Sunday, March 30, 2008

Gore-Obama 2008?

Joe Klein of Time Magazine says Al Gore may be the answer to the Democratic Party's problems. He says that both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton may be too damaged by their infighting to win the general election, so they could agree to the compromise candidacy of Al Gore. Obama may then become Gore's running mate.

This is a horrible idea, and not because of Al Gore himself. Nominating someone who has not even been in the running in the primaries would be far less democratic than nominating a candidate who is a close second in popular votes and pledged delegates. Also, I don't see why either camp should agree to this. Obama would rather be the presidential nominee, not the VP candidate, while Hillary Clinton has no reason to agree to a ticket which includes Obama, unless it includes her as well.

I must say I'd be much happier to vote for Al Gore than for Obama, but it would be morally (and possibly politically) wrong for the Democratic Party to nominate anybody other than the two candidates left standing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

HBO's Abigail Adams

And now for a silly question about the new mini-series "John Adams": why, oh, why, did HBO decide to disguise David Morse with a fake nose to make him look like George Washington, yet did not apply uglying makeup and a fake nose to Laura Linney's face? Abigail Adams was an impressive woman and Linney portrays her impressively, but Adams was quite an ugly woman and Laura Linney is beautiful.

Of course, George Washington's face is iconic, while nobody but history buffs (and those who read her entry in Wikipedia) knows how Abigail Adams looked. Also, audiences tolerate unattractive men much more than they tolerate unattractive women.

Anyway, here are Abigail Adams and Laura Linney. See a difference?

Just one important point: never ever base a post on one single piece of information as I am doing here (one picture, in this case). Who knows, maybe Abigail Adams was a looker after all.

Resettling Settlers

My government frustrates me too often. Defense Minister Ehud Barack has approved the construction of five caravans in the West Bank settlement Tene-Omarim for families who were evacuated from the Gaza Strip in the 2005 disengagement. Dozens of families from the former settlements of Gush Katif in Gaza have moved, or are planning to move, to several other settlements in the West Bank, as well.

This totally violates Israeli promises to the Bush administration. It also violates common sense and the best interests of Israel. Resettling the Gaza settlers in the West Bank only complicates matters for Israel, and will cost us much more when we will eventually have to leave those settlements in a future peace treaty.

Some families that were evacuated from Sinai in 1982 moved to the Gaza Strip. Some of those may have moved to the West Bank after 2005. So, what's next? When the Palestinian State is established in the (probably distant) future, they'll move to the Golan Heights? What is it about Israel within the green line that they dislike so much? Maybe the fact that the government spends less money on people here than in the territories? The rule of law?

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Mediocre Olympics

Top athletes of the world unite!

No country is going to boycott the Beijing Olympics this year, despite the many crimes perpetrated recently by the Chinese government. China has not only abused the rights of Tibetans and political dissidents, but it has committed crimes against people whose only crime was to live where the government wanted to build Olympic facilities.

For these reasons the world's top athletes should boycott the games. Champions should stay home, while mediocre athletes participate. The games will not be of any interest to anyone if no Olympic and world records are set (except for negative records). China will probably take most of the medals, but it won't really mean anything.

I know this is easier said than done. Participating in the Olympic Games is not something most athletes would give up easily, even the ones who already have a few medals and trophies at home. Still, it is worth a try.

Besides, Beijing's air is so polluted that athletes who stay home will keep both their conscience and their lungs clean.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Clients 1 - 8 Wish List

I've invented a new nasty, mean-spirited game. As you probably know by now, Eliot Spitzer, the soon to be ex-governor of New York, is Client No. 9 of the Emperors Club VIP prostitution ring. Who are Clients 1 through 8? Is there a Client No. 10, or even more? Since the identities of these high-paying johns has not yet been revealed, you can now engage in some venomous fun. Don't try to guess who the other clients are. Just fantasize about famous people you hate (or just really dislike) being involved in this sordid scandal.

