Monthly Archives: February 2014

OLD HATREDS NEVER DIE, NOR FADE AWAY

I thought I would but a little more flesh on the rather bare bones description of the Arab-Israeli conflict that I wrote about last time. Because it seems like the hate and vengeance that emanate from both sides goes back a long, long ways, to early biblical times, perhaps as much as 4000 years ago. If one believes that both the old and new testaments are anything more than fable, mythology and superstition, then the old hatreds started with Abraham, who is considered to be the father of the Hebrew nation. It seems that Abraham had, with his wife Sarah, a son named Isaac, who started the Jewish state. But for reasons too absurd to go into detail here, Abraham, the old goat, also decided to fool around with one of the servant women, and in the process, produced another son named Ishmael. It finally dawned on his wife Sarah that this was not a kosher situation; so she ordered Abraham to expel both mother and child from their living quarters. Neither would also get any of Abraham’s inheritance. Ishmael would then go on to father the Arab nation, while, as I’ve said, Isaac would be the founder of the Hebrew nation. From that point on, the hatreds, wars, mass murders, slaughters of innocent people, destruction, etc. between the two peoples would become fully launched.

Now as I’ve stated many times before, I’m not a big believer in the veracity of either sets of bibles, since they were both written by man, not God. They make for some interesting folklore and myths, but it’s unlikely that many of the events described, especially in the old testament, actually took place. For example, the Israeli government has spent tens of millions of dollars looking for the slightest shred of evidence that Moses ever existed, let alone parted the Red Sea, and has come up with nothing but a dry hole. So let’s fast forward a couple of thousand of years to the time that Jesus walked this planet. It was also a time when the mighty Roman Empire conquered the state of Israel, which then resulted in most Jews being driven from their homeland, and relocating mostly in Europe. (As we all know, the Roman Empire, some centuries later, would also subsequently fall to the barbarians at the gates.) Over the next 2000 years, European Jews were then subjected to severe persecution and pogroms by most European nations, (think of the Spanish Inquisition) which finally culminated in the blackest and most evil pit of all, known as the Holocaust. The Nazis would slaughter about 6 million European Jews during that pogrom, before the WWII nightmare would finally end. After the war, most leading nations, as represented in the U.N., felt that the Jews now deserved their own homeland where they would be safe from persecution.

In the late 19th century, an Austrian Jew named Theodor Herzl had put forth the idea that all the displaced Jews of Europe should be able to return to their biblical homeland in the deserts of the Mid-East, as a way to escape anti-semitic persecution that was rampant throughout Europe at the time. This concept became known as Zionism, and the first Zionist Congress met in Switzerland in 1897 to formulate strategies and plans to accomplish this goal. After WWII the Zionist movement gathered momentum and, as I’ve said, almost all world powers were in agreement in the establishment of the state of Israel. Bur there was fierce opposition coming from one quarter, and that was from the Arabs living in those Mid-Eastern deserts that would become the Jewish state.

In 1947, at the urging of President Harry Truman, the U.N. general assembly voted in favor of a 2 state partition of those biblical lands in the desert. One state would be Palestinian, and the other would Jewish. Fighting between both sides broke out almost immediately, and in 1948, when Israel officially declared independence, 4 Arab countries invaded the new state. By some miracle, Israel was able to win that early on-slaught, and a cease-fire was declared in 1949. But as the title to this piece states, old hatreds never go away. In 1967, Egypt, Syria, and Jordan attacked Israel once again in what would become known as the 6-day war. Israel would win that war too, and in the process acquire all of Jerusalem (which had been partitioned), the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip. But the Arabs weren’t finished by a long shot. On Yom Kippur, the Jewish holy day, in 1973, Egypt and Syria once again sprung a surprise military attack on an unprepared Israel. That one came within a hair’s breath of success. Israel eventually found the resilience to fight back this latest Arab attempt to “drive the Jews into the sea,” and again won that war. It was at that point that the Arabs realized the futility of outright armed invasion. Instead, they would try a new tactic of brutal, murderous slaughter of Israeli civilians, known as terrorism, which I described in some detail in my previous entry. What I didn’t mention last time was that these terrorist tactics also included lobbing rockets with explosive warheads into Israeli towns, which is still on-going to this day.

