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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Paul Krugman, "Lessons From a Comeback": California Dreaming

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Lessons From a Comeback" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/01/opinion/krugman-lessons-from-a-comeback.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman asks, "is California still the place where the future happens first?" Commending Governor Jerry Brown for pushing through tax hikes that have given rise to a projected budget surplus, Krugman writes:

"Again, however, reports of the state’s demise proved premature. Unemployment in California remains high, but it’s coming down — and there’s a projected budget surplus, in part because the implosion of the state’s Republican Party finally gave Democrats a big enough political advantage to push through some desperately needed tax increases. Far from presiding over a Greek-style crisis, Gov. Jerry Brown is proclaiming a comeback."

Those tax increases? As observed by The Sacramento Bee (http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2012/12/high-income-californians-may-pay-nations-highest-tax-rate.html) in December 2012:

"Thanks to passage of Proposition 30 last month, high-income Californians would pay the nation's highest marginal income tax rates -- nearly 52 percent -- if President Barack Obama and Congress fail to make a deal to avoid the so-called 'fiscal cliff,' according to a new study.

. . . .

Proposition 30 added three percentage points to the marginal state income tax rate for California's highest-income taxpayers, bringing it to 13.3 percent. That action raised California over other high-tax jurisdictions to a marginal rate of 51.9 percent, slightly higher than New York City's level. Hawaii was the only other place with a calculated rate above 50 percent."

But not to worry, says Krugman: "serious studies have found very little evidence either that tax hikes cause lots of wealthy people to move or that state taxes have any significant impact on growth."

Unemployment in California? Down to a "mere" 9.6% (see: http://articles.latimes.com/2013/mar/29/business/la-fi-california-jobs-20130330), among the highest rates in the country.

But the real kicker? As recently observed by The Los Angeles Times in an article entitled "California's debt still a heavy cloud over state's future" (http://articles.latimes.com/2013/jan/13/local/la-me-state-debt-20130114):

"Sacramento is legally obligated to pay many billions of dollars withheld from schools, local governments and healthcare providers as lawmakers struggled repeatedly to balance the books. It owes Wall Street more per resident than almost every other state. And it has accumulated a crushing load of debt for retiree pensions and healthcare, now totaling more than taxpayers spend each year on all state programs combined.

. . . .

When he released his budget plan, Brown vowed to knock down the state's 'wall of debt.' He presented a timeline for repaying nearly $28 billion the state owes to government programs that it raided for cash or deprived of funds over the years, as well as some bonds sold to balance the budget.

. . . .

But numerous reports by state agencies, think tanks and academics have shown the wall of debt to be many stories higher than $28 billion — hundreds of billions of dollars over the next few decades. Brown's repayment plan does not significantly reduce the sizable debt to Wall Street or account for promises the state has made to its current and future retirees but is not setting enough money aside to cover."

Now go back and read Krugman's op-ed one more time. Does the word "debt" appear even once in his opinion piece? Afraid not. A "wall of debt"? What, me worry?

California could be "the place where the future happens first?" It could well be, but it's not going to be pretty.



Thomas Friedman, "Need a Job? Invent It": Meet Our Household's "Dish Fairy" . . . Me

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Need a Job? Invent It" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/friedman-need-a-job-invent-it.html?_r=1&), Thomas Friedman tells us that in order to avoid unemployment, our children must be schooled in innovation:

"This is dangerous at a time when there is increasingly no such thing as a high-wage, middle-skilled job — the thing that sustained the middle class in the last generation. Now there is only a high-wage, high-skilled job. Every middle-class job today is being pulled up, out or down faster than ever. That is, it either requires more skill or can be done by more people around the world or is being buried — made obsolete — faster than ever. Which is why the goal of education today, argues [Harvard education specialist Tony] Wagner, should not be to make every child 'college ready' but 'innovation ready' — ready to add value to whatever they do."

Great advice for that one tenth of a percent of our youth capable of heeding this advice.

Consider also that only some 50% of new businesses in America survive five years (see: http://boss.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/07/15/failure-is-a-constant-in-entrepreneurship/). These are not great odds for "innovators" seeking to strike out on their own and implement new ideas. As I personally learned long ago, innovation is not always appreciated coming from raw recruits at many workplaces.

On the other hand, gifted as I am, I have managed to invent my own job: chauffeur to the children, dog walker, toilet bowl scrubber and "dish fairy," i.e. the person responsible in our family for making that pile of dirty pots and dishes in the sink magically disappear every night and find itself, scrubbed and cleaned, back on our shelves and in our cabinets before anyone has rubbed the sand from their eyes in the morning.

I don't know about Professor Wagner, but Professor Albus Dumbledore would certainly be proud of me.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Will Gays Be Punished for Success?": And Just What Has Obama Done to Foster Gay Rights?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Will Gays Be Punished for Success?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/31/opinion/sunday/dowd-will-gays-be-punished-for-success.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd snarls:

"GAYS might not win because they’ve already won?

That was the moronic oxymoron at the heart of the Supreme Court debate on same-sex marriage."

"Moronic"? I suppose that's a tad better than labeling the justices "hacks" and accusing the court of "cowardice," as was done by Dowd in prior op-eds (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/maureen-dowd-courting-cowardice-my-wife.html). But before savaging the court for reaching the wrong decision, Maureen should first allow the court to reach a decision.

Dowd goes on to observe:

"But Congress has passed no federal protections for gays on employment, housing and education. In 29 states, it is perfectly legal to fire someone because of his or her sexual orientation. The F.B.I. says the only uptick in hate crimes involves attacks on gays."

Gays are indeed in need of legislative protection, but this is not the fault of the Supreme Court, but rather of Congress. Moreover, President Obama has been less than proactive in advancing gay rights.

Perhaps it might also be "nice" if Dowd were to consider the annual $1.5 billion in aid given by the Obama administration to Egypt, now ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood. What is this aid supporting? See what the Muslim Brotherhood says in its own words in its official English website (http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731) regarding homosexual relationships:

"The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo-sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

. . . .

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

. . . .

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

. . . .

The Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo: March 13, 2013"

Kindly keep this in mind, Maureen, when you next sojourn in the Middle East and again denounce Israel, which is the only nation in the region that safeguards gay rights and which has become a "Mecca" for homosexual Palestinians who face arrest and torture at home (see: http://www.timesofisrael.com/gay-palestinian-to-hcj-boot-me-and-theyll-kill-me/). And perhaps remember this when you next use hateful imagery that reeks of anti-Semitism (see: http://www.politico.com/blogs/media/2012/09/maureen-dowd-meets-antisemitism-charge-135700.html).

Yes, I know, anti-Semitism of the kind recently vented by Bill Maher (see: http://www.algemeiner.com/2013/02/18/shocking-bill-maher-says-the-israelis-are-controlling-our-government-video/) is in vogue at The Times (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/is-new-york-times-columnist-maureen.html), but is it any less despicable than bigotry against gays? I don't think so. The one is no more acceptable than the other. Dowd would do well to recall that both Jews and homosexuals were sent to concentration camps by the Nazis.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish those who regularly read this blog happy Passover and Easter holidays. As can be seen below in a chart of the blog's monthly pageviews, your number has been growing, which leads me to believe that there still may be room for moderation and tolerance on this planet. I couldn't wish for more.



Sodom and Gomorrah: Plagiarism and Prevarication Go Unpunished at The New York Times and The Washington Post

Then the Lord said, 'How great is the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah and how very grave their sin!'

- Genesis 18:20

No, I'm not religious in a traditional sense, but I can say with certainty that my religious perspective, which is a bit amorphous, differs vastly from that of Jill Abramson, executive editor of The New York Times, whose theological upbringing is described in her Times blurb (http://topics.nytimes.com/topics/reference/timestopics/people/a/jill_abramson/index.html):

"Ms. Abramson said that as a born-and-raised New Yorker, she considered being named editor of The Times to be like 'ascending to Valhalla.'

'In my house growing up, The Times substituted for religion,' she said. 'If The Times said it, it was the absolute truth.'"

Abramson has "ascended to Valhalla," where truth reigns supreme? In fact, given my own recent experience with the anti-Semitism and outright lies of The Times, I consider her being named editor of the The Times to be more akin to descending into Helheim (hell in Nordic mythology).

