Wednesday, June 2, 2010

An Oily Meander


It has gotten a whole lot uglier since this Reuters aerial photograph, as BP and company are no closer to capping their oil well than they were 6 weeks ago, with the only real solution at this point being a relief well that is still 2 months off.  The spill now exceeds that of the Exxon Valdez spill 20 years ago, and probably will surpass that of the oil Saddam unleashed on the Persian Gulf back in 1991.

41 comments:

  1. Helen Thomas weighed in ill advisedly on the Israel/Palestine question and is paying through the nose.

    The worst part is that her mug is all over the Internet. She looks horrible. Time to retire. (I know; were I a public figure I would now have to offer an apology to all of the facially challenged people in the world, or at least the female variety.)

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you're not up to it, you could just ignore the 'net for a while.

    If I could live to 89 with her accomplishments, I'd gladly take the face--who knows, I might be glad to have it anyway, if a mind without Alzheimer's (even with the risk of ill-advised comments to media) were to accompany it. To me, the story is more illustrative of the dangers of the "gotcha" press.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'd be happy with any face at 89....

    I also hate that an unpopular opinion pushed her into retirement. I loved seeing her in the front row in the press briefing room trying to get a question in.

    I wanted to link to the Colbert video during the Bush press dinner, but looks like he or Comedy Central has taken it down. What a shame. That's how I want to remember her -- needling Bush about the occupation of Iraq.

    ReplyDelete
  4. See it while you can:

    http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-869183917758574879#

    ReplyDelete
  5. I got plastered with 5 ignores in Melba for the comments I made on Israel/Gaza. Granted, I got pretty emotional about the issue but it amazes me how thin skinned people are when it comes to criticism of Israel. Seems best to avoid the topic all together, despite the harsh reality of the situation.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ignoring the net is difficult. The only time I've succeeded in doing that is when I've spent a week at the beach. It was surprisingly easy.

    At 89 Helen Thomas should be writing her memoirs.

    Too many people try to hang on too long these days. My wife tried to get me watch James Taylor and Carol King last night. Couldn't do it. They are so over-the-hill. The Beach Boys were in town last week -- or I should say the Beach Boy, because only one member of the band was on stage. Enough already!

    ReplyDelete
  7. I've noticed that too, rick. When I'm away from the computer I don't miss it at all.

    As for Helen Thomas, this latest incident has stirred up a lot of ugly emotions on both sides of the divide.

    ReplyDelete
  8. One of my music friends played with the crazed and wonderful band Dr. Hook and he feels the same way as you do, Rick. I'm assuming he thinks music should be fresh. I've been organizing reunions of some of my old music friends -- including the Hook alum -- and it's been a great hearing them play old tunes and new ones, too. I am getting more sentimental as I get older I guess. And I still love the sound of James Taylor's voice.

    As for Helen, she should indeed be writing her memoirs. She has an incredible story to tell.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Took a look at Elba -- whoa! What happened over there?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Digital detox:

    http://roomfordebate.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/07/first-steps-to-digital-detox/

    ReplyDelete
  11. It is impossible to discuss the Arab/Israeli conflict.

    Elba, unfortunately, outlived its usefulness long ago. I visit fairly often but seldom post. Noting much happens and then, perhaps out of boredom, someone goes into attack mode.

    ReplyDelete
  12. It is a mess, av. Basic problem -- too few persons, too much infighting, with the same old monikers trying to control the forums. It has gotten very very ugly. The only way to enter the forums is to roll up your sleeves and prepare to brawl.

    ReplyDelete
  13. As for for the Arab/Israeli conflict there are ways to discuss the subject intelligently,

    http://blog.sojo.net/author/arthur_waskow/

    ReplyDelete
  14. There don't seem to be any Arabs contributing at Sojourners.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Here's Tony Judt on the subject:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/10/opinion/10judt.html

    ReplyDelete
  16. No, but I found Rabbi Waskow's thoughts refreshing.

    ReplyDelete
  17. "The time has come to cut through the clichés surrounding it, treat Israel like a “normal” state and sever the umbilical cord."

    Couldn't agree more. Israel is amply strong enough to stand on its own, yet we still continue to supply them with military aid, $2.7 bil in 2010, which they turn around on use in bombing Hamas and Hezbollah. And, it isn't like these guy represent a real threat to Israel, given their home-made rocket launchers.

    Violence begets more violence, and all Israel has succeeded in doing over the years is ratcheting up the level of violence with the extreme severity of its counter attacks. This comes from electing retired military commanders as Prime Ministers, or arm-chair "generals" like Netanyahu.