The entire state of Israel is about the size of Delaware. When George W. Bush became President he visited Israel and was given a helicopter tour over  the whole state. It was pointed out to him that at its narrowest point Israel is only 9 miles wide. “Nine miles,” he exclaimed. “There are some driveways in Texas that are longer than 9 miles.” But within this small strip of land in the desert, there has been a never-ending sea of hatred, bloodshed, death, destruction and misery that has evolved over thousands of years. With no end in sight. And yet the far left-wing in this country and throughout Europe, especially in academia and other so-called intellectual circles, want to establish economic and scholastic boycotts of everything Israeli. Because, obviously, all this hatred and bloodshed is all Israel’s fault.

The problem with this left-wing ideology is that when one is a determined ideologue, he or she will make the facts fit their belief system instead of the other way around. So like their blood brothers on the far right, its not about what occurs in reality; its all about making a life-long commitment to a certain ideology, no matter how false the premises of that ideology may be.

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SCARLETT JOHANSSON FOR SEC. OF STATE

Readers of this blog know that I’ve often excoriated right-wing extremists for their delusional fanaticism. But there is also a cadre of left-wing extremists, like their far-right counterparts, that deserve the harsh light of reality to be shone on their biases. These left-wingers are often in academia or function as community organizers in anti-poverty poverty programs. Worthy activities to be sure, but it doesn’t exempt them from criticism of their extremist views on world activities. Thus, in certain left-wing circles, it is highly fashionable to completely side with one faction in the 65 year-old conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. And that side is, of course, is with the Palestinians. In their world view, Israel is totally to blame for all the bloodshed and and destruction that has occurred over the last 65 years because of its insistence of establishing a Jewish state in the midst of a region populated primarily by Arabs. They claim to be anti-zionist instead of anti-semitic, as if there’s a difference between the two. It’s okay for the English to have their own state, for the French to have their own state, and similarly, for the Germans, Italians, Poles, Irish, Japanese, etc., etc., to all have their own states. But, somehow, it’s not okay for the Jews to have a state of their own. So as usual in these conflicts, it’s best to examine the facts and see which side (if any) is to blame.

As everyone knows, the Olympics are supposedly all about sports competition without any political interference. But in 1972, with the Olympics held in Munich, Germany, Palestinian terrorists snuck into the Israeli encampment and captured 11 Israeli athletes. After days of fruitless negotiations, the German police stormed the encampment only to find that these terrorists had just murdered all 11 Israelis. The terrorists were then shot dead by the police, but the terror they had inflicted made world-wide headlines. All in the name of the Palestinian cause. The drumbeat of Palestinian terrorist activities continued on. In 1973 Palestinian murderers killed the U.S. ambassador to the Sudan, as well as his deputy. Then, in 1974, terrorists entered a public school in Ma’alot, Israel and massacred 25 people including 22 schoolchildren. Roars of approval were sounded in all the Palestinian territories. If there was one thing Palestinians treasured above killing Israeli civilians, it was the killing of Israeli children. This was shown by the 1978 Coastal Road massacre, in which 38 Israelis were slaughtered, including 13 children. And the parade of Palestinian terrorism has continued on and on to the present day.

Since 1980, until today, there has been 17 different Palestinian terrorist attacks in which 804 Israelis have lost their lives. And how have the Palestinian authorities reacted to this terrorism? In December, Palestinian President Abbas posthumously bestowed the “Star of Honor” on Abu Jihad, the mastermind of the Coastal Road attack. He was “the model of a true fighter and devoted leader” stated Abbas. The woman who actually led the attack had a square in the Palestinian territories named after her, for her bravery. One other item. When the terrorist attacks on 9/11 in this country brought down the World Trade Center and killed almost 3000 Americans, Israel lowered its flags to half-mast and went into a period of deep mourning over our casualties. On the other hand, there was literally rejoicing with fireworks and dancing in the streets of the Palestinian territories.

