Friday, January 26, 2007

Cutting off your head to save aspirin

A quick couple of things today.

First, as predicted, the Jewish left is getting on the bandwagon of a deal with Syria to outflank Hizbollah and Iran.

In the latest weekly Forward newspaper, Martin von Creveld, a professor of military history at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, says Israel should pursue a deal with Syria in order to cut off a route for materiel for the Lebanon-based terror group. The argument is that without Syria, there would be no axis of terror in that region.

Of course, von Creveld says in passing, Israel would have to give up the Golan Heights. But, so what, he says. Israel may better be able to defend itself without the heights. Since there is a lot of space for military maneuvering on the heights and only a couple of roads off them, he says, any Syrian attempt to invade Israel would necessarily fail.

Of course, Syria has no helicopters or paratroopers to circumvent such a strategy.

In any case, giving back the heights will cut out much of Israeli's burgeoning wine industry, as well as tourism. And the blood spilled in 1967 to get the region. Just look at the history of what Israel has gotten for its land concessions:
-- for giving back the Sinai, a cold peace with Egypt;
-- for giving up Gaza, rockets and attacks.
-- for giving up most of the West Bank, recriminations, bombings, rocket attacks.

Giving up the Golan Heights to weaken Iran and other terror entities is like cutting off your head to prevent headaches and save aspirin. It may work, but at what cost.

Seinfeld the Commission Nazi

On another front: Don't you love irony. More of it has come from the cast of the former Seinfeld show.

It seems a court in New York has told Jerry Seinfeld he must pay $100,000 to his ex-real estate agent in finding the comedian a Manhattan home.

The agent, who is a Sabbath-observing Jew, was not available one Saturday to show the place to Seinfeld because she had shut off her phone and didn't answer his call one Saturday. Sabbath-observing Jews don't talk on the phone that day. So, the impatient Seinfeld went to the home without the agent and cut a deal with the owner. He turned into the Commission Nazi (as in the Soup Nazi, a running character on the Seinfeld show). The Soup Nazi, when he was upset at a customer, would say, "No soup for you." So, Seinfeld, the Commission Nazi said, "No Commission for You."

The courts saw it another way. Seinfeld had signed an agreement with the real estate agent and had to fork over the $100,000 commission, even it was not convenient, the court said.

What's the irony?

Seinfeld, who is Jewish, was ready to gyp a fellow Jew out of a six-figure commission because she had the gall to keep the Sabbath. Here's a Jew who apparently thought acting Jewish was inconvenient. But when the fellow Seinfeld actor Michael Richards, who played Kramer on the show, was nailed for racist comments in California, he said he felt Jewish, as if that would be helpful.

The non-Jew who conveniently feels Jewish and the Jew who apparently doesn't want to deal with someone who acts Jewish because it's not convenient.

Hence the delicious irony.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A little sadness about Bellhorn

It seems that Mark Bellhorn, who helped the Boston Red Sox win the World Series, has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

That makes me a little sad to read that inThe New York Times transactions listing.

Bell, who only played for the Sox in 2004 and part of 2005, was an exciting part of the bearded and long-haired group of outlaw cowboys who recorded the comeback in postseason history. They also, as you no doubt remember, forced the New York Yankees, the Evil Empire otherwise known as the Filthy Swine, into the biggest choke in sports history.

Look, I know Bell was hardly a superstar. He struck out a lot. I mean a lot, and sometimes at the worst times. But he was a good infielder, especially in light of how the Sox did at second base after his departure. He had 138 hits in 138 games that year, but struck out 177 times.

But he made it exciting. He hit two home runs in the Yankees series and one in the World Series, where he batted .300. You never knew which Bell would step up to the plate, but he always was a dependable, and sometimes spectacular, fielder.

It's just a little sad that he's now in the minors.

It's also a little sad that an august columnist for The New York Times had nothing better to do than say that all Sox fans aren't the brightest bulbs in the lamp.

Murray Chass had made a lame joke a week or so ago that since San Francisco hasn't signed Barry Bonds and the Red Sox haven't signed J.D. Drew, then maybe a trade might be possible. The Sox would get Bonds, move him into left field and move Manny Ramirez into right.

