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Friday, November 30, 2012

An Open Letter to Patrick B. Pexton, Ombudsman for The Washington Post: "Bee Stings on the Israeli Bear’s Behind"

Dear Pat,

In a recent Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Photo of dead baby in Gaza holds part of the ‘truth’" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/patrick-pexton-photo-of-dead-baby-in-gaza-holds-part-of-the-truth/2012/11/23/0cd54eb0-342a-11e2-bb9b-288a310849ee_story.html?wp_login_redirect=0), you responded to criticism of your newspaper involving front-page photographs illustrating civilian suffering only of Gazans during Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense. You wrote:

"I think we can all agree that the Gaza rocket fire is reprehensible and is aimed at terrorizing Israeli civilians. It’s disruptive and traumatic. But let’s be clear: The overwhelming majority of rockets fired from Gaza are like bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind.

These rockets are unguided and erratic, and they carry very small explosive payloads; they generally fall in open areas, causing little damage and fewer injuries."

I have several questions for you, Pat.

First, where are the daily pictures on the home page of The Washington Post of the thousands of civilians in Afghanistan who have been, and continue to be, killed and maimed by NATO bombing? I can assure you that they do not receive phone calls in advance from NATO forces, as did Gazans from the IDF, warning them to vacate the area and distance themselves from Hamas and Islamic Jihad terrorists.

"Bee stings on the Israeli bear’s behind"? Pat, you obviously have never witnessed the damage done by a Fajr or Grad missile. Fajrs, for example, carry payloads of more than 100 pounds of explosives.

But let's take this closer to home. Suppose that the south of New Jersey, which is the same size as Israel, were suddenly, over the course of a week, to be hit with more than 1,500 rockets and missiles. Would you allude to the matter as mere "bee stings on a bear's behind"? And if southern New Jersey were to be hit with more than 8,000 rockets and missiles since 2005, the year that Israel unilaterally evacuated Gaza, would you still refer to this terror directed against civilians as "bee stings"? Not a chance. (If you did, you would be out of a job and most likely seeking employment with Hezbollah's Al-Manar news organization.)

Still not convinced, Pat? I propose an experiment. You probably have never visited the Israeli town of Sderot, which is some two miles from the border of Gaza, and where most of the children are suffering from trauma as a result of Hamas's "rain of terror." I would suggest that you spend a year living in Sderot, but then you would not be able to commute to WaPo, and in addition the rocket fire aimed at the town has ceased since Operation Pillar of Defense.

Instead, I have something else in mind. You take your family and move to "the sticks," but within driving distance from work, where you will live over the course of a year in an isolated house with a bomb shelter. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday nights, I will fire the equivalent of Hamas's Kassam rockets at you (unguided, carrying only 22 pounds of explosives). On Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, I will fire Grad missiles at your home. When I fire a missile or rocket, an alarm will sound, waking you from your sleep, and you and your family will have 15 seconds to reach your bomb shelter. Mind you, my rocket and missile fire will be "erratic" and "unguided," and indeed most of it will fall in the woods surrounding your house, but if something does hit "home," I strongly recommend that you and your family be tucked away in your bomb shelter.

As an added bonus, I will not fire rockets or missiles at you on Sundays, a privilege that the residents of Sderot never enjoyed.

At the end of the year, if you live to tell the tale and have not lost your marbles in the interim, you can inform your readership if you still regard the missile and rocket fire as "bee stings."

Do we have a deal, Pat? I didn't think so.

Of course, my proposition was not serious, but this brings me to my next question: Are you stupid or just boorishly insensitive to incessant war crimes committed over the years against Israel's civilian population: mortar fire, Katyushas, Kassams, Grads, Fajrs, Scuds and suicide bombings?

You want pictures of bodies and body parts? Sorry, Pat, but out of respect for the victims and their families, it is Israel's practice not to disseminate photographs of such horror.

I also apologize, Pat, if I was not as diplomatic as my friend Mike Oren (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/falling-for-hamass-media-manipulation/2012/11/28/4d7b9498-39a1-11e2-8a97-363b0f9a0ab3_story.html) in my criticism of you. Quite honestly, I found your opinion piece reprehensible.

Jeffrey

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Syria: Another Obama Foreign Policy Fiasco in the Making

Listen again to Hillary Clinton's 2011 explanation as to why the Obama administration was courting Syrian tyrant and mass murderer Bashar al-Assad at a time when his army was gunning down unarmed demonstrators in the streets. Yes, you heard Hillary correctly:

“There’s a different leader in Syria now. 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. What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities [as in Libya] and police actions, which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

Well, Assad over the past year has strafed and bombed his own cities, and the Obama administration did . . . nothing.

However, Obama and other Western leaders are beginning to regret their apathy to the tens of thousands of Syrian civilians who have been mowed down by the Assad regime.

As recently acknowledged by UK Prime Minister Cameron (see: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/us-election/9662268/Syria-crisis-is-priority-Cameron-tells-Obama.html):

"Look, let's be frank, what we've done for the last 18 months hasn't been enough.

. . . .

The slaughter continues, the bloodshed is appalling, the bad effects it's having on the region, the radicalisation but also the humanitarian crisis that is engulfing Syria. So let's work together on really pushing what more we can do, what other steps we can take to hasten the end of this regime."

And indeed, the US is suddenly weighing intervention in Syria. As noted in a New York Times article entitled "U.S. Weighs Bolder Effort to Intervene in Syria’s Conflict" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/29/world/us-is-weighing-stronger-action-in-syrian-conflict.html?_r=0):

"'The administration has figured out that if they don’t start doing something, the war will be over and they won’t have any influence over the combat forces on the ground,' said Jeffrey White, a former Defense Intelligence Agency intelligence officer and specialist on the Syria military. 'They may have some influence with various political groups and factions, but they won’t have influence with the fighters, and the fighters will control the territory.'"

Why the change of heart? What finally got the Obama administration's attention? Simple. The rebels have overrun several army bases over recent weeks, giving them tanks and much needed ammunition. In addition, the rebels have been supplied with Stinger shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles by the Saudis (see: http://english.alarabiya.net/articles/2012/08/17/232739.html) and have brought down one attack helicopter and a jet fighter over the past two days. And if that is not enough, al-Qaeda style car bombings in the pro-regime town of Jaramana, outside of Damascus, killed 54 civilians on Wednesday.

In short, the Assad regime is wobbling, and when it finally falls, the Obama administration is without a strategy to prevent Syria's enormous stockpiles of chemical weapons from falling into the wrong hands.

Yeah, I know: Obama was supposed to have delivered a death blow to al-Qaeda when he took out bin Laden.

Great job, Hillary.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Make Up Turned Break Up": The Only Liberal Columnist Demanding Answers About Benghazi

Maureen Dowd knows next to nothing about the Middle East, but she clearly recognizes a scandal when she sees one.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Make Up Turned Break Up" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/28/opinion/dowd-make-up-turned-break-up.html?_r=0), Dowd writes:

"It seems as if it would have been simple enough for Rice to quickly admit that the administration talking points she used on the Sept. 16 Sunday shows about the slaughter in Benghazi were misleading. But she went silent. She has no wartime consigliere and, aside from the president’s angry postelection defense of Rice, the White House — perhaps relieved that she was taking the heat rather than the president — wasn’t running a strong damage control operation that clarified matters."

Obama is going to make additional noise by again taking up Rice's defense? No way. Not when he and his White House spokesman were ultimately responsible for perpetuating the myth that the attack on the Benghazi consulate was the result of a ridiculous Internet video. Also, bottom line, Obama is all about looking after the best interests of . . . Obama.

Dowd notes a list of questions drawn up by Senator Susan Collins of Maine regarding Rice's declarations involving the affair:

  • Why did Rice "promote a story 'with such certitude' about a spontaneous demonstration over the anti-Muslim video that was so at odds with the classified information to which the ambassador had access"?

  • If, prior to Sept. 15, the F.B.I. had already established that there had been no protest but rather a terror attack, why did Rice so stubbornly pursue her nonsensical explanation involving the video?

  • Given that Rice heard the president of the Libyan National Congress state that "50 people had been arrested who were either foreign or affiliated with or sympathized with Al Qaeda, why did she push back with the video story?"

  • Why did Rice say on ABC News that "two of the four Americans who were killed were there providing security" when, as known to Collins, "That wasn’t their job"?

  • Why did Rice say that "'we had a substantial security presence with our personnel' — which was clearly not the case"?

In a recent Washington Post editorial (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-gops-bizarre-attack-on-susan-rice/2012/11/22/22c54a10-340a-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html), it was suggested that the questioning of Rice and opposition to her candidacy as the next US secretary of state involve racism:

"Could it be, as members of the Congressional Black Caucus are charging, that the signatories of the letter are targeting Ms. Rice because she is an African American woman? The signatories deny that, and we can’t know their hearts. What we do know is that more than 80 of the signatories are white males, and nearly half are from states of the former Confederacy. You’d think that before launching their broadside, members of Congress would have taken care not to propagate any falsehoods of their own."

