December 2009 Archives

So long to the aughts

On December 31, 1999, we were waiting for computers all over the world to melt down, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 11,497, and September 11 was just another date on the calendar.

The good old days.

I do not think I'll miss the aughts.  I sincerely hope the teens are better, for our country and for our world.

Happy New Year!

Ibrahim Hamad is dead

And alive and well in an Israel prison.  Or so it would seem from this story, reported in the Jerusalem Post.

In a conflicting report, the London-based newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Hamas had rejected [Israel's prisoner exchange] proposal. A Hamas source quoted in the report said that Israel's refusal to free 13 specific prisoners was holding up a deal.

Among these 13 prisoners, according to Al-Hayat are:

  • Ibrahim Hamad, who shot and killed a pregnant mother and her four daughters in 2004; ...
The problem is, the Ibrahim Hamad who murdered Tali Hatuel (eight months pregant) and her four daughters in 2004 was shot and killed at the scene, along with his accomplice, by Israeli troops.
So what's he doing alive in an Israel jail?
Answer: research screw-up by Al-Hayat, it would appear (because the JPost is just reporting what Al-Hayat said).  Two different Ibrahim Hamads.  The first one was a member of Islamic Jihad in Gaza and is, thankfully, still dead.  The second one was a Hamas commander in Ramallah and was arrested in 2006.  IH#2 counts among his many accomplishments: the Ben Yehuda pedestrian mall bombing in 2001; the Moment café bombing in 2002 and, also in 2002, the Hebrew University cafeteria bombing, among other atrocities. 

Nice guy.  Let's give him a get out of jail free card.

The price of engagement

Releasing suspected terrorist murderers from Gitmo isn't an idea that originated with Barack Obama.  He's just taken it to a whole new level.  The previous administration's experiments in that regard have already come back to haunt us (via Solomonia), but somehow I doubt we're going to hear that this problem was "inherited" from Bush:

Two of the four leaders allegedly behind the al Qaeda plot to blow up a Northwest Airlines passenger jet over Detroit were released by the U.S. from the Guantanamo prison in November, 2007, according to American officials and Department of Defense documents. Al Qaeda claimed responsibility for the Northwest bombing in a Monday statement that vowed more attacks on Americans.

American officials agreed to send the two terrorists from Guantanamo to Saudi Arabia where they entered into an "art therapy rehabilitation program" and were set free, according to U.S. and Saudi officials.
Well that worked out well.  It may or may not give our current President pause in his relentless pursuit of engagement-at-all-costs.  I'd bet on not.

Note that two of the (now deceased) terrorists involved in the murder of Rabbi Meir Chai last week were the beneficiaries of an Israeli prison release and amnesty program, respectively.  With a few exceptions, that doesn't seem to have damped down much of the enthusiasm for the latest proposed prisoner swap.  Neither, however, is it being ignored.

The involvement of a released Palestinian prisoner in last week's murder of Rabbi Meir Avshalom Chai in Samaria underlines the dilemma Israel faces in concluding a deal to release kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Sunday morning.
But Obama is not Bibi, and it will be interesting to see if he even perceives a dilemma here.

Meanwhile, he does seem to be in a mighty snit over the new housing starts announced in the predominantly Jewish East Jerusalem neighborhoods of Har Homa, Neve Yaakov and Pisgat Ze'ev.  What part of "Jerusalem is not included in the freeze" was unclear?  And, um, what about this?

JERUSALEM, Aug. 27 (UPI) -- U.S. President Barak Obama has reportedly agreed to exclude east Jerusalem from any future settlement freeze, Israeli and western officials said.

The officials stressed the United States will not endorse the building of Jewish housing in the predominantly Arab part of Jerusalem but will not publicly condemn the construction either, Haaretz said Thursday.


Very merry

Here's one of those obligatory annual stories of how Israel has ruined Christmas in Bethlehem, 2009 version.  No Christmas would be complete without them.

In the place where Christians believe Jesus Christ was born, Christmas celebrations are taking place in the shadow of a concrete wall built by the Israelis to counter the second Palestinian uprising, or intifada.
Never mind that the real reason for the fence (only parts of it are a wall) is to counter this sort of thing.  Or that it's the Palestinian Authority and Hamas that have made life for so many Christians in Bethlehem (and elsewhere in the territories under their control) unbearable.  Or that, in spite of all that, Christmas in Bethlehem is doing just fine.

To all of those celebrating this holiday of peace on earth and good will toward men, a very Merry Christmas to you.

Shabbat Shalom.

