously removing all US troops at a time when Iran is aggressively threatening its neighbors and increasingly becoming involved in Iraqi affairs. Note that Iran's President Ahmadinejad is now planning to visit Iraqi Kurdistan (see:, which in the past steadfastly supported the US.

Obama warrants our gratitude for "restoring America’s battered image"? This is truly inane. As reported by Farah Stockman of (

"The United States is viewed less favorably in much of the Arab world today than it was during the final year of the Bush administration, and President Obama is less popular in the region than Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, according to a poll released today by the Arab American Institute, a nonpartisan research and advocacy group.

. . . .

In 2008, the final year of the Bush administration, only 9 percent of Egyptians had a favorable attitude towards the United States. A year later, after Obama took office, that number jumped to 30 percent. But now it has plummeted to just 5 percent of Egyptians who view the United States favorably.

Similar figures in Morocco, Jordan, and the United Arab Emirates show that the United States is viewed less favorably now than the final year of the Bush administration."

If foreign policy is indeed Obama's "strongest suit," as Cohen would have us believe, Obama is in deep trouble.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Paul Krugman, "Things to Tax": Let's Also Tax Silly New York Times Op-Eds

In his New York Times op-ed, "Things to Tax" (, Paul Krugman demands higher taxes on the "super-elite" and on "financial transactions." Arguing that higher taxes on the "super-elite" can "raise enough money to matter," Krugman writes:

"[I]t wouldn’t be hard to devise taxes that would raise a significant amount of revenue from those super-high-income individuals.

For example, a recent report by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center points out that before 1980 very-high-income individuals fell into tax brackets well above the 35 percent top rate that applies today. According to the center’s analysis, restoring those high-income brackets would have raised $78 billion in 2007, or more than half a percent of G.D.P. I’ve extrapolated that number using Congressional Budget Office projections, and what I get for the next decade is that high-income taxation could shave more than $1 trillion off the deficit.

. . . .

So raising taxes on the very rich could make a serious contribution to deficit reduction. Don’t believe anyone who claims otherwise."

Don't believe anyone except dear Uncle Paul? Well, I don't consider exceedingly wealthy persons to be "super-elite" or even "elite." I have nothing but pity for many of these people, who have lost sight of their humanity in their rapacious pursuit of wealth. In addition, I am not opposed to increasing their tax rates. However, as I have said in the past, increasing the taxes imposed upon the extremely wealthy is not -- notwithstanding what Krugman would have us believe -- going to make a dent in America's debt or deficit.

What isn't Krugman telling us? Paul doesn't say that US debt exceeds $15 trillion, and that under Obama, US debt has increased by $4 trillion. Krugman wants us to believe that reducing the debt by $1 trillion "for the next decade" is going to make a meaningful difference? Yeah, right.

Krugman also recommends taxing "financial transactions":

"And then there’s the idea of taxing financial transactions, which have exploded in recent decades. The economic value of all this trading is dubious at best. In fact, there’s considerable evidence suggesting that too much trading is going on. Still, nobody is proposing a punitive tax.

. . . .

And here’s the thing: Because there are so many transactions, such a fee could yield several hundred billion dollars in revenue over the next decade. Again, this compares favorably with the savings from many of the harsh spending cuts being proposed in the name of fiscal responsibility."

Again, note that the several hundred billion dollars in tax revenue would occur "over the next decade." Meaningless? You bet! But apparently, Krugman wants a "punitive tax," such as that imposed on the sale of cigarettes. With US stock markets already in a tailspin, one can only wonder what the effect of Paul the Punisher's new tax on "financial transactions" would have.

Don't get me wrong: I am in favor of reinstating the Uptick Rule, which would hamper the predatory trading practices of hedge funds (see: and reduce the number of stock market trades. This could reinvigorate the economy, but would not entail additional taxes.

By now, I suppose you're wondering why I recommend taxing silly New York Times op-eds. Answer: Even though such a tax on these op-eds wouldn't raise much money, there are also too many of them.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "In the Arab World, It’s the Past vs. the Future": Detached From Reality

In his latest New York Times op-ed, "In the Arab World, It’s the Past vs. the Future" (, Thomas Friedman is back to pretending that the chaos in Egypt and Syria derives from a struggle for liberty and democracy. Friedman writes:

"This is the grand drama now being played out in the Arab world — the deeply sincere youth-led quest for liberty and the deeply rooted quests for sectarian, factional, class and tribal advantage. One day it looks as though the revolutions in Egypt, Syria and Tunisia are going to be hijacked by forces and passions from the past while the next day that longing of young people to be free and modern pushes them back."

Remarkably, there is not a single mention in Friedman's opinion piece of the poverty and unemployment in Syria and Egypt, which fuel both revolts. No mention by Friedman that if elections are held today in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood will emerge as the clear winner, whereupon Islamic justice will become the law of the land.

According to 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."

As per the Pew data, unshackled Egyptian "democracy" under the Muslim Brotherhood would see the ongoing brutalization of women, who are inevitably the primary victims of stoning, and hordes of limbless waifs. Also without freedom of religion, Egypt's Christian Copt minority would face a level of oppression never before witnessed in the past.

Syria? The struggle between Sunnis, comprising some 70% of Syria's population, and the ruling Alawites, deemed heretics by many Muslims, has absolutely nothing to do with Western notions of democracy. Here, too, the Muslim Brotherhood stands to take power, and all that remains to be seen is whether a bloodbath directed at the Alawites will ensue.

Friedman concludes:

"The same drama played out in Iraq, but there the process was managed, at a huge cost, by an American midwife — managed enough so that the communities were able to write a new, rudimentary social contract on how to live together and, thereby, give the future a chance to bury the past. But we still do not know how it will end in Iraq."

