John Kerry’s greatest accomplishment?

He’s managed to make Hillary Clinton look like a good Secretary of State!

Ya’alon: Kerry should win his Nobel and leave us alone
Defense Minister says in private that US security plan ‘not worth the paper it’s written on’, insists Kerry ‘cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians’.
Shimon Shiffer | Published: 01.14.14, 10:22 /

While the United States is pushing hard for a final agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon has expressed his great skepticism of these efforts, both in private conversations in Israel and in the US. In particular, Ya’alon has harsh words to say about Secretary of State John Kerry.

“Abu Mazen (Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) is alive and well thanks to us,” Ya’alon said. “The moment we leave Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) he is finished. In reality, there have been no negotiations between us and the Palestinians for all these months – but rather between us and the Americans. The only thing that can ‘save us’ is for John Kerry to win a Nobel Prize and leave us in peace.”

Ya’alon, who was IDF chief of staff from 2002-2005, at the height of the second intifada, also has little regard for the US-devised security provisions for a post-peace region.

“The American security plan presented to us is not worth the paper it’s written on,” Ya’alon said. “It contains no peace and no security. Only our continued presence in Judea and Samaria and the River Jordan will endure that Ben-Gurion Airport and Netanya don’t become targets for rockets from every direction. American Secretary of State John Kerry, who turned up here determined and acting out of misplaced obsession and messianic fervor, cannot teach me anything about the conflict with the Palestinians.”

More at the link, but it isn’t very complimentary of the Secretary’s efforts. The State Department responded quickly, calling Mr Ya’alon’s statements “offensive and inappropriate,” but the bigger problem is that his remarks were accurate.

However, the Secretary did weigh in on other things, to show just where his — and the Obama Administration’s — concerns are:

Kerry ‘Deeply Concerned’ By Nigeria’s Ban on Same-Sex Marriage
January 14, 2014 – 7:32 AM | By Susan Jones

(CNSNews.com) – Of all the problems in Nigeria, including the ongoing persecution of Christians by Islamic terrorists, the U.S. State Department on Monday condemned the African nation’s new law banning same-sex marriage.

“The United States is deeply concerned by Nigeria’s enactment of the Same Sex Marriage Prohibition Act,” Secretary of State John Kerry said in a statement issued Monday. “Beyond even prohibiting same sex marriage, this law dangerously restricts freedom of assembly, association, and expression for all Nigerians,” the statement said.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly signed the bill into law on Monday.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), those convicted of entering into a same-sex marriage or civil union contract face up to 14 years in prison. The bill also prohibits anyone from performing or witnessing same-sex unions; and it bans gay clubs, gay meetings, etc.

Kerry’s statement said the law is “inconsistent with Nigeria’s international legal obligations and undermines the democratic reforms and human rights protections enshrined in its 1999 Constitution.

More at the link. Nigeria is roughly half Muslim, and Muslims take a rather dim view of homosexual behavior; in Iran, it can get you hanged by the neck until dead. In addition, there are radical Islamist groups fighting for power in that country, primarily the Boko Haram and Darul Islam. Why on God’s earth would our Secretary of State seek to further inflame tensions in Nigeria now?

It seems that, with every statement he makes, the Secretary validates my vote in the 2004 presidential election!

Common sense from Governor Christie

From North Carolina’s prettiest and smartest blogger:

Chris Christie vetoes transgender birth certificate bill, leftists go nuts
Posted by: ST on January 13, 2014 at 7:13 pm

The clueless wonders over at “Think Progress” are having a sh*t fit over Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that would have allowed “transgender  persons” who haven’t undergone a surgical sex change to legally change the sex on their birth certificates.  First, the story – via NJ.com:

Gov. Chris Christie vetoed a bill today that would have permitted people who underwent a clinical sex change procedure to amend their gender designation on their birth certificates.

Christie said changing a birth certificate would create opportunities for “fraud, deception and abuse, and should therefore be closely scrutinized and sparingly approved.”

Since 1984, state law has required the Department of Health to issue new birth certificates to people who have undergone sex change surgery. But not every transgender person goes that route, with some choosing hormone therapy instead.

The bill, (A4097) would have applied to people who have undergone “clinically appropriate treatment for the purpose of gender transition, based on contemporary medical standards, or that the person has an intersex condition,” according to the legislation.

You can read Christie’s full statement on why he (rightly) vetoed this bill here.

A lot more at Stacey’s original. She chose not to include the link to the Think Progress article in question, but I’ll cite it here.

Two points. First, a birth certificate notes conditions at the time of birth! If a person “transitions,” whether through surgery or otherwise, it does not change what sex he was when he was born. I can see altering a birth certificate to correct an error in the documentation, but the documentation of sex at the time of birth is not an error.