Obviously, Dowd and Senator Collins are neither males nor Southerners, and like it or not, there is an ugly scandal here leading from Rice straight up to the top.

Monday, November 26, 2012

David Brooks, "How People Change": Anyone for Ann Landers?

“Make somebody happy today, and mind your own business.”
― Ann Landers

Attending the University of Chicago some 40 years ago and reading the works of Kant, Hume and Hegel, I could never read Ann Landers in public. Today, far removed from academia, I can acknowledge that her columns kept me amused on cold winter nights while struggling to prepare turgid term papers, which would ultimately find their way into garbage dumps throughout the great state of Illinois.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "How People Change" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/27/opinion/brooks-how-people-change.html), David Brooks would also provide us with advice:

"It’s foolhardy to try to persuade people to see the profound errors of their ways in the hope that mental change will lead to behavioral change. Instead, try to change superficial behavior first and hope that, if they act differently, they’ll eventually think differently. Lure people toward success with the promise of admiration instead of trying to punish failure with criticism. Positive rewards are more powerful."

Fascinating. I think I'll give it a try this morning:

"Of course you know, dear, how delighted I was when you read 'The Secret,' which promised to make us millionaires. And if we didn't become filthy rich, I take the blame - it's all because I didn't visualize the money hard enough.

Your latest preoccupation with 'rebirthing'? Go for it! Good air in! Bad air out! And not to worry about a thing - I've got the grocery bills covered.

That new sporty hybrid hatchback you've got your eyes on? Great idea! But you know, the organic food and vitamins are costing us a fortune, and I don't think we would want to sacrifice them for a car.

You know you don't look a day over eighty."

Well, at least I tried.

Cynical? Me? I don't think that's going to change anytime soon with or without positive rewards or promises of admiration. But of course there's no reason why that should stop me from trying to change the behavior of others.

Jackson Diehl, "Lessons from Gaza": Sorry, But School Is Not Yet Out

Jackson Diehl, in his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Lessons from Gaza" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/jackson-diehl-lessons-from-gaza/2012/11/25/129610bc-35a3-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html?hpid=z2), declares:

"Though it survived the assassination of its military chief and managed to bombard Israel with 1,500 rockets and mortar rounds, Hamas once again demonstrated that it lacks the means to do more than frighten or inconvenience Israelis. On the contrary: The success of the U.S.-funded Iron Dome anti-missile system suggests that missiles will be a decreasingly credible threat."

Well, yes and no. Although Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system exceeded expectations with a greater than 80 percent success rate at bringing down incoming rockets, the Hamas arsenal of some 10,000 rockets and missiles prior to Operation Pillar of Defense is dwarfed by Hezbollah's stockpile of more than 50,000 rockets and missiles.

And although Israel succeeded in destroying the vast majority of Hamas's long-range Fajr-5 missiles on the ground, Iran is already going to great lengths to replenish the Hamas and Islamic Jihad inventory with shipments via Sudan (see: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=293324).

In short, Israel is in urgent need of additional Iron Dome batteries to provide cover along its northern border with Lebanon.

Meanwhile, however, Israel has just announced a successful test of its David's Sling interceptor, and as reported by Yaakov Lappin of The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=293395):

"The system would defend against Iranian missiles such as the M600, the Zelzal, Fajr and Fateh 110 deployed heavily in Hezbollah hands in Lebanon as well as other missiles with a range between 70 and 300 kilometers. It is slated to become operational in 2014."

Hezbollah's Secretary General Seyyed Hassan Nasrallah is currently threatening to fire missiles at all of Israel (see: http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2012/11/25/274438/missile-rain-awaits-israel-war-nasrallah/); however, Israel's northern border remained quiet throughout Operation Pillar of Defense. Why? There are two reasons:

  • Nasrallah knows that if he initiates hostilities, his organization will sustain billions of dollars of damage which Iran is no longer in a position to reimbuse.

  • In addition, Hezbollah (Shiite) and Hamas (Sunni) are on opposite sides of the fence regarding the uprising in Syria.

Diehl concludes his opinion piece by observing:

"In exchange for more open borders and an opportunity to develop economically with backing from its new Arab allies, Hamas could agree to a more thorough and reliable truce that leaves southern Israel in peace. That’s a long way from real peace — but it’s better for both sides than going to war every couple of years."

Diehl, however, ignores the Hamas covenant, which rejects negotiation with Israel and calls for the murder of all Jews. Quiet reigns in Israel's south for the time being only because Hamas determined that its rocket fire was not achieving its desired effect, and given the some $1.3 billion in damages caused to Gaza and the Hamas terror infrastructure during Operation Pillar of Defense.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Morsi’s Moment": Delusional

Since Thursday, when Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi decreed that his decisions are no longer subject to judicial review, violent protests have swept Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. On Saturday, Egypt's Supreme Judicial Council declared that Morsi's determination was "an unprecedented attack on the independence of the judiciary and its rulings" (see: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/News/Middle-East/2012/Nov-24/196079-top-judicial-body-slams-mursis-unprecedented-attack.ashx#axzz2D5H2fjjj).

Yet none of this seems to have had any effect upon Thomas Friedman, who, in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Morsi’s Moment" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/opinion/sunday/friedman-morsis-moment.html), writes:

"It is impossible not to be tantalized by how much leverage Morsi could wield in the peace process, if he ever chose to engage Israel. Precisely because he represents the Muslim Brotherhood, the vanguard of Arab Islam, and precisely because he was democratically elected, if Morsi threw his weight behind an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, it would be so much more valuable to Israel than the cold peace that Sadat delivered and Hosni Mubarak maintained. Sadat offered Israelis peace with the Egyptian state. Morsi could offer Israel peace with the Egyptian people and, through them, with the Muslim world beyond."

Yeah, Morsi will surely want to aggressively advance peace between Israel and the Palestinians at a time when 87 percent of Egyptians believe that Egypt should have its own nuclear bomb and 74 percent favor a break in diplomatic ties with Israel (see: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/161145). Not so incidentally, 82 percent of Egyptians believe that people who commit adultery should be stoned, and 84 percent believe that those who abandon Islam should be sentenced to death (see: http://www.pewglobal.org/2010/12/02/muslims-around-the-world-divided-on-hamas-and-hezbollah/).

Friedman continues:

"So, as you can see, the unresolved Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the future of Egyptian democracy and the U.S.-Israel-Arab struggle with Iran and Syria are now all intertwined. Smart, courageous leadership today could defuse the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, advance Egyptian democracy and isolate the Iranian, Syrian and Hamas regimes. Weak or reckless leadership will empower all three. This is a big moment."

Friedman is seeking "smart, courageous leadership" from Morsi in order to advance Egyptian democracy? This is Morsi's "big moment"? Keep dreaming, Tom.

Maureen Dowd, "But Can They Eat 50 Eggs?": Hoping Obama Does Not Lay an Egg

Query: Can leadership be learned, and if so, why is it not being taught at universities around the world?

My belief? Although I think leadership can be studied and improved, this does not mean that it can be practiced on a virtuoso level by everyone. What are leadership's components? Certainly charisma, which cannot be taught. Add to the list, a willingness to accept risk - again something for which we are not all wired. Abundant confidence and an ability to make snap decisions? Absolutely, but once again, owing to genetic factors and the manner in which we have been raised, this is not present in all of us.

What about intelligence? I'm sure it's helpful for any prospective leader, but in and of itself, cleverness does not make for leaders. Perhaps someone out there can tell me the average IQ of an NFL quarterback - I am certain it is not inordinately high - but this does not prevent them taking command and guiding their teams to touchdowns. Also, although I was never impressed with the raw intelligence of Ronald Reagan, he was certainly a leader.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "But Can They Eat 50 Eggs?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/25/opinion/sunday/dowd-but-can-they-eat-50-eggs.html), Maureen Dowd observes the leadership qualities of Robert Griffin III, who has revived the Washington Redskins:

"His passes thrill, and his partnership with another unpretentious rookie, the compact but fierce running back Alfred Morris, dazzles. But what is really endearing is his spirit: a zeal to make every play count, a work ethic and self-effacing charm that has everyone rooting for him, a leadership style that causes teammates to lift their games. You can see RGIII going up and down the sidelines patting his teammates for encouragement."

Dowd compares Griffin with Obama:

"While Obama prefers to preen as the man alone in the arena — keeping other pols at a distance on stage, parsimoniously handing out thanks and failing to mention his party or top surrogate Bill Clinton in his last victory speech — RGIII never passes up a chance to share credit.

While Obama — who has had a failure to communicate — finds media a bother, Griffin has an easy charm with the press. He never shows aggrievement.

While Obama gets tangled up in his head — trying to decide if he’s too noble to play politics or if spending some evenings schmoozing with pols and flattering them to further his agenda will leave him too depleted — RGIII keeps the joy, intensity and bonhomie in his game."

