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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Gadding of a Gawky Gowk": Objectivity Flies Out the Window

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Gadding of a Gawky Gowk" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/08/01/opinion/dowd-gadding-of-a-gawky-gowk.html), Maureen Dowd would have us compare Romney's recent international foray with Obama's July 2008 trip in search of foreign policy credibility. Dowd observes with respect to Obama:

"More than 200,000 Germans thronged to the Victory Column in Berlin, hailing him as 'Redeemer' and 'Savior.' In a joint press conference in Paris, a smitten Nicolas Sarkozy was so touchy-feely that even Obama looked a little embarrassed."

However, four years later, I wonder how many Germans would come to the Victory Column after Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama escalated a senseless war in Afghanistan, costing countless lives and billions of dollars.

In 2008 Sarkozy was "touchy-feely" with Obama? In 2011, the two friends insulted Israeli Prime Minister for all the world to hear:

Sarkozy: "Netanyahu, I can’t stand him. He’s a liar."

Obama: "You are sick of him, but I have to deal with him every day."

I suppose in Obama's foreign policy playbook, nothing beats humiliating a stalwart ally over an open microphone.

Dowd observes that Romney "insulted the British" with his remarks concerning the organization of the Olympics. She fails to note, however, the rancor caused by Obama when he returned to the British embassy a bust of Churchill from the Oval Office (see: http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2012/07/white-house-aide-pfeiffer-apologizes-to-charles-krauthammer/1).

Dowd also notes that Romney "infuriated the Palestinians" by declaring that cultural differences are the reason Israelis are more successful economically. Indeed, a New York Times editorial yesterday also alluded to this "gaffe" by Romney, and claimed that decades of Israeli occupation were responsible for Palestinian economic stagnation (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/new-york-times-editorial-mr-romney.html).

Well, maybe it's a pity that Dowd and the editorial board of the Times don't give serious consideration to the effect of "honor killings" (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/palestinian-woman-aya-bar_n_864430.html) and discrimination against women on the Palestinian economy, but I suppose such honest talk would also be insulting.

Dowd would have us know that Romney pandered "to the Israelis and American Jewish voters, including donors like the Las Vegas billionaire Sheldon Adelson" by asserting that Jerusalem is Israel's capital. Dowd, of course, fails to tell us that in 2008 Obama told AIPAC that "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel." Today, on the other hand, White House Spokesman Jay Carney refuses to say where the capital of Israel is located (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/ap-warm-reception-expected-as-romney.html).

Regarding Romney's stopover in Poland, Dowd claims that Romney pandered "to American Catholics by dropping Pope John Paul II’s name every chance he got." Yet no mention by Maureen how Obama alienated Poland as president by canceling a missile defense system in order to pander to Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Also no mention by Maureen of former Polish president Lech Walesa's refusal to meet with Obama during his visit to Poland last year.

Yes, Romney's overseas journey last week was less than pretty, but it "ain't nothing" compared with Obama's alienation of allies and breach of foreign policy promises over the past three and a half years.

New York Times Editorial, "Mr. Romney Stumps in Israel": How Low Can You Go?

I don't want to waste too much time on the vindictive New York Times editorial, "Mr. Romney Stumps in Israel" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/opinion/mitt-romney-stumps-in-israel.html). However, note the following trash talk from the Times:

"Mr. Romney did American interests no favors when he praised Israeli economic growth while ignoring the challenges Palestinians face living under Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza."

And all this while I was under the impression that Israel evacuated Gaza in its entirety in 2005. Yes, I know, there is a maritime blockade owing to ongoing rocket and missile fire from Gaza into southern Israel, but Gaza is not under Israeli rule. Moreover, Gaza shares a border with Egypt, and this border and Egypt are not controlled by Israel.

Palestinians live under Israeli rule in the West Bank? Yes, there are still some Israeli roadblocks, and there are also the settlements, which occupy less than two percent of its total area, but the Palestinians also have their own elected officials. Or should I say, they have elected officials, such as Mahmoud Abbas, whose term of office as president expired in January 2009, but who refuses to hold new elections.

The Times goes on to say:

"Iran’s nuclear ambitions are a threat to Israel, the United States, its Arab neighbors and its own people. But there should be no illusions about the steep costs and limited returns of any attack on Iran’s nuclear complex."

Query: What will be the costs to Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the US if Iran acquires a nuclear weapon? More or less than the "limited returns" of an attack on Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities?

Also, according to the Times:

"For good measure, [Romney] insulted the Palestinians by declaring that cultural differences — not decades under Israeli occupation — are the reason Israelis are more successful economically."

Needless to say, the editorial board of the Times didn't consider "honor killings" perpetrated by Palestinians against female family members (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/05/19/palestinian-woman-aya-bar_n_864430.html). I wonder to what extent such killings and discrimination against women affect the Palestinian economy. Would honest mention of this "cultural difference" have also insulted Palestinians?

But why should the editorial board of the Times entertain such cockeyed questions, particularly given their cast-iron partisanship?

Leon Panetta: Iranians “Continue to Seem Interested in Trying to Find a Diplomatic Solution.”

As reported in a New York Times article entitled "Panetta Urges More Time for Economic Pressure on Iran to Work" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/world/middleeast/leon-panetta-urges-israel-to-allow-more-time-for-iran-sanctions-to-work.html?_r=1&ref=world), US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, on his way from Tunisia to Egypt, is claiming that sanctions against Iran are having a "serious impact," and although this "may not seem obvious at the moment," the Iranians "continue to seem interested in trying to find a diplomatic solution."

Yeah, right.

You will recall Iran's threats last week against the US fleet in the Persian Gulf (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/iran-again-threatens-us-fleet-in.html). That's a peculiar way of showing interest in a negotiated settlement.

Then, too, there were the comments of the Chairman of the Iranian Parliament's Energy Commission, Massoud Mir-Kazzemi, who has just declared that "sanctions have been drawn without any knowledge of our country's capabilities and capacities and have no important impact on Iran" (see: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104252231).

And for once, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei are in agreement. Netanyahu informed Romney during his visit to Israel that all of the sanctions and diplomacy have not set back the Iranian program by "one iota." Similarly, Khamenei stated last Wednesday that sanctions and diplomacy will not force Iran to end its nuclear program (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/25/iran-sanctions_n_1701581.html).

Thanks anyway for the misplaced optimism, Leon. This time I will control my temper and leave it at that.

David Brooks, "Dullest Campaign Ever": That Changed on Sunday

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Dullest Campaign Ever" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/31/opinion/brooks-dullest-campaign-ever.html), David Brooks contends that this year's US presidential election is "incredibly consequential and incredibly boring all at the same time." Brooks supports this conclusion by alluding to nine characteristics of both candidates' campaigns:

1) emphasis on gaffes.
2) absence of "intellectual innovation."
3) "increased focus on the uninformed."
4) "lack of serious policy proposals."
5) "negative passion."
6) "no enactment strategy."
7) "ad budget myopia."
8) technology to make the campaigns "dumber."
9) numbing dishonesty.

Yes, all this is frustratingly true, yet Brooks ignores something significant that happened on Sunday: Romney declared from Jerusalem that Jerusalem is Israel's capital and also indicated that he would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem (see: http://news.yahoo.com/israel-romney-declares-jerusalem-capital-162843104.html).

Note that Obama has refused to visit Israel since becoming president. He has visited nearby Cairo, Riyadh and Istanbul, but has refused to set foot in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. This avoidance by Obama of a trip to Israel is very much in keeping with the observation made by veteran diplomat Aaron David Miller in a recent Foreign Policy article entitled "Warning: Turbulence Ahead" (http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2012/07/25/warning_turbulence_ahead?page=full), in which the subheading states that Obama is "no Israel-lover," and if Obama is reelected, "expect a major clash with Benjamin Netanyahu."

Also note the recent refusal by White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to state where the capital of Israel is located (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/ap-warm-reception-expected-as-romney.html).

Romney's acknowledgement that Jerusalem is indeed Israel's capital has Obama fuming. White House spokesman Josh Earnest said on Tuesday (http://www.jpost.com/MiddleEast/Article.aspx?id=279487):

"Well, our view is that that’s a different position than this administration holds. It’s the view of this administration that the capital is something that should be determined in final status negotiations between the parties."

Obama holds to the view that the US should not recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Did it ever occur to Obama and his foreign policy advisers, including Samantha Power, who advocated sending US troops to protect Palestinians from Israel (see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oFdt6fjdHQw), that his refusal to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital adds credibility to Arab attacks on Israel's legitimacy?

Those who read this blog know that I have been critical of both candidates' refusal to address the US financial crisis with specific proposals. Here, however, with regard to Israel, a staunch American ally, there can be no mistaking the candidates' forthright positions, which differ in the extreme.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Obama and His Best Buddy, Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, to Bring Democracy to Syria

This story just out from Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com/us-turkey-accelerate-syria-transition-white-house-202114418.html):

"President Barack Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan spoke by telephone Monday 'to coordinate efforts to accelerate a political transition in Syria,' the White House said.

