Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Stimulus Package Spending

I have been hearing a lot of Republicans complaining about the anticipated stimulus spending. They typically sum it up by saying that when you are in a deep hole, first you need to stop digging. Actually, if the hole you are in is deep enough that you cannot simply climb out, then digging is an excellent way out! No, you don't dig through the center of the earth; you dig a ramp that you can walk up! The key thing is to change the direction of the digging.

So if I try to force this metaphor, I would say we do need the government to spend a lot, but that they have to choose different things to spend on. They need to choose investments for the country that really pay off. Hoover Dam was an extremely expensive project, but it has paid for itself many times over. ( In addition to providing energy, it protected a vast region of sunny fertile ground from regular flooding that impeded successful agriculture.) Better flood protection for New Orleans could have saved a bundle. Investing in alternative energy and scientific research would have payoffs for the future. Improving our educational system and providing tuition assistance could pay off as well, as could timely maintenance of bridges and infrastructure and new mass transit initiatives.

If, on the other hand, they mostly fill a bunch of potholes, and build some new roads that contribute to sprawl, we are going to hit an economic wall in a few years. It's kind of like the government is a teenager that has stolen our (the parent's) credit card, and run up thousands of dollars in spending. If we discover that the teen has bought an education, or a vehicle for going to work, or a computer or even a lawnmower, we will figure that they will be able to pay it pack eventually. If on the other hand they spent it all on incessant text messages (bureaucratic excess), nail extensions(inaugural glitz), beer, tattoos and sparklers, (War in Iraq) we will realize that that money is simply gone.

The real problem with this second metaphor is that it misses one tragic aspect of our true situation. Rather that a teen stealing from his/her parents, it will be us foisting this economic mess on our children if we (& our government) don't get it right.

(Anyone having trouble visualizing digging an exit ramp should read Mike Mulligan And His Steam Shovel by Virginia Lee Burton, the source of the above pic.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

My most favoritest ever Economist, Nouriel Roubini

sez things aren't as bad as I think; possible recovery in 2010--Yippee!!!!!1111 Plus, awesome accent.

No, actually, Mr. Roubini has suffered deeply from getting everything right about the current crisis; so, naturally, he's totally ignored by the mainstream media.

Plus!!!! Bonus!!!!! He totally agrees with me about the US banks. Insolvent, baby. We all need to read more recent Swedish history. Edit. As in dump the current managment that paid themselves absurd amounts + extra bonuses, actually rifle through the books to figure out what they're worth, and them sell them for the reasonable price. Minus evil management.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Please, Somebody Tell Me This Is Not A Legal Dodge

In an attempt to protect assets from civil litigation, Former Lehman exec, Fuld, sold his 13.3 million dollar home to his wife for $100 just last November. Seeing as how the sh!t had already hit the fan at Lehman's, how can this possibly be a legal way of shielding this asset?

Oh, and just so you know, Fuld received $22,000,000.00 in compensation in 2007 from Lehman's, so that house was just pocket change. How many people do you know who can afford their entire house on a fraction of one year's salary, and a $13,000,000 one at that?

Our legal system is slow to process cases, especially when wealthy defendants can use their resources to slow everything down. I wonder how long Madoff will be living in his luxury home. And how long will the Fulds keep their Florida mansion? Transferring the title to his wife ought to slow things down a bit, huh?

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Ron Asheton -- May Flights of Angels Sing Thee to Thy Rest

"His sound was the tone of the stars at night. And he listened as much as he played." -- Iggy Pop.

RIP Ron Asheton, an original Stooge. Now I wanna be your dog.

Ron Asheton's the Guitar Player. Pay no attention to the guy in the front who neglected to put on his shirt.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

A comic offering from Snapdragon.

Bush spied on average citizens in the name of terror.

Are you a terrorist? Me too! Why? Because we're just run-of-the-mill citizens! Wow. My life is so much more exciting than I realized, and worthy of being spied-on by the US government. Woo Hoo! Can you say Stazi? Thought you could.

See it here: an NSA analyist discusses the evil, evil details.

Interesting point: Specific groups targeted: US News organizations, reporters and journalists. Ah ha! Take that! Liberal Media. What was reported on? "It would be everything." Hmmm. "This is something that is happening all the time."