Let's ignore the recent manifestations of anti-Semitism at The Times, e.g., Kristof's retweet of a controversial message that referred to AIPAC as one of "the 2 most pig like lobbies" in America (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/01/nicholas-kristof-retweets-obama-told-2.html) and Friedman's op-ed assertion that Netanyahu's standing ovation after speaking before Congress was "bought and paid for by the Israel lobby" (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/14/opinion/friedman-newt-mitt-bibi-and-vladimir.html?_r=0). Yup, as advanced by both "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" and The New York Times, Jews pull all the strings.

Instead let's concentrate on Maureen Dowd's inadvertent lifting of language, i.e. plagiarism (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/05/17/maureen-dowd-admits-inadv_n_204418.html), which went unpunished by The Times.

Let's also focus on Thomas Friedman's recent December 4, 2012 flagrantly mistaken op-ed contention (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/05/opinion/iron-empires-iron-fists-iron-domes.html) that Israel's planned E1 construction "would sever any possibility of a contiguous Palestinian state." This was followed by a December 20, 2012 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&), in which 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."

Unfortunately for both Friedman and the editorial board of The Times, E1 construction by Israel, if it ever happens, will not sever the West Bank. This is a fact.

As provided by Section 15 of "Ethical Journalism, A Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" (italics added)  (http://www.nytco.com/pdf/NYT_Ethical_Journalism_0904.pdf), which puportedly guides the ethical conduct of The Times:

"The Times treats is readers as fairly and openly as possible. In print and online, we tell our readers the complete, unvarnished truth as best we can learn it. It is our policy to correct our errors large and small, as soon as we become aware of them."

As further provided Section 16 of the "Handbook of Values and Practices for the News and Editorial Departments" of The Times:

"Simple courtesy suggests that we not alienate our readers by ignoring their letters and e-mails that warrant reply."

The New York Times did not bother to correct Friedman's op-ed piece or its editorial, notwithstanding my e-mails to Andrew Rosenthal, its editorial page editor, and Margaret Sullivan, its public editor. Moreover, both Rosenthal and Sullivan didn't bother to reply.

But not to worry, Jill, Andy and Margaret. The Times is in "good company."

Notwithstanding Fareed Zakaria's plagiarism scandal and his resignation from Yale University's governing board (see: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/08/20/fareed-zakaria-resigns-yale-board_n_1814199.html), The Washington Post continues to publish his opinion pieces.

Worse still, The Washington Post has now demonstrated that it is indifferent to prevarication penned by its opinion writing staff. Earlier this month, in a WaPo opinion piece entitled "Obama appeals to Israel's conscience" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-obama-appeals-to-israels-conscience/2013/03/27/a4365b18-96f5-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html?hpid=z2), Zakaria claimed:

"After all, Israel has ruled millions of Palestinians without offering them citizenship or a state for 40 years."

Of course, as well known to Zakaria, 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. I alerted WaPo to this lie, and Martin Baron, executive editor of the newspaper, sent me an e-mail saying that he was passing my complaint to Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor. Has Hiatt gotten back to me? Not yet, and I'm no longer holding my breath.

And so, we have reached a time when plagiarism and prevarication go unpunished by two of America's leading newspapers. Is it any wonder that their readership and finances are in a death spiral?

We all know what happened to Sodom and Gomorrah, despite Abraham's best efforts at bargaining with God. Can ten righteous persons be found at The  New York Times and The Washington Post? I am beginning to have my doubts.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Gail Collins, "The Attack of the Killer Surplus": Can Someone (Me) Be Pro-Choice and Pro-Democracy?

Don't get me wrong: I am pro-choice. Abortion? Read chapter 4, "Where Have All the Criminals Gone," of Levitt and Dubner's 2005 book "Freakonomics," which explains how legalized abortion throughout the US, resulting from the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, led to a dramatic drop in crime in the 1990s. As noted at the end of chapter 4:

"What the link between abortion and crime does say is this: when the government gives a woman the opportunity to make her own decisions about abortion, she generally does a good job of figuring out if she is in a position to raise the baby well. If she can't, she often chooses the abortion."

I believe that children brought into this world are entitled to be wanted and loved.

But whereas I am pro-choice, I am the first to acknowledge my fallibility, and I am also pro-democracy.

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Attack of the Killer Surplus" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/30/opinion/collins-the-attack-of-the-killer-surplus.html?_r=0), Gail Collins laments North Dakota's budget surplus from an oil boom, which has facilitated a focus on proposed legislation that would severely limit abortions. Collins concludes:

"A shortage of money tends to keep things focused. When a legislature starts going off the rails, cool heads can pull the conversation back into line by reminding everybody that they’re supposed to be focusing on 'jobs, jobs, jobs.' It gets a little tiresome after a while, but it does provide a much-needed sense of direction. While our Congress is certainly unsatisfactory in many ways, it’s shown a lack of enthusiasm for having major fights over social issues in recent years, possibly because everybody wants to look jobs-jobs-jobs obsessive.

North Dakota led astray by lucre? Finally, we may have found a good side to recessions."

Okay, when unemployment and grinding budget deficits are not the first orders of business of a state legislature, local lawmakers have more time to consider abortion. Sure, I am pro-choice, but who am I to lecture my friends from Fargo on reproductive rights?

Moreover, if a woman from North Dakota decides that she doesn't want to give birth to a child, she can probably obtain bus fare to Illinois, one of the states with the highest per-capita deficits, to have an abortion.

Rue North Dakota's budget surplus at a time when US debt is approaching $16.8 trillion, which will never be returned, and allow the federal government to make all choices for residents of North Dakota, moral and fiscal? No way, Jose.

Paul Krugman, "Cheating Our Children": Who Is the Ringleader of Those Dastardly Deficit Scolds?

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Cheating Our Children" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/opinion/krugman-cheating-our-children.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman, in an all too familiar reprise, again rants against those who would rein in federal spending. Krugman concludes:

"And why are we shortchanging the future so dramatically and inexcusably? Blame the deficit scolds, who weep crocodile tears over the supposed burden of debt on the next generation, but whose constant inveighing against the risks of government borrowing, by undercutting political support for public investment and job creation, has done far more to cheat our children than deficits ever did.

Fiscal policy is, indeed, a moral issue, and we should be ashamed of what we’re doing to the next generation’s economic prospects. But our sin involves investing too little, not borrowing too much — and the deficit scolds, for all their claims to have our children’s interests at heart, are actually the bad guys in this story."

Those dastardly "deficit scolds"! Who is their scurrilous ringleader, who is busy weeping crocodile tears over our children? A hint: Obama, who blamed Bush for this debt in July 2008 when it stood at only $9 trillion.

.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

David Brooks, "The Empirical Kids": I Never Was "Cool" and Never Will Be

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Empirical Kids" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/29/opinion/brooks-the-empirical-kids.html?_r=0), David Brooks notes that he is teaching at the Jackson Institute for Global Affairs at Yale. He describes his reaction to a paper submitted by one of his students, describing "how it feels to be in at least a segment of her age cohort." Brooks tells us:

"In sum, today’s graduates enter a harsher landscape. Immediate postgrad life, Buhler [the student] writes, will probably bear a depressing resemblance to Hannah Horvath’s world on 'Girls.' The hit song 'Thrift Shop' by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis 'is less a fashion statement, more a looming financial reality.'"

Brooks concludes:

"[T]he harsh events of the past decade may have produced not a youth revolt but a reversion to an empiricist mind-set, a tendency to think in demoralized economic phrases like 'data analysis,' 'opportunity costs' and 'replicability,' and a tendency to dismiss other more ethical and idealistic vocabularies that seem fuzzy and, therefore, unreliable. After the hippie, the yuppie and the hipster, the cool people are now wonksters."

Quite honestly, I had never before heard of either the television series "Girls" or the song "Thrift Shop." I tried listening to the "official video" of "Thrift Shop" on YouTube, which had almost 200 million views, but within seconds hit the pause button. Instead, as I type, I am listening to bird songs as darkness turns to light outside my window.

"Data analysis," "opportunity costs" and "replicability"? It's not just the kids. Our financial markets, once the stuff from which dreams were financed and built, are algorithm-driven and plagued by computerized manipulative schemes, spelling an end to industrial innovation. Heck, executive policy at the White House is also set by these determinants.

Cool? Never was, never will be, as I slowly fade out of this world.

Recently, I have given thought to writing a book about predictive biology and what I believe to be an imminent revolution in the way in which new life-saving drugs are discovered. But today, does anyone still read? And although predictive biology is premised upon sophisticated data analysis, it would have been doomed to failure if, in its infancy, opportunity costs had factored into the equation.