Of course, the second and more important point: There is no such thing as a “transgendered” person. A male can get himself castrated, have a surgeon stick artificial boobs on his chest and create a faux vagina, but that doesn’t make him female; it makes him a castrated male who has undergone plastic surgery. Similarly, a female can opt to have a complete double mastectomy, and have a surgical flap somewhat resembling a penis attached to her body, but she is still not a man; she is a mutilated female. The boy born with XY chromosomes will still have those chromosomes, and all of the different biological characteristics which make humans male, after “transition” surgery. The girl born with XX chromosomes will always have them, regardless of what surgical and hormonal treatments she undergoes.

More, that a person may believe that he was born the wrong sex is almost irrelevant with regard to growing up. A male who believes that he should be a girl is still going to be treated as a boy throughout his childhood, though perhaps not very nicely if he makes his feelings public. A girl who believes she ought to be a boy is still going to grow up as a girl, and be treated as a girl. We are, in part, shaped by all of our life’s experiences, and those experiences are simply not washed away with hormone and surgical “treatment.”

I do have sympathy for people afflicted with mental illnesses, but having sympathy does not mean abandoning common sense, and buying into their delusions.

Back in my college days . . .

. . . it was fairly common to hear the statement, “You don’t need a piece of paper to love each other.”

The “piece of paper” was, of course, a marriage document. From The Wall Street Journal:

How to Fight Income Inequality: Get Married
In families headed by married couples, the poverty level in 2012 was just 7.5%. Those with a single mother: 33.9%.
By Ari Fleischer | Jan. 12, 2014 6:07 p.m. ET

If President Obama wants to reduce income inequality, he should focus less on redistributing income and more on fighting a major cause of modern poverty: the breakdown of the family. A man mostly raised by a single mother and his grandparents who defied the odds to become president of the United States is just the person to take up the cause.

“Marriage inequality” should be at the center of any discussion of why some Americans prosper and others don’t. According to Census Bureau information analyzed by the Beverly LaHaye Institute, among families headed by two married parents in 2012, just 7.5% lived in poverty. By contrast, when families are headed by a single mother the poverty level jumps to 33.9%.

And the number of children raised in female-headed families is growing throughout America. A 2012 study by the Heritage Foundation found that 28.6% of children born to a white mother were out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the figure was 52.5% and for African-Americans 72.3%. In 1964, when the war on poverty began, almost everyone was born in a family with two married parents: only 7% were not.

Attitudes toward marriage and having children have changed in America over the past 50 years, and low-income children and their mothers are the ones who are paying the price. The statistics make clear what common sense tells us: Children who grow up in a home with married parents have an easier time becoming educated, wealthy and successful than children reared by one parent. As the Heritage study states: “The U.S. is steadily separating into a two-caste system with marriage and education as the dividing line. In the high-income third of the population, children are raised by married parents with a college education; in the bottom-income third, children are raised by single parents with a high-school diploma or less.”

And now for the real meat:

One of the differences between the haves and the have-nots is that the haves tend to marry and give birth, in that order. The have-nots tend to have babies and remain unmarried. Marriage makes a difference. Heritage reports that among white married couples, the poverty rate in 2009 was just 3.2%; for white nonmarried families, the rate was 22%. Among black married couples, the poverty rate was only 7%, but the rate for non-married black families was 35.6%.

More at the link.

The esteemed Mr Fleischer was completely wrong, however, when he said that President Obama ought to somehow address the breakdown of the American family. The biggest gap between Republican and Democrat voters is between those who are married, who favor Republicans, and those who are not, who normally vote much more heavily Democrat. For the Democrats, marriage — other than between homosexuals — is not something that they want to see in the voters, because it makes them more productive, wealthier and more personally responsible, exactly the people who want and need the least from the nanny state, and from Democrats.

The Democrats might say that they want to fight poverty, but they don’t: if poverty were seriously reduced, then Democrats would lose more elections.

From Around the Blogroll

From Karen, the Lonely Conservative:

If You Don’t Want To See Lena Dunham Naked You’re A Misogynist Or Something
by  •  • 5 Comments

Girls star Lena Dunham and some of the shows producers were asked about the frequent nudity on the HBO show. The question wasn’t received well.

Girls producers went on the defensive Thursday evening in response to a question during the show’s panel at the Television Critics Association press tour about the show’s nudity.

But that’s putting it mildly.

If you ask exec producer Judd Apatow, who addressed the incident after the panel, the wording of the reporter’s question itself, directed to creator and star Lena Dunham, was not only “offensive” but “sexist” and “misogynistic.” (For the record, here it is verbatim: “I don’t get the purpose of all the nudity on the show — by [Dunham] in particularly. I feel like I’m walking into a trap where you go, ‘Nobody complains about all the nudity on Game of Thrones,’ but I get why they do it. They do it to be salacious and titillate people. And your character is often nude at random times for no reason.”)