We don't know how it will end in Iraq? Speak for yourself, Tom. Expect renewed sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites, as Iran explores via proxies the power vacuum created in this country by the US departure. The Kurds, who have already begun to make overtures to Tehran, will seek to safeguard their autonomy in the north. Meanwhile, I anticipate the recrudescence of al-Qaeda the moment American troops are gone.

Democracy in Egypt, Syria or Iraq? Get real!

Nicholas Kristof, "President as Piñata": Where Did We Hear This Before?

In his latest New York Times ode to Obama entitled "President as Piñata" (, Nicholas Kristof writes:

"Obama has done better than many critics on the left or the right give him credit for.

. . . .

The administration helped tug us back from the brink of economic ruin. Obama oversaw an economic stimulus that, while too small, was far larger than the one House Democrats had proposed. He rescued the auto industry and achieved health care reform that presidents have been seeking since the time of Theodore Roosevelt."

Sound familiar? It should. On Tuesday, Thomas Friedman wrote of Obama in his New York Times op-ed "Go Big, Mr. Obama" (

"He’s never gotten the credit he deserves for bringing the economy he inherited back from the brink of a depression. He’s fought the war on terrorism in a smart and effective way. He’s making health care possible for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and he saved the auto industry."

Two great minds thinking alike?

Needless to say, neither Kristof nor Friedman mention that four months ago, Obama took us to the brink of a Treasury default. Meanwhile:

• Unemployment is at 9.1% versus 7.8% when Obama took office.

• In 2011, the US will have a deficit greater than $1 trillion for the third straight year.

• Under Obama, the US has increased its debt by $4 trillion.

• America's credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history under Obama.

For more "encouraging" economic data relating to Obama's stewardship over the US economy, read Peter Wehner's excellent Commentary opinion piece entitled "Answering Jonathan Alter's Challenge" (

Re Obama's foreign policy, Kristof is equally daft:

"In foreign policy, Obama has taken a couple of huge risks. He approved the assault on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan, and despite much criticism he led the international effort to overthrow Muammar el-Qaddafi. So far, both bets are paying off."

Re the assassination of bin Laden, indeed Obama deserves much credit. However, Kristof is already rewriting history when he claims that Obama "led the international effort" to overthrow Qaddafi. Tell this to France and the UK. And is the bet so far paying off in Libya? The flag of al-Qaeda is now flying in Benghazi, and as aptly observed by Caroline Glick in her most recent Jerusalem Post column (

"In Libya, after facilitating Muammar Gaddafi’s overthrow, the US is faced with the prospect of dealing with an even more radical regime that is jihadist, empowered and already transferring arms to terror groups and proliferating nonconventional weapons. If the Obama administration and the US foreign policy establishment acknowledge the hostile nature of the new regime and refrain from supporting it, they will be forced to admit they sided with America’s enemies in taking down Gaddafi."

Kristof concludes this gem of an op-ed:

"If we turn Obama out of office a year from now, let’s make sure it is because the Republican nominee is preferable, not just out of grumpiness toward the incumbent during a difficult time."

Indeed, let's not be grumpy. As the US struggles with horrifying economic data and with no respite in sight, all of us, particularly those who believed Obama's 2008 promises but remain unemployed, must now remain in good spirits (medical marijuana might help). Forget "Change we can believe in!" and put your faith in "We can't wait!" Sorry, but with the Procrastinator-in-Chief already in campaign mode, it's apt to be a very long wait.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Iran: Let's Hope Obama Is Not Deluding Himself

As Iran continues to pursue its nuclear armaments development program, the Obama administration is trumpeting to the world a purportedly tough new set of sanctions aimed at Tehran. David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, will travel next week to the United Arab Emirates and Israel to discuss the Obama administration's decision to declare Iran a jurisdiction of "primary money laundering concern." According to Cohen (see:

"Our action, along with those taken by the UK and Canada, should have a chilling effect on the willingness of foreign financial institutions to do business with Iranian banking institutions. Foreign banks in jurisdictions where there may not be comprehensive sanctions on Iran are now much more likely to make the judgment that Iran is an increasingly risky place to do business."

As someone who has worked with financial institutions in the field of money laundering prevention, this flaccid move by the Obama administration will have no effect whatsoever on the willingness of banks to maintain their relationships with Tehran. Notwithstanding Cohen's impassioned declaration, this action is being interpreted by Iran as another sign of American impotence.

On the other hand, there is rampant paranoia in Iran following the explosion at a base outside of Tehran, where an intercontinental ballistic missile was being developed. The explosion killed 21 people, including General Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam, who was responsible for Iran's missile program (see: As reported by Thomas Erdbrink in a Washington Post article entitled "Mysterious explosions pose dilemma for Iranian leaders" (,

"Iranian officials said the Nov. 12 blast at the missile base was an 'accident,' and they ruled out any sabotage organized by the United States and its regional allies. The explosion on the Shahid Modarres base near the city of Malard was so powerful that it shook the capital, Tehran, about 30 miles to the east.

Despite the official denial of foreign involvement in the latest blast, suspicions have been raised in Iran by what industry experts say is a fivefold increase in explosions at refineries and gas pipelines since 2010."

Now of course I could be wrong, but my guess is that we will be witnessing more such accidents in Iran in the months to come.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Paul Krugman, "We Are the 99.9%": The Big Winners in This New Gilded Age?

Paul Krugman begins his latest New York Times essay, "We Are the 99.9%" (, by declaring:

"'We are the 99 percent' is a great slogan. It correctly defines the issue as being the middle class versus the elite (as opposed to the middle class versus the poor). And it also gets past the common but wrong establishment notion that rising inequality is mainly about the well educated doing better than the less educated; the big winners in this new Gilded Age have been a handful of very wealthy people, not college graduates in general."