Often, I find myself quoting the monologue of Colonel Jessep, the antagonist from the 1992 movie "A Few Good Men," played by Jack Nicholson:

"We use words like honor, code, loyalty. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something."

Honor, code and loyalty? No wonder Colonel Jessep is thrown into the brig at the end of the flick.

Me? I'm fast becoming a dinosaur, and perhaps my fossilized bones will be placed on display at the Museum of Natural History several centuries from now.

Meanwhile, it's time to replace the broccoli with tomato seedlings in my garden,  where "opportunity costs" and "replicability" have yet to raise their ugly heads.

[Martin Baron, executive editor of The Washington Post, sent me a short e-mail yesterday saying that he was passing my complaint concerning Fareed Zakaria's despicable opinion piece (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/fareed-zakaria-obama-appeals-to-israels.html) to Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor. Yes, there is still decency in this world, "opportunity costs" and all. Will I hear back from Fred Hiatt? Stay tuned.]

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Fareed Zakaria, "Obama Appeals to Israel's Conscience": A Plagiarizer Lectures on Morality

In his latest Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama appeals to Israel's conscience" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/fareed-zakaria-obama-appeals-to-israels-conscience/2013/03/27/a4365b18-96f5-11e2-b68f-dc5c4b47e519_story.html?hpid=z2), Fareed Zakaria would have us believe that Israel should no longer feel threatened by its neighbors:

"The situation today, however, is transformed in every sense. The Soviet Union is dead. Iraq and Syria have been sidelined as foes. The Arab world is in upheaval, which produces great uncertainty but has also weakened every Arab country. They all are focused on internal issues of power, legitimacy and survival. The last thing any of them can afford is a confrontation with the country that has become the region’s dominant power."

Yeah, right. The mullahs in Tehran are calling for the annihilation of Israel almost every day, and Israel shouldn't be the least bit concerned, when Obama acknowledges that the Iran is a mere one year away from a nuclear weapon. Meanwhile, Hezbollah, Iran's surrogate in Lebanon, is pointing some 60,000 rockets and missiles at Israel and repeatedly warning of an imminent war, and the fate of Syria's enormous chemical weapons arsenal is hanging in the balance. Yup, no need for the least bit of concern on the part of Jerusalem.

Zakaria continues:

"Israel’s highly effective counterterrorism methods, including the wall separating Palestinians and Israelis and the 'iron dome,' which increasingly shields Israelis from missiles, have largely made Palestinian terrorism something that is worried about and planned against but not actually experienced by most Israelis."

Well, first let's get our facts straight: The separation barrier between Israel and the Palestinian Authority is 90% fence and only 10% wall, and where it is "wall," it is primarily intended to prevent Palestinians from shooting from built-up areas at neighboring Israeli towns and cities and vehicles passing along Israel's Highway 6.

Palestinian terror a thing of the past? More than 12,000 rockets and missiles have been fired at Israel from Gaza since 2002. True, Iron Dome did a spectacular job of intercepting missiles during the most recent conflagration with Gaza, i.e. Operation Pillar of Defense, but there are thousands more rockets and missiles waiting to be fired from Gaza, and Iron Dome is still not 100% reliable. I suggest that Zakaria put his thesis to the test and write over the next year from the southern Israeli town of Sderot, where a rocket fell during Obama's recent visit to Israel.

Next, Zakaria, a plagiarizer, tosses out a flagrant lie:

"After all, Israel has ruled millions of Palestinians without offering them citizenship or a state for 40 years."

Of course, as well known to Zakaria, 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.

Zakaria concludes:

"Having tried pressure, threats and tough talk, Obama has settled on a new strategy: appealing to Israel as a liberal democracy and to its people’s sense of conscience and character. In the long run, this is the most likely path to peace and a Palestinian state."

So now a plagiarizer and liar is lecturing Israelis about "conscience." A majority of Israelis favor a two-state solution; however, they are also painfully aware that the Hamas charter calls for the murder of all Jews, not just Israelis. Over the past decade, Israelis have had more than their fill of suicide bombings. After Prime Minister Sharon unilaterally evacuated Gaza, they witnessed almost daily rocket attacks against their southern towns and cities. And Israelis have watched Arafat and Abbas reject peace with land swaps, which would have instantly provided Palestinians with statehood.

Get stuffed, Fareed.







Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Caution, Curves Ahead": Let Them Bleed

In June 2012, Henry Kissinger weighed in on the issue of American intervention in the Syrian civil war in a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Syrian intervention risks upsetting global order" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/syrian-intervention-risks-upsetting-global-order/2012/06/01/gJQA9fGr7U_story.html). Kissinger, a refugee from Nazi Germany, wrote:

"Military intervention, humanitarian or strategic, has two prerequisites: First, a consensus on governance after the overthrow of the status quo is critical. If the objective is confined to deposing a specific ruler, a new civil war could follow in the resulting vacuum, as armed groups contest the succession, and outside countries choose different sides. Second, the political objective must be explicit and achievable in a domestically sustainable time period. I doubt that the Syrian issue meets these tests. We cannot afford to be driven from expedient to expedient into undefined military involvement in a conflict taking on an increasingly sectarian character. In reacting to one human tragedy, we must be careful not to facilitate another."

This was written by the same man who advised President Nixon, when Israel was struggling against Egypt and Syria during the War of Atonement, to withhold supplies. Although the Arabs had been supplied with the latest Soviet weaponry, Kissinger reportedly told Nixon, "Let them [the Israelis] bleed a little."

This was written by the same man who also informed Nixon (see: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/12/11/us/politics/11nixon.html):

"The emigration of Jews from the Soviet Union is not an objective of American foreign policy. And if they put Jews into gas chambers in the Soviet Union, it is not an American concern. Maybe a humanitarian concern."

Maybe a "humanitarian concern"? Humanitarian concerns should not shape foreign policy? Every sinew in my body rebels against this noxious declaration.

Today, in a New York Times op-ed entitled "Caution, Curves Ahead" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/opinion/friedman-cautions-curves-ahead.html), Thomas Friedman similarly concludes with respect to Syria:

"I’m dubious that just arming 'nice' rebels will produce the Syria we want; it could, though, drag us in in ways we might not want. But if someone can make the case that arming the secular-nationalist rebels increases the chances of forcing Assad and the Russians into a settlement, and defeating the Islamists rebels after Assad falls, I’m ready to listen.

This is the problem from hell. Sometimes the necessary and desirable are impossible, which is why I commend the president on his caution, up to now."

Some 70,000 civilians have been killed by the Assad regime over the past three years, and Friedman is "commending" the president on his inaction?

The likelihood is indeed that when Assad is ultimately deposed, Syria's Sunnis, some 70 percent of the population, will seek revenge against Assad's Alawaite minority. And I hope at that time the world will do all in its power to protect innocents.

But just in case my soft-hearted pleas for mercy don't resonate with Tom, perhaps he should reconsider the vast stockpiles of chemical weapons that Assad has accumulated, and in whose hands this arsenal might ultimately find itself when Assad falls. There is every reason for the US to seek to achieve a desired outcome to this conflict, albeit without boots on the ground.

"Leading from behind" just doesn't cut it.

Maureen Dowd, "Courting Cowardice": My Wife Was in Washington Last Week?

In her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Courting Cowardice" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/27/opinion/dowd-courting-cowardice.html?_r=0), Maureen Dowd observes that last week at the US Supreme Court, where the justices were hearing arguments concerning same-sex marriage, "One woman summed it up nicely in a placard reading 'Gays have the right to be as miserable as I make my husband.'" How peculiar. My wife never told me that she had been to Washington. (Just kidding, dear.)

But more to the point, suppose that in less than another four years Hillary is elected president. How the heck will the Supreme Court be able to uphold the "sanctity" of Hillary and Bill's farcical union, yet deny gay people the right to be married?

Back to Dowd's opinion piece. Savaging the Supreme Court's reluctance to tackle the issue, Maureen quotes Justice Alito:

"'Same-sex marriage is very new,' Justice Samuel Alito whinged, noting that 'it may turn out to be a good thing; it may turn out not to be a good thing.' If the standard is that marriage always has to be 'a good thing,' would heterosexuals pass?

'But you want us to step in and render a decision,' Alito continued, 'based on an assessment of the effects of this institution, which is newer than cellphones or the Internet? I mean, we do not have the ability to see the future.'"