So why exactly do these left-wing “intellectuals” continually take the Palestinian side. Well, perhaps it’s because in Israel, women are not allowed to drive a car on their own. If a woman wants to get behind the steering wheel, there must at least be one man to accompany her. Oh, wait a minute. Those rules actually take place in Saudi Arabia. In Israel, women have exactly the same driving privileges as men. Well then, maybe it’s because in Israel, women have to dress in long black wraps which include covering their faces. Oops, wrong again. That actually takes place in Iran, and through many of the Arab countries. Israeli women dress according to the latest Western fashions. Well, perhaps it’s due to the fact that Israeli schoolchildren are taught that Islamic Mullahs seek to slit their throats and drink their blood. Oh no, once again my bad. Such are the the teachings in our old friend Saudi Arabia once more; where schoolchildren are taught that Jewish Rabbis inflict such ghoulish acts on them. So what is behind the anti-Israeli bias so popular in so many left-wing circles. It seems as though anti-semitism is the one hatred that still has respectability among many on the left.

In any event, the Obama Administration and Secretary of State John Kerry in particular, have recently been trying to broker a peace agreement to finally end this 65-year old conflict. However, from statements made by Kerry, and in accordance with Obama’s wishy-washy, weak as dishwater foreign policy, it appears that all the concessions needed to presumably reach a peace treaty are to be made by Israel. Nothing in the way of compromise is being asked of the Palestinians. God forbid. This is where Scarlett Johansson enters the picture. The well-known and beautiful actress recently cut a commercial for the Super Bowl touting sodas made by an Israeli company called SodaStream. Oxfam, a left-wing anti-poverty group condemned her action, and called on her to join with them in a boycott of all Israeli goods. Scarlett, politely but firmly declined, citing a fundamental difference of opinion regarding boycotting Israeli products. Finally, someone with a little spine and backbone. Perhaps we should make her Secretary of State in lieu of John Kerry. She certainly couldn’t do any worse regarding foreign policy, than what has been exhibited by this Administration thus far.

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HUMANS BEHAVING BADLY

Around the time that Jesus walked the Earth, the Roman Empire was in the process of reaching its zenith in power and control. Having conquered almost all of Europe and North Africa, virtually everyone outside of Asia found themselves under Roman domination. Or under the most advanced and enlightened civilization that ever existed on this planet, if one viewed it from a Roman perspective. But many people chaffed under this Roman rule and started to fight back. They were known as the Huns, the Vandals the Goths and other assorted barbarians. These groups knew that the Roman army was far too powerful to challenge head on, so instead they resorted to acts of barbarism, such as attacking villages at the fringes of Roman occupation; and murdering every occupant while burning these villages to the ground. Over a period of centuries, these attacks began to erode Rome’s military strength, and the barbarians started making steady headway as it just became too costly for Rome to continually defend the territories it had previously conquered. Finally, as we all know, the barbarians broke through the gates of Rome, and destroyed the entire Roman Empire. Europe was then plunged into what is known as the dark ages, as all the societal and technological advances that Rome had accomplished were washed away into a sea of ignorance and barbarism. Europe languished in  this black sea of primitivism, until finally the Reformation which started in the 16th or 17th century, began to take hold, and civilization began to advance back to the point of where the Roman Empire had left it.

