It is time to come back. I know I have said it before, but it truly is time now.
Here in DC it is all business as usual. The presidential elections right now dominate my life, and in typical Gisela fashion I am already dreading the end of this fantastic, super-alive period in my life. I mean, what else can one ask for? Except, perhaps, for the Fifa World Cup this summer instead of the Olympic games? That would certainly account for a fabulous year, all around.
Other than politics, I recently came across www.librarything.com and it was love at first sight. That website is the answer to my pleas. I have spent an obscene amount of time playing with it and just plainly staring at it (I know, it doesn't sound good), and I see no signs that this infatuation will fade anytime soon.
Well, it is good to be back. Time to make time for me in my life again.
March 19, 2008
It is time to come back. I know I have said it before, but it truly is time now.
May 23, 2007
So many things to write about and so little time. Wait, that's more an excuse than anything else. Fact is, I missed out on writing about so many relevant (to me, at least) topics because I was just not organized enough in the last few months. A shame.
Lately I have felt the itch. And today the itch became unbearable, and it even has a name: Monica Goodling. And this is regardless of her participation (or not) in the controversial dismissal of U.S. Attorneys back in December 2006.
Let me just say that I dislike and distrust quite a few public officials. Others I find to be, well, dumb. But Monica Goodling - that is a different story. This is someone who really did it for me. She managed to combine all the negative attributes a public official could have and make use of. I am actually horrified.
Not only did she make the wrong decisions, but she had the wrong motivation to begin with. If anyone had any doubts about the negative impact of the Christian conservative takeover of the political arena via the Bush administration, I am hoping Monica Goodling has effectively put those doubts to rest.
A Regent University Law School (think Pat Robertson) graduate (she switched to Regent after a short stint at American University, which I am guessing might have been a bit too secular for her, but might also have saved her from herself had she stayed the course), the young and inexperienced Goodling held too much power in the Attorney General’s office (especially her executive authority over personnel matters) and that was undeniably due to her political affiliation. I am convinced that many others would qualify (and better qualify, mind you) for the position she held; however, I am equally convinced these other apt individuals did not demonstrate the same level of religious fanaticism (sorry, I really cannot think of another word here) and partisanship.
Some nice (and in denial) people claim that Goodling was well-intentioned but inexperienced, and that “she might have somehow figured that she was doing the right thing”. Okay: I think I might be hallucinating here. Could it be that Regent University teaches a different set of laws than that of the United States of America? Is it possible that somewhere in that institution of higher learning students are taught that it is okay to ask those applying for jobs with the Justice Department if they have ever cheated on their spouses? Or who is their favorite president and why? Or favorite Supreme Court Justice? In other words, if they are religious conservatives and Republican?
So a case must be made here - either Goodling intentionally violated federal law by filtering and selecting candidates according to their religious views and political affiliations and/or sympathies, or she is really ignorant of the law. Or both. Either way, she is bad news. And whoever hired her for the job is bad news too (right, we all know who that is). This is partisanship at its worst, but certainly not a surprise given the current administration's track record.
January 3, 2007
I have been awfully quiet on the blogging front, but in the meantime I have encountered some terrific new books. Or at least very interesting ones.
I just finished the very entertaining Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth", and at the same time I am working my way through the incredibly well-written "The Wise Men" (Walter Isaacson and Evan Thomas). Fantastic book. And yesterday I found this little gem of a book called "Yiddish Civilisation" by Paul Kriwaczek. So I am keeping busy. Hopefully.
"And truth of the matter is, a lot of reports in Washington are never read by anybody. To show you how important this one is, I read it, and our guest read it." — El Presidente speaking along with Prime Minister Tony Blair about the Baker-Hamilton Report, Washington, D.C., Dec. 7, 2006
December 12, 2006
This is it - the senile (open to interpretation, I guess) former dictator of Chile died at 91. I will not join those strange people who are mourning his death. The man was positively mean, and I don't care if Chilean economy works. There are plenty of examples of dictators throughout history who fed their people with one hand while killing them with another. I will not cite those examples here because redundancy is a bore.
Pinochet is managing to divide his people even after his death. Unbelievably, many in Chile are truly sad he has died. Fortunately, many are not. I myself would have difficulty mourning a man who seized power illegally, killed so many and ostracized - politically, socially, economically - many more. And to think that his children are offended that President Bachelet has not agreed to a state funeral...
I read an excellent essay on Pinochet by Pamela Constable of the Washington Post, and also her ensuing Q&A session this afternoon. I recommend both.