Now I'm not about to get my underpants in a knot over Justice Alito's musings, but I didn't realize it was the function of the Supreme Court to determine whether something is "good" or "new." I thought it was the Supreme Court's job to decide whether a practice or course of conduct is "legal." But more on this later.

Dowd continues:

"Swing Justice Anthony Kennedy grumbled about 'uncharted waters,' and the fuddy-duddies seemed to be looking for excuses not to make a sweeping ruling. Their questions reflected a unanimous craven impulse: How do we get out of this? This court is plenty bold imposing bad decisions on the country, like anointing W. president or allowing unlimited money to flow covertly into campaigns."

Or upholding the legality of Obamacare.

Which brings me to my point. Dowd concludes, "If this court doesn’t reject bigotry, history will reject this court." "History will reject this court"? Before getting hysterical, Maureen, let's first allow the Supreme Court to do its work.

In April 2012, in an opinion piece entitled "Men in Black" (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/04/opinion/dowd-men-in-black.html), Dowd declared prior to the Supreme Court's ruling on the legality of Obamacare:

"This court, cosseted behind white marble pillars, out of reach of TV, accountable to no one once they give the last word, is well on its way to becoming one of the most divisive in modern American history.

It has squandered even the semi-illusion that it is the unbiased, honest guardian of the Constitution. It is run by hacks dressed up in black robes."

Of course, much to Dowd's embarrassment, the Court then upheld Obamacare.

You see, Maureen, no two people think alike. At the Supreme Court, no two justices think alike. Let them ask their questions, some of which - such as those of Justice Alito - may seem inapt to you or me. But let's also try to maintain our respect for the Supreme Court, which over the course of many years, has done a fairly good job of maintaining justice.

No matter how ardently I might oppose the opinion of any Supreme Court justice, I would never dream of labeling him or her a "hack" or a "coward." This lack of civility and basic respect for the opinions of others, threatens to tear apart the fabric of American society. If the Supreme Court's justices are "hacks" and "cowards," does this mean that each of us is free to take the law into his or her own hands? I shudder at the prospect.

And as long as we're on the subject of "cowardice," Dowd strangely fails to observe how reluctant her beloved "Barry" was to take a stand on the issue, and how he needed to be nudged by Vice President Biden.

Same-sex marriage will be upheld. A little patience and a bit less theatrics please, Maureen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

David Brooks, "The Killing Chain": Can Gun Control Legislation Be Compared with Prohibition?

Can parallels be drawn between current attempts to circumscribe the sale of guns in the US and prohibition in America, which, from 1920 to 1933, sought to thwart the sale, manufacture, and transportation of alcohol? I think so.

In a provocative New York Times op-ed entitled "The Killing Chain" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/26/opinion/brooks-the-killing-chain.html?_r=0), David Brooks observes that if you decided to write a novel about a murder, there would be "a complex series of links leading up to the ultimate homicide" that you would want to describe. Brooks next observes:

"Over the last 25 years, American authorities have tried to interrupt that killing chain at almost every link except one. In a hodgepodge but organic manner, there have been vast changes in proactive policing, mentoring programs, gang eradication programs, incarceration rates, cultural attitudes and so on. The only step in the killing chain that we haven’t really touched is gun acquisition. Federal gun control laws have become more permissive over the last several years.

This de facto approach — influencing the whole killing chain except gun acquisition — has nonetheless contributed to a phenomenal decline in violence. Murder rates over all have fallen by about 50 percent, back to levels not seen since the Kennedy administration."

Brooks, however, observes, that it is difficult to control the sale of firearms in the US:

"But the sad fact is that gun acquisition is probably the link on the killing chain least amenable to influence. We live in a country that already has something like 250 million guns floating around. It’s hard retroactively to get a grip on them."

Brooks's conclusion:

"We have a successful history of reducing violence by spreading efforts across the killing chain. We have a disappointing history of trying to reduce violence with a gun-obsessed approach. Let’s focus on what works."

I would observe that Brooks's estimate of the number guns floating around America is conservative. I have seen considerably higher estimates, some exceeding 300 million.

Given this number, I think it is impossible to prevent a determined criminal from obtaining a gun in America. A gun can always be obtained for a price. However, background checks can prevent weapons from finding their way into the hands of persons with psychiatric records.

Now consider the number of persons killed by firearms in the US in 2011: 8,583 according to the FBI (see: http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/crime-in-the-u.s/2011/crime-in-the-u.s.-2011/tables/expanded-homicide-data-table-8). This compares with 9,878 people who died in drunk driving crashes in 2011 (see: http://www.madd.org/drunk-driving/about/drunk-driving-statistics.html). The numbers are not too far apart.

Given the number of people who died last year in the US as a result of drunk driving, why are we not hearing calls for a reintroduction of prohibition? Unlike guns, alcohol is a commodity that is consumed and must be constantly manufactured in order to maintain stocks, as opposed to guns which, if well oiled, last forever and whose number is constantly swelling. A renewed ban on the sale of alcohol could presumably reduce the number of drunk driving deaths. So why isn't Congress drafting legislation to again prevent the sale, manufacture and transport of alcohol? Obviously, Americans are not willing to forgo their consumption of alcohol, which is not protected by the Constitution.

Are Americans willing to forgo their right to own firearms, which is protected by the Constitution (yes, I know this is the subject of debate)? Apparently not.

Of course, we all want to feel good about ourselves and believe that we are doing something to prevent another outrageous shooting. Moreover, I personally agree that there is no place for assault weapons on the market. But will this put the genie, i.e. more than 250 million guns in America, back in the bottle? No way.

Which is why I believe Brooks is correct: Intensive efforts must be made "across the killing chain." The basic appetite for firearms - and alcohol - cannot be suppressed.

Obama's Speech to Israeli Students: An "Apology" from The Washington Post

In a March 21 blog entry entitled "The Washington Post, 'Obama Heckled in Israel': Falsifying the Facts (http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/03/the-washington-post-obama-heckled-in.html), I referred to a Washington Post article entitled "Obama heckled in Israel" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/03/21/obama-heckled-in-israel/?wp_login_redirect=0), which noted that Obama had been interrupted while speaking before Israeli students in Jerusalem:

"The man was shouting in Hebrew. According to a White House pool report, he was referencing Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel."

However, as reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Obama-heckler-His-speech-was-extremist-and-Zionist-307394):

"The Israeli-Arab student who shouted a pro-Palestinian slogan, interrupting US President Barack Obama's speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday, said Friday that he had done so because he found the speech to be 'extremist and Zionist.'

Speaking in an interview with Channel 10, Rabia Eid said that 'Obama talked about a Jewish state, and that is unacceptable to me and to the Arabs of the world.'"

I complained to WaPo about the inaccuracy and today received an e-mail from Rachel Weiner, the author of the article:

"Your email was forwarded to me. I am genuinely sorry for the mistake, which was based on an inaccurate White House pool report. We corrected it on Friday and added a note explaining the correction, as you can see here:



My response to Ms. Weiner:

"This has gone from bad to worse.

You now write:


"The man was shouting in Hebrew. He later identified himself as Rabeea Eid, an Arab-Israeli student activist from Haifa University. He questioned whether President Obama really supported peace and asked about the death of Rachel Corrie, an American activist who was killed by an Israeli bulldozer in Gaza in 2003. In an interview with the Jerusalem Post, Eid called Obama’s speech 'extremist and Zionist.'"

Killed by an Israeli bulldozer"? As you are surely aware, an Israeli district court ruled that Corrie's death was an accident (see: http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israeli-court-u-s-activist-rachel-corrie-s-death-was-an-accident-1.461156). There is an enormous difference between writing that 'Corrie was killed by an Israeli bulldozer' and 'Corrie was accidentally killed by an Israeli bulldozer.'

Your description of Corrie's death without reference to the judicial determination is inaccurate and inflammatory. Do you question the impartiality and judgment of Israeli courts?

I live in Israel and am an Israeli attorney. I believe in a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. My views are center/left by Israeli standards. I do not question the impartiality and judgment of Israeli courts or the conscientiousness and morality of Israeli judges.

By the way, what exactly is an 'activist'? I write a blog that is read around the world. Does this also make me an 'activist,' or must someone heckle an American president or burn a mock American flag (as did Corrie) to achieve this status?

Are 'heckling' and 'questioning' an American president one and the same? I never realized that this was the case."


Ms. Weiner's response:

"I'm sorry you feel that way! Personally I think an accurate post is better than an inaccurate one, regardless of any disagreement over word choice. We'll have to agree to disagree."

