Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Years Quotes 2015

BEST

   What was great about the 50s is that for one brief moment -- maybe, say, six weeks -- nobody understood art.
   Morton Feldman

   You're going to preposterously and conniptionly stand there in front of my indelible face and try to tell me that? You're going to umbilically and contraptionally stand there with your Sherry-Netherlands hanging out and tell me that?
   Sid Caesar

   Picasso had nicknamed Georges Braque "Wilbur," thereby becoming "Orville" in their Wright Brothers-like ambition to get painting off the ground of conventional representation.
   Peter Schjeldahl

   Unlike the talent for war, the ability to make peace has always been rare.
   Lawrence Wright

   According to former team president Jon Spoelstra, one of the lowest of the the Nets low points came during his tenure. "We had six guys in jail," he said. "Not together, because that would have meant teamwork."
   Bill Littlefield

   I don't read Scripture and cling to no life precepts, except perhaps to Walter Cronkite's rules for old men, which he did not deliver over the air: Never trust a fart. Never pass up a drink. Never ignore an erection.
   Roger Angell

   I noticed that some of my deadness was being replaced by an intense feeling about the Greek stories and the Bible stories. They were similar. There was something naked about these stories. Terrible things happened, and then some more terrible things.
   Susanna Kaysen, "Cambridge"

   A child who had been introduced to misery in Saudi Arabia, a teenager who went to wage jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan, a deeply devout Muslim who had graduated with honors in medicine, a man who had fed a stranger to wild dogs in Damascus, a zealot who had dosed three foreigners with smallpox and watched them die in agony, gave thanks to Allah for the blessings that had been bestowed upon him.
   Terry Hayes, "I Am Pilgrim"

WISHES

   Not to worry: After all, twice in this century we beat them at their national game.

   Margaret Thatcher, re England losing in soccer to Germany

   Recently remodelled from the fire station, it was a place where self-published poets found a platform, and sour white wine was dispensed from boxes; on Saturday mornings there were classes in self-assertion, yoga and picture framing.
   Hilary Mantel, "The Assassination of Margaret Thatcher"

   My mother remembers that in 1967 her father, my grandfather, a Communist and anti-Zionist, saw images on television of Israeli warplanes and muttered quietly, as if embarrassed by the sentiment, "Imagine, an air force of Jewish boys."
   Mark Oppenheimer, "Zionism for Refugees"

   "Just the years kicking in," Claire said. "Did you know dead is the new eighty?"
   Anne Bernays "X-ray"

   "Philosospasms" -- the kind we often suffered stogether.
   David Cronenberg, "Consumed"

   I won't have to miss smoking any more. Nobody smokes where I'm going: It's like a row of restaurants in California.
   Clive James

   Portnoy is as rich with ire as with lust. Who isn't? Look at Robert Fagles's translation of "The Iliad." What's the first word? "Rage." That is how the whole of European literature begins: singing the virile rage of Achilles.
   Philip Roth

   They walked together for a little, arm in arm. They were talking about their bowel movements. Loyalty from that quarter was the one thing necessary, said Ricasoli, for absolute peace of mind.
   Penelope Fitzgerald, "Innocence"

   Several of the now-banned acts (for example, face-sitting) are cornerstones of "femdom" pornography, which carries explicit messages of female domination, agency and pleasure.
   Jenny Kutner "UK bans spanking and female ejaculation in porn."

SCHOLEM: This is hashish. . . not tobacco!
ADORNO (astonished): How did you get hold of hashish up here?
BENJAMIN (laughs): If you must know, Sigmund Freud told me where to get some.
ADORNO: I thought he was into cocaine.
BENJAMIN: The same dealer handles both.
   Carl Djerassi, "Four Jews on Parnassus -- A Conversation: Benjamin, Adorno, Scholem, Schönberg"


FOR 2015

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Etgar Keret: The Other Israel.

The religious nationalism of contemporary Israeli culture is unappetizing, to say the least, especially the ongoing land grab of the West Bank underwritten by selective readings from the Hebrew Bible, as if that vast corpus of literature was dedicated only to conquest and exclusion and did not early on express compassion and a quasi-universalist respect for the condition of others. And, mostly, as if the Hebrew Bible, whatever its various and contradictory impulses and urgings, should govern life today.  

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Obama swinging for the fences. . .

Obama going out in style. Many things necessary, he's getting to them now.

