Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The View From On High

[click on four outward-pointing arrows for fullscreen]


Friday, September 23, 2011

Rosh Hashanah 5772

[click on 4 outward-pointing arrows for fullscreen]


Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Taste of Crow

[Paris Hotel de Ville - City Hall]

I was wrong in defending Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

I assumed all along that the rape charge was completely trumped up. DSK was recognized as the only person in France with a real prospect of winning the Presidency of France against Nicholas Sarkozy. It seemed much too convenient to the powers-that-be, the Big Money, in La Belle that he should be involved in such a sordid crime.

Indeed, every government in Europe and America who would not have welcomed a socialist government in France was a suspect in a frame. When it came out that the accuser had underworld connections it looked even more like a frame, a set up, the Old Badger Game.

But DSK's confession today that what he did in the New York hotel room was "a moral failure" is not the statement of an innocent man being framed. He was a victim only of his own lack of impulse control. He is exactly what his feminist accusers said he is - a rich powerful sonofabitch who couldn't keep his dick in his pants.

I like Nicholas Sarkozy but not his Gaullist party comrades. I am only slightly less enthusiastic about the ideologically-driven slimeballs in the Socialist Party than I am about the privileged SOB's in Sarkozy's party, the UMP. Any party that could choose Jacques Chirac as its leader is a party with no moral standards at all and the UMP is just such a party. By no coincidence at all former President Chirac is now on trial for corruption while Mayor of Paris.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Remembering 9-11

The media lady can rationalize as she will, but those are Palestinians celebrating the massacre of 3,000 Americans by Muslims. Let the administration trim its Middle East policies as it will, those who celebrate the massacre of Americans are our enemies and should be treated as such.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Wearing Out Their Welcome

Remember how I have been this crazy bigot for suggesting that unlimited immigration of people hostile to the US and to American society might not be such a great idea? It turns out that my logic is now that of the famously tolerant Dutch government as well.

The Netherlands, where six per cent of the population is now Muslim, is scrapping multiculturalism:
The Dutch government says it will abandon the long-standing model of multiculturalism that
has encouraged Muslim immigrants to create a parallel society within the Netherlands.

A new integration bill, which Dutch Interior Minister Piet Hein Donner presented to parliament on June 16, reads:
"The government shares the social dissatisfaction over the multicultural society model and
plans to shift priority to the values of the Dutch people.
In the new integration system, the values of the Dutch society play a central role.
With this change, the government steps away from the model of a multicultural

The letter continues: "A more obligatory integration is justified because the government also
demands that from its own citizens. It is necessary because otherwise the society gradually
grows apart and eventually no one feels at home any more in the Netherlands..."
The new integration policy will place more demands on immigrants. For example, immigrants will be required to learn the Dutch language, and the government will take a tougher approach to immigrants who ignore Dutch values or disobey Dutch law.
The government will also stop offering special subsidies for Muslim immigrants because,
according to Donner, "it is not the government's job to integrate immigrants."
The government will introduce new legislation that outlaws forced marriages and will also
impose tougher measures against Muslim immigrants who lower their chances of employment by the way they dress.
More specifically, the government will impose a ban on face-covering Islamic burqas as of January 1, 2013.
There seems to be some sort of rough rule here, that whenever Muslims live in close proximity with non-Muslims, the non-Muslims wind up not liking them very much.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

Worth Reading

[The United Nations - just as successful as the League of Nations]

from today's New York Times--

UNITED NATIONS — A United Nations review has found thatIsrael’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and appropriate but that the way its forces boarded a Turkish-based flotilla trying to break that blockade 15 months ago, killing nine passengers, was excessive and unreasonable.

Readers’ Comments

The report, expected to be released on Friday, also found that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying the loss of life was unacceptable and the Israeli military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.

The 105-page report, a copy of which was obtained by The New York Times, was completed months ago. But its publication was delayed several times as Turkey and Israel sought to reconcile their deteriorating relationship and perhaps avoid making the report public. In reactions from both governments included in the report, as well as in interviews, each objected to conclusions. Both believe the report, which was intended to help mend relations, will instead make reconciliation harder.

Turkey is particularly upset by the conclusion that Israel’s naval blockade is in keeping with international law and that its forces have the right to stop Gaza-bound ships in international waters, which is what happened here. That conclusion oversteps the mandate of the four-member panel appointed by the United Nations secretary general and is at odds with other United Nations decisions, Turkey argued.

The report noted that the panel did not have the power to compel testimony or demand documents, but instead had to rely on information provided by Israel and Turkey. Therefore, its conclusions can not be considered definitive in either fact or law.

The foreign ministries in Turkey and Israel declined to comment publicly on the report, saying they preferred to wait for its official release. No one was available to comment in the office of the United Nations spokesman.

Israel considers the report to be a rare vindication for it in the United Nations. A Security Council statement at the time assailed the loss of life and Israel suffered widespreadinternational condemnation. It thought that by offering to negotiate an agreement with Turkey that would stop publication, Ankara might soften its position.

But the two countries’ negotiations, which focused on some kind of apology from Israel and compensation for the victims — eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent — ended in failure. Israel says it is willing to express regret and pay compensation. But the Turks want a full apology. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel believes that apologizing would demoralize his citizens and broadcast a message of weakness. Aides say he might reconsider at a later date if the Turks soften their position.

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey says an apology and compensation would not be sufficient to return his ambassador to Tel Aviv. Israel also has to end its naval blockade of Gaza, he insisted.