My response to Ms. Weiner:

"So at The Washington Post 'heckling' and 'questioning' (in a language President Obama does not understand) are one and the same, 'activism' goes undefined, and selection of words has no bearing upon 'accuracy.' Splendid."

My further response to senior editors of The Washington Post:

"Please note that in Ms. Weiner's original post, she wrote:

'The man was shouting in Hebrew. According to a White House pool report, he was referencing Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel.'

Remarkably, when WaPo finally acknowledged the inaccuracy of its initial report, the true 'heckler' from the Israeli left became an 'activist.' Obviously, Ms. Weiner thinks little of the matter, but perhaps one of you can explain to me the meaning of 'activist' as used by WaPo. Must one be associated with the 'left' in order to achieve this appellation? Does 'activism' in any way excuse shouting down an American president while he is giving a speech? Why wasn't the imaginary 'heckler,' purportedly protesting Pollard's imprisonment, also labeled an 'activist'?

I would welcome any enlightenment that you can provide, given that Ms. Weiner does not attribute significance to her choice of words."

It just never ends.

Paul Krugman, "Hot Money Blues": Does China Hold the US by the Short and Curlies?

Does China hold the US by the short and curlies?

In a New York Times op-ed entitled "Hot Money Blues" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/25/opinion/krugman-hot-money-blues.html?_r=0), Paul Krugman writes:

"It’s hard to imagine now, but for more than three decades after World War II financial crises of the kind we’ve lately become so familiar with hardly ever happened. Since 1980, however, the roster has been impressive: Mexico, Brazil, Argentina and Chile in 1982. Sweden and Finland in 1991. Mexico again in 1995. Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Korea in 1998. Argentina again in 2002. And, of course, the more recent run of disasters: Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Cyprus.

What’s the common theme in these episodes? Conventional wisdom blames fiscal profligacy — but in this whole list, that story fits only one country, Greece. Runaway bankers are a better story; they played a role in a number of these crises, from Chile to Sweden to Cyprus. But the best predictor of crisis is large inflows of foreign money: in all but a couple of the cases I just mentioned, the foundation for crisis was laid by a rush of foreign investors into a country, followed by a sudden rush out."

Absent from Krugman's list of financial crises is Turkey's 2001 economic crisis in which fiscal profligacy certainly played a role. However, in the instance of Turkey, the almost overnight withdrawal of $70 billion of foreign funds certainly had much to do with the debacle.

Krugman's conclusion:


"Now what? I don’t expect to see a wholesale, sudden rejection of the idea that money should be free to go wherever it wants, whenever it wants. There may well, however, be a process of erosion, as governments intervene to limit both the pace at which money comes in and the rate at which it goes out. Global capitalism is, arguably, on track to become substantially less global.

And that’s O.K. Right now, the bad old days when it wasn’t that easy to move lots of money across borders are looking pretty good."

Remarkably there is not even a mention by Krugman that China owns more than $1.2 trillion in US bills, notes and bonds, or some eight percent of US debt. What would happen if China were hurriedly to remove these funds from the US? You don't want to know.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Israel: Bits, Bytes and Bombs": An Interminable Tide of Drivel

Would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman is back with yet another fatuous opinion piece demeaning Israel.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Israel: Bits, Bytes and Bombs" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/24/opinion/sunday/friedman-israel-bits-bytes-and-bombs.html?_r=0), Friedman writes:

"Indeed, the crazy dream Israel is keeping alive is that it can permanently occupy the West Bank, with its 2.5 million Palestinians, to satisfy biblically inspired settlers, who now hold major cabinet positions, like the housing portfolio, in Israel’s new government."

But as well known to Friedman, Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered Arafat and Abbas independence along the 1967 lines. Olmert even offered to share Jerusalem, but Arafat and Abbas rejected these offers.

Moreover, a recent Smith Institute poll determined that 62% of Israeli's favor a two-state solution (see: http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Poll-Majority-of-Israelis-support-two-state-solution), but it's difficult to achieve peace when the other side refuses to accept Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.

Not surprisingly, as determined by Prof. Ephraim Yaar and Prof. Tamar Hermann of Tel Aviv University: "Some 67% [of Israelis] agree with the assertion that no matter which parties prevail in the elections, the peace process with the Palestinians will remain at a standstill for reasons not connected to Israel, and there is no chance of progress in the foreseeable future" (http://en.idi.org.il/media/2050461/Peace%20Index-December%202012.pdf).

Also conveniently forgotten by Friedman is that fact that Yair Lapid, Minister of Finance and chairman of the Yesh Atid Party, which garnered the second highest tally of votes after Netanyahu's Likud Yisrael Beiteinu Party in Israel's most recent election, favors a two-state solution (see: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4224132,00.html).

Friedman states, "Amazingly, polls still show a majority on both sides for a two-state deal," but this is not the case. As reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=229493) in 2011, "Only one in three Palestinians (34 percent) accepts two states for two peoples as the solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to an intensive, face-to-face survey in Arabic of 1,010 Palestinian adults in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip completed this week by American pollster Stanley Greenberg."

Failing to mention that Israeli built-up settlement area comprises less than two percent of the West Bank, Friedman concludes:

"The best way for Israel to deal with the chaos around it is not to put its head in the sand but to collaborate with Palestinians to build a West Bank state that is modern, secular and Westernizing; one where Muslims, Christians and Jews can work together and that stands in daily refutation of the failing Hamas/Muslim Brotherhood models elsewhere. If Israelis and Palestinians do not try everything — now — to make that happen, this will be remembered not as a lost opportunity but the lost opportunity, and no island will escape the storm that will follow."

Ah, yes, "a West Bank state that is modern, secular and Westernizing." But consider a December 2012 article entitled "Abbas aide: No plans to outlaw 'honor killing'" published by the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency (http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=550792), in which it is written:

"President Mahmoud Abbas has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an 'honor' defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says.

'Why change it? This would cause serious problems,' Hassan al-Ouri told Ma'an, adding that such a reform would 'not benefit women.'

In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for 'honor killing' in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron.

The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya’s hometown.

Abbas suspended Article 340, which offers a pardon for murder if the perpetrator committed the crime on finding his wife in bed with another man.

The reform was cosmetic: Article 340 had never been used in Palestinian courts since it was legislated in 1960.

'So why did we change the law? To garner public opinion,' al-Ouri said in an interview in the presidential compound in Ramallah.

'I, personally, was against the amendment because the crimes that happen in the street have no relevance to Article 340,' the legal adviser added.

Al-Ouri says the president will not change the go-to clauses for lawyers seeking leniency for clients who claim they committed murder to defend family 'honor.'

Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a 'state of rage.'"

A modern secular West Bank state in which women can be murdered upon a whim? Friedman is entirely detached from Muslim Middle East reality.


Netanyahu Explains His Apology to Turkey: Read Between the Lines!

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has explained his recent apology to Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan for the loss of life on the Mavi Marmara by observing on his Facebook page(https://www.facebook.com/Netanyahu) (JG Caesarea's translation from the Hebrew):

"After three years of severed relations between Israel and Turkey, I decided that this is the time to rehabilitate them.

The changing reality around us demands that we constantly reexamine our relationships with countries in this region. During the last three years Israel has undertaken a number of initiatives to bring an end to this breach between Turkey and us.

The fact that the crisis in Syria is worsening from moment to moment was the central consideration in my view. Syria is crumbling, and its significant arsenal of advanced weapons is beginning to fall into the hands of various factions. The greatest danger is that its chemical weapons stockpiles will fall into the hands of terrorist organizations.

The reality in Syria, including, inter alia, the positioning of worldwide Jihad forces along our Golan Heights border, creates large challenges for our defense establishment. We are following developments there and are prepared to respond accordingly.

It is important that Turkey and Israel, which both border on Syria, can communicate with one another, and this is important also with respect to additional regional challenges."
"Additional regional challenges"? This is a veiled reference to Iran.

Stay tuned.




Kathleen Parker, "For Hillary Clinton, the Time May Finally Be Right": Or Wrong

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "For Hillary Clinton, the time may finally be right" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/kathleen-parker-for-hillary-clinton-the-time-may-finally-be-right/2013/03/22/9b123bcc-930a-11e2-ba5b-550c7abf6384_story.html?hpid=z2), Kathleen Parker writes of Hillary's chances to be elected president in 2016:

"Not incidentally, the women’s vote is hers. Even Republican women would find it hard not to cast a ballot for Hillary. If not her, then who? And when? The Republican bench may be full, but, with the exception of Jeb Bush, a former Florida governor, it seems full of vice presidents rather than presidents. A Bush-Clinton contest might drive the country into dynastic delirium, but there would be a certain poetic symmetry: Finally the right Bush and the right Clinton.