“That was a very clumsily stated question that’s offensive on it’s face, and you should read it and discuss it with other people how you did that,” Apatow said, speaking to the reporter who asked the question. “It’s very offensive.” (Read More)

The reaction from the panel got even stranger from there. Dunham suggested that the person asking the question should get psychological help because he doesn’t want to see her naked. Then another producer said the question sent her mind into a “rage spiral.”

More at the link. Smitty wrote about the story as well on The Other McCain, writing:

Lena, Lena, Lena: your show is pure vanity, in the truest Ecclesiastes sense of the word. While falling short of waxing moralistic, can we just get to some honesty about your cheap show? It’s a cheap show, cheaply exposing cheap flesh for a cheap audience. You’ve got more “cheap” than an aviary. Be honest about that. Just admit “Yeah, I’m getting my nudist on for the eyeballs.” I’m not saying it makes you any more or less evil than anyone else. I’m saying that your insistence that flashing boobies is some kind of “expression of what it’s like to be alive” is a risible pile of bollocks.

But Kit Lange of the Victory Girls probably did it best, saying:

If Lena Dunham wants to be naked on her show, fine. If people don’t want to see it, they can shut off the TV. But if you’re going to write a TV show, you should expect that TV critics will ask you things about your show. (Tim) Molloy said over and over that he doesn’t give a flying rip about whether Lena Dunham’s mammaries are flopping out on camera, but he was looking for what the contribution was to the show. Was it to juice up the plot? Was it gratuitous? What? What’s the point? I am a TV critic, he says. It is my job to ask these questions. Apatow says Molloy just doesn’t get the depth of the show. Obviously. He wonders aloud why Dunham is naked all the time, and he didn’t ask in an adoring, “aren’t you just so empowered and amazing” kind of way, so he must be shallow and shaming.

Mr Molloy is a paid television critic and reviewer, and it is perfectly reasonable, and expected, for him to ask the questions he did.

As for me, I don’t subscribe to HBO, and I’ve never seen the show; it could be anywhere between terrific and trash as far as I am concerned. If Miss Dunham wants to walk around naked, I really don’t care; if people want to watch her or not watch her do so, they are free — well, not free, since HBO is a premium pay channel :) — to do so. But one thing has jumped out at me: some of the criticism has come from the fact that the lovely Miss Dunham isn’t exactly model thin. However, the average height and weight for American women between 20 and 74 is 5’4″ and 164 lb. Miss Dunham seems to me to be pretty close to the averages, but when Kurt Schlichter said, “This is the first show in the history of cable television where male viewers actively root for the heroine to keep her clothes on,” maybe it’s because Miss Dunham looks a whole lot like their wives and girlfriends.

Cassy Fiano asked Do Women Still Deserve Gentlemen?

The Pirate’s Cove notes that San Francisco Warmists Want Warming Labels On Gas Pumps.

From Felix on The Colossus of Rhodey:

 Schooling vs Chaos
The Boss Obama administration is seeking racial quotas in the nation’s public schools. No, not quotas for some perceived racial balance just for a school’s population, but for the number of students disciplined. In other words, if the discipline figures for a school don’t more or less equal that of the school’s [racial] population … then it’s racist.

That’s just the introduction; there’s a lot more at the original.

From Robert Stacey Stacy McCain:

Elegant Reporting in Appalachia
Posted on | January 10, 2014 | 22 Comments

Kevin D. Williamson of National Review traveled to Appalachia — his dateline is Owsley County, Ky. — to write about the kind of poverty no liberal ever describes as “social injustice”:

If the people here weren’t 98.5 percent white, we’d call it a reservation.

Williamson’s article is not merely good reporting, but it is also mighty fine writing. There is too little of this kind of work by conservative journalists. The quick stuff that gets Drudge hits and “moves the needle” politics-wise is the commodity most in demand, along with ponderous punditry and nerdy policy-wonk stuff. We get much less really high-quality writing on the Right because, when you get down to it, there simply is no incentive for it.

Your Editor grew up in Kentucky, though not in Owsley County, usually cite as the poorest county in the country. Both Mr McCain’s and Mr Williamson’s articles are well worth your time.

L D Jackson noted that Obama Turns To Income inequality, Changes Subject From ObamaCare Disaster, and the Delaware Liberals dutifully followed the script, though “Progressive Populists’” article goes even further than the President would ever say (in public).

Donald Douglas wrote about a Muslim University Student in Canada (Who) Refuses to Do Course Work with Women.

From Patterico: Patent and Trademark Office: The Term “Redskins” Is Offensive. Patterico’s best commenter, The Limerick Avenger, wrote:

The redskins formed warrior bands
Who roamed their native lands
But the left are aghast
At this term from the past;
They’ve got too much time on their hands!

Finally, Le*gal In*sur*rec*tion noted the passing of Ariel Sharon, with some great photographs of the Israeli patriot during his days on active duty.