Let's ignore the class warfare aspects of this introduction, which pits the middle class against the elite and places in question the economic advantages of higher education. I would merely observe that I do not regard George Soros and his ilk to be "the big winners in this new Gilded Age." Quite the contrary, I wonder what they have forfeited as a result of their lifestyles or by getting to where they have gotten, and I don't envy them.

Krugman concludes his opinion piece:

"So should the 99.9 percent hate the 0.1 percent? No, not at all. But they should ignore all the propaganda about 'job creators' and demand that the super-elite pay substantially more in taxes."

No problem, Paul. Let there be higher taxes upon the super-elite, provided all realize that this won't make a dent in the federal government's deficit or debt.

David Brooks, "The Life Reports": Fascinating

I strongly recommend David Brooks's New York Times op-ed "The Life Reports" (, where he shares the thoughts of persons over 70 who responded to his request for essays concerning their lives.

When reading the vignettes presented by Brooks, I found myself asking if I was different in any meaningful way from those who wrote to him. I, too, did physical labor on farms before beginning my professional life, but most in my generation can no longer move freely, assuming there will be a decent job wherever they settle.

Although Brooks admits that he has "probably overemphasized the pitfalls of their lives in this column," there is much here worth contemplating.

"The ultimate value of life depends upon awareness and the power of contemplation rather than upon mere survival."


Gail Collins, "Counting Really Small Blessings": When Gail Gets a Life?

Gail Collins begins her latest New York Times essay "Counting Really Small Blessings" ( by observing:

"I have a real tolerance for boring television, having watched at least two series now on the air about people who bid on abandoned storage lockers, as well as several segments of the show about extreme coupon-collecting."

Given that Gail apparently doesn't have a life, this admission should come as no surprise. On the other hand, I have no tolerance for boring op-eds, so without further ado, I pressed "Ctrl + f," entered "dog" and found what I was looking for:

"I guess now there’s no chance anybody will ask Romney about the day he drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car."

"Counting Really Small Blessings"? That's the twenty-eighth time that Collins has recounted the Seamus story in an op-ed. I suppose the real blessing would be if Gail were to find some meaningful topic about which to write.

I guess there's no chance Gail could ask fellow New York Times columnist and OWS booster, Nicholas Kristof, about his wife's former employer, Goldman Sachs, and her current employer, Mid-Market Securities. Now that would be interesting . . .

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Nicholas Kristof, "Are We Getting Nicer?": Forever with His Head in the Sand

In his latest New York Times op-ed "Are We Getting Nicer?" (, Nicholas Kristof cheerfully informs us:

"Granted, the world still faces brutality and cruelty. That’s what I write about the rest of the year! But let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge remarkable progress and give thanks for the human capacity for compassion and moral growth."

Kristof writes about brutality and cruelty "the rest of the year"? Pardon me if I add that Jolly Old Saint Nicholas selectively writes about brutality and cruelty the rest of the year.

I'm still waiting for Kristof to write about the persecution of Iran's Baha'is, but that might offend Tehran.

I'm still waiting for Kristof to write about the oppression of Egypt's Christian Copts, but that might offend Egyptian Muslims.

I'm still waiting for Kristof to write about the need to create an independent state for the Middle East's 30 million Kurds, but that might offend Turkey.

And I'm still waiting for Kristof to write about the 50,000 missiles that Hezbollah has aimed at Israeli cities, or for that matter the 10,000 missiles, rockets and mortar rounds fired from Gaza at civilian targets in the south of Israel, but when did Kristof ever concern himself with Israel?

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, Nicholas, with your wife, who is a Senior Managing Director at Mid-Market Securities, and I hope that you have invited a few dozen demonstrators from OWS to share your turkey. If they should soil those lovely rugs in your living room, I will be pleased to recommend a cleaning service.

Sarah Schulman, "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'": She Knows a Helluva Lot About Lesbianism but Little About Israel

Sarah Schulman, a professor of humanities at the College of Staten Island, City University of New York, who has written numerous novels and works of non-fiction concerning the gay communities in the US, has written a New York Times contributor op-ed entitled "Israel and 'Pinkwashing'" ( The theme of Schulman's opinion piece as described by the Times:

"Israel is promoting its gay rights advances internationally to make it seem modern, veiling its violations of Palestinians’ human rights."

Sculman tells us of "a nefarious phenomenon: the co-opting of white gay people by anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim political forces in Western Europe and Israel." A "nefarious phenomenon"? Given the title of Schulman's op-ed, I would have expected more details in her op-ed concerning Israel's violation of Palestinians' human rights, but try as I might, I could barely find them.

Schulman complains of Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, but fails to observe that during Netanyahu's current term as prime minister, their number has been reduced over the past three years from 41 to 15, through which traffic flows freely.

Schulman speaks of "The growing global gay movement against the Israeli occupation," but nowhere mentions that Gaza was entirely evacuated by Israel, leading to more than 10,000 missiles, rockets and mortar shells being fired from Gaza at civilian targets in southern Israel. Needless to say, no mention of this "nefarious phenomenon" by Schulman.

Also, on the subject of "occupation," Schulman makes no mention of the offers by Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert to evacuate the West Bank with land swaps, and, in the instance of Olmert, with sharing of the holy sites in Jerusalem, which were refused by Arafat and later by Abbas.

Schulman writes:

"Pinkwashing not only manipulates the hard-won gains of Israel’s gay community, but it also ignores the existence of Palestinian gay-rights organizations. Homosexuality has been decriminalized in the West Bank since the 1950s, when anti-sodomy laws imposed under British colonial influence were removed from the Jordanian penal code, which Palestinians follow."