Today we have a new set of barbarians chipping away at the gates of the American Empire (if you will);  only now we call them terrorists. But the goals and methods of today’s terrorists are remarkably similar to those of the barbarians that destroyed Rome. This came to light in a story that was mind- numbingly under reported by the media until very recently, but is deeply troubling in its implications. Back in April 2013, an attack was made by unknown individuals, on an electrical substation in San Jose, CA. In the dark of night, these individuals cut the fiber-optic transmission lines in the ground that transmitted the substation’s electrical output. They then set themselves up in sniper positions and began firing at the substation equipment with military grade rifles. The firing went on for nearly 20 minutes, and destroyed virtually all of the electrical equipment. More than 100 shots were fired. Then these individuals slipped away in the blackness, undetected. In all, the entire episode took 52 minutes, during which the police, or any other law enforcement officials were completely absent.

This event is so disturbing, on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to begin. First of all, the attackers were not some college kids out for a midnight prank. The FBI agrees that these people were highly trained in military operations and sabotage. Speaking of the FBI, their investigation into this matter has turned up zero results, thus far. No clues, nothing. The assault destroyed 17 transformers which took nearly a month to repair and replace. Electric Co. officials battled to keep the lights on by rerouting power from nearby substations. But the most disturbing aspect is what if this was just a trial run.

It’s no secret that America’s achilles heel is its electrical grid. A similar coordinated and simultaneous attack  on a relatively small number of electric substations across the country could bring the U.S. to its knees within minutes. The barbarians wouldn’t have to wait for centuries. Without electricity, all business and commercial activity would come to a screeching halt. All planes would be grounded. Try getting cash out of your local ATM when the power is cut off. California law makers and power officials flat out consider this sniper attack on the San Jose substation to be an act of terrorism. It doesn’t have to be Al-Qaida; local, homegrown terrorists will do just as well. The Chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has stated that “it was the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the U.S. power grid that has ever occurred.” He further said that the lack of fingerprints on the shell casings left at the scene, indicated how well prepared the snipers had been.

Almost as disturbing as the incident itself, was the lack of coverage by the media. There was no reporting whatsoever, until the Wall Street Journal broke this story last week, 9 months after the fact. Nothing from Fox News for example. They were still too busy bashing and demonizing ObamaCare to allot time for coverage of an act of domestic terrorism. Nothing from the New York Times or Washington Post. Now the major media outlets have finally woken up to just how huge a story it is, and have begun giving it extensive exposure.

Speaking of ObamaCare, I had a discussion recently with a friend who considered it a disaster, and in his mind, a primary reason that I should become a Republican. I was going to tell him that the GOP’s agenda of tax breaks for the rich, trickle-down economics, and slashing government assistance to the poor, sick and elderly was not exactly my cup of tea. Nor was the GOP’s social agenda of anti-abortion, anti-gay rights, anti-immigration, and anti-gun control. Instead, though, I decided to be more flippant. I told him that the image etched into my brain from the 2008 campaign, of Sarah Palin shooting defenseless animals from a helicopter with a high powered rifle, and calling it sport, was still more than my body could cope with. Another example of humans behaving badly. Anyway our conversation sort of petered with that remark.

Anyway if the unpopularity of ObamaCare does cause the Democrats to lose control of both the House and Senate this year, as my friend predicted, think of all the fun that will ensue. You will have governmental gridlock, dysfunction, polarization, and ineffectiveness on steroids.

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THE STUPID BOWL

I was wondering how many people paid thousands of dollars out-of-pocket to buy a ticket to attend what was probably the worst super bowl game in history. I realize that most everyone is comp’d when obtaining super bowl tickets; either as a bonus or reward by companies they work for, or by other organizations they may be associated with. And for movie stars in attendance such as Michael Douglas or Alec Baldwin, shelling out a few thousand is no big deal. But among the tens of thousands in attendance, I’m sure there are some that actually bought tickets they could ill afford; only to watch Peyton Manning and his Denver Broncos humiliate themselves beyond credulity. The irony of watching Manning, who was awarded the National Football League’s MVP trophy the day before the game, along with his Denver teammates, so thoroughly embarrass themselves before a world-wide audience of billions, was certainly not lost on most football fans. You knew the game was going south in a hurry for Denver when 12 seconds after kick-off they incurred a safety, an occurrence that rarely happens in any football game. In any event, I feel that the several hours out of my life that I spent watching the game on TV will be time that I, unfortunately, will never be able to recoup.