6.7%

I expected the articles by conservatives to point out the weaknesses in the December jobs report, which they did, but thought that liberal sources would be out there, trumpeting the official 6.7% unemployment number. From The Washington Post:

Economy added 74,000 jobs in weak December report; jobless rate down to 6.7%
By Ylan Q. Mui, Updated: Friday, January 10, 11:56 AM

The U.S. economy added a meager 74,000 jobs in December, according to government data released Friday morning, the latest stumble in the nation’s sputtering recovery from recession.

The Labor Department also reported the unemployment rate dropped to 6.7 percent as the workforce shrunk once again — reversing the previous month’s gains. Driving the decline was the number of people who gave up looking for work, possibly deterred by a combination of cold weather, the holiday season and the expiration of long-term unemployment benefits.

But some economists say the weak results, which will be revised several times, do not reflect the underlying strength of the recovery. Estimates of job growth for October and November were revised upward, and other data show the economy has actually gained momentum. Many analysts have brightened their forecasts for the year.

“It’s disappointing, not a disaster,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial. “It doesn’t change the picture yet. We need to see more than one month.”

More at the link.  Further down were two impo0rtant paragraphs:

The large number of people who have been out of a job for six months or more continues to cast a shadow over the labor market. There were nearly 4 million long-term jobless in December, virtually unchanged from the previous month. They account for more than one-third of the country’s unemployed workers — down from the post-recession peak but still higher than at any time in the past 60 years.

Lawmakers are debating whether to reinstate unemployment benefits for the long-term jobless after they lapsed at the end of December. Senate Republicans have said they are open to continuing the benefits for three months as long as the $6.4 billion cost is offset through budget cuts. Senate Democrats have proposed a plan to extend benefits to mid-November.

Nor was the Post the only liberal source to ignore the simplistic “big” number. From The New York Times:

U.S. Economy Added Only 74,000 Jobs in December
By Nelson D Schwartz | JAN. 10, 2014

Defying hopes that the economy was finally gaining momentum, the government reported Friday that employers added jobs last month at the slowest pace in three years, although some experts cautioned that wintry weather in many parts of the country may have skewed the data.

The latest figures were a reversal from healthier monthly payroll gains in the fall that had convinced many economists – as well as policy makers at the Federal Reserve – that the labor market was on a more solid footing. In December, employers added just 74,000 jobs, the Labor Department said, well below the 200,000 gain many economists had been looking for.

The unemployment rate did fall to 6.7 percent from 7 percent in November, the lowest since Nov. 2008. But that was largely because of people dropping out of the work force rather than finding jobs.

Economists said that weather exaggerated the weakness in the report. But they also cautioned that other indicators, like average hourly earnings and the labor participation rate, were hardly encouraging.

As usual, more at the original. It’s so bad that even the Lost Kos couldn’t somehow give the Democrats some credit:

Government reports just 74,000 new jobs in December, but drop-outs push unemployment rate to 6.7%
by Meteor Blades

In a highly surprising monthly job report, the Bureau of Labor Statistics announced Friday that the private-sector added a seasonally adjusted 87,000 new jobs in December and government shed 13,000 jobs for a total of 74,000. That’s the lowest level since January 2011 and more than 120,000 below the consensus of economists and other analysts queried earlier this week. It was also the smallest number of jobs created in December since 2009. The official unemployment rate—which BLS calls U3 and calculates in a separate survey—fell to 6.7 percent. That anomalous drop was due to a fall of 347,000 in the civilian labor force.

The seasonally adjusted 203,000 job gain the BLS reported for November was revised to 241,000. The October figures were unrevised at 200,000.

The surprising level of job growth is likely to have the experts in a quandary, especially given that Automated Data Processing on Wednesday had reported a gain of 238,000 private-sector jobs for December.

One thing for certain, the BLS report puts a crimp in the steady drumbeat of the assessments that the economy is finally set to grow substantially in 2014 after 54 months of tepid growth since the Great Recession officially ended. For millions of jobless Americans, or those who can’t find full-time work, that official assessment is a joke.

The bureau makes several alternative calculations—the key one labeled U6—to estimate how many workers have given up looking for up to 12 months but still want one, as well as those Americans working part-time even though they want full-time jobs—the underemployed. U6 held steady at 13.1 percent in December. U6 does not include workers who have not looked for a job for more than a year. Those workers are no longer considered part of the labor force even if they still want jobs.

The December drop in the civilian labor force came after a rise of 455,000 in November. The employment-population ratio remained steady at 58.6 percent. The labor force participation rate fell from 63 percent to 62.8 percent.

The number of officially unemployed Americans is now 10.4 million. That tally leaves out millions of discouraged workers who have given up looking for employment. The number of long-term unemployed, those who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, fell to 3.9 million. They make up 37.7 percent of the total unemployed.

When even the sycophants at the Daily Kos call the government reports a joke, that means that they really are a joke! Think Progress was no more optimistic.

