Follow by Email

Thursday, January 31, 2013

David Brooks, "The Easy Problem," Versus Paul Krugman, "Looking for Mister Goodpain": I Prefer Immigration

David Brooks and Paul Krugman are again at odds on the op-ed page of The New York Times.

In his latest Times op-ed entitled "The Easy Problem" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/brooks-the-easy-problem.html), Brooks persuasively makes the case for immigration:

"Increased immigration would boost the U.S. economy. Immigrants are 30 percent more likely to start new businesses than native-born Americans, according to a research summary by Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of The Hamilton Project. They are more likely to earn patents. A quarter of new high-tech companies with more than $1 million in sales were also founded by the foreign-born.

. . . .

Immigrants, both legal and illegal, do not drain the federal budget. It’s true that states and localities have to spend money to educate them when they are children, but, over the course of their lives, they pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits. Furthermore, according to the Congressional Budget Office, giving the current illegals a path to citizenship would increase the taxes they pay by $48 billion and increase the cost of public services they use by $23 billion, thereby producing a surplus of $25 billion."

Could relaxed immigration laws reinvigorate the American economy, or is it already terminally ill? I would certainly give it the chance that it deserves.

Krugman, on the other hand, in his latest Times op-ed entitled "Looking for Mister Goodpain" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/krugman-looking-for-mister-goodpain.html), continues to demand (yawn) that the US spend its way out of the recession:

"So what do we learn from the rather pathetic search for austerity success stories? We learn that the doctrine that has dominated elite economic discourse for the past three years is wrong on all fronts."

Excuse me, but where do we find any economic success stories during this cold winter, premised upon either austerity or spending? Me? I believe in the words of Chance the Gardener in "Being There":

"In the garden, growth has it seasons. First comes spring and summer, but then we have fall and winter. And then we get spring and summer again."

Yes, after the winter comes the spring, provided we don't spread too much fertilizer, i.e. spend, spend and spend, and kill all the roots.

Thank you, Paul, but I think I'll side with David on this one.

New York Times Editorial, "A Confirmation Ordeal": Observe Hagel's Freudian Slip

Acknowledging that "Hagel was disappointingly unsure of himself at times" during his confirmation hearing yesterday, a New York Times editorial (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/02/01/opinion/a-chuck-hagel-confirmation-ordeal.html?partner=rss&emc=rss&_r=0) cheerfully concludes that the Senate "should now confirm Mr. Hagel." Although the Times was disappointed that Hagel did not explain why he said "such ridiculous things about a gay ambassadorial candidate in 1998," the Times would have us believe that Hagel is firmly opposed to allowing Iran to build its first atomic weapon:

"Mr. Hagel repeatedly proclaimed support for Israel, and he firmly agreed with Mr. Obama’s policy that Iran’s nuclear program must be prevented, not contained. But no explanation by Mr. Hagel was ever enough for his camera-concscious [sic] critics."

Oh, really?

"Disappointingly unsure of himself" or simply frightening? If Kennedy surrounded himself with the "best and the brightest," it would appear that Obama is taking on the "worst and the dumbest." Camelot it isn't.

Chuck Hagel at Senate Confirmation Hearings: Iran Has an "Elected Legitimate Government"

During his Senate confirmation hearings, Chuck Hagel was today asked by Senator Jim Inhofe why Iran supports his appointment as US secretary of defense. Hagel responded, "I have no idea":

Hagel is a naif or a liar. In response to a question from Senator Saxby Chambliss, Hagel responded that Iran has an "elected legitimate government."

An "elected legitimate government"? A government that was "elected" in 2009 by way of massive voting fraud, which brought tens of thousands of protesters into the streets during the 2009 Green Revolution? These protesters were gunned down, imprisoned and tortured, while Obama sat in silence on the sidelines (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2011/04/obama-iran-and-twittergate-jaccuse.html).

And Hagel wonders why he has Iran's backing?

These confirmation hearings are fast becoming an embarrassment for the Obama administration.

Gail Collins, "Take a Bow, H.C.": Congratulations to Hillary on 570 Airplane Meals! It Shows!

My last transatlantic flight was pure hell. With no points left for an upgrade to business, I sat in the middle seat beside a person of significant girth which oozed over our mutual armrest. Worse still, during our turbulent voyage, I watched in pain as this man consumed every bit of trans fat and gooey sugar that he was offered by our stewardess. I long ago learned that airplane meals ("Chicken or beef?") are a ticket to an early grave and must be avoided whenever possible.

Gail Collins, in a fawning New York Times op-ed entitled "Take a Bow, H.C." (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/opinion/collins-take-a-bow-hc.html?_r=0), today marvels over the consumption of airplane meals by America's outgoing secretary of state:

"Friday is Hillary Clinton’s final day at the State Department. As we’ve all been reminded, over the past four years she’s traveled 956,733 miles to 112 different countries in order to conduct 1,700 meetings with world leaders. While consuming 570 airplane meals."

My goodness, 570 airplane meals? Indeed an accomplishment! And it shows!

But on the diplomatic front? Hillary and Obama are claiming "credit" for the transition from Mubarak to the "enlightened" (Jews are descended from pigs and apes) Muslim Brotherhood regime, as riots rage in Cairo and Egypt teeters on the brink (see: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/01/28/think_again_the_muslim_brotherhood_egypt?page=full&wp_login_redirect=0).

And then there was that pearl of wisdom from Hillary's lips concerning Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad:

“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.”

And let's not talk about Benghazi, and how she allowed Susan Rice to take all the heat.

Indeed, Hillary, take a deep bow, but given all those airplane meals, be careful not to fall again on your head.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Nicholas Kristof, "Meet the Champs": Nick Taking Leave Without Explaining His Filthy Retweet Concerning AIPAC

Why is Nicholas Kristof taking a leave of absence from his New York Times column?

In his latest Times op-ed entitled "Meet the Champs" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/31/opinion/kristof-chess-champs-and-charity.html?_r=0), Kristof tells us:


"This will be my last column for a number of months, as I’m taking a leave to work on a new book with my wife.

. . . .

The truth is that covering inequality, injustice and poverty can actually be inspiring and uplifting."

So, Kristof has decided to duck out without explaining his recent retweet of a message referring to AIPAC as one of "the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-retweets-obama-told-2.html).

Hey, Nick, if you care so much about "injustice," how about first explaining your retweet, before disappearing?

Who's Responsible for the Riots in Egypt? The Jews, of Course, Silly!

In case you were wondering who was responsible for the recent rioting in Egypt which has claimed more than 60 lives, Iran's Fars News Agency (http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107140242) has the answer:

"'The so-called Black Bloc group, Mossad and also the team of Dahi Khalfan, the police chief of Dubai, play the influential roles in creating chaos and unrests in Cairo,' Ebrahim al-Darawi, the director of Cairo's Palestine Studies Center, told FNA [Fars News Agency] on Wednesday.

He said that the newly-formed Black Bloc group persuades the Egyptian youth to stir chaos and embark on acts of sabotage by promising them better job opportunities.

Darawi referred to the UAE's opposition to Egypt's ruling system, and said, 'Dubai Police Chief Dahi Khalfan's team plays a major and influential role in supporting the plots hatched to create chaos and unrest in Cairo.'

He warned that the advocates of chaos in Egypt will stage street wars in the country in the future to topple President Mursi's government and empower the remnants of the former regime."

Yup, makes perfect sense. Those descendants of apes and pigs just can't stop making trouble!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "It’s P.Q. And C.Q. as Much as I.Q.": What Happens to "Losers" Who Refuse to Adapt?

Unlike a broken clock which is correct twice each day, Thomas Friedman is partially correct once in a blue moon.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "It’s P.Q. And C.Q. as Much as I.Q." (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/30/opinion/friedman-its-pq-and-cq-as-much-as-iq.html?_r=0), Friedman begins by giving himself a pat on the back:

"In 2004, I wrote a book, called 'The World Is Flat,' about how the world was getting digitally connected so more people could compete, connect and collaborate from anywhere. When I wrote that book, Facebook, Twitter, cloud computing, LinkedIn, 4G wireless, ultra-high-speed bandwidth, big data, Skype, system-on-a-chip (SOC) circuits, iPhones, iPods, iPads and cellphone apps didn’t exist, or were in their infancy."

Facebook? If there is anyone out there interested in seeing pictures of my vegetable garden or of Arnold, my 150-pound Anatolian Mountain Dog, please let me know. I don't think so, and this is why I cancelled my Facebook account. That, and the fact that I was down to three friends, one of whom was dead.

Twitter? I'm sure you'll be pleased to know that I just stepped out of the shower and am sipping coffee in my underwear as I type this blog entry. Yeah, I'm "hot," but no photographs please.

