Tuesday, December 30, 2008
The first general source is the fact that the Arab and Muslim world have never accepted Israel and still oppose its existence. Generally, he's right about this, but the Saudi Initiative is a glimmer of hope in this regard. On the other hand, the Arabs don't seem to be willing to give up the right of return, so I'm not very optimistic.
The second general source is the deminishing Western public support for Israel. I think this can be countered at least in part by taking steps toward a peace deal that would end the occupation, but there are many bleeding hearts in Europe, and to a lesser extent in the United States, that will always blame Israel for everything, and as long as the right of return isn't implemented, they'll still see Israel as owing the Palestinians something.
The four specific causes of Israel's sense of threat are Iran's nuclear program coupled with their leaders' desire to see a world without a Zionist state, Hezbullah's large arsenal of long-range weaponry and control of South Lebanon, Hamas's control of Gaza and the radicalisation of the Arab citizens of Israel.
As Morris points out, these are all unconventional threats. The first one is a potentially nuclear armed country, two are radical Islamist terrorist groups who reject the existence of Israel, and the fourth is one fifth of our own citizens.
Monday, December 29, 2008
1. In Demo-dominated D.C., post-postpartisan tension will pit:
(c) Chief of staff Rahm Emanuel against United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice, a Zbigniew Brzezinski acolyte, over Mideast policy (Emanuel, the son of an Israeli, is likely to clash with the not-so-Israel-friendly Brzezinski school of thought).
2. Springtime for G.M. will lead to: none of the above. (I'm no expert, but I dare say that excessive industrial bailouts and mergers with Toyota or any other foreign car company won't happen. The third option won't happen either).
3. Toughest foreign affairs challenge will come if:
(a) Afghanistan becomes “Obama’s War” or “Obama’s Retreat” (I doubt the US will retreat from Iraq during 2009. It can still be quite a quagmire, but the trouble won't come from a withdrawal. Ukraine is no Georgia, so Russia won't mess with it, even if Putin needs something to distract Russians from the economic depression. An India-Pakistan war is a serious danger, too, but there is a good chance it can be avoided. Which leaves Afghanistan as the toughest challenge. I'd also add the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to the list).
4. Oil selling below $50 a barrel will:
(a) threaten President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s June election in Iran (he ain't that popular as it is, but with the economy in the toilet he's even worse off, and hopefully, he'll lose in June. Oil prices have nothing to do with popular support for Hamas, though it may reduce the money Hamas gets from oil producing countries. Anyway, if Tzippi Livni defeats Netanyahu in Feb., it won't be the indirect result of oil prices, but the direct result of the current operation in Gaza).
5. Best-picture Oscar goes to:
(d) “Gran Torino” (I haven't seen any of these films, but I know the Academy loves Clint Eastwood. I'd put my money on two other films not on Safire's list: WALL-E, which I haven't seen yet, or "The Dark Knight", which I've seen and liked, but don't think deserves the honor).
6. The non-fiction sleeper will be:
(e) “Ponzi Shmonzi: The Bernie Madoff Story,” crash-published by a dozen houses (Just a guess, but I think some of those who lost all their savings because of the son of a bitch can regain some of their money by writing books about him).
7. The don’t-ask deficit at year’s end will be:
(c) $1,393,665,042,198 and no cents. (Or more generally, I think the deficit will grow and be more than a trillion, but less than 2 trillion. I say this, of course, despite my complete ignorance of economic affairs, so I'm probably very wrong).
8. In Congress:
(c) among Senate Democrats, Judiciary chairman Pat Leahy’s influence will rise because Supreme Court nominations will take center stage, while Harry Reid’s clout dissipates because of home-state weakness (I suppose Supreme Court nominations are coming up, so Leahy's clout will grow. I'm not sure it will come at the expense of Harry Reid, though).
9. Post-honeymoon journalists and bloody-minded bloggers will dig into:
(a) the jailhouse singing by Chicago’s felonious fixer, Tony (“Who You Callin’ ‘Boneheaded’?”) Rezko, to Dewey-eyed prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald to reduce his six-year sentence (Naturally, the guy who has some kind of connection to the new president, as weak as the connection is, is bound to interest the media. Besides, Chicago's corruption has always been fascinating).
10. The Supreme Court will decide:
(a) in nipple exposure or “fleeting expletives” on live TV, that the F.C.C. exceeded its authority in fining Fox for indecency
(b) that the Federal Election Commission was wrong to censure a moviemaker whose “biopic” was hostile to Hillary Clinton during her campaign
(c) that the appearance of impropriety in financial dealings of a West Virginia judge disqualified him from sitting in a coal-company dispute
(d) that Attorney General John Ashcroft and F.B.I. director Robert Mueller had a “qualified immunity” from being sued for racial profiling in imprisoning suspected terrorists
(e) that in al-Marri v. Pucciarelli, a legal U.S. resident cannot be held indefinitely at Guantánamo (sounds safe enough to guess that all of these will come true).
11. Obama philosophy will be regarded as:
(b) determinedly centrist on health care, immigration and protectionism (I think Obama will tread carefully on all issues).
12. Year-end presidential approval rating will be:
(c) sinking but 30 points higher than that of Congress and the news media (and much higher than Bush's approval rating. The euphoria will end so Obama's approval will drop somewhat, but there is a good chance it will still be high).
I wonder, has anyone stuck around to read all my predictions?
So I decided to go back to my predictions and see how I did. I discovered that on many issues I have no idea what actually happened. I'd be happy if Safire also published an "And the winner of the office pool is" column, where he'd give the correct answers, according to what ended up happening. I do know how some things turned out, and I didn't do too well with those, though I wasn't entirely wrong either.
I said that "There Will Be Blood" will win the Oscar. Even though "No Country For Old Men" was the actual winner, I was kind of right. "Blood" was the only film Safire gave as an option that even got nominated in the best film category.
I was right about the Supreme Court: it did indeed rule that gun rights belong to the individual, states can require photo ID to vote, and lethal injection is not cruel and unusual punishment. I'm not a legal expert, so I'm not sure whether or not they ruled habeas corpus applies to Guantanamo detainees, or whether military commissions for detainees were declared illegal on different grounds.
I was pretty much wrong about all the political and diplomatic issues, except that I think I was right about Fidel Castro leaving the world stage, and America is indeed going leftward with a Democratic Congress, though it's with Obama as president, not Hillary Clinton.
In related news, Israel destroyed about 40 tunnels in the Rafah area. This will substantially reduce Hamas's capability to re-arm itself. So far, the operation has been going very well.
Sunday, December 28, 2008
Radicalism must be crippled on both sides. Right now we're working on crippling Hamas. When we're done with that, we should reign in the rogue settlers. But that will be later. Now Hamas is the enemy and I wish all their members nothing but the worst.
