Showing posts from July, 2011

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Occupy This


The Penis and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

"Palestinian Chicken," the most recent episode of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" was hysterically funny and provided a mishmash of equal-opportunity bashing of almost anyone who comes to mind. I liked this review by Meredith Blake: Shara: I like you. Larry: What’s not to like? Shara: Eh, you’re a Jew. Some day in the not-too-distant future, lazy undergrad students will be writing lengthy essays about Jewish-American male identity based on little more than this episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Who needs Portnoy’s Complaint when you’ve got “Palestinian Chicken”? A few years back, New York magazine ran a cover story about the evolution of Jewish humor. The gist of the piece, which was pegged to the release of Woody Allen's Whatever Works, was that Jewish comedy is slowly dying out after a century of gradual assimilation. In the article, Larry David claimed that he doesn’t think of himself as a distinctly Jewish comedian. At the time, I thought he was being a tad disingenu

Widening ideological differences

Business Times - 27 Jul 2011 Widening ideological differences Clashing TV addresses indicate that while Obama is calling for compromise, Boehner is preparing for confrontation By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT US PRESIDENT Barack Obama remained his usual cool self - and yet sounded a bit combative - during a brief televised address to the nation on Monday night, warning voters that Congress was at a 'stalemate' over raising the federal debt ceiling. He called on them to put pressure on their elected representatives to come up with a compromise that would avoid the possibility of a devastating default, and allow the federal government to continue borrowing money to pay its debts after Aug 2. 'America, after all, has always been a grand experiment in compromise,' President Obama said, as he invoked several Democratic and Republican presidents, including Ronald Reagan - the political icon of conservative Republicans who had raised the debt ceiling and made deals on ma

Tripping the fiscal fantastic

Business Times - 26 Jul 2011 Tripping the fiscal fantastic Liberal Democratic pro-spenders and conservative Republican crusaders are both living in parallel fantasy lands By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT ACCORDING to the latest reports circulating in Washington, after the collapse of their talks last Friday, US President Barack Obama and the Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives have returned to negotiating a deal aimed at reducing the federal government deficit, which would allow for the raising of the debt ceiling before Aug 2. The good news for the American taxpayers (Main Street) and the financial markets (Wall Street) is not only that the US Treasury is not going to run out of cash to pay its debt and run the government, but the leaders of the two major political parties may be moving in the direction of getting - or at least, trying to get - the US fiscal house in order. If the reports are correct - a big 'if' - it is not inconceivable that the White Ho

Time for Obama to exert trade leadership

Business Times - 22 Jul 2011 Time for Obama to exert trade leadership By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT IF YOU are getting depressed following the never-ending bickering in Washington over extending the debt ceiling and cutting the budget deficits, the continuing legislative deadlock over global trade policy is not going to cheer you up. US President Barack Obama is sending the proposed free trade agreements (FTAs) with South Korea, Colombia and Panama to Congress for approval. But officials in the White House are not very optimistic that the lawmakers will approve the trade pacts before they leave for the summer recess next month. The Obama Administration has integrated the promotion of global trade into its overall economic strategy, arguing that trade agreements with emerging markets like Korea help accelerate the fragile economic recovery while creating new well-paying jobs for American workers. Many pro-free-trade Republican lawmakers share President Obama's sentiments bu

New in the National Interest: Syria's House of Borgia Syria's House of Borgia June 22, 2011 Leon Hadar In a geostrategically located region riven by political upheaval and military conflict, providing an arena for competition between great powers, the members of a powerful ruling family had a reputation for ruthlessness and immorality. Their exotic ancestral roots and clannish and secretive modus operandi raised doubts about the legitimacy of their rule and played into the hands of rivals at home and abroad, encouraging family leaders to exercise brute force and deceit in order to maintain their hold on power. But after years of betraying friends and co-opting adversaries, of switching regional alliances and playing one local competitor against the other while relying on the support of foreign powers, the cunning balancing act performed by this dynasty of political survivors proved to be an ineffective strategy to holding power for the one of its young descendants. Americ

Paying Pitts to Pay Pakistan to pay Pitts -- and Raise the Deficit

According to a report in The Washington Post, Representative Joe Pitts, a Republican from Pennsylvania and other U.S, lawmakers received financial contributions from pro-Pakistan lobbyists who were being funded by the Pakistani military, including by its infamous Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI). In return, Pitts and other Pak-paid congressman, including Dan Burton, Republican from Indiana, and Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio were being asked by the ISI men in Washington to promote the Pakistani position on Kashmir, the border region claimed by Pakistan and India. It seems that Pitts and the other lawmakers ended up delivering the goods to their paymasters. Hence, a few days after he had received $2,000 campaign contribution from the Pakistani lobbyists, Pitts introduced a resolution in 2004 which, reflecting Islamabad’s stance, called for a more activist U.S. role in resolving the dispute over Kashmir. The FBI has charged that two U.S. citizens of Pakistani desce