Or in other words, Obama is the antithesis of a leader: Although intelligent, he is slow to make decisions and reluctant to rule by fiat. In two separate occurrences involving Libya, Obama has demonstrated "leadership from behind."

However, Obama's true day of reckoning is fast approaching. He informed Iran's mullahs that he would not allow them to build an atomic weapon and also declared that he does not bluff. Here's hoping that he was able to learn something from the Libyan crises and does not lay an egg.

Yousef Munayyer, "America’s Failed Palestinian Policy": Only by Attacking Israeli Civilians Do Palestinians Achieve Their Goals

Indeed, if you are seeking rabid enmity and unsubstantiated loathing toward Israel cloaked in the presumed integrity of a once great national newspaper headed for Chapter 11, Andrew Rosenthal's op-ed page of The New York Times provides a spring of malice that never goes dry.

Have a gander at the latest Israel bashing guest op-ed in The New York Times entitled "America’s Failed Palestinian Policy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/23/opinion/americas-failed-palestinian-policy.html?_r=0), written by Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund. Munayyer, who calls for a "significant re-evaluation of the American policies" toward Israelis and Palestinians, writes:

"Hamas has used armed struggle to achieve certain objectives, albeit at significant cost."

Indeed, Hamas has used "armed struggle," i.e. suicide bombings and missiles directed at Israeli civilians, to seek to achieve "certain objectives." And what might those "objectives" be? You don't have to look very far. They are all explicitly spelled out in the Hamas Covenant (see: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp), which provides, inter alia:

• "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with."
• "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him."
• "In their Nazi treatment, the Jews made no exception for women or children. Their policy of striking fear in the heart is meant for all. They attack people where their breadwinning is concerned, extorting their money and threatening their honour. They deal with people as if they were the worst war criminals."
• "The Islamic Resistance Movement consider itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism and a step on the road."

Or stated very simply, Hamas is a racist organization, which rejects recognition of Israel and calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis.

Munayyer would excuse the terror tactics of Hamas directed against Israeli civilians by observing:

"American policy initially signaled to Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah, a Palestinian party committed to the idea of negotiations, that talks would yield a Palestinian state on 22 percent of the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. At the same time the United States, which has monopolized the role of mediator for itself, failed to do anything to change Israel’s policies of settlement expansion in the West Bank.

Palestinians’ patience grew thin as the number of Israeli settlers tripled between the beginning of the 'peace process' in 1991 and today. Palestinians learned that the message they initially got about a peace process’ [sic] leading to statehood was either made in bad faith or an outright lie."

Of course, there is no mention by Munayyer that Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered the leaders of Fatah, Arafat and Abbas, an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps, and Olmert even offered Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Arafat and Abbas refused.

There is also no mention by Munayyer that Israelis settlements occupy less than two percent of the West Bank.

In addition, Munayyer "forgets" to mention that in November 2009, Netanyahu acceded to Obama's request for a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank; however, Abbas ignored the gesture.

Munayyer goes on to observe:

"The real danger is if the underlying causes of discontent in Gaza — the denial of human rights and dignity for Palestinians — continue to go ignored once rockets stop targeting Israel."

So only Israel is responsible for "the denial of human rights and dignity for Palestinians." Yeah, right. Needless to say, Munayyer makes no mention of discrimination against women (e.g., "honor killings"), gays and Christians in the West Bank and Gaza.

And even Human Rights Watch has acknowledged the brutal repression of freedom of speech by Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza (see: http://www.hrw.org/news/2011/04/06/west-bankgaza-stop-harassing-journalists).

Democracy in the West Bank and Gaza? Presidential elections were last held by the Palestinians in January 2005. Parliamentary elections were last held by Fatah and Hamas in January 2006. Israel is not to blame.

Bottom line: Munayyer would have us believe that Palestinians have no choice other than to make use of terror attacks against Israeli civilians in order to achieve their goals:

"What message is sent to Palestinians when the only time we pay attention to their plight, and the only time they make gains, is through the use of arms?"

In fact, absolutely nothing has been gained by the Palestinians in this latest round of fighting during which Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired more than 1,500 missiles and rockets at Israeli towns and cities. Hamas's infrastructure has been shattered with nothing of substance to show for the renewed bloodshed, and Hamas has again demonstrated that it is no more than a terrorist entity dedicated to killing Jews.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Fareed Zakaria, "Israel dominates the new Middle East": Is Zakaria a Fabulist or a Fool?

Yet another JG Caesarea challenge: What doesn't Fareed Zakaria tell you in his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Israel dominates the new Middle East" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-israel-dominates-the-middle-east/2012/11/21/d310dc7c-3428-11e2-bfd5-e202b6d7b501_story.html?hpid=z2)? Sorry, your five seconds are up.

Zakaria writes:

"As for terrorism, the other asymmetrical strategy against Israel: Despite Wednesday’s attack on a bus in Tel Aviv, Israel is largely protected from terrorists because of the wall it built in 2003."

A "wall"? As Zakaria surely is aware, some 90% of the separation barrier consists of a fence, not a wall. Moreover, as anyone who has ever driven on Israel's Highway 6 knows, the walled portions of the separation barrier are intended to prevent sniper fire into Israel.

Far more heinous is Zakaria's declaration that only Israel is responsible for the lack of peace with the Palestinians. Zakaria concludes his opinion piece by declaring:

"Peace between the Palestinians and Israelis will come only when Israel decides that it wants to make peace. Wise Israeli politicians, from Ariel Sharon to Ehud Olmert to Ehud Barak, have wanted to take risks to make that peace because they have worried about Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state. This is what is in danger, not Israel’s existence."

Yeah, sure, Israel's existence is not being threatened. Israelis need not concern themselves over Iran's efforts to obtain nuclear weapons and its almost weekly threats to annihilate Israel.

Regarding Israel's ability to make peace with the Palestinians whenever it chooses to do so, I suggest that Zakaria have another look at the Hamas Covenant (see: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hamas.asp), which provides, inter alia:

• "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. The Palestinian people know better than to consent to having their future, rights and fate toyed with."
• "Our struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious. It needs all sincere efforts. It is a step that inevitably should be followed by other steps."
• "The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews, when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews."
• "In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of Jihad be raised."
• "In their Nazi treatment, the Jews made no exception for women or children. Their policy of striking fear in the heart is meant for all. They attack people where their breadwinning is concerned, extorting their money and threatening their honour. They deal with people as if they were the worst war criminals."
• "We should not forget to remind every Moslem that when the Jews conquered the Holy City in 1967, they stood on the threshold of the Aqsa Mosque and proclaimed that 'Mohammed is dead, and his descendants are all women.'"
• "Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Moslem people. 'May the cowards never sleep.'"
• "The Islamic Resistance Movement consider itself to be the spearhead of the circle of struggle with world Zionism and a step on the road. The Movement adds its efforts to the efforts of all those who are active in the Palestinian arena. Arab and Islamic Peoples should augment by further steps on their part; Islamic groupings all over the Arab world should also do the same, since all of these are the best-equipped for the future role in the fight with the warmongering Jews."

So, if Israel decides to make peace with Hamas, it can reach a swift binding agreement whenever it likes. Yeah, right.

We already know that Zakaria is a plagiarist. The question now arises as to whether he is also a fabulist or a fool.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Iran Ready to Fight Israel Until the Last Palestinian

A few thoughts concerning Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense. (Yes, this is for you, McLean and Arlington.)

After eight days of fighting between Israel and Hamas, the cease-fire is temporary. The Hamas charter continues to call for the murder of all Jews (not just Israelis) and rejects negotiation of any peace agreement with Israel. The Hamas charter will not be amended.

Although Hamas is claiming victory, Gaza's terror infrastructure has again been shattered by the fighting. Although Hamas and friends are still thought to have more than 8,000 medium and short-range missiles and rockets, most of their long-range Fajr-5 missiles were destroyed on the ground.

Iran throughout the fighting continued its efforts to resupply Hamas with new Grad missiles via Sudan to the tunnels leading from Egypt into Gaza. It is now up to Egypt, i.e. Egyptian President Morsi, to decide whether he will continue to allow the missiles to be smuggled into Gaza.

Iran's surrogate in Lebanon, Hezbollah, did not fire a single rocket at Israel in support of Hamas during the recent fighting. Although Hezbollah's leader Nasrallah also claimed victory after a month of fighting with Israel in 2006, he was not willing to risk another showdown with the Israel Defense Forces, which then destroyed much of his Beirut enclave.

Israel's Iron Dome anti-missile system proved a remarkable success with interceptions in excess of 80%. Without Iron Dome, Israel's ground forces would have necessarily been forced to enter Gaza during this round of fighting, which in turn would have resulted in a much higher number of Palestinian civilian casualties.