Fascinating. However, Schulman apparently does not understand that although homosexuality may have been decriminalized under the Jordanian penal code, this does not mean that gays are safe in either the West Bank or Gaza. As stated by Kathleen Peratis in an article entitled "For Gay Palestinians, Tel Aviv Is Mecca" (, which is still highly relevant:

"Arab human rights organizations sometimes advocate for gay rights, but they do so sotto voce. In fact, the only country in the Middle East in which gay people may safely leave the closet is Israel. Which is why, for gay Palestinians, Tel Aviv is Mecca.

Gay Palestinian men flee to Israel because they are not safe in the West Bank and Gaza. They also have no place else to go.

'Israel is close and far at the same time,' says Haneen Maikey, a gay rights activist with Jerusalem Open House, one of the principal gay rights organizations in Israel. If the sexuality of a gay man in Palestine is exposed, his family might torture or kill him and the police will turn a blind eye."

Stranger still, Schulman entirely avoids the issue of "honor killings" directed against Palestinian women (see:

Moreover, Schulman doesn't even attempt to distinguish among the situations existing for gay Palestinians in Gaza, the West Bank and Israel.

My advice to Schulman, who I'm certain is an expert concerning matters pertaining to the gay communities in the US, but obviously has limited information concerning Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, is that she should stick to writing about things that she knows. Quite honestly, I'm a bit surprised that even Andy Rosenthal and friends would publish Schulman's highly politicized twaddle, but I suppose it's just another sign of the Times.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Thomas Friedman, "Go Big, Mr. Obama": More Flatulence From Friedman

Do you remember how, only four short months ago, Thomas Friedman was expressing his frustration with both Democrats and Republicans and advocating on behalf of a viable third party presidential candidate? In "Make Way for the Radical Center" (, Friedman wrote:

"If this kind of idiocy by elected officials sends you into a hair-pulling rage and leaves you wishing that we had more options today than our two-party system is putting forward — for instance, a party that would have offered a grand bargain on the deficit two years ago, not on the eve of a Treasury default — not only are you not alone, but help may be on the way.

. . . .

Write it down: Americans Elect. What did to books, what the blogosphere did to newspapers, what the iPod did to music, what did to pharmacies, Americans Elect plans to do to the two-party duopoly that has dominated American political life — remove the barriers to real competition, flatten the incumbents and let the people in. Watch out."

Well, Tom, I wrote it down, but now see that you are back to kissing Obama's derrière.

Today, Friedman ignores the 10-year sentence for corruption and extortion handed out yesterday to Tony Rezko, who in the past served as an important fund raiser for Obama and also arranged the sweetheart deal that enabled Obama to purchase his home in Chicago. Instead, in his New York Times op-ed "Go Big, Mr. Obama" (, Friedman croaks paeans to the president:

"I voted for Barack Obama, and I don’t want my money back. He’s never gotten the credit he deserves for bringing the economy he inherited back from the brink of a depression. He’s fought the war on terrorism in a smart and effective way. He’s making health care possible for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions, and he saved the auto industry. This is big stuff."

Friedman claims that Obama made a mistake by "spurning his own deficit reduction commission, chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson," and concludes:

"Go big, Mr. President. You will win, and so will America."

So, whereas four months ago, Friedman was lambasting Obama for taking us to the brink of a Treasury default, now Friedman would have us know that Obama "brought us back from the brink of a depression" and merely needs to cut the deficit. That's some handy op-ed legerdemain for you!

But let's have a closer look at Obama's economic achievements, which have already involved some mighty big thinking, or spending, if you will. As pointedly observed by Peter Wehner of Commentary in his August 2011 Contentions opinion piece entitled "Answering Jonathan Alter's Challenge" (

"* Under Obama’s stewardship, we have lost 2.2 million jobs (and 900,000 full-time jobs in the last four months alone). He is now on track to have the worst jobs record of any president in the modern era.

* The unemployment rate stands at 9.1 percent v. 7.8 percent the month Obama took office.

* July marked the 30th consecutive month in which the unemployment rate was above the 8 percent level, the highest since the Great Depression.

* Since May 2009 — roughly 14 weeks into the Obama administration — the unemployment rate has been above 10 percent during three months, above 9 percent during 22 months, and above 8 percent during two months.

* Chronic unemployment is worse than during the Great Depression.

* The youth employment rate is at the lowest level since records were first kept in 1948.

* The share of the eligible population holding a job has declined to the lowest level since the early 1980s.

* The housing crisis is worse than in the Great Depression. (Home values are worth roughly one-third less than they were five years ago.)

* The rate of economic growth under Obama has been only slightly higher than the 1930s, the decade of the Great Depression. From the first quarter of 2010 through the first quarter of 2011, we experienced five consecutive quarters of slowing growth. America’s GDP for the second quarter of this year was a sickly 1.0 percent; in the first quarter, it was 0.4 percent.

* Fiscal year 2011 will mark the third straight year with deficits in excess of $1 trillion. Prior to the Obama presidency, we had never experienced a deficit in excess of $1 trillion.

* During the Obama presidency, America has increased its debt by $4 trillion.

. . . .

* America saw its credit rating downgraded for the first time in history under the Obama presidency.

* Consumer confidence has plunged to the lowest level since the Carter presidency.

* The number of people in the U.S. who are in poverty is on track for a record increase on President Obama’s watch, with the ranks of working-age poor approaching 1960s levels that led to the national war on poverty.

* A record number of Americans now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program. More than 44.5 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, a 12 percent increase from one year ago."