We live in an age of narcissism, and there are billions to be made catering to this personality disorder, which has become so prevalent and far-flung that it is being removed, as best I understand, from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

But back to Friedman's latest opinion piece, in which he concludes that we must all "adapt" to this new technology. How does Tom propose that we accomodate ourselves to these abrupt changes?:

"It will require more individual initiative. We know that it will be vital to have more of the 'right' education than less, that you will need to develop skills that are complementary to technology rather than ones that can be easily replaced by it and that we need everyone to be innovating new products and services to employ the people who are being liberated from routine work by automation and software. The winners won’t just be those with more I.Q. It will also be those with more P.Q. (passion quotient) and C.Q. (curiosity quotient) to leverage all the new digital tools to not just find a job, but to invent one or reinvent one, and to not just learn but to relearn for a lifetime. Government can and must help, but the president needs to explain that this won’t just be an era of 'Yes We Can.' It will also be an era of 'Yes You Can' and 'Yes You Must.'"

"Government can and must help"? Yeah, right. Surely you've heard the joke about the three greatest lies, which concludes with the punchline, "I'm from the government, and I'm here to help you."

Obama "needs to explain that this won't just be an era of 'Yes We Can'" but rather of "Yes You Can"? Sounds almost like Kennedy's "Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country." I repeat, almost. Never mind. I'll drag Obama away from his mirror and have it up on his teleprompter - yet another marvelous communications device in keeping with our Brave New World - later this morning.

And the tens of millions who can't adapt, even with help from the government? I know what happens to the "winners," but what happens to the "losers," who, unlike Arnold who is still a puppy, can't be taught new tricks? Or "losers" like me, who refuse to adapt and reinvent themselves?

I suppose there's always the vegetable garden.

Monday, January 28, 2013

David Brooks, "A Second G.O.P.": Republicans Cannot Win Without Reaching Out to Minorities

American demographics are changing. According to the last US census in 2010 (http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/00000.html), "black persons" or "Afro-Americans" totaled 13.1% of the population (compared with 12.3% in 2000 and 10% in 1990), and "persons of Hispanic or Latino origin" totaled 16.7% of the population (compared with 12.5% in 2000 and 9% in 1990). In the 2012 presidential election, Obama received 93% of the votes of blacks and 71% of the vote of Hispanics.

Bottom line: Unless the Republican Party is able to reach out to blacks and Hispanics and garner more of their votes, it is never going to win another presidential election.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "A Second G.O.P." (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/29/opinion/brooks-a-second-g-o-p.html?_r=0), David Brooks discusses the need of the Republican Party to reinvent itself. Brooks writes:

"Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. Since Barry Goldwater, the central Republican narrative has been what you might call the Encroachment Story: the core problem of American life is that voracious government has been steadily encroaching upon individuals and local communities. The core American conflict, in this view, is between Big Government and Personal Freedom."

This "narrative," however, no longer resonates with a majority of Americans. Even with the US economy shattered and all "Hope" abandoned by the Democrats, the Republicans still couldn't win, nor will they in the future without meaningful "Change."

Brooks states in his opinion piece, "In this reinvention process, Republicans seem to have spent no time talking to people who didn’t already vote for them." Indeed, it's time for the Republican Party to start talking with minorities and accounting for their needs and opinions, otherwise future generations of Americans will be talking about it in the same breath as the Whigs and the Know Nothing Party.

Was There an Explosion at Iran's Fordow Underground Nuclear Enrichment Facility?

There have been numerous reports of a massive explosion at Iran's Fordow underground nuclear enrichment facility. Needless to say, Iran is denying any such occurrence (see: http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107139719).

How can we know the truth? "Let's go to the videotape!" Or at least go to the satellite photographs.

Just by chance, the tunnel entrances have disappeared. Did they vanish owing to an explosion, or were they blocked to prevent the escape of nuclear radiation?

You're the expert, and I'll let you decide! How could I possibly know.

And just by chance, Israel recently moved two Iron Dome batteries to the Haifa region, not far from Lebanon, where Iran's surrogate, Hezbollah, holds sway (see: http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000817259&fid=1725). It had been speculated that the transfer of the units involved concern over the deteriorating situation in Syria. Go figure . . .

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Makers, Takers, Fakers": The New York Times Part of a "Captive Media" Conspiracy?

In case you didn't know, there's a conspiracy underfoot in the United States, threatening the very lifeblood of the republic. As stated by Paul Krugman in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Makers, Takers, Fakers" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/28/opinion/krugman-makers-takers-fakers-.html?_r=0), "even as Republicans look for a way to sound more sympathetic and less extreme, their actual policies are taking another sharp right turn." Why are the Republican engaging in this nefarious conduct? Krugman says that he has a partial answer:

"Well, I don’t have a full answer, but I think it’s important to understand the extent to which leading Republicans live in an intellectual bubble. They get their news from Fox and other captive media, they get their policy analysis from billionaire-financed right-wing think tanks, and they’re often blissfully unaware both of contrary evidence and of how their positions sound to outsiders.

So when Mr. Romney made his infamous '47 percent' remarks, he wasn’t, in his own mind, saying anything outrageous or even controversial. He was just repeating a view that has become increasingly dominant inside the right-wing bubble, namely that a large and ever-growing proportion of Americans won’t take responsibility for their own lives and are mooching off the hard-working wealthy. Rising unemployment claims demonstrate laziness, not lack of jobs; rising disability claims represent malingering, not the real health problems of an aging work force."

Ah, it's all the fault of Fox and the "captive media"! Those son of a guns!

But wait . . . Is it only Fox that is responsible for these capricious claims that "rising disability claims represent malingering, not the real health problems of an aging work force"?

Consider the investigation of Krugman's own newspaper concerning Long Island Rail Road retirees who possibly overcharged their employer in the amount of more than $1 billion for disability payments (http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/l/long_island_rail_road/index.html):

"In September 2008, The New York Times ran an investigation on former employees of the Long Island Rail Road. Drawing on government records and dozens of interviews, reporters found that nearly all retirees from this commuter rail service — the busiest in the nation, according to its Web site — were applying for and receiving federal disability payments.

The articles revealed that a web of doctors and facilitators were helping the workers file papers claiming they were disabled. The doctors ran what amounted to 'disability mills,' which prepared false medical assessments for the retirees to file with the Railroad Retirement Board. Facilitators were liaisons between the doctors and the workers."

Goodness gracious! The Times is also a part of this captive media conspiracy? Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nicholas Kristof, "She’s (Rarely) the Boss": Why Doesn't Nick Write About Anti-Semitism?

We have yet to hear an explanation from New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof concerning his recent retweet of a message referring to AIPAC as one of "the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-retweets-obama-told-2.html). Nor have we heard from Andrew Rosenthal, editorial page editor of the Times, concerning this matter. Nor have we heard from Margaret Sullivan, public editor of the Times.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "She’s (Rarely) the Boss" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/kristof-shes-rarely-the-boss.html?_r=0), Kristof bemoans the relatively small number of senior women executives in the workplace. Fortunately for the companies that I advise, this is not the case.

But as long as we're on the topic of discrimination, why hasn't Kristof written an opinion piece concerning anti-Semitism in Iran, in Egypt, or - closer to home - at The New York Times? If you need background material, Nick, I'll be delighted to supply it.

Thomas Friedman, "Revolution Hits the Universities": Meet Layla, Who Underwent Female Genital Mutilation

It never fails to amaze me how Thomas Friedman can spew bunkum twice weekly, 52 weeks each year, over the op-ed page of The New York Times. This is a rare talent.

In his latest Times op-ed entitled "Revolution Hits the Universities" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/27/opinion/sunday/friedman-revolution-hits-the-universities.html?_r=0), he sings paeans to online higher learning, which leaves him "incredibly hopeful about the future." Friedman, once jubilant over the so-called Arab Spring which has since degenerated into a winter of discord and discontent (note the rioting over the past three days in Port Said, Egypt, which has left 41 dead), now writes:

"Yes, only a small percentage complete all the work, and even they still tend to be from the middle and upper classes of their societies, but I am convinced that within five years these platforms will reach a much broader demographic. Imagine how this might change U.S. foreign aid. For relatively little money, the U.S. could rent space in an Egyptian village, install two dozen computers and high-speed satellite Internet access, hire a local teacher as a facilitator, and invite in any Egyptian who wanted to take online courses with the best professors in the world, subtitled in Arabic."

Ah, yes, online college learning in Egyptian villages! Layla, who is 15-years-old and lives in such a village outside of Cairo, is positively ecstatic about the prospects of such a course. Layla, who is married (a "child bride") and pregnant with her second child, underwent female genital mutilation like most Egyptian women. She cannot speak English. For that matter, she can barely read (some 40 percent of Egyptian women are illiterate), but she can't wait to begin her studies, that is, once the swelling around her eyes from the last beating she received from her husband begins to subside.

On the other hand, Layla is uncertain how her husband will react to the news that she will be spending time on a computer, given that she is the family's sole breadwinner (she sews clothes at a nearby factory for just less than $40 a month). Moreover, given that there is gender segregation at all schools in her village, she is not certain whether a separate course for women will ever be offered.

