Monthly Archives: July 2012

Why I Am Less Than Enthusiastic About The Palestinian “Cause”

Over the weekend I had the great misfortune of getting into an exchange with several pro-Palestinian advocates on Twitter. The cause of their outrage was a tweet of mine to the effect that it was disgusting that the IOC lets the “fake country of Palestine” compete while refusing to honor the victims of the Palestine Liberation Organization attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich games.

As with most Twitter spats, it quickly degenerated into name calling and taunts. The issues are complex and important and deserve a more thoughtful exploration than Twitter allows for. So the following is simply my thoughts on the Palestinians and why I (and I think many Americans) are hostile to their cause. This is not meant as a complete examination of a very old and complex matter (which is far beyond my competency in any event) but simply an explanation of my thoughts on the matter.

First, the reality is that at the moment there is no nation of “Palestine”. This is simply a fact that the fervent wishes of many can not change.

Second, my problem with letting “Palestine” compete is not simply a case of collective guilt or punishment, it’s that the Palestinian Authority, is the direct successor to the organization that committed an attack not just on Israel  but on the Olympics themselves.

Another direct connection between the attack of 72 and today is the current head of the PA, Mahmoud Abbas. He was involved in the funding of the attack and praised the man who masterminded it. That the people who chose him as their leader should be allowed to compete in the Olympics is a disgrace.


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As was pointed out many early leaders of Israel were members of Jewish independence movements that engaged in armed attacks. Again, I am not going to get into the whose hands are clean and whose aren’t argument but for the purpose of this discussion (“Palestine” and the Olympics) I will simply note, no current or former leader of Israel, nor the state of Israel itself has ever been involved in a military attack on the Olympics. The Palestinians simply can not say that.

To the broader question as to why I have very little sympathy with or for the Palestinian cause I lay the blame at the feet of the Palestinians themselves. This is a sentiment most Americans seem to share.

Why the disparity? For me and I think many others, it’s simply the nature of Palestinian society that we find abhorrent. Now, are there decent Palestinians who want nothing more than to have a country of their own that lives in peace and prosperity? I’m sure there are. The issue however is the majority who don’t (at least as expressed through their elective support for the likes of Abbas and the Hamas led “government” in (the non-occupied) Gaza Strip.

Again, Palestinian defenders will no doubt say that they have a lack of choices. Be that as it may, that’s not our problem or fault (or Israel’s). These are the people they have selected to represent them and they are being judged accordingly. If you want the world to have greater respect for you, get your own house in order.

That brings me to another issue…the culture of violence. Palestinians will say they are fighting an occupation but that does not excuse despicable attacks on civilians nor explain the high esteem in which blood thirsty monsters are celebrated.

The other night on Twitter I pointed one of my Palestinian interlocutors to the horrific image of Azia Salha gleefully showing off his bloody hands after ripping apart Israelis.

Television showed one of the attackers run to the second floor window and make a victory sign and then return to the fray. In the background, several men were seen pounding on something or someone on the floor. The crowd erupted into cheers. The attackers tossed one of the men out of the window, another out the door. One of the soldiers was seen dangling upside down, apparently attached to a rope. The crowd stood below, waving fists and cheering.

The body was dropped into the compound, where the mob stamped on the corpse and beat it with the broken bars of a window grille. The Israelis said the third soldier was dead.

My new Twitter friend replied with a link to Timothy McVeigh’s Wikipedia page. I suppose the point was every society has monsters. This is true. The difference? McVeigh is a figure of evil in the eyes of the vast majority of Americans. In fact, he was arrested, tried and executed for his crimes against the people of the United States by their government.

Salha? He was among over 1,000 various thugs, murderers and terrorists the Palestinians demanded Israel release in exchange for a single captured soldier.

Palestinians have also named squares after terrorists who have killed Americans and glorified many other killers. Their  education system simply refuses to acknowledge the existence of Israel. Why is it that it’s impossible for Jews to live in Palestinian controlled areas but Palestinians can and do live in Israel?

I could go on and on with examples like this. No doubt supporters of the Palestinian cause would cite what they say are Israeli atrocities and defend their actions as a part of the war they are involved in. They are welcome to do that but they should not be surprised when most Americans reject their excuses.