This 'would include the departure of (Syrian leader) Bashar al-Assad and be responsive to the legitimate demands of the Syrian people,' the statement said.

Obama and Erdogan shared their concerns over the Syrian regime's crackdown on opposition 'and the deteriorating humanitarian conditions throughout Syria as a result of the regime's atrocities.'

. . . .

The statement said US and Turkish teams 'would remain in close contact on ways that Turkey and the United States can work together to promote a democratic transition in Syria.'"

Ah, yes, Obama and Erdogan will together make the world, or at least Syria, safe for democracy. The problem is that Syria's Muslim Brotherhood is not in the market for democracy. Perhaps theocracy, but not democracy.

But more to the point, how is Erdogan in any position whatsoever to assist in another country's transition to democracy? As observed in a March 9, 2012 comment in The New Yorker entitled "Turkey’s Jailed Journalists" (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2012/03/turkeys-jailed-journalists.html), by Dexter Filkins:

"Measuring strictly in terms of imprisonments, Turkey—a longtime American ally, member of NATO, and showcase Muslim democracy—appears to be the most repressive country in the world.

According to the Journalists Union of Turkey, ninety-four reporters are currently imprisoned for doing their jobs. More than half are members of the Kurdish minority, which has been seeking greater freedoms since the Turkish republic was founded, in 1923. Many counts of arrested journalists go higher; the Friends of Ahmet Sik and Nedim Sener, a group of reporters named for two imprisoned colleagues, has compiled a detailed list of a hundred and four journalists currently in prison there.

The arrests have created an extraordinary climate of fear among journalists in Turkey, or, for that matter, for anyone contemplating criticizing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government. During my recent visit there, many Turkish reporters told me that their editors have told them not to criticize Erdogan. As I detail in my piece in the magazine this week, the arrests of journalists are part of a larger campaign by Erdogan to crush domestic opposition to his rule. Since 2007, more than seven hundred people have been arrested, including members of parliament, army officers, university rectors, the heads of aid organizations, and the owners of television networks."

You sure as heck know how to pick your friends, Mr. President! Yet another foreign policy success!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Iran Again Threatens US Fleet in Persian Gulf

Although it now appears that President Obama did not share US contingency plans for an attack on Iran with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2012/07/with-romney-in-israel-obama-leaks.html), Iran is spelling out for all to see its planned tactics against the US fleet in the Persian Gulf. According to Iran's Mehr News Agency (http://www.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1659289):

"Modern U.S. warships are equipped with multiple defense systems, such as the ship-based Aegis missile shield. But Iran has sought to neutralize the U.S. technological advantage by honing an ability to strike from multiple directions at once. The emerging strategy relies not only on mobile missile launchers but also on new mini-submarines, helicopters, and hundreds of heavily armed small boats known as fast-attack craft.

These highly maneuverable small boats, some barely as long as a subway car, have become a cornerstone of Iran’s strategy for defending the Persian Gulf against a much larger adversary. The vessels can rapidly deploy Iran’s estimated 2,000 anti-ship mines or mass in groups to strike large warships from multiple sides at once, like a cloud of wasps attacking much larger prey.

A Middle Eastern intelligence official who helps coordinate strategy for the Persian Gulf with U.S. counterparts said some Navy ships could find themselves in a '360-degree threat environment,' simultaneously in the cross hairs of adversaries on land, in the air, at sea, and even underwater.

'This is the scenario that is giving people nightmares,' said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity in discussing strategy for defending against a possible Iranian attack."

You can see how seriously Iran is taking its discussions with the P5+1 to seek a peaceful resolution involving its nuclear development program.

With Romney in Israel, Obama Leaks Contingency Plans to Attack Iran

Mitt Romney is in Israel meeting with Netanyahu, Peres and opposition leaders, and according to Reuters (see: http://www.jpost.com/USPresidentialrace/Article.aspx?id=279274), Romney's staff is using this opportunity to offer support for a possible Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear weapons development facilities:

"'If Israel has to take action on its own, in order to stop Iran from developing that capability, the governor would respect that decision,' Romney's senior national security aide Dan Senor told reporters traveling with the candidate."

Since becoming president of the US, Obama has refused to set foot in Israel, notwithstanding visits to nearby Cairo, Riyadh and Istanbul, but not to be outdone by Romney, Obama has now leaked American contingency plans to attack Iran. As reported by Israel's left-leaning newspaper Haaretz (http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/u-s-presented-netanyahu-with-contingency-plan-for-iran-strike.premium-1.454235):

"The U.S. national security adviser has shared with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the United States' contingency plans for a possible attack on Iran.

According to a senior American official, National Security Advisor Tom Donilon briefed Netanyahu on the plans during Donilon's visit to Israel two weeks ago. According to the official, who requested anonymity, Netanyahu hosted Donilon at a three-hour dinner.

. . . .

According to the American official, Donilon shared information on U.S. weaponry and military capabilities for dealing with Iran's nuclear facilities, including those deep underground."

Bottom line: Secrets are not kept by Obama if they can be leaked to his advantage. The president desperately wants to be reelected and won't let anything stand in his way.

[The latest from Haaretz (http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=279284): "A senior Israeli official [probably Netanyahu himself, JG Caesarea] denied on Sunday a newspaper report that US President Barack Obama's national security adviser had briefed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on a US contingency plan to attack Iran should diplomacy fail to curb its nuclear program." Or in other words, Obama didn't share anything with Netanyahu, but his staff would is nevertheless trying to undermine Romney's Israel visit. Politics as usual.]

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Coming Soon: The Big Trade-Off": For Once He's Got It Mostly Right

Thomas Friedman concludes his New York Times op-ed entitled "Coming Soon: The Big Trade-Off" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/friedman-coming-soon-the-big-trade-off.html?ref=opinion) by observing:

"Nursing homes, nursery schools or nursing Afghanistan — these are the trade-offs we’ll have to make in this decade, unless we have a real growth spurt. Mitt Romney gave a big foreign policy speech last week, waxing eloquent about how he would be more assertive of U.S. interests abroad than President Obama and ensure that this is an 'American century.' Really? I like American centuries. But to paraphrase an old saying: a foreign policy vision without a real plan to pay for it — and manage all the trade-offs back home — is just a hallucination."

As much as I hate to say it, this time Friedman has it mostly right: The US cannot afford to continue paying in blood and money for its boondoggle in Afghanistan. However, Friedman doesn't have the courage to acknowledge that it was Obama's decision to escalate this senseless war.

It is despicable how Obama and Romney avoid discussion of this fiasco as American soldiers continue to lay down their lives for no reason whatsoever. It is far easier for Barack and Mitt to sling mud. Shame on both of them.

Maureen Dowd, "Mitt’s Olympic Meddle": Frankly, My Dear, I Don't Give a Damn

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Mitt’s Olympic Meddle" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/29/opinion/sunday/dowd-mitts-olympic-meddle.html), Maureen Dowd takes Mitt Romney to task for his gaffe concerning the London Olympics:

"So the Republican presidential contender, eager to show off more than gubernatorial experience, travels overseas to bolster his foreign policy credentials. Then, in a TV interview, he blurts out a shockingly ill-considered, if undeniably true, observation that snowballs until the poor guy collapses into an international punch line."

As noted in an earlier blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2012/07/david-brooks-olympic-contradiction.html), given the Olympic Committee's refusal to observe a moment of silence for the Israeli athletes slain during the 1972 Munich games, I couldn't care less about Romney's remarks or whether Londoners were miffed. I am far more concerned by the refusal of White House Press Secretary Jay Carney to identify the location of Israel's capital (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.com/2012/07/ap-warm-reception-expected-as-romney.html).

Dowd concludes her opinion piece by observing:

"But if we’re going to have someone who’s removed, always struggling to connect and emote, why not stick with the president we already have?

Better the android you know than the android you don’t know."

Well, I would be inclined to agree with Dowd were it not for the disintegration of America's economy. I'm not looking for an emotional bond with the president.

Yeah, I know: We don't have a clue what Romney is proposing to remedy America's economic malaise, but it simply couldn't possibly get worse under Mitt . . . I hope.

AP, "Warm reception expected as Romney lands in Israel": Note Bald Faced Lie in Article

In an AP article entitled "Warm reception expected as Romney lands in Israel" (http://news.yahoo.com/warm-reception-expected-romney-lands-israel-183504295.html), it is asserted:

"Obama, who tried to persuade the Arab world that he was an honest broker, lost the Palestinians' trust by refusing to follow up tough talk with action when Israel defied his call to halt settlement construction on occupied land Palestinians seek for a future state.

The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank has refused to resume negotiations without a settlement construction freeze and went ahead with a statehood campaign at the United Nations, over the president's objections."

In fact, as observed by Rick Richman in Commentary (http://www.commentarymagazine.com/2010/12/30/re-palestinians-un-gambit-puts-both-israel-and-obama-on-the-spot/), the opposite is true:

"In 2009, Israel declared a 10-month West Bank construction moratorium (more than enough time to negotiate still another offer of a state, since Abbas asserted it would take only six months); George Mitchell repeatedly warned the Palestinians that the moratorium would not be extended, yet they had to be dragged to the table in the ninth month, and then left it at the end of the tenth."