I'm one angry Israeli, and the longer the range of Hamas's rockets, the angrier I get. Don't screw with Israel!
Saturday, December 27, 2008
The ball is in Hamas's hands now. If it stops attacking Israel, Israel will stop attacking Hamas. Eventually, even the border crossings may open.
When even dovish people like Amos Oz and Meretz leader Haim Oron support action against Hamas in Gaza, it means Hamas has really crossed a line. The terrorist organization has been raining scores of rockets a day on Israeli towns over the last week. Even during the so-called ceasefire, Palestinian rockets hit Israel.
Just yesterday, two Palestinian girls were killed by a Qassam rocket which misfired. Also yesterday, a Palestinian man who was injured by a Qassam, which he may or may not have been trying to launch at Israel, was transferred to an Israeli hospital for medical treatment.
The Qassams only hurt the Palestinians. Without them, the lives of Gazans would be much better and the prospect of an independent Palestinian state would be much closer to reality.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
- For drinking, owning or producing wine - 40 whips.
- For gambling, hurting religious sensibilities, cursing, humiliating people and hurting the public's feelings - you'll get whipped.
- For stealing - amputation of the right hand.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
The bigger question is who the runners up will be. Clinton? Palin? Tina Fey? I'd choose Hillary Clinton as 1st runner up, since she was very close to becoming the first female presidential nominee of a major party and ended the year getting nominated for Secretary of State. Second runner up will probably be the president of China, and a European leader (Brown of the UK, Merkel of Germany or Sarkozy of France) will be 3rd.
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Ehud Olmert must feel sorry for the governor.
Newscasters Geula Even and Oded Shahar, along with political commentator Yaron Dekel, are joking around with the guests in the studio and Ayala Hason-Nesher,the reporter at Likud HQ. Hason-Nesher even asked Even and Shahar how long they have to stay on the air and killing time. They keep joking about not falling asleep. They are acting so silly that when they interviewed Limor Livnat, Even fake-complimented her on her looks and brains, "in case you become the minister in charge of public broadcasting."
Hason-Nesher to Even after Even successfully guessed Moshe Yaalon is in 7th place, according to the unofficial list Hason-Nesher got: "You're not just beautiful, you've got brains".
It doesn't seem like they think anyone is actually watching them.
Sunday, December 07, 2008
I have mixed feelings about the results I'd like to see coming out of tomorrow's vote. A part of me would like to see the extremists win, so that Likud will lose to Kadima in the general election. However, as an Israeli, I don't really want these dangerous nuts in my parliament. I'd rather see moderates like Dan Meridor, Asaf Hefetz and Uzi Dayan get into the Knesset than Moshe Feiglin.
I've come to the conclusion that I'd like to see the moderates in the top 20, spots considered safe, and I don't want the Feiglins to be in completely unrealistic spots, like 40 and up, but rather places that are on the brink - mid-20's to mid-30's, places where people will say to themselves, "if my vote is the one giving Likud a 26th (or 30th) seat and putting that guy in the Knesset, I'd rather vote for a different party."
Friday, December 05, 2008
I'm also not happy about Yoram Martziano winning the seat reserved for struggling neighborhoods. Martziano is a thug whose main contribution to Israeli legislation was to overturn a desicion to remove huge billboards from buildings along a busy highway. Transportation experts said the billboards, which usualy have scantily clad models on them, distract drivers and cause accidents, but Martziano came out in defense of the advertising companies. He also got into a fistfight at a nightclub and was accused of sexual harassment. The good news is that Martziano is only in 17th place, and the way it looks now, Labor will get only about ten seats.
Anyway, here's how the Labor Party's Knesset list will look (top 19):
1. Ehud Barak, party chairman
2. Yitzhak Herzog (1st place in primaries)
3. Ofir Pines (2nd)
4. Avishai Braverman (3rd)
5. Shelly Yechimovich (4th)
6. Matan Vilnai (5th)
7. Eitan Cabel, reserved as secretary-general
8. Fuad Ben Eliezer (6th)
9. Yuli Tamir (8th, bumped up one seat due to reservation for women)
10. Amir Peretz (7th)
11. Daniel Ben-Simon (9th)
12. Shalom Simhon (seat reserved for Moshavim)
13. Orit Noked (seat reserved for Kibbutzim)
14. Einat Wilf (10th place in national primary)
15. Ghaleb Majadla (seat reserved for Arabs)
16. Shekeev Shanan (seat reserved for Druze candidate)
17. Yoram Martziano (seat reserved for struggling neighborhoods)
18. Leon Litinsky (seat reserved for Olim, new immigrants)
19. Colette Avital (12th place in national primary, bumped up due to reservation for women)
The trouble came later, when Jewish settlers attacked Palestinians all over Hebron. Settlers shot at Palestinians, burned their laundrey and tried to burn their houses. The police and army did nothing to stop them. This is a disgrace. The security forces should have treated rioting Jews as if they were rioting Palestinians. All those who participated in criminal acts against innocent Palestinian civilians must be brought to justice.
It is now quiet in Hebron. It is hard to know how long this will last.
Tuesday, December 02, 2008
Turns out that the party has decided to stop today's elections and postpone them to December 10. This was the Labor Party's first attempt at electronic voting, and during the re-vote they'll go back to the old system of paper ballots. I think they should have had paper ballots available today as backup in case the system fails.
Monday, December 01, 2008
1. Ehud Barack (Reserved, as party chairman)
2. Ofir Pines (1st place in primaries)
3. Shelly Yechimovich (2nd)
4. Avishay Braverman (3rd)
5. Yitzhak Herzog (4th)
6. Daniel Ben-Simon (5th)
7. Eitan Cabel (Reserved, as party secretary-general)
8. Colette Avital (6th)
9. Amir Peretz (7th)
10. Einat Wilf (8th)
Coming in at 9th place and getting the 11th spot on the list will be Fouad Ben Eliezer. 10th place, who will get to be no. 14, after the two spots reserved for Moshavim (Shalom Simhon, running unopposed) and Kibbutzim (where Orit Noked will probably win), will be Yuli Tamir.
I'm predicting that 4 women will be among the ten people with the most votes, and three of them will also make it to the Knesset list's top 10. They don't even need the places reserved for women (5th, if no woman is elected to places 1-4; 9th, if no woman is elected to places 6-8; and 14, if no woman is elected to places 11-13). I may be too optimistic here.
Polls close at 22:00 (3 PM Eastern), and voting is electronic, so results should not take too long to be tallied and announced.
You may notice I'm not voting for any generals. I have no idea what good Fouad Ben-Eliezer, a retired Brigadier General, has ever done for this country in all his years in government. He's been good to members of strong labor unions, but not to the general population. Matan Vilnai, a retired Major General who I used to like, has had some very odd security proposals recently.