Well, a couple of guys didn't get that it was a joke, got upset and sent e-mails. Look, I've been practicing journalism for night onto 40 years (yes, yes, still practicing and one day I'll get it right) and I know that you can get little of no reaction from an investigation that puts the mayor in jail, but some throwaway line will come back and bite you in the (this column is rated PG so I won't say where it will bite you). But is it worth another column? I guess for Murray, who is hardly a Sox fan, it is.

He led the column with the following: "You would think that when the Red Sox won the 2004 World Series, it would have liberated their fans, enabled all of them to smile and laugh."

Well, Murray, perhaps after the 2006 season, the Best Team Money Can Buy would be happy and laughing, but not the Sox. We have tasted Victory and We Want More.

Look, my friend, I know how tough it cab be to come up with a sports column a couple two three times a week. After all, there's nothing going on except the Super Bowl, the NBA all-star game, hockey season, pitchers and catchers in a few weeks, Beckham coming to the U.S. to play soccer...nothing going on.

But a whole column about a flat joke? Surely, you jest.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Let's not lose this health-care bonus

In his State of the Union talk, President Bush talked about his health-care proposal.

He was putting forth an idea that giving people who didn't have insurance tax breaks if they insured themselves would decrease the number of people without health-insurance coverage.

Before commenting on the whole proposal, one should see it fleshed out. On the surface, it just seems like another whitewash. Give a taxpayer a deduction of $15,000 per family for buying insurance. The president said nothing about what they would pay for the insurance.

There would also be a deduction for the person who got insurance coverage at work. I thought I heard flying by a proposal that the deduction would be for the person who gave up the coverage at work and went into the marketplace to buy insurance.

I hope I'm wrong.

This plan fails for one obvious reason and one, maybe more important, that's not so obvious.

The obvious reason is that there is no way that the person would come out on top financially.

Let's say you're a person paying 28 percent tax. Your saving would be about $4,200.

Unless you have a lousy plan, your boss kicks in more than that yearly for your coverage. If your premiums are taken out pretax, one would think you already get a tax break on them.

Although the plan may work for the uninsured or under insured, it doesn't seem like a financial boon for those getting insurance at work.

Now for the part that's not so obvious.

If you would be dealing directly with the insurance company, then you would be dealing in all things directly with the insurance company.

If your personnel or human services or whatever they're called is anything north of brain dead, you have an advocate in dealing with the insurance company, especially if you work for a big firm. The insurance company, not wanting to lose the account, will listen to your HR people.

For example, many years ago, I had a health-care provider who didn't like the amount the insurance company was paying for a particular service. So, the provider sent me a bill for the difference between what she thought she should be receiving and what the insurance company was kicking in.

After talking with her and getting nowhere, I brought my complaint to the HR department of my firm. The HR person called the insurance company and explained the situation. At 110 decibels.

The insurance company quickly sent a letter to the provider saying that any more such instances and the provider would be fired from the network. Since the insurer was huge, that was a real threat.

No further bills or statements were forthcoming.

You need an advocate when dealing with insurance companies, especially these days. The government has not shown itself to be that kind of advocate.

I hope I'm wrong about the president's proposal. If the president wanted to propose something like this, he should, as my grandfather liked to say, wrap it in tissue paper and toss it in the garbage.

If he does propose it, you should go out and oppose it. When you do, say hi to the guy next to you.

That'd be me.

Congress must stand up to Bush on Iraq

"This is not the fight we entered in Iraq, but it is the fight we are in," the president of the United States said Tuesday night (Jan. 23, 2007).

He was talking about the war in Iraq. He was confessing that the fight was not going as well as he had said, some analysts said. There was a sadness about the speech, almost a pleading. Please give the latest Iraq strategy a chance to work. Please work with me.

The smirk was gone, the smirk that George W. Bush wore in the first six years of his presidency, and the time before that as governor of Texas (please see the blog entry We Should Have Known).

The reason was numbers. There were more Democrats than Republicans in the Congress and even some Republicans would be indicating that his last chance for new strategies in Iraq had come and gone.

I remember 1968, when such a time came, during the Vietnam War, to the then-sitting president, Lyndon Baines Johnson.