"The agency would tailor some of their briefings to try to be deceptive." "When the defense committes on the hill come calling [we'd say] you can't look at it because it is an intelligence program. When the intelligence committes come calling you say it is a DOD program."

If, as Mr. Tice notes, everything was captured, then the communications of the Democrats running against the Republicans was also captured and available for use. This is not only the way to tyranny, it is tyranny in the flesh.

Much more here.

Now Bush is out of power, he has much less, uh, POWER, and all this hidden evildoing is seeing the light of youtube.

Your hard-earned tax dollars at work: making really really rich people even richer.

You may recall Bank of America just received 20 FICKING BILLION dollars (yes, the horror of CAPS LOCK must be unleashed) to make up for losses from purchasing Merrill Lynch. Merrill Lynch, just prior to being absorbed, and ahead of schedule by a couple of months, awarded all and sundry top officials bonuses and salaries to the tune of FIFTEEN FICKIN' BILLION DOLLARS.

Capitalism at its finest. Bankrupt not only your company but the US economy, make a killing. Using OUR MONEY. I want my personal killing; I'm cheap, I admit. How about a Million?

Bush, Rummy, War Crimes. The World, if not us, has been paying attention.

From The Telegraph (UK).

Manfred Nowak, the UN's special rapporteur on torture, called on the US authorities to pursue the former president and his former defence secretary for the treatment of prisoners held at the Guantanamo Bay camp in Cuba.

"Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation," he told German television.

He said that the US had ratified the UN convention on torture which requires "all means, particularly penal law" to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

"We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld," Mr Nowak claimed.

"But obviously the highest authorities in the United States were aware of this."

No trips out of the country for Bush, or Rummy, or Cheney, not that they'd want to go.

An American Horror, An American Hero.

This Human Rights Watch report details how he US has killed just about 100 detainees in custody in the "War on Terror." Even under the liberal standards of the Bush administration, if a man is tortured to death, it's torture.

How bad has it been? Glen Greenwald writes today about how a prosecutor at Guantanamo (and a bronze star receipient) was so disgusted by the nonexistent case against his teenage detainee (sample detail--after "brutal and continuous abuse" the kid signed a confession in a language he didn't speak)that he first demanded that the kid be released, and then resigned in protest.

Pres. Obama, according to the New York Times, will sign an executive order today closing Guatanamo cites and secret CIA Prisons. It's a start.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Banks are Insolvent, Duh.

If those banks out there swallowed up $350 billion with nary a burp, what insane brain-dead rich important stupid-head thinks another $350 billion will have some magical effect? It will be delivered by Unicorns, perhaps? Really? Really?

How did Obama put the people responsible for this mess in positions of responsibility to get us out? Will it work? No. And why is Tim Geitner being quizzed about a paultry $35,000 in back taxes?

Notice, no links. The analysis can be performed as a thought experiment.

H/T Bosch plus this site for the pic., The Unicorn of Earthly Delights, or something.

Why the economy nose-dived, in one easy-to-read article.


Basically, money market managers and their clients have mutually exclusive interests. That is, the worst the manager (because he exposes his clients to unnecessary risk), the wealthier (because clients flock to the funds with the bigger returns). So, all the money lemmings to those funds most likely to fall off a cliff, as we have just witnessed. Good to know now.

From the article:
Let’s say for instance that you’re managing a hedge fund which invests in stocks. ... you can generate an average return of 6% per year, and so can most of your equally qualified competitors who have access to the same talent pool and knowledge base as you do.

But then one of your competitors realizes that he can automatically increase his return to 9% by selling something called “out of the money puts” on the market. This means that the competitor’s fund essentially sells insurance against the market crashing dramatically. In normal times his fund will gain the premium from selling this insurance which boosts his returns.

However, in the rare event of an extreme market crash his investors will lose everything. ...

When investors see a fund manager generate a higher return than his competitors, they will move their money into that fund and out of the other ones....

The managers who have the discipline to understand and avoid [such] tricks will not be able to compete on the basis of their returns over a few years, and will eventually lose their funds and their jobs.

Cheney Hurt His Back Moving Boxes II-----Destroying Records?

