Archive for February, 2015

“Bad Bibi”

February 20, 2015


I do not welcome Benjamin Netanyahu to America.

Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel, is scheduled to address a Joint Session of Congress next Wednesday in a major, historic breach of traditional protocol, political etiquette and basic good manners – the ones our mommies taught us all.

In a disappointing and disgusting overreach of authority and in a pathetic attempt to appear relevantly assertive, Speaker of the House John Boehner officially invited a panicked Netanyahu to enjoy this unique honor and privilege without White House knowledge or approval. In attempting to show Barack Obama who is boss and in charge, Boehner has only succeeded in woefully displaying yet another reason he will never be either.

“Bibi” is running for re-election back home as Israeli voters will head for the polls and select a new Knesset, the unicameral legislature of Israel, on March 17th. Netanyahu, no Saint Patrick by any measure, has seen his national approval ratings plummet by a full 50% since last August, falling from 77% to a current 38%.

Netanyahu’s horribly one-sided retribution against relatively ineffective rocket attacks from Hamas in Gaza last summer earned him dismay and scorn from most of the watching world.

The 50-day conflict in Gaza between Israel and vastly inferior militant opposition left at least 2,189 Palestinians dead, including more than 1,486 civilians, and 11,000 injured. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians were killed, with scores more wounded.

The International Criminal Court announced last month that it is launching a preliminary inquiry into possible war crimes committed in Palestinian territories. The ICC, which is independent of the United Nations, was established to help end impunity for the perpetrators of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Now facing recently surfaced accusations of misusing public funds at his private residence, Netanyahu has petulantly and obstinately demonstrated limited patience with our current administration’s efforts to reach a more stable peace in the Middle East.

Insisting upon a complete freeze of increased settlement construction by Israel on the West Bank as a critical step in this direction, President Obama stated in 2009, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of more Israeli settlements.” Even though this position has since been modified in diplomatic efforts aimed at placating “Bibi’s” characteristic belligerence, major new friction with Netanyahu has developed over negotiations with Iran in attempts to eliminate the possibility of Tehran developing nuclear weapons.

As with other Washington initiatives of a similar nature, Benjamin Netanyahu has gone out of his way to effectively sabotage such efforts by our President and State Department at each and every turn.

Now, thanks to John Boehner, a resolutely self-defined foreign adversary has been given the opportunity to undermine our elected leader before a worldwide audience from the very center of American power.

I herein emphasis that “Bibi” is the referenced adversary here, most definitely NOT the State or people of Israel. Although FOX News and other right-leaning media mouthpieces have been droning endlessly about Israel being ignored and abandoned by Washington, such allegations are staggeringly stupid and easily refuted by even the most casual review of our decades of relationship with Tel Aviv and the mutually friendly nature of our permanently established status, however ignorantly challenged.

Netanyahu’s cynical attempt to divide and conquer popular opinion by exploiting our continually perplexing polarity is understandable, but unforgivable.

Regardless of party affiliation, a fundamental pillar of our political process has been to address the rest of the world with a single voice – that of our Constitutional President.

Like it or loathe it, that President is currently Barack Obama.


Stay home!

“American Sniper”

February 6, 2015


At first view, I held my breath from start to finish.

I’ve seen it twice since.

When Howard Stern interviewed Bradley Cooper on satellite radio in early December, Howard asked how someone as old as 84 year-old Clint Eastwood could have possibly directed such a remarkable film at his advanced age. Cooper, whose portrayal of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle is positively metamorphic and, hopefully, Academy Award winning, laughed aloud and passionately exclaimed, “Howard! What people need to realize is that Clint can make a film like this only BECAUSE he’s 84!

From the eerie chanting of morning Islamic prayer across a barren, sadly foreboding Iraqi landscape to closing credits rolling over actual video footage of Kyle’s memorial services in Texas, “American Sniper” is a cinematic masterpiece. The fact that it has broken all-time box office records is secondary to the extraordinary quality of the remarkable work itself.

This is not a pro-war or anti-war production, although I would subjectively tend to lean toward the latter. “American Sniper” is ultimately a complex character study as to what forces bend and shape a modern day warrior and, most importantly, the price at times paid for such a triumphant, yet potentially tragic transfiguration.

Navy SEALS do not choose war. Faithfully and obediently following orders from leaders whom we, the people, select, they ARE war.

Rushing in where angels fear to tread, my old friend Michael Moore saw fit to tag the movie’s opening weekend with an online  “Twitter” message stating that Martin Luther King, whose birthday was being simultaneously commemorated, had been killed by a sniper.

Michael wrote: “ My Dad was in the First Marine Division in the South Pacific in World War II. His brother, my uncle, Lawrence Moore, was an Army paratrooper and was killed by a Japanese sniper 70 years ago next month. My Dad always said, “Snipers are cowards. They don’t believe in a fair fight.”

The flying-monkey right quickly translated this into: “Michael Moore Calls Dead Navy SEAL Coward!” and we were off to the races, even though Michael made no mention of Kyle or the movie in his uniquely untimely remarks.

My cousin, Rorke Denver, eloquently stated a sharply differing perspective that was published several days later in The Wall Street Journal. Rorke, now a Lieutenant Commander in the Naval Reserve, appeared as “Lieutenant Rorke” in the SEAL movie, “Act of Valor” and served with Chris Kyle as a teammate on SEAL Team Three.

Among numerous other points, Rorke emphasized:  “Snipers engage individual threats. Rarely, if ever, do their actions cause collateral damage. Snipers may be the most humane of weapons in the military arsenal. The job also takes a huge emotional toll on the man behind the scope.”

I would add that creative deception in warfare can be fancifully traced as far back as those “Dawn of Man” monkeys in “2001: A Space Odyssey.” Monolith-enlightened, they surprise, ambush and defeat enemy apes with jawbone weaponry. Tools! It is striking and more than a bit ironic to observe that Sir Arthur C. Clarke saw fit to present this “military victory” as the first meaningful display of higher intelligence in human history.

But the efficacy of naked force no longer holds viable sway, alas; an epic sea change first witnessed in early August of 1945 with mushroom clouds boiling over Hiroshima and Nagasaki — introducing “The Atomic Age.”

Ever since, only assured mutual destruction has kept us from a new and final World War.

How strange such reality has become so elusive in our thoughts – as renewed cries for “boots on the ground” rise again in certain quarters, ignoring the selfless sacrifices expended on our behalf by those heroes now — in the ground.

Including Chris Kyle.