Sunday, May 29, 2011


The New York Times reports that the Group of 8 countries has pledged up to $20 billion to assist the development of democracies in Egypt and Tunisia and to further encourage the "Arab Spring" in other countries. I wonder if their funds would be better spent shoring up the cratering economies of Greece, Spain, Ireland, and other already-developed democracies that are on the verge of economic disaster.  Might be a better chance of a decent return on their investment. 

Interestingly, while the U.S. and its allies are encouraging springtime in Arabia, the "moderate" Saudis seem to have decided that they've had enough spring for a while.  As the New York Times reported, the Saudis are investing billions and making diplomatic moves to bolster the monarchies of the region and to deter anymore changes in leadership, despots included.  So our close "allies" in the Gulf are adopting a policy directly contrary to ours. 

It's hard to decide what is more outrageous:  the fact that our close"ally" in the Gulf has adopted a policy directly contrary to ours, or the fact that much of the media and Western leaders often label as "moderate" countries in the Middle East where power is passed down from father to son, women are second-class citizens at best, gays are treated like criminals, and other religions are often merely tolerated, at best.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


 I must have heard a different speech by President Obama on the Middle East or read different reports of the speech than most of my fellow-pro-Israel advocates, except those that have not accepted the fact that a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will require Israel ceding a substantial part of the West Bank for a new Palestinian state.  I understand the uproar amongst those that still hold to a Greater Israel idealogy.  For the rest, which constitute the majority, the almost bitter reaction is difficult to understand.

If I were the Prime Minster of Israel,  I would have pocketed what I liked and spun what I didn't like into something I could live with as a starting point for negotiations. My response to the President would have been something like this:

Monday, May 16, 2011


You would have to be living on another planet to believe that those "demonstrators" from Syria and Lebanon trying to invade Israel were not completely manipulated by Syrian dictator Assad and Hezbelloh and their patron, Iran.  As anyone who has been paying a bit of attention for the last several decades would know, Syria is a brutal dictatorship and the area of Lebanon controlled by Hezbellah is not free. 

Demonstrations, not to mention invasions across borders, do not occur in those areas because a bunch of free people decide on the basis of their own free will that it is time to go express themselves.  As we see everyday now, Assad does not hesitate to kill and maim those he does not want demonstrating.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


The other day I posted Day 275 Countdown to Egyptian Democracy, in which I wondered whatever happened to the much anticipated birth of democracy after President Mubarak.  The post received several comments.  It then mysteriously disappeared (mysterious to me anyhow).  I heard from several people to whom I had sent the link that they could not access it.

I cannot flatter myself by concluding that some authorities somewhere were so bothered by my comments that they sabotaged it.  Rather, it turns out that Blogger has had some fairly serious problems and removed all posts posted after a certain time.  Now that things are up and running again, the deleted posts are supposed to be restored.  However, mine has not yet reappeared.  If it doesn't, I will try to re-create it. 

It's somewhat reassuring to know that the "big boys" have computer problems too.


Deutsche Bahn--The German National Railways--has succumbed to boycott pressure and withdrawn from a consulting role in building the new railroad from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.  The ostensible reason:  six kilometers of the system would pass through territory beyond the Green Line. 

Never mind that the Green Line is the 1948 truce line--not a recognized boundary.  Never mind that the boundary line is supposed to be negotiated in peace negotiations the Palestinians refuse to conduct.  Never mind the railroad would serve over one million Israeli Arab citizens and, if there ever was peace and the acceptance of Israel as a Jewish state on a sliver of land, could very well serve citizens of Palestine, the 22nd Arab nation. 


While the leader of its neighbor, Syria, was savagely repressing any and all opposition (see immediate post below), it was a beautiful week in Israel, the country that the UN in general and the Human Rights Council in particular like to spend almost half of its timecondemning as the most offensive regime on earth.  Israel is the only country deemed offensive enough to warrant a permanent agenda item on the Council's meeting calendar to deal with its alleged transgressions.  

Monday was Yom Hazikaron, Remembrance Day, the day Israelis memorialize the thousands of mostly young people who gave their lives to defend one of the greatest achievements of modern times, the reconstitution of the Jewish nation as a flourishing and vibrant democracy in its historical homeland.  Virtually everyone in Israel knows someone who has been killed in battle or, at a minimum, knows someone who was close to someone who was killed. 


Syria's Bashar Assad is living up to his father's legacy in his willingness to murder and maim anyone who dares hint at a desire for freedom.  True, he has not yet murdered 20,000 of his countryman from one city at one time.  But give him a chance.  He certainly is doing his best to demonstrate that, if the opportunity arises, he will match or surpass dear ole dad in ruthless murder.

President Assad the Second's regime in Syria continues to literally mow down the opposition, with the number of dead now at about 800.  Those that they happen to miss killing are being rounded up in mass arrests, with about 10,000 (yes, 10,000!) now in custody.  It's tough to know exactly what is happening because the foreign press has been banned. 

Monday, May 9, 2011


I often tell my Democratic friends that they are lucky to have the Republicans as their opposition. And the recent first “debate” of Republican hopefuls in New Hampshire certainly proved that point once again. Desperate to outdo each other and to pander to some of the most extreme elements in the party, unfortunately the ones who control or are perceived to control the primaries, the candidates came out with some of the most right-wing vitriol one can imagine. It is sad that these folks seem to do all they can to ensure that there will no place left in the party for reasonable, moderate people.  

Not one of the candidates in New Hampshire, and no Republican leaders in D.C. that I am aware of, has called Donald Trump on the carpet for his disgusting, ill-informed, mean-spirited, cynical, and racists rants about the President’s birth certificate and college admissions. Just when you think American politics and civic life cannot go to any lower depths, a guy like Trump rises up from the sewers and proves that it can. And, of course, the media give him carte blanch to spew his nonsense.


I wonder if the Tea Party folks and others that are screaming for huge cuts in government and wholesale elimination of programs have stopped to think how many of them or how many of their family members benefit from many of the government programs they are criticizing, or perhaps from other programs that someone else would criticize as unnecessary and wasteful. I suspect “waste and unnecessary” is in the eye of the recipient.


Readers of this blog may have figured out that, to put it politely, I despise former President Jimmy Carter.  Jimmy Carter was an awful president.  His economic policies were a disaster and his foreign policy helped bring us Iran and Islamist fundamentalism on a world scale. Carter was a micro-manager who failed to inspire or lead.

Despite his multiple year campaign to create a post-presidential image as a senior statesmen, peacemaker, and overall do-gooder, his conduct as a former president has been despicable. He often undercuts and embarrasses the sitting president. He seems to have never met a brutal dictator for whom he cannot find time to provide an empathetic ear.  Continuing to demonstrate that he is beholden to Arab despots and their money, he has not yet  noticed that the Arab public is crying out for freedom while their "leaders" fire live ammo at them.  Lastly, he is a bigot; he is a classic Jew hater.


My wife and I just finished up two-and-a half months in California and are now back in Israel. While in California I watched the budget fights in the California Legislature and in Congress. For 30 years I was part of the California budget and policy fights as a lobbyist representing various private and public entities whose vitality or survival depended on the outcomes.

It was an intense, stressful occupation if one truly cared about the clients’ interests. In later years, it became a much less pleasant, civil, and straightforward process. Now being strictly an observer, albeit a very interested one, I have had time to think and analyze a bit. It has gotten me to thinking about which legislative body, Israel or California's, functions worse, and why. Both have been criticized for being dysfunctional and sometimes corrupt.