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.

Rule 5 Blogging: This one was easy!

It’s the weekend and time, once again, for THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL’S version of Rule 5 Blogging. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain described Rule 5 as posting photos of pretty women somewhat déshabillé, but, on this site, our Rule 5 Blogging doesn’t put up pictures of Megan Fox in her summer clothes, but women, in full military gear, serving their countries in the armed forces. The terribly sexist authors on this site celebrate strong women, women who can take care of themselves and take care of others, women who have been willing to put their lives on the line in some not-so-friendly places, women who truly do have the “We can do it!” attitude. This week, the Israel Defense Force made this post easy:

 

From the article:

Women have proudly served in the IDF since the very beginning. Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion, wrote an impassioned letter to religious communities outlining the necessity of women serving and protecting Israel. Since then, women have taken increasingly high-level positions in the IDF. These female Israeli soldiers challenge stereotypes through the work they do every day. 

Lt. Shelly Markheva, IDF Intelligence Commander
Shelly Marhevka is an IDF intelligence commander who keeps watch over Israel’s southern border. In the event of a terrorist infiltration, Shelly and her soldiers are those responsible for detecting and thwarting an attack.

Continue reading ‘Rule 5 Blogging: This one was easy!’ »

From Around the Blogroll

Phineas, writing at Sister Toldjah, thinks that Kim Jong Un might be crazier than his father and grandfather:

Kim Jong Un may have out-psycho’d his father and grandfather
Posted by: Phineas on January 3, 2014 at 1:01 pm

I mean, we’ve heard he was hammered when he ordered the trial and execution of his uncle, Jang Song Thaek, but to carry out the sentence by feeding him alive to the dogs? Dude!

According to the report, unlike previous executions of political prisoners which were carried out by firing squads with machine guns, Jang was stripped naked and thrown into a cage, along with his five closest aides. Then 120 hounds, starved for three days, were allowed to prey on them until they were completely eaten up. This is called “quan jue”, or execution by dogs.

The report said the entire process lasted for an hour, with Mr Kim Jong Un, the supreme leader in North Korea, supervising it along with 300 senior officials.

Keep in mind all the usual caveats: “if this is true,” the difficulty of getting factual information from a paranoid Stalinist dictatorship (almost as hard as getting it from Jay Carney), the possibility that Kim might just be playing us for various reasons only a North Korean dictator could fathom….

More at the link. I, naturally, am somewhat surprised that there were 120 dogs alive in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, given that the people are living on grass and acorns, but, maybe the only fat kid in North Korea has a few table scraps left for the hounds.

Cassy Fiano of the Victory Girls wrote on it as well, concluding:

And while human rights violations are nothing new in North Korea, if this report is true, then it could be indicative of an escalation of those abuses. North Koreans close to Kim Jong Un are not safe, and the message is clear: anyone who dares to challenge or threaten the Dear Leader will pay with their life. Stalin’s reign of terror through executions and gulags may end up looking tame in the long run.

The message is even clearer: if you anger President Kim, you may not just be shot. Robert Stacey Stacy McCain makes perfect sense of it all:

Try to imagine that frightening alternative universe in which a guerrilla army overthrows the federal government, or a cabal of dissident generals stages a military coup and, as a result, I became the charismatic Supreme Dictator of America. The first order of business for the McCainist junta, of course, would be the liquidation of all opposition, by the most brutal and terrifying methods.

From the standpoint of regime permanence, it would be insufficient merely to jail or exile opponents. No, the point of radical terror is to inspire fear, so that not only would no one dare oppose the regime, but also so that people will denounce any of their friends and neighbors whose loyalty to the New Totalitarian Order is believed to be less than 100 percent. Therefore, the regime must not only torture and execute leaders of the prohibited opposition, but must all unleash the intimidating force of violence against the families, friends and suspected sympathizers of the opposition leaders. Leniency can only be obtained by active and vocal support of the regime’s repressive measures.

Under totalitarian rule, no one can ever presume himself to be safe from the power of the regime, because the Supreme Leader’s power is so great that it can only be protected by ruthless men who, as they rise higher in the leadership cadre, inevitably begin to think of the possibility of seizing the top position for themselves. Occasionally, the Supreme Leader must make examples of such rivals.

Looks like Smitty and Wombat-socho had better beat feet for Canada!

Karen, the Lonely Conservative, noted the kind wishes our friends on the left expressed toward former First Lady Barbara Bush, who has been hospitalized. I’m beyond being surprised by them.