Of course, the liberal outlets can afford to get closer to the truth, now that President Obama has been safely re-elected.

The weather during December is being blamed by some as being at least partially responsible for these numbers, and that’s the spin the Obama Administration is putting on it. But the real problem is that businessmen and entrepreneurs believe that the Administration is simply hostile to business and its needs, except for the largest corporations. The largest businesses already provided health insurance to their employees, so the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act not only didn’t hurt them,1 but could actually help them in cases in which they were competing with smaller companies. Additional regulations hurt the larger companies less, because they have more resources to deal with them, while being more of a burden on smaller companies trying to compete with them.

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Related Articles:


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  1. It may have caused their insurance costs to rise, but it caused their competitors’ insurance costs to rise as well, meaning that they can pass on those increased costs in the prices they charge for their products without seeing a competitive disadvantage.

John Kerry and the Middle East peace process

Secretary of State John François Kerry believes that he can broker a real peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians:

John Kerry defies the odds with intense drive for Middle East peace
By Tim Lister, CNN | updated 10:53 AM EST, Tue January 7, 2014

John Kerry had made 10 trips to the Middle East in the past year to try to win an elusive Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. (CN)

(CNN) — No-one can fault U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry for lack of effort. He has just wrapped up his 10th visit to the Middle East in pursuit of a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority — the most elusive prize in international diplomacy.

Kerry has a vision, according to U.S. diplomats — to climb the mountain with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and to peer down from the summit on the valley of peace to see what a two-state solution would look like.

It is a poetic metaphor, but more than half-way into the nine-month timetable for reaching a framework agreement, Kerry’s partners are still bickering in the foothills. The more pessimistic observers — with history on their side — say both the Israelis and Palestinians are positioning themselves to be able to blame the other for failure.

Kerry’s aim is to gather together all the issues — “borders, security, refugees, Jerusalem, mutual recognition, and the end of conflict and of all claims” — in this framework agreement, which would in his words “lay out the end-game,” the parameters for a final peace settlement. The U..S and its partners would then help the two parties hammer out the details.

More at the link. But I’ll use CNN’s own story highlights:

  • Through intensive diplomacy the U.S. Secretary of State is trying to build momentum in Middle East peace talks
  • Borders and Jewish settlements are likely to be the most difficult piece of Kerry’s puzzle
  • Some within Israel’s coalition government want to annex Jewish settlements in the fertile Jordan Valley

The Secretary of State, like his boss, President Obama, and like every President and Secretary of State over the past two generations, is focusing on the details, focusing on how to structure some sort of agreement that can get both parties to sign a peace treaty. How can they tweak this detail, how can they adjust that provision, how can they finesse a particular part of the language, so that both sides can say that they’ve gotten what they want without having given up too much to the other, to put it all together and pull it all together in just the right way so that both sides will accept it?

Of course, we actually had that deal, in late 2000, brokered by President Clinton, between Palestinian President Yassir Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, a deal that Mr Clinton said was the best the Palestinians could ever hope to get,1 and which was simply rejected by Mr Arafat, after Mr Barak had accepted it on behalf of Israel.2

But we’ve known the basic framework for an agreement ever since 1967. It has been easy for us, safe and secure in the civilized West, to figure out a plausible and logical way to split the differences, ways that make perfect sense to us. The pages of Foreign Affairs are full of articles by diplomats and learned scholars and even heads of state, all telling us the same things, differing only in the minor details about how the Israelis and the Palestinians get from where they are now to this oh-so-noble peace plan. Secretary Kerry is simply following that familiar, old pattern of trying to put together the same jigsaw puzzle that others have put together before him.3

Well, sorry to say, but the Secretary is just wasting time, money and jet fuel. The problem of peace is not a matter of how the jigsaw puzzle is put together, but the fact that the Palestinians and the Israelis hate each other, and don’t trust each other. If an agreement is reached, and signed by President Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, the terrorist group which controls the Gaza Strip, will denounce it and keep shooting rockets at Israel.

Hamas Stresses it Views Negotiations, Abbas as Illegitimate
Hamas stresses that it does not recognize negotiations of any kind with Israel, claims Abbas ‘unreliable’ for agreeing to peace talks.
By Dalit Halevi, Tova Dvorin | First Published: 12/29/2013, 5:20 PM

Hamas declared Sunday, on the 5th anniversary of Operation Cast Lead, that it would continue to “fight the Israeli occupation” and “advance national goals,” no matter what the outcome of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) might be.

“Our nation (the Palestinians) did not authorize a single person to negotiate with the Occupation,” the group declared in a statement, slamming Abbas and the PA.

“All of the possible outcomes the negotiations may have do not represent the will of the Palestinian people, but only represent the negotiators themselves,” Hamas claimed.

US Secretary of State John Kerry is set to return to the region this week, to advance the negotiation process between the two countries. Rumor has it that he will “force” a deal between Israel and the PA – even though both sides have rejected the US’s security plans for an interim deal.