Keep those ideas coming, Tom! Layla just can't wait to learn more! Viva la revolution!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Iran, Obama and the Coming Storm

As reported by the Tehran Times (http://tehrantimes.com/politics/105142--world-powers-hoping-to-reach-agreement-with-iran-ashton-spokesman-):

"World powers negotiating with Iran over its nuclear program are still hopeful that a new round of talks can begin soon and an agreement can be reached, a spokesman for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton who represents the powers in talks said on Wednesday.

'The (world powers) are still hoping to reach agreement with Iran on the modalities of the talks, including venue, with a view to resuming talks shortly,' Reuters quoted Michael Mann as saying.

However, he claimed that Iran is stalling on fixing a date and location for a new round of talks on its nuclear program, the latest round of which was held in Moscow on June 18 and 19, 2012."

My goodness, who would ever imagine that Iran would want to stall talks with the EU's chief foreign policy nincompoop, Catherine Ashton? What reason could Tehran possibly have for the delay?

In fact, the answer is fairly simple. As reported today by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/IranianThreat/News/Article.aspx?id=300983):

"If Iran makes a nuclear bomb 'it would definitely use it against Israel or against any other enemy state,' a former representative of the Iranian Foreign Ministry said in an exclusive interview aired on Friday on Channel 2 television.

'The [Iranian] regime thinks that if it has several atom bombs, it will grant it an insurance policy,' Mohammed Razza Hidari said. 'They believe that if [they have a nuclear weapon], the world would treat them the way it treats North Korea.'

He also warned that if Iran is allowed to stall for more time, 'it will have the knowledge to make a nuclear bomb in less than a year.'"

And to scare Iran into halting its nuclear weapons program, Obama has nominated Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense. In an opinion piece in today's Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chuck-hagel-is-the-wrong-man-to-be-defense-secretary/2013/01/25/3cad74e8-671d-11e2-85f5-a8a9228e55e7_story.html?hpid=z2), Senator Jim Inhofe explains his opposition to Hagel's appointment:

"In 2001, [Hagel] was one of just two senators who voted against a bill extending harsh sanctions against Iran.

A year later, he urged the Bush administration to support Iran’s membership in the World Trade Organization. On multiple occasions, including in his 2008 book, he has advocated direct negotiations with Iran, a country using multiple means to foment regional instability and threaten the security of Israel."

By now it should be obvious why Ed Koch is now admitting that Obama is no friend of Israel (http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/01/07/ed-koch-on-chuck-hagel-nomination-obamas-reneging-on-his-conveyed-support-for-israel-has-come-earlier-than-i-thought/).

It's going to get ugly very soon.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

David Brooks, "The Great Migration": Obama Distances Himself from Hope and Change

Chuck Hagel, Obama's nominee for secretary of defense, has served as something of a lightning rod, diverting the Senate's attention away from the president's other nominees, notably multi-millionaire John Kerry, a "dear friend" of Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad, who is soon to approved as secretary of state, and John Brennan, his nominee for head of the CIA, whose involvement with drone strikes is the source of no small amount of controversy (see: http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2013/01/peek-at-the-ruling-elites-letter-of-recommendation-for-john-brennan/267431/). By comparison, the president's nomination for secretary of the treasury of Jack Lew, his current chief of staff and Citigroup expatriate, who once received a $940,000 bonus before the bank went begging for federal assistance to stave off collapse, is almost under the radar.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Great Migration" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/25/opinion/brooks-the-great-migration.html?_r=0), David Brooks observes how America's brightest students, recruited from every distant corner of the nation, find their way into a select group of elite universities, where their value systems undergo change:

"They’ve been raised in an atmosphere of social equality and now find themselves in a culture that emphasizes the relentless quest for distinction — to be more accomplished, more enlightened and more cutting edge."

After receiving their degrees, these young persons often migrate to hubs of prosperity, far removed from their humble origins:

"The highly educated cluster around a few small nodes. Decade after decade, smart and educated people flock away from Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J. In those places, less than 15 percent of the residents have college degrees. They flock to Washington, Boston, San Jose, Raleigh-Durham and San Francisco. In those places, nearly 50 percent of the residents have college degrees."

According to Brooks, this disparity is then aggravated by a concentration of power, influence and resources in Washington:

"The final problem is that, in an effort to reduce the economic concentration of power, the administration is concentrating political power in Washington. If the problem is that talent is fleeing blighted localities, it’s hard to see how you make that better if decision-making and resources are concentrated faraway in the nation’s capital."

In his second inaugural address, President Obama declared:

"What makes us exceptional, what makes us America is our allegiance to an idea articulated in a declaration made more than two centuries ago. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, and among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Today we continue a never ending journey to bridge the meaning of those words with the realities of our time."

And so, a coterie of millionaire white guys installed in Obama's second term cabinet is going to "bridge" the noble aims of the Declaration of Independence with modern day "realities"? Yeah, right.

If the Obama administration was truly serious about resuscitating the fortunes of "Merced, Calif., Yuma, Ariz., Flint, Mich., and Vineland, N.J.," thereby contributing to social equality, tax incentives could be provided to corporations, particularly of the high-tech variety, willing to open new offices and factories in downtrodden locales.

But it's not going to happen. "Hope" and "Change" have been inseparably stranded from "the realities of our time," as perceived by the governing elite from their isolated aeries.




Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Nicholas Kristof, "For Obama’s New Term, Start Here": Coward!

As you will recall, New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof recently retweeted a message to more than a million people, stating "OBAMA Told the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies, AIPAC & NRA, to Drop Dead in Same Month" (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-retweets-obama-told-2.html). Notwithstanding withering criticism, Kristof continues to stonewall and refuses to explain his retweet.

Meanwhile, Nick continues on his merry way, and in his latest Times op-ed entitled "For Obama’s New Term, Start Here" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/opinion/kristof-for-obamas-new-term-start-here.html?ref=opinion&_r=0), he declares:

"So, President Obama, to fulfill the vision for your second term, how about redeploying the resources we’ve spent on the war in Afghanistan to undertake nation-building at home — starting with children so that they will no longer be limited by their ZIP codes."

Needless to say, Kristof doesn't explain how it might be possible to "redeploy" resources that have already been squandered on Obama's inane escalation of America's ground war in Afghanistan. Yes, Obama is finally talking about withdrawal, but he is also suggesting that the resulting savings will be used to reduce an unsustainable budget deficit.

Budget deficit? Federal debt of more than $16.4 trillion? Burgeoning health care costs? Crumbling American infrastructure? Persistent unemployment? What should come first?

As a Kristof look-alike once said, "What, me worry?"

New York Times Editorial, "Israel’s Election": Quietly Acknowledging a Lie

In a January 23 2013 editorial entitled "Israel’s Election" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/24/opinion/israels-election.html?ref=opinion&_r=1&), The New York Times writes:

"Although he also has endorsed a two-state solution, Mr. Netanyahu has so aggressively built new settlements that it soon may be impossible to create a contiguous Palestinian state."

Peculiar. In a December 20, 2012 Times editorial entitled "The Fading Mideast Peace Dream" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/21/opinion/the-fading-mideast-peace-dream.html?partner=rssnyt&emc=rss&_r=1&), the Times went on record as stating:

"So far this week, Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-line government, defying the Western powers, has approved construction of more than 6,000 new housing units. The approvals follow an announcement late last month that Israel would continue planning for new development in the E1 area — a project northeast of Jerusalem that would split the West Bank and prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state."

So which is it: "it soon may be impossible to create a contiguous Palestinian state" or E1 "would split the West Bank and prevent the creation of a viable contiguous Palestinian state"? There's a big difference.

I previously informed Margaret Sullivan, the public editor of the Times, that E1 construction would not sever a contiguous Palestinian state (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/12/second-open-letter-to-margaret-sullivan.html); however, Sullivan chose not to write back to me, and the Times, in contravention of its ethical guidelines, decided not to issue a retraction.

Needless to say, the latest Times editorial also fails to mention that Israeli settlements are built on less than two percent of the total territory of the West Bank.

The latest Times editorial concludes:

"The White House on Wednesday renewed its call for peace talks to resume. This won’t mean much if President Obama is not ready to invest political capital in a new diplomatic initiative. Unlike the bungled effort in his first term, though, he needs to carefully prepare the political ground, including making his first trip to Israel as president and explaining to the Israeli people how any peace plan will enhance their security."

Obama should visit Israel and reassure "the Israeli people how any peace plan will enhance their security"? Well, this could prove difficult at a time when Obama is seeking the appointment of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Break All the Rules": "Everything That Guy Just Said Is Bullshit"


"Everything that guy just said is bullshit."