Clearly, the “Hillary Clinton for president” proposition poses more questions than answers. But the calculus comes down to this: She has been working toward this moment essentially all her life, diligently clearing away the brush blocking her path. The zeitgeist is ready for a female president. Most important, she can win — and few think the country would be worse for it."

Come on, Kathleen, we're still years away from 2016, when, as you acknowledge, Hillary will turn 69. So much can change in the interim.

Sure, Hillary is as narcissistic and nasty as any other leading Democratic or Republican contender, and she will need to confront unresolved issues involving Benghazi ("What difference at this point does it make?”). On the other hand, she is also capable of making decisions, something that Barry has yet to learn.

Will she run? Much of the calculus will involve the state of the economy, which, although no longer comatose, is apt to remain bedridden. And then there is the question of how Iran ultimately plays out.

Also, the problem of Bill's philandering would have to be handled, no easy chore, unless he were to mysteriously meet the fate of Varys in "Game of Thrones."  Ouch.



Friday, March 22, 2013

New York Times Editorial, "Keep Guns Out of Criminal Hands": Again Ignoring the Facts

Back several months ago, my daughter attended a party. She didn't want to bring her new iPhone in with her, so what did she do? She placed the iPhone under the seat of the car, and when she returned later that night, it was no longer there. It never occurred to my daughter that criminals have sufficient sense to look for valuables under the seat of a car.

Quick question: How many guns are to be found in America? Answer: No one knows, but estimates range from 250 million to over 300 million.

In an editorial entitled "Keep Guns Out of Criminal Hands" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/23/opinion/keep-guns-out-of-criminal-hands.html?_r=0), The New York Times writes:

"Currently, only licensed firearms dealers are required to check the backgrounds of buyers, and they cannot sell to anyone the system flags for having a criminal record. Sales between private individuals, about 40 percent of all gun sales, are not subject to these rules. Last week, the Senate Judiciary Committee signed off on a bill that would make background checks virtually universal, except for transfers within families and clearly temporary transfers."

With some 300 million guns floating around the US, background checks are going to prevent firearms from finding their way into the hands of criminals?

Background checks might keep guns away from known nutcases, but criminals? No way. Organized crime is not stupid, and this proposed legislation amounts to no more than a band aid at a time when American inner cities - in Detroit, Oakland, Memphis, Baltimore and Atlanta - are hemorrhaging blood.

Background checks involving sales between private individuals are not going to keep more than 250 million guns out of the hands of the criminals. What is needed is a solution, not simple, to get the genie back into the bottle, and like it or not, keeping guns away from criminals is going to require a bit more thought than The New York Times can muster.

New York Times Editorial, "‘I Speak to You as a Friend ...’": The Times Wears Its Ignorance on Its Sleeve

In an editorial entitled "‘I Speak to You as a Friend ...’" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/opinion/i-speak-to-you-as-a-friend.html?_r=0), The New York Times declares:

"Will Mr. Obama also take the risks that will be needed to be a credible mediator and nudge the parties forward? His new secretary of state, John Kerry, is eager to begin and will be in Israel this weekend, but will he have the space to conduct real diplomacy? And is there a sense of urgency on anyone’s part? In recent years, Israel has built so many settlements that the options for finding a two-state solution are dwindling."

Apparently unbeknownst to the editorial board of The Times, built-up settlement area comprises less than two percent of the West Bank, but why should facts get in the way of their opinions?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

The Washington Post, "Obama Heckled in Israel": Falsifying the Facts

Again, shame on The Washington Post, which did not bother to check the facts.

According to a WaPo article entitled "Obama heckled in Israel" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-politics/wp/2013/03/21/obama-heckled-in-israel/?wp_login_redirect=0):

"The man was shouting in Hebrew. According to a White House pool report, he was referencing Jonathan Pollard, an American who pleaded guilty in 1986 to passing top-secret information to Israel."

As reported in today's Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/Breaking-News/Obama-heckler-His-speech-was-extremist-and-Zionist-307394):

"The Israeli-Arab student who shouted a pro-Palestinian slogan, interrupting US President Barack Obama's speech at the Jerusalem International Convention Center on Thursday, said Friday that he had done so because he found the speech to be 'extremist and Zionist.'

Speaking in an interview with Channel 10, Rabia Eid said that 'Obama talked about a Jewish state, and that is unacceptable to me and to the Arabs of the world.'"


Yup, how much easier it is for WaPo to villify the Israeli right in kneejerk fashion rather than check the facts.

David Brooks, "Forecasting Fox": Sorry, But I'll Stick With Benjamin Franklin

Several years ago I was asked to opine upon a novel "butterfly option" designed by a professional investor. My conclusion: Perhaps the method could be used to make limited sums of money during nine out of ten years, but if the unexpected were to happen - and it always does - you would lose everything that you earned in prior years. In short, I prefer my own insights based upon intimate study of any situation.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Forecasting Fox" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/22/opinion/brooks-forecasting-fox.html?_r=0), David Brooks describes an international affairs forecasting tournament held by the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency in order to determine if better predictions were attainable. As observed by Brooks, the tournament's results after two years of competition demonstrate that "forecasting skill cannot only be taught, it can be replicated." Brooks concludes:

"If I were President Obama or John Kerry, I’d want the Penn/Berkeley predictions on my desk. The intelligence communities may hate it. High-status old vets have nothing to gain and much to lose by having their analysis measured against a bunch of outsiders. But this sort of work could probably help policy makers better anticipate what’s around the corner. It might induce them to think more probabilistically. It might make them better foxes."

Query: Could the so-called "Arab spring," today more akin to an Arctic winter, and its unsavory consequences, e.g., the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and 70,000 dead civilians in Syria, have been predicted? Yes and no. Poverty, illiteracy and high birth rates are combustible materials, particularly when carelessly mixed. On the other hand, it would have been hard to know in advance of the intentions of a vegetable seller in Tunisia to engage in an act of self-immolation, thus setting the entire Middle East on fire. Mubarak's demise? This also had much to do with the "lead from behind" foreign policy of a young American president being lead by the nose by a bevy of know-nothing itinerant journalists, basking in the bright sun of Tahrir Square.

As Benjamin Franklin wrote in 1789:

"In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

After 224 years, Franklin's words remain spot-on.





Wednesday, March 20, 2013

E.J. Dionne Jr., "Obama Hopes Israel Trip Amounts to a Fresh Start": Ignoring Women's Rights and Honor Killings in the Palestinian Authority

In a Washington Post opinion piece entitled "Obama hopes Israel trip amounts to a fresh start" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/ej-dionne-obama-hopes-israel-trip-amounts-to-a-fresh-start/2013/03/20/327ca73e-918c-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html?hpid=z3), E.J. Dionne Jr. writes:

"All of which brings us back to two states. The formula is tired, worn and frustrating. It is also inescapable. It’s the best solution for those who believe in a thriving, democratic Jewish state. It’s the best solution for those who believe in a thriving, democratic Palestinian state. And two thriving states offer the only long-term hope for peace."

Well, I believe in a two-state solution, but "a thriving, democratic Palestinian state" is not in the cards, owing to brutal discrimination against women throughout Gaza and the Palestinian Authority.

As reported by the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency in a December 2012 article entitled "Abbas aide: No plans to outlaw 'honor killing'" (http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=550792):

"President Mahmoud Abbas has no plans to amend laws that reduce sentences for suspects who claim an 'honor' defense for murdering women, his legal adviser says.

'Why change it? This would cause serious problems,' Hassan al-Ouri told Ma'an, adding that such a reform would 'not benefit women.'

In May 2011, the president pledged to amend the law to guarantee maximum penalties for 'honor killing' in response to protests over the killing of university student Aya Baradiya in Hebron.

The decision was announced in a phone call to a primetime show on state TV, drawing tears among crowds of mourners shown in a live link-up from the Ramallah studio to Baradiya’s hometown.

Abbas suspended Article 340, which offers a pardon for murder if the perpetrator committed the crime on finding his wife in bed with another man.

The reform was cosmetic: Article 340 had never been used in Palestinian courts since it was legislated in 1960.