The news also follows heightened tensions between the PA and Hamas, after PLO officials called on the terrorist group to withdraw its associations with the Muslim Brotherhood on Saturday.

More at the link.

The problem is much simpler than civilized Westerners want to admit; the problem is that the Israelis have not decisively defeated the Palestinians, to the extent that they wounded or killed most of their fighting aged men, and put such a fear into the survivors that it drove all thought of continued fighting out of their minds. Oh, Israel has won several wars with the Arabs, in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973, and 1982, but none of them ended with Israel utterly destroying their enemies, as the Allies did to the Axis powers in World War II, with the Arabs compelled to accept Israel. Rather, they ended in various cease-fires, which destroyed a lot of equipment, but left a population of young Arab males alive, to grow and fester in their hate. In a “war” which has been going on for two-thirds of a century now, none of the fighting aged Arab men today has even been defeated in a war by the Israelis.

The simple fact is that Israel has already given to the Palestinians part of what they said they wanted; Israel, in August of 2005, pulled out of Gaza, forcibly expelling Jewish settlers there. In effect, Israel just gave Gaza to the Palestinians to do with as they wished. And what they wished was to use Gaza as a safe base from which to continue to launch rockets into Israel. The Israeli Air Force located Hamas terrorists in Gaza, preparing to shoot rockets at Israel.

That is how you deal with terrorists!

Gaza has relatively few natural resources, and the Palestinians living there decided to trash the facilities that the Israelis left them, facilities which could have improved the lives and economy of the people of Gaza. Gaza does have some beautiful beaches, which ought to be a major attraction for Europeans with money to spend; the Palestinians could develop a tourist industry there, but apparently prefer bomb craters to beaches.

Of course, no population is monolithic, and there are certainly Palestinians who want peace, Palestinians who harbor no vain hopes of pushing the Jews back into the sea, Palestinians who are just plain tired of war. And they may even be a majority. But the hot heads, the irredentists, the men who want to fight and fight, and who seek victory, not peace, exist in sufficient numbers, and with plentiful enough weapons, to keep even a peaceful majority so cowed and so dominated that peace is not an achievable thing.

The problem isn’t the form of a peace treaty; the real problem is that the wars between the Israelis and the Arabs were never finished, never fought to a conclusion and a decisive victory. In the 47 years since the 1967 war, in the 66 years since Israel’s war of independence, there has been enough ink spilled on books and articles on this problem that virtually every conceivable option has been intellectually explored. But in that time, there was not enough blood spilled for either side to claim a decisive victory, to force its enemies to surrender. That’s a pretty cruel, pretty nasty thing to say, but the truth is not always pretty. And until we admit the truth to ourselves, despite the fact that it just plain offends civilized Western sensibilities, we will never understand the problems.
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  1. Bill Clinton: My Life (New York: Alfred A Knopf) © 2004, p. 944
  2. Prime Minister Barak was more than ready to deal; he was facing an election in just a couple of months, an election he was expected to lose. The working assumption was that, had he concluded a peace treaty successfully, he’d be returned to office.
  3. See my review of Jimmy Carter’s book, We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land: A Plan That Will Work.

Ecopocrisy: Do as I say, not as I do!

From The Wall Street Journal:

Boldly Going Where No Greens Have Gone Before
Why do Leonardo DiCaprio and Richard Branson lecture us about carbon consumption while plotting trips to space?
By Max Luke and Jenna Mukuno | Jan. 7, 2014 6:37 p.m. ET

If all goes according to plan, Hollywood icon Leonardo DiCaprio will blast into space aboard the maiden voyage of Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship sometime this year, opening up a new era of civilian space travel. This development might only be remarkable as the fulfillment of a dream long predicted by futurists and technophiles, were it not for the fact that Messrs. Branson and DiCaprio are prominent environmentalist celebrities who have warned of a coming ecological catastrophe if we fail to address our carbon problem.

Mr. Branson’s commitment to fighting climate change is praiseworthy: Over the years, he has consistently advocated for a broad mix of clean energy sources, including nuclear. He is founder and chief benefactor of the Carbon War Room, an outfit that has long advocated for carbon pricing and energy efficiency measures to help alleviate global warming. Mr. DiCaprio is on the board of trustees of the Natural Resources Defense Council and has decried overconsumption. “We are the number one leading consumers, the biggest producers of waste around the world,” the actor said in 2008.

Private space travel doesn’t seem to mesh with living green, and Mr. Branson surely anticipated that his project would raise environmentalists’ eyebrows. Perhaps that’s why he announced this past May: “We have reduced the [carbon emission] cost of somebody going into space from something like two weeks of New York’s electricity supply to less than the cost of an economy round-trip from Singapore to London.”

But, and you know that there would be a but . . .