Yesterday I opined that Cheney had hurt his back destroying records.
Apparently I'm not the only one who thinks this is what Cheney was up to. Here are some comments from a post on, about Cheney's ownership of these records.
No wonder the (now former) Vice President was lugging boxes over the weekend. He pulled a muscle in his back, hiding documents from the National Archives and the American people.
-- Carol Anne
[Read Carol Anne's other letters]
Permalink Tuesday, January 20, 2009 02:20 PM

I wondered if Cheney injured his back
shoveling documents into a furnace.
either that or loading bodies into holes in the basement of the VP manse.
-- Pastafarians Unite!
[Read Pastafarians Unite!'s other letters]
Permalink Tuesday, January 20, 2009 02:20 PM

Ironsides, and How He Got That Way

Dick Cheney was at the inauguration in a wheel chair. Dana Perino says this is because the Dick had strained his back moving boxes.
Wouldn't burly men move boxes? Wouldn't young men move boxes? Wouldn't movers move boxes?
What boxes, one wonders, would be such that the Dick would want to move them personally, and yet be numerous or heavy enough to cause such a strained back that he comes out like Chief Ironsides at the inauguration?
Oh, right: Cheney now says that, because he's in the Legislative Branch (except when he isn't... like when a subpoena is present), he doesn't have to show anyone Dick. History will pay the price for our failure to make that guy cough up everything he touched for eight years.
-- Geogre
[Read Geogre's other letters]
Permalink Wednesday, January 21, 2009 03:45 AM

A Federal judge ruled that Cheney had the authority to decide with no one looking over his shoulder which records he would leave for posterity.
A federal judge ruled yesterday (Jan 19,'09) that the former vice president can deal with records of his term in office however he pleases. "Congress drastically limited the scope of outside inquiries related to the vice president's handling of his own records during his term in office," wrote Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly.

The relevant law, the Presidential Records Act, assumes that presidents and vice presidents will comply in good faith with the law, said Judge Kollar-Kotelly, and that it was not proven that Cheney had unlawfully decided not to preserve certain records.

How nice, Cheney gets to destroy evidence and once it's destroyed there is no way to prove that the records he destroyed were improperly chosen for the ash bin. Grrrrr!

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cheney Hurt His Back Moving Boxes

I can't help but wonder what boxes Cheney did not just pay someone else to move. Could they have been boxes from that man-sized safe of his with all the top secret files? He must have had a very busy and strenuous day. Don't forget, he treated almost everything in his office as a secret.

For printed documents, they made up official-looking stamps that said, "Treated As: SECRET/SCI." Though the stamps had no legal basis, they instructed future archivists to protect routine paperwork -- for instance, the talking points for Cheney's press office -- as though it were "sensitive compartmented information," a designation used for the innermost secrets of national security.

So Cheney will be in a wheelchair for the inauguration. I think he just wanted a handicapped parking space.

(Artwork above by Phillip Toledano)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Goodbye Pres. Bush (cough, cough).

It's been quite the 8 years, what with stealing the 2000 election with the help of your brother conveniently located as the Governor of Florida; the 9-11 attacks (Bin Laden determined to attack US, so easy to misunderstand); attacking the WRONG country in wake of said attacks -- Saudi Arabia, Iraq, so easy to get confused; the complete trashing of the constitution--who needs the fourth amendment anyway? If I haven't done anything bad then my telephone calls are an open book, not to mention my car and my house. And the 8th? Pshaw; only sissies complain about torture.

Goodbye, Bush. Goodbye, goodbye. And, as is traditional, don't let the door hit you too hard on the way out.

PS. The Hague is beautiful this time of year, or so I've heard. And handcuffs? Hott. And Kinky. Double plus awesome.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Updated playlist

In this brief moment between spinning sessions that require me to lay in bed and convince my body that I'm not in some truly evil version of Disneyland (tautology, perhaps?) I updated my playlist. Give it a spin! (?)

Coulter's Mouth Open For Business

( And yes, you know what I mean! )

I had hoped because of a hiatus in Anne Coulter's appearances that people had lost interest in her, but found out recently that her mouth had been wired shut for weeks!

I guess the muzzle is off, so we can expect her petulant diatribes to pollute the airwaves once again. This sketch barely exaggerates Coulter's histrionics and rhetoric.

She deserves so much less airplay than she gets.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Sea Kittens?

PETA has begun a new campaign to protect fish from human consumption. Their new strategy is to "re-brand" fish as "sea kittens". That is, they aim to teach youngsters to think of fish as kittens so that they will be reluctant to eat them.
If children were taught to refer to fish as "sea kittens," reflecting that fish, like cats and dogs, are "individuals" that "do have friendships," fewer fish might be killed for food or sport, said Pulin Modi, a PETA spokesman.