We've got the basis of a decent health care system, something worthy of this nation, and it will survive — be improved and built upon — unless Republicans succeed in pulling it down.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cats 'n Popes

Ok, so maybe, according to the new dispensation, dogs can go to heaven, maybe, by extension, horse flies, June bugs, hippos, pythons, tarantulas, lice, hermit crabs, and, for all I know, velociraptors. Who can tell? Who can plumb the mind of a Pope?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Dick Cheney: Post Orwell

It's not often, if ever, that Dick Cheney makes me laugh. But I outright guffawed when I read his response to a question about whether he thought rectal feeding — in common parlance, shoving food matter (humus, veal, wanton soup, olives, onions, hot peppers, what have you, whatever the menu ) — up a prisoner's rear end — as applied by the C.I.A. according the Senate report, might constitute torture. 

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Post Orwell: Dick Cheney

Very interesting analysis by J.J. Goldberg in the current issue of the Forward** of the bill before the Knesset to decree Israel a Jewish state, which it is already understood to be, anyway, going back to the U.N. vote to partition Palestine between Jewish and Arab states.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Cops get off. That's how it goes.

The failure of a grand jury to charge the cop or cops responsible for choking Eric Garner to death in Staten Island for the crime of selling cigarettes should alarm us all, white or black.

Point is: cops get off. Grand juries do not indict them, except very rarely, and only after extraordinary and exhausting effort. Families wanting to press civil suits when grand juries fail to function with regard to criminal charges rarely have the deep legal or emotional resources necessary.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

2-state solution, remember that?



It's very easy to give up on the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, increasingly difficult to think the Oslo idea still has a shot . It's been subverted from both sides, Palestinian and Israeli. ISIS type monstrosity in the region gives Israelis every reason to fear the spread of such into the West Bank. And the Netanyahu government needs not even that excuse to give the two-state solution no more than the bare minimum of lip service, while building settlements at an accelerated clip. Now there is the new nonsense on the Temple Mount with its potential to detonate unto religious war.

My idea is that the Temple and its Mount — the Wall together with the Mosques — be teleported to Mt. Everest, the dark side of the moon, or Mars.

Wherever there is the best price for long-term parking. We'd like to get those sites back at some point, when we might be ready, maybe in a thousand years.

I've been advocating thus for a long time, but no tractor beam has come to my aid.

Still, there is actually some reason to resist despair about Oslo. As J.J. Goldberg keeps arguing in The Forward, a substantial segment of the Israeli army and security apparatus advocates publicly for a Palestinian State alongside Israel. These ex-generals and spy chiefs see much less of a security downside to a Palestinian state than a pronounced uptick for peace. They openly challenge Netanyahu to pay heed.


Monday, November 3, 2014

One Car Guy Down, One to Go . . .




I'm taken aback by the news that Tom Magliozzi — one of the Car Guys — has died. "The radio host died of complications from Alzheimer’s disease, according to NPR."

His younger brother, Ray Magliozzi, stayed within character by adding: “Turns out he wasn’t kidding. He really couldn’t remember last week’s puzzler.” 

Monday, October 27, 2014

The BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) Approach to Israel: Todd Gitlin's View and Mine


For the sake of discussion, I'm sending around Todd Gitlin's piece about BDS. I like it, but put the stress in different places.


I think this is a sane critique of BDS. I differ — possibly — because I am not as sure as Todd that, despite its flaws, BDS is failing to put some useful pressure on Israel vis a vis its policy toward the Palestinians. I can't prove that it is. I doubt Todd can prove that it isn't. Let that remain moot.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Ten books



As to the ten books that have made my life worse, I've backed off from compiling that list.

Sorry.

The fault was not in the books.

There are books that have mattered to me unduly because I was in need of such.

Books that have misled me because I needed to be led.

Books that have intoxicated me. Should books be controlled substances? Should you need a script?

Books that are pure shit. When I think of scraping them off I conclude that, too, would be a mistake, since how else would I know where and by whom these stinkers are likely to be deposited?

And then there is aging: I remember Vladmir Nabokov commenting that revolutions should be made only by the old, that only the aged were entitled. I raged against Nabokov for that. But I was so young.



Monday, October 13, 2014

Ebola, ISIS, what I don't understand.


There are things I just don't understand. Not because I'm liberal as opposed to conservative. Not because I'm secular as opposed to religious. Not because I generally, at first blush anyway, prefer cats to dogs. And it's got nothing to do with the fact that I once owned gerbils and then a Burmese python.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Vietnam looks good from here!?


Hi

I find this astonishing.

Maybe you didn't know, but the Pentagon has been spending big bucks on a web site that rehabs the war in Vietnam, by which I mean that it excludes mention of the massive movement against it and the atrocities associated with its prosecution. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ten books . . .