That would be a remarkable achievement in energy efficiency if it were true. Alas, it is not. According to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s environmental assessment of the launch and re-entry of Virgin Galactic’s spacecraft, one launch-land cycle emits about 30 tons of carbon dioxide, or about five tons per passenger. That is about five times the carbon footprint of a flight from Singapore to London.

More at the link. It would be nice if just one of the high profile climate change preachers would live his life as though he actually took seriously what he was telling the rest of us. There are, of course, some of the mostly unknown people on the left who do take climate change and Anthropogenic Global Warming theories seriously, and try to conserve energy for that reason,1 and who voluntarily live less well than they otherwise could, but when it comes to the high-profile proponents, there seems to be no living less large for them!

Mr Branson realized that this trip would draw criticism as not being ecologically sound, so he lied made inaccurate statements about how much CO2 it would pump into the atmosphere, but that still misses the point: this trip is a purely luxury event, and does not need to be made at all. Even if Mr Bransom’s statements were true, and it did emit only as much pollution as a round trip flight to Singapore, there is no need for them to make the flight and emit any pollution at all.

It gets pretty difficult for me to listen to wealthy people telling us how we ordinary people must bear the burdens of higher taxes and fees on carbon-based fuels, so that we can continue with the necessities of our lives, and then see then turn right around and belch out pollution to pursue luxuries that most of us could never afford.
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  1. Unlike your Editor, who does try to conserve energy for financial reasons and because he sees no reason to increase pollution unnecessarily, but doesn’t care in the slightest about the AGW theories.

It wasn’t working anyway

From CNN:

Judge rules Chicago gun ban is unconstitutional
By Dana Ford, CNN | updated 7:46 PM EST, Mon January 6, 2014

(CNN) — A federal judge ruled Monday that Chicago’s ban on virtually all sales and transfers of firearms is unconstitutional.

“The stark reality facing the City each year is thousands of shooting victims and hundreds of murders committed with a gun. But on the other side of this case is another feature of government: certain fundamental rights are protected by the Constitution, put outside government’s reach, including the right to keep and bear arms for self-defense under the Second Amendment,” wrote U.S. District Judge Edmond Chang.

“Chicago’s ordinance goes too far in outright banning legal buyers and legal dealers from engaging in lawful acquisitions and lawful sales of firearms,” he continued.

Chang explicitly did not rule out other types of regulation, short of a complete ban, in order to “minimize the access of criminals to firearms and to track the ownership of firearms.

“But the flat ban on legitimate sales and transfers does not fit closely with those goals,” Chang wrote.

More at the link.

The left will cry that this is a horrible ruling, but let’s face facts: the Chicago ordinance hasn’t kept the Windy City from becoming the murder capital of the nation. Why, it’s almost as though criminals don’t obey gun control laws.

The POLAR VORTEX – Panic In The Streets (Oh, It’s Winter)

For a few days now there has been panic in the Streets over, wait, it’s coming, Oh IT’S WINTER. We are being warned about this MONSTER from THE NORTH POLE, the DREADED POLAR VORTEX. Guess what, it’s to Winter what Hurricanes are to Summer. In Momma Nature’s normal fashion, called weather, the world does get hot, and the world does get cold. I’ve seen these winter outbreaks of cold all the time. Today’s biggest laugh from the purveyor’s of weather panic, the GlowBall Warming Phanatics, like Algore, the Polar Vortex is a new phenomena caused by Glowball Warming. This is as hilarious as the GlowBall Warming hunters going to Antarctica looking for existence of GlowBall Warming in the height of the Southern Hemisphere’s SUMMER, only to get stuck in the ICE, the rescue ship from China is now stuck in the ice, and another rescue ship from Australia decided not to get stuck. But America to the rescue with its super Ice Breaker called the Polar Star. The world is closing today and tomorrow. GlowBall Warming’s Icy Winds and Temperature are just too cold. My friends in Finland Laugh at this which is their normal winter. After all, who can’t handle -20C, -4F?

There are reasonable savings in the Defense budget!

From Military Times:

Congress wants common camouflage uniform
Dec. 12, 2013 – 06:00AM   |  By Andrew Tilghman, Staff writer

Congress will try one more time to get the Pentagon to cease its uniform madness and adopt a common camouflage pattern for all four services.

The compromise defense authorization bill for 2014 includes a provision that directs the Defense Department to “to adopt and field a common combat and camouflage utility uniform, or family of uniforms, for specific combat environments, to be used by all members of the armed forces.”

And if that becomes law, as appears likely, it would change the future image of the joint force.

For years, lawmakers have been annoyed by the military services’ increasingly elaborate wardrobe of camouflage variants designed for the same forward-deployed environments. Over the past decade, the four services have developed at least seven new combat utility uniforms, each with its own unique design.

More at the link.

And here, from The Washington Post, is the problem:

The U.S. military’s changing camouflage
In 2002, U.S. military forces wore only two camouflage patterns. Today there are many versions. Read related article.