It is unclear in what venues they plan to implement their educational initiative, but so far they have contacted Spearfish High School in South Dakota and asked them to change their name to Sea Kitten High School. (The principal was not convinced.)

In principle I am not opposed to the idea of people replacing animal protein with other protein sources. People make such decisions for a variety of reasons: health, the environment, ethical qualms or squeamishness.

Three things bother me about this initiative, however. First of all, they are not attempting to convince people by using the truth. They are marketing a falsehood, namely that fish are just like kittens. Not only are they equating fish with mammals, but by calling them kittens rather than cats, they are disingenuously ascribing 'baby status' to all fish. That's right, anyone who eats fish is killing babies.

I also find it objectionable that they are merely trying to make fish seem cute to make it seem wrong to hurt them. If fish were ugly, cold and slimy rather than warm, cute and fuzzy then they wouldn't merit protection or compassion. What kind of moral lesson is that to teach children?

But what bothers me most of all is that this dishonest campaign targets young children.
It's fine to approach teenagers with facts and questions that can allow them to make their own decisions in a rational, informed way. But brainwashing little kids that eating fish is evil with a cadre of cute fish caricatures is unethical. Young children's diets should be determined by parents and pediatricians. These dishonest animal rights activists should butt out of the decisions that families make. (I'd be happy if young children were protected from all marketing, frankly.)
I don't see PETA having any success with this laughable campaign. They might cause some short lived friction at the dinner table, but when little kids figure out that most fish are not particularly cute, their support for fish rights will dissipate. PETA would probably have better luck protecting fish by noting how frequently it smells bad.

(The cute kitten in a bag poster is available at

Why aren't we all outraged at the banks being given, willy-nilly, all our money?

They don't pay taxes; they're barely American companies.

They are not using this money to, uh, lend to you, me, or the condo developer down the street,

They're, rather, using the money to buy up other banks, right and left. Ok, mostly right. Fun for all!

While that’s admittedly removing the smaller, weaker banks from the market – a possible benefit to consumers and taxpayers alike – this trend is also having a detrimental effect: It’s reducing the competition that’s benefited consumers and kept the explosion in banking fees from being far worse than it already is.
(From link, just above.) In normal-speak; the banks are busily figuring out how to screw us over even more efficiently, using our very own tax dollars! Awesome leverage. Stunning. Mattresses are looking better all the time.

For example, Bank of America is using some of that sweet, sweet TARP money to buy up a Chinese Bank. Yuan for all!

How much money have you and I given Bank of America? Why, about 45 Billion. Fun for them, not so much for me, or thee.

This is what we get for putting the very people who created the crisis in charge of fixing it. See a problem there, just a little?

Oh, and Hi everyone, it's Djinn. I've been spinning rather more rapidly than usual and so have been unable to blog, or do much of anything. I was actually too sick to get my first dizziness treatment, because my Dr. forbad me from taking my old nausea medication while failing to prescribe me a substitute anti-emetic. Got one now.

Thanks to Calculated Risk and Stu Rees Cartoons for the pic.

Really Not So Strange

This sure seems like a labor intensive project, but this is, after all, exactly what is done with the wool from sheep goats and, yes, rabbits.

Four hundred bucks (her most expensive) seems like a high price , but it may be a better expenditure than exorbitant veterinary procedures opted for by owners of aged (and suffering) pets who can't bring themselves to let go of the cherished animal. Kidney transplants for cats cost several thousand dollars.

So are you an "ewww-person" or an "ahhh-person"?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

New To Me

This is one of the most watched you-tube clips ever, but I had never seen it. Just in case there's someone else left who has not watched it, I thought I would share it here. Pretty funny, huh?

Let me know if this is the first time you've seen it!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Think Big, Knit Small

I just can't get over the detail in the sweater with the ocean scene, around t=1:20. (I wonder how often she stabs herself with those needles------I know my fingers would be sorer than a diabetic's.)

But for small knitting projects with a lot of impact, it's hard to beat these.

Monday, January 12, 2009

A Blast From The Past

This was written before I was born, but it's style and tone remind me of the slim booklet my mother foisted on me detailing the intricacies of feminine biology and hygiene------you know, how special periods are, and how to stay fresh......