The Israeli construction freeze was of course in accordance with the demands of Obama, but why should facts stand in the way of the AP story.

The AP story also observes:

"Romney — like most politicians who make the trek to Israel — is likely to face questions such as whether he would endorse calls by some fellow Republicans to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and his stance on Israeli calls for Washington to release convicted spy Jonathan Pollard."

Personally, I will be delighted if Romney is merely asked which city is the capital of Israel. Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney refused to answer this question.

Charles Blow, "Where’s the Outrage?": Blow in Need of Anger Management

I just took a train from New York to Boston, and when purchasing my ticket, I was required to show government-issued photo identification. As stated by Amtrak (see: http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/Satellite?c=Page&cid=1241267382692&pagename=am%2FLayout):

Amtrak has undertaken heightened security measures for the benefit of our customers.

Valid Photo Identification Required

Photo ID Required
Amtrak customers 18 years of age and older must produce valid photo identification when:

Obtaining, exchanging or refunding tickets

In order for the ID to be valid, Amtrak demands that the identification be "current and in-force." The identification can consist of "one piece of photo identification issued by a government authority, or two pieces of identification, at least one of which is issued by a government authority."

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Where’s the Outrage?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/28/opinion/blow-wheres-the-outrage.html), Charles Blow decries state legislation that requires voters to produce photo identification:

"Millions of Americans don’t have these forms of ID, and many can’t easily obtain them, even when states say they’ll offer them free, because getting the documentation to obtain the 'free' ID takes time and money.

. . . .

Make no mistake about it, these requirements are not about the integrity of the vote but rather the disenfranchisement of voters. This is about tilting the table so that more of the marbles roll to the Republican corner."

Blow would further have us believe that state photo identification requirements for voting are aimed at preventing Obama from being reelected:

"Furthermore, most voter laws have emerged in the last two years. What is the difference between previous decades and today? The election of Barack Obama. It is no coincidence that some of the people least likely to have proper IDs to vote are the ones that generally vote Democratic and were strong supporters of Obama last election: young people, the poor and minorities."

I suppose Amtrak, by asking for photo IDs from it riders, is also seeking to prevent supporters of Obama, i.e. young people, the poor and minorities, from riding its trains. Indeed, where is the outrage?

No such thing as presidential election fraud? According to David Greenberg, in a Slate article entitled "Was Nixon Robbed?" concerning the 1960 election results in Illinois (http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/history_lesson/2000/10/was_nixon_robbed.single.html):

"On the other hand, some fraud clearly occurred in Cook County. At least three people were sent to jail for election-related crimes, and 677 others were indicted before being acquitted by Judge John M. Karns, a Daley crony. Many of the allegations involved practices that wouldn't be detected by a recount, leading the conservative Chicago Tribune, among others, to conclude that 'once an election has been stolen in Cook County, it stays stolen.' What's more, according to journalist Seymour Hersh, a former Justice Department prosecutor who heard tapes of FBI wiretaps from the period believed that Illinois was rightfully Nixon's. Hersh also has written that J. Edgar Hoover believed Nixon actually won the presidency but in deciding to follow normal procedures and refer the FBI's findings to the attorney general—as of Jan. 20, 1961, Robert F. Kennedy—he effectively buried the case."

But more to the point, demands for photo identification at polling places are not going to determine the outcome of the 2012 election. As observed by Obama in August 2011 (see: http://www.cbsnews.com/2100-3445_162-20095106.html):

"'It frustrates people, understandably, when you've got an unemployment rate that is still too high, an economy that's not growing fast enough. And for me to argue, 'Look, we've actually made the right decisions, things would have been much worse has we not made those decisions,' that's not that satisfying if you don't have a job right now,' the president said. 'And I understand that, and I expect to be judged a year from now on whether or not things have continued to get better.'"

In short, Obama himself has acknowledged that the upcoming election will be determined by the health of the US economy and has asked that the American electorate decide in November 2012 on the basis of "whether or not things have continued to get better." Personally, I'm all in favor of Obama being granted this most reasonable wish.

Friday, July 27, 2012

David Brooks, "The Olympic Contradiction": Sorry, David, No Contradiction Here

Allow me again to be politically incorrect: I don't give a damn about the London Olympics and will not be watching.

Bells will ring throughout the UK on Friday morning, marking the inauguration of the 2012 summer games. In stark contradiction to this jovial hullabaloo, the games will not include a moment of silence for 11 Israelis murdered by Palestinian terrorists during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich. Notwithstanding requests from Israel, Germany, President Obama, Mitt Romney and various members of the US Congress (see: http://london2012.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/munich-widows-to-meet-with-rogge-to-urge-moment-of-silence/), the International Olympic Committee has refused to honor the memory of the slain Jewish sportsmen during today's opening ceremony.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority has expressed its gratitude to the International Olympic Committee for refusing this request for a moment of silence. As reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/NationalNews/Article.aspx?id=279048):

"Jibril Rajoub, head of the Palestinian Football Federation, sent a letter to IOC chairman Jacques Rogge thanking him for his position, the PA’s official news agency, Wafa, reported.

'Sports is a bridge for love, connection and relaying peace between peoples. It should not be a factor for separation and spreading racism between peoples,' Rajoub, a former PA security commander, wrote in his letter.

. . . .

A senior PA official in Ramallah confirmed that Rajoub had sent the letter and said that the Palestinians were opposed to 'Israel’s attempts to exploit the Olympic Games for propaganda purposes.'"

Question: If 11 American, British or French athletes had been murdered in 1972, would the Olympic Committee have honored the request for a moment of silence? I think the answer is clear-cut and self-evident.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Olympic Contradiction" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/27/opinion/brooks-the-olympic-contradiction.html), David Brooks ignores the controversy surrounding the proposed tribute to the slain Israeli athletes, instead focusing on what he perceives as an inherent contradiction involving the Olympics. On the one hand, the opening ceremony represents "a lavish celebration of the cooperative virtues: unity, friendship, equality, compassion and care." On the other hand, "After the opening ceremony is over, the Olympics turn into a celebration of the competitive virtues: tenacity, courage, excellence, supremacy, discipline and conflict." Brooks celebrates this contradiction:

"The enduring popularity of the Olympics teach the lesson that if you find yourself caught between two competing impulses, you don’t always need to choose between them. You can go for both simultaneously. A single institution can celebrate charitable compassion and military toughness. A three-week festival can be crassly commercial, but also strangely moving."

Sorry, David, but there is no contradiction here, only hypocrisy. The International Olympic Committee has demonstrated that there can be no celebrating "charitable compassion" when it involves murdered Israeli athletes. The Committee knows no compassion and knows no shame.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Gail Collins, "Where the Jobs Are": Where Can I Find Tums After Midnight?

Kudos to Gail Collins, who, as described in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Where the Jobs Are" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/26/opinion/collins-where-the-jobs-are.html?_r=1&ref=opinion), dragged herself away from Manhattan all the way west to Williston, North Dakota. Williston's economy is booming as the result of oil fracking, and, as observed by Collins, unemployment is nonexistent. The downside? Collins alludes to the dust, traffic jams from big trucks, and a lack of housing, before concluding:

"If the place you love can’t quite climb out of the recession, think of this as consolation. At least you’re not living in a man camp and waiting half an hour in line for a Big Mac."

Well, I don't eat Big Macs, so this would not engender much of a problem for me. Don't get me wrong: I'm no elitist. I simply don't eat hamburgers. Still midway through one of my annual walkabouts, I just finished a grilled chicken sandwich and several beers at another semi-fast, semi-reputable food establishment and am currently experiencing the volcanic aftermath.

What's that, dear? Oh, you know how it is. C forced me to go . . .


But enough about fast food, and back to the Collins opinion piece. Gail misses the bigger picture. Unemployment and vast expenditures on foreign oil are threatening to topple the US economy. America, like it or not, is in a war for survival, and part of the solution is energy independence. Yes, short-term it could result in dust and water pollution; however, there will also be technological solutions driven by science, which will also create more jobs.

Why can't Obama or Romney declare that American energy independence is one of the linchpins of their economic policy? Perhaps for the same reason that there is no discussion of America's tragic ongoing involvement in Afghanistan.

Enough said. It's past midnight, and I need to find some Tums.

Thomas Friedman, "Syria Is Iraq": More Twaddle From a Would-Be Middle East Expert

When will Tom Friedman stop making a fool of himself?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Syria Is Iraq" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/opinion/friedman-syria-is-iraq.html), Friedman concludes:

"It would be wonderful to see the tyrannical Assad-Russia-Iran-Hezbollah axis replaced by a democratizing Syria, not a chaotic Syria.

But color me dubious. The 20 percent of Syrians who are pro-Assad Alawites or Christians will be terrified of the new Sunni Muslim majority, with its Muslim Brotherhood component, and this Sunni Muslim majority has suffered such brutality from this regime that reconciliation will be difficult, especially with each passing day of bloodshed. Without an external midwife or a Syrian Mandela, the fires of conflict could burn for a long time. I hope I am surprised."