Neither will I be voting for Yuli Tamir, the Minister of Education. She has let the Ministry of the Treasury run negotiations with teachers' and university professors' unions and , and she has led the awful Ofek Hadash (New Horizon) reform plan, which gives teachers slightly more pay for a lot more work (meaning that per hour, their pay was cut), among other problems.
I will not vote for the inept Amir Peretz or the bleeding-heart Peace Now chairman Yariv Oppenheimer. I will also vote against the Ars (thug) Yoram Martziano, who is running in the "neighborhoods" district (where only residents of poor neighborhoods can run but all party members can vote).
Thursday, November 27, 2008
Olmert resigned a few weeks ago, but is still officially the prime minister until the next government is formed. He should declare himself unable to carry out his duties and allow his deputy, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, to become Acting Prime Minister.
Instead of doing the right thing, Olmert (or, as the media calls it, "people close to Olmert") blasted the attorney general for not waiting until he becomes a former PM. I don't think Mazuz should have waited. Once he has enough evidence for an indictment, he should indict Olmert, just like any other suspect.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Well, folks, I've read the chapter. It has been posted online. In context, it is even worse. Here's the part about his friends' autistic children:
"I know a couple of autistic children and let me tell you something they both have in common-they are extremely bright and attentive and much like Rain Man-have individual talents and abilities that would lay your empty little tyke’s video game-addled soul to waste. A truly autistic child may be able to reproduce music he or she hears with perfect pitch-entire classical pieces, the rock opera Tommy, the latest hit Broadway musical-over and over again. OR tell you instantly upon hearing what your birthday is-what day it has fallen on every year for the last four decades. What the weather was on those days. Who the president was at the time. What the number one song on the radio was just before singing it note for note and word for word. THAT’S an autistic child. Not some fat-assed simpleton whose brain has been fried by television and the Xbox and no proper daily attention from his or her supposedly caring parents."
All he knows about autism comes from Rain Man and two (yes, that's 2!) autistic savants. The idiot thinks you have to be a genius or have some memory-related superpower to be truly autistic. Apparently, he's never heard the often-repeated saying "once you've met one person with autism, well, you met just one person with autism".
Leary then goes on to say, more or less, that Asperger's Syndrome does not exist. After describing the definition of Asperger's, he has this to say:
I hope his book tanks.
"Where I come from, we don’t call a guy like that a victim of Asperger’s. We just call him an Asshole Who Won’t Shut The Fuck Up. You wanna find people who don’t think it strange or boring or mindnumbing to listen to you ramble on and on and on about what it takes to plug electronic boxes into electro converters and then into tubeless amplifiers THROUGH a remote-access special effects board and blap blappety blap until shit shoots out of a guitar played by a guy wearing fourteen-inch-high platform-heeled leather boots and a girdle? Here’s the list:
1. The guy in the girdle
3. People with Kiss T-shirts on
You don’t belong in the spectrum of autism disorders. You belong backstage with a shitload of AA batteries and a suitcase full of roman candles. Long-winded and one-sided."
Thursday, November 13, 2008
This is another case of punishing success and progress. In Feb. 2006 I wrote about how education officials were trying to cut my high functioning autistic nephew's assistance at school. Now, almost 3 years later, he's doing even better, but there is still a lot more he needs help with. So-called experts may see a child who seems almost like all the other kids, just maybe asking too many questions, so they'd cut his funding, meaning less hours with his "shadow" assistant. That would be very bad for him. He still needs frequent, subtle guidance.
As Laura Tisoncik said: "The difference between high-functioning and low-functioning is that high-functioning means that your deficits are ignored and low-functioning means your assets are ignored... Either way, you get ignored."
Is there any truth to this? I doubt it. They claim they have documents proving the lineage, but will show it only after they personally present it to Obama first. Since Obama is not likely to invite them to the White House, they'll never show anyone the proof.
If it does turn out to be true, I can understand why they are proud. It won't change Obama's foreign policy, though.
I loved Cookie Monster as a child. I also loved eating cookies. One didn't have anything to do with the other. I bet my love for sweets came along way before I ever watched Sesame Street. And if you think of it, the furry blue muppet never ate the cookies, he just made a mess out of their crumbs. How many children actually imitate him like that?
As a person who grew up watching two versions of Sesame Street in two different languages in two different countries (Israel and the US), I have a request: Bring back the "cookie" into Cookie Monster. If you want to teach children about nutrition, which is not a bad idea at all, bring in a new character for that purpose.
I wonder if Ugifletzet, the Israeli version of Cookie Monster, has also gone vegetarian. My nephew and niece would probably know.
Monday, November 10, 2008
Meir Porush, a member of the Knesset representing the ulta-Orthodox Agudat Israel Party, has been quoted as saying that within 15 years there will be no secular mayor anywhere in Israel. He has a right wing political agenda and would like to impose a "medinat halacha", a state run according to religious law. The outgoing mayor, Uri Lupolianski, who is not running for re-election, was the first ultra-Orthodox mayor of Jerusalem, and he tried not to anger what is left of the secular population of the city. Porush doesn't seem as conciliatory.
Nir Barkat is known as "the secular candidate". He is a millionaire businessman and a right wing hawk who wants to build Jewish neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. While the mayor has nothing to do with peace negotiations, he can make things very difficult by creating facts on the ground. Maybe the fact that he is a successful businessman at least means he's a good administrator, but that isn't good enough for a city like Jerusalem.
Trailing in third place, according to the polls, is Arcadi Gaydamak, an eccentric Russian-born billionaire who is wanted in France for illegal arms dealing with Angola. He doesn't speak Hebrew, other than a few words here and there, so he communicates with Israelis in English. I don't really know what his platform is, if he has one at all, but the man himself is the problem. He uses his money to gain political power and does not like dissent. He calls anyone who disagrees with him stupid and worse curses. He even asked "who is Tzipi Livni to decide not to join forces with me in the municipal elections". That's quite a nerve!
Oh, Jerusalemites, don't you deserve better?
Thursday, November 06, 2008
Of the battleground states, I correctly predicted Obama would win Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia and lose Montana and North Dakota, and it so far seems as if I was also right about a loss in Missouri. I was initially wrong about Nevada but was right when I added it to the Democratic column a few days before Election Day. The same goes for North Carolina, presuming the final results will show an Obama win there.
I was wrong about Indiana and Florida going for McCain, but was right about all the other red states. Obama did not lose in any state I expected him to win in.
Now, with the upcoming appointment of Rahm Emanuel to the powerful position of White House chief of staff, another similarity arises. On "The West Wing", the man President Santos appoints to this position is Josh Lyman, his campaign manager and former deputy White House chief of staff. The Lyman character is widely believed to be based on Emanuel, who was a senior staffer in the Clinton administration.