Hi,

In a previous post I noted that I've come across people compiling lists of the ten books that have mattered most to them, the assumption being these books necessarily mattered for the better, because reading is a good thing, isn't it, especially in this digital age, when text confronts such challenges. Such lists are intended to be celebratory. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Ten books that changed your life



Ten books that changed your life

The trend is for people to provide lists of the ten books that changed their lives.

Presumably for the better. That's what books do, right? Reading makes you better, no?

That's what reading does.

I have my doubts.

I'm working on a list of ten books that changed my life for the worse. Books I couldn't resist to start with that propelled me in directions it took years to recover from.

Know what I'm saying?


Any books that did that to you?

Friday, October 3, 2014

My name is Bin Laden


I know if I take out the Twin Towers you will do something fantastically stupid in response, such as bringing down Saddam Hussein, my arch-enemy. That was so sweet, you did that! Have you noticed that now his military serves me?

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Warburg in Rome: part 2


"Warburg in Rome" — I've read on in this James Carroll novel, much of it, so far, at any rate (I'm halfway through) set in or near the Vatican during and just after World War II. The novel does not lack for verisimilitude, far from. You never doubt that Carroll knows this terrain intimately, from the architecture of Vatican buildings and offices on through the protocols that govern all orders of the Catholic hierarchy. Carroll knows it historically, as well, including the efforts by some in that hierarchy, when Germany had clearly lost the war,  to create a Catholic state to serve as  a buffer against the atheistic Stalin, and to provide Nazi higher-ups with a way out, passports and safe haven, until the Reich might rise again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

James Carroll's Warburg in Rome: Jews & Catholics



Reading "Warburg in Rome" a recent novel by  James Carroll. James Carroll is author of, among other things, "Constantine's Sword," an account of the historic swerve toward anti-Semitism by the Roman Empire, under Constantine, in league with the Papacy. Carroll remains a Catholic. I don't know he manages that, nor do I know how anyone remains any sort of professing true believer, though I know many who aspire or pretend to.

Carroll's Catholicism is exquisitely self-aware, self-conscious, and self-critical. 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

President D'Artagnan



Maybe President Obama, reluctant warrior that he is, can, perhaps because of that, be an astoundingly nimble combatant. Maybe, for example, he can attack ISIS in Syria, as he just has, while sparing a few bombs for the new al Qaeda offshoot known as Khorasan, which, unlike ISIS, absorbed in crazed dreams of long-gone caliphates, is in fact targeting the United States, then pivot swiftly enough to parry Assad. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Another GW Bush moment?




Are we heading for another GW Bush moment? Irreversible geopolitical catastrophe?

An editorial in today's NY Times (9/21/14) sensibly asked: "The Unlikeliest of Coalitions: Can Adversaries Become Allies to Fight ISIS?"

After summing up the formidable obstacles in the way of an American war aimed at the destruction of ISIS — a war that must orchestrate unity among historically fractious powers of the Middle-East, doesn't call on American ground troops, and did not engender more Islamist terrorism than it deters — the editorial concluded that things would go just fine provided that there were "some kind of political settlement in Syria, an inclusive government in Iraq and some reduction in the Sunni-Shiite tensions that created space for ISIS to grow."

Monday, September 15, 2014

Got bombs. What about brains?


The name of Machiavelli comes up in discussions of ISIS and the American response to it.

My view is that it would take someone with at least the skills of a Machiavelli to lead this new American intervention in the Middle East, which will involve attacking ISIS without working (openly) with either Shiite Iran or its Alawite ally Assad; getting Turkey on board while aiding the Kurdish Peshmerga; arming the Peshmerga against ISIS; inducing Saudi Arabia to cooperate with Qatar, though these two are at loggerheads with regard to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt  (Qatar for the Brotherhood, the Saudis against); getting Egypt’s General Sisi to do something vaguely useful so he can get back more American aide; urging/compelling Iraq's new Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, not to be the second coming of Nouri-al-Maliki, whose treatment of Sunnis helped bring ISIS into being. . .

(Haven't even had cause to mention Israel and the Palestinians, have I?)

Jack Beatty has opined that the success of this new military intervention will require three miracles. I've counted more.

This new intervention will require the wiles of a Machiavelli and the fancy footwork of a Fred Astaire.

Such finesse is not the forte of American policy in the Middle East, is it?

And who do we have braying at Obama from the sidelines? John McCain, Dick Cheney, and Hillary Clinton.