Well, Friedman is correct: democracy is not on its way to Syria. The Muslim Brotherhood, which will wrest the reins of power from the Assad Regime, is not devoted to democracy. Rather, as its name suggests, it policies are dictated by radical Islam.

However, Syria is not Iraq. Assad and his fellow Alawites, considered heretics by most Sunnis and many Shia, comprise some 12% of Syria's population. By contrast, Sunnis constitute some 35% of Iraq's population, and given that some 20% of Iraq's population consists of Kurds, it was far easier for Saddam Hussein, a Sunni, to play divide and conquer.

If Syria's Sunnis, comprising some 74% of the population, persist in their determination to die in order to rid themselves of Assad - and there is no reason to believe that this will change - Assad's days are numbered.

Friedman contends that "the fires of conflict could burn for a long time." No way.

Assad has gone underground and has desperately threatened to unleash his massive stockpiles of chemical weapons upon "foreign enemies."

Russia, however, has warned Assad not to use these chemical weapons (see: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/International/2012/Jul-24/181816-russia-urges-syria-to-refrain-from-using-chemical-weapons.ashx#axzz21iDa0a3M), and is now withholding arms shipments to Syria (see: http://news.yahoo.com/russia-not-deliver-fighter-jets-syria-ria-120423448.html).

In short, the demise of the Assad regime is not going to be a "linear" protracted affair, but rather sudden and sooner than Tom believes.

Are you listening, McLean?

Maureen Dowd, "Hiding in Plain Sight": I Want Intimacy With My Wife, Not With Politicians

At a time when the American economy is ensnared in its worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, when the EU is teetering at the brink of the abyss, when Iran is threatening to destroy US aircraft carriers and military bases with its massive arsenal of missiles, and when Syria's Assad regime is threatening to unleash tons of chemical weapons against "foreign enemies," Maureen Dowd is decrying the destruction of records from the Salt Lake City Olympics and linking this purported outrage to Mitt Romney. Explaining her sense of grievance in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hiding in Plain Sight" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/25/opinion/dowd-hiding-in-plain-sight.html), Dowd writes:

"As Maggie Haberman observed in Politico, Romney has made a calculated decision to hide three major elements of his background: his Mormonism, his record at Bain and his time as governor. This creates, she wrote, 'a kind of self-imposed paralysis on biographical messaging that some observers, including Republicans, say may wound his campaign in an era in which voters want to achieve a kind of unprecedented intimacy with their candidates.'"

Voters want "intimacy" with their candidates? Sorry, Maureen, I'm not looking for intimacy with politicians. My intimacy is reserved for my wife.

Yeah, sure, Romney should disclose his tax records, and The Los Angeles Times should release the videotape, held in a safe, of Obama toasting Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi in 2003.

Romney has created a "self-imposed paralysis on biographical messaging"? Is this really any worse than Obama's fictional autobiographical accounts?

Maybe I'm mistaken, but my guess is that when you're unemployed and don't have a clue how to support your family, winter olympic records leave you cold.

Rather, Americans are more interested in seeing a viable economic program intended to free America from its economic paralysis. If only either candidate would be kind enough to provide such answers.

"Biographical paralysis" be damned.

Monday, July 23, 2012

David Brooks, "More Treatment Programs": More Important, a Ban on the Sale of Assault Rifles

Has David Brooks ever fired an automatic assault rifle? I doubt it.

In the aftermath of the Aurora tragedy, Brooks declares in a New York Times op-ed entitled "More Treatment Programs" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/24/opinion/brooks-more-treatment-programs.html):

"Personally, I’ve supported tighter gun control laws. But it’s not clear that those laws improve public safety. Researchers reviewing the gun control literature for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, for example, were unable to show the laws are effective.

And gun control laws are probably even less germane in these cases. Rampage killers tend to be meticulous planners. If they can’t find an easy way to get a new gun, they’ll surely find a way to get one of the 200 million guns that already exist in this country. Or they’ll use a bomb or find another way."

Instead of more stringent gun control, Brooks concludes by calling for "a more aggressive system of treatment options, especially for men in their 20s."

More treatment options? Sure, I'm all in favor of treatment. And if you see a disturbed person on the street, call 911. The problem, however, with this solution is that police emergency call centers will be overwhelmed within minutes. Moreover, given the way I look after a night spent working until the dawn, I wouldn't be surprised if I were to be reported to the authorities were I to risk going out to buy myself a cup of coffee.

Unlike Brooks, a significant chunk of my life has been spent in the military living with guns, particularly assault rifles. I have eaten, slept and gone to the toilet with my rifle by my side. To be without my rifle would instantly create a feeling of extreme anxiety that something criticial had gone missing from my body.

I also came to know the power of my assault rifles. Fired on automatic, I could unleash a hail of bullets, exchange magazines in the blink of an eye, and resume shooting. And the possession of such an instrument of destruction demanded a heightened level of caution and responsibility to ensure that this tool of death would never be misused while entrusted to me.

In his opinion piece, Brooks fails to distinguish between target guns and assault rifles. There is a world of difference.

Sure, a determined maniac will always find a means to kill, but let's not make their task any easier by permitting the sale of assault rifles, whose sole purpose is for killing.

Colin Kahl, Obama to Visit Israel If Reelected: Why Can't He Say It Himself?

According to Colin Kahl, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Middle East, now working for Obama's re-election (see: http://www.jpost.com/USPresidentialrace/Article.aspx?id=278661):

"We can expect him [Obama] to visit Israel in a second term, should he be reelected."

Oh, really? If so, why can't Obama say it himself? Is it so difficult to agree to visit with one of America's most steadfast allies?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

After Syria, Lebanon Is Next: Are You Smarter Than the CIA?

Are you in the market for a Middle East weathervane? You need go no further than Walid Jumblatt, longstanding leader of Lebanon's Druze minority, who, in a country where many politicians are ultimately assassinated, has managed to keep his wits - and his other body parts - about him. Walid has always known which way the wind is blowing, and he is currently advising Syria's Druze and Alawite minorities to join the revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad (see: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Politics/2012/Jul-21/181419-jumblatt-urges-syrian-druze-alawites-to-join-revolt.ashx#axzz21FfwRggY).

You will recall that one month ago, I observed that US intelligence, which claimed that the Assad regime is not apt to lose power any time in the foreseeable future (http://news.yahoo.com/ap-sources-syrian-army-stable-despite-defections-213931967.html), was mistaken (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/syria-us-intelligence-mistaken.html).

Well, with the fighting now spreading to Damascus and Aleppo, and with the rebels receiving increasing support from Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Qatar, the fall of the Assad regime is being likened by Andrew J. Tabler, a Syria expert at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, to a "controlled demolition" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/world/middleeast/us-to-focus-on-forcibly-toppling-syrian-government.html?_r=2). Mr. Tabler is further quoted in that same article as saying, "But like any controlled demolition, anything can go wrong."

Anything can go wrong? True, but sometimes things can also "go right."

First, let me place the conflagration in Syria in better perspective: The revolt in Syria against Bashar al-Assad has now become part of the larger battle between Sunni Saudi Arabia and Shiite Iran for hegemony over the Muslim Middle East. Until now, Saudi Arabia and Iran have been waging a proxy war in Yemen. Observe also the attempt by Iran on the life of the Saudi ambassador to the US less than a year ago. Saudi Arabia is now pleased to return the favor by helping bring down Assad, who is a key ally of Iran and also a conduit of Iranian aid to Hezbollah, Iran's proxy in Lebanon.

In case you didn't know, Hezbollah is already showing signs of strain in Lebanon. In addition to being a perpetrator of terror, as evidenced by its most recent attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, Hezbollah is also a social services agency, looking after the well-being of Lebanon's Shiite community, which forms its political base. With Iran being squeezed - albeit ineffectively - by sanctions, funding of Hezbollah by Iran is down by more than 40% (see: http://www.upi.com/Top_News/Special/2010/12/16/Iran-cuts-Hezbollah-funds-Israel-says/UPI-18921292513073/), and pressure is also being placed on the Lebanese banks which have served as conduits for funding of this terror organization.

When Assad falls, and the movement of arms and funds from Iran becomes more difficult, Hezbollah will be in serious trouble.

Yes, there is a reason that Walid Jumblatt is now sounding off against Bashar al-Assad. Incidentally (some blood-red color commentary), Walid's father, Kamal, was assassinated in 1977 pursuant to orders given by Rifaat al-Assad, Bashar al-Assad's uncle. What goes around, ultimately comes around.

When Bashar al-Assad falls, as he ultimately must, look for "change" in Lebanon as well. Lebanon's Sunnis are already beginning to challenge Hezbollah (see: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Local-News/2012/Jul-19/181142-syria-uprising-puts-hezbollah-on-defensive.ashx#axzz21PTNGRPm), which will not be able to order Lebanon around without Big Brother Bashar to protect them.

The show has just begun. And those of you who have read this item from beginning to end are now officially smarter than the CIA. Your security analyst certificates are already in the mail . . . not.