Here's my own wish list (in no particular order):

1. Vice President Dick Cheney
2. Mahmoud Ahmedinijad (hey, he has visited New York twice)
3. Rush Limbaugh
4. Trent Lott
5. David Duke
6. Bill O'Reilly
7. Jesse Jackson
8. Benjamin Netanyahu (that would be a big embarrassment for him in Israel, but no career ender)

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Ferraro's Political Incorrectness

Geraldine Ferraro may be wrong about Barack Obama being where he is only because he is black, but she should not be labelled a racist. Her words are worth discussing. Obama is one of the least experienced American politicians, one of the most naive and most ambiguous when it comes to what he actually plans to do as president. There is a degree of irrationality in his success.

Obama has received over 80% of the African-American vote, however he has a lot of support among white voters as well. Liberal guilt? Not necessarily.

I believe the main factor is Obama's charisma, not the color of his skin, though it is impossible (or overly PC) to ignore that race has at least some impact, too. Barack Obama is a cheerleader/preacher combo, sweeping people off their feet with beautiful words that do not really mean anything. His plans, experience and knowledge of the issues are inferior to Clinton's. His only advantage over her is his showmanship.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

A Democratic Supermajority?

Democrats are hoping that this year's elections will not only bring a Democrat back into the White House, but it will also result in larger majorities in both houses of Congress. In the Senate, Democrats are eyeing the magic number 60, the filibuster-buster. Mary Landrieu's Louisiana seat is the only one of the 12 Democratic seats up for election this year that is even remotely in danger of being lost. Republicans have 23 seats up this year, with a few incumbents leaving office and several seats in danger of being lost to Democrats. Even in some usually solid Republican states like Alaska, Democrats are doing well in polls.

Because of all of this, Senate Democrats are optimistic that winning the nine extra seats needed to reach 60 is not far fetched. I think it may be better for the country and the party if they are wrong.

Supermajorities are not good. Democracy requires more of a balance and a need for compromise. A supermajority can push down the superminority's throat whatever legislation it wants without ever hearing what the minority has to say.

Also, when one party controls both Congress and the White House, even without a supermajority, it tends to become cocky, abuse its power and take its majority for granted. This brought the downfall of the Democrats in 1994 and the Republicans in 2006.

Democrats can try to resist this historical trend while they have a regular majority in both houses, but if they have such a huge lead that they don't even need to talk to Republicans they'll become unpopular very quickly.

So, a Democrat in the White House, and something like a 55-45 majority in the Senate and a 245-190 majority in the House of Representatives seems quite enough to me. But then again, if a supermajority it must be, it is better that it is Democratic and not Republican.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

USraelis Pick Hillary

The term USrael is usually used as a derogatory term to describe an alleged colonial imperialist conspiracy spearheaded by Little Satan and Big Satan to meddle in the affairs of the Middle East and the rest of the world. I, of course, will not use it that way. Instead, it's how I'll call dual citizens of the United States and Israel.

Last month Democrats Abroad conducted a global primary for American citizens living outside of the US who identify themselves as Democrats. Obama won a big victory, winning two thirds of the votes and all but three countries. Democrats in Israel, the Philippines and the Dominican Republic (USraelis, USlippinos and USominicans, I guess) chose Hillary Clinton. In Israel, she won 54 to 45 - not such a huge margin. It was so close that among those who voted on-line the vote split evenly between Obama and Clinton, with 124 votes for each contender. The vote in the Tel-Aviv voting center made the difference, with 59 votes for Clinton and 31 for Obama (Clinton also won the mail-in/fax vote 7 to 4). In the Palestinian territories only one person cast a vote, and it was for Obama. A country by country breakdown is available here.

I expected Clinton to win by a landslide here in Israel. I'm surprised it was as close as it was. Bill Clinton was, and still is, the most popular American president among Israelis. Indeed, Israel's Channel 10 news conducted a poll among Israelis (not USraelis this time, but the general population) that asked how they would vote if they were American citizens. In a Clinton-Obama match, Clinton wins 62% to 16%. In a Clinton-McCain race, she wins 58 to 12. In a McCain-Obama race McCain wins 42 to 30. When asked which of the three is best for Israel 53% said Clinton, 16% said McCain and 9.5% said Obama.