L D Jackson writes about “e-cigarettes,” and the efforts by some of the busybodies to restrict them, as well. I can understand the busybodies’ concern about second-hand tobacco smoke, but the vapor from e-cigarettes is nothing like that. One of my friends is using the e-cigarettes in an effort to quit smoking, and I think that’s great. Why the nannies who think that they can run other people’s lives would want to atack something to help people quit smoking is beyond me.

From The Pirate’s Cove:

Ever Notice That Those Calling For Tolerance Are Rather Intolerant Themselves?
By William Teach | January 3, 2014 – 10:37 am

One of the big stories making the rounds is about Chris Kluwe calling Minnesota Vikings coaches names

I Was An NFL Player Until I Was Fired By Two Cowards And A Bigot

Hello. My name is Chris Kluwe, and for eight years I was the punter for the Minnesota Vikings. In May 2013, the Vikings released me from the team. At the time, quite a few people asked me if I thought it was because of my recent activism for same-sex marriage rights, and I was very careful in how I answered the question. My answer, verbatim, was always, “I honestly don’t know, because I’m not in those meetings with the coaches and administrative people.”

This is a true answer. I honestly don’t know if my activism was the reason I got fired.

However, I’m pretty confident it was.

Or, it could be that the Vikes were able to replace him with a younger, cheaper punter. And then was beat out in Raiders camp by a better punter. Sometimes business decisions are just business decisions. Especially with punters, who are canned and replaced all the time. Oh, and he had a knee problem requiring surgery.

More at the link. Mr Kluwe punted through injuries for the Vikings, but in 2012 averaged 45.0 yards per punt, which ranked 22nd in the league . . . but he was one of the most highly paid punters in the NFL; he was due to be paid $1.45 million by the Vikings in 2013, had he remained with the team, while Jeff Locke, who replaced him, was paid the league minimum of $405,000. The Vikings saved a million bucks by getting rid of Mr Kluwe, and then Mr Kluwe was beaten out by Marquette King for the Oakland Raiders’ punting job.

Secretary of State John François Kerry is in the Middle East, and he’s going to make yet another American try to negotiate a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. William Jacobson noted Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s statement:

I know that you (Mr Kerry) are committed to peace; I know that I am committed to peace; but, unfortunately, given the actions and words of Palestinian leaders, there’s growing doubt in Israel that the Palestinians are committed to peace.

The Prime Minister was being too kind. There’s no “growing doubt” whether the Palestinians are committed to peace; there’s certain knowledge that enough of them are still committed to fighting to destroy any peace agreement which might be reached.

Jeff Goldstein’s wife — who actually has a degree in Women’s Studies — described one frustrated woman as “someone who hasn’t been properly fucked.” The woman who has missed out? Someone writing on “Radical Wind” who claimed that “Intercourse/PIV1 is always rape, plain and simple.” It was so hilarious to read that my first impression was that it had to be satire, but, upon reading “Witchwind’s” comments policy page, it occurs to met that she might really be that dumb.

Foxfier noted the huge percentage of holders of concealed carry permits who commit crimes in Texas.

Jim Lynch was not sad to see 2013 end.

Donald Douglas asked What’s Next For Homosexual Rights? 

But in this one, the esteemed Dr Douglas erred:

Antarctic Warming Scientists Risked Lives of Paying Tourists on Chartered Russian Vessel That Couldn’t Break Ice
You know, because leftist are truly thoughtful and caring people.

It turns out that the Australasian Antarctic Expedition leaders chartered a Finnish-built research vessel that couldn’t break ice. They did it with full knowledge that the Antarctic is the most inhospitable destination on earth. Worse, expedition leaders sold tourist spots for the mission as if these were summer holidays, charging $8,000 per head to defray the costs of a mission they could not afford. In other words, to cut costs the AAE crew risked the lives of dozens of civilians on a research excursion of dubious scientific value. This is so morally indefensible it’s almost astonishing, but then again, these are leftists we’re talking about, so there you go.

More at the link.

No, it isn’t because “leftist are truly thoughtful and caring people,” Dr Douglas’ sarcasm notwithstanding, but because they are idiots! The thought that they might be risking getting stuck in the ice never entered their pointy heads! After all, it’s summer in the Antarctic!

This is what happens when they are so wedded to a theory that the possibility that they might be wrong is just never considered. In the meantime, the coldest air mass in decades is set to hit the United States. It’s a good thing we’ve got global warming, or it might get really cold!

William Teach has been mocking this all along, and it will be pretty funny, as long as no one winds up getting killed behind this stupidity.