Israel is in urgent need of additional Iron Dome batteries to protect against missiles from Lebanon. Although the Hamas long-range missile threat has at least temporarily been defanged, a possible three-front war with Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran will require Iron Dome batteries in both Israel's south and north.

The fighting between Israel and Hamas served Iran's interests. The world's attention was distracted from the civil war in Syria, where Iranian ally Bashar al-Assad is holding on to power by a thread. Shiite Iran is clearly willing to encourage Hamas to continue fighting Israel until the last Sunni Palestinian remains standing.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Obama’s Moment": Pornography Can Be Viewed Over the Web With Blinding Speed

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama’s Moment" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/opinion/friedman-obamas-moment.html?_r=0), Thomas Friedman marvels at Chattanooga's "gigabit-per-second fiber-optic network." Friedman gushes:

"That network was fully completed thanks to $111 million in stimulus money. Imagine that we get a grand bargain in Washington that also includes a stimulus of just $20 billion to bring the 200 biggest urban areas in America up to Chattanooga’s standard. You’d see a 'melt-up' in the U.S. economy. We are so close to doing something big and smart. Somebody needs to tell the Congress."

Ah yes, a "melt-up" on the way: Faster Internet, digital cameras with more pixels, computer chips with enhanced memories. Sure, there can be no comparing computer games with what what existed a decade ago, and pornography can now be viewed over the Web with blinding speed, but job creation? How many people are capable of making use of this technological advance at the workplace?

Me? I would be delighted if the Long Island Railroad, in existence some 180 years, could be made to run on time.

Welcome to our Brave New World.

Maureen Dowd, "Turning Brass Into Gold": To Hell With Jane Austen

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Turning Brass Into Gold" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/21/opinion/dowd-turning-brass-into-gold.html), Maureen Dowd pokes fun at the spinmasters, who are now busy doctoring the appearances of those embroiled in the Petraeus-Broadwell-Kelley-Allen imbroglio. Dowd writes:

"The military might want to have its future stars read Jane Austen as well as Grant and Rommel. 'Pride and Prejudice' is full of warnings about the dangers of young ladies with exuberant, flirtatious, 'unguarded and imprudent' manners visiting military regiments and preening in 'all the glories of the camp.'

Such folly and vanity, the ever wise Elizabeth Bennet cautioned, can lead to censure and disgrace."

I am not amused. To hell with Jane Austen.

How often I try to sleep and suddenly remember friends who lost their faces in combat. Visiting one of them in the hospital soon after the fiery attack, I almost fainted while attempting to voice optimism regarding the miracles of modern medicine.

More than 2,000 US soldiers have lost their lives in a senseless ground war in Afghanistan. Another 17,000 US soldiers have been wounded in this debacle, including many who have lost limbs, have suffered genital wounds, and have been disfigured by burns over much of their bodies.

A press conference for Natalie Khawam, Kelley’s twin sister? What a shame that these journalists, including Dowd, don't visit US army medical centers and talk with true heroes in actual need of appearance doctoring and much additional assistance.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Pillar of Defense Musings

My thoughts will never be published by Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of The New York Times. My views are not leftist, and I have no political ax to grind.

Moreover, I will not be scheduling paid speaking appointments in the United States, given that I hope to spend most of my free time digging in my garden. Somehow, I recently found the time to plant two Ettinger avocado trees, and I look forward to seeing the literal fruits of my labor in 2013.

How do I view the renewed fighting between Israel and Hamas? If I had to choose a word to describe my feelings, I suppose it would be "anguish."

My oldest son, a paratrooper, has not yet been called up by his reserve unit, and I am embarrassed to admit my relief. During Operation Cast Lead, his officer died only a few meters away from where he stood, and I believe there is a limit to the trauma that any person can withstand over the course of a lifetime. I know that I have been left with a very short fuse. Nevertheless, Michael wants very much to again be in the thick of things.

I was in Tel Aviv two days ago when the sirens sounded, announcing an incoming Fajr-5 missile, supplied to Hamas by Iran. Having lived through Iraqi Scud attacks during the First Gulf War, which regularly shook our sixth floor apartment when Michael was just an infant, I couldn't get excited.

Earlier this evening, I stopped by our local grocery store and purchased meat from our Palestinian butcher, who occasionally hitches rides from me back to his neighboring village. He knows that I am a reservist, yet today, like every day, there were only smiles and no signs of enmity.

What will be the future of this conflagration? I don't know, because I don't decide policy.

Yet, I view with horror the demands from Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal that Israel initiate a ceasefire. Is it all just a matter of pride? Doesn't human life mean anything to him? Inasmuch as he heads an organization whose charter calls for the murder of all Jews, perhaps we shouldn't be expecting too much.

The EU is acknowledging Israel's right to defend itself, but is also asking that Israel's response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad missiles be "proportional." In addition, the EU is telling Israel's political leadership that under no circumstances should Israel dare send its ground forces into Gaza.

Fortunately for me, I do not need to make the decision whether to send infantry and tanks into Gaza. However, I would be very curious how European capitals would respond if their civilian centers were, over the course of a week, subjected to a barrage of a thousand rockets and missiles.

Meanwhile, in Antwerp leftists and rightists today staged a protest against Israel and chanted, "Hamas, Hamas, Jews to gas." I find it interesting that only anti-Semitism can bring these two extremes together.

And in the US, although "57% of the public says Israel is justified in taking military action in Gaza against Hamas," only 40% of Democrats agrees with Israel's efforts to defend itself (see: http://politicalticker.blogs.cnn.com/2012/11/19/cnn-poll-57-of-americans-say-israeli-attacks-in-gaza-are-justified/). I wonder what these Democrats would say if New Jersey, which is the same size as Israel, were to come under missile attack.

Hamas rockets today landed on three schools in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, but fortunately classes have been canceled since November 14. I suppose many of these Democrats, including many Jews among them, would prefer that Israel just lay down and die.

Me? I'm not ready to pass on just yet. I'm too busy working to ensure the success of my life science companies, and I can't wait to taste that first avocado from our new trees.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Paul Krugman, "The Twinkie Manifesto": Let's Start By Investigating New York Times Columnists

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Twinkie Manifesto" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/19/opinion/krugman-the-twinkie-manifesto.html), Paul Krugman decries the life styles and low tax rates of America's wealthy. Krugman writes:

"Today, of course, the mansions, armies of servants and yachts are back, bigger than ever — and any hint of policies that might crimp plutocrats' style is met with cries of 'socialism.'"

Krugman concludes:

"America in the 1950s made the rich pay their fair share; it gave workers the power to bargain for decent wages and benefits; yet contrary to right-wing propaganda then and now, it prospered. And we can do that again."

I agree with Paul and suggest we begin an investigation of the bank accounts and lifestyles of his colleagues at the Times. First, why should Thomas Friedman be allowed to continuing living in his Maryland mansion, when so many people have had their mortgages foreclosed and have been forced out of their homes?

Next, let's demand to see Nicholas Kristof's tax returns for the past ten years. As you might know, his wife, Sheryl WuDunn, was a private wealth adviser at Goldman Sachs, and now serves as a senior managing director at Mid-Market Securities, a New York investment banking firm (see: http://www.mid-marketsecurities.com/team.html#Wudunn).

And for the sake of good order, perhaps Paul himself would care to divulge his income from lectures, books and opinion pieces and tell us what percentage of these sums has been given to charity. I'm sure he has given plenty, but in keeping with the demands of full disclosure, I think he will feel far more comfortable if he shares this information with us.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "If You’ve Got the Skills, She’s Got the Job": Is Friedman's Brain Fried?

A brief timeline:
  • On November 11, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote an op-ed entitled "My President Is Busy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/friedman-president-obama-is-busy.html), in which he declared that Obama is too busy to be bothered with Israel. This came on the heels of declarations by Democrats during the presidential campaign that Israel never had a better friend than Barack Obama.
  • On November 14, Friedman, in an op-ed entitled "Obama's Nightmare" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/opinion/friedman-obamas-nightmare.html), called for a "United Nations-led multinational force" to oversee a "power-sharing deal inside Syria." Friedman ignored the fact that such troops would be subjected to a steady stream of casualties from Iranian and al-Qaeda backed guerilla forces at a time when the US and its NATO allies are struggling to extract themselves from an ill-fated engagement in Afghanistan.
  • On November 17, Friedman published an op-ed entitled "If You've Got the Skills, She's Got the Job" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/opinion/sunday/Friedman-You-Got-the-Skills.html?_r=0), informing his New York readership of welding jobs in Minnesota. Would-be Middle East expert Friedman chose to ignore the spiraling conflagration between Israel and Hamas, involving missiles fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. Is Friedman also now too busy to address issues involving Israel?
Go figure . . .

Maureen Dowd, "Is Rice Cooked?": Awakening to the Benghazi Cover-Up

Who would believe? More than two months late, a New York Times columnist has finally gotten around to acknowledging the Benghazi cover-up.

