Friday, October 29, 2010

A Sensitive Guy

Here is a video that shows why Chris Christie is what we need in Washington. 

N.J. Gov. Chris Christie calls Jon Corzine quintessential limousine liberal in America

In the news...

A very interesting poll conducted by the Gallup Organization, once again shows that conservatism is the label of choice that most Americans attach to their ideology.  Even among Democrats, 37 percent identify themselves as conservatives.  Not bad for a movement that two years ago was declared DOA by mainstream punditry. Will this help define the result of Tuesday's elections?

Read Gallup report and data

Charles Krauthammer uses his background as psychiatrist to explain a new malaise among Americans; anxiety-induced Obama Underappreciation Syndrome. 

Read Krauthammer's Article

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Israel’s Conflict as Game Theory

Israel's Conflict as Game Theory
By By Prof. Yisrael Aumann, Nobel Prize Laureate (Aumann received the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 2005 for his work on conflict and cooperation through game-theory analysis.)

Two men—let us call them Rick and Steve— are put in a small room containing a suitcase filled with bills totaling $100,000. The owner of the suitcase announces the following:

“I will give you the money in the suitcase under one condition…you have to negotiate an agreement on how to divide it. That is the only way I will agree to give you the money.”

Rick is a rational person and realizes the golden opportunity that has fallen his way. He turns to Steve with the obvious suggestion: “You take half and I’ll take half, that way each of us will have $50,000.”

To his surprise, Steve frowns at him and says, in a tone that leaves no room for doubt: “Look here, I don’t know what your plans are for the money, but I don’t intend to leave this room with less than $90,000. If you accept that, fine. If not, we can both go home without any of the money.”

Rick can hardly believe his ears. “What has happened to Steve” he asks himself. “Why should he get 90% of the money and I just 10%?” He decides to try to convince Steve to accept his view. “Let’s be logical,” he urges him, “We are in the same situation, we both want the money. Let’s divide the money equally and both of us will profit.”

Steve, however, doesn’t seem perturbed by his friend’s logic. He listens attentively, but when Rick is finished he says, even more emphatically than before: “90-10 or nothing. That is my last offer.”
Rick’s face turns red with anger. He is about to punch Steve in the nose, but he steps back. He realizes that Steve is not going to relent, and that the only way he can leave the room with any money is to give in to him. He straightens his clothes, takes $10,000 from the suitcase, shakes Steve’s hand and leaves the room humiliated.

This case is called ‘The Blackmailer’s Paradox” in game theory. The paradox is that Rick the rational is forced to behave irrationally by definition, in order to achieve maximum results in the face of the situation that has evolved. What brings about this bizarre outcome is the fact Steve is sure of himself and doesn’t flinch when making his exorbitant demand. This convinces Rick that he must give in so as to make the best of the situation.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict

The relationship between Israel and the Arab countries is conducted along the lines of this paradox. At each stage of negotiation, the Arabs present impossible, unacceptable starting positions. They act sure of themselves and as if they totally believe in what they are asking for, and make it clear to Israel that there is no chance of their backing down.

Invariably, Israel agrees to their blackmailing demands because otherwise she will leave the room empty handed. The most blatant example of this is the negotiations with Syria that have been taking place with different levels of negotiators for years. The Syrians made sure that it was clear from the beginning that they would not compromise on one millimeter of the Golan Heights.

The Israeli side, eager to have a peace agreement with Syria, internalized the Syrian position so well, that the Israeli public is sure that the starting point for future negotiations with Syria has to include complete withdrawal from the Golan Heights, this despite its critical strategic importance in ensuring secure borders for Israel.

The Losing Solution
According to game theory, Israel has to change certain basic perceptions in order to improve her chances in the negotiations game with the Arabs and win the long term political struggle:

a. Willingness to forego agreements

Israel’s political stand is based on the principle that agreements must be reached with the Arabs at any price, that the lack of agreements is untenable. In the Blackmailer’s Paradox, Rick’s behavior is the result of his feeling that he must leave the room with some money, no matter how little. Because Rick cannot imagine himself leaving the room with empty hands, he is easy prey for Steve, and ends up leaving with a certain amount of money, but in the role of the humiliated loser. This is similar to the way Israel handles negotiations, her mental state making her unable to reject suggestions that do not advance her interests.

b. Taking repetition into account

Game theory relates to onetime situations differently than to situations that repeat themselves. A situation that repeats itself over any length of time, creates, paradoxically, strategic parity that leads to cooperation between the opposing sides. This cooperation occurs when both sides realize that the game is going to repeat itself, and that since they must weigh the influence present moves will have on future games, there is a balancing factor at play.

Rick saw his problem as a onetime event, and behaved accordingly. Had he told Steve instead that he would not forego the amount he deserves even if he sustains a total loss, he would have changed the game results for an indefinite period. It is probably true that he would still have left the game empty handed, but at the next meeting with Steve, the latter would remember Rick’s original suggestion and would try to reach a compromise.