'So why did we change the law? To garner public opinion,' al-Ouri said in an interview in the presidential compound in Ramallah.

'I, personally, was against the amendment because the crimes that happen in the street have no relevance to Article 340,' the legal adviser added.

Al-Ouri says the president will not change the go-to clauses for lawyers seeking leniency for clients who claim they committed murder to defend family 'honor.'

Articles 97 to 100 of the Jordanian Penal Code, in force in the West Bank, still offer reduced sentences for any act of battery or murder committed in a 'state of rage.'"

There can be no prosperity in Palestine so long as women continue to be oppressed by both Fatah and Hamas, and Dionne is blithely ignorant of the ugly realities in this corner of the world.

Do you think Obama will broach the issue of women's rights with Palestinian Authority President Abbas when they meet this week? Not a chance.

The welcome Obama should expect in the Palestinian Authority? As reported by The Jerusalem Post (http://www.jpost.com/International/Hundreds-in-Ramallah-protest-Obamas-planned-visit-307134):

"Hundreds of Palestinians gathered in the center of Ramallah on Wednesday to protest against US President Barack Obama’s planned visit to the city.

Palestinian activists vowed to step up their protests against Obama on Thursday and Friday.

The Palestinian Authority security forces plan to impose a curfew on large parts of Ramallah during Obama’s visit to the city. On the instruction of the PA leadership, schools will be closed in the city on Thursday and many streets blocked.

The protest was organized by the radical Islamist group Hizb ut Tahrir, which seeks the establishment of an Islamic caliphate.

. . . .

Declaring Obama persona non grata, the demonstrators in Ramallah chanted: 'O malicious Obama, defender of the state of the Jews,' 'We hereby declare, America is the mother of terror,' 'This nation shall not be humiliated or succumb to the Americans' and 'O Obama go back, Palestine is not for sale.'"

I fear for Obama's safety in both the Palestinian Authority and Jordan and pray that adequate precautions are being taken to protect the president.

Meanwhile, in a less than subtle message to Obama on the second day of his visit to Israel, four rockets were fired this morning at southern Israel from Gaza.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Thomas Friedman, "Democrats, Dragons or Drones?": Poison Gas, Natural Gas and Farting

Want to earn a degree at home in Middle Eastern studies after seven minutes of course work? Sorry, I'm not in that business and can't help you. However, if you read today's blog item - a bit longer than usual - I promise that you will know more about the Middle East than President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman rolled into one.

Yes, I know that's not setting the bar very high.

The Middle East today? If you take anything at all away from this blog entry, remember: The Middle East is all about poison gas, natural gas and farting.

Poison gas? Chemical weapons were indeed used on Tuesday against civilians near the northern Syrian city of Aleppo by either the rebels or forces still loyal to Syrian mass murderer Bashar al-Assad. You remember Bashar al-Assad? He's the guy who was visited by Kerry almost a half dozen times at the behest of Obama, and who, after dinner with their wives and an intimate motorcycle ride through the streets of Damascus, was labeled "my dear friend" by Kerry.

Kerry, you will recall, not long ago told us that "Americans have the right to be stupid." Well, Kerry continues to exercise that right. Following the deaths of more than 70,000 innocent persons over the past three years in Syria, Kerry declared on Monday that the United States does not oppose arms shipments to the rebels from . . . the UK and France. As reported by the VOA (http://www.voanews.com/content/syrian-opposition-meets-to-pick-prime-minister/1623489.html):

"'President Obama has made it clear that the United States does not stand in the way of other countries that made a decision to provide arms, whether it is France or Britain or others,' said Kerry.

Kerry said there is a military imbalance in Syria, with President Bashar al-Assad receiving help from Iran, Hezbollah, and Russia. That imbalance is creating what he called a 'global catastrophe' of Syrian refugees fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, and Turkey."

Yup, a "global catastrophe," so let the English and the French deal with it. You know, more of the Obama doctrine of leading from behind. But wait, out of the mouth of babes . . . . Wasn't it indeed the UK and France that created the artificial borders of the modern Middle East pursuant to the 1916 Sykes-Picot Treaty, when the two allies were busying fighting the Ottoman Empire?



As the old saying tells us, "You break it, you buy it," even if it happened almost a century ago.

Natural gas? As observed by David Brooks, in a recent New York Times op-ed entitled "The Axis of Ennui" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/12/opinion/brooks-the-axis-of-ennui.html):

"Daniel Yergin, an energy guru, noted in Congressional testimony last month that the revolution in oil and gas extraction has led to 1.7 million new jobs in the United States alone, a number that could rise to three million by 2020. The shale revolution added $62 billion to federal revenues in 2012. At the same time, carbon-dioxide emissions are down 13 percent since 2007, as gas is used instead of coal to generate electricity.

Most of us have grown up in a world in which we assumed that energy was scarce, or even running out. We could now be entering a world of relatively cheap energy abundance.

Most of us have grown up in a world in which oil states in the Middle East could throw their weight around because of their grip on the economy’s life source. But the power of petro-states is on the wane."

Moreover, Brooks failed to mention that Israel also has huge deposits of oil shale. As reported by Amiram Barkat for Globes (http://www.globes.co.il/serveen/globes/docview.asp?did=1000686073&fid=1724):

"'Within a few years, Israel will become one the largest producers of oil and gas in the world.' That is the belief of Dr. Harold Vinegar, who until three years ago was Chief Scientist, Physics, of energy giant Royal Dutch Shell. Talking to 'Globes', Vinegar says that he estimates that exploration for gas will yield impressive results, but that Israel's true future lies in oil. He believes that the chances of finding regular oil are not high, but that huge quantities of oil shale will make it possible to produce oil in quantities approaching the production of Saudi Arabia"

Can you imagine tiny Israel rivaling Saudi Arabia as one of the world's energy giants? Yes, there is still a glimmer of hope for this world.

In a nutshell, the Muslim Middle East will soon no longer be able to hold the United States over an oil barrel.

And now we come to the matter of human flatulence.

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Democrats, Dragons or Drones?" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/20/opinion/friedman-democrats-dragons-or-drones.html?_r=0), would-be Middle East expert Thomas Friedman writes:

"Given its history of brutal dictatorship, Iraq might seem to be the last place in the Middle East we should have tried to help give birth to a self-governing democracy. In fact, it was the most important. Just look at Syria and you’ll understand why. Iraq was made up of all the sects that populate the different Arab countries and have been held together over the last 50 years by iron-fisted dictators. If Iraqis could demonstrate that, once their dictator was removed, the constituent communities of Iraq (Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians) could forge their own social contract for living together peacefully — rather than being ruled brutally from the top down — then some kind of democratic future was possible throughout the Arab world.

That possibility is yet to be fulfilled."

Oh really? Still no "self-governing democracy" in Iraq? Who would have ever imagined that Iraq's Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds wouldn't be able to let bygones be bygones? Not Thomas Friedman. A decade ago, Friedman wrote (http://www.nytimes.com/2003/01/22/opinion/thinking-about-iraq-i.html?ref=thomaslfriedman):

"It is not unreasonable to believe that if the U.S. removed Saddam and helped Iraqis build not an overnight democracy but a more accountable, progressive and democratizing regime, it would have a positive, transforming effect on the entire Arab world -- a region desperately in need of a progressive model that works."

Sorry, Tom, but it was unreasonable.

And if cheerleading the Second Gulf War was not sufficiently inane, Friedman more recently was to be found in Cairo's Tahrir Square, ballyhooing the Arab Spring, which brought us the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi.

Now I know that this blog item is inordinately long and you are growing tired, but before saying goodbye, please note, kind reader, that the US is still providing Egypt with $1.5 billion in aid each year. What is this aid buying America? See what the Muslim Brotherhood has to say in its own words in its official English website (http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731):

"The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo-sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

2. Providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and training them to use those, while legalizing abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, in the name of sexual and reproductive rights.

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

The Muslim Brotherhood also calls on Al-Azhar (the highest seat of learning for Muslims) to take the lead, condemn this declaration, and state clearly the Islamic viewpoint with regard to all details of this document.

Further, we urge all Islamic groups and associations to take a decisive stand on this document and similar declarations.

In conclusion, we call on women's organizations to commit to their religion and morals of their communities and the foundations of good social life and not be deceived with misleading calls to decadent modernization and paths of subversive immorality.