There a many similarities. They're both from Texas. They both got us into a war on made-up grounds -- the Gulf of Tonkin resolution about a fake attack on a U.S. ship near Vietnam, and the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

There was a lot of talk about dominoes, fight them there or fight them on the streets of Chicago and Des Moines. There was talk about a great generals who knew how to win. That morphed into peace with honor, about never losing a war, about not running from our duty to the regime in power, no matter how ineffectual and corrupt.

The main difference, of course, is in Vietnam, we got in the middle of somebody else's civil war and in Iraq, we created the civil war.

There are also some differences between Bush and Johnson. Johnson escalated somebody else's war. American involvement in Vietnam started slowly under President Eisenhower and picked up some steam under President Kennedy. The Iraq war as all Bush, father and son.

Johnson's part in the war ended with is famous declaration. "Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your president."

It will not end that way with Bush. The only to halt the constant stream of strategies, followed by a constant stream of dead and wounded Americans, is for Congress, in its new majority, to put a stop to it. That's what the American people want.

If I thought for one moment that this end to the Iraq war would be harmful to Israel, I would oppose an end to our involvement.

The only thing we are ending here is a mistake. Military experts for centuries have warned about armies invading cities and getting lost in them. Those new Americans sent to Baghdad will get lost in it, just as we have become lost in this nightmare of failed strategies.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Fixing blame for the hurry-ups

On this grey, depressing day, it's good to have a little fun.

First of all, those who have been reading these rantings and sometimes ravings will notice a small bug above my profile. I've been invited to join the Major League Baseball blog and have accepted. Now you can read my stuff in two places, especially my take on baseball. That will start about the same time as pitchers and catchers start to report for spring training.

After all, football season ended about 10 p.m. on Jan. 21, 2007, with the horrible defeat of the New England Patriots by the lucky Indianapolis Colts and their friends, the officials.

So, now comes baseball season, although it will be strange to see the Boston Red Sox play without Trot Nixon out in right field. Kapler's gone, although he's still with the organization as a minor-league manager. At least we still have Manny Ramirez, although Manny's like a cat. With a cat, you don't own him as you own a dog, he just puts up with you because you feed him.

And of course, Big Poppy (designated hitter David Ortiz, for those who have been in a cave for the past years), wonderful third-baseman Mike Lowell and pitchers Kurt Schilling and Jon Papelbon and Tim Wakefield have stayed put.

Boy, am I looking forward to this year after the missed-it-by-this-much football season.

Anyway, as Arlo Guthrie says, that's not what I came to talk about.

I came to talk about time.

Everybody's in a hurry. I'm no exception. I stew if my trusty (?) computer takes more that a nano-second to get up a screen or move to a new file.

On television, there's a silly commercial from Target that says "I want it and I want it NOW." Those harmful commercials about all kinds of medicine say that you get relief right now, not in seconds but right now.

I've been thinking about it, and I've decided on what's to blame.

Digital timepieces.

That's right -- digital watches, clocks, time indicators in your VCRs, microwave ovens, on your stove tops, in your cars (and mine.).

Think about it. Years ago, before digital timepieces, you ask someone the time, they tell you it's about 6:30, or about quarter to nine or close to noon.

Now, it's 5:47, or the one I like the best, about 5:47:30.

Before these blinking and staring numbers came about, were we so worried about time. Sure, if you had a train or plane to catch, or you had to punch a time clock, you had to worry. But for everything else, so what. Movies didn't start at 6:08. They started at 6 or 6:15 or 6:30 and nobody worried about the few minutes in between.

Then came digital watches. I remember my first Timex digital watch. It cost $35 in the early 1970s, when you could get a good analog ( you know, the kind with hands) for $5.00. I kept looking at it. And I developed a mania for timeliness that still haunts me. My wife's philosophy on time drives me nuts: if you leave home before you're due at your destination, you're not late.

I try to fight this mania by being late when possible, but I'm conflicted by it.

So, you would say, this guy has to have a simple watch with hands and maybe a sweep second hand.

Are you kidding? I wear a Seiko digital that my mother-in-law gave me 23 years ago. Keeps great time.

To the thousands of a second.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

So what else is new?

The New York Times today (Jan. 17, 2007) ran a story about talks between Israel and Syria, or more correctly, between Israelis and Syrians.

It ran on an inside page deep in the international report, which is where it belonged.

