The 21rst century in urban America has been a decade in which we have seen daily life grow more problematic for most people. In addition to the macro problems of security against terrorism, economic distress, unemployment, downturn in the housing market, overcrowding in public schools, rising cost of college tuition and health care, there have been numerous “smaller” problems, only in the sense that they don’t affect as large a swath of the population. These include the rapid growth in the rate of autism and learning disabilities, ADHD in the adult population, bullying and obesity as problems serious enough for presidential attention, sexting, harassment and other cyber/abuses achieving levels of criminality and the proliferation of support groups to include almost all imaginable deviations or afflictions. Though this last item may not be a problem in itself, it reflects how many types of behavior are now classified as meriting help. In other words, our lives have been framed in terms of dysfunction and distress. Selfish people are narcissists; promiscuous people are sex addicts; moody people are bi-polar and sadness has become depression. These are not easy times to be alive.
In war speed is of the essence as the enemy always develops counter measures. So, while the world is pontificating about the amazing power of “social media” Evgeny Morozov explains dictators develop not only increasingly effective counter measures but new sophisticated ways to distribute their own propaganda:
In 1972, I was a youth pastor and speaker to young people freshly assigned to the Seattle area as my new area of ministry. When I arrived there, I knew no one. I felt a stranger in a strange land. I was looking for inspiration and direction. I was a bit lost. Little did I know my life and my level of faith was about to dramatically change. God led me to a young man named Wes Johnson whose mother was unlike anyone I had ever encountered in my lifetime. If you have ever wondered what the phrase means, “A gift from God,” I can tell you from the essence of my heart that it became real on a Tuesday afternoon just before dinner time in mid-September.
Last Monday marked the one-year anniversary of the death of Arthur “Jibby” Jibilian, the WWII O.S.S. radioman who risked his life in Operation Halyard to help rescue more than 500 U.S. pilots who were shot down over Yugoslavia. This was done with brave assistance from the Tuskegee Airmen. The operation was part of the largest WWII rescue from behind enemy lines, and since it couldn’t have happened without the Serbs, the story has been suppressed and remains largely unknown to Americans.
Last Saturday, I spent a day examining the archeological discoveries displayed in the University of Pennsylvania exhibit Secrets of the Silk Road and listening to an analysis in the accompanying symposium Reconfiguring the Silk Road: New Research on East-West Exchange in Antiquity. It was a controversial exhibit. The Chinese government almost canceled it shortly before it opened and then curtailed its duration. The speakers were careful not to say anything that could annoy the Chinese or hurt their own and their Chinese collaborators’ future work. As I listened to the learned discussions I kept asking myself what was it about these mummies that so upset Chinese autocrats? Sorry, but I do not buy the notion that middle level bureaucrats acted on their own.
In the news this week, as journalists around the imploding Middle East are being detained, beaten, raped and shot at, a producer for Dan Rather complained to the Associated Press that his crew was “harassed and humiliated” by Israeli security officials.
I wasn’t even looking for this. I just went to the ISAF website to see whether the grossly underreported weekend murders of two American soldiers (and shootings of four others) by an Afghan security contractor — again — was considered newsy enough to post by the official powers that be. “The slayings bring to nine the number of U.S. soldiers who have been killed by rogue Afghan security force members, whether uniformed or private security contractors, in the past two months,” NBC reports.
The good thing about retired diplomats, press secretaries and other high-level drones or operatives serving seditious Western leaders is that they eventually publish memoirs. What happens in the telling, as they glorify their quiet but powerful roles behind the scenes, is that they casually expose their lies, sometimes without even realizing that’s what they’re doing. For example, after telling the world that the Serbs were the problem, in his book the belatedly late Richard Assholbrooke directly contradicts that notion when he describes Bosnian wartime president Izetbegovic’s nasty disposition and war-making in contrast to Slobodan Milosevic’s affable peace-making. That’s not my assessment; it’s Assholbrooke’s. In his book To End a War, which should have been called To End a War After Starting It.