Also, a hearty shout-out to my friends in Jeddah (جدّة)!

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "The Launching Pad": Obama Is Better Than This?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Launching Pad" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/friedman-the-launching-pad.html), Thomas Friedman has written a terrific introductory paragraph (ignore the rubbish that comes afterwards):

"I CAN remember bad presidential campaigns in good times and good campaigns in bad times, but it is hard to recall a worse campaign in a worse time. Mitt Romney’s campaign has been about nothing, and President Obama’s has been about Romney. I’m sure Obama’s attacks on Romney’s career at Bain Capital have hurt Romney, but they also seem to have hurt Obama — diverting him from offering a big optimistic message that says: here is the world we’re living in; here’s why my past policies were relevant; here’s where we’re going next; and here’s why it will work. The president is punching so below his weight. . . . Obama is better than this."

Obama is better than this? Oh, really. Recall what Popeye the Sailor Man used to say: "I am what I am." Similarly, Obama is what he is, or more correctly, he is what his teleprompters make him out to be.

In fact, Obama is a featherweight, and he is punching very much in keeping with his division.

Maureen Dowd, "Paterno Sacked Off His Pedestal": Does Anyone Deserve a Statue?

Some 20 years ago, I visited the home of a world renowned Nobel Prize winner, and until today, I cannot forget the sight of the massive bronze bust of his head positioned beside the entryway. At the time, I desperately needed his help regarding a small personal disaster of which he had knowledge, but didn't get it, and, believing that heroes still walked the face of this earth, I assumed that he was too busy saving the world and couldn't spare the time to help me.

Regrettably, I subsequently learned this man did not deserve my adulation. Moreover, perhaps stemming from the crises that I have continued to endure by myself, I have come to realize that there are few if any persons deserving of hero worship. Not Mickey Mantle, not JFK, and certainly not this Nobel Prize winner. Almost all of us are frail, insecure, beset with foibles, and far from omniscient.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Paterno Sacked Off His Pedestal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/22/opinion/sunday/dowd-paterno-sacked-off-his-pedestal.html), Maureen Dowd begins by asking:

"Is it right to pull down Joe Paterno’s statue, as though he were Saddam Hussein?"

Dowd concludes by observing:

"After all those decades acting the part of a modest, moral man, [Paterno] put his own reputation above the welfare of children. The saint in black cleats sold his soul, and Satan leads the dance."

Given what our family has been forced to endure - one of our children was almost raped while at school, and I spent years demanding that the system come to terms with both this specific incident and the commonality of this ugly phenonemon - I certainly would never erect a statue to Paterno. On the other hand, Paterno behaved in the same weak, self-serving manner that I witnessed at the school board when I attempted to bring what happened to my son to their attention.

And if today I am given to passionate intervention involving matters both large and small, perhaps it is only because of the anger that simmers in my soul after what happened to our son.

As Maureen herself can tell you - recall how she once borrowed language from another writer, but acknowledged the matter in a less than forthright fashion - there are few people worthy of emulation. And there are even fewer heroes. After all, we are human, and only statues belong on pedestals.

Gail Collins, "Guns and the Slog": Yes, I Collect Weapons

Yes, I collect weapons.

Anyone entering our home cannot miss the antique weaponry on the walls and shelves interspersed with the paintings and prints of Ardyn Halter. There is a Union cavalry sword from the US Civil War (thanks, CQ), assorted Minié balls, a 150-year-old scimitar from Afghanistan, two 150-year-old Ottoman pistols crafted from olive wood, a 2,700-year-old bronze Luristani dagger, and arrow heads dating from the Stone Age.

Assault rifles? Over the course of several decades spent in the regular army and reserves, I have had to eat and sleep with my weapons. Sometimes, I've even had to bring them home while on leave, but was always careful to disassemble them and lock them away from my inquisitive children, separately hiding the firing pin.

Glocks and the like? I've also served in law enforcement, but don't want them anywhere near the house.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Guns and the Slog" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/opinion/guns-and-the-slog.html), Gail Collin has the integrity to observe New York Mayor Bloomberg's scalding criticism of both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney "for limiting their post-Aurora remarks to expressions of sympathy for the victims."

On the other hand, in his New York Times op-ed "Mourning and Mulling" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/21/opinion/blow-mourning-and-mulling.html), Charles Blow fails to relate to the absence of a meaningful response from either US presidential candidate to yesterday's tragedy.

Bloomberg's reaction to the horror (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/20/michael-bloomberg-nyc-mayor-reacts-colorado-shooting_n_1689211.html):

"And everybody always says, 'Isn’t it tragic,' and you know, we look for was the guy, as you said, maybe trying to recreate Batman. I mean, there are so many murders with guns every day, it’s just got to stop. And instead of the two people – President Obama and Governor Romney – talking in broad things about they want to make the world a better place, okay, tell us how. And this is a real problem. No matter where you stand on the Second Amendment, no matter where you stand on guns, we have a right to hear from both of them concretely, not just in generalities – specifically what are they going to do about guns?"

Bloomberg is right. No matter where you stand with respect to the Second Amendment, there is need for urgent discussion, particularly regarding the sale of assault rifles.

Will we hear from Obama or Romney with concrete proposals involving guns, or even the economy, anytime soon? Don't hold your breath. After all, honesty could cost them the election.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

David Brooks, "Where Obama Shines": The Stupidest Brooks Opinion Piece . . . Ever

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Where Obama Shines" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/20/opinion/brooks-where-obama-shines.html), David Brooks would have us believe that Obama has been a "good foreign policy president" as evidenced by the fact that "Romney is having a great deal of trouble identifying profound disagreements."

However, as acknowledged by Brooks:

"An inexcusable blunder by Obama was to announce the withdrawal date from Afghanistan at the same time he announced the surge into Afghanistan. That may have kept the Democratic base happy, but it sent thousands of soldiers and Marines on a mission that was doomed to fail."

Or in other words, Obama sent hundreds of American soldiers to their deaths in Afghanistan for no reason whatsoever, and concurrently bled the US economy white, but inasmuch as Romney doesn't have the good sense or courage to take issue with this blunder, this is evidence of foreign policy success.

Brooks continues:

"Obama has moved more aggressively both to defeat enemies and to champion democracy."

Yet, Brooks also acknowledges:

"Early in his term, he responded poorly to the street marches in Tehran."

Or stated otherwise, Obama threw the demonstrators in Tehran under the bus in the vain hope of placating the ayatollahs. But Brooks forgets to note that Obama was subsequently ineffectual in preventing Iran from proceeding with its nuclear weapons development program.

Brooks also fails to mention Syria, where Obama sent Senator John Kerry to court the country's bloodthirsty psychotic president, Bashar al-Assad. Obama refused to criticize Assad until long after the Syrian populace had revolted against this maniacal tyrant.

And what happened to Obama's promise to recognize the Armenian Genocide? Instead, Obama today claims that Turkey's Prime Minister Erdoğan, famous for imprisoning opposition journalists, is one of his best overseas friends.

And of course there was Libya, where Obama gained his reputation for "leading from behind."

More?:

• Obama's demonization of Israel at the onset of his presidency;
• the alienation of long-standing allies such as Poland and the Czech Republic;
• return of the Winston Churchill bust to the UK;
• promised concessions to Russia's Putin (remember the open microphone gaffe with Medvedev) with nothing to show in return;
• the snubbing of India;
• indifference to human rights abuses in China.

I can sadly continue with this list ad infinitum.

Does all of the above constitute foreign policy success or evidence of fence-sitting, poor decision making, weak bargaining capabilities and appeasement? Obama is a good foreign policy president? Sorry, David, but you're talking road apples.

Assad Regime Crumbling: Told You So

Yesterday, there was a bomb attack directed at a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria, which resulted in seven deaths and dozens wounded. This atrocity was carried out by Hezbollah on the anniversary of the 1994 bombing of a Jewish community center in Argentina in which 87 people died and over 100 people were injured. Both yesterday's attack in Bulgaria and the attack undertaken in Argentina 18 years ago were perpetrated by Hezbollah pursuant to instructions from Tehran.

Yesteray, there was also a bomb attack by Syrian rebels aimed against a national security building in Damascus, which killed Syrian Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha, Deputy Defense Minister Assef Shawkat, who is Assad's brother-in-law, and Hasan Turkmani, a security adviser to Assad and assistant vice president. Assad no longer has complete control over Damascus, and he is now issuing orders from the coastal city of Latakia.

You will recall that less than one month ago, I observed that US intelligence, which claimed that the Assad regime is not apt to lose power any time in the foreseeable future (http://news.yahoo.com/ap-sources-syrian-army-stable-despite-defections-213931967.html), was utterly mistaken (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/06/syria-us-intelligence-mistaken.html). Well, I think it is fairly obvious by now who was right and who was wrong.

Unbeknownst to the likes of Barbara Walters, Senator John Kerry and Bill Clinton, Assad is psychotic and at times entirely detached from reality. However, he and his wife are nevertheless aware of recent events on the ground and are already exploring an early departure from Syria. Their problem: Weighing its future options opposite Syria's incoming Sunni Muslim Brotherhood regime, Iran is no longer certain that they wish to welcome the Assad family.

