Daily Blurb #2

The Shame of President Moshe Katzav

I first met Moshe Katzav 20 years ago when I shepherded him around Los Angeles for the Israel Bonds organization. He  was then a minister in the Shamir Government and a very high ranking member of the Likud Party.   He struck me as a soft spoken and particularly decent man who was still filled to the brim with Zionist idealism.  I wasn’t then surprised when he was chosen over several other candidates to become Israel’s eighth president in 2002.  His personality and demeanor – restrained, humble and avuncular, seemed to fit the job description and matched the dignified air of  many of his predecessors.

How shocking it is then to witness his fall from grace and the revelations of his consistent pattern of womanizing and sexual harassment over the course of many years.  His conviction two days ago in a Tel Aviv court on charges of rape and sexual harassment brings unparalleled disgrace to the institution of the presidency, an office whose occupants have usually been considered beyond reproach.  Certainly Katzav’s predecessor, Ezer Weizmann, did great injury to the office when he was forced to resign over corruption charges dating back to his own time as a party politician.

But there has never been anything in Israel quite like this.  It says a great deal about the quality of the men who lead the Jewish nation when so many of them are unable to exhibit sexual restraint – and I include Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Olmert, Shimon Peres and Yitzhak Mordechai- all well known womanizers, in that category.  It is a statement of profound sorrow that there is such little regard for dignified conduct among those men who regularly proclaim the Jewish people ” a light unto the world.”

The Future of Guantanomo

Karl Rove provided a particularly biting response in the WSJ to Barack Obama’s statement on December 22 that the prison facility on the Cuban coast is  “probably the No. 1 recruitment tool for al Qaeda and its affiliates.”  Rove rips into that assertion by producing abundant evidence, drawn from al Qaeda’s own communications,  that Guantanomo barely registers as a blip on the terror organization’s radar. ” Far more numerous and more extensive in these documents, ” Rove writes, ” are complaints about the existence of Israel, the U.S. military presence in the Middle East, Western notions of democracy and freedom, Western culture, and the fact that al Qaeda’s leaders see America as the obstacle to their achieving a restoration of the Golden Age of Islam.”

Obama’s own deadline for closing the facility passed nearly twelve months ago and the matter is obviously weighing on his mind.  The trouble is that neither he, nor anyone else in his administration has come up with an adequate replacement for the facility. No other country wants the inmates and the temptation to try all of them in American civil courts is fraught with the danger of clever lawyers securing hung juries on technicalities.   Beyond that, of course, is the absolute lie that Guantanomo exists as some kind of gulag where prisoners are systematically humiliated and deprived of basic human rights.  Marc A. Thiessen quite adequately dispatched this notion in his impressively well researched book Courting Disaster:  How the CIA Kept America Safe , an argument for the Bush Administration’s  terrorist detention policies which has received no  rebuttal by the liberal press.

As the months pass, it seems clear that the Bush detention policies are being vindicated because there are no adequate alternatives.  Perhaps this realization will also drive home the awareness of the seriousness of the threat the Bush Administration once faced from terror operatives and the continuing seriousness in which any American administration must perceive that challenge.

The Weather

Los Angeles is poised to experience the wettest winter in its history;  Blizzards, some of the worst in living memory, have shut down flights throughout the East Coast of the United States; Heathrow Airport in the U.K., the busiest airport hub in the world, was forced to shut down for three days as passengers curled up on terminal floors awaiting rescheduled flights; in Australia half of the State of Queensland – an area the size of Germany and France combined – is under water, experiencing the wost flooding the country’s history.  Everywhere you look this winter there are record freezing temperatures, incessant rain and tales of tragedy from an inclemency that shows little sign of abating.

Is the weather  itself then answering the question of global warming?   Well, it depends who you ask.   Most climatologists still maintain that there is a global warming trend of about 1 degree celsius over the past 150 years.   But that this is tied to natural activity in the sun and its own cycles and that the earth regularly passes through warming phases which have nothing to do with human activity.  There are others, of course, who declare that the frigid weather around the world is actual evidence of global warming since warmer ocean currents, caused by the melting of the polar ice caps,  force colder air into the atmosphere which leads to condensation and storms.  The National Wildlife Federation has even gone so far to state in a recent report that the world is experiencing milder winters, which is a result, naturally, of global warming

Pat Michaels, a climatologist and senior fellow at the Cato Institute  doesn’t think so.  ” You can make up any analogy you want, but the fact is that computer models don’t show such change , ”   “It is,”  said Michaels,  “the core problem of climatology:  It is attempting to explain everything even when everything becomes contradictory.”  Myron Ebell, director of the Center of Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute adds: ” They make this stuff up as they go along,”

What the current global weather patterns place in evidence is the fact that if  the weather is notoriously difficult for computer models  to predict,  then our future climate may be as well.   The hubris of the scientists at the IPCC ( Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) and Al Gore and his acolytes aside, it might be time to admit that in fact there is a substantial debate on this issue and that both science and the world’s population in general could substantially benefit from its broader exploration.


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