- Vincent Gambini (Joe Pesci), opening defense statement, "My Cousin Vinny"

"My Cousin Vinny" is another of my favorite movies, and I am particularly appreciative of Vincent Gambini's terse opening statement in defense of his cousin from New York, who, in this 1992 comedy, is on trial for murder in Alabama. I regret that in the past, when appearing in court, I never found reason to use this line. Today, however, regarding Thomas Friedman's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Break All the Rules" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/23/opinion/friedman-break-all-the-rules.html?_r=0), I can think of no better way of drawing attention to this flatulent opinion piece. Let's have a look at some of what "The Great One" has to say to America's next secretary of state, John Kerry:

"First, my congratulations and condolences to John Kerry for being nominated to be our next secretary of state. There is no one better for the job today and no worse job to have today."

Classic toadying directed at a man who not long ago called Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad "my dear friend."

"If there were an anti-Nobel Peace Prize, Putin would win hands down."

Sorry, Tom, but that anti-Nobel Peace Prize belongs to Kerry's "dear friend" Assad. On the other hand, Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize for prolonging America's inane ground involvement in Afghanistan, so perhaps Nobel prizes can be awarded without rhyme or reason.

"If he is looking for a break, Kerry could always call on our longtime ally Egypt, whose president, Mohamed Morsi, we find out, in 2010 described Jews as 'descendants of apes and pigs.' Who knew?"

Tom, who sang paeans from Tahrir Square to the virtues of the "Arab Spring" is beginning to awaken to reality. "Who knew? Actually, anyone who could speak Arabic and was willing to take the trouble to listen to the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood over the years.

"Rather than negotiating with Iran’s leaders in secret — which, so far, has produced nothing and allows the Iranian leaders to control the narrative and tell their people that they’re suffering sanctions because of U.S. intransigence — why not negotiate with the Iranian people?"

Tom prefers not to remember that Obama turned a deaf ear to the Iranians who revolted against Ahmadinejad during the 2009 Green Revolution. "Where is Obama?" they cried, before being shot down and led off to prison, and it would be almost impossible to create a credible dialogue with ordinary Iranians given the president's past conduct.

"[T]he U.S. would recognize the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank as the independent State of Palestine on the provisional basis of the June 4, 1967, lines, support its full U.N. membership and send an ambassador to Ramallah, on the condition that Palestinians accept the principle of 'two states for two peoples' — an Arab state and a Jewish state."

Palestinians are prepared to accept a "Jewish" state, after claiming for so long that Jews have no legitimate ties to Israel (see: http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/278417/palestinians-want-peace-just-not-jewish-state-dennis-prager#? Even I am overwhelmed by Friedman's naivete.

"Israel’s election on Tuesday showed that the peace camp in Israel is still alive and significant."

The big surprise in Israel's parliamentary election was the success of the centrist Yesh Atid Party, which is seeking domestic reforms at the expense of the religious parties and long ago declared its willingness to participate in a Likud-led coalition. Yesh Atid, for whom many of my Israeli friends, who are anything but doves, voted, does not belong to a "peace camp."

"But we need to start behaving like a superpower and forcing a moment of truth. Our hands are full now, and we can’t waste four more years with allies (or enemies) who may be fooling us."

Or, in other words, Obama has stated that he knows better than Israelis what is in Israel's best interests, and this amounts to yet another call to ram the terms of an peace treaty down the throat of Israel. Does this remind you of what Chamberlain did to Czechoslovakia? It should.

Yup, "everything that guy just said is bullshit."

Monday, January 21, 2013

David Brooks, "The Collective Turn": Do You "Invest" in the Stock Market?

Do you "invest" in the stock market?

As Obama kicks off his liberated second term in office and pursues an unabashedly "progressive" (whatever this means) agenda, the United States is more polarized than ever and unbeknownst to many, including New York Times columnist David Brooks, its economic underpinnings are crumbling as financial markets are manipulated as never before.

In his latest Times op-ed entitled "The Collective Turn" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/22/opinion/brooks-the-collective-turn.html?_r=0), Brooks reflects on Obama's inaugural address and pays the president a backhanded compliment:

"Reinvigorating a mature nation means using government to give people the tools to compete, but then opening up a wide field so they do so raucously and creatively. It means spending more here but deregulating more there. It means facing the fact that we do have to choose between the current benefits to seniors and investments in our future, and that to pretend we don’t face that choice, as Obama did, is effectively to sacrifice the future to the past.

Obama made his case beautifully. He came across as a prudent, nonpopulist progressive. But I’m not sure he rescrambled the debate. We still have one party that talks the language of government and one that talks the language of the market. We have no party that is comfortable with civil society, no party that understands the ways government and the market can both crush and nurture community, no party with new ideas about how these things might blend together.

But at least the debate is started. Maybe that new wind will come."

A "new wind" on the way? Yeah, right. Not when America's debt has become unsustainable. Not when the vitality of the American economy is being mauled by algorithmic trading. With the repeal of the Uptick Rule, US stock markets were effectively "deregulated" and converted into a shark pool, and the Obama administration, like its predecessors, has done nothing to undo this error.

The Uptick Rule went into effect in 1938 in response to market abuses that threatened the health of the US economy and prohibited short sales of securities except on an "uptick." As summarized by the SEC:

"Rule 10a-1(a)(1) provided that, subject to certain exceptions, a listed security may be sold short (A) at a price above the price at which the immediately preceding sale was effected (plus tick), or (B) at the last sale price if it is higher than the last different price (zero-plus tick). Short sales were not permitted on minus ticks or zero-minus ticks, subject to narrow exceptions."

The Uptick Rule was cancelled in 2007, thereby enabling hedge funds to short shares, i.e. sell shares they did not own, in almost unlimited, immediate quantities, and permitting them to benefit from resultant investor panic in almost any given traded company.

Example: Micro-cap company "X" has designed and patented a revolutionary widget. Recently, the achievements of "X" have made their way into the news, and its shares have risen. Farmer Joe, who attends night school and reads the financial news, decides to buy 1,000 shares of "X". However, Farmer Joe is unaware that Slick Eddy at Hedge Fund "Z", who couldn't care less about the merits of company "X"'s widgets, has also noticed the rise in the share price of "X". With almost unlimited resources behind him, Eddy borrows "X" shares from various financial institutions and begins to sell vast quantities into the market, causing a precipitous decline in the market price of "X". Eddy then blocks any rally in the share price by activating a computerized program to immediately sell shares at the bid after any purchase. Worried by the huge downswing in the price of "X," and also concerned that at the end of each trading day "X" always goes down (Eddy often sells into the market during the last seconds of trading), Farmer Joe dumps his shares at an enormous loss ("Someone must know that something is wrong at 'X'"). Having succeeded in panicking Farmer Joe and other small investors in "X", Eddy buys back the shares at a significantly lower average price than that at which he sold them, resulting in enormous profits for Hedge Fund "Z". Eddy's bosses note his "fine" work and reward him with bonuses as the shares of "X" tumble.

Of course, there are those who will say that ultimately the stock market is "efficient", and the price of "X" will recover to an appropriate level. However, in the process we have witnessed the flow of wealth from Farmer Joe and other small investors to Hedge Fund "Z" and Slick Eddy.

Also, consider the damage to company "X", which, owing to doubt raised by the run on its shares, is suddenly unable to raise additional funds to finance expanded production of a new line of widgets, declares bankruptcy and fires its staff.

Sure, there are instances when the scientific and/or commercial progress of a company shorted by Hedge Fund "Z" is so great that Hedge Fund "Z" must buy back the shares at a higher price, but these losses are more than covered by its programmed downward manipulation of the shares of many other companies.

It is widely thought that the elimination of the Uptick Rule significantly contributed to the 2008 financial crisis from which America has yet to recover. Why has the Uptick Rule not been reinstated? Obviously, there are powerful lobbyists from the financial industry opposed to its reenactment, which would kill this cash cow.

Brooks wants to reinvigorate a "mature nation." Reinstatement of the Uptick Rule is even more important than re-enactment of Glass-Steagall to achieve this goal.

Bill Keller, "Chuck Hagel’s War": Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick

Are you familiar with the story of Amir Peretz? Peretz was an ordnance officer in the Israeli army prior to suffering serious injuries in an accident. After a period growing flowers and vegetables, Peretz joined Israel's Labor Party and made a name for himself as the firebrand chairman of the powerful Histadrut labor union. In 2005 Peretz became leader of the Labor Party, and in 2006 he joined the coalition government led by the Kadima Party. Peretz was appointed Defense Minister by Prime Minister Olmert, notwithstanding his non-combat, military credentials, and the Israeli public chuckled. During the subsequent Second Lebanon War, Peretz became a laughingstock throughout the world when photographed trying to look through capped binoculars. Peretz left the Defense Ministry in 2007, and his tenure there was largely forgotten until Israel's 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense, when Israel's Iron Dome anti-rocket system neutralized attacks from Gaza against Israel's southern cities. Iron Dome saved dozens of civilian lives, prevented massive infrastructure destruction, and also enabled Israel to avoid entering Gaza with its land forces. Peretz? No one in Israel is now snickering. As Defense Minister, Peretz championed development of Iron Dome, despite senior defense officials' objections to massive expenditures on the system.

Bottom line, as I can personally attest: Combat experience as a "grunt," albeit noble, does not necessarily provide the makings of an effective secretary of defense.