An actual article from
Housekeeping Monthly May 13, 1955

Have dinner ready. Plan ahead, even the night before, to have a
delicious meal ready on time for his return. This is a way of letting
him know that you have be thinking about him and are concerned about
his needs. Most men are hungry when they get home and the prospect of
a good meal is part of the warm welcome needed.

Prepare yourself. Take 15 minutes to rest so you'll be refreshed when
he arrives. Touch up your make-up, put a ribbon in your hair and be
fresh-looking. He has just been with a lot of work-weary people.

Be a little gay and a little more interesting for him. His boring day
may need a lift and one of your duties is to provide it.

Clear away the clutter. Make one last trip through the main part of
the house just before your husband arrives. Run a dustcloth over the

During the cooler months of the year you should prepare and light a

fire for him to unwind by. Your husband will feel he has reached a
haven of rest and order, and it will give you a lift too. After all,
catering to his comfort will provide you with immense personal

Minimize all noise. At the time of his arrival, eliminate all noise
of the washer, dryer or vacuum. Encourage the children to be quiet.

Be happy to see him.

Greet him with a warm smile and show sincerity in your desire to
please him.

Listen to him. You may have a dozen important things to tell him, but
the moment of his arrival is not the time. Let him talk first -
remember, his topics of conversation are more important than yours.

Don't greet him with complaints and problems.

Don't complain if he's late for dinner or even if he stays out all
night. Count this as minor compared to what he might have gone through
at work.

Make him comfortable. Have him lean back in a comfortable chair or
lie him down in the bedroom. Have a cool or warm drink ready for him.

Arrange his pillow and offer to take off his shoes. Speak in a low,
soothing and pleasant voice.

Don't ask him questions about his actions or question his judgment
or integrity. Remember, he is the master of the house and as such
will always exercise his will with fairness and truthfulness. You
have no right to question him.

A good wife always knows her place.
(This came from a comment to the link I provided.)

Until today though, I never saw any commercials for feminine products that did not feature women in diaphanous robes, gently walking on beaches while looking contemplative. Maybe the Aussies(?) are a little ahead of us on this score-----but they do still include a beach. How's this for a different tone?

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Sorry, No Pictures, Lots of Words

Some comments to a previous post about Israel had many points that I thought would be interesting to address in a whole separate post, so here goes. (It will probably all make more sense if you read the other comments along with the original post.)
By "Zionist extremists," I don't mean all Israelis, or even all Israeli military personal/leadership. I do mean those who insisted on creating a specifically Jewish state in a previously occupied territory. That deplorable goal, and the idea that somehow being Jewish made their claims more valid or important than that of those already living there, is the definition of extremist Zionism.

Don't forget that lots of Jews also lived in that "previously occupied territory" and had done so for quite a while.Too many people blindly accept a misrepresentation regarding the demographic shifts in Israel . At the turn of the century, (1900) the population of Jerusalem had more Jews than either Muslims or Christians. Jews did not just move there after WWI and WWII, steal the land and try to sweep everyone else out. (Huge tracts of land in Israel were owned by absentee Egyptian landlords. They sold----at exorbitant prices-----much of this land to Jewish settlers.)

Records suggest that immigration of Egyptians and Arabs into Palestine from neighboring regions during the early decades of the century exceeded Jewish immigration. The boost to the local economy created by Jewish and British investment and development (like the port at Haifa) was a magnet that attracted many immigrants. (The standard of living in Israel for Arabs rose to approximately twice that experienced by their counterparts in nearby countries-----hence the dramatic influx. Furthermore, the Turks and the British did not restrict Arab and Egyptian immigration as severely as Jewish immigration.
Why should Jewish immigration to Israel be seen as less real, their status as established residents more open to question than immigrants from nearby lands? Is it a race thing? Or because they came from far away? And why is it a deplorable goal for there to be a separate and independent Jewish state?

The designation, "a Jewish State" has more of a symbolic meaning than anything else. Citizens are not required to be Jewish, and Arab Israelis (Arab citizens of Israel as opposed to the people in Gaza or the West Bank) enjoy all the same basic rights as the Jewish citizens, and certainly more rights than elsewhere in the entire region-----other than perhaps the right to kill Jews with impunity, or the right to stone to death women who have been raped without taking the precaution of arranging four male witnesses. In fact, Arab Israelis enjoy one privilege other Israelis don't, an exemption from mandatory military service, although they are welcome to join the army. Mostly the designation as a "Jewish" state affects the rights of people living elsewhere, and their rights regarding immigration to Israel; it's true that Jews are given preferential treatment in immigration.