Regarding Friedman's contention that Obama has "fought the war on terrorism in a smart and effective way," I will limit myself to observing that Obama needlessly expanded American ground involvement in Afghanistan, which has also helped bring the US closer to bankruptcy. And although he has permitted the US military to engage in effective "targeted killing" of al-Qaeda leaders from the air (otherwise known as "unlawful assassination" when radicals from Hamas and Islamic Jihad are killed by Israel from above), he has ignored ongoing threats of terror against the US from Iran (see:, while his belated and impotent sanctions have enabled Tehran to proceed undeterred with its program to construct nuclear weapons.

"Go big, Mr. President"? How about if he just goes quietly and returns to writing books about himself after 2012?

Joe Nocera, "Why Doesn’t No Mean No?": Avastin and the Need to Find Meaningful New Therapeutics

In his New York Times op-ed entitled "Why Doesn’t No Mean No?" (, Joe Nocera observes that Avastin, whose sales amount to some $7 billion annually, has failed as a breast cancer therapy, although it has extended life by several months on average for lung cancer and renal cancer patients:

"For lung cancer patients, Avastin plus chemotherapy extends life by an average of two months longer than chemotherapy alone. For renal cancer patients, Avastin gives the average patient an additional 4.8 months of what’s called 'progression-free survival' — meaning that the tumors don’t grow and the cancer doesn’t spread for that amount of time."

I find it disturbing that this "blockbuster" drug has been found to offer little hope for women suffering from breast cancer, and only minimally extends the lives of those suffering from other types of cancer. This phenomenon is indicative of what ails the pharma industry.

As I have stated in earlier blog entries, a decade ago, a tiny Israeli biotech company named Compugen predicted that Big Pharma would hit the wall in its drug discovery efforts, and undertook a long lonely effort to create discovery platforms which could accurately model biological processes at the molecular level and enable the computerized prediction and selection of therapeutic and diagnostic product candidates. Foreseeing that the era of trial and error in the world of drug discovery was yielding diminishing returns, Compugen sought to harness advanced mathematics and computer science to create the next generation of drugs addressing unmet medical needs.

Personally, I am convinced that the future development of meaningful new drugs, capable of extending life beyond a few months, will demand both an understanding of biological processes at the molecular level and the ability to intervene knowledgeably in these processes. Moreover, I also believe that Compugen is now demonstrating that this can be done.

Given the proof that Compugen has recently offered with respect to its ability to predict in silico (by computer) significant new therapeutic candidates addressing unmet medical needs (see, for example:, I think that the NIH, Big Pharma and charitable organizations raising funds to support medical research need to reassess current research methodology and to learn from Compugen's pioneering efforts.

[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 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.]

Monday, November 21, 2011

David Brooks, "The Two Moons": Today Tony Rezko Is Being Sentenced

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Two Moons" (, David Brooks observes that in the past, ordinarily one US political party would ascend, while the other would decline, until the pattern would inevitably be reversed. Today, however, both Democrats and Republicans are being shunned by the American electorate. Brooks writes:

"So it’s hard to see how we get out of this, unless some third force emerges, which wedges itself into one of the two parties, or unless we have a devastating fiscal crisis — a brutal cleansing flood, after which the sun will shine again."

I would suggest to David that in order to know how to get out of this, we first need to know how we got into this.

Given that Obama received a decisive mandate in 2008 and was given Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress with which to work, the Democratic Party should indeed be shining as we approach 2012. Regrettably, Obama should never have been elected president.

In 2008 the US electorate, stunned by an earthshaking financial crisis, was indeed hungry for change, which Obama could promise, but not deliver. Americans were suckered by a slick advertising campaign into forgiving this young man's lack of legislative experience, his procrastination, his past radicalism, his 20-year association with a bigoted pastor, and his tainted relationship with Tony Rezko, who helped Obama purchase his Chicago home by way of a sweetheart real estate deal.

Do you remember Tony Rezko? Once an important fund raiser for Obama, he was indicted on federal charges for using his connections with Illinois state boards to demand kickbacks from businesses, and was convicted on 16 of 24 charges filed against him. Today, Rezko is being sentenced (see:, but surprise: As I type this blog entry, you won't find any mention of Rezko on today's homepage of The New York Times.

American politics now consists of two moons? I would go a step further and explain this phenomenon by noting that there are no stars, Democratic or Republican, on the horizon. Americans have been governed by the likes of Obama and Pelosi, and are now being asked to consider the "virtues" of Cain, Gingrich and Perry, as potential replacements.

Indeed, there is currently no reason for Americans to gaze up at the darkened skies.

Sir Richard Dearlove, "Violent Islamism Has Failed": Were It Only So

I would like to address, albeit belatedly, the remarkable November 4th contributor op-ed written by Sir Richard Dearlove for The New York Times, entitled "Violent Islamism Has Failed" ( As observed at the conclusion of the op-ed in italics, "Richard Dearlove was head of the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6) from 1999 to 2004, and is now the master of Pembroke College, Cambridge."

I personally don't know Sir Richard Dearlove, but I have heard only wonderful things about him. In addition, his opinion piece was extremely informative and highly influential.

However, I respectfully disagree with Sir Richard Dearlove that "violent Islamism has failed." Although al-Qaeda's fortunes have waned in no small part due to the "targeted killings" (otherwise known as "unlawful assassinations" when radicals from Hamas and Islamic Jihad are killed by Israel from above) being aggressively undertaken in recent years under the auspices of the Obama administration, and whereas I also believe that we are in a transient period when the Islamic world is consumed with internal, as opposed to external, events, allow me to be politically incorrect and state that violent Islamism has not failed, inasmuch as Islam is endemically violent.