We all know this Iranian president is on the lunatic side. No doubt his perception of history is, well, unique. I used to laugh at him. Now I don't laugh anymore.
This man has made denial of the Holocaust his favorite hobby and this hobby is quickly turning into a mission. He certainly seems to devote an enormous amount of his own and public time refuting evidence it ever happened, and it is no secret he dislikes Israel and Jews with passion. In other words, he hates our guts.
The conference now taking place in Tehran would be ludicrous as a blatant distortion of historical truth if not for the fact that it is impossible to laugh at such things. As Slate very well put it, the conference "is sordid and cynical, but we must take it seriously." And here is why: the last time the world did not take hatred against the Jews seriously, we all know what happened. Yes, I hate to sound like a broken record, but there is no alternative: we must remember, we must never forget.
Especially if this insane man is also a dangerous one with nuclear weapons.
The USA, Israel and most European countries, along with the Vatican, were quick to condemn the conference. But unfortunately most of the 67 people in attendance are well-known in Holocaust denial circles, among them: David Duke (former KKK leader), Robert Faurisson (a French clown who managed to get convicted five times for denying crimes against humanity in France); and the German Fredrick Toeben, convicted for insulting the memory of the dead. Lovely men who seem to be in dire need of some light-hearted entertainment, maybe some cable tv...
Now really - it is baffling that such a conference is happening in this day and age. There have been several gatherings of Holocaust deniers in many places, but this is a state-sponsored one in a Muslim country. Chilling.
Ahmadinejad, as we all know by now, knows no boundaries. His latest gem, during the conference, was his prediction that Israel's days are numbered: "just as the USSR disappeared, soon the Zionist regime will disappear"; according to him, then "humanity will achieve freedom." Prediction might not be that accurate a term - threat is more like it. Also strangely reminiscent of what another clownish (and dangerous) little man, the one with the mustache and the lisp, used to tell his bunch of fanatics in the Third Reich not long ago...
On a parallel note: it is with sadness that I noted the participation of two rabbis and four other Jews in the conference. They are all members of Neturei Karta (Jews United Against Zionism), a religious group which claims that the creation of Israel violates Jewish Law.
This is orthodox Judaism at its worst. It is inexcusable. It is sick.
August 9, 2006
I very much hope you will provide an Israeli official with the opportunity to write a melodramatic piece such as the one you published by the Lebanese Prime Minister, Mr. Fouad Siniora. Not that this high official will seize the opportunity, being that he might be busy fighting this war instead of running a public relations side business; still, the courtesy of equal opportunity would do the trick.
I am also a little surprised by your decision to go ahead and publish Mr. Siniora's opinion, but friends of mine here in DC told me the Washington Post has a long-standing tradition of giving Arab leaders a voice - is that true? I certainly hope not, as I am new to the area and I would hate for my newly adopted city's newspaper to have such a record. Neutrality would be nice, if fairness is not a possibility.
More than anything, and leaving aside the factual blunders of Mr. Siniora's op-ed (such as blatant disregard for the underlying responsibility Hezbollah has in the conflict as does his government for operating side by side with a terrorist organization such as Hezbollah), it was an utterly boring read. For the sake of us readers, please do some editing the next time. Or maybe better choices.
You are the Prime Minister of Lebanon and I know this is a job with many responsibilities and challenges. I also believe that for one to hold such a high office certain characteristics and qualities must be present.
The first one that comes to mind is leadership. One can not lead an entire country if he has a shaky sense of leadership. Mr. Siniora, it is clear to the world that you care deeply about your country and your people, but it is not clear how much leadership you can muster. From where I stand, it seems non-existent.
In the face of the crisis now hovering over your Lebanon, you have concentrated your efforts on blaming Israel as opposed to singling out and blaming the Hezbollah terrorists, who, deny as you will, still are the ones who initiated the whole conflict (coincidentally, there is only one mention of Hezbollah in your Washington Post op-ed, and a feeble one at that). Quite frankly, it is very disappointing to see a grown man incapable of dealing with his own shortcomings, or his own leadership shortcomings. Had you engaged in more serious opposition to Hezbollah in the past, you might have been able to impede such a grotesque series of events. And I am not as naïve as to think you could have defeated Hezbollah on your own, but one needs to know when to be humble and cry for help.