God Almighty says: "God wants to forgive you, but those who follow whims and desires want you to deviate far away from the Path). {Quran 4 : 27}

The Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo: March 13, 2013"

Enough said. As promised at the onset, if you have read this blog entry from beginning to end, you now know more about the Middle East than President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry and New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman rolled into one. Yes, I know that's not much of anything, but it's a start.


Washington Post Editorial, "President Obama’s To-Do List for His Mideast Trip": The Wrong Symbolic Gestures

The Washington Post, in an editorial entitled "President Obama’s to-do list for his Mideast trip" (http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/president-obamas-to-do-list-for-his-middle-east-trip/2013/03/18/87cd61d0-8ff0-11e2-bdea-e32ad90da239_story.html?hpid=z3), notes that "Mr. Obama’s visit beginning Wednesday is primarily aimed at allowing him to build bridges both to Israelis and to Mr. Netanyahu," and as such, the president plans various symbolic gestures:

"The president’s schedule is loaded with symbolic affirmations of his commitment to Israel’s security, such as a U.S.-funded Iron Dome anti-missile battery that will await him at the airport, and with correctives to mistakes Mr. Obama made in his first term. In his 2009 Cairo speech, the president inadvertently implied that Israel’s existence was justified by the Holocaust; on this visit he will visit an exhibition of the Dead Sea Scrolls as a way of affirming the historical Jewish claim to the land."

Note, however, that Obama will not speak before Israel's parliament or visit the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem so as to avoid offending Israel's Muslim neighbors.

Sorry, but visiting an exhibition of the Essenes' Dead Sea Scrolls is not what it will take to improve the popularity of Obama among the 68 percent of Israelis who have an unfavorable view of him.

David Brooks, "The Progressive Shift": The Department of Labor Commissions a New $300 Million Statue

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "The Progressive Shift" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/19/opinion/brooks-the-progressive-shift.html?_r=0), David Brooks begins by referring to the bronze statue of a broad-shouldered young man seeking to control a powerful stallion, which is situated outside the Department of Labor in Washington. Brooks explains:

"This used to be a metaphor for liberalism. The horse was capitalism. The man was government, which was needed sometimes to restrain capitalism’s excesses.

Today, liberalism seems to have changed. Today, many progressives seem to believe that government is the horse, the source of growth, job creation and prosperity. Capitalism is just a feeding trough that government can use to fuel its expansion.

For an example of this new worldview, look at the budget produced by the Congressional Progressive Caucus last week. These Democrats try to boost economic growth with a gigantic $2.1 trillion increase in government spending — including a $450 billion public works initiative, a similar-size infrastructure program and $179 billion so states, too, can hire more government workers."

Brooks proceeds to question the wisdom of raising taxes on the rich, which will not prevent US debt from doubling over the next 30 years, and concludes:

"The progressive budget in the House seems to have been written by people hermetically sealed in the house of government. They work in government. They represent public-sector workers. They seem to have had little contact with private-sector job creators and no idea about what factors might play in their thinking. It’s a reminder that while Republicans may embarrass on a daily basis, many progressives have lost touch with what actually produces growth and prosperity."

Well, I would begin by noting that I disagree with Brooks's contention that "the economy is finally beginning to take off." Ask anyone over 50 years of age and unemployed whether she or he senses a sea change. As I have explained many times in this blog, the elimination of the Uptick Rule in 2007 has crippled US economic growth in the private sector and is allowing parasitic hedge funds to feed off naive investors (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2013/02/paul-krugman-rubio-and-zombies.html) . Unemployment in the private sector can only drop marginally.

The expanding public sector? Working 9-to-5, punctuated by coffee breaks and interrupted by lengthy vacations, does not bring innovation and productivity. The US is following Europe into the abyss.

I would only add that Brooks apparently is unaware of the Obama administration's plans to tear down the statue outside the Department of Labor in Washington. Instead, notwithstanding the sequester, a new $300 million statue has been commissioned, which will depict a blind man with a cane attempting to lead a sway-backed donkey pulling in the opposite direction.

C'est tout.

Monday, March 18, 2013

You Just Won't Believe What Obama Is Subsidizing in Egypt

I hope you didn't eat your breakfast yet.

The US currently provides Egypt, which is now controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood, with $1.5 billion in aid each year. What is this aid supporting? See what the Muslim Brotherhood says in its own words in its official English website (http://www.ikhwanweb.com/article.php?id=30731):

"The 57th session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), taking place from March 4 to 15 at UN headquarters, seeks to ratify a declaration euphemistically entitled ‘End Violence against Women’.

That title, however, is misleading and deceptive. The document includes articles that contradict established principles of Islam, undermine Islamic ethics and destroy the family, the basic building block of society, according to the Egyptian Constitution.

This declaration, if ratified, would lead to complete disintegration of society, and would certainly be the final step in the intellectual and cultural invasion of Muslim countries, eliminating the moral specificity that helps preserve cohesion of Islamic societies.

A closer look at these articles reveals what decadence awaits our world, if we sign this document:

1. Granting girls full sexual freedom, as well as the freedom to decide their own gender and the gender of their partners (ie, choose to have normal or homo-sexual relationships), while raising the age of marriage.

2. Providing contraceptives for adolescent girls and training them to use those, while legalizing abortion to get rid of unwanted pregnancies, in the name of sexual and reproductive rights.

3. Granting equal rights to adulterous wives and illegitimate sons resulting from adulterous relationships.

4. Granting equal rights to homosexuals, and providing protection and respect for prostitutes.

5. Giving wives full rights to file legal complaints against husbands accusing them of rape or sexual harassment, obliging competent authorities to deal husbands punishments similar to those prescribed for raping or sexually harassing a stranger.

6. Equal inheritance (between men and women).

7. Replacing guardianship with partnership, and full sharing of roles within the family between men and women such as: spending, child care and home chores.

8. Full equality in marriage legislation such as: allowing Muslim women to marry non-Muslim men, and abolition of polygamy, dowry, men taking charge of family spending, etc.

9. Removing the authority of divorce from husbands and placing it in the hands of judges, and sharing all property after divorce.

10. Cancelling the need for a husband’s consent in matters like: travel, work, or use of contraception.

These are destructive tools meant to undermine the family as an important institution; they would subvert the entire society, and drag it to pre-Islamic ignorance.

The Muslim Brotherhood urges the leaders of Muslim countries and their UN representatives to reject and condemn this document, and to call upon this organization to rise to the high morals and principles of family relations prescribed by Islam.

The Muslim Brotherhood also calls on Al-Azhar (the highest seat of learning for Muslims) to take the lead, condemn this declaration, and state clearly the Islamic viewpoint with regard to all details of this document.

Further, we urge all Islamic groups and associations to take a decisive stand on this document and similar declarations.

In conclusion, we call on women's organizations to commit to their religion and morals of their communities and the foundations of good social life and not be deceived with misleading calls to decadent modernization and paths of subversive immorality.

God Almighty says: "God wants to forgive you, but those who follow whims and desires want you to deviate far away from the Path). {Quran 4 : 27}

The Muslim Brotherhood

Cairo: March 13, 2013"

This is one of those rare instances where words escape me.

Jodi Rudoren, "New Apartments Will Complicate Jerusalem Issue": The "Experts" Tell Us . . .

In case you missed it, New York Times reporter Jodi Rudoren wrote two days ago in an article entitled "New Apartments Will Complicate Jerusalem Issue" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/03/17/world/middleeast/in-jerusalem-jewish-apartments-in-arab-neighborhoods-complicate-issue.html?hp&pagewanted=all&_r=0):

"While most experts on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict have long imagined Jerusalem as ultimately being divided, with Jewish neighborhoods remaining part of Israel and Arab ones joining Palestine, these new buildings make such a plan more complicated if not impossible — which may be exactly the point."

"Experts"? Please name them.

But more to the point, what would be so terrible if Jerusalem were to be divided, and Jews were to continue to live in the eastern part of Jerusalem, controlled by the Palestinian Authority? Must Palestine be Judenfrei?

If there is ever going to be peace between Jews and Palestinians, they are going to have to learn to live together.

And yet we constantly hear the insipid reprise that Israel is "apartheid."

By the way, this is the same Jodi Rudoren who was responsible for the canard, repeated by Thomas Friedman (see: http://jgcaesarea.blogspot.co.il/2012/12/second-open-letter-to-margaret-sullivan.html), that Israel's E1 construction, would divide the West Bank in two (see also: http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=10&x_journo=603).