PATTERN MILITARY BRANCH DEVELOPMENT COSTS BACKGROUND
Battle Dress Uniform (BDU), left; Desert Camouflage Uniform (DCU) Before 2002, all U.S. military branches used the same two camouflage patterns: a predominantly green one for woodlands and predominantly brown one for the desert.
Marine Corps Combat Utility Uniform, woodland and desert (shown) $319,000 The Marine Corps produced new and markedly better camouflage patterns. But the Marines took steps to make sure they weren’t copied or used by other services. One such measure: The Marines inserted small Marine Corps logos into the pattern.
Army Combat Uniform (ACU) $2.63 million The Army unveiled its own “universal” camouflage pattern, intended for use in all environments. But that choice was marred with shortcuts and mistakes. The Army commissioned a study of which pattern worked best, but the brass chose this pattern before that study was finished.
Airman Battle Uniform (ABU) $3.1 million Most Air Force personnel work far from the front lines. But that force has its own “tiger stripe” uniform. Now, Air Force personnel in Afghanistan are told to wear Army Operation Enduring Freedom Pattern camouflage instead. The Airman Battle Uniform is now prohibited for use in battle.
Operation Enduring Freedom Camouflage Pattern (OCP) $2.9 million For troops in Afghanistan, the Army scrapped the pattern it had introduced in 2005 and replaced it with a new one. Now, the Army is working to replace this replacement. It is expected to present another camouflage pattern later this year. The Army estimated that switching out the uniforms cost more than $38.8 million.
Navy Working Uniform Type I $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) The Navy designed this camouflage-style uniform for settings where camouflage is not usually necessary: on Navy bases and ships. Sailors call them “aquaflage” or “blueberries.”
Navy Working Uniform Type II (desert) $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) In the mid-2000s, the Navy decided it needed its own distinct uniform for fighting on land. But the Marine Corps objected, because the pattern was similar to the Marine one. Now, the Navy limits the use of this pattern: It is worn only by Special-Operations troops and Navy personnel supporting them.
Navy Working Uniform Type III (woodland) $435,000 (combined with other 2011 patterns) This uniform features a green camouflage pattern with Navy logos. Because of the spat with the Marine Corps over the Navy’s desert camouflage, some Navy forces in the Middle East have been issued these uniforms instead.
New camouflage pattern $4.2 million At some point this year, the Army is expected to announce a new camouflage pattern for troops in Afghanistan.

SOURCES: U.S. Government Accountability Office; wire photos. GRAPHIC – The Washington Post. Published May 8, 2013.

Lt. Amit Danon, Gymnastics Champion & Combat Platoon Commander

Lt. Amit Danon was the Israeli national champion in rhythmic gymnastics when she enlisted in the IDF. After embarking on her path as a soldier, she decided to leave her previous life behind and became a combat officer in the mixed-gender Caracal Battalion. Lt. Danon now leads other soldiers as platoon commander.

A lot of different patterns, huh? Well, I’m going to take this opportunity to point out something I’ve noticed from the Rule 5 posts which feature Israel Defense Forces soldiers: The IDF, which faces continual low-level actions, and occasional major flare-ups, and has to be combat-ready at all times, utilizes a monochromatic uniform. It would seem that the Israelis, who face such serious threats that they must impose near-universal military conscription on both men and women, and whose leadership are almost all veterans,1 men experienced in war, don’t see much value in the camouflage uniforms. The IDF website has an article, Chameleon Soldiers: Camouflage in the IDF, showing how IDF soldiers use camouflage, but it is all with local materials, and not a pattern on their uniforms.

Look at the camouflage pattern in the Navy Working Uniform Type I above. Why, I have to ask, do sailors need camouflage uniforms while working on the deck of a ship? It looks to me like the only “advantage” would be to hide the sailor who fell overboard!

Well, perhaps there really is a military value to camouflaged uniforms, as opposed to the olive drab in which our soldiers and Marines fought their way to victory in World War II; I’ll leave that call to the experts in the Department of Defense. But it is clear that the individual services don’t all need to have separate camouflage patterns, and that the military has been wasting money in this area . . . and we don’t have the money to waste.

Of course, an obvious question: why has it taken the efforts of Congress to change this? Why haven’t the various civilian leaders in the Defense Department put a stop to this already?
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Related Links

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  1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu joined the Israel Defense Forces during the Six-Day War in 1967, and became a team leader in the Sayeret Matkal special forces unit. He took part in many missions, including Operation Inferno (1968), Operation Gift (1968) and Operation Isotope (1972), during which he was shot in the shoulder. He fought on the front lines in the War of Attrition and the Yom Kippur War in 1973, taking part in special forces raids along the Suez Canal, and then leading a commando assault deep into Syrian territory. Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is also a combat veteran and former commander of the Sayeret Matkal.