In her latest Times op-ed entitled "Is Rice Cooked?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/18/opinion/sunday/is-rice-cooked.html), Maureen Dowd writes:

"Some have wondered if Rice, who has a bull-in-a-china-shop reputation, is diplomatic enough for the top diplomatic job. But she would have been wise to be more bull-in-a-china-shop and vet her talking points, given that members of the intelligence and diplomatic communities and sources in news accounts considered it a terrorist attack days before Rice went on the shows. (The president and his spokesman also clung to the video story for too long.)"

Hold on a moment, Maureen, what's that information tucked away between the parenthesis? The president also clung to the cock-and-bull video story too long? Oh, really?

And where is President Obama as the furor, following Petraeus's congressional testimony, mounts? Answer: He has made himself scarce in Thailand, Burma and Cambodia. A trip to Jerusalem and Cairo to help negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas? No way. Notwithstanding my personal invitation to travel to the beleaguered Middle East (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/a-personal-invitation-to-president.html), the nobel peace prize winner has flown west rather than east.

But back to darling Susan, whom Obama is so intent upon protecting. As even Dana Milbank of The Washington Post conceded yesterday in an opinion piece entitled "Susan Rice’s tarnished resume" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/dana-milbank-susan-rices-tarnished-resume/2012/11/16/55ec3382-3012-11e2-a30e-5ca76eeec857_story.html):

"She is ill-equipped to be the nation’s top diplomat for reasons that have little to do with Libya.

Even in a town that rewards sharp elbows and brusque personalities, Rice has managed to make an impressive array of enemies — on Capitol Hill, in Foggy Bottom and abroad.

. . . .

Back when she was an assistant secretary of state during the Clinton administration, she appalled colleagues by flipping her middle finger at Richard Holbrooke during a meeting with senior staff at the State Department, according to witnesses. Colleagues talk of shouting matches and insults."

Rice is not fit to continue in her current role as America's UN ambassador, let alone assume the mantle of Secretary of State; however, sacking her would give lie to claims regarding the brilliance of Obama's foreign policy record.

Is Rice cooked? My question is whether she is even half-baked.

"Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination," "I’m Losing Hope for a Peaceful Israel" and "Trapped in Gaza": More Imbalance From The New York Times

In today's New York Times we are confronted with three guest op-eds, all opposing Israel's decision to assassinate Ahmad Jabari and strike against Hamas's missile arsenals: "Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/israels-shortsighted-assassination.html), "I’m Losing Hope for a Peaceful Israel" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/hope-for-a-peaceful-israel-dwindles.html?_r=0), and "Trapped in Gaza" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/17/opinion/trapped-in-gaza.html).

"Israel’s Shortsighted Assassination" acknowledges that "No government can tolerate having its civilian population attacked by rockets from a neighboring territory," but concludes that Jabari's targeted killing eliminated "the possibility of a long-term cease-fire" which the author was seeking to negotiate. (Incidentally, the author of this piece is "planning another speaking tour across the United States" (http://gershonbaskin.com/) and should be contacted directly "For information on fees and scheduling.")

In "I’m Losing Hope for a Peaceful Israel," the author condemns "Israel’s current leaders for failing to recognize that the best defense is peace," and after 15 years living in Israel, she tells us:

"I think of leaving. It’s not the missiles that are breaking me. It’s the lack of an alternative to them."

If the author is expecting peace in the short-term, I think she should indeed pack her bags. Iran is threatening Israel with annihilation almost daily, and Hezbollah, Iran's Lebanese surrogate, has more than 50,000 missiles pointed at Israel. (We're in for a rocky ride, but note how Shiite Hezbollah has refused to come to the assistance of Sunni Hamas.)

In "Trapped in Gaza," the author admits that "So far, in the war that began on Wednesday, only a handful of children and teenagers have died," before concluding:

"Each day here lays bare the ugliness of war, and for my siblings and me, each scene of our movie starts the same: we are trapped."

There is no mention by the author of this opinion piece of the hundreds of missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and cities, i.e. each and every missile a war crime, or Israeli civilian dead and wounded.

Needless to say, there is no New York Times guest opinion piece informing us that Israel was left with no choice other than to attack Gazas' terror infrastructure, which targets Israeli civilians. You want balance from Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of the Times? No way.

Just a quick reminder to my friend Andy: The Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis. Moreover, when people specifically inform me that they intend to kill Jews, I believe them.

Negotiate a so-called "long-term" ceasefire with Hamas, while allowing them to continue building their arsenal of Fajr missiles from Iran, capable of striking Tel Aviv and Jerusalem? No thank you.

No hope for a peaceful Israel? Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered Arafat and Abbas an independent state along the 1967 lines with agreed upon land swaps, and Olmert even offered Palestinian control of east Jerusalem. Arafat and Abbas refused. Abbas might now be telling the Israeli public that he is again prepared to pursue peace talks, but I will never forget how he told Jackson Diehl of The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/05/28/AR2009052803614.html) in May 2009 that he was in no hurry to make peace:

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

Abbas will wait until Hamas accepts international commitments? He might just as well wait until hell freezes over.

And as far as being "trapped in Gaza," I wonder why the author didn't write an opinion piece decrying Hamas mortar, rocket and missile fire at innocent Israeli civilians prior to today. In January 2006 Gaza's electorate brought Hamas to power. They knew that Hamas called for the murder of all Jews, and they knew that Hamas rejected any binding peace treaty with Israel. Yes, sometimes we pay a price for our foolish decisions, and by voting for Hamas, the inhabitants of Gaza should have known that they had ensnared themselves in a never ending spiral of violence.

Friday, November 16, 2012

A Personal Invitation to President Obama: Visit Israel Now

Dear President Obama,

Prior to the election, your campaign team let it be known that there had never been a president more friendly to Israel than you. Well, you never got around to coming to Tel Aviv and Jerusalem during your first term, so I'm inviting you to visit now. What better way to bury the hatchet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Yes, I know: Several Fajr missiles have been fired from Gaza at both these cities, but you'll be kept safe.

And if you can't come now, how about just telling the world that the more than 500 rockets and missiles fired from Gaza at Israeli towns and cities since Wednesday constitute a war crime. You can be the first Western leader to tell it like it is.

Looking forward to having a beer with you in the coming days. (I don't drink "lite.")

Best wishes,
Jeffrey

Thursday, November 15, 2012

David Brooks, "The Age of Possibility": Or a Brave New Narcissistic World?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Age of Possibility" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/16/opinion/brooks-the-age-of-possibility.html?_r=0), David Brooks observes:

"The number of Americans who are living alone has shot up from 9 percent in 1950 to 28 percent today. In 1990, 65 percent of Americans said that children are very important to a successful marriage. Now, only 41 percent of Americans say they believe that. There are now more American houses with dogs than with children."

As someone with both children and a dog, I can tell you that both are demanding, but obviously, the requirements of Arnold, our Anatolian mountain dog, are far less time consuming than those of Michael, Barr and Teddy. My children? They are a constant source of worry and also a perpetual fount of love. My life would not be complete without them. When I pass out of this world, I am convinced that their relationships with those around them will continue to be characterized by empathy and caring.

Brooks continues:

"But the two-parent family is obviously not the only way people bind themselves. We are inevitably entering a world in which more people search for different ways to attach. Before jumping to the conclusion that the world is going to hell, it’s probably a good idea to investigate these emerging commitment devices.

The problem is not necessarily a changing family structure. It’s people who go through adulthood perpetually trying to keep their options open."

Yes, children place severe constraints upon "options." When children come into the world, it's no longer only about "you."

Will birth rates continue to decline? I am convinced of that, as we continue to metamorphose into a world governed by the dictates of self-gratification.

The age of "possiblity" or the age of narcissism, in which our politicians and pop stars serve as role models?

Sorry, David, but the world is indeed going to hell.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

New York Times Editorial, "Another Israel-Gaza War?": Yes, They Are Myopic Naifs at the Times

In an editiorial entitled "Another Israel-Gaza War?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/15/opinion/another-israel-gaza-war.html?_r=0), The New York Times opines:

"Israel has a right to defend itself, but it’s hard to see how Wednesday’s operation could be the most effective way of advancing its long-term interests. It has provoked new waves of condemnation against Israel in Arab countries, including Egypt, whose cooperation is needed to enforce the 1979 peace treaty and support stability in Sinai."

"Hard to see" how Wednesday’s operation advanced Israel's long-term interests? The members of the editorial board of the Times, writing from their Manhattan aeries, truly are myopic naifs, incapable of comprehending the existential threat facing Israel.

Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense caught Hamas with its pants down and achieved both tactical surpise and strategic success.

Over the past month, more than a hundred rockets and missiles were fired from Gaza into towns and cities in southern Israel (more than 800 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel in 2012). In addition, an anti-tank missile was fired across the border at an Israeli jeep, injuring four soldiers, and prior to that, an explosion along the border fence had cost an Israeli officer his hand.

