Sunday, November 19, 2006

Living With Our Neighbors

I just read the remarks from the new Deputy Prime Minister of Israel. He's sugggesting that it's time for Israel to give up on ever having peace with its neighbors, and completely ignore the Palestinian government.

If I were US President, I would come down hard and clear in public about even a hint of such talk.

The single most important thing we must get through Israel's head is that no amount of deceit, hatred, or killing gives any nation anywhere at any time any right at all to be anything other than a nation among nations that has to work at living with their neighbors, and indeed the rest of the world. (The Palestinians also have to learn this, true, but noone has any right to wait until the other guy does it.) I'm a full supporter of Israel's right to defend itself. But that right to defend itself is limited to actions against their direct attackers. If Hizbollah takes action against Israel, Israel has every right to stomp Hizbollah into the ground. I'd rather they found a different way to handle the matter, but it is rightfully their decision to make. But then Israel destroys the facilities (and occasionally homes) of everyone else in Lebanon. They punished the Lebanese government and people, even though they'd have gotten rid of Hizbollah long ago if they had anything even remotely resembling the power to do so. By their actions, Israel simply increased the proportion of enemies around them, an act that makes matters worse not better. (There is also Lebanese foolishness, for not understanding that Hizbollah is largely the cause of their disaster, and thus are their enemy not their defenders. It is of very high importance that this is what they say at all times and what they base their actions on, and definitively cut the crap about their being in any way "heroes".)

We know Bush knew that Israel had decided to go into Lebanon once those soldiers were kidnapped. It is now clear that W. took no action -- not even talk -- to try to impress upon Israel the importance of very strictly limiting their actions to their immediate purpose and their direct enemy. This failure on W's part is of a piece with W's other Middle East failures, including Iraq. His legacy is hellish, but who cares about that? I care about the blood, the bombs, the hatred, and the idiotic illusions that pass for reality in the Middle East. Bush is under similar delusions. He has blown the opportunity we had at 9/11 to really keep the world behind us and really get at the terrorists and what they represent. It was once said that we are a great nation because we are a good nation. (I never did believe we were all that good, just that most others are noticeably worse.) Bush has led the world to have even more doubt about how good our nation is. It is up to us to hold him and his administration responsible for that, and to do it right now. If we do, I expect Bush to then act more responsibly -- like most anyone who is held responsible after misbehaving.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Impoverished politics

I'm watching the election results as I write. Bush has to understand just how much of an albatross he has become around the necks of some pretty good Republicans who lost. But is he the kind who is able to take his medicine and learn his lessons? His presidency thus far leaves me with little hope that he can. Which will leave him increasingly like a lame duck. Only, while he sits there lame, more soldiers and more Iraqis will die.

Watch for the Baker-Hamilton report, coming very shortly. W isn't going to like that, either.

Friday, November 03, 2006

online dating weirdities

I've been spending a lot of time the past few months in the hopes of finding companionship and maybe true love on-line at the services. If you're not familiar with it, it's an odd experience, to be sure. Most of the services have you create a profile where you describe yourself and your interests. Each member searches through the profile, based on a choice of factors or by keyword.

Unfortunately, reading them can be a form of torture. Especially for me, since I fancy myself a writer and I'm very picky about spelling. There are all sorts of elements to the torture. You can probably guess a few of them -- lying about age or weight, using photos from many years ago, or photos of someone else. But here are some you may not know :

(1) There are more problems with the photos than the obvious ones. For instance:
(a) dark photos. (So dark I can't tell where the clothing or hair ends and the background begins.)
(b) the photos of her with her exboyfriend or ex-husband. (With the head whited out or with the face cut off. I guess she still has issues....)
(c) The Group Photo, usually with co-workers, friends, or sisters. (Not a bad concept, really. But in practice, there's always someone in the photo that looks much better than the one whose profile I'm looking at. No self-respecting woman would answer if asked about her friend instead of her. Also : her friend's probably married.)

(2) Profiles are Cliche Central. For instance :
(a) "My friends say I'm ...." (Or at least they say that to her face...)
(b) "I'm equally comfy in a formal dress and blue jeans." (But how is she in khakis?)
(c) "I love to travel" (Most of us do, but we can't afford to do much of it. Can she?)
(d) "no [emotional] baggage" (Right. If you get past 30, or you have a divorce, you've got baggage, you may not know where it's stored.)
(e) "I'm sick of the bar scene" (But she wanders back there once in a while...)
(f) "I see the glass half-full" (Of what?)
(g) "down to earth" (But she loves gossip and fashion magazines, romance novels, and makeup.)
(h) "Looking for Mr. Right" (But how much has she worked on being Ms. Right? Be a good partner, and you'll get a better partner.)
(i) "I'm family-oriented, with strong traditional values, looking to settle down." (I guess that's why she's posted that racy photo with the busts propped up, or in a come-on position draped over her bed.)
(j) "Liars and players, go elsewhere." (But she usually don't know who's lying or playing games until she knows them a while. Remember : the gamers know how to game her.)
(k) "I like all styles of music, except [multichoice, select from country, opera, rap, or metal]" (I have a radio show at one of the most widely-varied stations in the world, WUSB. I've heard it all. And I can say there's no style I don't like something from. But there are many genres and subgenres I overall don't like. How many women actually have listened to any styles or artists that are outside the Top 20 or MTV?)
(l) "Writing about myself is pure torture." (She wonders, 'do I have anything worthwhile to say about myself?' And comes up blank...)

There's much more where that comes from. An original, unusual, or honestly personal profile is rare. (That includes my own, which suffers from TMI.)