The piece, typical of the New York Times bias, told about the fact that there were talks, and that no government officials on either side were involved. Both governments issued non-denial denials that would have made the Nixon White House proud. If you don't know what a non-denial denial is, read All the President's Men.

First of all, I don't believe for a minute that these were private talks. People who do private talks like this want recognition, like the Israeli idiots who cooked up the Geneva talks of 2003. These guys worked in secret. Government talks work in secret.

Be that as it may, the Times story told about the talks, the history of the Golan Heights and how Israel came to acquire it, some small stuff about how important it is go Israel, like most of its wine crop and a lot of tourism (Israel gave back oil wells to Egypt, but never, never should give back vineyards on the heights.)

It also talked about what Syria would get out of this deal -- the heights in five to 15 years. It didn't talk about what Israel would get. There wasn't anything to talk about, because, like most of these deals, Israel got nothing.

It's like the father in those cell-phone spots on television. The kids get fancy Internet gadgets. And as the father says: "What did dad get? Dad got hosed."

Israel got hosed in those deals. Oh, yeah, Syria agreed to normal diplomatic relations. Big deal.

That's the New York Times bias. Israel is supposed to give and give and get back nothing except promises. And those promises turn into bombs and bullets because of some imagined slight.

But according to the Times, Israel isn't supposed to get anything back. It's just supposed to give and give in exchange for some mumbles that are promises (thanks, Paul Simon).

It's getting a little old. Syria should keep its promises.

And Israel should keep the Golan.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Surprised? Not me

Israel and Syria were holding secret talks about the Golan Heights.

Was anyone surprised? Not me.

I would have been surprised if they hadn't been talking. I would be surprised if Israel isn't holding talks this minute with Iran, Saudi Arabia and particularly the Emirates.
You see, in the Middle East, nothing is on the surface. Nothing is as advertised.

Nobody walks into a shop, sees the price on an item he or she wants to buy, and pays the price. Nobody but Americans and Brits, that is.

I remember being in a shop on Ben Yehuda Street in Jerusalem, haggling over some item. The practice took more than an hour. I was having a good time and the owner was, too.

Then an American couple comes in, sees a menorah, plunks down the price, and walks out with their prize. The shop owner smiled. He had made triple his expected profit. In the Middle East, if you pay more than 30 to 40 percent of the asking price, you got hosed. Nobody expects any more. Some shopkeepers consider it an insult for someone not to take the time to haggle.

Haggling usually consists of two sides taking opposite positions. Israel offers too little, Syria asks too much. As long as both sides know they're haggling, it's fine.

When the Americans come in, don't understand what's going on and then insult both sides by issuing statements saying Israel and Syria are being unreasonable -- that's when the trouble starts.

So let them alone. They know what they're doing. They know the rules of the game, even if Candi Rice doesn't.

And don't be surprised if leaks develop every now and again, like the one about talks between Israel and Syria.

Another thing about the Middle East, especially in Israel: Nobody knows how to keep the mouth shut.

Following up, catching up

Every now and again, it becomes time to follow up on some previous issues.

First of all, it is gratifying to see that James Earl Carter Jr. is not getting away with the libel, blood and otherwise, that he created with his book.

Many organizations including Honest Reporting, the Israel Project, CAMERA, the ADL and others, including honest non-Jewish commentators, have spoken out against these lies. People have quit his organization, the Carter Center, and 14 members of that group's board have quit, saying Carter is no longer an honest broker but an advocate for the Palestinians.

It's particularly gratifying since this center and his Habitat for Humanity (humanity but never Israel) are his legacy. That legacy is getting the muddying it deserves. Keep up the good work.

In a previous blog, called Love Letter to Joe Lieberman, I urged Connecticut's junior senator to look to his own house because of complaints about a lack of responsiveness by his staff to constituent concerns.

Today (Jan. 16, 2007) I had a long conversation with Clarine Nardi Riddle, Lieberman's chief of staff. It seems Joe read my letter (the blog entry was a copy of the letter I sent to Joe, hence the title) and asked Ms. Riddle to inquire.

To those who may read this and are not familiar with Ms. Riddle, she was, among other things, the attorney general of Connecticut, a judge and associate counsel in New Haven. She said one of her main concerns was constituent service, so my cavail was particularly troubling.