At first, Israel's response appeared along the lines of "more of the same": less than punishing air operations against suspected Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets, which ended when Egyptian President Morsi appeared to have brought about a tacit ceasefire. Satisfied that it had achieved its goal of ongoing provocation without sustaining meaningful retaliation, Hamas dropped its guard. And then . . .

Yesterday, Israel began Operation Pillar of Defense by killing Achmad Jabari from the air. Jabari was the functional head of Hamas's military wing and had been responsible for the kidnapping of Gilad Shalit.



Next, Israel destroyed Hamas's hidden arsenal of Fajr missiles from Iran, never used, but capable of hitting Tel Aviv. The elimination of this threat was a major Israeli intelligence coup, even more so than the assassination of Jabari.



Overnight, the Israeli air force and navy continued to strike missile arsenals, and a vastly improved Israeli Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted some 80 rockets and missiles fired at Ashdod, Beersheva and other Israeli cities.

In terms of strategic success, which has gone unnoticed by the press, Israel has been facing a three-front war involving the threat of missiles from Gaza, Lebanon and Iran. Had hostilities begun involving Hezbollah in Lebanon and/or Iran, Hamas would have let fly its Fajrs at Tel Aviv. However, as of last night, given the difficulty posed to Hamas of replenishing this "treasured" arsenal, Israel has neutralized, at least for the medium-term, this headache.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Obama’s Nightmare": A Recipe for Disaster

In the words of Gomer Pyle, "Surprise, surprise, surprise!" Would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman is back to spewing rubbish. In an op-ed entitled "Obama’s Nightmare" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/opinion/friedman-obamas-nightmare.html?_r=0), Friedman concludes:

"It’s a real long shot, but we should keep trying to work with Russia — Syria’s lawyer — to see if together we can broker a power-sharing deal inside Syria and a United Nations-led multinational force to oversee it. Otherwise, this fire will rage on and spread, as the acid from the Shiite-Sunni conflict eats away at the bonds holding the Middle East together and standing between this region and chaos."

"A real long shot"? You don't say. Consider:

  • Putin is openly contemptuous of Obama, whom he considers impotent and effete.
  • Obama spent much of his first term courting Syrian tyrant Bashar al-Assad and repeatedly sent Senator John Kerry to befriend this mass murderer, thereby alienating Syria's Sunnis.
  • In 2011, in the midst of the Sunni uprising, Hillary Clinton took it upon herself to declare that "many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe [Assad is] a reformer” (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/fact-checker/post/hillary-clintons-uncredible-statement-on-syria/2011/04/01/AFWPEYaC_blog.html), thereby further eroding Obama's credibility amongst rebel forces.
  • No one will be willing to contribute troops to a multinational force intended to oversee a power-sharing deal in Syria, given that these troops will be subjected to a steady stream of casualties from Iranian and al-Qaeda backed guerrillas. This is particularly true at a time when the US and its NATO allies are withdrawing forces from an ill-fated engagement in Afghanistan.
Needless to say, no consideration is given by Friedman to the need to establish an independent nation for the some 30 million oppressed Kurds living in Syria, Iran, Iraq and Turkey, who comprise the world's largest ethnic group without their own state, and who have been historically friendly to the US.

Then, too, the fall of Assad will sever Iran's supply route to Hezbollah in Lebanon and shatter Iran's dream of hegemony over the Middle East.

Assad's demise is fraught with danger, particularly given massive Syrian stockpiles of chemical weapons, which could fall into the hands of al-Qaeda or Hezbollah. However, American ground involvement in Syria is not an option.

"Obama's nightmare"? It's in no small part of his own making.




Maureen Dowd, "Reputation, Reputation, Reputation": The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Yesterday, New York Times columnist Frank Bruni rushed to the defense of Paula Broadwell, asserting that "it's the women in these situations who are often subjected to a more vigorous public shaming — and assigned greater responsibility" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/frank-bruni-siren-and-spook-i-could.html). Today, we have New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd telling us that General Petraeus, "[a]ccustomed to being a demigod, expert at polishing his own celebrity and swaying public opinion," was responsible for Obama's escalation of US ground involvement in Afghanistan.

In her latest Times op-ed entitled "Reputation, Reputation, Reputation" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/14/opinion/dowd-reputation-reputation-reputation.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd concludes:

"Petraeus rolled the younger commander in chief into going ahead with a bound-to-fail surge in Afghanistan, just as, half-a-century earlier, the C.I.A. had rolled Jack Kennedy into going ahead with the bound-to-fail Bay of Pigs scheme. Both missions defied logic, but the untested presidents put aside their own doubts and instincts, caving to experience.

. . . .

So many more American kids and Afghanistan civilians were killed and maimed in a war that went on too long. That’s the real scandal."

Those who read this blog know that I have consistently opposed America's disastrous war in Afghanistan. But to now lay the blame on Petraeus for Obama's plodding decision, taken after many months of procrastination, to expand the fighting while at the same time providing the Taliban with a timetable for withdrawal? This was the fecklessness and fatuousness of an egoistic president attempting to show he could also be tough at the cost of thousands of dead and $6 billion per month. Sorry, Maureen, but there can be no shifting the blame.

Peculiar how the Queen of Snark, who in 2009 "inadvertently" lifted language from another writer, is now happy to snicker at the misfortune of Petraeus. Go ahead and laugh, Maureen, but this man spent a lifetime serving his country to the best of his ability.

Also peculiar how Dowd, so titillated by the downfall of Petraeus, has refused to acknowledge in her columns the depravity of the Obama administration's response to what occurred in Benghazi.

At a time when America is witnessing the resurrection of al-Qaeda, is facing imminent confrontation with Iran's crazy mullahs owing to Obama's impotence, and is so desperately in need of a strategy to prevent Syria's chemical weapon stockpiles from finding their way into the hands of terrorists across the globe, David Petraeus will be sorely missed.

Frank Bruni, "The Siren and the Spook": I Could Tell You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You

To the best of my knowledge, there was not a single New York Times op-ed columnist willing to opine upon the events in Benghazi prior to the election. Frank Bruni is the first Times columnist willing to discuss the Petraeus scandal.

In a provocative op-ed entitled "The Siren and the Spook" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/13/opinion/bruni-the-siren-and-the-spook.html?_r=0), Bruni first observes why men who have soared into the stratosphere are so often tempted to engage in extramarital affairs:

"Sure, the spotlight these men have attracted and the altitude they’ve reached should, theoretically, give them greater pause. But they’ve either become accustomed to or outright sought a kind of adulation in the public arena that probably isn’t mirrored in their marriages. A spouse is unlikely to provide it. A spouse knows you too well for that, and gives you something deeper, truer and so much less electric."

Bruni then makes the point that Paula Broadwell is taking too much of the blame for Petraeus's downfall:

"And yet it’s the women in these situations who are often subjected to a more vigorous public shaming — and assigned greater responsibility."

My thoughts? First, I have never, ever, had anything to do with information gathering. Hey, stop snickering. Three rules of thumb: If someone says they are a spy, they're not. However, if someone says they are not a spy, that doesn't mean that they are.

I repeat, I have never, ever, had anything to do with information gathering.

Oh, I almost forgot, that third rule of thumb: Spies are professional liars.

Having finished with the caveats, now back to Bruni's op-ed. In my current line of business, I don't assign blame. I find solutions.

In the instance of Petraeus, my belief, from the little that I know, is that there was no solution. Petraeus screwed up and needed to resign. You see, when you enter the world of intelligence, you will inevitably be confronted with a host of temptations, including sex and money. However, before taking the vows, you must be resigned to a life of chastity (or at least fidelity to your wife or husband), poverty and obedience, otherwise, catastrophe is awaiting you. Passionate lounging with a bevy of beautiful sirens occurs only in James Bond movies.

In politics, you can get away with screwing around. In fact, it has almost become the norm. Not so in intelligence.

The full story involving Petraeus and Broadwell? Bruni doesn't know it, and it has yet to be revealed. With a little luck, it will never be revealed. However, Broadwell should never have had access to Petraeus's e-mails.

Meanwhile, this business is continuing to "evolve." As just reported by Reuters (http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/11/13/us-usa-petraeus-investigation-idUSBRE8AC05Z20121113):

"The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, General John Allen, is under investigation for alleged inappropriate communication with a woman at the center of the scandal involving former CIA Director David Petraeus, a senior U.S. defense official said on Tuesday.

. . . .

The U.S. official said the FBI uncovered between 20,000 and 30,000 pages of communications - mostly emails and spanning from 2010 to 2012 - between Allen and Jill Kelley, who has been identified as a long-time friend of the Petraeus family and a Tampa, Florida, volunteer social liaison with military families at MacDill Air Force Base."

Demoralizing and depressing. I have only compassion for these men and women, who are only human, and particularly for their hurting families.