The so-called Arab Spring has not rendered Egypt any less violent or more prepared to accept democracy. The Christian Copts in that country continue to be murdered and persecuted, and women continue to be abused. As explained by Robert Fisk in an article in The Independent entitled "The lie behind mass 'suicides' of Egypt's young women" (, Egypt may claim that "honor killings" do not occur within its borders, but the truth is otherwise:

"Officially, Egypt has no 'honour' killings. Young women may commit suicide, yes, but they are never murdered. This is the government line – and of course, it is a lie. The files in Azza Suleiman's Centre for Egyptian Women's Legal Assistance office – and in those of other NGOs in Cairo – tell the truth. In May of 2007, a farmer in southern Egypt decapitated his daughter after discovering she had a boyfriend. In March of 2008, a man identified only as 'Mursi' electrocuted and beat to death his 17-year-old daughter because she had received a phone call from her boyfriend. 'Mursi', a farmer from Kafr el-Sheikh in the Nile Delta, admitted he 'beat her with a large stick' before finishing her off with electric shocks; the murder was only discovered when the body turned up at the local hospital."

Then, too, there are the statistics concerning Egyptian values released by the Pew Research Center (, which also deserve scrutiny:

"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."

Is it any different elsewhere in the Islamic world? Not in Pakistan, where according to the Pew Research Center (

• 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.

Obama would have us know that his intervention in Libya, which led to the capture and killing of Qaddafi, marks a significant foreign affairs success. Yet, as I have noted in prior blog entries (, the flag of al-Qaeda is now flying in Benghazi, and violent tribal clashes continue.

Inasmuch as Obama and the rest of the world remained silent as Ahmadinejad and his thugs from the Revolutionary Guard suppressed dissent in Tehran in 2009, Iran is able to look beyond its borders, and now threatens to send warships off America's East Coast ( and to sink US naval vessels in the Persian Gulf ( Mere braggadocio? The readiness of Tehran to plot the murder of the Saudi ambassador on US soil should cause skeptics second thoughts. Also, the recent explosion, which killed Gen. Hasan Tehrani Moghaddam during the testing of an intercontinental missile, should also give pause to anyone claiming that violent Islamism has failed. Meanwhile, within Iran, the nightmarish persecution and torture of Baha'is, Kurds, Sunnis, women and homosexuals continues.

Sure, I would be delighted to have someone persuade me that Islam is much maligned and non-violent. However, the brutal executions of Daniel Pearl and Theo van Gogh, which reflect general Islamic intent and intolerance, and which were glibly dismissed by Western politicians and journalists, convince me otherwise. Violent Islamism has not failed, but rather has temporarily turned inwards, and regrettably we have yet to hear the last of it.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Nicholas Kristof, "Occupy the Agenda": No Mention of Where His Wife Works

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Occupy the Agenda" (, Nicholas Kristof again pays homage to Occupy Wall Street:

"The high ground that the protesters seized is not an archipelago of parks in America, but the national agenda. The movement has planted economic inequality on the nation’s consciousness, and it will be difficult for any mayor or police force to dislodge it."

Needless to say, no mention by Kristof of the movement's attendant violence, rape, drugs, anti-Semitism, or calls for civil disobedience. Moreover, Nicholas would have us believe that physical confrontations with protesters were exclusively the fault of the police.

Also no mention by Kristof that his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, is a Senior Managing Director at Mid-Market Securities (, who previously worked at Goldman Sachs as a vice president in its investment management division as a private wealth advisor. Have a look at the Bloomberg article entitled "Goldman Hires Pulitzer-Winning Journalist to Snare Millionaires" (

For the sake of transparency, perhaps Kristof would care to publish his family's combined gross income for 2010 and state the percentile of Americans to which they belong.

Kristof goes on to say:

"The statistic that takes my breath away is this: The top 1 percent of Americans possess a greater net worth than the entire bottom 90 percent, according to an analysis by the Economic Policy Institute."

Indeed, have a look at Table 1 of the Economic Policy Institute analysis (, which tells us that in 2009, "the top 1% of wealth-owning households owned 34.6% of all net worth," while the bottom 90% owned 27.0%. Now suppose the total of all net worth is $100, and the top 1%, including persons such as George Soros, were required to distribute half of their holdings to the bottom 90%. In essence, this would mean that on average, persons in the bottom 90% would each possess $0.49 instead of $0.30 of the total $100. Bottom line, some may feel that this has contributed to making America more "egalitarian," but little has effectively been changed.

I don't oppose increasing taxes paid by the most affluent Americans, but it won't meaningfully reduce the budget deficit or federal debt. Other solutions need to be found.

Barack Obama on Iran: More Delay From the Procrastinator-in-Chief

Do you remember how Obama has solemnly pledged that he will never allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons? During a news conference this past Monday (, Obama used the opportunity to commend himself for his efforts to restrain Iran:

"You take a look at what we've been able to accomplish in mobilizing the world community against Iran over the last three years and it shows steady, determined, firm progress in isolating the Iranian regime."

"Progress in isolating the Iranian regime"? Yeah, right. I look back over the last three years, and I recall Obama's 2009 attempt to reach out to Iran's cutthroat leaders with Nowruz (new year's) greetings and "a promise of a new beginning." Watch Obama blow honeyed kisses at Ayatollah Ali Khamenei:

Obama then silently sat on the sidelines as Iran's Revolutionary Guard slaughtered those who took to the streets to protest the fraudulent June 2009 presidential election.