In the highly unlikely event that Obama decides to offer a cabinet position to John McCain that would be another case of West Wing immitation. President-elect Santos appointed his formal rival as Secretary of State.
Good thing Joe Biden survived Election Night. His West Wing counterpart, Leo McGarry, died of a heart attack before polls closed in the western states. He was written off the show due to the death of John Spencer, the actor portraying him, also of a heart attack. That was another case of West Wing writers predicting the future. McGarry had previously survived a heart attack earlier in the show.
As a side note, Rahm Emanuel's Hollywood agent brother Ari is the basis for the "Entourage" character Ari Gold. I hope Jeremy Piven will be given a line like "I swear I'll get my brother to unleash the IRS on your ass if you don't do what I say".
Anybody who thought Israel would go into mourning over the end of Republican rule was wrong. We may have some concerns about Obama, but we are quite confident that Israeli-American relations will remain close.
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
The end of George W. Bush's administration, along with the end of Republican rule in general, is definitely reason enough to be happy. The total disregard and contempt of the constitution and the rule of law demonstrated by President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not continue under President Obama and Vice President Biden. I am sure that the use of signing statements, statements issued by the president when signing bills into law, will be reduced dramatically, and will be used as directions how to implement the law, not how to undermine and disregard it.
Also, the historical event of electing the first black president of the United States is very exciting. When Obama was born, the southern USA, including his mother's home state of Kansas, was under segregation. Apartheid, in other words. Now, more than ever, America is closer to being the real land of opportunity it has always claimed to be.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
The historical reason for Tuesday elections in the United States is well known. Sunday was the Sabbath, and Monday was for traveling to the polling place, Tuesday for voting, and Wednesday was for traveling back. Holding elections on a Tuesday these days doesn't make sense anymore, though, even in the United States. So why are Israeli elections on Tuesdays, other than imitating America?
In Israel, where government services don't operate on Saturdays due to the Jewish Sabbath, I can understand why the weekend is not used for voting. I guess they chose the middle of the week so there won't be a problem with last minute preparations during Saturday, and most of the counting of results is over before the next Saturday.
I think it would be smarter and cheaper to hold the elections for a whole week, from Sunday to Friday, with polls closing on Friday before the Sabbath so the religious parties won't object. The costly day off on Election Day can be canceled, since people will have a lot more time to vote, especially on Friday, when most people have the day off anyway.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
"I'm Ibrahim Abu Jayab from Gaza Strip. I support the Senator Obama from Gaza Strip," he said in one. "I think the Senator Obama achieve the peace in the world and in my area."
"For the peace, please elect Senator Obama. Thank you very much."
This is extremely counterproductive. An average American who hears the name Ibrahim Abu Jayab and Gaza immediately thinks of terrorism. It is wrong to automatically associate Arab names with the likes of Osama Bin Laden, but the fact that many people do have that connotation in their minds is a reality.
Ibrahim, you mean well, but for Obama's sake, stop. Either that or only call Arab- and Muslim-Americans. The more WASPs and Jews hear your message, the less likely they are to vote for Obama.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Sources: Sarkozy views Obama stance on Iran as 'utterly immature'
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz
French President Nicolas Sarkozy is very critical of U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama's positions on Iran, according to reports that have reached Israel's government.
Sarkozy has made his criticisms only in closed forums in France. But according to a senior Israeli government source, the reports reaching Israel indicate that Sarkozy views the Democratic candidate's stance on Iran as "utterly immature" and comprised of "formulations empty of all content."
Obama visited Paris in July, and the Iranian issue was at the heart of his meeting with Sarkozy. At a joint press conference afterward, Obama urged Iran to accept the West's proposal on its nuclear program, saying that Iran was creating a serious situation that endangered both Israel and the West. According to the reports reaching Israel, Sarkozy told Obama at that meeting that if the new American president elected in November changed his country's policy toward Iran, that would be "very problematic."
Until now, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany have tried to maintain a united front on Iran. But according to the senior Israeli source, Sarkozy fears that Obama might "arrogantly" ignore the other members of this front and open a direct dialogue with Iran without preconditions.
Following their July meeting, Sarkozy repeatedly expressed disappointment with Obama's positions on Iran, concluding that they were "not crystallized, and therefore many issues remain open," the Israeli source said. Advisors to the French president who held separate meetings with Obama's advisors came away with similar impressions and expressed similar disappointment.
According to the Israeli source, Sarkozy plans to begin intensive negotiations with the new American administration, regardless of whether it is headed by Obama or Republican Sen. John McCain, even before the new president takes office in January, with the goal of persuading him to continue the current policy on Iran.
But Sarkozy's pessimism does not stem only from Obama's stance; it also stems from the overall behavior of the international community toward Iran's nuclear program, and particularly its inability to agree on a fourth round of Security Council sanctions against the Islamic Republic. This foot-dragging will make it impossible to effect a change in Iran's nuclear policy, Sarkozy believes.
The French intelligence community believes that Iran has already obtained about 40 percent of the enriched uranium it would need for its first bomb, and that at its current rate, it will obtain the rest of the uranium it needs in the spring or summer of 2009.
However, French agencies are divided over what Iran is likely to do once it has this uranium. One view is that the Iranians will immediately make a nuclear bomb, in order to demonstrate their capability. The other is that Iran will continue enriching uranium without making a bomb - at least until it has enough enriched uranium for several bombs.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
According to electoral vote.com, which uses state-by state polling data to gauge the state of the electoral college, Obama is ahead with 364 electoral votes, though 78 of them are actually really too close to call, leaving 286 votes that are either safe or leaning towards Obama. I predict that all those 286 votes will indeed go to Obama, plus Ohio's 20 electors. All the rest will go to McCain. In other words, it will be 306-232.
And in case I change my mind, here is an electoral map that automatically updates whenever I change my prediction (it should be identical to the one above as long as I don't flip any states):
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Yes, the prospect of either Barack Obama or John McCain as president of the United States frightens the hell out of me. Obama is dangerously naive while McCain is dangerously hawkish, and as of late, also a panderer to the evangelical right crazies. I asked myself who is more qualified between the two, or at least less unqualified, and I could not really come to a conclusion. Then I asked myself the following sad question: who do I find less frightening. It was a hard question to answer, but in the end I came to the conclusion that Obama and Biden are much less frightening then McCain and Palin. Besides, I generally see myself as a Democrat and a liberal. It wouldn't make sense for me to vote for a man with whom I disagree on most issues.