Three on Schalit

An editorial and two op-eds in the Jerusalem Post this week all arrive at the same conclusion by slightly different paths.  I hope someone's paying attention.

From the JP editors, The Fateful Decision:

A deal will buttress what Palestinians already believe, that Israelis understand only force. Tomorrow's Palestinian leaders, therefore, will be that much more obdurate. It will become still harder for a credible Palestinian leader - no matter how ostensibly moderate - to abjure violence.

Stopping on a dime will mean that the pundits and politicians who orchestrated the campaign that took matters this far will have some explaining to do. If Netanyahu does pull back, it will be because Israelis were bluffing ourselves as much as we were bluffing Hamas.

A "no" now would take Hamas down a peg. Netanyahu could directly address the Islamists' disappointed constituents, emphasizing that meeting Hamas's rapacious demands would have dishonored him and caused Israel to lose face. Palestinians will understand that. So will Israelis.

He should frankly acknowledge that he was ready for an honorable deal. Indeed, he must stress that he remains ready for an honorable deal.

From the father of one of the Merkaz Harav yeshiva victims, When killers go free:

As tension continues to build over the too-high cost we are being asked to pay for the invaluable life of our captured soldier Gilad Schalit, I count my blessings again and again. First, because I cannot even imagine the horror of the Schalit family's agonizing wait. I have no thread of hope, no taunting 'maybe' or 'perhaps' to torture my soul, for I know that I will never see my son again. The last time I saw his too-young, too-innocent face was the night that he and his friends were murdered in the Merkaz Harav library. I identified his body for the police.

Second, I know that the terrorist who took my son's life has lost his, stopped in his terrible rampage by a valiant soldier and a brave civilian. So too, I have been spared the agony of wondering how my son's killer has been faring in prison, or on the run from justice.

And third, I have been spared the agony of wondering what I would do if my son's killer was to be among those freed in exchange for our captive soldier.

And from American Legal Forum chair Daniel Tauber, Even for Gilad, this is not the way:

Netanyahu, who once harshly criticized prisoner exchanges, is surely taking into consideration the fact that some 80% of Israelis are reportedly in favor of the deal. If he concludes the deal, this 80% would hail him as a leader able to succeed where others (Olmert, for example) failed. But are Netanyahu and those millions prepared to take responsibility for the lives of the future victims of those released and any future "Gilad Schalits" who will be taken captive? For these are the consequences that will surely follow.

Releasing the terrorists may mean saving Gilad's life, but it also means that more Jews will die and more soldiers will be kidnapped. It means that justice can never be served even against jailed murderers.

Meanwhile, a "humiliating" checkpoint is removed, terror returns and accusations fly.  Pure coincidence, I'm sure.

Ban champagne!

Why is it that, at least in the northern hemisphere, January is always one of the coldest months of the year?  Aren't the skyrocketing levels of CO2 released into our atmosphere every New Year's Eve in New York City alone enough to at least raise the mercury a few degrees?

Every bottle of champagne is a blend of many wines, but it owes its signature sparkle entirely to pent-up carbon dioxide. In fact, an average bottle of champagne contains about five or six times its volume in carbon dioxide, so compressed that when the champagne cork pops, it typically kicks out of the bottle's neck at about 30 miles per hour, Dr. Liger-Belair says. The champagne will actually taste better, he says, if the cork can be released with a more subdued CO2 sigh.
The Champagne region of France has been working for years on reducing the carbon emissions generated in packaging and bottling its bubbly, as (needless to say) have winemakers in California.  But what about all that dangerous greenhouse gas that comes out when the cork is popped?  It's a public menace, I say, and must be banned.  Quickly.  In fact, before December 31!  Or countless polar bears and rain forests will surely perish!

There is no time to waste!  ~

Completely reckless

Sen. Mitch McConnell on the health care "reform" circus in the Senate:

Completely reckless, completely irresponsible.
Yes, and losing more ground every day. A lot of the critiques out there are scathing. Nasty. On target. David Harsanyi:

Let's concede that there might be a number of ideas -- both on the left and the right -- that haven't been embraced. Still, the most misleading assertion of the president is that his focus is on bending the cost curve in the right direction -- or that it's even a goal. The prevailing objective of health care "reform" has been to expand coverage to the uninsured and to throw federal control on everyone. Cost has proved to be largely irrelevant -- other than being a political consideration. Of course, ignoring the substantive ideas of the ideological opposition is not, in and of itself, new for presidents or politicians. But Obama's fondness for creating imaginary consensus and offering false choices to the American people has been something to behold.
Ouch. Kim Strassel:

So why the stubborn insistence on passing health reform? Think big. The liberal wing of the party--the Barney Franks, the David Obeys--are focused beyond November 2010, to the long-term political prize. They want a health-care program that inevitably leads to a value-added tax and a permanent welfare state. Big government then becomes fact, and another Ronald Reagan becomes impossible. See Continental Europe.
Sound ridiculous? Alarmist? A year ago, I'd have laughed that off. Today, not so much. And speaking of ridiculous ... so we're supposed to boycott Britain now? Again? Yeah, they suck. But, again, I'm not big on boycotts. This one strikes me as particularly misguided, but I haven't done enough research yet and I'm not sure how seriously to take it.