More recently, we have observed US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's determined efforts to reassure Tehran that the US will not consider a military option to eliminate Iran's nuclear facilities (see:

Yesterday, we learned that the US plans sanctions against Iran's petrochemical sector, but is unwilling to take action against Iran's central bank. As reported by The Jerusalem Post (

"While US officials last week said the idea of cutting off the Iranian central bank entirely was off the table for now, one source said there had been consideration of more limited measures.

'There was displeasure at the top with the view that it's all or nothing ... (and that if it's all) we take out our own economic recovery,' he said. 'The instruction was given to look for other possible avenues.'"

Translation: Obama is again delaying any meaningful action against Iran. Although isolating Iran's central bank would have serious repercussions for Ahmadinejad and friends, a boycott of Iranian oil is meaningless, given that petroleum is fungible. What the US and Europe don't purchase from Iran will be bought by China.

Obama is concerned that a Western boycott of Iranian oil could harm economic recovery? Wait and see what happens when Iran builds its first atomic weapon and threatens Saudi Arabia. Yes, I know, there's no reason for Obama to be concerned. After all, this will happen sometime after the November 2012 presidential election.

All hail the Procrastinator-in-Chief!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hillary Clinton on Syria: Making a Horse's Posterior of Herself, Again

Hillary has always been far behind the curve. Surely, you remember Hillary's lame defense of Syria's homicidal president, Hafez al-Assad, on March 27 of this year:

"Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer."

Assad a "reformer"? Well, Hillary's back in business. In an interview yesterday with NBC News from Indonesia (, America's secretary of state declared:

"I think there could be a civil war with a very determined and well-armed and eventually well-financed opposition that is, if not directed by, certainly influenced by defectors from the army."

A civil war in Syria? Oh, really? Perhaps you will recall JG, Caesarea in a blog entry entitled "Syria: The Beginning of a Savage Civil War?" ( posted on July 18, 2011:

"Assad is a member of the Alawite sect, which comprises some 12% of Syria's population. Until now Bashar al-Assad, and his father before him, maintained power by appointing Alawite officers to key positions in the Syrian army and security agencies.

Alawites have long been deemed heretics by Syria's Sunnis, who comprise some 70% of the population.

Assad is on his way out. However, it remains to be seen whether the Syrian Sunni majority will now seek revenge for years spent under the thumb of the Assads and the 1982 Hama massacre of up to 40,000 Sunnis, which has never been forgotten.

It's not going to be pretty."

In her interview with NBC News, Hillary Clinton went on to say:

"Look, Assad's going to be gone; it's just a question of time."

"Assad's going to be gone, and it's just a question of time"? Oh, really? Perhaps you will recall JG, Caesarea in a blog entry entitled "Taqiyya: When Lying Is Ordained from Above" ( posted on April 17, 2011 (three weeks after Hillary called Assad a "reformer"):

"Assad's security forces shot to death 12 more protesters in Homs last night. It is only a matter of time before the Syrian Ba'athist regime collapses."

Thanks, Hillary, for your insightfulness, which has enabled Obama to take US foreign policy to new heights over the past three years. Hillary has declared that she won't remain as secretary of state during a possible Obama second term, and as far as I'm concerned, she can't be gone soon enough.

Gail Collins, "Republican Financial Plans": Almost As Good As Obama's Deal With Tony Rezko

In her latest New York Times stink bomb, "Republican Financial Plans" (, Gail Collins would have us focus on the personal finances of the Republican presidential candidates:

"The personal finances of the G.O.P. presidential hopefuls are important for two reasons. One is that we’re talking about people who aspire to the most prestigious and important job the nation has to offer. The other is that these folks seem to have done really, really well. Perhaps, they can offer career tips."

Well, those who read this blog know that I wouldn't have my children seek career or other advice from any of these personages. However, in all fairness, I would also urge them to eschew Obama's road to wealth. There aren't any publishers waiting to pay them small fortunes for books about themselves, and there is little chance of parlaying funds from a novel that they might author in a sweetheart Chicago real estate deal with Tony Rezko.

In case you're wondering, Collins doesn't disappoint, and for the twenty-seventh time, she regales us with the Seamus story in today's op-ed:

"For instance, if you were a very wealthy father of five energetic young boys, would you choose to spend your vacation driving the whole family to Canada with the dog strapped to the roof of the car?"

Needless to say, I additionally wouldn't recommend that my children seek tips from Collins concerning a career in journalism.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Paul Krugman, "Failure Is Good": A Potshot at Thomas Friedman?

Paul Krugman has been ornery of late, seeking to rake fellow New York Times columnist, David Brooks, over the coals for daring to promote the virtues of America's oil shale reserves (see:

Today, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Failure Is Good" (, Krugman appears to have found a new object of derision. Observing that the economy will likely remain sour until at least 2014, Krugman declares for the umpteenth time:

"Slashing spending while the economy is depressed destroys jobs, and it’s probably even counterproductive in terms of deficit reduction, since it leads to lower revenue both now and in the future."

(Sorry, that was me yawning in the background as you perused Krugman's bull, as in papal).

More interesting, however, than Krugman's tired spending screed is his attack on "centrists":

"Oh, and let me give a special shout-out to 'centrist' pundits who won’t admit that President Obama has already given them what they want. The dialogue seems to go like this. Pundit: 'Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?' Mr. Obama: 'I support a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes.' Pundit: 'Why won’t the president come out for a mix of spending cuts and tax hikes?'"

In case you missed it, in his Times opinion piece on Tuesday entitled "Who's the Decider?" (, Thomas Friedman declared:

"Here we are in America again on the eve of a major budgetary decision by yet another bipartisan 'supercommittee,' and does anyone know what President Obama’s preferred outcome is? Exactly which taxes does he want raised, and which spending does he want cut? The president’s politics on this issue seems to be a bowl of poll-tested mush."