    But, lest I get too critical, Hamas and Hezbollah need to take a step back from the abyss and re-evaluate their strategy. If they thought about it for a moment, they might realize they could gain the upper hand by not resorting to these paltry attacks on Jewish settlements, no matter how much it angers them to see these settlers move in. Ultimately, this was how the ANC won the peace in South Africa.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Glad you liked that, Gintaras. Seems to be a reasoned approach. I don't know why more people can't start to deal with the situation in that way.

    And, as Judt notes, at some point, Israel will have to negotiate some sort of agreement with their neighbors. Why not now?

    (As a friend who was a mandatory member of the Israeli army once told me -- why do they call it the Peace Process? Because there is no peace.)

    ReplyDelete
  19. "A younger generation in the United States, not to mention worldwide, is growing skeptical." From Judt's mouth to...er, whoever's ear.

    Sometimes when folks decry the inability of the young to learn this or that aspect of history, I think maybe that's not all bad if it keeps them from becoming bound to a destructive past. I keep hoping the young will exhibit more sense in a number of ways than their forebears.

    ReplyDelete
  20. I also enjoyed Tony Judt's analysis. However, I hold out absolutely no hope for peace or anything like it in the Middle East. There is plenty of blame to go around, as Judt points out, and I'm afraid there always will be. The U. S. will not make any significant cut in military aid to Israel, even if doing so makes sense politically.

    Saying "The time has come to cut through the clichés surrounding it, treat Israel like a “normal” state and sever the umbilical cord" makes for a great sound-bite or headline. It also may be absolutely true, but you've got to be completely naive to think that is going to happen any time soon, if ever.

    I see no reason for Israel to think that its Arab neighbors are or will be willing to work toward peace. How many times and from how many different quarters has Israel been told that its ultimate extinction is the only way to cure the problem? Its "habitual resort to force" is not all that difficult to understand under the circumstances. Is it conducive to peace? No. But neither is the habitual stance taken by leaders in Iran and Saudi Arabia, for instance. (Did Judt even once mention Saudi Arabia in his Op/Ed piece?)

    ReplyDelete
  21. Actually, Saudi Arabia was the one to suggest the "road map for peace," which Bush was heavily promoting at one point. Seems most everyone in the region has accepted Israel's presence, except maybe Iran. Not much choice in the matter. And, Israel still has strong ties to Turkey, Egypt and Jordan despite the current imbroglio.

    For Hamas and Hezbollah to "deny" Israel's existence seems pretty small really.

    ReplyDelete
  22. But isn't that part of the problem? The language gets so extreme in order to claim their ideological territory that there is no longer a middle ground?

    At some point, all sides are going to need to tone down the rhetoric and find some common ground (something we could use in this country, too, I know).

    But in the meantime, I think the U.S. needs to start reacting to Israel's actions, not its rhetoric (i.e., treat it like a real state), and quit making universal excuses for everything it does.

    I remember in the 1960s when Israel seemed the promised land. Now, my Israeli friend's non-Jewish wife won't let him take their daughter there even for a visit. It's just too dangerous. In the end, who wants to live like that (except for the military)?

    I always wonder what it would have been like if instead of the Middle East, they had carved out Texas to form the state of Israel. Or New York and Massachusetts. I wonder how we as a nation would manage to deal with a state that acted the way Israel does within our midst?

    ReplyDelete
  23. "I keep hoping the young will exhibit more sense in a number of ways than their forebears."

    Amen to that.

    ReplyDelete
  24. I can't take Saudi Arabia seriously, "road map for peace," or otherwise.

    ReplyDelete
  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  26. Early in Obama's presidency, Prince Turki al-Faisal seemed to sum things up pretty well. You can read the article that appeared in the Financial Times here:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE50M0XF20090123

    The threat of Holy War doesn't sound like it could ever be part of a "road map for peace," or at least not part of one that would get Israel to the bargaining table.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Corrected version of comment:

    Don't you think the hypothetical Israeli state in the midst of the U. S. would be within its rights to resort to force if the surrounding states advocated its complete destruction and, on occasion, acted in ways consistent with that advocacy?

    As for how we would deal with it, good question.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I agree, it's not an easy question.

    But having lived in London during the IRA bombings there, it seems like it's in everyone's advantage to try to find a way to bring an end to violence (large or small scale).

    ReplyDelete
  29. Agreed. It has been in everyone's best interest for years and years to end the violence. But with politics in play, everything is so murky. And if no one really possesses the will, and I see no one in the Middle East with the political will to change and peacefully co-exist, the violence won't end. That the folks in northern Ireland managed it borders on the miraculous.

    ReplyDelete
  30. This: " I think the U.S. needs to start reacting to Israel's actions, not its rhetoric (i.e., treat it like a real state), and quit making universal excuses for everything it does." and the comments about how would it be if Israel were carved out of US territory reminds me of the people who have sometimes called it the 51st state.