Although I disagree with much of what Bill Keller writes in his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Chuck Hagel’s War" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/21/opinion/keller-chuck-hagels-war.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0), Keller pointedly observes:

"Politicians, no less than generals, can be blinkered by experience. Vietnam made a whole generation wary of any interventions, however justified. Bill Clinton, who never fought but who was shaped by the catastrophe of Vietnam, took a lot of persuading before he did the right thing in Bosnia. He has said of his failure to send troops to stop the genocide in Rwanda that 'we just blew it.' This tendency to recoil from conflict was called 'Vietnam syndrome,' and Hagel may have the symptoms."

It is the responsibility of the secretary of defense to prepare the military to fight to the best of its ability, so as to enable the secretary of state to talk convincingly and avoid war. Or, as Teddy Roosevelt once said, "Speak softly and carry a big stick." Regrettably, the Hagel nomination has conveyed to Iran the message that Obama is backing away from a fight (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/iran-again-expresses-satisfaction-over.html), which ultimately will result in a nasty fight.

With respect to talking with your enemies, sure, it's always wise to give dialogue a chance, particularly when you carry that big stick. However, you also need to know when talk is going nowhere. The P5+1 has already talked for more than a year with Iran concerning its nuclear ambitions with no results to show for their efforts.

Chamberlain also talked with Hitler.

In addition, as I have noted in the past, it is indeed important to prevent psychopaths from obtaining Bushmasters and indulging themselves in mass murders. However, why is it that so many people who favor strict gun control don't seem to care if a rabid Iran, which hangs homosexuals, stones women to death, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, threatens Israel with annihilation, bankrolls Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, and funds terrorist acts around the globe, gets hold of the bomb and holds the world hostage?

Hagel was the wrong choice.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Nicholas Kristof, "Warnings From a Flabby Mouse": Advice from a Fatuous Swine

Nicholas Kristof has written several New York Times op-eds which have demonstrated appalling nescience. For example, in a 2010 opinion piece entitled "New Alarm Bells About Chemicals and Cancer" (http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/opinion/06kristof.html), Kristof declared:

"The President’s Cancer Panel is the Mount Everest of the medical mainstream, so it is astonishing to learn that it is poised to join ranks with the organic food movement and declare: chemicals threaten our bodies."

In that same op-ed, Kristof went on to say:

"Avoid meats that are cooked well-done."

Kristof was unaware that our bodies consist of chemicals and that well-done meat (as opposed to charred meat, which can be carcinogenic) ensures that dangerous bacteria have been killed.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Warnings From a Flabby Mouse" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/kristof-warnings-from-a-flabby-mouse.html), Kristof cautions that endocrine-disrupting chemicals found in food, couches, machine receipts and shampoos "can lead to the formation of more and larger fat cells."

Bingo! Now I know why I've been putting on the pounds lately! But wait - I eat mostly organic foods, I don't eat red meat, and I avoid heating plastics in my microwave. Could it just possibly be that my recent ice cream binge, together with a break from my exercise regime, could have contributed to my weight gain?

As we have been informed by the USDA (http://www.usda.gov/factbook/chapter2.pdf):

"Americans at the beginning of the 21st century are consuming more food and several hundred more calories per person per day than did their counterparts in the late 1950s (when per capita calorie consumption was at the lowest level in the last century), or even in the 1970s. The aggregate food supply in 2000 provided 3,800 calories per person per day, 500 calories above the 1970 level and 800 calories above the record low in 1957 and 1958."

Or stated more simply, if you want to lose weight, stop being a pig, which takes us to another topic, which Nicholas is studiously avoiding.

As reported in an article entitled "Nick Kristof’s Piggishness," written by Adam Kredo for The Washington Free Beacon (http://freebeacon.com/nick-kristofs-piggishness/):

"New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is facing criticism after retweeting a controversial message that referred to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the National Rifle Association as 'the 2 most pig like lobbies' in America.

Longtime Israel critic M.J. Rosenberg, who was dumped by the liberal Media Matters for America for his use of borderline anti-Semitic language, authored the controversial tweet Wednesday afternoon. It called to mind recently unearthed statements by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that referred to Jews as 'pigs.'"

Kristof's retweet also comes at a time when he and other New York Times columnists are lobbying hard for Senate approval of Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-in-defense-of-hagel.html). As Hagel's confirmation hearings draw near, the media is rife with claims that AIPAC, "Israel firsters" and Zionists are opposing his appointment, owing to his reference to a "Jewish lobby" which purportedly has cowed Capitol Hill, and his ambiguous attitude to an armed strike intended to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/13/chuck-hagels-ambiguous-stance-on-dealing-with-iran/).

It should be observed that AIPAC has remained mum regarding Hagel's appointment.

Why am I not surprised by Kristof's retweet? As I explained in an article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" (http://www.jsantisemitism.org/essays/GrossmanJSA210(4).pdf) for The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Kristof routinely rails against purported Israeli injustices, while ignoring the improprities of other democracies:

"Ignorance, however, has never prevented Kristof from foisting twaddle upon the Times’s readership, particularly with respect to Israel. In an August 2011 op-ed, “Seeking Balance on the Mideast” (http://www.nytimes
.com/2011/08/04/opinion/seeking-balance-on-the-mideast.html?_r=1&hp), Kristof lambasted Israel at a time when Assad’s tanks were massacring the inhabitants of the Syrian city of Hama. Kristof sought to excuse himself by observing:

'Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard—just as I do the U.S.'

True, Syria has not been a recipient of U.S. aid. But whereas Egypt has received billions of dollars of American aid, Kristof doesn’t write about the persecution and murder of its Coptic Christian minority . . . And while Pakistan, a democracy of sorts, has also benefited from billions of dollars of U.S. aid while abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Kristof has been seeking a reduction of tariffs on Pakistani garment exports to the United States, purportedly in order to fight extremism.

. . . .

According to the 'working definition of antisemitism' of the European Forum on Antisemitism: 'Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: . . . Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.'

. . . .

Kristof plainly has no problem ignoring the persecution of 30 million stateless Kurds, the oppression of Iran’s Baha’is, and the despair of Egypt’s Copts. He clearly holds Israel to rules unlike those that he would set for any other country, democratic or otherwise, be it Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, or the United States. Kristof worries over whether he will be accused of applying a double standard to Israel, to which concern I would observe that there is an old Jewish maxim applicable to Kristof’s angst: 'The hat burns on the head of the thief.' In the best-case scenario, Kristof is guilty of applying double standards to Israel, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary. In the worst-case scenario, Kristof is guilty of something far more insidious."

The Washington Free Beacon article informs us that "Kristof and a New York Times communications official did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment" regarding his retweet.

Care to say something, Nick?

Maureen Dowd, "Sheriff Andy of Albany": Or "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly"?

Gun control and Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel for secretary of defense appear to be the order of the day on the op-ed page of The New York Times. However, did you ever notice how "progressive" columnists such as Nicholas Kristof, who advocate stringent gun control laws, are indifferent to an Iran armed with nuclear weapons? Whereas it is indeed important to prevent psychopaths from obtaining Bushmasters and indulging themselves in mass murders, why is it that people such as Kristof don't seem to care if a lunatic Iran, which hangs homosexuals, stones women to death, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, threatens Israel with annihilation, bankrolls Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, and funds terrorist acts around the globe, gets hold of the bomb and holds the world hostage?

Although Maureen Dowd did not weigh in on the Hagel nomination beyond observing a lack of diversity in Obama's proposed second term cabinet (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/maureen-dowd-we-offer-more-than-ankles.html), she is obviously not shy about expressing her opinion about gun-control legislation. In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Sheriff Andy of Albany" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/20/opinion/sunday/dowd-sheriff-andy-of-albany.html), Dowd observes with admiration how New York Governor Andrew Cuomo "shoved through tough gun-control legislation so blindingly fast that some state senators had scarcely read the bill, and the N.R.A. conceded that it had no time to thwart it." Dowd next ponders whether Cuomo might be shooting for the presidency in 2016:

"The N.R.A. and Greg Ball, a Republican state senator, denounced the New York law as a product of the governor’s 2016 ambition, although it could hurt Candidate Cuomo in places like Nevada, Colorado and Florida.

The governor doesn’t have the president’s public magnetism. But Cuomo, who devotes a lot of time to wining, dining and wheedling legislators, is far more deft at carrots, sticks and baby-talk than President Obama is. It’s a fascinating — and open — question about whether those skills could work the same way to jolt comatose Washington."

Well, 2016 is a long way off, and my guess is that Hillary and Biden will almost surely seek to head Andrew off at the pass. We might even have a scene reminiscent of the climax in "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly," where Blondie, Tuco and Angel Eyes engage in a showdown in the center of a cemetery, i.e., what will be left of the US economy if there is no let-up to the recesssion and Obama continues to add to the federal deficit.