You're such a naughty boy, Tom. Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Krugman!

What's gotten into Paul? Recently visiting the Occupy Wall Street encampment in New York and seemingly experiencing something akin to an orgasm, he declared (

"But I think the explosion of this movement really suggests that there were an awful lot of people who were just waiting for somebody to say it, and here we are, and it’s a wonderful thing."

Personally, I don't consider rape, drugs, violence, anti-Semitism and defecation on police cars to be "wonderful," and I would suggest to Krugman that it is a little early to be getting into bed with this lot, where failure is never good.

David Brooks, "The Technocratic Nightmare": What of the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Technocratic Nightmare" (, David Brooks, who lived in Brussels and covered the European Union for the Wall Street Journal during the first half of the 1990s, focuses on the EU's dysfunctional nature:

"The European Union is an attempt to build an economic and legal superstructure without a linguistic, cultural, historic and civic base.

. . . .

When sacrifices are necessary, the European identity dissolves away.

The mess threatens to bring down the European project and European economies. It threatens to send the world into another global recession."

Brooks concludes:

"And the final curse is that while building Europe in this way was a mistake, Europeans cannot now simply reverse course. If the euro was immediately dissolved, the Deutschmark would surge, nearly every other currency would plummet and the imbalances would create a global catastrophe."

Nowhere, however, in Brooks's opinion piece is there reference to the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton, who single-handedly symbolizes the ineptitude of this diabolic union. In case you didn't know:

• Before assuming her EU position, Ashton was almost entirely lacking in foreign affairs experience.

• A former chairwoman of the Health Authority in Hertfordshire, she has never held elected office.

• Ashton has a BSc degree in sociology and has a life-sized Dalek (a fictional race of extraterrestrial mutants from the British science fiction television series "Doctor Who") in her sitting room.

• Ashton served as national treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, which is suspected of having received funds from the Soviet Union.

• Ashton enjoyed a relationship with a hard-line communist tied to some of Britain’s most militant union leaders.

• Needless to say, in her current capacity, Ashton has spent much of her time censuring -- you guessed correctly -- Israel.

Notwithstanding the fact that she is suspected of having received funds from the Soviet Union as national treasurer of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, Ashton heads EU security policy. This is a cruel joke.

Crueler still, with Iran plotting to kill the Saudi ambassador to Washington (, threatening to sink US carriers (, and warning of its intention to deploy warships off America's East Coast (see:, Ashton, of all people, has been encharged by Obama to deal with Ahmadinejad and the friendly mullahs (see:

Yes, Europe is on its way to hell, and could easily drag the US into the abyss, given Obama's willingness to "lead from behind."

Anti-Semitism, The New York Times and Occupy Wall Street

All who read this blog know that The New York Times has a serious problem involving its lackadaisical response to anti-Semitic online readers' comments posted by this newspaper's so-called "moderators" (see, for example: Although the "moderators" of the Times will not tolerate publication of racist messages directed at other minorities, Jews have been deemed "fair game" and have had to suffer repeated vile expressions of anti-Semitism in response to New York Times editorial and op-ed content.

As such, it should come as no surprise that The New York Times and its op-ed pundits again have their heads in the sand with regard to the horrifying manifestations of anti-Semitism emanating from the Occupy Wall Street movement (see, for example: Deaf to these racist outbursts, we have heard nothing but adulation from the Times for those who, according to Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen, are calling for "redistribution of wealth, civil disobedience and, in some instances, violence" (see:

Yesterday, in an editorial entitled "The Mayor Confronts the Protesters" (, the Times went on record as saying:

"For the mayor, the test will now be how to make certain these important protests can go forward."

Yes, we really must make certain that "these important protests," which have been accompanied by rape, drugs and violence, go forward. And what do the pundits from the op-ed page of the Times have to say?

Brother Krugman, experiencing something akin to an orgasm (

"But I think the explosion of this movement really suggests that there were an awful lot of people who were just waiting for somebody to say it, and here we are, and it’s a wonderful thing."

Brother Kristof, outraged by the dismantling of the Zuccotti Park enclave by the police, which, goodness gracious, resulted in arrests (

"Now, New York City has legitimate concerns about sanitation and safety of the protests, but what came next seemed utterly over the top."

Brother Blow, marveling at the electrifying phenomenon (

"The protests have a Lollapalooza-like eccentricity and diversity to the crowds. Some come to revel in the moment. Others come to rage against the machine. But they are all drawn together by the excitement of animating a muscle that many thought had atrophied: demonstration and disobedience in the name of equality."

Brother Rosenthal, who apparently has a problem organizing his thoughts (

"There is great honor in simple protest, and Occupy Wall Street could decide to just keep on going as before, though perhaps from 9 to 5 instead of 24 hours a day. Protest movements helped end the war in Vietnam and compel deeply reluctant political leaders to finally enforce the Constitution’s promise of civil rights. Mr. Bloomberg may have the legal authority to take away tents and generators, but he has no right to stop rallies, speeches, marches, or drumming – and I can’t imagine he would try."

Brother Friedman, explaining what OWS is all about, given that these modern-day nihilists are bereft of a credo (

"And Americans are protesting what is legal — a system of Supreme Court-sanctioned bribery in the form of campaign donations that have enabled the financial-services industry to effectively buy the U.S. Congress, and both political parties, and thereby resist curbs on risk-taking."

In short, plenty of praise for these noble young men and women who would defecate on police cars, but no mention by these intellects of the attendant anti-Semitism. You see, it's all about banishing inequality, and it's okay if, along the way, the Jews must be sacrificed on the altar of egalitarianism, upon which, no doubt, one of the OWS protesters has already dropped a steaming turd.