And guess what? It is the 12th of January already. It is only a tiny excuse that the Redskins went on a winning streak, and my granddaughter finally let go and is now toddling around, without holding on to anything, at something approaching the speed of light. Her mother, my youngest daughter, and her husband began to be very busy by the middle of December, with the yearly inventory of the family auto parts supply business owned by his father [is there a generic term, like "father-in-law" for the father-in-law of my daughter, like "grandparents-in-law" maybe?], for whom they both work, due to be completed by Dec.31. Granddaughter Shir contributed to the sense of chaos by developing a high fever and cutting her last two molars. So it was SuperSavta to the rescue! I slept over at their house and she came to visit with me for a night or two. I have real difficulty realizing that, physically, I ain't what I was 30 years ago. That might seem obvious, but since my head is only 35, I often forget that my body is about 100. And anyway, although my replaced hip is fine, my knees are getting stiffer and stiffer -- enough so that keeping up with the guides on the tours at the various sites we visited on the cruise was not easy. Good thing Shir is walking; hoisting her into her high chair or the bathtub just about devastated my back, and she's not a fat child.
OK, I'll get finished with the election first. Things transpired pretty much as I expected; I hadn't much hope that Romney would win, but I did hope that the Democrats would lose control of both Houses. Obama with his hands tied is really the worst case scenario, because the US can't afford total paralysis, but Obama unchained is maybe even worse. The damage to the US, both domestically and in foreign policy, will only become apparent after 2016, IMO. He can probably stave off the worst of the bills until he's out of the White House. Presidents usually spend the first part of each first term dealing with the financial situation left them by their predecessor. Maybe he'll come down with antibiotic-resistant pneumonia from exposure to Washington's winter weather at the Inauguration. No, maybe better not. If Obama snuffs it, the US will have Joe Biden for President.
As far as his foreign policy goes -- as far as I can figure out that he even has one -- it will be more of the same, leading to an even greater decline in the status of the US as a world power. The Islamic threat will increase the more it is perceived that the US is weak and unwilling to spend more than some conciliatory words. And the Islamic threat is worldwide, not just directed against Israel.
That leads in to our upcoming elections. I'd really rather ignore them, because I think that our politicians are no better or worse than any other country's but our system is horrible. Proportional representation guarantees coalitions, and no one votes for a coalition, so in effect, Israel has never had a democratically elected government. [We do have democratically elected -- sort of -- MKs. You can join a party and participate in the primaries, which return a slate of potential Knesset members, based on the percentage of votes that particular party gets in the general election. However, only an inner circle decides who will have which seat on that slate. In reality, very few Israelis bother with party membership, so the average voter has no idea who he's voting for on the individual level, there is no one like a Congressional Representative or a British MP, who has a regional constituency. And of course, the voter has no control over the compromises, etc. his party of choice will make in order to get into the coalition. That, in a nutshell, is how the haredim have prostituted themselves ever since 1948 -- their allegiance [and it is very considerable] is contingent on massive amounts of money and perks extorted from either Labor or Likud [they prefer the latter but they'll go with whomever promises the most]. Their children have a long school day, hot lunches, transportation to and from school, and don't have to worry about going to the army -- as a result, secular children sit, in classes of 40, in unheated classrooms, must pay for meals if they get them at all, use public transport, and go to the army to keep the malingering, cowardly haredim comfortable. I reiterate, it's the system that's to blame. If Likud loses substantial support to the new, Rightist "Jewish Home" party, as looks likely, Bibi will still be the Prime Minister [he is really the only viable candidate running], but he will have to devote himself to pandering to the special interests of his coalition partners rather than dealing primarily with national issues. This happened to him in his very first term as Prime Minister and led to his ultimate downfall. Considering the relationship with Obama, which I think will only get worse, this is not good for Israel.
At least this is turning into the rainiest winter in 20 years, and we've just had our heaviest snowfall in that time, too [roughly 4 inches of slush in Jerusalem; gone entirely within hours] This, of course, is entirely due to the fact that a number of desalinization plants are due to begin functioning this coming summer, as the water situation was becoming very dire indeed. We cannot rely on Turkey to sell us water in future droughts.
And so we get into local politics. Syria seems no closer to any resolution apart from total anarchy; Assad can probably keep bombing his own people for a long time yet, and there's little real unity amongst the rebels, with certain definitely scary Islamic radical, both Sunni and Shi'a, groups who will slug it out once Assad is toppled [I am not in fact convinced he will be, btw] Lebanon, as a result, is even more unstable than usual. Turkey seems to be determined to march forward toward the Ottoman empire, which means confrontation with Syria now and Iran later. "Peaceful" Iran is not only developing The Bomb, it's developing missiles which can hit Egypt, Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, or Vienna. I still contend that Israel is only a secondary target for the Iranians; although they might hold Israel "hostage" if they want to threaten Europe. Egypt is tragic, alas, and stability there is far away. It doesn't look too good for the secular intelligensia and especially for the Copts. We sit by and wonder how world Christendom can just sit by with Islamic countries maltreating their Christian citizens -- it is so alien to the Jewish view of collective responsibility. "Not our kind of Christian". Huh?
Next: The Cruise. Keep tuned to this station