Nicholas Kristof Retweets "OBAMA Told the 2 Most Pig Like Lobbies, AIPAC & NRA, to Drop Dead in Same Month": Is Kristof an Anti-Semite?


As reported in an article entitled "Nick Kristof’s Piggishness," written by Adam Kredo for The Washington Free Beacon (http://freebeacon.com/nick-kristofs-piggishness/):

"New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof is facing criticism after retweeting a controversial message that referred to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the National Rifle Association as 'the 2 most pig like lobbies' in America.

Longtime Israel critic M.J. Rosenberg, who was dumped by the liberal Media Matters for America for his use of borderline anti-Semitic language, authored the controversial tweet Wednesday afternoon. It called to mind recently unearthed statements by Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi that referred to Jews as 'pigs.'"

Kristof's retweet also comes at a time when he and other New York Times columnists are lobbying hard for Senate approval of Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-in-defense-of-hagel.html). As Hagel's confirmation hearings draw near, the media is rife with claims that AIPAC, "Israel firsters" and Zionists are opposing his appointment, owing to his reference to a "Jewish lobby" which purportedly has cowed Capitol Hill, and his ambiguous attitude to an armed strike intended to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/13/chuck-hagels-ambiguous-stance-on-dealing-with-iran/).

Remarkably, AIPAC has remained mum regarding Hagel's appointment.

Why am I not surprised by Kristof's retweet? As I explained in an article entitled "Nicholas Kristof, Israel, and Double Standards" (http://www.jsantisemitism.org/essays/GrossmanJSA210(4).pdf) for The Journal for the Study of Antisemitism, Kristof routinely rails against purported Israeli injustices, while ignoring the improprities of other democracies:

"Ignorance, however, has never prevented Kristof from foisting twaddle upon the Times’s readership, particularly with respect to Israel. In an August 2011 op-ed, “Seeking Balance on the Mideast” (http://www.nytimes
.com/2011/08/04/opinion/seeking-balance-on-the-mideast.html?_r=1&hp), Kristof lambasted Israel at a time when Assad’s tanks were massacring the inhabitants of the Syrian city of Hama. Kristof sought to excuse himself by observing:

'Whenever I write about Israel, I get accused of double standards because I don’t spill as much ink denouncing worse abuses by, say, Syria. I plead guilty. I demand more of Israel partly because my tax dollars supply arms and aid to Israel. I hold democratic allies like Israel to a higher standard—just as I do the U.S.'

True, Syria has not been a recipient of U.S. aid. But whereas Egypt has received billions of dollars of American aid, Kristof doesn’t write about the persecution and murder of its Coptic Christian minority . . . And while Pakistan, a democracy of sorts, has also benefited from billions of dollars of U.S. aid while abetting the Taliban in Afghanistan, Kristof has been seeking a reduction of tariffs on Pakistani garment exports to the United States, purportedly in order to fight extremism.

. . . .

According to the 'working definition of antisemitism' of the European Forum on Antisemitism: 'Examples of the ways in which antisemitism manifests itself with regard to the State of Israel taking into account the overall context could include: . . . Applying double standards by requiring of it a behavior not expected or demanded of any other democratic nation.'

. . . .

Kristof plainly has no problem ignoring the persecution of 30 million stateless Kurds, the oppression of Iran’s Baha’is, and the despair of Egypt’s Copts. He clearly holds Israel to rules unlike those that he would set for any other country, democratic or otherwise, be it Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, or the United States. Kristof worries over whether he will be accused of applying a double standard to Israel, to which concern I would observe that there is an old Jewish maxim applicable to Kristof’s angst: 'The hat burns on the head of the thief.' In the best-case scenario, Kristof is guilty of applying double standards to Israel, notwithstanding his protestations to the contrary. In the worst-case scenario, Kristof is guilty of something far more insidious."

As further reported in The Washington Free Beacon article, "Kristof and a New York Times communications official did not respond to a Free Beacon request for comment" regarding his retweet.

Friday, January 18, 2013

David Brooks, "The Next Four Years": Another JG Caesarea Challenge Round

So you want to take another crack at winning a Mars Bar? Here comes another JG Caesarea challenge round, but first read David Brooks's latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Next Four Years" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/opinion/brooks-the-next-four-years.html), in which he warns:

"The 'fiscal-cliff' fiasco has persuaded many smart people that a Grand Bargain is not going to happen any time soon. A political class that botched the fiscal cliff so badly are not going to be capable of a gigantic deal on complex issues. It’s like going into a day care center and asking a bunch of infants to perform 'Swan Lake.'

Polarization is too deep. Special interests are too strong. The negotiators are too rusty. Republicans are not going to give up their vision of a low-tax America. Democrats are not willing to change the current entitlement programs."

No Grand Bargain on the way as Obama's "team of rivals" gives way to a coterie of insipid, mediocre, millionaire white men; as the economy shows no sign of recovery; as spending continues to outstrip tax revenues; as the mad dog mullahs in Iran draw steadily closer to acquiring nuclear weapons? Surely Brooks is mistaken. Surely America will come together under the astute guidance of Obama to deal with these problems.

But never mind. Maybe we'll at least have some gun control legislation, requiring stricter background checks.

And now for the JG Caesarea challenge: What does gun control have to do with Iran acquiring nuclear weapons?

One . . . two . . . three. Sorry, put down your pencils. Time's up. No winner this time.

Have you ever noticed how many "progressives" advocating stricter gun control laws are indifferent to an Iran armed with nuclear weapons? Whereas it is indeed important to prevent psychopaths from obtaining Bushmasters and indulging themselves in mass murders, why is it that these people don't care if a lunatic Iran, which hangs homosexuals, stones women to death, persecutes Baha'is, oppresses Kurds, threatens Israel with annihilation, bankrolls Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah, and funds terrorist acts around the globe, gets hold of the bomb?

Go figure.

Paul Krugman, "The Dwindling Deficit": A Unicorn Felching a Centaur

Perhaps you recall my blog entry earlier this month (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/paul-krugman-coins-against-crazies-just.html) concerning Paul Krugman's advocacy on behalf of the US minting a trillion dollar coin. I wrote:

"Mint the coin? I'm certain world financial markets would highly appreciate this stunt, which could cause instant collapse of the American economy.

But heck, why go to the trouble of minting a platinum coin when an autographed picture of Obama, inscribed with the amount of $10 trillion, should do the trick?

Thanks, Paul. Keep those lucid ideas coming!"

Well, Jon Stewart apparently agrees with me. Instead of a one trillion coin, Stewart suggested that the US issue a 20 trillion dollar coin, or better still, a one hundred quillion dollar bill with a picture of a unicorn felching a centaur. Wounded by Stewart's taunt, Krugman accused Stewart of being "lazy," whereupon Stewart doubled down in a moment of comedic history, "It's a stupid f***ing idea" (http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-january-14-2013/paul-krugman---the-trillion-dollar-coin).

Support for Occupy Wall Street (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/07/opinion/krugman-confronting-the-malefactors.html)? Trillion dollar coins? Apparently it's the stuff that makes for Nobel laureates. And not to worry: Krugman's creative juices continue to flow. In a New York Times op-ed entitled "The Dwindling Deficit" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/18/opinion/krugman-the-dwindling-deficit.html?_r=0), Paul tells us that we need not occupy ourselves with concern for America's long-term deficit prospects:

"Recently the nonpartisan Center on Budget and Policy Priorities took Congressional Budget Office projections for the next decade and updated them to take account of two major deficit-reduction actions: the spending cuts agreed to in 2011, amounting to almost $1.5 trillion over the next decade; and the roughly $600 billion in tax increases on the affluent agreed to at the beginning of this year. What the center finds is a budget outlook that, as I said, isn’t great but isn’t terrible: It projects that the ratio of debt to G.D.P., the standard measure of America’s debt position, will be only modestly higher in 2022 than it is now.

. . . .

Now, projections that run further into the future do suggest trouble, as an aging population and rising health care costs continue to push federal spending higher. But here’s a question you almost never see seriously addressed: Why, exactly, should we believe that it’s necessary, or even possible, to decide right now how we will eventually address the budget issues of the 2030s?"

Yup, why should we care that by 2037 US debt will be double GDP (see: http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/budget/230901-cbo-warns-of-grim-long-term-debt-outlook)? That's our children's problem, and there's no need now to "address the budget issues of the 2030s." Heck, you might as well cash in your retirement plans now and spend it all on new Bentleys, given that it's all so far away.

Bottom line: Come the 2030s, the US could well need to issue that one hundred quillion dollar bill with a picture of a unicorn felching a centaur.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

From the America First Committee to "Israel Firsters": Anti-Semitism Again on the Rise

"I am not attacking either the Jewish or the British people. Both races, I admire. But I am saying that the leaders of both the British and the Jewish races, for reasons which are as understandable from their viewpoint as they are inadvisable from ours, for reasons which are not American, wish to involve us in the war."