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  1. Penis in vagina.

A dangerous development

From The Wall Street Journal:

Hezbollah Upgrades Missile Threat to Israel
Components Said to Have Already Been Moved to Lebanon from Syria

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, January 3, 2014

The Wall Street Journal, Friday, January 3, 2014

By Adam Entous, Charles Levinson and Julian E Barnes | Jan. 2, 2014 7:03 p.m. ET

U.S. officials believe members of Hezbollah, the militant group backed by Iran, are smuggling advanced guided-missile systems into Lebanon from Syria piece by piece to evade a secretive Israeli air campaign designed to stop them.

The moves illustrate how both Hezbollah and Israel are using Syria’s civil war as cover for what increasingly is seen as a complex and high-stakes race to prepare for another potential conflict—their own—in ways that could alter the region’s military balance.

Some components of a powerful antiship missile system have already been moved to Lebanon, according to previously undisclosed intelligence, while other systems that could target Israeli aircraft, ships and bases are being stored in expanded weapons depots under Hezbollah control in Syria, say current and former U.S. officials.

Such guided weapons would be a major step up from the “dumb” rockets and missiles Hezbollah now has stockpiled, and could sharply increase the group’s ability to deter Israel in any potential new battle, officials say.

More at the link.

Israel has already struck at some Hezbollah weapons shipments, with mixed success. For now:

Israeli officials say they are content for now to watch enemies No. 1 and No. 2 — Hezbollah and Iran on one side, al Qaeda on the other — kill each other next door.

As we all should be! But Israel is very concerned about any new weaponry going to Hezbollah, and:

Israeli leaders made clear early on in the Syrian conflict that any transfers of advanced missile systems or chemical arms to its enemies would cross Israel’s “red line.”

As long as the Syrian civil war keeps Hezbollah too busy to attack Israel, there should be peace along Israel’s northern border, but the Israelis are very good at maintaining vigilance.

In other news from Israel:

IDF appoints first female battalion commander
Maj. Oshrat Bachar will be promoted to rank of Lieut.-Col and will head Eitam battalion, tasked with monitoring terror in Sinai Peninsula.
By Yaakov Lappin | 01/02/2014 16:18

IDF battalion commander Maj. Oshrat Bachar. Photo: IDF Archives

The IDF has appointed its first female battalion commander, Maj. Oshrat Bachar, who will head a Combat Intelligence unit in the Southern Command along the border with Egypt.

Maj. Bachar will be promoted to the rank of Lieut.-Col, and will take charge of a battalion named Eitam, tasked with monitoring hostile terrorist activity in the Sinai Peninsula. She began her military career as a lookout soldier in the Combat Intelligence Corps, and went on to become a company commander in the field. From there, she became an instructor at the IDFs Combat Intelligence School, before serving as a department head in the office of the advisor on to the chief of staff on womens’ affairs.

Maj. Bachar is currently completing a course on command and special staff at Glilot, and will then go on to begin a battalion commander’s course.

A bit more at the link. Her husband, Maj. Ohad Bachar, also has the goal of becoming a battalion commander; looks like his wife beat him to it!

#Syria: We never had control

We have said it before: the best outcome for the West in the Syrian civil war would be for the war to continue for so long, and be so destructive, that it doesn’t matter which side wins: there will be so much death and destruction with which the winners will have to deal that they will not have the time, money or other resources to make problems outside of Syria. Well, whether by accident (more probable) or design (far, far less probable), the United States’ policy seems to match what The First Street Journal has advocated. From The Wall Street Journal:

Behind Assad’s Comeback, a Mismatch in Commitments
Regime’s Survival Seen as Example of America’s Inability to Steer Events From a Distance
By Adam Entous and Siobhan Gorman | Dec. 31, 2013 1:32 p.m. ET

In the early days of the Syrian rebellion, U.S. intelligence agencies made a prediction: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s days were numbered, an assessment repeated publicly by President Barack Obama and top U.S. intelligence officials.

Mr. Obama said so as recently as March 22, at a press conference in Amman with Jordan’s King Abdullah: “I’m confident that Assad will go. It’s not a question of if, it’s when.”

Behind the scenes, though, U.S. intelligence services had already begun to pick up indications that this long-held assumption was wrong.

That winter and early spring, U.S. and Israeli spy agencies received intelligence that Iran and the Assad regime were pressing the reluctant leader of the Hezbollah militia in Lebanon to commit to sending his fighters into Syria en masse, current and former U.S. officials said.