C'est tout.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Paul Krugman, "Hawks and Hypocrites": A Great Idea for Getting Even With Your Children

From Paul Krugman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hawks and Hypocrites" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/12/opinion/krugman-hawks-and-hypocrites.html):

"Contrary to the way it’s often portrayed, the looming prospect of spending cuts and tax increases isn’t a fiscal crisis. It is, instead, a political crisis brought on by the G.O.P.’s attempt to take the economy hostage. And just to be clear, the danger for next year is not that the deficit will be too large but that it will be too small, and hence plunge America back into recession."

My goodness, those nasty Republicans are still up to their tricks. Let's get even by allowing the federal government to orchestrate a few more Solyndras.

But what does the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office have to say about this? Simple (http://www.cbo.gov/publication/43539):

"For fiscal year 2012 (which ends on September 30), the federal budget deficit will total $1.1 trillion, CBO estimates, marking the fourth year in a row with a deficit of more than $1 trillion. That projection is down slightly from the $1.2 trillion deficit that CBO projected in March. At 7.3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), this year’s deficit will be three-quarters as large as the deficit in 2009 when measured relative to the size of the economy. Federal debt held by the public will reach 73 percent of GDP by the end of this fiscal year—the highest level since 1950 and about twice the share that it measured at the end of 2007, before the financial crisis and recent recession."

Or in plain English, US current-dollar GDP of some $15.8 trillion is less than US federal debt, which is in excess of $16 trillion. If the federal government increases spending, the only way it will ever be able to return its debt is by printing money, and this is not a bad idea if you are intent upon getting even with your children.

Thomas Friedman, "My President Is Busy": Let the Israel Bashing Begin

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "My President Is Busy" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/friedman-president-obama-is-busy.html?_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman (he actually knows quite a bit about "rugs") writes from his Maryland mansion:

"Israeli friends have been asking me whether a re-elected President Obama will take revenge on Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for the way he and Sheldon Adelson, his foolhardy financier, openly backed Mitt Romney. My answer to Israelis is this: You should be so lucky.

You should be so lucky that the president feels he has the time, energy and political capital to spend wrestling with Bibi to forge a peace between Israelis and Palestinians."

"Wrestling with Bibi to forge a peace between Israelis and Palestinians"? Peculiar. In November 2009, Netanyahu acceded to Obama's request for a 10-month freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank. The Palestinians ignored the gesture.

To anchor his claims of Israeli obstinacy, Friedman quotes Israeli columnist Ari Shavit from Israel's struggling leftist newspaper, Haaretz:

"In the past, both the Zionist movement and the Jewish state were careful to be identified with the progressive forces in the world. ... But in recent decades more and more Israelis took to leaning on the reactionary forces in American society."

Oh really? Those nasty Israelis are leaning on "reactionary" Republican forces? As determined by Gallup earlier this year, a majority of Republicans, independents, and Democrats all view Israel favorably (http://www.gallup.com/poll/153092/americans-continue-tilt-pro-israel.aspx).

So what goes missing in Tom's renewed broadside against Israel?

  • No mention by Friedman that almost a day doesn't go by without Iran threatening Israel with extinction.

  • No mention by Friedman of the 50,000+ missiles being pointed by Hezbollah, Iran's surrogate in Lebanon, at Israel.

  • No mention by Friedman of the quandary posed by massive stockpiles of chemical weapons amassed by the Assad regime in Syria. Also no mention that for the first time since 1973, mortar rounds have been fired from Syria into the Golan over recent days (see: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=291326).

  • No mention by Friedman of recent attacks by Jihadists against civilian targets on Israel's border with Egypt.

  • And of course, no mention by Friedman of the anti-tank missile fired yesterday from Gaza at an Israeli jeep and the subsequent missile and rocket bombardment of towns and cities in southern Israel (see: http://www.jpost.com/Defense/Article.aspx?id=291300).

Friedman concludes his opinion piece by observing:

"Don’t count on America to ride to the rescue. It has to start with you.

My president is busy."

Apparently unbeknownst to Friedman, Israel is fighting to stay alive in extremely difficult times, and long ago Israelis learned that they must rely on themselves and ignore bombastic journalists involving matters of self-preservation.



Saturday, November 10, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "Romney Is President": Only Half the Picture

I am pro-choice. Always was, always will be. I found the comments of Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock to be abhorrent and loathsome.

On the other hand, I am also "pro-marriage," and this includes gay marriage. As noted earlier this year in a New York Times article entitled "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/us/for-women-under-30-most-births-occur-outside-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) by Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, "more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage." As further observed by this article:

"The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems."

These statistics concerning unwed births necessarily tie into unemployment, crime and America's national debt. Much akin to the trend in national debt, this trend involving unwed births is unsustainable.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Romney Is President" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/11/opinion/sunday/dowd-romney-is-president.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd states:

"In its delusional death spiral, the white male patriarchy was so hard core, so redolent of country clubs and Cadillacs, it made little effort not to alienate women. The election had the largest gender gap in the history of the Gallup poll, with Obama winning the vote of single women by 36 percentage points."

However, Dowd fails to observe that 53% of married women voted for Romney (see: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-20231337).

So why the difference between single women and married women? Are single women so much smarter than married women? I don't think so, but please don't go asking my wife, who has had to suffer my tomfoolery for almost 30 years.

A delusional death spiral involving white male patriarchy? Well, this would not be my choice of words, and I think Dowd has gotten it only half right. As reported by USA Today in May of this year (http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/story/2012-05-17/minority-births-census/55029100/1):

"Hispanics, blacks, Asians and other minorities in 2011 accounted for 50.4% of births, 49.7% of all children under 5 and slightly more than half of the 4 million kids under 1, the Census Bureau reports today."

Or in other words, an entirely different electorate is taking shape in the United States. The relative number of white voters will decline; however, I doubt that issues involving gender will heavily influence future elections.

Are Republicans so out of tune with this ongoing metamorphosis? I suggest that Maureen ask Susana Martinez, Bobby Jindal and Marco Rubio.

Like Dowd, am I pleased by the outcome of this election? Hardly. Two narcissists spent billions of campaign dollars without advancing a concrete plan how to remedy the American economy. Neither man addressed America's involvement in Afghanistan. Neither man was willing to oppose without qualification the sale of assault rifles.

America is in an uncontrolled economic tailspin, and this election represented a travesty and tragedy of unimagined proportions. Short-term pleasure continues to come at the expense of long-term benefits. I want to be surprised, but I don't see Obama, who lacks leadership and managerial qualities, avoiding an inevitable crash.

Hurricane Sandy: What Went Unreported on Long Island

Yes, we will all remember President Obama's marvelous photo op in New Jersey with Governor Chris Christie immediately following the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Sandy. However, much of the suffering and chaos, including theft of generators and robbery, went unreported.

I received the following e-mail from my best friend, who lives on Long Island, concerning his efforts to keep his sickly 90-year-old mother alive:

"Finally got my power back yesterday [after 12 days without electricity]. Wasn't easy keeping my mother here at the house. Relied on a one burner butane stove to keep a bit of heat in her room. A friend gave me the stove and was an angel in getting cans of fuel.

At one point however,I was down to just a few cans, so went out to investigate shelters for the elderly with needs.

The Red Cross shelter at the local high school didn't know where they were, but they did exist, I was told. She made calls on my behalf, but only got recordings or unanswered phones.

I asked two cops sitting in a car. Their response: "We're not given that information. Call the precinct." Great advice if you happen to have a working phone - I did not. Cell service was virtually nonexistent as well.(I finally did get a call in. A recording to "call later'.)

I stopped at the Ambulance Rescue Squad. "We don't know about the shelters." Told them I would need them to transport, so they should know where to take her, but was told to call the police.

Finally got through to the town hotline. "Yes, we have four sanctuaries for the elderly." Where are they, I ask. "We don't have that information."


Friday, November 9, 2012

Popping Up Like Mushrooms Along the Roadside: A New Israeli Billboard


Were you disturbed by the level of the US elections?

The advertisement above, which now appears on billboards across Israel, is encaptioned:

Bibi Will Entangle Us.


Kadima

According to a recent poll conducted by Dialog for Haaretz, Kadima, which currently has 28 members of parliament, the highest number of any Israeli political party, is  expected to receive only seven seats in the January elections, whereas a Netanyahu-led right wing-religious bloc will garner a significant majority (see: http://www.timesofisrael.com/polls-show-netanyahu-far-ahead-with-livni-edging-olmert-in-the-trailing-field/).

Surprisingly, Israelis, who have gotten used to living under a cloud, nuclear or otherwise, do not seem terribly perturbed by this campaign slogan and the accompanying picture.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

David Brooks, "The Party of Work," Versus Charles Krauthammer, "The Way Forward": The Post Mortem

Yes, America's Republican Party has a problem with minorities. In this week's presidential election, African-Americans voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of more than nine to one, Hispanics voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of more than seven to one, and Asian-Americans voted for Obama over Romney by a margin of three to one.

