Thursday, September 18, 2014
Just A Pound Of Flesh Away From The Presidency
Vice President Biden has had to apologize for an embarrassing gaff he made this week.
Aw heck, why paraphase it when the original article describes it best:
"At a Tuesday conference marking the 40th anniversary of the Legal Services Corporation, Biden recalled anecdotes from his son's experience serving in Iraq and meeting members of the military who were in need of legal help because of problems back at home.
"That's one of the things that he finds was most in need when he was over there in Iraq for a year," Biden said. "That people would come to him and talk about what was happening to them at home in terms of foreclosures, in terms of bad loans that were being ... I mean these Shylocks who took advantage of, um, these women and men while overseas."
Upon being informed that the term 'Shylock' might contain some slight anti-Semitic overtone, Biden said, "I want to apologize to any sheenies and kikes who might have been offended by my use of the word Shylock to describe those Jewish Bankers and moneylenders. In my defense, I have never read 'The Merchant of Venice' or seen it performed. In fact since getting caught plagiarizing, I've taken great pains not to expose myself to anthing of intellectual value that I might inadvertently try to pass off as my own work."
Okay, I made that last part up...
But to offer a historical context, Shakespeare wrote 'The Merchant of Venice' (and all his other works), during a period when all Jews had been expelled from England. Meaning, 'The Bard' can probably be forgiven for relying on inaccurate negative stereotypes of the period since he had probably never seen or met a Jew in real life.
Which begs the question, what's Biden's excuse?
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
The Best Cell Phone I've Ever Owned
Okay, everyone calm down.
Yes, Apple has just released a new iphone. But instead of leading the herd in a unique and innovative direction, the folks in Cupertino seem to be following blindly along behind Samsung in a race to make ever-larger mobile phones; a race that can only end with all of us walking around with a tablet the size of a 1970s-era Boom Box resting between our shoulder and ear.
Those who know me know that I am sort of an Apple fanboy. In fact, with the exception of our middle child who Prefers a Samsung Galaxy (he's always marched to the beat of a different drummer), all of the computers, tablets and phones in our household are made by Apple.
But I have a confession to make:
No cell phone I have ever owned has been nearly as reliable, durable, audible or pocket-able as the Motorola StarTAC I had in the late 90s.
Seriously, tell me you don't miss the look and feel of the StarTAC... the way it rested perfectly between your shoulder and chin... and how at the end of a call you could snap it shut with a satisfying 'slap'.
So yeah, you were saying something about a new iPhone being released... ?
Monday, September 08, 2014
Palestinians Refuse Offer of State Larger than Gaza & West Bank!
Yet it is getting almost no press coverage!!! How is that possible??!!!
Arutz Sheva is a right wing media outlet in Israel that has a small but loyal following of mostly right wing readers. As a result, it is largely marginalized by the rest of the Israeli media community and considered by many to be a mouthpiece for a lunatic fringe.
But occasionally, Arutz Sheva reports on stories that are not only of no interest to the rest of the media community, but which those media outlets want to actively bury or ignore. That's one of the main reasons I stop by there to peruse the headlines during my daily slog through the interwebs.
This morning a story on Arutz Sheva caught my eye. It caught my eye for the simple reason that it is a story that should be plastered across the headlines of every major news outlet in the world, yet inexplicably isn't. This story is IMHO, quite simply, the most ground breaking story to hit the Middle East in the last 40 years!
For years I've been saying that 'the occupation' that the world has been laying at Israel's feet, is a result of a war that was forced on Israel by several of her neighbors. How is it that none of these same neighbors - especially the neighbors with whom we have peace treaties - are being asked to help create a solution?
Well, Egypt just stepped up and offered to solve the Palestinian problem in one grand move... and nobody but little right wing lunatic fringe Arutz Sheva is reporting it!
According to the story, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi offered up a huge chunk of the Sinai peninsula adjacent to Gaza in which the Palestinians could establish a state that would be five times larger than Gaza and provide them with more land than if they created a state in the entire West Bank!