The resulting Hezbollah surge to bolster Mr. Assad represented a turning point in the Syria conflict, giving the Syrian leader enough strength to survive, though not enough to prevail.

More at the link. But that final quoted paragraph puts the situation as being about the best for which the civilized world could hope.

Naturally, the foreign policy mavens worry:

Now, at the end of 2013, Syria stands as a tale of mismatched commitments, and an example of America’s inability to steer events from a distance. In many ways, Syria as it was known before simply doesn’t exist any longer, U.S. officials say. Its place has been taken by a shattered state riven into sectarian enclaves, radicalized by war and positioned to send worrisome ripples out across the Middle East for years to come, say current and former officials.

Perhaps, but your Editor doesn’t see it that way. “Worrisome ripples” don’t occur without actual people to generate them, and the Syrian civil war is going to leave a lot of the most worrisome ripplers injured, maimed or dead. The participation of Hezbollah in the civil war means that fewer Hezbollah fighters will be alive after this mess finally ends. And as more of the fighting-aged men are removed from the population, the remainder of the population will be less eager, overall, to want to fight somewhere else. The enemies of civilization are busy killing each other in Syria; why would we ever want to stop that?

The Journal reported that recently departed CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell briefed some congressmen in private, and said that the CIA estimated that the civil war could drag on for another ten years or more, with President Assad unable to take control of the entire country, but with the Islamist/al Qaeda controlled areas landlocked between eastern Syria and Iraq, and frequent ethnic and sectarian squabbling going on in those areas.

Much of the article, however, is less about the conditions of the fighting than the diplomatic and military maneuvering by forces outside of Syria to try to aid one side or the other. The article noted that Saudi Arabia is very displeased with the low-level of the American commitment — a small supply of weapons to some of the rebel groups — and that Secretary of State John François Kerry, rather than recognize the Saudi’s real concerns, simply wanted to place the onus on Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan. Prince Bandar, on the other hand, appears to have a rather low opinion of both Mr Kerry and his boss, President Obama.

The First Street Journal shares Prince Bandar’s low opinion of Messrs Obama and Kerry, albeit for different reasons. However, this situation illuminates a lesson which the United States was starting to learn in the 1960s, with our failures in Vietnam: sometimes that United States simply cannot control what happens in other countries. As early as 1949, there were bitter recriminations in the United States about “who lost China,” when the old “China hands’ couldn’t keep Chaing Kai-Shek and the Nationalists from losing to Mao Tse-tung and the Communists in the civil war there, a notion which assumes that the United States could have changed the outcome by an effort short of direct military intervention. The war in Vietnam pointed out, rather dramatically, that even with direct military intervention, the United States might not be able to direct the outcome. The war in Iraq proved that we might be able to depose a brutal dictator, but we might not be able to control who takes power after the dictator is gone.

Your Editor was tempted to credit Secretary of State Kerry for having realized this, following his experiences in Vietnam, but declined; the Secretary’s performance when it comes to negotiations with Iran leaves me with little doubt that Mr Kerry simply does not understand the motivations of power and of non-Western leaders. If Mr Morell was correct, we can look forward to perhaps a decade of Islamist and Syrian government fighters disappearing into the meat-grinder of the civil war, and that’s a good thing, but The First Street Journal will not credit either the Secretary or President Obama for having directed it; the best that can be said, now, is that they haven’t fouled it up . . . yet.

My darling bride wanted to watch the Tournament of Roses parade . . .

. . . but I had to get up and leave the television in disgust. Not only is there supposed to be a same-sex “marriage” being performed on a parade float,1 but there is a health insurance company (which I decline to name, to avoid giving them any additional publicity, little though it might be) advertising policies on their individual exchange, with a (supposed) waitress telling us that she didn’t have insurance through her (supposedly) low-paying job, but yes, she was able to get a health insurance plan, for her family, and, thanks to financial assistance,2 her health insurance costs her less than a dollar a day.

Well, given that the average employer-based health insurance policy costs $16,351 per year,3 that means that the “waitress” is being subsidized something on the order of $16,000 a year, from my taxes!

Every one of us who works for a living and has to pay taxes is having to contribute money to this (fictitious) waitress’ health insurance plan. Can you see why I am so disgusted?
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  1. If it actually happened, I didn’t see it.
  2. The commercial does not specifically say government financial assistance, but that’s what it means.
  3. The Kaiser Family Foundation stated that, in 2013, the average cost of employer-provided health insurance was $16,351, of which the employer’s share was $11,786, and the employee’s share was $4,565.