Me, I wish Obama could have held off from doing "stupid stuff" just a bit longer. We've done "stupid stuff" a plenty. He might have extended the pause, since it's not clear we can do smart stuff.






Friday, September 12, 2014

Iraq is over, No?



Hey, Obama, I wouldn't necessarily want your job and suspect you've had some doubts about wanting it too, dating back to that debate with Romney you snored through, you threw.

Cuban Missile Crisis: The War That Wasn't. . .


Saw the PBS documentary, "Cuban Missile Crisis: Three Men Go To War", about Kennedy, Khrushchev, Castro and the aforementioned crisis. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Israel seizes land, Abbas goes to the U.N.


Remember all that discussion, argument, flame-war, occasioned by the war in Gaza? Glad the war is over, and with it, some of the obsession. But key issues are as unresolved and as hot to the touch as ever.

I can't stand that Israel has just seized 1000 acres of West Bank land, while peace talks are going on in Cairo and before the proposed Hamas-PLA unity government has had a chance to take hold.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Thoughts about ISIS and what do about it


We, the United States, can't wipe out ISIS. In fact, we helped create it when we invaded Iraq and disbanded Saddam's Sunni military. Those well-trained fighters have merged with Sunni fundamentalists and, according to all accounts, have provided ISIS with tough, seasoned military leadership.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

SodaStream update 8/31/14:


As per a report in Bllomberg.com (http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-08-04/soros-fund-no-longer-holds-shares-of-sodastream.html), George Soros, in early August, sold the 550,000 shares in SodaStream he had purchased in May.

The purchase of those shares caused Soros, champion of civil liberties and of open societies that he has been, to be vilified by BDS founder Omar Barghouti.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Sodastream (briefly) revisited


A piece in today's NY Times (8/29/14, "With Gaza War, Movement to Boycott Israel Gains Momentum in Europe") says:

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Muslim World Is Aflame




I'm embarrassed to post this because it should be obvious. Then again, maybe not.

Israel could stop seizing West Bank land tomorrow and move to real negotiations for a Palestinian state. No question it should do both things. But in the unlikely event it does these things, Bashar al-Assad would still be using every weapon he can access to utterly exterminate the Syrian opposition to his dictatorship, secular (what little there is or ever was of it) and hardcore Sunni alike; Iran would still be trying to dodge any regimen of inspections and sanctions to get its nuke; ISIS would still be raging barbarically in Iraq and Syria. . . or maybe instead of ISIS something similar if not worse.

The Muslim world is aflame. No telling how deep the infection goes or when it slows.

You can't blame it all on Israel, not even Netanyahu — nor the Palestinians, not even Hamas.

The Israeli-Palestinian struggle is just not the fulcrum of  Middle East events some — including me — used to think.

But it's true Americans think more about Israel and Israeli actions than we do, say, about Syrian action.

That's a given because:

1) The United States funds Israel far more per capita more than any other country.

Why do critics of the media spotlight on Israel forget that?

Arguments about BDS tend to keep critics of Israeli policy from addressing that fact, though it used to be fundamental to the critique of Israeli policy. No more: now it's about whether Israeli professors — mostly dovish  — can partake of academic powwows in the west.

Silly stuff.

Among the other things wrong with BDS is that it's a red herring, it diverts political energy.

The argument about whether the United States should fund the Israeli military as we do is worth having. The debate about Sodastream etc. much less so.

2) There are a lot of American Jews. Doesn't mean we support everything Israel does. By no means. But Peter Beinart is wrong to argue we, lots of us, don't care, have turned off, about Israel. We do care  and therefore are reliable consumers of news about Israel, good or bad. That's not going to change.



Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hybrids are us . . .


Fascinating piece on hybrid critters in the NY Times Magazine:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/17/magazine/should-you-fear-the-pizzly-bear.html?ref=magazine**

The hybrids discussed include the polar/grizzly bear mix known as grolars or pizzlies  — “A warming Arctic is not a bad thing for grizzly bears". And the coywolf —"roughly one-quarter wolf and two-thirds coyote, with the rest being dog" — which is better adapted to heavily reforested New England than any of its forebears would be. And it includes us, since: "Everyone except sub-Saharan Africans carry a small quantity of Neanderthal DNA that includes traits possibly important for survival in Eurasian environments — immune-system and skin-pigmentation genes, among others."

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

In a post-Zionist world, Israel can't protect me.


Let me suggest people read an ongoing series in tabletmag.com, "France’s Toxic Hate"

http://www.tabletmag.com/jewish-news-and-politics/178958/frances-toxic-hate-1-nemmouch.