This is not simply an image problem, it’s a substance problem. You can learn a lot about a society by what it values and honors.

The major problem I have with people who want to promote the Palestinian cause is what exactly have they done beyond a decades long campaign of violence and incitement to bring their state into existence? What hard choices have they demanded their leaders make? What compromises have they put on the table that even remotely approach what Benjamin Natenyahu offered at Wye River or Ehud Barack agreed to at Sharm El-Sheik, Camp David and Taba? Why would they expect any sympathy when their reaction to unprecedented Israeli offer after offer is a Second Intifada

Palestinians have chosen time and time again a maximalist strategy that looks like a one state (Palestine) solution. They are simply reaping the results of those choices.

At the height of the American colonies rejection of the British Crown, we laid out our complaints with the British but also the vision and values our nation would stand for. In word and in deeds we have been living by them (albeit unevenly at times) ever since.

What would a nation called”Palestine” look like? What would its founding and guiding principles be? What contribution would it make to the world? So far the well earned image of the Palestinian people as a whole (again, allowing for the realty of individual differences) is one of destroyers and killers. I’d like to think that’s not all an independent state of Palestine (if it ever exists) will be but in the absence of such words and deeds, what principle beyond an opposition to Israel am I and others supposed to embrace?

Palestinians will conduct their “resistance” how they wish but unless or until they offer a positive vision of what their nation will look like, don’t be surprised when others look at how you conduct yourselves now and say, “no thanks”.


Obama v. Romney: The Real Wimp Factor

In a nod to environmentalists, Newsweek (yes, they are still in business) recycles the old “Wimp Factor” shot at Romney.


Let’s take a look at the Adonis that is Barack Obama in action.

Love the fist pump at the end there.


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And no, that wasn’t a one time thing.

I can’t find video of Romney throwing out a first pitch, perhaps the crack staff at Buzzfeed can take a break from rooting for Obama to find one. But here’s a story you may not have heard about that would make you think twice about calling him a wimp.

Mr. Romney said that one of his partners, Robert Gay, came into his office at Bain Capital one day to say that his 15-year-old daughter had gone into New York City to attend a party without permission, and had never come home. She was lost, Mr. Romney remembered.

“And so I said, ‘Let’s close the firm, let’s close the company,’ ” Mr. Romney said. “ ‘Let’s all of us fly down to New York and try to find her.’ And so we closed the business, we went home and packed our things, we got a hotel near the airport where we all went to, we set up a headquarters, we met with the detectives with the New York City Police Department, we hired a private investigative firm to help guide us through this process.”

At the time, Bain was an investor in Duane Reade, a major drugstore chain, and Mr. Romney said his team printed out fliers of the missing teenager, and had all the stores pass them out to customers as well.

“And so there we were, a bunch of folks in suits walking around in the parks of New York and in the streets and showing pictures and saying when we saw teenagers, ‘Have you seen this girl?’ ” Mr. Romney said. “There were all these guys walking around asking kids if they’d seen a picture of this young lady, guys in suits and briefcases, and it made some big item in the news and we got a call into our hotline.”

They finally found her, Mr. Romney said, in a basement of a New Jersey home. As he finished his story, a murmur of approval rippled through the crowd.


PS- The gold standard for presidential first pitches is of course, George W. Bush in NYC for the 2001 World Series.

Obama Tax Hike vs. Obama Deficit And US Debt

The folks at Media Matters for America are outraged! that Fox News is pooh-poohing Obama’s proposed tax hike:

Fox Dismisses New Revenue From Expiration Of Bush Tax Cuts For The Wealthy As “A Drop In The Bucket”

Let’s see, the tax hikes will allegedly bring in  $850 billion over 10 years….divide by 1, carry the zero and that’s, $85 billion per years. Lots of money in the real world but in the world of government spending and $1.2+ TRILLION deficits, not so much.

Let’s do a little old school data visualization for the folks at MMFA…

Hmm, not that impressive in terms of denting the deficit.

Let’s add in another variable: FY 2012 (which ends at the end of this September) spending ($3.796 Trillion) as enacted by the Congress and signed by Obama.

Oh my, that makes the $85 Billion per year seem even less consequential.

And one more, this time with our total federal debt (almost $16 Trillion and growing).

