Your Brain is Green
Of all the brain types, yours has the most balance. You are able to see all sides to most problems and are a good problem solver. You need time to work out your thoughts, but you don't get stuck in bad thinking patterns. You tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the future, philosophy, and relationships (both personal and intellectual).

Thursday, June 18, 2009

So Far From Being On the Same Page, Are We Even Reading The Same Book?

Obama called Bibi Netanyahu's policy speech "a step forward". At exactly the same time, all the Arabs were absolutely rejecting it. But then, the existence of a Palestinian state isn't really the issue--it is the question of the legitimacy of Israel's existence, which most Arabs have denied ever since 1948. (The existence or absence of "settlements" is really irrelevant to this)

It seems to me that there is a disconnect, a failure of communication somewhere. How can the rejection of a "step forward" be in any sense, progress?

But this is typical of Obama, so far. Collapsing economy? Throw money at it, especially at banks. Bankrupt auto industry? Throw money at it, incidentally virtually nationalizing the industry. Health care? Decree that costs must be cut, apparently by reducing the coverage given to the elderly and poor, since cutting Medicare and Medicaid are just about the only tools the government has direct power over. There is a distinct feeling that he gets up in the morning, and says to himself "now, what will I solve today?" and once he's made his pronouncement, he rubs his hands and says, "now, that's taken care of; on to another topic".

He seems to do the same thing with foreign policy. Iraq? Pull the US troops out, never mind that the country's not in the least stable. Afghanistan? Send in more soldiers, but do it quietly so American citizens won't be upset. Iran? Don't upset Achmadinejad too much. Other Arabs? Tell them how much you respect Islam. Israel? Bludgeon them with concession demands, just as other Presidents have done. North Korea? Well, that was a surprise, wasn't it? I'll think of something tomorrow.

Well, now, that's really taken care of just about everything, oh wait: homosexuality and abortion.
Have to straddle the fence on that: let's keep things pretty much as they are, shall we? That way, no one gets upset. Pass the buck, let the states decide.

Governments don't actually produce anything. The money it disperses comes from what the taxpaying citizens produce. Obama seems not to mind in the least that he's robbing Peter to pay Paul, although this article in the NY Times seems to indicate that a significant percentage of Americans are uneasy about his "quick fix" approach. To be fair to the man, he's only got a year and a half for the electorate to feel that he's solved their problems (whether or not he's solved them is really not the issue; it's the feel-good factor). The only bright spot on Obama's horizon at the moment is the disunity in the Republican Party, but if the midterm elections return a lot of conservative Democrats with angry or disappointed constituents, it may not be enough to save him. And if he loses his clout on Capitol Hill in those elections, his hands are really tied for the rest of his Presidency.

I'm not really surprised at the way things are turning out. He has the arrogance of inexperience; the idea that he can really solve hitherto intractable problems like the Middle East with a wave of the rhetorical hand, or that money can solve just about everything. He himself created impossible expectations (and already has had to significantly backtrack on some issues).

I am not optimistic (but then, I hardly ever am )

Friday, June 12, 2009

Incredibly Obvious

One of the reasons I've never gotten an academic degree in nursing. Right on, Nurse Ratched!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Iran's "Personality"

A good article to read when next contemplating Iran's nuclear aspirations.

Don't Try to Travel Around Jerusalem

Yesterday, I left work at 7 p.m., as usual. I walked about 2 city blocks, to the bus stop before the one closest to where I work, as that stop is a total nightmare. It's next to the open-air market known as Machaneh Yehuda, and between little old ladies wielding lethal canes and umbrellas and battles between those with shopping carts and baby carriages that make the chariot race in Ben Hur look like kindergarten, getting on the bus and getting a seat is completely impossible. During my "stroll", picking my way over piles of building materials (the sidewalks as well as the street having been torn up for the accursed light railway project), I did not encounter any #18 bus so I can say authoritatively that it was fully 50 minutes at least between buses. For those who don't know, # 18 is not one of those lines running on some obscure peripheral route: it is one of the major lines going from one side of Jerusalem to the other, through the center of town. 23 other buses passed (I counted) while I waited, most of them the double, articulated variety, and most of them only half full. At 7:50 my bus, a single one, arrived, packed to the gills. By dint of shameless appeals, I managed to dislodge a teenager, plugged into both his cellphone and his iPod, and take his seat. I got home at 8:45.

I live in a neighborhood which, if not exactly in city center, isn't on the outskirts either. Remember that by American standards, Jerusalem is a small town (about 700,000 inhabitants). It would have taken me less time to travel to Tel Aviv (about 45 minutes).

Today this appeared in Haaretz. It now takes me nearly as much time to get to and from work as I am actually AT work, and the state of downtown Jerusalem is indescribable. It used to take me half an hour to get from my house to work; now it is usually between an hour to an hour and a half, sometimes more. The first light rail line was supposed to be operational in 2006, and now it is scheduled -- or was scheduled -- for the autumn of 2010. And I will probably never even ride it, as its route is not one I ever travel. I despair.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Obama Lives Up to Expectations

Israelis, whether they liked Bush or not, knew instinctively that whoever followed him in the White House would do just about anything to reverse Bush's Middle East policy (along with just about everything else Bush did). Bush's unpopularity with the American electorate made this inevitable: whether what Bush did was "right" or "wrong"; effective or not, any new President would want to put his own stamp on his administration as rapidly as possible.