In my case, the running mates also helped me decide who to vote for. John McCain chose a younger version of George W. Bush and Mike Huckabee, while Obama chose an exprerienced, if somewhat imperfect senator. At least in their first presidential choice, Obama made the wiser pick.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Haider was a very charismatic figure. Hopefully, his death may reduce the power of extremists. On the other hand, it may be too late now. Either way, the world is better off without him.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Tzipi Livni's victory without a runoff also brings Ehud Olmert closer to the end of his prime ministership and his political career. Now, by the time Attorney General Menny Mazuz decides whether to prosecute him for corruption, as the police has recommended, he probably will no longer be in office. Indeed, Ehud Olmert may not only be nearing the end of his life as a politician, but he might also be nearing the end of his life as a free man.
I must say I don't like Livni as much as I used to, but of all the people in Kadima she is the best person for the job of prime minister. She'd also be better than Labor's Ehud Barak and Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu.
Monday, September 15, 2008
Political pressure is one thing. Now radical Islamic clerics have started threatening his life if he sets foot in the State of Little Satan. Omar Al-Bakri, an Islamic militant who was deported from the UK three years ago for supporting terrorism and plotting against the British government, has said that McCartney shouldn't come to Israel if his life is dear to him.
I hope McCartney doesn't cave. He should not let fear dictate where he will or will not go. I also hope that he'll take the necessary precautions to make sure the terrorists don't make an example to all the world's performers out of him. One murdered Beatle was too much as it is, and with John Lennon and George Harrison dead, if Paul McCartney dies too, Ringo Starr would be awfully lonely, and the amount of talent in the world would drop drastically.
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
Ten years ago, a clinical research paper triggered widespread and persistent fears that a combined vaccine that prevents measles, mumps and rubella — the so-called MMR vaccine — causes autism in young children. That theory has been soundly refuted by a variety of other research over the years, and now a new study that tried to replicate the original study has provided further evidence that it was a false alarm.
The initial paper, published in The Lancet, the prestigious British medical journal, drew an inferential link between the vaccine, the gastrointestinal problems found in many autistic children and autism. In later papers, researchers theorized that the measles part of the vaccine caused inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract that allowed toxins to enter the body and damage the central nervous system, causing autism.
Now, a team of researchers from Columbia University, Massachusetts General Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has tried and failed to replicate the earlier findings.
These researchers studied a group of 38 children with gastrointestinal problems, of whom 25 were autistic and 13 were not. All had received the vaccine for measles, mumps and rubella. The scientists found no evidence that it had caused harm. Only 5 of the 25 autistic children had been vaccinated before they developed gastrointestinal problems — and subsequently autism. Genetic tests found remnants of the measles virus in only two children, one of whom was autistic, the other not.
The new study adds weight to a growing body of epidemiological studies and reviews that have debunked the notion that childhood vaccines cause autism. The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences, the C.D.C. and the World Health Organization have found no evidence of a causal link between vaccines and autism.
Meanwhile, the original paper’s publisher — The Lancet — complained in 2004 that the lead author had concealed a conflict of interest. Ten of his co-authors retracted the paper’s implication that the vaccine might be linked to autism. Three of the authors are now defending themselves before a fitness-to-practice panel in London on charges related to their autism research.
Sadly, even after all of this, many parents of autistic children still blame the vaccine. The big losers in this debate are the children who are not being vaccinated because of parental fears and are at risk of contracting serious — sometimes fatal — diseases.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
- What views do you share with Gov. Sarah Palin? Would you ever have voted for her if she weren't on the same ticket with John McCain?
- If no vice presidential nominee receives the required minimum of electoral votes and the selection of the VP falls upon the Senate, would you vote for Palin or for Biden?
- Had John McCain lost the Republican nomination, who would you vote for in the following general election combinations: Romney vs. Obama, Romney vs. Clinton, Huckabee vs. Obama, Huckabee vs. Clinton?
- Had you not lost the 2006 Democratic Senate primary, would you have still endorsed McCain?
Friday, September 05, 2008
Barack Obama is trying to link John McCain to George Bush. The truth is that other than on the issue of the Iraq war, McCain is not a Bush Republican. He is not a liberal Republican, nor is he as moderate as he'd like independent voters to think, but at least he is no evangelical nutjob. Sarah Palin, on the other hand, is a Dubya-style fundamentalist Republican. Democrats should target her extreme conservatism in their campaign.
Friday, August 29, 2008
First of all, no more than one of the running mates will be a white male Christian. It is quite possible neither one of them will be a WASP, but definitely not both of them.
I got this one right. Joe Biden is a white male Christian. Sarah Palin is a white female Christian. I was wrong about the possibility that both won't be WASPs, but I was right that at least one won't be. Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic (the P in WASP stands for Protestant).
Since I doubt that all four people on the two major tickets will be senators, no more than one current senator will be a VP nominee.
Indeed, one of the four people on the major party tickets is not, nor ever was, a senator: Sarah Palin.
Both will come from either red (conservative) or purple (swing) states. Neither one will come from a blue (liberal) state, unless Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton run together.
I was wrong here. Only one of the running mates fits this description. Gov. Palin comes from Conservative Alaska. Sen. Biden comes from the safe Democratic state of Delaware. The swing states are not on either ticket.
If Barack Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, his running mate will not be black. John McCain's running mate will probably not be black, either.
Sure enough, both VP candidates are white.
Both running mates will be between the ages of 50 and 65.
I was half right, sort of. Sarah Palin has not reached this age range - she is 44. Joe Biden is exactly 65, but will be 66 by Inauguration Day.
One or both of the running mates will be a member of at least one of the following groups: women, Latinos and Jews.
No Latinos or Jews, but Sarah Palin is definitely a woman. I predicted correctly.
Neither RM will be openly gay or bisexual, nor will be even suspected as such.
In this still homophobic age, this one was a no-brainer.
At least one, but probably both, will have previous executive experience as a governor, major city mayor, United States Cabinet member, diplomat, high ranking military officer or a prosecutor.
Well, technically I was correct. One running mate, Sarah Palin, indeed has executive experience, but not much. She has been governor of the small state of Alaska for less than half a term (two years), and before that was mayor of a tiny city. I'd say that even Joe Biden, as the chairman of two powerful committees - the judiciary and especially the foreign relations committee, has more executive, and certainly diplomatic, experience than Gov. Palin, although he has never held an outright executive office.
My score: Six right, 2 half right, none completely wrong. You could say that's 7 out of 8. Not bad.
As an Israeli-American dual citizen who lives in Israel and is a political junky, Israeli politics interests me very much. It doesn't excite me, though. American politics does. I think that in general, while Israelis are much more involved in politics than most Americans, there always seems to be more excitement among Americans interested in elections than among their Israeli counterparts. I've noticed this long before Barack Obama's charisma and George W. Bush's failures fired up even more political fervor in the United States.
Maybe it just seems that way because I'm here in Israel, living with the muck of Israeli politics on a daily basis, observing American politics from afar. Maybe I've romanticized American politics, or just translated my own deep interest in all things USA into an incorrect generalization. Maybe the Excitement Deficit Disorder also exists in the States during most election years.