Palestinian communities in the West Bank would remain (no transfer of population!!!) and would retain their current autonomy and would be administered by the Palestinian Government of their their new state.
In return for receiving this Gaza-Sinai Palestinian state, the Palestinians would have to give up the so-called 'Right of Return' of refugees to Israel, as well as the demand that Israel return to the 1947 ceasefire lines, and agree to be demilitarized.
If such a plan were to be brought to fruition, the Palestinians would end up with the ample land, ports and location to be able to create a Levant Riviera boasting world class beach resorts, prime cruise destinations and some of the best fishing and scuba diving in the world, not to mention enough space to become a key agricultural supplier to southern Europe!
Not only that, but given the existence of natural gas and other fossil / mineral reserves in Sinai, there is a good chance that some of this could be exploited by the new Palestinian state.
Both the US and Israeli governments were made aware of the Egyptian offer, and both gave the plan their go-ahead. Yet Palestinian Authority head Mahmoud Abbas rejected the offer out of hand.
But aside from a little blurb in Arutz Sheva, nobody is talking about it!
How is it that such a historic offer and such a historic refusal have not gotten any meaningful media coverage?
Could it be that the perpetuation of the problem and the resulting vilification of Israel is preferable to creating a regional solution to a problem that has been festering for 70 years?!
Sunday, September 07, 2014
Fear of Flooding
The Israeli news outlets reported today that US warplanes carried out four bombing sorties against ISIS (Islamic State in Syria and Iraq) forces in Iraq's Anbar Province.
Naturally, since the US is an ally and the forces being targeted belong to a terror organization, the news is being reported here in a logical, matter-of-fact manner; with the assumption being that most people understand who the players are and why the attack was carried out.
But after the way the western media - The New York Times in particular - savaged Israel for carrying out military operations against a universally recognized terror organization that was engaged in targeting Israeli civilians, I was curious to see how the current US bombing campaign was being reported there.
Here's what I found:
The New York Time's home page, above the fold (meaning what is visible without having to scroll) looked like this (click the image to enlarge):
For your convenience I've circled the date so it is clear we're talking about the same time-frame.
I draw your attention to what is visible without scrolling (which, one would assume, are the most pressing, news-worthy stories of the day):
Center: A photo of Palestinian children playing in squalor with the caption: "Children played in a plaza in Al Fawwar, West Bank. Public spaces like the plaza are almost unheard-of in West Bank camps".
Below center: The article related to the photo, entitled: "Reshaping a West Bank Refugee Camp"
Top left: An article about influence peddling at some Washington think tanks, entitled: "Foreign Powers Buy Influence at Washington Think Tanks".
Top right: A fluff piece entitled: "News Analysis: Why Don’t More Men Go Into Teaching?"
In fact, you'd have to scroll well down the home page in order to find the article about the US having carried out a military air-strike on foreign soil!
That article, entitled "U.S. Launches Fresh Air-strikes on ISIS to Protect Dam in Iraq", was refreshing for its complete lack of journalistic curiosity about the types of munitions used, the amount of damage done to infrastructure and the number of civilians who might have been displaced, wounded or (G-d forbid), killed in the strike.
In fact, if one reads the entire article (feel free) not only are these details absent, but entire paragraphs are taken up with earnest explanation of who the people being bombed were, why the strike was necessary and what hung in the balance if the strikes would not have been carried out.
In short, what was provided in today's piece about a US air-strike in Iraq was pretty much all of the context that was denied to anyone reading about Israeli air-strikes on terror targets in Gaza.
For those who can't be bothered to read the 11 paragraphs that make up the article, I'll do the heavy lifting for you:
Who: US Warplanes (no type mentioned, but it is probably safe to assume that those being bombed don't possess any), and ISIS terrorists
What: An air-strike on an ISIS stronghold.