The report does recommend that Israel should make “an appropriate statement of regret’ and pay compensation, but the Turks say that formula does not express sufficient remorse.

The United Nations investigation into the events on the Turkish-flagged ship known as the Mavi Marmara, the largest of six vessels that were commandeered by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, was headed by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former prime minister of New Zealand, aided by Álvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia, along with a representative each from Israel and Turkey.

It takes a broadly sympathetic view of Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza.

“Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says in its opening paragraphs. “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”

The report is hard on the flotilla, asserting that it “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade.” It said that while the majority of the hundreds of people aboard the six vessels had no violent intention, that could not be said of IHH, the Turkish aid group that primarily organized the flotilla. It said, “There exist serious questions about the conduct, true nature and objectives of the flotilla organizers, particularly IHH.”

It also said that the Turkish government tried to persuade the organizers to avoid an encounter with Israeli forces but that “more could have been done.”

Regarding the boarding of the ship, the Palmer committee said Israel should have issued warnings closer to the moment of action and should have first turned to nonviolent options.

The report assailed Israel for the way in which the nine were killed and others injured. “Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel,” it says. The report does, however, acknowledge that once on board the commandos had to defend themselves against violent attack. The report also criticizes Israel’s subsequent treatment of passengers, saying it “included physical mistreatment, harassment and intimidation, unjustified confiscation of belongings and the denial of timely consular assistance.”

Readers’ Comments

Like so many elements of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the events on the Mavi Marmara produced two fiercely competing narratives, each full of self-justification and contempt for the other.

An official Israeli investigation found not only that its naval blockade was legal but that everything done by Israel, from the actions of its commandos to the treatment of the passengers afterwards, was honorable and appropriate. The flotilla organizers, it said, included 40 members of a “hard-core group” who were not properly checked before boarding in Turkey.

A Turkish investigation came to precisely the opposite conclusion. It asserted that the blockade was illegal in all aspects, amounting to collective punishment of the Palestiniansof Gaza. It said all of the people on board were civilians, all had been checked out and were unarmed and therefore subject to protection from any invasion under international humanitarian law.

The Turks also concluded that Israeli commandos used live fire before landing, leading to death and injury; the Israelis said they had not. The Palmer committee said it was unable to determine who was right.

Those critical of Israeli actions toward Gaza have viewed the naval blockade that began officially in January 2009 as part and parcel of a siege imposed by Israel on the coastal strip shortly after Hamas took full control there in 2007. That siege, which has eased considerably in the past year, prevented the movement of most goods and people.

But the Palmer committee said while it had concerns about that policy and urged that it be loosened further, it saw the naval blockade as a purely security-oriented tool that had been imposed to stop weapons arriving to Gaza by sea. It also expressed strong concern for the thousands of rockets and mortars fired into Israel from Gaza in recent years. It said that because Gaza’s port cannot handle large ships, a naval blockade has little impact on the supply of civilian goods.

It may be that the UN has seen the hand-writing on the wall.

After the UN voted a resolution that "Zionism is racism" in 1975, Congress suspended payment of the US's annual dues to the UN. Only when the resolution was rescinded in 1991 did the US resume its dues payments. Our dues constituted one-third of the UN's operating budget. The arrears have never been paid.

My guess is that the UN officials are rightly afraid that any further Israel-lynchings will be answered by the US Congress with a second cutoff of payment of the US' annual dues. Given the current rage for budget-cutting in Washington, it would be hard to defend continued payment if the UN continues to present itself in a bad light.

I think the UN will be on its best behavior for several years to come. This is just one example. Putting next year's Durban III Anti-Racism Conference in New York where it will not, one hopes be controlled by anti-Semitic Muslim radicals as Durban I and II were, is another example.

Home Soon

[Yes, it's sarcasm]

After endless screwing around with being sick first in Grande Prairie and now in Edmonton, I am reluctantly throwing in the towel.

I have been taking antibiotics for six days now and am at last able to eat normal food again. At least I hope so. I had real food for breakfast - lox and a bagel - and I am now waiting to see if my innards can handle it. The lox was greasy so I am uneasy about what will happen during the next few hours. It is remarkable how quickly and how much one comes to miss food. Oatmeal and soda crackers are technically food, but only technically.

I was willing to start bicycling again subject to the deconditioning of not having exercised regularly for two weeks. But I was not willing to start subject to both the deconditioning and the considerable debilitation from being sick. My sister Gail pointed out to me that I also faced the risk of a relapse and possibly getting sicker than before. And of being on the road when it happened. Which I hadn't thought of. It gave me pause.

The bicycle trip was becoming more a medical enterprise than a touristic one. This was supposed to be fun and it has stopped being so.

Even if I set out, there is nothing south of here but endless vistas of prairie for hundreds of kilometers south to Calgary and then more of the same into Montana. There is much to be said for prairie vistas but once that has been said, there is no more to say about them. I am too far east of the Rockies and it is too late in the season to do much of anything toward going home.

No, that isn't true. If I were fit and inclined, I could bull my way across Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and California in a month. The fact is that I am tired, sick, and discouraged. There is no point in pretending that I am forced out. The fact is that I am quitting because I don't want to do this anymore. I have been on the road since June 20, for just over two months now. It is just over.

So I have said the magic words, "the hell with it" and booked a flight home. I feel really crappy about it ending with a whimper but I would have felt a lot worse if it had ended with a bang.