    Meanwhile, come the fall, my niece in NYC will have her Bat Mitzvah. Most likely I will not go the tree-planting gift route; I am as big a fan of trees as anyone, but I lack the ethnic credentials and fear it would be presumptuous. Suggestions, anyone?

    ReplyDelete
  31. I emailed my daughter about Bat Mitzvahs -- we went to one of a friend of hers, which was a great experience, but I can't remember what we brought as a gift (probably a book!).

    Did you see this in the Times today? Cohen's daughter just went through hers:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/11/opinion/11iht-edcohen.html

    ReplyDelete
  32. "Don't you think the hypothetical Israeli state in the midst of the U. S. would be within its rights to resort to force if the surrounding states advocated its complete destruction and, on occasion, acted in ways consistent with that advocacy?"

    Rick, that argument is pretty hollow, since the only groups calling for Israel's "extinction" are Hamas and Hezbollah, both of which don't have the firepower to back that up. These two radical groups may appeal to a large number of Muslims in the region, but the powers that be have no interest in seeing Israel destroyed. Saudi Arabia just as much as Turkey or Egypt. The only bellicose country is Iran, and how seriously can one take Ahmadinejad's ejaculations?

    Israel can no longer afford to delay the peace process. Events will conspire against it. Israel may have the support of a bunch of redneck Christians United for Israel, led by John Haggee, but Israel has lost much political capital over the years, and Netanyahu hasn't exactly endeared himself to the Obama administration.

    The fact is Fatah is willing to deal, and I think Hamas would be too if they saw the real possibility of a Palestinian emerging out of new peace talks.

    ReplyDelete
  33. The only real question is how viable such a state would be. If you look at the current boundaries of the West Bank and Gaza, which are largely defined by a concrete wall, you have three territories, not two, and the West Bank's border with Jordan is currently controlled by Israel, with the wall running well into this occupation zone.

    Israel would be forced to give back a lot of territory to make a Palestinian state viable, which I doubt this current government would be willing to do.

    I think most of the Jewish settlements could be retained if Israel allowed Palestinians the right of repatriation, which has long been a sticking point. But, again, I don't see the creative energy on the part of the current Likud-Labour-Kadima party leaders to go along with this.

    This leaves it up to the US to press the issue, and with so many things on Obama's plate right now, unfortunately that is probably not going to happen. So, this crisis will continue to fester.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Thanks for that link, avrds. And for gift, my natural tendency would be a book, this for example: http://www.amazon.com/Madam-Secretary-Memoir-Madeleine-Albright/dp/1401359620/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1276387107&sr=8-2
    which traces Albright's rediscovery/reappreication of her heritage. Actually, my niece's mom might enjoy that much more than she would. Niece herself is mad about fashion, so maybe some fabrics/scarves from the region. She considers the bird-of-paradise to be "her flower" and I for sure can't work that in ;-)

    Thanks for your thoughts, and sorry to interrupt the discussion of weightier matters.

    ReplyDelete
  35. My daughter and I talked about this at breakfast this a.m. Madeleine Albright's book would make a great gift, although a beautiful silk scarf with bird of paradise might be a real passage into adulthood sort of present.....

    http://www.bryanica.com/gallery/main.php?g2_itemId=600

    ReplyDelete
  36. As for an oily meander, am I the only one surprised to learn of this...?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/14/world/asia/14minerals.html

    ReplyDelete
  37. I guess rooting around in all the caves for 9 years you are bound to find something. Quite a story!

    ReplyDelete
  38. More on Bat Mitzvah presents ...

    According to my daughter's best friend it should be like a very special birthday present, something to do with "womanhood" would be nice, but it's usually a card with money. (My daughter suggested a savings bond which in effect doubles your money!)

    ReplyDelete
  39. That scarf is wonderful! Many, many thanks, avrds, to you and your daughter from me and my daughters who may go to NYC for the event, but who will be seeking presents at any rate. (I just realized my last 2 visits to NYC were for her parents' wedding in '86 and when she was born in '97. I'm either way overdue or should not have watched the Tony Awards show last night.

    ReplyDelete
  40. And yes, an article in this morning's paper about the mineral wealth in Afghanistan surprised me, too. I wish I thought the "discoveries" (I was surprised at how long the exploration, etc. has been going on) would lead to greater cooperation.

    ReplyDelete
  41. Sounds like a great trip for the entire family. And yes, every time I see the Tony Awards, I'm ready to head to New York. I'm not a musical fan, but do love seeing live theatre.

    Shakespeare is on holiday while I'll be in DC later this month, but will get to see a GB Shaw, another real favorite of mine.

    ReplyDelete