When: Saturday night
Where: Near the strategically important Haditha Dam
Why: "to stop militants from seizing an important dam on the Euphrates River and prevent the possibility of flood-waters being unleashed toward the capital, Baghdad".
Nice and neat, no? See how everything makes sense when context is offered?
And to ensure that the reader understands both the legitimacy and legality of the extremely measured use of US military force, here are helpful explanatory phrases full of language that positively exude 'truth, justice and the American way':
"...the limited goals that President Obama set...he had authorized air-strikes in Iraq..."
"Administration officials nonetheless stressed that the strikes around Haditha Dam... were within the constraints of what Mr. Obama initially characterized as a limited campaign to break the ISIS siege of the minority Yazidi population stranded on Mount Sinjar..."
"... as well as to protect American citizens, official personnel and facilities in Erbil, the Kurdish capital, and Baghdad".
“The strikes were conducted under authority to protect U.S. personnel and facilities, support humanitarian efforts...".
"...the mission of protecting American citizens and facilities gives the White House wide latitude to support Iraqi security forces and Kurdish militias ..."
The messeage being delivered is that clearly, someone is in charge, and there are excellent reasons for the actions he is taking.
The Times slavishly adheres to its policy of even-handedness by referring to the ISIS forces as 'militants'. But at the first opportunity, they availed themselves of the following quote from Pentagon press secretary, Rear Adm. John Kirby, which uses the terminology the times really wants to ensure their readers see: “We conducted these strikes to prevent terrorists from further threatening the security of the dam". [emphasis mine]
Oh, you were bombing terrorists?! Why didn't you just say so??!!!!
Now, what's so special about this dam that US warplanes had to be dispatched to a foreign country half a world away to protect it from falling into ISIS' hands?
Glad you asked, because the article provides a helpful explanations:
"A significant rupture of the Haditha Dam, officials have said, could send flood-waters through a large number of Iraqi communities and toward the capital, perhaps putting at risk the Baghdad airport, which could threaten Americans in the country."
Notice how far down that list the direct threat to American interests is? I'll number it for you:
- The dam
- Iraqi communities
- The Baghdad airport (perhaps!)
- Americans located in the country
Seems to me that at a distant fourth on the list, it would be far easier to airlift any remaining American citizens out of Iraq than risk getting the US mired in yet another open-ended foreign military adventure. But who am I to question the leader of the free world?
If nothing else, the reader (at least any reader who read past the midpoint of the article) was provided with an amazing amount of local and regional context to explain why the US had taken this extraordinary step: The US was bombing a bunch of terrorists to keep them from blowing up a dam and flooding a bunch of strategically important Iraqi communities and installations.
Which begs the question, why weren't similar efforts spared by the New York Times to provide regional context to those reading about Israeli attacks on Gaza?
The Times mentions Israeli fears of being flooded with terrorists (who would flow effortlessly into Israeli through tunnels prepared for just such a flood), and deluged with missiles (which rained down from launchers and storage facilities deliberately placed within civilian schools, hospitals and religious institutions), only in passing, if at all throughout weeks of relentless attempts by Hamas terrorists to target Israeli civilians.
Yet in Iraq, The Times reports breathlessly of US warplanes that are somehow able to make perfectly surgical strikes with no civilian losses and without a scratch to civilian infrastructure (or so one must deduce from the lack of reporting to the contrary). And these attacks, The Times patiently explains to us, are carried out because of a fear of flooding!
Monday, September 01, 2014
When someone else says it better, I just shut up and listen
Quite honestly, this is absolutely the best written, most clearly reasoned and supported explanation for the media's (and as a result, the worlds') obsessive focus on Israel to the exclusion of nearly everything else going on in the world.
Best of all, it comes from a media insider who knows where the bodies are buried and isn't afraid to name names.
If you read nothing else today, this week or this month... read this! It is in three sections (the navigation isn't immediately obvious). Read the whole thing!
Don't thank me... I'm a giver.
Hat tip to reader 'Rich' who left the link for me in a comment.