Well, she listened to me and told me how many pieces of e-mail and snail mail they get a day (thousands, as you might expect) and that each one is answered. I told her that the vast majority of responses I got while campaigning were positive. She appreciated that, but said the few negatives were still troubling. She said there was little staff and that things fall through the cracks, like a letter I had written inviting Joe to a toast dinner I know he would have wanted to attend had he known about it.

To her credit, she said she traced the letter and admitted it was mishandled.

She also asked that anyone with similar complaints should let her know.

There's a e-mail creator on Lieberman's Web page Use it. That's how my letter got in front of Joe.

I also want to say I was a little harsh in my entry telling Lieberman to shut up. I didn't mean it literally. He shouldn't. But he should rethink his Iraq stance. Enough is enough.

On another matter, there was a piece in the New York Times sports section saying the New England Patriots were wrong in celebrating their win in San Diego.


First of all, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. And for the Pats to copy the victory dance of that Charger defenseman, is flattery. And if it's not, then the Chargers need to shut up and play better next time.

And for the Pats who went over the the MVP of everything (is that like the king of all media?) and said they were sorry for celebrating because he's such a classy guy, PUL-EEZE. You won. They didn't. Nuff said.

On a more serious note, Condoleezza Rice has gotten the prime minister of Israel and the president of the Palestinian Entity to say they will meet.

No comment until they do, if they do. I don't predict the future.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Others who need to shut up, after Carter

How about those Patriots.

My son-in-law and I sat there Sunday night (Jan. 14, 2007) and watched the impossible happen. The Patriots, after three quarters of mediocre football, beat what had been called the best team in football by keeping their cool.

And then, like other teams, especially the San Diego Chargers, they celebrated.

And thus, the first guy who needs to shut up.

LaDainian Tomlinson, the most valuable everything who admittedly is a pretty good football player, had to open his big mouth.

How dare the Pats celebrate in his house.

A couple of points. Number 1: That's the price you pay when you host games. You run the risk of losing and the team who beat you will celebrate on your lawn. The St. Louis Cardinals had to watch the Boston Red Sox dance on their lawn in 2004 for not just a lousy playoff game, but for the whole World Series and for not winning one since 1918.

Second point, you call yourself a classy guy who would never do that. Well, you didn't get a chance to find out. My son, I am sure you are a stand-up guy and are quite good to all and sundry who interact with you. But, you made a bad error . You believe your publicity. And your teammates believe your publicity, which means they may not play as hard as they might otherwise. It's a team sport. There are 11 guys on the field, dozens of others off the field and if even one of them lets down because you are such a great player, well, you lose.

So, let me react to your complaint about the Pats dancing on your lawn.


Speaking of people who need to shut up -- the refs near the end of that game.

They penalized the Pats for taking off their helmets in celebration after the failed final field goal try. With eight seconds to go. For Pete's sake (as in Roselle), nuff is nuff. Get a life, fellas. You posted enough bad calls, like calling a touchdown when the ball had squirted out of the Charger player's hands. Really.

Enough about the game.

Another person who needs to shut up is Joe Lieberman.

Really, Joe, I love you and all, but have we not learned anything about this bunch of losers who are running Iraq. Another bad hanging. The guy's head popped off, for crying out loud.

I know when you were was on "Meet the Press" on Sunday banging the drum for the president's plan to send 20-some odd thousand more Americans to try to shore up the weak, ineffectual, corrupt government in Iraq, the hanging had not yet taken place.

But Joe, what makes you think throwing more troops into the maw will make a difference? Did we not learn from Vietnam, when the DLBO (ask any Vietnam combat vet what that means) scattered and the Americans had to do the fighting. And more troops didn't improve the odds, just raised the U.S. body count.

The only difference between Iraq and Vietnam is that in Vietnam, we walked into the middle of somebody else's civil war. In Iraq, we, that is Bush and his minions, started the civil war.

I know you are trying to find a solution that will help the greater middle east and ultimately help Israel. That's got to be your goal. But do you really think that by throwing more U.S. troops into the mix while those allies who are still there, like Britain, pull out, we will accomplish this goal?

You know the truth. You are too smart not to. The guys who attacked us live in Afghanistan, not Iraq. They have moved into Iraq to take advantage of the chaos we caused. We need to go to Afghanistan and root them out, the real guys who attacked New York and Arlington, Va. We haven't got the guys to do both.