As far as the burning issue of the "right of return", what is not widely remembered is that in the couple of years immediately following Israeli independence, many Jews fled their homes in Egypt, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq etc. to save their lives.(And for the first time in thousands of years, they had somewhere to flee to!) Israel took all of these refugees in initially, and most stayed. These people left all of their property behind, and no one mentions restitution on this front.
The Palestinian exodus of between 420,000 and 910,000 people during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, was subsequently followed by the Jewish exodus from Arab lands of a similar magnitude between 758,000 and 866,000 people.
Population swaps are a common feature historically in resolving international disputes. Look at India and Pakistan. Or Greece and Turkey in 1923.
Fridtjof Nansen worked with both Greece and Turkey to gain their acceptance of the proposed population exchange. About 1.5 million Greeks and half a million Muslims were moved from one side of the international border to the other.
Population transfer prevented further attacks on minorities in the respective states while Nansen was awarded a Nobel Prize for Peace......

..... Nearly 20 million persons in Europe fled their homes, were expelled, transferred or exchanged during the process of sorting out ethnic groups between 1944 and 1951.....

.....Kuwait expelled 500,000 Palestinian Arabs after the Gulf War because of their support for Saddam Hussein's invasion.

At the same time that Israel was in the throes of it's fight for independence, India was undergoing partition.
Massive population exchanges occurred between the two newly-formed states in the months immediately following Partition. Once the lines were established, about 14.5 million people crossed the borders to what they hoped was the relative safety of religious majority. Based on 1951 Census of displaced persons, 7,226,000 Muslims went to Pakistan from India while 7,249,000 Hindus and Sikhs moved to India from Pakistan immediately after partition.

Nowadays, population transfers have fallen into disrepute. It is often regarded as "ethnic cleansing", now labeled a form of genocide. But at the time Israel was formed, this clearly was a common occurance. It is unfair to single out Israel and accuse the Jews of genocide (which many people do) because of the exodus from Israel of so many Palestinians. In any event, most of the Palestinian refugees now live either in the Gaza strip, or the West Bank, and Israel has tried for decades to finalize an agreement for the Palestinians to have their own independent state.

Yes, the Israelis have been trying to reach accomodation with Palestine. And as long as they insist on that accommodation be on their terms--that the land and political authority which they had taken from others is theirs unchallenged--the attempts at "accommodation" are superficial.

The Israelis have not insisted that everything be on their terms. The negotiations in the mid nineties came very close to being accepted. The moderate Palestinian negotiators were disappointed and surprised when Arafat declined to accept the final proposal. Israel had made historic concessions. When Arafat turned that offer down, Israelis began to lose confidence that the negotiations were in good faith, or that Palestinian leadership would ever budge on any of it's demands.

A key point is that from the outset Palestinians and other Arab nations rejected the partition plan that the UN put forward in 1947. The Jews were willing to accept the arrangement even though they were disappointed that most of the land they would get was the barren Negev desert. The Arabs did not want for there to be a single square inch of Israel. A Jewish state occupying any part of the middle east was considered unacceptable. The Jews saw the handwriting on the wall and prepared to kick out the British and secure themselves against the inevitable Arab onslaught.