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Republican presidential nominee John McCain picks so-called Independent Democrat Joe Lieberman as his vice presidential running mate. The McCain-Lieberman ticket defeats the Obama-Biden ticket in November. On January 20, 2009, McCain and Lieberman are sworn in as president and vice-president, respectively. Sometime during the term, John McCain either dies or has to resign for health reasons.
Now Joe Lieberman becomes president. He is neither a Republican nor a Democrat. He nominates a hawkish Democrat as his VP. In 2012, President Lieberman decides to run for a full term, but he cannot run as a Republican or as a Democrat, so he runs as an independent. Since he is the incumbent, he is the strongest independent candidate in years and has an actual chance of winning electoral votes, if not the presidency.
On election day, the votes are split almost evenly between the three major contenders - the Democratic nominee (Hillary Clinton?), the Republican nominee (Mitt Romney?), and Joe Lieberman. Nobody gets at least 270 electoral votes. For the first time since 1824, the House of Representatives will have to choose a president, and for the first time since 1837, the Senate will have to elect a vice president.
I don't want this to happen, but it would certainly be interesting politically if it did.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
I'm surprised Obama chose a running mate with no executive experience, but Biden certainly has a lot of important experience as a senator. In fact, he has been the chairman of two of the most important committees in the United States Senate - the judiciary and foreign relations committees - and committee chairmanships have an executive aspect to them. Biden is more experienced than either presidential candidate.
There certainly is an even greater chance now that I will vote for Obama.
Sunday, August 10, 2008
What, no takers?
Friday, August 08, 2008
Good luck to the Israeli and American athletes: I wish them that if they don't bring home a medal, they at least won't bring home damaged lungs from all the pollution.
Monday, August 04, 2008
Read the article in English or Hebrew.
Sunday, July 27, 2008
Shaul Mofaz shares the same views as Benjamin Netanyahu. The difference between the two is that Netanyahu is much more intelligent and an excellent executive. Mofaz, on the other hand, didn't handle the army and the ministries of defense and transportation very well. So if the two share the same hawkish views that will send Israel in the wrong direction, I'd rather see Netanyahu at the helm. He would be less harmful to the country.
Monday, July 21, 2008
Cartoon by Amos Biderman, Ha'aretz, July 21, 2008.
Thursday, July 17, 2008
I feel sorry for the families and angry at the media. The news outlets have basically declared two days of mourning over two deaths that occurred two years ago. Yes, only yesterday did Israel receive final confirmation that the two are not alive, but this fact has been widely known for quite a while. I can understand that the families were in denial, not wanting to accept the fact that their loved ones are dead, but I can't understand why the media and, if the media truly reflects public opinion, the whole nation have been in denial.
It is a sad day, but it isn't a tragic day.
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
This deal's stupidity angers me. I hate the idea of Hezbollah terrorists holding parties for this horrible murderer and the other prisoners, while Israel mourns the death (or confirmation of death) of its two reservists. I truly do hope that one of the people in charge of transporting Saleem Kuntar will shoot him in the head. This way, it is not the Israeli government that reneges on the deal. It is just a single person losing his cool with a lowlife terrorist that should have been hanged long ago.
I know this is politically incorrect. I don't care.
Wednesday, July 09, 2008
I don't want the Ayatollahs to have nuclear weapons. However, were the regime to change into a non-theocratic Ayatollah-free democracy, I'd have no problem with the new Iran having nuclear capabilities. That is, if the new form of government is stable enough not to fall and be repaced by a second Islamic revolution.
The chances that the Islamic Republic of Iran would attack Israel with a nuclear weapon are not great, but the possibility still exists. The main threat from a nuclear Iran would be a change in the balance of power toward the governments and groups more hostile towards Israel, the United States and Western Europe. Reaching peace with our neighbors would be even more difficult than it currently is. However, a secular Iran that does not support groups like Hizbullah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, would be a positive force in the region, with or without nukes.
The Iranian population supports the nuclear program. Once they get rid of the theocracy, there will be no reason to deny them their wishes.
Saturday, July 05, 2008
While I oppose the right of return, this is not the issue. This isn't about refugees from 1948 returning to Israel and flooding the country. It is about Palestinians in the territories arbitrarily being barred from returning to where they actually still live. This is a disgrace and should stop immediately. The Magnes Zionist calls this ethnic cleansing. I'd say it is a semi-passive form of ethnic cleansing; passive because Israel isn't actively yanking people from their homes in East Jerusalem and kicking them out, but only semi-passive, because it is, after all, actively cancelling their residency permits when they leave.
It would be one thing to deny residency from people active in terrorist activity against Israel. This is something else completely. The Palestinians of East Jerusalem aren't residents like other people who have residency status. They aren't foreign workers. They've been there since before Israel captured the area. They deserve to have irrevocable residency status, unless convicted of terrorism. The Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, too, should not be denied re-entry into the territories only because they move abroad temporarily or marry a foreigner.
Palestinians will probably be against this, saying that this is good for Israel because it can keep hold of the West Bank. That's part of why they were very unhappy with the results of the Oslo peace process. They expected an immediate resolution: immediate independence and the immediate implementation of the right of return. They were unhappy with the smaller steps that took place, even though they were quite significant. Israelis, too, expected immediate change. These false expectations created the crisis that began with the second Intifada. A gradual strengthening of Palestinian independence is the best way to go.
Here is Avineri's article (the Hebrew version is available here):
There are good reasons to worry the current round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority will yield no real results - not only due to the weakness of both two governments, but especially because the two sides are so far apart in their basic positions on borders, settlements, Jerusalem and the refugees. This expected failure is arousing fears the violence will resume and the region as a whole might slip into a new cycle of hostilities.
The fear is understandable - but it is not justified. It is based on the assumption that there are only two options: peace or war. But that is not true.
Part of the difficulty of resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict stems from its complexity. The conflict has a territorial dimension, of course, but it also has other components: It is waged between two national movements; it involves disputes over issues of sovereignty and legitimacy, as well as a clash of historical narratives; it is riddled with the occupation, terrorism, settlements and the future of refugees; and although it is not fundamentally a religious conflict, religious aspects intensify it. Furthermore, the conflict involves neighboring countries, and it also influences the relations between international powers. In this sense, the conflict is not unique. All of its components, in different dosages, have appeared in several prominent conflicts of the last decades: Cyprus, Kosovo, Bosnia and Kashmir.
Like the Israeli-Palestinian problem, each of these conflicts has lasted decades and is rooted in historical events, sometimes events that took place centuries ago; and in each of these cases, all attempts to find a solution have failed. And still, the alternative is not the eruption of a new war.
