At a time Barack Obama celebrates the passage of a two month tax holiday extension after 2 years of failing to pass a budget, Israel’s finance minister’s attribution of Israel’s economic success to a move to a biannual budget should have a particular resonance in the US. Yuval Steinitz explained in an interview to the Times of India:
It has been a full year since the earth was relieved of the weight of one Richard Holbrooke this month last year, on December 13, 2010. I wanted to mark the one-year anniversary of his death since it is still many years before the world will recover from his life. While I feel I’ve already written apteulogies, some things came up afterwards, most notably a painful-to-read piece of praise in Jerusalem Post at the time by Israeli former UN ambassador Dore Gold, president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. Gold may be “one of the good ones,” as my philo-Semitic Italian friend puts it, but he is woefully wrong about what sort of man Holbrooke was.
To get an audience with a head of state, typically, one must have accomplished or been party to something of significance, and I guess that’s true with “Palestine,” too. It’s just that it seems that what qualifies as a significant achievement there diverges considerably from what most other cultures would find appropriate.
So, UNESCO, an arm of that failed experiment known as the United Nations that recently voted “Palestine” into its ranks as a full member, will bring to the Palestinians’ attention that they’re producing a children’s magazine that that glorifies Hitler.
The Washington Post just ran this thought-provoking piece on the Arab Spring by former Soviet dissident refusenik and Israeli Parliamentarian Natan Sharansky. As I wrote last spring, Recent upheavals across the mideast from Egypt to Tunisia to Syria can be viewed through the prism of Sharansky’s ideas on democracy and even as validation of them. But in the messy aftermath of these hopeful uprisings, some are questioning whether the Arab world can handle freedom. In this piece, Sharansky offers his thoughts.
1. After the latest GOP debate, the race is still Mitt Romney vs. Newt Gingrich, but the other candidates really helped themselves with strong, confident performances—with the exception of Ron Paul, who really hurt himself with his dovish answers on Iran, which revealed that he’s living in a bizarre, dangerous unreality.
For forty years, his passion was teaching Moby Dick. Mr. G was my high school English teacher and for six weeks each year, he would parse “The Great American Novel” with a obsession like that of one-legged Captain Ahab pursuing the Great White Whale. Our eyes glazed over as he attempted, vainly, to captivate us with Melville’s tedious digressions about Nantucket whaling villages. Undeterred, Mr. G forged on. In retrospect, his single-minded devotion was touching. At the time however, his fixation was the epitome of high school torture.
The latest polls of the Republican presidential field show Newt Gingrich holding on to and in some instances, expanding his lead over Mitt Romney. Romney still holds a commanding lead in New Hampshire, but it’s been dramatically cut by in-roads from Gingrich over the past few weeks. The other candidates are well behind, and while it’s possible that Ron Paul (who’s running in third place in many early contests) or someone else could score, it’s unlikely to hold as the primary process drags on.
I’ve often thought that reviewers should attend screenings in which the credits are withheld until after they have critiqued the film; perhaps there would be more honest responses if people didn’t know what big names were attached. Both the NY Times and the Wall Street Journal gave rave reviews to “Young Adult,” a confused film written by Diablo Cody and directed by Ivan Reitman, the winning duo of “Juno,” a very good previous movie which deserved all its accolades. In “Young Adult,” we start with a former prom queen, played by a far too beautiful Charlize Theron, who is clearly on her way down, fueling her descent with generous amounts of alcohol and self-deception. A childless, bitter divorcee at 37, she impulsively decides to return to Mercury, the small town where she once was the big fish, to recapture a gloried past, personified by her high school boyfriend, now married and a new father. Along the way, she meets the man who once occupied the school locker next to hers, now a crippled victim of a misguided hate crime who serves as her drinking buddy and her voice of clarity and conscience.
Today, addressing the Republican Jewish Coalition in Washington DC, Mitt Romney drew a clear contrast between his vision for America and that of President Barack Obama, stressing that “[Obama] is seeking to make a merit-based society into an entitlement society.”
In MSNBC ads, Rachel Maddow has been pointing to bridges and other public works as examples of the need for government. Private enterprise cannot produce the public goods we need, she says. Perhaps surprisingly, Newt Gingrich has long been making the very same case. More here.
When the young Tunisian burned himself in protest against authoritarian oppression and lack of economic justice, triggering massive demonstrations in this small North African country, commentators hesitated to coin the movement as an Arab Spring. It took months, and events exploding in Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria before the West coined the upheavals ”Arab Spring.” And as the movement was developing throughout the region the West was also unsure as to which direction these revolutions are going to go.
The current sordid child sex molestation scandal at Penn State has brought calls for the NCAA to close down the university’s football program. New York Times op-ed columnist Joe Nocera has called for Penn State to cancel their 2012 football season. Chicago sports attorney Eldon Ham, an adjunct professor at Chicago-Kent College of Law wrote, “To get the full attention of Penn State and every other out-of-control college football program in America, the NCAA should take away Penn State football - if only for a while”. The Nation’s Katha Pollitt goes even further, “Cancel the season. Fire everybody. Start again. Or maybe don’t start again. Maybe cancel college football too”.