Israel is now also facing its own set of problems. First, Israel will need to decide how to retaliate against Hezbollah. Second, Israel is concerned that Syrian missiles and chemical weapons could be transferred to Hezbollah in Lebanon should Assad vanish in the coming days and chaos rein throughout Syria.

As reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=278165), weekend furloughs have been cancelled for officers and soldiers in some units of the Israeli army owing to concern over events in Syria.

It's not going to be pretty.

P.S. to my friends in Arlington, next time ask me first.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Gail Collins, "Veeps Wielding Pens": I'd Rather Be Reading George R.R. Martin

New York Times op-ed columnist Gail Collins must have a lot of idle time on her hands if she is troubling herself to read books written by likely Republican vice presidential candidates (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/19/opinion/collins-veeps-wielding-pens.html). Sorry, but I don't see myself getting around to these "masterpieces."

For the sake of fairness, I should also admit that I never bothered to read Obama's fictional autobiographies. Nor will I.

Currently, I'm taking a short break from history in order to devour George R.R. Martin's "A Song of Ice and Fire" series and Umberto Eco's "The Prague Cemetery."

There are so many wonderful books, yet we are given so little time on this earth.

Modest as she is, Gail doesn't mention the title of her own soon-to-be-published autobiographical account: "A Lifetime Endeavor: Dog Poop En Route to Canada, the First 100 Essays."

Sarah Silverman Offers to "Scissor" Sheldon Adelson: November 2012 Takes a New Grotesque Turn

The November 2012 presidential election has evolved into a mud slinging contest with neither candidate offering concrete proposals to remedy America's ailing economy. Moreover, given that we live in an age of narcissism, the hollow nature of the election has created an opportunity for clowns like Sarah Silverman to fill the vacuum and seek to occupy center stage.

In 2008 I recall Silverman appearing in a video in which she informed us that Obama is good for Israel. Well, notwithstanding Hillary's visit to Israel this week as part of a pre-election charm campaign, Obama has refused to show his face in Tel Aviv, despite visits to Cairo, Riyadh and Istanbul. Then, too, there were his attempts to win over Iran and Syria by ignoring their barbarous behavior while concurrently ostracizing Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. In short, Israelis are wary of what awaits them should Obama win a second term.

Well, Sarah's 2008 video was tepid and prim compared with her most recent clip, in which she offers to "scissor" Jewish casino magnate Sheldon Adelson if he will contribute to Obama rather than Romney.

Personally, I would have no interest in being "scissored" by Sarah. As far as I'm concerned, she should go "scissor" herself.

But more to the point, were Sarah to care, while President Obama sought to placate Tehran and Damascus, Iran continued with its nuclear weapons development program and its threats to annihilate Israel. At the same time, Syria expanded its chemical weapons capacity and engaged in a savage campaign to silence enemies of the Assad regime, which has cost more than 15,000 lives.

But I'm certain Sarah doesn't care. It's all about her.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Who’s on America’s Side?": Compare Bain With America's Economic Pain

Labeling this past week’s Republican attacks on Obama as "shriekingly shrill," Maureen Dowd, in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who’s on America’s Side?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/18/opinion/dowd-whos-on-americas-side.html), joins the other liberal columnists, who, this past week, have questioned, in "shriekingly shrill" fashion, the endpoint of Romney's career at Bain Capital and have demanded Romney's tax returns. Dowd writes:

"Romney contended that he had 'no role' at Bain after 1999 when some of its companies went bankrupt, shipped jobs overseas and fired workers. He remained the firm’s chairman of the board, C.E.O., president and only stockholder until 2002. Other than that, he had nothing to do with the place."

Compare Dowd's denunciation with that of Wapo's Eugene Robinson, who wrote yesterday (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/eugene-robinson-romneys-problem-of-his-own-making/2012/07/16/gJQAKjBepW_story.html):

"The only reason anyone cares when Romney left Bain Capital, the private equity firm he founded and ran, is because Romney made a totally unreasonable claim: When Democrats pointed to outsourcing and job cuts at companies Bain owned or controlled, Romney denied any responsibility since these unfortunate developments took place after he left to run the Winter Olympics in 1999.

. . . .

He then tried to insist on another ridiculous proposition, which is that he left Bain suddenly and completely in 1999. This cannot possibly be true. Romney was Bain Capital — chairman, chief executive and sole stockholder. There is no way he could have disentangled himself from the firm so abruptly."

Do Dowd and Robinson sound similar?

And on Monday, fellow New York Times columnist, Paul Krugman, declared that Obama shouldn't "run a campaign based on . . . substance and leave Mr. Romney’s personal history alone" inasmuch as we can't "count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims" regarding Romney's past (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/paul-krugman-policy-and-personal.html).

However, WAPO's Glenn Kessler, in a thorough and detailed "Fact Checker" article entitled "Do Bain SEC documents suggest Mitt Romney is a criminal?" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/do-bain-sec-documents-suggest-mitt-romney-is-a-criminal/2012/07/12/gJQAlyPpgW_blog.html#pagebreak), derails the allegations of Dowd, Robinson and Krugman:

"As we wrote yesterday, we are standing with our assessment that Mitt Romney left the helm of Bain Capital in 1999, when he departed to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The date is important because some questionable investments by Bain took place between 1999 and 2002, when he ran for governor. But a Boston Globe article on Thursday raised new questions about that timeline, citing SEC filings, and the Obama campaign jumped to take advantage of it.

. . . .

Fortune magazine on Thursday reported that it had obtained the offering documents for Bain Capital funds circulating in 2000 and 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the 'key investment professionals' who would manage the money. As Fortune put it, 'the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.'

. . . .

The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here."

Although "tempted" to award the Obama campaign's contentions four pinochios, Kessler and his team decided to give the Democrats "only" three.

Of course, there is still the matter of Romney's tax returns, and therefore, I would like to propose a swap: Romney's tax returns in exchange for the videotape, held in a Los Angeles Times safe, of Obama toasting Palestinian activist Rashid Khalidi in 2003 (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/time-to-release-obamas-2003-rashid.html).

However, more than anything, I would prefer to see concrete proposals from both candidates regarding how they intend to prevent the US economy from disintegrating.

Given his failure since 2009 to improve the economy, Obama would surely prefer that the electorate focus on Romney's past (Bain, teenage bullying, etc.) and ignore his own past foibles (Jeremiah Wright, Tony Rezko, etc.), but what is Bain in 1999 compared with America's current economic pain?

Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps Brigadier General Hossein Salami: US Aircraft Carriers in Persian Gulf Nothing More Than "Rusty Iron"

According to Iran's Fars News Agency (http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104250358), the Lieutenant Commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps, Brigadier General Hossein Salami, has gone on record as saying:

"IRGC members are never intimidated by the hugeness of the aircraft carriers and roaring of the missiles of the US and trans-regional enemies and these equipments are nothing more than rusty iron in their eyes."

And that's not all. According to Brigadier General Salami, the current US build-up in the Persian Gulf is being undertaken because sending troops home from Iraq would "allow its depressed and angry soldiers to join the occupy wall street movement.

Does Salami actually believe this baloney? Are all of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps's commanders lunatics?

Monday, July 16, 2012

David Brooks, "The Capitalism Debate": A Debate Without Visions for Renewal

As I asked yesterday (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/paul-krugman-policy-and-personal.html), why is Obama attacking Romney instead of dealing with economic substance? Answer: Because the US economy is not going to improve before November, and Obama can no longer blame Bush.

Today, in his New York Times op-ed entitled "The Capitalism Debate" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/17/opinion/brooks-more-capitalism-please.html), David Brooks makes a similar point. Observing that Obama's economic policies have proven "insufficient or ineffective," the president is now forced to call into question Romney's outsourcing while managing Bain Capital and the wealth Romney accumulated owing to his success. Brooks writes:

"Instead of defending the policies of the last four years, the [Obama] campaign has begun a series of attacks on the things people don’t like about modern capitalism.

They don’t like the way unsuccessful firms go bust. Obama hit that with ads about a steel plant closure a few months ago. They don’t like C.E.O. salaries. President Obama hits that regularly. They don’t like financial shenanigans. Obama hits that. They don’t like outsourcing and offshoring. This week, Obama has been hitting that."

Moreover, Brooks claims that the tens of millions of dollars being spent by Obama on television advertising to deride Romney and Bain have "shifted the focus of the race from being about big government, which Obama represents, to being about capitalism, which Romney represents." Asserting that Romney doesn't seem to know how to parry Obama's thrusts, Brooks concludes that "Romney is going to have to define a vision of modern capitalism."

Romney needs to "define a vision of modern capitalism"? In fact, Romney has yet to define any sort of vision whatsoever.

If only either candidate could proffer a program for achieving US energy independence over the next four years. Yes, it can be done and at the same time create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

If only either candidate would be willing to reinstate the Uptick Rule and reenact Glass-Steagall, providing the US economy with an instant burst of renewal.