Look, the war will eventually end up as the Iranians and southern Iraqis (Shia) versus the Saudis and Qataris and the rest of these oil rich guys (Sunnis). Watch the first half of "Lawrence of Arabia." One tribe against the other. The late Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York had it right when he said we are paying for the mistakes after World War I. The British and French carved up the Middle East with no regard for tribal territories. They gave pieces to their allies. Then they have a quarter-piece to the Jews and have been trying to take it away ever since, but that's another story.

So, let's let these guys fight it out. We weren't much affected by the Iran-Iraq war. The price of gas will go up. Big deal. There are far too many SUVs on the road already. Bush has paid back his father's pals enough for bailing him out of the oil and baseball fiascos he got himself into in Texas (see We Should Have Known, December 2006.)

Back to the stooges who are running Iraq. Like a dumb and slightly crooked brother-in-law, these guys are giving us a bad name.

Look, just like Saddam, this guy who was hanged and had his head popped off needed killing. But if these idiots in Iraq can't hang people correctly, then why not shoot them or blow them up?

Those guys have proven they're really good at that.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Chris Dodd, get serious

I suppose it was inevitable.

Chris Dodd today (Jan. 11, 2007) announced his candidacy for his party's nomination to be president of the United States. The announcement often sets the tone for a aspirant's campaign.

Let's see. He announced it on the steps of the U. S. Capitol, with his family at his side. Uh, no.

He announced it on the steps of the Connecticut Old State House in Hartford or at the Connecticut Capitol with his family at his side. Uh, no.

He announced it at the graveside of his father, whom he followed into the Senate and who was one of the first, if not the first, senator hounded from office by the press (as a journalist, I'm not proud of that one), with his family at his side. Uh, no.

He did it on the radio. OK, it's an electronic medium and there's no need for cameras turning the event into a circus. So he went on public radio, or we went on a serious discussion show to make the announcement. Uh, no.

He did it on the Imus in the Morning program. J. Donald Imus. . Wears a cowboy hat. Yells a lot. Shock jock.

Well, at least we can say two things. It wasn't on Howard Stern with two girls experiencing the Orgazmatron in the background. And Don Imus is, after all, a Connecticut resident.

So, this is why he stabbed Joe Lieberman in the back. I knew there had to be a good reason. Screw your buddy by not only endorsing but doing commercials for Ned Lamont's Senate campaign.

I guess the Democrats, led by the Vermont Screamer Dr. Howard Dean, wouldn't have let him run unless he kissed Dean's ring (this is a PG-rated blog) and backed Dean's hand-picked candidate.

There was a poll reported on the day Dodd announced. The top candidates, Hillary Rodham Clinton, Barak Obama, Al Gore, all were in double-figures and some lesser guys were in high singles and Chris Dodd was there. Just above "other", with an asterisk next to his name. That means he got less than half a point.

An asterisk. There are two good reasons to screw your fellow senator, a guy who has been nothing but up front his whole career. An asterisk and the chance to go on Imus in the Morning and announce your candidacy.

I hope it was worth it, Chris.

Bush didn't sacrifice Israel

Sorry I've been away. So much to do around the house. I also didn't want to predict the future by talking about what Bush would do or what the reaction would be. I'll leave that to Mitch McConnell.

So, now about Bush and, oh yeah, my new best friend, Chrissy Dudd.

If this doesn't make sense, don't worry about it. It makes sense to me.

Bush last night (Jan. 10, 2007) came out with his newest old idea about Iraq. I almost feel sorry for the Baker commission, that collection of has-beens who published their ideas about Iraq and were then ignored.

But I'm glad Bush didn't follow one of their 72 proposals (one for each virgin a Muslim fanatic gets to be with after blowing him or herself up).
That one would be let Israel take the pipe for the good of that collection of dictators and feudal lords that to whom we have hitched our wagon in the Middle East.

In the Baker report, and in an op-ed piece by Brent Scowcroft, the collection of has-beens who haven't had an original thought since before Papa Bush was in the White House, want Israel to again sacrifice itself for the common good of the sheiks, rattlers (as in snake) and high-rollers.