A recent post was about Mohamed Merah, perpetrator of the massacre at a Jewish school in Toulouse in March, 2012. When Merah received training from Islamists he at first objected to their orders; they had directed him to kill everyone who offended Islam as they interpreted it — "The gays, the homosexuals, the ones that kiss each other in public." But Merah reasoned that if he did that he would be written off as "just another crazy terrorist." So he decided, in order to be taken seriously, to "just kill militaries [police, army] and Jews."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Soros Barghouti hardware store Sodastream


Fred (Facebook friend, who was responding to a timely piece in Salon


about how when it came to the war in Gaza, everybody suddenly is a Middle-East expert, not to mention a strident critic of Israel),

Yep. and isn't it interesting these critics of Israel crawling out of the woodwork are whole hog: they don't just focus on Israeli overkill, as in Gaza, or on West Bank settlements. Nooo. They think the whole idea of Israel stinks. The very existence of the Jewish state bothers them no end. They act as if the very existence of Israel might, unless they act quick, cause cancer.

Nor, it should be said plainly, do they betray any sense of why such a Jewish State came into being, what drove it into being, and, in addition, why  it ain't going away.

Such critics stand with Omar Barghouti, founder and boss of BDS, when he screams and yells about Pope Francis visiting Herzl's grave, what an insult that was to the Palestinian people, to their cause, on the same trip the Pope visited with Mahmoud Abbas, clearly signaling his support for a Palestinian state.

So let me go whole counter-hog (why not, since I don't keep kosher, and have never chowed down on a counter-hog, though look forward): BDS — no, not everybody in it, it's not a centralized organization, and yet there is a leadership, namely Omar Bargouti — has damned George Soros on account of how he bought stock in Sodastream.

Sodastream, remember, the carbonated water maker Scarlett Johansson touted? Sodastream, built on West Bank land, which I still believe should not have happened. Sodastream, which nevertheless does in fact gainfully and respectfully employ some 500 Palestinians. . .

Sodastream: so who do you love, Scarlett Johansen or Omar Barghouti? Ok, not fair.

Who do you love, George Soros or Omar Barghouti.

That's more like it.

George Soros is a great liberal lion of a billionaire. The best really big money can buy.

Omar Barghouti would like to dig up Herzl and cast him out.

Soros? Barghouti?
Soros? Barghouti?

And the answer is!?

(Spoiler, not Barghouti.)

These facebook fights get wild. I have invested too much energy in them. But they have clarified certain things for me as to where I stand with regard to many critics of Israel (the staunch stalwart and uncompromising critics not only of Netanyahu and his works but of Herzl and his.)

Sodastream or not.
Soros or  Barghouti.

Went to my local hardware store, to look into Sodastream.

They had been leafleted by opponents of Sodastream, proponents of Barghouti.

I had been waffling about this for a long time.

Arguments on facebook helped me make a decision, and in the end, a purchase.

Soros v.  Barghouti.

Give me a break.


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Kurds, Palestinians . . .



Let me say this clearly: there is no doubt that Palestinians suffer from ongoing and seemingly unstoppable Israeli seizure of West Bank lands. There is no Peace Process and none in sight. (If you want to see how Israeli expansionism into the West Bank is now an awful norm, see Jane Eisner's superb reporting:

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Just a Game of (Chinese) Chess . . .




Instead of thinking about Israel and Hamas all day, as I am wont to do, in the course of ruminating about the tangled origins of Arab-Israeli enmity, I went to Harvard Sq., got parking, and laid out my Xiangqi  (Chinese Chess) board. I spotted an Asian man with family — adult children plus gaggle of tots, who looked at me like they were just getting used to the eerie sight of Westerners — at a nearby table, and held up a piece — a pawn, I think — by way of invitation. 
A pawn, I think

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Plus Ça Change. . .




A piece by the indispensable JJ Goldberg


points out how much the current war in Gaza resulted from missed cues, miscommunication, bluster, fear, nationalism run rampant, and suppressed differences between Israel's  civilian leadership and its more cautious military, not to mention wounds, everywhere, primed to reopen.

Cold comfort all that is.

This is not the first war to originate that way. (Are we not, for example, marking the centenary of that most horrendous of all misbegotten, vaguely avoidable, modern conflicts, World War I?)