I did notice that, in all the pre-game festivities, there was suddenly a political discussion injected into all the forced giddiness. It seemed so out-of-place, especially to all those multitudes that were trying so hard to convince themselves about what a swell time they were having during all the pre-game hoopla. But there it suddenly was, an interview that Bill O’Reilly from Fox News was having with President Obama. While the interview was contentious, a certain decorum was maintained. Since Fox News is certainly the biggest Obama basher and vilifier on TV, the interview primarily consisted of O’Reilly attacking the Obama Administration for all its supposed screw-ups and misdeeds; and Obama defending himself with the usual politician’s doublespeak and vagueness. One of O’Reilly’s main contentions was that Obama has been a divisive president who has failed to  accommodate Republicans in trying to push through major legislation. Obama didn’t defend himself all that well against this accusation so I thought I would do it for him. Here’s what he should have said in that interview.

Soon after Obama was elected President in 2008, but weeks before he was sworn into office, Rush Limbaugh, who claims a listenership in the millions, bellowed forth on his radio program that: “I WANT HIM TO FAIL.” I’m sure Rush was merely expressing the sentiments held by his fellow hard-core, right-wing lunatics.

Right after Obama took office, while he was still adjusting his chair behind his desk in the Oval Office for its comfort level, Mitch McConnell, leader of the Senate Republicans, publicly stated that the GOP’s number one priority was to defeat Barack Obama for re-election in 2012. Not to work for the American people who were facing the most serious economic crises this country had seen since the Great Depression, but to defeat Barack Obama’s re-election bid. Not to help the millions of workers that were suddenly thrown out of their jobs, or to assist the millions of home-owners whose mortgages went under-water, or who were having their homes foreclosed by the banks. Oh no, this was just incidental stuff. Defeating Obama the next time around was far more important. Of course, as we all know, that didn’t quite work out so well.

Shortly after finding his way to the Oval Office, President Obama invited Republican leaders to the White House and laid out his agenda for them. He told them that they could join with him in trying to resolve the dismal economic conditions that he had inherited, or they could become the party of Rush Limbaugh and oppose just about every one of his key initiatives. Sadly, as we know, the GOP chose the latter, and continues to do so to this day.

Again, right after Obama took office in 2009, the Tea Party movement was formed to oppose every single Obama initiative. If he was for it, they were against it. It was comprised primarily of extreme right-wing anarchists, racists, or those that were delusional enough to believe that Government spending could be slashed back to the levels that existed when Calvin Coolidge was president. (Read my piece on “Returning To The Days Of Silent Cal” for further info.) The Tea Party became a potent enough force of obstructionism, however, to give Republicans control of the House; but its mind-numbing political blindness did cost the GOP several Senate seats. Now the GOP is rather fractured in trying to appease Tea Party extremists while also trying to appear as a rational political entity. An oxymoron if there ever was one.

As a result of such crude and obvious Obama hatred and obstructionism, the President has understandably shied away from trying to engage Republicans in any form of compromise or togetherness on major issues. This has naturally led to a divided Government of gridlock, hyper-partisanship, dysfunction, and polarization. In short, a situation where nothing meaningful can be accomplished. Aren’t you happy to be living in such joyous times? Are we having fun yet?

Not that I’m saying that Obama has been any great shakes as President. He pretty well screwed up the health-care initiative, his foreign policy is beyond weakness, the economy is still limping along, and the employment picture, while improving, is still in the doldrums. If you want legitimate criticism, those are the areas that should be up for discussion. But its more fun for the GOP and Tea Party to engage in mindless Obama bashing and demonization.

One last item about the Super Bowl. We all saw former quarterback great Joe Namath flub something as simple as the coin toss. There’s a fascinating story about Broadway Joe as he was known in his heyday, and perhaps, next time around I’ll write about him.

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