- Charles Lindbergh, speaking at an America First rally, Des Moines, September 11, 1941

More than 70 years ago, the America First Committee was demanding that the United States avoid entry into World War II. Its foremost proponent was Charles Lindbergh, who accused the Roosevelt administration, the Jews and the British of attempting to drag America into the war against Nazi Germany. Although he believed in limiting "Jewish influence," Lindbergh was also kind enough to acknowledge in his diary that "a few Jews of the right type are, I believe, an asset to any country."

Today, as Chuck Hagel's Senate confirmation hearings draw near, the media is rife with claims that "Israel firsters" are opposing his appointment, owing to his reference to a "Jewish lobby" which purportedly has cowed Capitol Hill, and his ambiguous attitude to an armed strike intended to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons (see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2012/12/13/chuck-hagels-ambiguous-stance-on-dealing-with-iran/).

In short, once again American Jews (at least the "bad" ones among them - not those whom Lindbergh might have considered an asset) are being accused of dual loyalty, pernicious powers and the desire to force another war upon the United States. And as in the past, left and right have discovered common cause.

If you have the time and inclination, have a glimpse at readers' comments in response to Jennifer Rubin's opinion pieces published by The Washington Post. There you will see dozens of references to the "underhanded" behavior of Israel firsters, AIPAC and Zionists.

Is this seething cauldron of hatred tied to economic downturn, also experienced by the US in the 1930s? Probably. Moreover, given that the current recession shows no signs of abating, it may be more than a while before those spouting anti-Zionist conspiracy theories crawl back under their rocks.





Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Obama’s 1-2 Punch?": Faster Pornography for All

I often wonder which is disappearing faster: Thomas Friedman's chin or President Obama's credibility.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Obama’s 1-2 Punch?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/opinion/friedman-obamas-1-2-punch.html), Tom complains about the 2012 presidential election:

"This lousy campaign produced the worst of all outcomes: President Obama won on a platform that had little to do with our core problems and is only a small part of the solution — raising taxes on the wealthy — so he has little incentive to rethink his strategy. And the Republicans did not lose badly enough — they held the House — to have to fully rethink their strategy."

But fear not! Friedman has a solution for our current malaise:

"In the State of the Union, I’d love to see Obama lay out a detailed plan for tax reform, spending cuts and investments — to meet the real scale of our problem and spur economic growth.

. . . .

As for investment, I’d love to see the president launch us on an aspirational journey. My choice would be to connect every home and business in America to the Internet at one gigabit per second, or about 200 times faster than our current national household average, in five years."

Can you imagine pornography at the speed of light? That should set the economy aright.

Tom's conclusion:

"If only we had a second-term president, unencumbered by ever having to run again, who was ready to test what really bold leadership might produce."

Bold leadership from a president who has set new standards for procrastination? Consider his conduct of the war in Afghanistan and his refusal to acknowledge the Armenian Genocide as president, notwithstanding prior promises.

When does Friedman finally realize that an invertebrate is situated in the Oval Office.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Takes One to Tango": Our Narcissist-in-Chief

"Narcissistic personality disorder is a mental disorder in which people have an inflated sense of their own importance and a deep need for admiration. Those with narcissistic personality disorder believe that they're superior to others and have little regard for other people's feelings. But behind this mask of ultra-confidence lies a fragile self-esteem, vulnerable to the slightest criticism."

- Mayo Clinic staff (http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/narcissistic-personality-disorder/DS00652)

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Takes One to Tango" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/opinion/dowd-takes-one-to-tango.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd reflects on the pessimism pervading Washington as Obama enters his second term:

"Washington’s mood is as gray as the weather, full of burning Republicans and yearning Democrats.

We’re facing default. Again.

We’re mired in partisan trash-talking. Still.

And despite the tragedy of the children riddled with bullets in Newtown, Conn., no one is expecting any consequential fixes to our absurdly lax gun laws."

Dowd bemoans Obama's inability to communicate and socialize, which, throughout his first term, hampered his ability to address the myriad problems dragging America into the pit:

"But Obama still resists the idea that personal relationships can be pivotal, noting that his 'suspicion' is that the issues will be resolved only if Americans 'push hard,' vote recalcitrant lawmakers out and 'reward folks who are trying to find common ground.'

And it’s true that Republicans have snubbed the president. John Boehner blew off Obama’s invites for six state dinners and Mitch McConnell skipped all but one.

Unlike Chris Christie, Republicans here want to make sure that the president dances alone."

Say it's not so, Maureen! Consider Obama's uplifting 2004 keynote speech to the Democratic National Convention:

"There's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there is the United States of America. There's not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America; there is the United States of America."

Those contemplating Obama's latest cabinet choices might also want to consider whether there's not a male America and a female America.

In addition, listen again to Obama's January 2009 inauguration speech, in which he stated:

"On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics."

Oops . . .

A failure by Obama to reach any kind of agreement with Republicans? You don't say! Maine's Olympia Snowe, one of three Republicans in the US Congress who voted for Obama's economic stimulus plan in 2009, told Jonathan Karl that she had not had a face-to-face meeting with Obama in two years, and asked if she had to grade Obama on his willingness to work with Republicans, she replied that he would be "close to failing on that point" (see: http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/power-players-abc-news/frustrated-senator-olympia-snowe-gives-obama-f-101657433.html).

It is worth observing that Obama's inability to communicate is not limited to his relationships with Republicans at home. During his first term, Obama  also fostered dysfunctional relationships with many of America's traditional allies, including the UK, Japan, Israel, the Czech Republic and Poland.

Why does Obama fail in his interpersonal relationships, thus affecting his ability to achieve policy goals? America's president, who was abandoned by his father and then his mother, most likely suffers from a narcissistic personality disorder. Fortunately for Obama (and many, many others in Washington on both sides of the aisle), the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (due out in 2013) has eliminated five of the 10 personality disorders that are listed in the current edition, and narcissistic personality disorder is among them.

As we all know, there are no narcissists out there, needing constant attention and admiration, reacting with rage to criticism, disregarding the feelings of others, exaggerating their achievements, and obsessing over their power, beauty and intelligence (see: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001930/)? Yeah, right.

On the other hand, maybe the DSM is correct. Given the prevalence of this problem in our society, perhaps it has indeed become the norm.

Jeffrey Goldberg, "Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’": Will This Impact Hagel?

In a Bloomberg article entitled "Obama: ‘Israel Doesn’t Know What Its Best Interests Are’" (http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=4067977173951690762#editor/target=post;postID=8860285838652858161), Jeffrey Goldberg writes today:

"In the weeks after the UN vote [in November to upgrade the status of the Palestinians], Obama said privately and repeatedly, 'Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are.' With each new settlement announcement, in Obama’s view, Netanyahu is moving his country down a path toward near-total isolation.

And if Israel, a small state in an inhospitable region, becomes more of a pariah -- one that alienates even the affections of the U.S., its last steadfast friend -- it won’t survive. Iran poses a short-term threat to Israel’s survival; Israel’s own behavior poses a long-term one.

The dysfunctional relationship between Netanyahu and Obama is poised to enter a new phase. Next week, Israeli voters will probably return Netanyahu to power, this time at the head of a coalition even more intractably right-wing than the one he currently leads."

For the moment, let's ignore Israel's plans to build 3,000 new housing units in the E1 area between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim and just focus on Obama's "repeated" declarations that "Israel doesn’t know what its own best interests are" prior to Israeli elections. Can you imagine the outrage if Netanyahu had declared prior to US elections in November that current US policy involving Iran and the rest of the Middle East is not in its own best interests? Or US economic policy is not in its own best interests? Or Obamacare is not in America's own best interests?

Obama knows what's in Israel's best interests? The reality is that Obama knows next to nothing about Israel or the Middle East apart from what his virulent anti-Israel confidants told him in the past; e.g., the Reverend Wright and Rashid Khalidi.

The planned E1 housing units? I favor a two-state solution along the 1967 lines with appropriate land swaps; however, in order to arrive at such a solution, there needs to be a counterparty willing to recognize Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state. The Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis, and rejects any negotiated settlement with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, has steadfastly refused to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.

Moreover, the planned E1 housing project must be placed in context. The housing would be situated in an area which, as agreed in prior Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, would ultimately remain part of Israel in exchange for territories to be ceded by Israel. Let's also not forget that Israeli settlements are situated on territory comprising less than two percent of the West Bank.

Regarding isolation of Israel, putting "daylight" between the US and Israel has been the cornerstone of Obama's foreign policy since his 2009 inauguration. Although Obama, as president, visited Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, he refused to step foot in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Although Obama has made a point of highlighting his strong friendship with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan, Obama has avoided complaining about Ankara's global leadership in the imprisonment of journalists (see: http://www.cpj.org/europe/turkey/) and about its oppression of its Kurdish minority, and he has also reneged on his commitment to recognize the Armenian Genocide.

Similarly, Obama has avoided any reference to a myriad of Saudi human rights abuses, e.g., the beheading of a Sri Lankan maid on Sunday (see: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/2013/01/20131146361222980.html).