Transcript of Phone Interview with Sergeant Edi (Edward) Itelman 22.03.11Edi: I’m a paramedic in the army. My base is located 10 minutes from Itamar. So, Friday night, approx. 1:00 AM, I get a call that there has been a terrorist penetration in Itamar and I should come there because there are wounded. There’s a special code in the army, it was used and it meant someone’s in the village in Itamar and there’s a terrorist attack right this moment. So I take my crew, me, another medic and our driver, and we take the ambulance to Itamar.
Gilbert Gottfried was never my cup of tea. I prefer the cool paradoxes of Steven Wright, say, to Gottfried’s squinty, barking dog comic routine, though he was funny in the delightfully filthy documentary “The Aristocrats.”
The Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Paul Ryan, made a stunning comment this week that got very little attention. He said that the non-partisan number crunchers at the Congressional Budget Office have a computer model that simulates our economy going forward. The model indicates that if we keep spending as we are, without significant cuts and entitlement reform, our economy will crash in 2037. Ryan went on the say that the CBO computer model cannot conceive of any way in which the economy continues after such a collapse.
Aside from the monumental crush of people tragically killed or missing in Japan, there were some other off-putting numbers to consider in this week’s news. Let’s start with the man who killed a NYC cop while he was being apprehended in a domestic violence episode. George Villanueva has a record of 30 prior arrests, has been reported 20 times for domestic violence, has been imprisoned 3 times for burglary. What more is necessary to keep a man with this profile out of circulation?
Just when you are ready to give up, something renews your hope. I have always had a soft spot for Turkey but, recently, it took an Islamist, anti-American, anti-Israeli turn. Given Turkish tendency to muzzle the press, it took exceptional for Turkish Hurriyet Daily News columnist, BURAK BEKDİL to write, You shall not kill!
Japan is down. It is really from Three days ago, President Obama vowed to stand by its longtime ally Japan. Today, the press is filled with American criticism of Japanese handling of the nuclear emergency. So, how does Obama stand by an longtime ally? By undermining its government credibility and sowing fear amongst its population. To paraphrase the great Augustus, “It is better to be Obama’s pig, than his ally.”
Remember when it took President Obama three months to decide on the surge in Afghanistan? It took him forever, despite the fact that a military review had been ongoing, he had campaigned for two years on increasing U.S. support there, and had been president for months before he had even begun to conduct his own “review.” In other words, he knew what the drill was and had stated repeatedly his support for such a surge, and yet it still took him months on end to decide.
Let’s be honest, no one is ready to be the president of the United States. The job is too big and the demands too unpredictable. But, some candidates are more ready than others and yes, when push comes to shove, it does make a difference as the failed Obama presidency is making more and more clear each passing day. No Democrat will have the gall to challenge the first Black American president in the manner Ted Kennedy challenged Jimmy Carter. So, it is crucial that Republicans put up a candidate who not only can win the presidency but has the ability to mend the damage the Obama presidency inflicted on the country. Since recent events high lighted yet again the intimate ties between freedom and American capabilities, Republicans have a moral obligation to appoint an experienced manager committed to rebuilding the nation’s economic and strategic might.
Amidst pervasive, and mostly justified, pessimism about a political settlement in the Middle East, one beacon stands out: Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem. Established before Israel was a country, Hadassah is a place where Arab doctors treat Jewish patients, and Jewish doctors treat Arab patients. As such, it is a living, functioning reminder that the values of the Hippocratic Oath are indeed transcendent.
If you’re not someone who goes out of your way to find news of interest to Jews and Israel, you may not have heard about it, but Palestinian terrorists on Friday snuck into a Jewish family’s home and stabbed to death both parents and three young children – one of them an infant.
The president should declare that he would sign a bill that contains substantial additional budget cuts — but only if it sets a trigger that activates them automatically after the unemployment stays at or below 7 percent for six months.