More light please!

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah!

Festival of light

Have you seen this story?  It's a few weeks old but it's exactly the kind of publicity that Israel ought to be getting more of because, in spite of the warts, this, after all, is a basic element of what the Jewish State is all about.  The article is about a little Irish girl named Rachel and a wonderful organization named Shalva.  Please check it out.  It will warm your heart.

More light, please!

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanuka!

Today I am a Republican

After 37 years as a Democrat, I was way overdue for a change.

The right kind of change.

Actually, I consider myself an independent, but Pennsylvania has closed primaries, so registered independents don't get to vote in them.  Here's hoping I'll be able to feel less uncomfortable in my new party than I had come to feel in the old one.

Quietly, like clockwork

Every six months ...

President Obama and his family did the traditional lighting of the White House Christmas tree Wednesday on the Ellipse. That same day he continued the more recent, lower-key tradition, begun by Bill Clinton and followed by George W. Bush, of approving a waiver every six months to legislation that calls for the government to begin moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
This, of course, is not remotely a surprise, or even news at this point.  I'm just noting it, as I've been doing for several years now.  This WaPo report, at least, has a certain wistfulness about it.

The 1995 measure, passed overwhelmingly by the House and Senate, contains a temporary opt-out provision if the president feels it's important to put off the move "to protect the national security interests of the United States." Bush would sign it but say that he remained committed to beginning the process of moving the embassy. Obama, who signed his first waiver this summer, didn't talk last week about his commitments.

So the trucks continue to stand by, waiting for the certain next waiver.

Check out the photo and its caption.

A done deal and a promise

Today, Israeli PM Netanyahu had this to say to his cabinet regarding the settlement freeze:

I would like to make something else clear. This suspension is for its stated timeframe - and not beyond. In the Cabinet decision, we made it clear that upon the conclusion of the period of suspension, construction will resume. In the meantime, ten days have passed and the time is limited. Therefore, I would like to remove any doubts regarding the temporary and one-time nature of this decision. This is a one-time and temporary decision, not a freeze of unlimited and infinite duration.
Clear enough, but we shall see.  On September 25, 2010, we'll see whether construction will resume or what excuses will be offered for it not resuming.  As the date approaches, we'll take note of any pressure being applied (almost a sure bet) and threats being made (ditto) to prevent it from resuming. 

And of course we'll see what benefits, if any, accrue in the meantime.  The last time we heard about the rewards to be gained by Israel clearly demonstrating its deep, abiding and unwavering desire for peace through painful concessions was August 2005.  We've seen where that got us.  Not holding my breath.


(It was never a matter of if, but when.)  This subject is really sort of outside the purview of this blog but, now that it's broken wide open, the more disinfectant (i.e., sunlight) it gets, the better, IMO.  So I'm happy to do my part. 

Some of the most fascinating, informed and (generally) civil discussions I've found have been in the comments to various posts (impressive themselves) at The Volokh Conspiracy (e.g. here).  Yes, it's a law blog.  But so much more.

But for (characteristically) rapier sharp analysis of the insidious propagandistic tricks underlying this scandal (yes, we're shocked! to find manipulation of the data!), there's unlikely to be a better source than Mere Rhetoric.

In any case, what hasn't been unpacked is how the AGW crowd systematically undermined public debate by framing their media messages to provoke unjustifiable anxiety (a "certainty" issue), manipulating media institutions to untenably emphasize or deemphasize findings (a "what's going on" issue), and punishing scientists who strayed from the party line in media appearances. Climatologists could be model researchers and their shilling for prosperity-killing agreements and treaties would still be wildly inappropriate. That's not the deal we have with these people.

If these emails came from the other side, lefty magazines and academic journals would be screaming about the catastrophic erosion of contemporary democratic institutions. And they'd be right.

Go ahead.  Check it out

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This page is an archive of entries from December 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

November 2009 is the previous archive.

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