In Cyprus there was an enormous international effort to come up with a solution (The Annan Plan), which the United Nations, the United States, Britain, Russia, the European Union and even Greece and Turkey all embraced. Because of the opposition of the Greek Cypriots, however, the plan was an utter failure.
A similar attempt was made in Kosovo, and a plan that received broad international support (The Ahtisaari Plan) led to Kosovo's independence. But the objection of the Serbs, supported by Russia, is preventing a consensual solution. In Bosnia the Dayton Accords did end the fighting, but the political apparatus created there, a complex multi-ethnic federation, is not functioning, and only the presence of foreign troops prevents the outbreak of renewed hostilities on ethnic grounds.
The Kashmir conflict is as far from resolution today as it was in 1947, when British India was divided into two independent states, India and Pakistan.
In all of these cases, the international community understood, reluctantly but out of a realism based on both theory and practice, that there was no immediate chance of resolving the crisis. And so it turned to other channels of gradual restraint - what is known in political jargon as "conflict management."
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is far more complex, but for some reason the international community believes it can offer a swift and immediate solution for it. Israel's internal debate also focuses on different proposals for resolving the conflict, and it does not try to confront the alternatives suggested by the lessons of other, similar situations.
Conflicts of this kind are hard to solve not only because of leadership issues: When there are such weighty issues at stake as clashing national narratives or deep feelings anchored in memories that are sometimes traumatic (just ask the Greeks in Cyprus what they think of the Turks), such obstacles cannot be removed in the blink of an eye.
We would do well to learn from these lessons and free ourselves of the provinciality that characterizes much internal Israeli debate. International bodies, which are not always aware of the necessary analogies, can also learn from the attempts elsewhere: Those who ask European leaders why they think they can succeed in the Middle East after having so clearly failed in Cyprus and Kosovo will see that they begin to think anew.
Changing the paradigm from "conflict resolution" to "conflict management" does not mean accepting the status quo. The recent initiative in Cyprus to open a crossing at Ledra Street in Nicosia offers evidence of this.
In our context, this means continuing to seek different ways of minimizing the friction between the two sides: real Palestinian steps toward creating governing institutions, particularly an effective security apparatus capable of dealing with militia and terrorist gangs; aid in economic development, which suits the interests of both sides; a significant easing of the roadblock burden and an end to new construction in the Jewish settlements; and, finally, once the political furor has subsided on our side, renewing the option of unilateral disengagement from specific parts of the West Bank.
Historic disputes are not resolved with a wave of the hand, much less by external directives (the U.S. has yet to "resolve" any one of them).
It takes lengthy internal processes, which alone can lead to the formation of a joint political desire to reach an agreement. Until then, the only options are not war or peace; there is always a third way - as Cyprus, Kosovo and Bosnia can prove.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
I wish Israel could conduct such an operation to release Gilad Shalit from captivity in Gaza, without the need to release hundreds of terrorists.
Sunday, June 29, 2008
The verbal diarrhea of our stupid leaders is doing as much, if not more, damage as the deal with Hezbollah. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, for example, have both said that soldiers will be less willing to serve if Israel doesn't "do everything" to release them if they are captured by the enemy.
They're addressing their words to Israeli soldiers, but also our enemies hear them. Hamas now knows it can inflate its demands in the Shalit deal, which means it will take longer for a deal to be reached (if ever). It also encourages more kidnappings.
Numerically, it might seem like this deal is better than the deal Ariel Sharon reached in 2004 since we're releasing about 75 times less prisoners this time. The truth is that because of the fact that Gilad Shalit is still being held prisoner this deal is much more dangerous that the previous one. A deal over the live soldier should have been reached before the deal over the dead ones.
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
If both Goldwasser and Regev are dead, as is most likely, this deal should not go through. In exchange for the dead bodies of Israeli soldiers we should only release dead bodies of Lebanese who either died during fighting with Israel or while in Israeli prisons. Living prisoners, especially those who may pose a threat to Israelis in the future, should only be released in exchange for living soldiers.
We should not release Samir Kuntar just so the soldiers' families can have emotional closure.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
According to my made up, yet not all that implausible, election returns, John McCain wins the presidency with 379 electoral votes, compared with 159 for Barack Obama. That's a 220 vote difference, despite the fact that Obama won the popular vote by more than 4 million votes and 3 percentage points (65 million to 61 million, and 51.15% to 47.98%).
This is in no way a prediction. It would be extremely stupid to actually guess what the election results would be in every state, especially the exact number of votes. Think of it as a quantitative political science experiment. I'm sure the actual results in November will be much less extreme.
Here is the data and number of votes I gave each candidate in each state, so you can decide for yourself whether or not my results make any sense. By the way, I decided to split Maine and Nebraska's electoral votes between the candidates, 3-1 and 3-2.
Friday, June 06, 2008
Other than the Chanukah Song, I've never been a fan of Adam Sandler's work. "Anger Management", the least stupidest movie of his I've seen, was mildly amusing mostly because of Jack Nicholson's performance. Still, I'm curious to see "Zohan". It's interesting for me as an Israeli, but I also want to see it because Sandler co-wrote the script with Judd Apatow and Robert Smigel. I loved Apatow's "40-year-old Virgin" and "Knocked Up", and am quite a fan of Smigel's creation, Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog (just shows how immature I am). The New York Times review by A. O. Scott is quite positive.
By the way, from the trailer it is clear Sandler has not mastered the art of imitating the Israeli accent. Usually, Hollywood actors who try to sound Israeli end up sounding Polish or German (which might make sense for Polish- or German-born Israelis, but not for those born in Israel). Sandler, on the other hand, sounds either French or like Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.
So, is the movie going to be great... for me to poop on?
Thursday, June 05, 2008
This isn't wishful thinking. I believe that when the choice is either Obama or McCain, Obama is the lesser of evils. McCain would be a complete disaster. Obama would be a disaster, too, but not as much as McCain.
I didn't like Obama's speech to AIPAC. He went so much overboard, going as far as promising a united Jerusalem, that it became unbelievable. There's no real reason for him to oppose giving East Jerusalem to the Palestinians as their capital other than to win the Jewish vote.
Here's what will be most likely to get him as much of the Jewish vote as possible: picking Hillary Clinton as his running mate. If he doesn't want Bill and Hill on his back, he can choose one of Clinton's top supporters, Ed Rendell, the Jewish governor of Pennsylvania.
Just a thought.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
An RNC spokesman said this raises "questions about [Obama's] judgment and his readiness to lead as commander in chief", according to CNN.com's Political Ticker. Indeed, we have seen the dangers of a president who mixes up two different places and two different threats, like Iraq and Iran or Iraq and Al-Qaeda. One guy misspoke. The other mishandled the United States and the world. Quite a difference, don't you think?