November? The economy will not improve by then, but Romney, a so-called efficiency expert, will lose if he cannot provide economic guidance.

Americans may have voted for "hope" and "change" in 2008, but they have since wised up and are looking for answers.

Time to Release Obama's 2003 Rashid Khalidi Videotape from Los Angeles Times Safe

Given Obama's demands that Romney release more of his tax returns, it's also high time for the president to agree to the release of the videotape of a 2003 banquet at which then-state senator Barack Obama spoke of his friendship with Rashid Khalidi, a Palestinian activist. The video, held in a Los Angeles Times safe, has not been shown to the public purportedly for reasons of confidentiality (http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-video29-2008oct29,0,7568849.story):

"'The Los Angeles Times did not publish the videotape because it was provided to us by a confidential source who did so on the condition that we not release it,' said the newspaper's editor, Russ Stanton. 'The Times keeps its promises to sources.'"

Sorry, Mr. President, but what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Paul Krugman, "Policy and the Personal": Attacking the Media for Failing to Vet Romney

Does Paul Krugman live in an alternative universe?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Policy and the Personal" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/16/opinion/krugman-policy-and-the-personal.html), Krugman is claiming that this election is "about the rich versus the rest" and that the media is to blame for failing to examine whether Obama or Romney is telling the truth.

Asking 1) why shouldn't Obama "run a campaign based on . . . substance and leave Mr. Romney’s personal history alone?" and 2) "How are voters supposed to know who’s telling the truth?", Krugman responds to his own questons by stating:

"Perhaps in a better world we could count on the news media to sort through the conflicting claims. In this world, however, most voters get their news from short snippets on TV, which almost never contain substantive policy analysis. The print media do offer analysis pieces — but these pieces, out of a desire to seem 'balanced,' all too often simply repeat the he-said-she-said of political speeches."

Fascinating. We can't trust the liberal US media, which managed to ignore Obama's links to Jeremiah Wright and Tony Rezko, among others, in 2008, to cut through the political fog.

And the print media is consumed with a desire to remain "balanced"? Has Krugman had a look at the left-skewed stances being taken on the op-ed page of his own newspaper? Or perhaps they are simply not sufficiently leftist for Paul?

But let's talk turkey. As observed in a prior blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/gail-collins-mitts-political-vortex-is.html), the Obama campaign is questioning when Romney left Bain Capital. However, WAPO's Glenn Kessler, in a thorough and detailed "Fact Checker" article entitled "Do Bain SEC documents suggest Mitt Romney is a criminal?" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/do-bain-sec-documents-suggest-mitt-romney-is-a-criminal/2012/07/12/gJQAlyPpgW_blog.html#pagebreak), derails these allegations:

"As we wrote yesterday, we are standing with our assessment that Mitt Romney left the helm of Bain Capital in 1999, when he departed to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The date is important because some questionable investments by Bain took place between 1999 and 2002, when he ran for governor. But a Boston Globe article on Thursday raised new questions about that timeline, citing SEC filings, and the Obama campaign jumped to take advantage of it.

. . . .

Fortune magazine on Thursday reported that it had obtained the offering documents for Bain Capital funds circulating in 2000 and 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the 'key investment professionals' who would manage the money. As Fortune put it, 'the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.'

. . . .

The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here."

Although "tempted" to award the Obama campaign's contentions four pinochios, Kessler and his team decided to give the Democrats "only" three.

So why is Obama attacking Romney instead of dealing with economic substance, and why is Krugman attacking the media? Answer: Because the US economy is not going to improve before November, and Obama can no longer blame Bush.

Axelrod & Co. have obviously decided that Obama has no alternative.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "The Boy Who Wanted to Fly": A Tragic Loss

I probably visit our family doctor once in about two years, and despite the fact that I just turned 58, I don't bother to go for regular checkups. Yes, I know that I'm gambling with my health and setting a horrible example for my three children. What you don't know can hurt you.

In February 2011, I developed a high fever accompanied with severe pains, and reluctantly decided to see our doctor. Whereas I suspected flu, our doctor instantly diagnosed a bacterial infection, sent me for blood and urine tests, and started me on antibiotics. The next morning he called me on my cell phone: the blood tests had come back, my leucocytes had reached an astronomical level, and I needed to go to the hospital immediately. "Can it wait until the afternoon?" I asked. "No," he replied, "you could die of sepsis."

More than a year ago, I described my hospital stay in another context (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2011/02/israel-apartheid-e-coli-and-jimmy.html). Bottom line: after a week of intravenous antibiotics, my fever finally abated, and I was able to go home.

Today, Maureen Dowd has written an important New York Times op-ed entitled "The Boy Who Wanted to Fly" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/15/opinion/sunday/dowd-the-boy-who-wanted-to-fly.html), concerning the tragic death of 12-year-old Rory Staunton. Rory, a brilliant, inquisitive and empathetic child, cut his elbow playing in the school gym and sadly died of septic shock from a strep infection. Dowd writes:

"Despite the cut, severe leg pain, blotchy skin and other clues pointing to sepsis, Rory’s pediatrician surmised that the vomiting, 102-degree fever, 140 pulse and 36 breaths a minute spelled a stomach bug and sent him to the NYU Langone Medical Center emergency room. Doctors there discharged Rory with an antinausea drug, even though his vital signs were alarming. The lab tests that were ordered came back three hours later showing abnormal production of white blood cells, a sign that infection could be raging, but that red flag was ignored.

. . . .

By Friday, Rory’s body was covered with blue streaks, and a touch made him scream. When Ciaran reached the pediatrician, she advised going back to the E.R. Rory was put in intensive care, where doctors valiantly tried to save his life, even suggesting amputating his nose and toes. But he was turning purple and black."

First and foremost, my condolences go out to Rory's family. It is hard to fathom the pain of losing a child, and my prayers go out to them.

But I also find myself asking what we, as parents without medical educations, can do to protect the lives of our children, particularly in impersonal medical settings. Regrettably "house calls" almost no longer exist.

Today, it is said that we are on the cusp of "personalized medicine," i.e. customization of healthcare based upon individual genetic codes. But what is the value of such personalized medicine without the caring, personalized intervention of healthcare professionals?

I wish I had answers.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Gail Collins, "Mitt’s Political Vortex": Is Tom Cruise Gay?

The Obama campaign, with nothing positive to say about their own candidate, is again questioning when Romney left Bain Capital. However, WAPO's Glenn Kessler, in a thorough and detailed "Fact Checker" article entitled "Do Bain SEC documents suggest Mitt Romney is a criminal?" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/do-bain-sec-documents-suggest-mitt-romney-is-a-criminal/2012/07/12/gJQAlyPpgW_blog.html#pagebreak), derails these allegations:

"As we wrote yesterday, we are standing with our assessment that Mitt Romney left the helm of Bain Capital in 1999, when he departed to run the Salt Lake City Olympics. The date is important because some questionable investments by Bain took place between 1999 and 2002, when he ran for governor. But a Boston Globe article on Thursday raised new questions about that timeline, citing SEC filings, and the Obama campaign jumped to take advantage of it.

. . . .

Fortune magazine on Thursday reported that it had obtained the offering documents for Bain Capital funds circulating in 2000 and 2001. None of the documents show that Romney was listed as being among the 'key investment professionals' who would manage the money. As Fortune put it, 'the contemporaneous Bain documents show that Romney was indeed telling the truth about no longer having operational input at Bain — which, one should note, is different from no longer having legal or financial ties to the firm.'

. . . .

The Obama campaign is blowing smoke here."

Although "tempted" to award the Obama campaign's contentions four pinochios, Kessler and his team decided to give the Democrats "only" three.

However, this did not prevent Gail Collins in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Mitt’s Political Vortex" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/14/opinion/collins-mitts-political-vortex.html) from also questioning Romney's departure date from Bain. A daffy Collins concludes:

"The Republicans currently have a symbolic legislative agenda and a presidential candidate who can be in two places at one time, but who nobody likes.

Other than that, it’s all good. Nobody’s brought up the dog on the car roof for days."

Yes, Collins is irrelevant. Worse still, she would disgracefully perpetuate this canard.

However, as long as we are on the topic of irrelevant, Tom Cruise's breakup with Katie Holmes has reawakened baseless speculation concerning Cruise's sexual orientation (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/05/tom-cruise-gay-manhunt-invitation-_n_1651645.html). Is Tom Cruise gay? Who cares? Which is exactly how I feel about Gail Collins's groundless drivel on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

David Brooks, "Why Our Elites Stink": The Stench of Money

"We have met the enemy and he is us."
Pogo, 1971


In his latest New York Times op-ed, "Why Our Elites Stink" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/brooks-why-our-elites-stink.html), David Brooks suggests that today's "brainy elite" might not be doing a better job of leading the US than yesteryear's "old boys’ network." The reason for this failure, according to Brooks, is anchored in an absence of a "leadership code":

"Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous)."

Leadership code? Long before 2012, leadership was replaced by narcissism.