So Obama's speech did not surprise us. Nor does his total misreading of the situation. We are accustomed to being blamed for being the "obstacle to peace" because of a few completely irrelevant settlements. That is NOT why Israel is unwilling to engage in yet more meaningless discussions, and to make yet more worthless --worthless because we get only increased danger in result--concessions while the Arabs commit themselves to absolutely nothing.

IT IS BECAUSE THE PALESTINIANS WILL NOT ABANDON THEIR AVOWED GOAL OF THE DESTRUCTION OF ISRAEL, NOR WILL THEY RECOGNIZE THE RIGHT OF ISRAEL'S EXISTENCE. Somehow, President after President cannot assimilate this simple fact. Israel is expected to bare its collective neck to the Hamas/PA knife; to delegitimate itself while accepting the "right" of Palestinians to total access to every point in the country, to deny itself any means of defending itself. Rockets fall on Ashdod? Tsk, tsk. Israeli civilians killed in suicide attacks on buses? Please, let's not get upset about a minor pecadillo; people die in accidents every day. Israel enter Gaza? The screams of "war crimes" and "atrocity!", not to mention "attempted genocide" ring out loud and clear (and very often, if not from the country which perpetrated the Holocaust, from some of the countries which collaborated with the Nazis and whose Jewish populations were decimated as a result)

I won't, at the moment, go into the problem of precisely who should be governing the land known as "The West Bank", or Gaza. The fact is that the so-called Palestinian Arabs are not the original inhabitants, indeed, a great many of the current inhabitants have been less than a century in the territory (see Joan Peters' "From Time Immemorial" for a fully documented explication of this). All the available archeological evidence shows that the Jews have a prior claim. Anyone familiar with the Bible knows that the area in question, at least as far as Judea and SamariaBut the reality is that both areas are chock-full of Arabs, who aren't going anywhere. If they pose a danger to Israel, and I can't really think of a greater danger than an openly and repeatedly made assertion that they are going to exterminate us, they will have to remain quarantined. There's been a lot of criticism of the security fence, but the fact is, that whenever the borders of the future Palestinian state are determined, there is no automatic "right" of open borders, just as I cannot visit Thailand or Uruguay without a visa even using my US passport. A sovereign country determines to whom it will allow entry and under what conditions.

"Settlements" -- some of which are small towns -- are not really relevant. IF the Palestinians renounce violence, and their avowed aim to destroy Israel, some adjustment can be made. They can hardly expect an open border if they refuse to allow their borders to be open to us. Settlements are used as an issue when they really are not. It is the existence of Israel which is the issue, and Obama should have said something like "When the Palestinians openly admit the right of Israel to exist, and renounce violence against her, then the US will support to the full a bilateral agreement to be fair to both sides".

Obama is ready to try to ride roughshod over Israel as he is trying to ride roughshod over American industry. He's got lots of plans, lots of targets (I find his wanting to "solve" the Middle East in 2 years laughable) but like most Presidents, he is trying to impose his reading of the situation on realities which are quite different than his perceptions. I worry less about a nuclear Iran bombing Tel Aviv (which would not only kill a lot of other Moslems but the radioactivity would blow back on Iran) than a nuclear Iran which threatens Vienna with annihilation unless all Europe buys Iranian oil at $500 a barrel. Or a nuclear Iran which decides to finally get even with all those Sunnis who've sneered at the Shi'ites as schismatics for a few centuries. It would not surprise me in the least if, once the Americans are out of Iraq, Iran decides to settle the score, using its proxies in Iraq, and extend its hegemony over its neighbor. Unfortunately, the message Obama sent to Islamic countries was one of weakness; conciliation is not a tactic of the strong, in their world view. Right now, the Middle East is unstable; Mubarak is old, and not well. The Saudi royal family faces an unprecedented degree of local dissent; the Gulf States are having to cope with reduced oil revenues, Iranian proxies like Hezbollah are hijacking Lebanon and pressuring Syria. Iraq is certainly fragile. Over everything is the specter of religious extremism, from Taliban to the Moslem Brotherhood. To paraphrase an old aphorism, if Israel did not exist, it would be necessary to invent it. Opposition to Israel is just about the only unifying factor present today in the Arab world. But, for the moment, the various forces at work are in precarious balance. Let the US be perceived as indecisive or weak, or should Iran gain greatly in power, and the entire framework will shatter.

Obama has until November of 2010 to pull America out of the abyss (or at least to make Americans feel better about the economy; actual recovery will take a lot longer, IMO). His scenario of making Israel into a foreign policy scapegoat yet again will not help him with certain sectors of the American public, especially if, as I expect, Islamic nations rebuff his overtures.

As a postscript, I really wish that Hillary hadn't accepted the post of Foreign Secretary. Of course she is required to support Obama's position. But she is losing credibility daily with those Jewish voters who supported her in the primaries, and this will hurt her in the long run, if she chooses to run in 2012. Tsipi Livni had the good sense to remain in opposition so she wouldn't be tainted by Bibi's government.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

No Comment

Bruce Beattie
Daytona Beach News-Journal
Jun 4, 2009

Wouldn't help if he was speaking Arabic. The only message the Moslem world will get from his attempts to appease them is "America is weak; we are winning". Obama hasn't got a clue what he's doing.