Nope, that didn’t help.

Official ruling: A drop in the bucket to the federal government whose spending is out of control but a serious hit to people who earned it.

Of course all of this is based on the silly notion that increasing people’s taxes won’t impact their behavior in any way. And mind you, Obama hasn’t said this supposed new revenue will go to cutting the deficit or paying down the debt, it will go to new payoffs for his cronies, er, “investments”.

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Is Romney Competitive In Minnesota And New Mexico?

If these polls are close to right, it’s all coming unglued for Obama.

First, <a href=””>Minnesota. </a>

<blockquote>The president now leads Romney 46 to 40 percent, with Obama’s advantage coming primarily through a 2-1 edge among moderate voters and a 14-point lead among women, according to the poll released Monday by SurveyUSA. But a May version of the same poll gave the president a 14-point lead, showing Romney whittling away at Obama’s lead.

It’s a pattern similar to states like Wisconsin, where Obama’s one-time double-digit lead has steadily decreased since Romney clinched the nomination, and Michigan, where the occasional poll has even found Romney leading. While the president is still the clear favorite in all three states, the Romney campaign is hoping to force the incumbent president to spend resources in the Upper Midwest playing defense.</blockquote>

I don’t know how likely it is the crazy Scandis in Minnesota will go for Mitt but they don’t have to to make this interesting. Minnesota just being in play mean Wisconsin and maybe Michigan, states fare more friendly to Romney, are likely to go to him.

Second look at Tim Pawlenty for VP?

From last week an interesting poll…New Mexico might be in play because of Gary Johnson.

<blockquote>While President Obama has held a double digit lead in most New Mexico polls to date, the latest Public Policy Polling automated survey reports that Mitt Romney has closed to within 5 points, 49 percent to 44 percent.

But that’s when just Obama and Romney are tested. When the Democratic polling firm places Johnson in the mix, Obama’s lead shrinks to 42-38, with Johnson drawing 13 percent.

The crosstabs show Johnson, the Libertarian Party nominee, takes a bite out of Romney’s hide in a three-way matchup, but also does damage to Obama as well because he picks up 24 percent of the independent/other vote.</blockquote>

Third party candidates tend to poll better than they do with actual voters and normally I’d discount this but….Johnson is a popular ex-Governor. Again, he doesn’t have to pull enough to give Mitt the win but Obama can’t play defense everywhere. Also, if Obama isn’t popular enough in a state <a href=”,_2008″>he won by 15% in 2008</a> to withstand a minor party candidate (even one with strong local ties), what’s that say about neighboring Colorado? I was talking to a political type from there and he says the state is in play. I’m not so sure given the recent trends but right now Obama is on the defense everywhere.

This could get ugly for him (and beautiful for Romney).

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It’s something my business partner put together and it allows you to make your predictions for the race and post them to faceebook and Twitter. You can make multiple predictions as the race changes and the country becomes a sea of red.

You can get <a href=””>the Android version here.</a> iPhone and iPad versions are coming soon.

There’s Nothing To Learn From The Aurora, CO Shooter

In the wake of a horrendous crime like that in Aurora, CO it’s inevitable some will use it as “a teachable moment” to push their pet cause. The simple fact is this is an isolate and rare even (which is part of why it’s so shocking in the first place).  It’s an unimaginable personal tragedy for those effected but it’s not illuminating on society at large.

Evil or sick people (or a combination of the two) have always existed and will always exist. This is simply reality. A gun may be their tool of choice (or not, Timothy McVeigh didn’t use a gun)  and a movie may be the excuse they give for their their evil but they would find another way or another excuse. Sick and/or evil people always do.

As for the people who want to make this into a crusade against guns, if you really want to do something about death caused by a tool used improperly, spend time on “Car Control” laws. Far more people die every year in car crashes (32,310)  than by gunshot (12,179)

So spare me the calls for stricter gun laws or placing the blame on movies. We can’t childproof the world as if it were a living room and each of us no more than a helpless toddler. Nor should we try to. Bad things can and do happen every day. It’s life.

What we can learn from this senseless carnage is that there are heroes all around us and people we cross paths with on a daily basis lead quite but extraordinary lives.