Egypt? Let's see if Obama even a mumbles a word concerning Egyptian President's Morsi's 2010 declaration that Egyptians should "nurse our children and our grandchildren on hatred" for Jews and Zionists and that "these bloodsuckers who attack the Palestinians, these warmongers, the descendants of apes and pigs" (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/15/world/middleeast/egypts-leader-morsi-made-anti-jewish-slurs.html?_r=0).

Worse still, consider Obama's conduct regarding Syria. Senator John Kerry, who was repeatedly sent by Obama to meet with mass murderer Bashar al-Assad and who labeled Assad his "dear friend," is now being appointed Secretary of State. Obama has been all but mum regarding the death of 60,000 innocent civilians in Syria's ongoing civil war, yet he remains obsessed with Netanyahu.

In fact, Obama's contempt for and obsession with Netanyahu, as best evidenced by his open microphone gaffe in a conversation with Sarkozy (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2011/11/sarkozy-obama-and-netanyahu-obama-never.html), has contributed mightily to Israel's isolation.

How might Jeffrey Goldberg's revelation affect Obama's nomination of Hagel as Secretary of Defense? Objecting to Hagel's nomination, The Washington Post went on record as saying that Hagel's positions place him "well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chuck-hagel-is-not-right-for-defense-secretary/2012/12/18/07e03e20-493c-11e2-ad54-580638ede391_story.html). Well, we are now seeing that Chuck Hagel's positions place him very much in line with those of a second term Obama, who, no longer facing re-election, has the "flexibility" to remove his veil and let his true thoughts be known.

Senate approval of Chuck Hagel now boils down to the decision of Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. Will Schumer vote according to his conscience or along party lines? If I had to bet, I know where I would place my money.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Elliott Abrams, "Questioning Hagel": Can American Jews Voice Their Opinions Without Being Called "Jew Firsters"?

More than 60 years ago, Franklin Roosevelt's "New Deal" was being labeled the "Jew Deal" by American anti-Semites, and Charles Lindbergh was busy accusing the Jews of trying to drag America into the war against Hitler. Fast forward: Today's anti-Semites are blaming the Jews for America's declining economic fortunes, while claiming that AIPAC, the Zionists and the Israel Firsters are attempting to instigate a war between the US and Iran for Israel's benefit. There is nothing new under the sun.

In an opinion piece published by the National Review entitled "Questioning Hagel" (http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/337543/questioning-hagel-elliott-abrams), Elliott Abrams begins by telling us that Obama is entitled to choose his own cabinet:

"The primary argument against Hagel’s confirmation seems to be that his policy views are wrong, bad, and even dangerous — and of course contrary to those of whoever is lodging this criticism. Several senators have already said they would vote against Hagel, and others have jumped on the fence and are sitting there until the hearings — due to their policy disagreements with him, often over Iran policy and Israel policy. I completely agree with the typical criticisms of his policy views, but can’t say I find them to be persuasive grounds for opposing his confirmation.

For one thing, the general rule should be that presidents get the policies and the appointees they want. I did not vote for President Obama, but he did win and he does get to make his own policy and choose his subordinates."

Abrams goes on to explain his "own argument against Senator Hagel’s suitability":

"Today most pressure from the organized Jewish community over foreign-policy issues is related to the security of Israel and the Iranian nuclear-weapons program. To be treated with indifference by an elected official is bad enough. To be told by a future nominee for very high office that, 'I’m a United States senator. I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator,' and 'my first interest is I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States' is insulting and unacceptable. It suggests that Senator Hagel believes such lobbying by American Jews to be illegitimate and offensive, and is indeed evidence of loyalty to another country."

Abrams observes the failure of American Jews, in the years leading up to World War II, to act on behalf of European Jewry. Many of these Jews were concerned with being accused of dual loyalties or of being accused, in today's terminology, of being "Jew firsters." Ultimately, half of Europe's Jews and a third of world Jewry would perish at Hitler's hands.

Abrams then notes that American Jews were subsequently more proactive in standing up for the freedom of Soviet Jewry, notwithstanding renewed claims that such advocacy ran counter to American interests.

Today, when voicing concern over repeated Iranian threats to annihilate Israel and when questioning Chuck Hagel's past conciliatory utterances regarding relations with Tehran, the loyalty of American Jews is again being questioned. As observed by Abrams, Hagel's assertion that he is an American senator, not an Israel senator, has exacerbated this persistent claim that American Jews care more deeply for Israel than the US.

In 2013, can American Jews voice concern over Iranian nuclear weapons development and threats to wipe Israel off the face of the map without being accused of dual loyalty or of being Jew firsters? Perhaps President Obama, who has so adamantly pushed Hagel's nomination ahead, notwithstanding Hagel's positions, which, according to The Washington Post (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/chuck-hagel-is-not-right-for-defense-secretary/2012/12/18/07e03e20-493c-11e2-ad54-580638ede391_story.html) place him "well to the left of those pursued by Mr. Obama during his first term — and place him near the fringe of the Senate," would care to weigh in on the topic.

Do you remember how Obama once vowed to heal a divided America? Yeah, right.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "We Offer More Than Ankles, Gentlemen": A Coterie of White Male Boobs

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "We Offer More Than Ankles, Gentlemen" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/13/opinion/sunday/dowd-we-offer-more-than-ankles-gentlemen.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd complains that Obama is populating his second term cabinet with white men:

"It’s passing strange that Obama, carried to a second term by women, blacks and Latinos, chooses to give away the plummiest Cabinet and White House jobs to white dudes.

. . . .

It may be because the president knows what a matriarchal world he himself lives in that he assumes we understand that the most trusted people in his life have been female — his wife, his daughters, his mother, his grandmother, his mother-in-law, his closest aide, Valerie.

But this isn’t about how he feels, or what his comfort zone is, or who’s in his line of sight. It’s about what he projects to the world — not to mention to his own daughters."

Although not as surprised, I am just as offended as Maureen. Given the president's penchant for narcissism, this administration is indeed "about how Obama feels."

Obama has surrounded himself with a coterie of "white dudes"? Sorry, Mo, but make that stupid white dudes.

By now it should be clear that Obama is not seeking to populate his second term cabinet with the best and the brightest. I never cared for Hillary Clinton, who is also enamored of herself, but intellectually, there is no denying that she can run circles around Kerry, who was foolish enough to refer to Syria's Bashar al-Assad as his "dear friend."

Brennan? Peculiar how when Brennan was listed as a candidate for the position of CIA director four years ago, he walked away owing to questions regarding interrogation of terror suspects while Bush was president. But let bygones be bygones.

Hagel? Perhaps someone would care to identify his signature legislative achievements while a senator. And let's just ignore Hagel's refusal to sign a Senate letter calling upon the EU to brand Hezbollah, which was responsible for the 1983 Beirut Barracks Bombing that killed 241 American soldiers, as a terrorist organization.

Lew? He's probably brighter than the others, but when has he ever spoken of the need for bank reform? Wall Street is desperately in need of reinstatement of Glass-Steagall and the Uptick Rule (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2010/02/reinstate-uptick-rule-immediately.html), and Lew is not the person to champion constraints upon American financial institutions.

It began with "Change." It metamorphosed into "Forward."

It's now time for "Close Your Eyes and Turn the Other Cheek."

Thanks, Obama, for drafting these mediocre white men to do your bidding. It just can't get any worse.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Iran Again Expresses Satisfaction Over Obama's Nomination of Hagel

Earlier this month, Iran's Fars News Agency informed us in an article entitled "Chuck Hagel's Nomination: Iran Hopes for Practical Changes in US Foreign Policy" (http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9107134107) that Tehran is pleased by Obama's nomination of Chuck Hagel as America's next secretary of defense. Next, Iran's PressTV declared that Hagel is "anti-Israeli" (http://www.presstv.ir/detail/2013/01/05/281902/antiisraeli-tops-obama-pentagon-choice/). Today, in its lead online article entitled "Hagel remarks on Israel, Iran controversial" (http://www.mehrnews.com/en/newsdetail.aspx?NewsID=1788426), Iran's Mehr News is telling us:

"Political analysts in US believe that Hagel, learning lessons from Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq wars, and US strategic miscalculations in Central Asia and Africa, had come to believe that Washington is far from starting a new adventurist enterprise, with the result being no more than economic disaster and dwindled American hegemony in international scene, if US launches a war without the consent of international community. Accordingly, Hagel would keep US at bay from adventurism about Iran, and would try bringing US policies to convergence with its allies in line with Obama’s policies. This possibility has sparked the Zionist lobby (AIPAC) and its allied representatives in Congress, who believed that Obama, with Hagel on the Pentagon, would not pose the Iran strike as a serious option.

. . . .

US political circles had it that in meeting with Obama, Hagel has said that Benyamin Netanyahu, Israeli Prime Minister, do not appreciate US helps, and has become isolated as the result of political extremism."

Obama is placing pressure on Iran to curtail to its nuclear weapons development program? Yeah, right. The mullahs have received Obama's message loud and clear.