The idea went like this: If we could persuade Israel to lay down for a barrage of Scud missiles from Iraq during the 1991 war, maybe they'd do it again. We'll say that the only way to solve the Middle East problem is to make up a coalition of our friends in the region. And they'll be much more willing to kick in if Israel gave up to the Palestinians.

Give those guys what they want -- no matter that Israel has sacrificed many times (the Sinai, Gaza, 90 percent of the West Bank, much of its water and all of its oil reserves) and gotten nothing back for it except more bombs and shootings. And never mind that the Palestinians have made a world-class mess out of Gaza since the Israelis pulled out.

So, we can get the Jews to put their heads on the chopping block once again. Once the Palestinians have been placated, then Hamas and Hizbollah will just go away and all our Arab friends will be one big, happy family. And the Shia and the Sunnis will kiss and hug and all will be wonderful in Iraq. And Syria will suddenly blossom into another democracy, just like Lebanon.

Hey, it worked in 1991. It worked for Egypt, which got the Sinai and Sharm el-Sheikh back. And it worked for the Jordanians, who got half the water running in the former Jordan River, now the Jordan creek. It will work again. The guys running Israel now are not up to the standard of Arik Sharon or Yitzchak Rabin or even Bibi Netanyahu. Let's go for it.

Guys, you gotta know what kind of mushrooms you've got before you start eating them.

At least, Bush, in his mindless ramble last night, didn't stoop that low.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Love letter to Joe Lieberman

I sent the following letter to Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, I-Conn. today

Dear Joe:
First of all, congratulations on your new term. We all worked hard to reach this day and I know you and Hadassah are happy and satisfied with the way things came out, if not with some of the bumps along the way. Mazel Tov to you and your family.

One of the precepts of the Talmud, as you know, is that certain major issues such as belief in God and His commandments are taken for granted. All the arguments are about the little things, the how to do a thing rather than whether we should do it.

I feel the same way about you, Joe. I know you will do the big things, the important things well. Although we can argue about the war in Iraq, I know you have the good of both this nation and of Israel at heart, and will do the right thing in the end.

I now that, unlike Brent Scowcroft in the Times this morning, you do not advocate letting Israel bear the brunt of the solution to the broader Middle East crisis. Just like in 1991, Scowcroft and the rest of the elder Bush's cronies want Israel to take the bullet so that a coalition of Arabs could be formed, as if that is possible. I know you will not allow this to come about.

My problem with you is a smaller one. It is a matter of constituent care.

When I was leafleting and standing out for you in the general campaign, one of the complaints I heard most often is that your offices were unresponsive to citizens. Time and again, I heard the complaint of someone contacting your office in the district or in Washington and never hearing back from them. Two or three people were so incensed I thought they would start crying right there on the street.

I suffered a similar fate when I tried to get you to become involved in Rabbi David Avigdor's 25th anniversary dinner. Your people finally sent a letter, but even that took many, many calls and e-mails. My invitation, sent weeks in advance, was never acknowledged.

Recently, something happened again. The day after the election, I received a broadcast e-mail thanking me for my work and saying an invitation to your swearing-in would be forethcoming. I thought it might be fun, but nothing ever came and it slipped my mind until the end of December.

I sent an e-mail and an invitation came by return e-mail the next day, but by then it was too late to make arrangements . I asked why the invitation was never sent and was told the sponsors were in contact with some people in the district and the between-the-lines was that I wasn't important enough to worry about. That's probably true -- my work in the campaign and standing out in the rain (did you see my piece in the New Haven Independent about that?) probably had little to do with your win, but it's the principal.

Don't get me wrong -- Sue and I will live without attending the party. But it is important that you keep and eye on relations with your constituents, and impress upon your staff that this is one of the must important aspects of their jobs.

Sorry about the rant, Joe, but I needed to get this off my chest.

Again, congratulations on your swearing-in. Keep up the good work.
If there is anything I can do to help, please let me know. I mean that and I think I can be helpful. I'm not looking for a job, just perhaps a volunteer gig.

Leonard J. Honeyman

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Tribute to Teddy Kolleck

Theodor “Teddy” Kolleck died Tuesday. He was 95

We are all the poorer for it.

Kolleck was mayor of Jerusalem from 1965 until 1993 and was the Ed Koch of Israeli mayors. Everyone loved him.