As reported by ABC News (http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/07/obamas-air-force-one-call-to-donors-reveals-money-worries/):

"President Obama has spent more time raising money than any of his predecessors in recent history, crisscrossing the country on Air Force One to 175 re-election fundraisers so far in his first term.

His campaign, the Democratic National Committee and their joint accounts reported more than $173 million cash on hand at the end of May, $61 million more than rival Mitt Romney and Republicans.

And after smashing fundraising records in 2008, tapping $746 million from a historic donor roll of 3 million names, Team Obama has appeared on pace to do it again.

Still, Obama and Democrats are sounding the alarm for what would seem to be unthinkable: that they are poised to be outraised and outspent by Romney, the GOP and allied outside groups.

'We see where we stand, and right now on a month-to-month basis, we’ve fallen behind,' Obama told a group of high-dollar donors Friday on an 18-minute conference call from Air Force One, according to The Daily Beast, which obtained audio of the call from a participant."

Excuse me, but at a time when Iran is threatening to sink US aircraft carriers and to destroy 35 US military bases, Obama is sleepless because Romney is raising more money? Goodness gracious, after four years of failure, Obama is deathly afraid that those nefarious Republicans will be able to beam more 30-second addle-brained television advertisements into the homes of tens of millions of Americans and turn the tide of the 2012 election. In fact, Obama has good reason to be wary, given that "Change" did not happen, and "Give Me a Second Chance" is not a viable battle cry.

Who is raising the money for this pap? No, it's not just coming from Wall Street tycoons. There are also the chic and glamorous from Hollywood and New York, who would also impose their imprimatur upon November. As I observed in my prior blog entry (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/07/paul-krugman-whos-very-important-class.html), consider the recent $80,000 a plate fundraiser at Jessica Parker's Manhattan penthouse, arranged with the able assistance of Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour.

Vogue? Surely you recall Vogue's enchanting 2011 profile of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad, entitled “A Rose in the Desert,” now scrubbed from the web, which was published at a time when the Assads had already begun slaughtering Syria's citizenry. As stated by this sycophantic article, "The household is run on wildly democratic principles. 'We all vote on what we want, and where,' [Asma] says."

Then, too, there was the May shindig for Obama arranged by George Clooney at his California home, which raised some $15 million. Almost everyone in attendance paid $40,000 for dinner with a few exceptions. As observed by The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304543904577397330920533806.html):

"But the Obama campaign raised millions more online by raffling off two free tickets to the dinner. The winners were Beth Topinka, a New Jersey science teacher, and Karen Blutcher, a Florida utility company employee. Both women came with their husbands. The two couples sat toward the rear of the tent."

Why do Jessica Parker, Anna Wintour and George Clooney think that they know better than we do? What does movie and fashion talent have to do with economics and statecraft? How has it come to be that someone like George Clooney - I like many of his movies - think that he knows best how the US should be governed?

More to the point, how has it come to be that money swings elections? Answer: Because we allow it to happen.

I wouldn't spend a nickel to participate in a raffle that might "win" me the opportunity to dine with Clooney and friends. And even if invited, I wouldn't go.

Excuse me now as I go harvest my tomatoes.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Paul Krugman, "Who’s Very Important?": Class Warfare Without Solutions

The 2012 presidential election is becoming an ugly mud slinging match between two candidates bereft of ideas intended to free the US from the economic muck in which it is mired.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Who’s Very Important?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/13/opinion/krugman-whos-very-important.html), Paul Krugman would have us believe that the Romney candidacy is all about the "superrich" seeking to establish control over America. Krugman begins his opinion piece by observing:

"'Is there a V.I.P. entrance? We are V.I.P.' That remark, by a donor waiting to get in to one of Mitt Romney’s recent fund-raisers in the Hamptons, pretty much sums up the attitude of America’s wealthy elite. Mr. Romney’s base — never mind the top 1 percent, we’re talking about the top 0.01 percent or higher — is composed of very self-important people."

Oh, those snotty Republican rich people! And I might even buy into this fantasy were it not for the recent $80,000 a plate fundraiser at Jessica Parker's Manhattan penthouse, arranged with the able assistance of Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour. Vogue? Surely you recall Vogue's enchanting 2011 profile of Syrian first lady Asma al-Assad, entitled “A Rose in the Desert,” which was published at a time when the Assads had already begun slaughtering Syria's citizenry. As stated by this sycophantic article, "The household is run on wildly democratic principles. 'We all vote on what we want, and where,' [Asma] says."

As for Anna Wintour, who is said to be worth $35 million (see: http://www.celebritynetworth.com/richest-businessmen/designers/anna-wintour-net-worth/), there is speculation that she will be named the next US ambassador to England, owing to the enormity of the funds she has raised for Obama. If so, she will replace Louis Susman, "a retired vice-president of Citigroup, whose fund-raising abilities during Obama’s 2008 campaign earned him the nickname 'the vacuum cleaner'" (see: http://nymag.com/daily/fashion/2012/06/anna-wintour-angling-for-an-ambassador-post.html).

And let's not forget that May shindig for Obama arranged by George Clooney at his California home, which raised some $15 million. Almost everyone in attendance paid $40,000 each for dinner with a few exceptions. As observed by The Wall Street Journal (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304543904577397330920533806.html):

"But the Obama campaign raised millions more online by raffling off two free tickets to the dinner. The winners were Beth Topinka, a New Jersey science teacher, and Karen Blutcher, a Florida utility company employee. Both women came with their husbands. The two couples sat toward the rear of the tent."

Sorry, Paul, but the stench of the moneyed attempting to influence November's outcome wafts from both sides of the aisle.

If only either candidate could proffer a viable program for achieving US energy independence over the next four years. Yes, it can be done and at the same time create hundreds of thousands of new jobs.

If only either candidate would be willing to reinstate the Uptick Rule and reenact Glass-Steagall, providing the US economy with an instant burst of renewal.

However, this is not meant to be. Obama loyalists, such as Paul Krugman, would prefer to depict the election as a contest between rich and poor, which is a fable intended to paper over almost four years of failed economic policies.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gail Collins, "Small Is So Beautiful": Pacu, Testicle-Eating Fish, Found in Illinois Lake

In her latest superficial New York Times op-ed entitled "Small Is So Beautiful" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/12/opinion/collins-small-is-so-beautiful.html), Gail Collins sings paeans to Obama's proposal for a one-year cut for all Americans making less than $250,000 per year:

"All of this takes us to President Obama’s call for Congress to extend the Bush tax cuts for families with incomes below $250,000 a year. Most people, the president said, believe it is wrong to 'raise taxes on middle-class families.' It was certainly a triumphant moment for the administration’s economic policies. In 2008, who among us could have hoped that four years in the future, middle-class Americans would be making $250,000 a year?"

Sorry to throw cold water in your face, Gail, but regrettably the Obama proposal is not an endorsement of the Simpson-Bowles Commission recommendations, which provides a path out of America's economic thicket, but rather pre-election largess that leads nowhere.

And of course there was the usual airy reference by Collins to the Seamus story.

As long as Gail wishes to talk about cuts, far more relevant than Collins's tripe is an article appearing in the Huffington Post entitled "Pacu, Testicle-Eating Fish Species, Caught In Lake Lou Yaeger In Illinois" (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/07/pacu-testicle-eating-fish-illinois-lake_n_1656015.html?utm_hp_ref=mostpopular). According to the article:

"Responding to a report that a fisherman had reeled in a piranha on June 7, lake superintendent Jim Caldwell brought the fish to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, where it was identified as a pacu. Some reports say another pacu was seen a couple of weeks later.

Caldwell said he is still swimming in the lake nearly every day. Pacus primarily eat nuts, aquatic vegetation and snails, he told KDSK, and pose no real threat to humans.

Residents of Papua New Guinea may beg to differ. There, according to British fisherman Jeremy Wade, the pacu is known as the 'ball cutter.' In 2011, Wade said locals informed him that two fisherman had died from blood loss after something in the water had bitten off their testicles, according to the Metro."

Pacus eat nuts, but don't pose a real threat to humans? Sorry, but I won't be swimming in Lake Lou Yaeger any time soon. Perhaps, however, the author of the Obama tax cut proposal would care to do us all a favor and test the waters.

Tension Builds Between Saudi Arabia and Iran

On Monday, CIA Director David Petraeus met with Abdullah at his palace in Jeddah (see above), and shortly afterwards I had a friendly chat with my buddy the King, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. The King opened his heavy heart to me, and it just so happens that the meeting with Petraeus involved more than mere niceties over coffee.

The King is distressed by the ongoing massacre of Sunni Muslims in Syria and wants Assad ousted from the presidential palace in Damascus posthaste.

However, more worrisome to Abdullah is the threat of a nuclear-armed Shia Iran fomenting unrest among the Desert Kingdom's Shiites, some 15% of the population, most of whom belong to the Twelver Baharna and live in the country's Eastern Province. Just one day prior to the King's session with Petraus, Saudi security forces killed three Shiite demonstrators in the town of Awamiyah following the arrest of their cleric, Sheikh Nemr al-Nemr.

As correctly surmised by Forrest Gump, "It must be hard being a king."