What we are reminded of is no one is promised tomorrow. It’s a scary truth that for most of our lives lurks in the background because if we thought about it all the time, we’d probably not be able to function in our daily lives. Some might be inspired but many would be paralyzed.

So some will use this terrible night to further their own pet causes, some will have had their lives torn to pieces never to be the same again and the vast majority of us will focus on it for a day or two and then go about our lives. It may sound cold but that’s as it should be. It’s how we are built, it’s how we cope. Any attempts to make something bigger out of it for people not directly affected is simply using the pain of people who are directly involved and it’s disgusting.

A Liberal’s Love Affair With Government Ignores Reality

Ron Pearlstein writes for the Washington Post and he loves him some big government. His hook for this argument is that a private contract lifeguard was fired by the contractor for rescuing someone outside of his assigned zone in violation of company policy.

After acknowledging that there are some benefits to outsourcing, Peralstein attacks the practice for its supposed downsides.

There is, however, an important trade-off that is made by outsourcing that contractors reflexively deny but is inherent in any firm that derives its competitive advantage from having carefully constructed systems for doing just about everything.

It is these systems — the rules, the procedures, in effect the operational software — that allow companies to take relatively low-skilled, low-paid workers with relatively little experience and have them do tasks that were once done by people with higher skills, higher pay and more experience. And it is the very nature of these systems that workers are discouraged, if not prohibited, from exercising their own discretion. Their only job is to follow rules, stick to the script and leverage the experience and expertise that are embedded in the system.

If you want discretion and judgment, if you want workers who really understand and relate to customers, if you want the flexibility necessary to respond to individual needs or unforeseen circumstances, then you can go back to paying twice as much to have your own, longtime employees doing the work. That’s the outsourcing trade-off. It may be a good trade-off — most of the time I suspect it is. But it is an unavoidable trade-off, no matter how good the contractors or their systems.

You can see how this process bifurcates labor markets and increases income inequality. At the low end are the low-cost expendable cogs. At the high end are those whose experience and intelligence and training allow them to demand very good salaries for designing, creating and managing these systems. There’s not much in between — or even much of a ladder for getting from one to the other.

So clearly if the lifeguard on duty had been a high paid, government worker represented by a public employee union, this terrible situation would never have happened. The man would have been saved and the lifeguard would still have his job.

Or you know, not.

A 50-year-old man waded into the San Francisco Bay, stood up to his neck and waited. A Coast Guard boat couldn’t get into the shallow water, and fire crews said they couldn’t rescue him because of a policy that strictly forbade such attempts.

Finally, a witness went in after him, pulling his lifeless body from the bay.

“We expected to see at some point that there would be a concern for him,” another witness, Gary Barlow, told KGO-TV.

Alameda officials said Tuesday they’ll change the island city’s water rescue policy after the apparently suicidal man died in the 54-degree water.

Interim Fire Chief Mike D’Orazi called Monday’s incident troubling and said he directed staff to write a new policy that would allow commanders at the scene to attempt a water rescue in Alameda, a city of about 75,000 people across the bay from San Francisco.

So Mr. Pearlstein, who exactly is handicapped by “the rules, the procedures, in effect the operational software”?

It seems to me that the supposedly low paid, private sector worker knew that there was a time and a place to disobey the rules even if it meant he’d pay a price. The highly paid government workers were so slavishly devoted to their negotiated work rules they literally stood by and watched a man die.

Now are large companies rule bound? Sure but there are reasons for that.

First, we live in a litigious society. Everyone is trying to cover their ass and avoid being bankrupted by a huge judgement. Reform the tort system and you’ll see a easing of these kinds of rules.

Second, higher pay doesn’t ensure higher quality service. The Alameda, CA example shows that. More to the point though the jobs Pearlstein points to are low skill and often entry level. Just because you pay people more doesn’t mean they will provide a better work product. People who start out in those kind of jobs who show an aptitude for more challenging work are promoted and get more responsibility and freedom. It’s simply wouldn’t be worth the cost in money, training or time to find hundreds or thousands of skilled people to do a job that simply doesn’t require those skills. It’s a fact of life and economics.

Now as bad as you think some corporate services are, can you think of many better interactions you have had with government workers? And when you don’t like the service you get from a private source, you can always go to their competitor. When the government grinds to a halt and makes your life miserable, you have no recourse.