It doesn't take much to tip Israel/Palestine back into the cycle of violence that has been operative since the 1920s. Of course, back then, the Yishuv (as the Jewish settlement in Palestine was known) was an embattled minority, and, make no mistake, Arab leaders — headed up by Haj Amin el-Husseini, who met and sought common ground with Hitler  — wanted nothing more than to utterly destroy it.

It's different today.

The British, who could be counted on to play Jews against Arabs, if for no other reason than that they lacked a more coherent strategy, a way to fulfill the contradictory promises they had issued to both people, are long gone. And there is a Jewish state, backed by one of the most powerful militaries on earth.

It's different today. These differences are substantial and not about to melt away. But if you study the history you might conclude, with me, it's just not different enough.


Friday, July 11, 2014

bibbi oh bibbi



Am I crazy to think Benjamin Netanyahu ought to take the U.N. suggestion and declare a halt to air strikes on Gaza, if only, say, for a day? To see if Hamas responds in kind? if Hamas doesn't, well then. . .

The prospect of Israeli troops in Gaza is awful to contemplate. I’ve been there. It was a tortured place before Hamas, which, in connection with recent history, tortures it further.

What good can an Israeli incursion do? Israel can never stamp out all of Hamas, or its roots. Or does it imagine it can, given the suppression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (Hamas, for those who are not tired of hearing this already, being but the expression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine)?

But how can there not be intolerable damage to civilian life and infrastructure, or what’s left of both, in Gaza, as a result of an Israel incursion?

This will not look good Bibbi. Think. Think Bibbi think. Or are you as absolutely incapable of thought as other leaders in that conflict became (notably not excluding Yassir Arafat?)

Is your mind subsumed, doped up, on vengeance, power?

(Are you even a biseleh — in English, "remotely" or "a bit" — a mensch Bibbi, or have you mostly transmogrified into a monster?)

Israel has the upper hand, more than ever vis a vis Hamas. Hezbollah cannot and will not strike seriously at Israel from Lebanon in retaliation for events in Gaza. Whatever Hezbollah-Hamas alliance there might have been is over, given Hezbollah’s commitment to Assad’s viciously anti-Sunni (anti-everybody) tyranny in Syria. (A few stray rockets from Lebanon do not change the above.)

Bibbi, there is self-defense, and Israel absolutely has a right. And then there is vicious overkill.

You, Bibbi, may wish to avoid overkill, somewhat, or a bit, slightly, though who knows how much. You do seem to betray a certain resistance to it. But then there are those to your right, Naftali Bennett and others, whispering in your ear that you must take the most extreme measures, that there is no such thing as overkill in Eretz Yisroel, not when rockets aimed at Tel Aviv are involved.

Bibbi, let me say this: If you do your worst, it will come back at you.

Why would I bother to say this? For one reason only, which should be obvious by now: the big bucks I am being paid by the State Department to be a Bibbi whisperer.



Sunday, July 6, 2014

question about expansion. . .


ok, we know the universe is expanding

you may not like it
neil degrasse tyson might favor it
einstein didn't like it then changed his mind
god may not like it but so what
it's a done deal

more specifically, space itself is expanding, faster and faster
(it doesn't seem subject to the prohibition against anything going faster than light)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

BDS v. George Soros




I am one of many people disgusted with the ongoing Israeli settlement of the West Bank and with the failure — should I say, nonexistence? — of a viable peace process with any chance of culminating in a two-state solution. Some, with similar feelings, look to BDS for redress. Here's another reason why I can't and won't.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Noah Feldman & Iraq . . .



Noah Feldman's recent piece on Iraq:



is worth reading, unduly optimistic as it may be. Feldman, as is his wont, projects a sort of sanity and rationality among the major players — Sunni, Shiah and American — for which there is next to no evidence going back to and including the 2003 American invasion.

Fluent in Arabic and in constitutional law — Feldman is now a professor of law at Harvard — he was an obvious asset to American occupation forces as they tried to reconstruct Iraq post-Saddam. Feldman advised Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for example, on drawing up a new constitution. Sistani, Iraq's leading Shiite religious authority, was then a strong voice for Iraqi unity as against the sectarian violence. It's worth noting that Sistani is now marshalling Shiites to take up arms against the Sunni onslaught.

Feldman opposed the American invasion in 2003 but hoped his efforts might contribute, nevertheless, to the best possible outcome. He opined that Bremer et al might learn from their mistakes.

He was so wrong about that. Iraq seems to be one of those situations in which the very worst outcome is the one that materialized. And keeps on materializing.

I wish Feldman would come publicly to terms with that.

Having said that, his recent piece about Iraq is far more informed about the situation than what most others have to say.