Kicking the deficit-cutting can down the road to Election Day

Business Times - 19 Jul 2011 Kicking the deficit-cutting can down the road to Election Day Both US parties need to find a way to square the debt-ceiling circle through some legislative trick and political gimmicks By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT US President Barack 'No-Drama' Obama tends to refrain from employing hyperbolic language in discussing policy issues. But last Friday, he was close to sounding apocalyptic. 'Let's avert Armageddon', was the way he addressed the American people during another press conference on the debt-ceiling negotiations. Unless Republican and Democratic lawmakers raise the current debt limit of US$14.29 trillion by Aug 2, America would plunge towards what could be described as 'Debtmageddon'. The federal government would not be able to pay back its loans or gain access to new ones, leading to soaring interest rates, igniting a financial meltdown and bringing to a halt the fragile economic recovery. Two major plans to avert

How it became Boehner's Dilemma

Business Times - 15 Jul 2011 How it became Boehner's Dilemma Making a deal on the US debt ceiling is easier said than done as both parties play a game of political one-upmanship By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT ANYONE who has taken an introductory course in one of the social sciences is probably familiar with one of the major problems in the field of game theory: the so-called prisoner's dilemma. It explains why two individuals (say, two suspects arrested by the police, who have insufficient evidence to convict either of them) tend to refrain from cooperating (by not betraying each other to the police) even if it is in their best interests to do so (since they will go free). Welcome to Washington's 2011 Great American Debt Limit Negotiations! Indeed, not unlike the two players in the game of the prisoner's dilemma, President Barack Obama and the leader of the Republican opposition in Congress, House Speaker John Boehner from Oklahoma, would be better off cooperati

US debt limit: Republicans playing a risky game

Business Times - 08 Jul 2011 US debt limit: Republicans playing a risky game By LEON HADAR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT THERE is a general agreement in Washington and Wall Street that the US is in real risk of defaulting on its debt if Congress fails to approve legislation that permits the federal government to exceed the current national borrowing ceiling of US$14.3 trillion by the beginning of next month. In fact, Obama Administration officials insist that Republican and Democratic lawmakers need to agree on a deal by July 22 in order to allow for enacting the necessary legislation before the Aug 2 deadline. In the aftermath of the Great Recession and at a time when the recovery of the US economy remains in very slow motion and the global economy is threatened by ongoing political and economic crises in the eurozone and in the Middle East, you would assume that US legislators would put in place a deal to ensure the US can meet its financial obligations - and as soon as possible. It shoul

English version of my Haaretz op-ed

my new op-ed in haaretz w w w . h a a r e t z . c o . i l עודכן ב- 07:20 04/07/2011 לי-און הדר | היי שלום ניאו-שמרנות מאת לי-און הדר, וושינגטון בנימין נתניהו ובעלי בריתו בוושינגטון חולמים בהקיץ על השידוך המושלם אחרי הבחירות לנשיאות ארה"ב בשנה הבאה. לפי הפנטסיה הזאת, נשיא רפובליקאי יחבור לראש הממשלה מהליכוד, ושניהם יקימו לתחייה את ההגמוניה של ארה"ב במזרח התיכון ויחזירו לישראל את תפקידה כשריף אזורי. ישראל תקבל לאחר מכן אור ירוק מהבית הלבן להשמיד את אתרי הגרעין באיראן, לצאת למתקפה מחודשת על עזה, ולהפציץ את ביירות כדי לדכא את החיזבאללה. נתניהו, האיש שיש לו הכל לבד מהזמנה לשמש יועץ פוליטי למפלגה הרפוליקאית בבחירות 2012, פועל בהנחה שאם ברק אובמה יודח מתפקידו הוא יוחלף בהעתק של ג'ורג' בוש הבן, שיגבש מדיניות מזרח תיכונית הדומה לזאת של ממשלה בהנהגת הליכוד. נראה שמנהיג הליכוד צפה פעמים רבות מדי בנאומים של גלן בק ושרה פיילין ברשת "פוקס", שבהם הם תוקפים את "המוסלמי" בבית הלבן, והחליף אי-מיילים רבים מדי עם עמיתיו הניאו-שמרנים. דומה ג

Saving US Mideast Policy

Published on The National Interest ( Source URL (retrieved on Jul 1, 2011): Saving U.S. Mideast Policy | More [1] | July 1, 2011 Leon Hadar [2] You don't have to be a strategic analyst or a regional expert to figure out that U.S. policies in the Middle East and Central Asia—ranging from Afghanistan to Libya—are reaching a dead end. In Afghanistan, more than 100,000 U.S. and NATO troops, a huge contingency of special operations forces and a bevy of private companies have failed to crush the Taliban-led insurgency and bring political stability and economic growth to the country. Instead, Washington has subsidized an ineffective and corrupt government in Kabul while the U.S. military presence has eroded U.S.-Pakistan relations. The American public's patience for war is running thin. Disdain for the nation-building effort in Afghanistan was compounded by the military intervention in