Three times now, Arab nations have joined forces and waged war to try to wipe Israel from the map----for the record, they never minced words, openly clamoring for a complete genocide. For fundamentalist Muslims, the very existence of a Jewish state on land they consider holy is an affront, an abomination. They would not be content if all the Palestinians had nice homes, jobs and good health in a separate Palestinian state. They are not concerned about the plight of the Palestinians. They delight in their victimhood because it helps advance the jihadist fundamentalist cause. If they gave a rat's ass about atrocities against Muslims, wouldn't we hear them lament the barbarous outrages perpetrated against the benighted inhabitants of Darfur. The scale of the tragedy there far outstips anything that has ever happened in Israel. Hmmm, the same thing goes for the brutal atrocities against the Kurds by Turks. Or wait, Iraqi atrocities against Iranians and Kurds, or Iranian atrocities against the Iraqis. The extremist fundamentalists are trying to make the conditions in Gaza as horrible as possible because when people scratch the surface of the story superficially, the Jews seem like they are being the bad guys.
But the Palestinians had no consent in the creation of a Knesset, or the form it would take
The constitution of my country was drafted without my consent, but I consider myself lucky to live in a democratic society. The Arab Israelis don't object to having a voice in the Knesset, and do not want to move to Gaza or the West Bank to"be free". They know they are better off with the civil rights afforded them under Israeli law.
( Here's a tricky question: do people have to consent to live in a democracy? If they don't consent, then doesn't that negate the value of their input on the question to begin with?)
Israel is in a very difficult position. If she ignores Hamas' rocketfire, that makes Hamas look strong to the Palestinians and that makes it likelier that they keep power in Gaza. If she retaliates, it causes the sort of tragedies that breed new extremists. Liberal Westerners tend to root for the underdog, and the Palestinians at first glance are just that. But really they are unwitting pawns in a much larger war, the fight of religious Muslim extremists against the Jews. Every time so far they have lost these military campaigns. But they bide their time and wait to fight another day. Israel can lose this war exactly once, and if she ever does, she will be gone forever.
The tragic loss of innocent life in Gaza horrifies me. I believe that Israel has a right to protect her citizenry, but that this latest campaign could be ineffective. It would be presumptuous of us to insist that it is a huge mistake since their military intelligence could know something that we do not. Israel takes many precautions to reduce the harm to innocent bystanders, but there is only so much they can do in an area where the people are being used as human shields. Westerners should not confuse supporting Palestinians with supporting Hamas. The Palestinians brightest hope for a better future would be the replacement of Hamas by a moderate faction.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

For Safety's Sake

If your Christmas tree is still up, take note of the following.

Regular watering makes trees much slower to burn, but you should also make sure to have a functioning fire extinguisher. Practice fire escape routes with your kids. It is a little bit fun for them if everyone has to stop, drop and roll at the end.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Things to Bear in Mind

During the first half of 2008 (until June 19) over 2600
rockets were fired into Israel from Gaza. After a negotiated ceasefire which Gaza broke 65 times-----yes, that's right, they launched 65 more rockets without Israel striking back----the violence escalated again when Israel targeted an illegal tunnel being built for smuggling weapons. In response, Hamas resumed frequent shelling. Hundreds of rockets were launched from Gaza in December. Funny thing is, I did not hear about any of this from our "biased, pro-Israel" media until the moment when Israel ultimately decided to fire back.

It is true that thePalestinian rockets were primitive, and only rarely caused deaths and injuries. But Hamas has declared war on the state of Israel in the very language of it's official charter. They do not seek a two state solution; Hamas will not stop fighting until the destruction of the State of Israel, and the establishment of a Wahhabist (Sunni fundamentalist) state in all of Palestine. Should Israel have to wait until they can arm themselves with more sophisticated gadgetry to make it a fair fight?

It's true that the images coming out of the conflict are disturbing. Israel is trying not to harm civilians, but when the extremists use the population as human shields, tragic results are inevitable. Furthermore there are other images that reveal another dimension of this problem. For example the image below shows Palestinian children being trained how to use rockets.

In the Summer of 2008, tens of thousands of Palestinian children were sent to camps where they were trained to crawl under barbed wire and fire rockets.

Jeffrey Goldberg offers this perspective:
One more thing, speaking of pornography -- we've all seen endless pictures of dead Palestinian children now. It's a terrible, ghastly, horrible thing, the deaths of children, and for the parents it doesn't matter if they were killed by accident or by mistake. But ask yourselves this: Why are these pictures so omnipresent? I'll tell you why, again from firsthand, and repeated, experience: Hamas (and the Aksa Brigades, and Islamic Jihad, the whole bunch) prevents the burial, or even preparation of the bodies for burial, until the bodies are used as props in the Palestinian Passion Play. Once, in Khan Younis, I actually saw gunmen unwrap a shrouded body, carry it a hundred yards and position it atop a pile of rubble -- and then wait a half-hour until photographers showed. It was one of the more horrible things I've seen in my life. And it's typical of Hamas. If reporters would probe deeper, they'd learn the awful truth of Hamas. But Palestinian moral failings are not of great interest to many people.