You are indeed shameless when you write an opinion in a newspaper such as the Washington Post with the sole intent to destroy Israel’s reputation and diminish that country’s credibility. Perhaps you ought to reexamine your convictions, Mr. Siniora. If anything, the Israeli leadership is doing for its citizens the one thing you have not been able (or willing) to do for yours - engaging against a terrorist organization who is directly threatening the security of the population. If you are fine with Hezbollah changing the political structure of your country, that is your problem. But don’t expect sovereign nations to stand by while their cities are constantly shelled, their soldiers kidnapped and so forth.
Funny indeed that you mention international law. We should discuss that. After all, this terrorist organization in your country crossed international borders and kidnapped soldiers in a sovereign country. Why is it that you see nothing wrong with that in terms of international law? And should we also discuss the utter disregard Hezbollah has for the Lebanese population? Frankly, Hezbollah isn’t concerned at all about the fate of the Lebanese; why else would it base itself right out of purely residential areas, so now whenever Israel strikes it is sure to hit civilians more than anything else?
Hezbollah is destroying your country, Mr. Siniora. And what’s more, you are not doing anything to stop it.
You demand an inquiry into Israel’s actions - the nerve! Well, I demand an inquiry into yours and the actions of your government. I hold you personally responsible for every single civilian death in Israel and Lebanon, and every Israeli military death.
It is always puzzling to me when people twist reality to suit their own expectations of the world around them. You are a master at doing so (and so is Sheikh Nasrallah, but that is for another letter). With all due respect, Sir, not only to you but to the Lebanese civilians killed so far in the conflict, you are the only one to blame. You gave cover and even political legitimacy to these Hezbollah fanatics; you kept the door open to Iran and Syria, and once again your dear Lebanese find themselves at the mercy of foreigners with their own agendas. What were you thinking? And what are you still thinking now?
Or maybe you are not as innocent as you seem to be. Tears and sobs apart, I thought it was indeed pathetic when you announced to the world that Israel had killed over 40 people in a blast but later on it turned out only one poor soul had died. Prime example of the traditional manipulation of information in the Muslim world, where all the evils of the world are blamed on the “Zionist entity”.
In your opinion published by the Washington Post, you end with the following words: “Lebanon must be allowed to reclaim its position in this troubled region as a beacon of freedom and democracy where justice and the rule of law prevail, and as a refuge for the oppressed where moderation, tolerance and enlightenment triumph.”
Please, take one good look at that: for Lebanon to reclaim anything, it first needs to get rid of the vermin that is Hezbollah. You and your country had plenty of time and opportunity to do so since the Israeli pullout in 2000 and the Syrian troops withdrawal in 2005; however, the complete opposite happened. A refuge for the oppressed? A refuge for criminals is a more accurate description. Your “oppressed” constantly fire to kill Israeli civilians, even though in Israel, unlike in Lebanon, the military does not hide among the civilian population - quite the contrary.
Sir, your legacy (or lack of) is clear and I assure you that many others agree with me. I think you are ill-qualified for your current job. Still, you do sob well and convincingly in front of cameras; you might want to consider a career in acting.
August 3, 2006
Every bit of news on Israel latey has been extremely painful. I have not been able to read one single article without getting angry at the way the conflict in the Israeli borders is being treated by the media - among other things. Consequently, I have been associating following the news with agony. I have been staying away from newspapers because, frankly, it hurts.
But, it is impossible to completely escape what's happening, and I am just too emotionally connected. Today I was reading the NY Times and I got mad again. This time, the object of my anger was this statement by Hussein Rahal, Hezbollah's chief spokesman (let's face it, it would ineffective to try and apply political correctedness here by referring to him as spokesperson - as if Hezbollah would ever have a woman in that position). See below:
“Declaring a cease-fire is not the concern of the people of Lebanon as long as there is one Israeli soldier on Lebanese soil. It is the right of every Lebanese to fight until liberation.”
What can he possibly mean? First, Hezbollah and Lebanon are not interchangeable terms. It is baffling how Hezbollah is acting as if its goals were representative of those of the Lebanese population. Why can't anyone see what Hezbollah is doing to Lebanon? Secondly, liberation from what? Israelis re-entered Lebanon in response to Hezbollah's latest aggression; other than that, Israelis had left Lebanon in 2000 (a great "victory" in Hezbollah's eyes). I keep forgetting that these are people who believe in their own lies.
The nerve. Really. This conflict is costing me my health. I hold these Hezbollah creeps responsible. Bunch of lunatic hypocritical fanatics.