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Sunday, May 18, 2008
"Survivor: Undisclosed Location" will pit eight Americans, most of them beautiful actors and models from California and New York, plus a token older and/or ugly person, against eight people with Arab-sounding names from around the globe. While the Americans must apply and go through a series of auditions, the foreigners will be picked up without having to do anything. The tribe names have been confirmed as Mukhabarat and Mujahideen, said to be local deities of the indigenous culture.
"It will be an interesting experiment," said a reliable source within Mark Burnett Productions, which produces the series. "We decided to do this now, with the season that will be filmed between October and December 2008, since this is probably our last chance for this particular concept. The Bush administration has been very helpful in recruiting contestants from outside the United States and finding a location for the game. Come January, we may not see as cooperative an administration as the current one."
When asked about the various challenges the contestants will have to play in order to win rewards, immunity idols, and eventually the grand prize of $1 million (or 1 million Iraqi Dinars, depending on the nationality of the Sole Survivor), the source agreed only to say that "if you liked underwater challenges in pervious seasons, the competitions we're planning this time will absolutely take your breath away."
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
Sure, they can't say how horrible a leader he really is. They can't say "Thank you, President Bush, for making Israel less safe by attacking a country that, as it turns out, was never really a threat to us and instead made it a breeding ground for Al-Qaeda and Shi'ite terrorism. We really appreciate the fact that now that you have failed in Iraq, the United States can't afford to face what seems to be a greater threat than Saddam Hussein ever was". And the list of bad things goes on... They can't say all those things, but they shouldn't say what is at best a bunch of lies about how great he is (at best, since the worst case scenario is that they actually believe what they are saying, which means our leaders have horrible judgment).
The event tonight was part of a conference about the future of Israel, organized by President Peres. Channel 1, the public channel that is owned by the government but supposedly independent from it, showed the whole US-Israel event, including the video clips about the history of the two countries' ties with each other. I felt like I was watching North Korean or Cuban TV. The clips weren't mini-documentaries but rather straight out of the PR department. It was absolutely ridiculous.
Sunday, May 11, 2008
- First of all, no more than one of the running mates will be a white male Christian. It is quite possible neither one of them will be a WASP, but definitely not both of them.
- Since I doubt that all four people on the two major tickets will be senators, no more than one current senator will be a VP nominee.
- Both will come from either red (conservative) or purple (swing) states. Neither one will come from a blue (liberal) state, unless Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton run together.
- If Barack Obama wins the Democratic presidential nomination, his running mate will not be black. John McCain's running mate will probably not be black, either.
- Both running mates will be between the ages of 50 and 65.
- One or both of the running mates will be a member of at least one of the following groups: women, Latinos and Jews.
- Neither RM will be openly gay or bisexual, nor will be even suspected as such.
- At least one, but probably both, will have previous executive experience as a governor, major city mayor, United States Cabinet member, diplomat, high ranking military officer or a prosecutor.
Saturday, May 10, 2008
It seemed odd to me that Sheikh Nassrallah said the Lebanese government declared war on Hezbollah. Isn't that like an acknowledgement that they are a state within a state? How can war be declared on a political party?
Right now, it looks like the race is finished and Clinton doesn't have a chance, but she should try anyway. Obama is a horrible candidate as it is, and would make a horrible president, so it doesn't really matter if she bloodies him ahead of November.
Sunday, May 04, 2008
Independence Day is also the one day we should be allowed to forget about the negative aspects of our country. Let's not think about the security situation, the decline of the welfare and healthcare systems or the corruption of our prime minister.
Also, it's a day on which we should not think about the Palestinians, what we have done and continue to do to them, or what we and the Palestinians do to each other. 364 days out of they year we should remember them and strive for peace in order to make their lives, as well as ours, better. But on the day we celebrate our independence, there is absolutely no reason to commemorate the Nakba or to think of Palestinian suffering. The Palestinians are free to commemorate their tragedy, but they shouldn't expect Israelis to do so.
One day each year, we can pretend Palestinians do not exist.
Friday, May 02, 2008
By HAVIV RETTIG, The Jerusalem Post
Jewish leaders concocted the mass murder of handicapped Jews in order to keep from having to support them, and this murder is what the Jews term "the Holocaust," according to a documentary special that aired on April 18 on Hamas's Al Aqsa television station.
Palestinian Media Watch located and translated the contents of the footage, which it uploaded to YouTube under the headline "Hamas: Jews planned Holocaust."
According to the documentary's narrator, Israel's first prime minister David Ben Gurion decided that Jewish "disabled and handicapped are a burden to the state," after which "the Satanic Jews" - the film cuts to a picture of a hassidic Jew - "thought up an evil plot to be rid of the burden of disabled and handicapped" - the film then cuts to piles of emaciated corpses - "in twisted criminal ways."
"This is official Hamas TV," explained PMW director Itamar Marcus. "It's owned and totally controlled by the Hamas leadership in Gaza, and it goes out by satellite to the whole Arab-speaking world."
The program dealt primarily with the Holocaust, but included comparisons to the Palestinian situation, calling the massacres in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps a "holocaust" and blaming Israel for a "Palestinian holocaust."
"They [the Jews] were the first to invent the methods of evil and oppression," explains the documentary's narrator, cutting to scenes of Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan and Ben Gurion. The film claimed Jewish leaders blamed the Nazis for their own massacre of Jews "so the Jews would seem persecuted and try to benefit from international sympathy."
The film offers an "expert" - Amin Dabur, head of the "Center for Strategic Research" - who explains that "the Israeli Holocaust, the whole thing was a joke and part of the perfect show that Ben Gurion put on."
There is some tension in the film between blaming the Jews for the massacre of Jews, and denying the massacre took place. According to Dabur, Ben Gurion was interested in sending "strong and energetic youth [for Israel], while all the rest - the disabled, the handicapped, and people with special needs, they were sent [to die] - if it can be proven historically" - a reference to a claim heard often on Hamas television, from Iranian leaders and elsewhere in the Muslim world that the Holocaust has yet to be proven historically.
Continues Dabur: "They were sent [by the Jews to die] so there would be a Holocaust, so Israel could 'play' it for world sympathy."
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
Both Obama and Carter are very intelligent people who are extremely naive with regard to diplomacy. They both support high-level talks with all the unrepentant bad guys of the world. Barack Obama is willing to sit down with Mahmoud Ahmedinijad without preconditions and without lower level talks first. Jimmy Carter wants Israel to talk to Hamas, an organization that still says all it can agree to is a 10 year ceasefire in return for all of their demands (a Palestinian state and return of refugees).
Of the two most recent Democratic presidents, Bill Clinton was far better than Jimmy Carter. Hillary Clinton is very Clintonian, and not just because of her last name. So this primary season it is Clintonian Democrats vs. Carteresque Democrats, and if the latter win, the United States will be in big trouble.