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "The way forward" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/charles-krauthammer-the-way-forward/2012/11/08/6592e302-29d8-11e2-96b6-8e6a7524553f_story.html?hpid=z2), Charles Krauthammer postulates that the Republican Party must make overtures to the pro-life Latino population by advocating "full legal normalization (just short of citizenship) in return for full border enforcement."

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Party of Work" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/09/opinion/brooks-the-party-of-work.html?_r=0), David Brooks takes issue with Krauthammer's thesis:

"Some Republicans argue that they can win over these rising groups with a better immigration policy. That’s necessary but insufficient. The real problem is economic values."

Brooks concludes by recommending to Republicans:

"Let Democrats be the party of security, defending the 20th-century welfare state. Be the party that celebrates work and inflames enterprise. Use any tool, public or private, to help people transform their lives."

And what are the thoughts of pro-choice/pro-work Jeffrey, who is taking a break from digging a moat around his house in order to write this blog entry?

"Be the party that celebrates work"? Ah yes, a "work party." Somethin akin to Maureen Dowd's "inspiring politician" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/11/maureen-dowd-loin-king-all-out-of-love.html). Yet another newfangled oxymoron.

Yup, you guessed it: I'm not to keen on narcissistic politicians or political parties.

But more to the point, my outlook is far more gloomy than that of Krauthammer or Brooks. With more than $16 trillion in federal debt and the number expanding by the second, I don't foresee a full US economic recovery during or following a second Obama term in office. America's credit rating will again be downgraded, and its goose will ultimately be cooked.

So why did minorities vote for Obama in these proportions? My answer: Sometimes we act upon short-term pleasure at the expense of long-term benefits. As Dan Ariely wrote in his 2010 book, "The Upside of Irrationality":

"Sadly, most of us often prefer immediately gratifying short-term experinces over our long-term objectives. We routinely behave as if sometime in the future, we will have more time, more money, and feel less tired or stressed."

Well, not me. I see the "downside" of irrationality, and notwithstanding a terrible head cold, I continue to excavate my moat and examine pictures of mail-order crocodiles as I prepare for my future life as a hunter-gatherer.



Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Hope and Change: Part Two": Sequels to Rotten Films Aren't Worth Watching

Do you like movies? I do. Ordinarily, sequels are not nearly as good as the original flicks. Sequels to rotten films are inevitably not worth watching.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Hope and Change: Part Two" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/07/opinion/friedman-hope-and-change-part-two.html?_r=0), Thomas Friedman gloats:

"No one can know for sure what complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama’s way, but here’s my guess: In the end, it came down to a majority of Americans believing that whatever his faults, Obama was trying his hardest to fix what ails the country and that he had to do it with a Republican Party that, in its gut, did not want to meet him halfway but wanted him to fail — so that it could swoop in and pick up the pieces."

"Complex emotional chemistry tipped this election Obama's way"? No way. We're back to "Hope" and "Change"? I don't know about "Hope," but America is certainly changing.

As noted earlier this year in a New York Times article entitled "For Women Under 30, Most Births Occur Outside Marriage" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/18/us/for-women-under-30-most-births-occur-outside-marriage.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0) by Jason DeParle and Sabrina Tavernise, "more than half of births to American women under 30 occur outside marriage." As further observed by this article:

"The shift is affecting children’s lives. Researchers have consistently found that children born outside marriage face elevated risks of falling into poverty, failing in school or suffering emotional and behavioral problems."

These statistics concerning unwed births necessarily tie into unemployment, crime and America's national debt. Much akin to the trend in national debt, this trend involving unwed births is unsustainable.

When I have spoken with Obama supporters in the past, they have inevitably claimed that Obama has surely learned from mistakes during his first term as president. I have my doubts.

I can only "hope" that Obama continues to steer a relatively moderate path, and, freed of the constraints of re-election, does not return to his leftist roots, which could cripple a deeply divided America financially and emotionally.

Valerie Jarrett Managing Secret US Negotiations With Iran? This Is the End

I was horrified when the Obama administration allowed Catherine Ashton, an imbecile with a BSc degree in sociology and a life-sized Dalek (a fictional race of extraterrestrial mutants from the British science fiction television series "Doctor Who") in her sitting room (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2009/12/catherine-ashton-hideous-baroness-of.html), to manage the P5+1 negotiations with Iran.

I was horrified when the Obama administration appointed Thomas Pickering, once listed as an "expert" by the Campaign for New American Policy on Iran, to "investigate" the Benghazi cover-up (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/10/thomas-pickering-is-heading-benghazi.html).

And now I am horrifed to learn that Valerie Jarrett was given the nod by Obama to conduct secret negotiations with Iran concerning its nuclear weapons development program (see: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4301368,00.html). Jarrett's qualifications? None, other than her intimate friendship with Barack and Michelle.

In the words of The Doors:

This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end

Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again

Monday, November 5, 2012

David Brooks, "The Heart Grows Smarter": Digging My Moat and Populating It With Crocodiles

How remarkable that a leading United States columnist has chosen to ignore the presidential election on election day.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Heart Grows Smarter" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/06/opinion/brooks-the-heart-grows-smarter.html?_r=0), David Brooks contemplates the significance of men’s relationships. Brooks observes that the Grant Study, which, beginning in 1938, tracked the lives of 268 male Harvard students, determined that "It was the capacity for intimate relationships that predicted flourishing in all aspects of these men’s lives.” Brooks writes of the study:

"In case after case, the magic formula is capacity for intimacy combined with persistence, discipline, order and dependability. The men who could be affectionate about people and organized about things had very enjoyable lives."

Moreover, the effect of intimacy had a direct impact upon longevity:

"Of the 31 men in the study incapable of establishing intimate bonds, only four are still alive. Of those who were better at forming relationships, more than a third are living."

Me? Sorry to hark back to the presidential election; however, it has convinced me to intensify my efforts at digging a moat around my home and populating it with crocodiles.

Last night, I ate two different flavors of ice cream and read from three different books before taking Arnold, our Anatolian shepherd, for a customary 3 a.m. walk under the silent stars. How's that for "flourishing"?

Longevity be damned.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Paul Krugman, "Sandy Versus Katrina": Government Should Provide Aid in Times of Crisis . . . Except When a Consulate Is Under Siege

In case you didn't notice, Paul Krugman - as well as fellow New York Times columnists Maureen Dowd, Thomas Friedman, Nicholas Kristof and even David Brooks - have refused to discuss what happened in Benghazi.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Sandy Versus Katrina" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/05/opinion/krugman-sandy-versus-katrina.html), Krugman writes:

"For the response to Sandy, like the success of the auto bailout, is a demonstration that Mr. Obama’s philosophy of government — which holds that the government can and should provide crucial aid in times of crisis — works."

Yeah, right. The federal government under Obama "can and should provide crucial aid in times of crisis," except when Americans are under siege overseas and an immediate decision is demanded by the Commander-in-Chief.

C'est tout.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Maureen Dowd, "The Loin King": All Out of Love

I don't like politicians. Apart from one former US congressman with whom I have remained friends for several decades, I have avoided contact with them. Lying is second nature to those engaged in this profession, which is characterized by the implacable pursuit of self-interest and self-gratification. A willingness to sacrifice for the greater good? Yeah, right. Whatever I have to give, they will greedily consume, given the narcissistic personality disorders which come with the territory.

Musing on the attributes of America's 2012 presidential candidates, Maureen Dowd writes in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Loin King" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/04/opinion/sunday/dowd-the-loin-king.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0):

"Two uninspiring candidates, one Americans had fallen out of love with, one they could not fall in love with, one who had lost his narrative, one who offered a narrative with Janus faces and contradictory and occluded positions."

An "inspiring politician"? Is this some sort of newfangled oxymoron?

More to the point, I'm tired, disillusioned and all out of love for politics and politicians, who are consumed with self-admiration. Instead, my prayers go to the families who lost their loved ones in Benghazi, after they were denied protection by their government. My condolences go to those who have lost sons and daughters in an inane US involvement in Afghanistan, a topic which has been studiously avoided by both Obama and Romney. My sympathy goes to those whose kin have fallen victim to indiscriminate attacks involving assault rifles, the sale of which neither party is willing to ban. And my commiseration goes to those whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy, who have now also been forced to endure the empty promises of a parade of elected officials.

Dowd concludes her opinion piece by asking:

"Has President Spock, who bounded into action on Sandy and rocked a New Jersey woman in his arms, really grown? Or is he giving us what we want for the moment so we’ll give him what he wants for the next four years?"

Be real, Maureen. Narcissists don't "grow." They reject criticism, take advantage of others, dwell on feelings of self-importance, exaggerate achievements, demand constant admiration, and disregard others while pursuing selfish goals (see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001930/).

You know a photo op when you see one.