He came to then-Palestine in 1935 from Austria, fleeing the Nazis. He and his family helped found Kibbutz Ein Gev, near the Sea of Galilee. He helped build the desert and swamp-infested place into the garden that Israel has become.

He’s one of the last of the Israeli pioneer leaders. David ben Gurion, Golda Meir, Moshe Dayan, Yitzchak Rabin and dozens of others who reclaimed the land are all gone and Arik Sharon lies in a hospital bed. The only one of the old guard left is Shimon Peres.

The world needs men like Teddy Kolleck, a man who built something wonderful out of nothing with little but guts and determination and a dream. His death is a tragedy not only for his family and Jerusalem and Israel, but for all people.

The shame is magnified because we are losing such people at a time when the world needs them almost as never before and there doesn’t seem to be many who are rising to take their place anywhere in the world. That is the reason all people should mourn the passing of a man such as Teddy Kolleck.

Shalom, Teddy.

Recipe for a happy new year

A happy new year to everybody who uses the Gregorian Calendar.

For those who use the Julian Calendar, the new year is still a few days off and for those of us who still use the Jewish, Islamic or Indian calendars, new year’s is a different date. But since both Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly have spent considerable time and trouble telling all and sundry that the majority of Americans are Gregorian-calendar-using Christians, and the majority can do whatever it wants, then this is indeed the start of the year.

This is the first year in decades that I don’t have to write or edit first-baby stories, or year-end stories or year-ahead stories. I hate prophesy stories. Isaiah and Jeremiah were good a prophesy. Journalists are not. Headline writers are even worse. I hate headlines that say: “Council to pass budget tonight.”

Therefore, you will get no words from me about what will happen next year, or even what we need.

Here are a few things we don’t need.

We don’t need any more scenes like last Saturday night in Iraq, with a bunch of idiots running around with a rope, anxious to hang Saddam Hussein. I don’t have any sympathy for Saddam – he deserved a much more painful death than he got. But we as Americans don’t need to be seen by the rest of the world as bit players in a Three Stooges movie.

We also don’t need to play any part in this tragedy that Iraq has become. Saddam is dead and George H.W. Bush is not and can now stick out his chest and say he’s the winner of the 1991 fight. We can now allow the Sunnis, to be led by the insurgents and backed by Syria and Saudi Arabia to duke it out with the Shiites, led by Iran.

I just hope the Kurds have the good sense to stay out of it. By their actions in northern Iraq, they do have the good sense. If Turkey will give them a break and some land, then Kurdistan an be molded from northern Iraq and northern Iran and a bit of Turkey. Then they can live their own lives and not bother anyone. And we can bring home our troops.

We should leave enough troops in Iraq to cover our pullout and then say good riddance to a bad idea. Don’t worry, Bushes, your companies can still buy oil from whomever wins the fight.

Other things we don’t need:

Chris Dodd, John Kerry and others who have little or no idea about Middle East negotiations, trotting off to Syria to encourage talks with the U.S. or Israel.
In the Middle East, little is as it seems. Can second and third level talks be going on among Syria, Israel, Jordan and Egypt while their leaders publicly say no to negotiations? Nobody who knows anything about the region would doubt that they could and probably are. What good will come of it? Who knows. Anyone who has successfully bargained in an Arab market or even an Israeli souvenir shop knows that talks take a long time and seldom if ever take a straight course.

We don’t need potential presidential aspirants muddying up the works. Kerry is a bull in a china shop and Dodd showed his true colors in his actions during Joe Lieberman’s independent run for Senate.

Much Jewish and Druze blood was spilled securing the Golan from Syria during the 1967 war. The area is the home to much agriculture, including a wonderfully growing wine industry. Israel isn’t going to give it back, anymore than the U.S. is going to give Arizona and California back to Mexico.

We don’t need more fools running around saying they feel Jewish.

Michael Richards, the comic who fell apart on stage and starting shouting racial slurs, tried to show his ties to minorities by saying he felt Jewish. He’s not Jewish. We don’t need any more friends like Richards. Jews have Mel Gibson to contend with and don’t need friends like Richards.

Let’s hope next year brings happiness, better news, some hope for political stability in the Middle East and elsewhere. Let’s hope the incoming House and Senate in Washington have the fortitude to make good laws and that there are enough Republicans on board to make this effort veto-proof.

Again, happy new year to all.