That is how Israel has to behave, looking at the long term in order to improve her position in future negotiations, even if it means continuing a state of war and fore going an agreement.

c. Faith in your opinions

Another element that crates the “Blackmailer’s Paradox” is the unwavering belief of one side in its opinion. Steve exemplifies that. This faith gives a contender inner confidence in his cause at the start and eventually convinces his rival as well. The result is that the opposing side wants to reach an agreement, even at the expense of irrational surrender that is considerably distanced from his opening position.

Several years ago, I spoke to a senior officer who claimed that Israel must withdraw from the Golan Heights in the framework of a peace treaty, because the Golan is holy land to the Syrians and they will never give it up. I explained to him that first the Syrians convinced themselves that the Golan is holy land to them, and then proceeded to convince you as well. The Syrians’ unflinching belief that they are in the right convinces us to give in to their dictates. The only solution to that is for us to believe unwaveringly in the righteousness of our cause. Only complete faith in our demands can succeed in convincing our Syrian opponent to take our opinion into account.

As in all of science, game theory does not take sides in moral and value judgments. It analyzes strategically the behavior of opposing sides in a game they play against one another. The State of Israel is in the midst of one such game opposite its enemies. As in every game, the Arab-Israeli game involves interests that create the framework of the game and its rules.

Sadly, Israel ignores the basic principles of game theory. If Israel would be wise enough to behave according to those principles, her political status and de facto, her security status, would improve substantially.

Copyright Yisrael Aumann

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekend Readings

Once again, in his inimitable style, Charles Krauthammer explains Obama Underappreciation Syndrome. 

Read Article

Thomas Friedman fantasized wrote "I have fantasized–don't get me wrong–but that what if we could just be China for a day? I mean, just, just, just one day. You know, I mean, where we could actually, you know, authorize the right solutions."

Well here is where a totalitarian government will lead you to. To a woman forced to about an 8 months fetus because she already has a a nine years old daughter.

Read Article

Commentary Magazine has a copy of the letter that Mayor Ed Koch and national security expert Dan Senor have written to explain why they support the Republican candidate in the NY-22 race and not the incumbent.

Read Article

And now for a comic interlude.  Here is a commercial produced by David Zucker as atonement for supporting Barbara Boxer in the past.  Zucker is the producer of the movies Airplane and Naked Gun.

Call Me Senator from RightChange on Vimeo.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Must Read...

Andrew Gilligan reports on the emergence of an Islamic republic in Londonistan, earlier known as London.

Read Article

Peggy Noonan does it again.  In her inimitable style, Noonan explains how the Tea Party saved the Republican Party.

Read Article

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Republicans, Democrats and Israel

As support for Israel decreases around the world and particularly in Europe, one can notice a correlation between the positions of those on the left and those on the right with respect to backing the Jewish state.
The same ideological divide that has emerged in Europe can be seen in the United States, where those differences have a much larger impact on Israel that in any other place, given that American support is crucial to the existence of Israel. Therefore, a new poll commissioned by McLaughlin and Associates for the Emergency Committee for Israel helps shed light on the positions taken by the two main parties in America and the position of Americans in general with respect to Israel. For those of us who are supporters of Israel the results of this survey are extremely encouraging.

93 percent of those polled responded that the United States should be concerned about the safety and security of Israel, and 54 percent actually responded that the United States should be “very concerned” about Israel’s security. The same percentages expect their elected representatives to be pro-Israel. 53 percent also responded that they would be more likely to vote for candidates who support Israel, while 24 percent said that they would be less likely to vote for such candidate, thus showing that holding an anti-Israel position could actually hinder an election.

The poll becomes even more enlightening when we identify those polled by party. Among those who responded that they intend to vote Republican this November, 69 percent stated that they would be more likely to vote for a pro-Israel candidate, while 15 said that they were less likely, giving the pro-Israel group a 55 percent margin. Among Democrats the numbers reflect a very different picture and a pro-Israel margin of only 7 percent. 40 percent stated that they were more likely to vote for a pro-Israel candidate, while 33 percent stated that they were less likely to vote for such candidate. Among liberals the margin shrinks to 5 percent.

A poll by Zogby in 2009 already had began to show the different trends that exist between Democrats and Republicans with respect to this topic. 10 percent of Obama voters wanted the president to support Israel, while 60 percent of voters for McCain expected him to support Israel.

When asked whether the United States should get tough with Israel, 80 percent of Obama voters said yes, while 73 percent of McCain voters said no. Asked whether the United States should negotiate with Hamas, 69 percent of Obama voters said yes, while 79 percent of McCain’s voters said no. With respect to a “Palestinian right of return” this plan was endorsed by 61 percent of Obama’s voters, while only 21 percent of McCain voters supported it.

As we look at the results of these polls, one has to wonder what is it that has placed the Jewish vote in the pockets of the Democratic party. Will the numbers in November reflect the numbers in 2008? Cracks have began to emerge in the Jewish block. Will it be enough to shift the balance of power in such states as New York, Florida and California.   As a lover of America and a supporter of Israel I certainly hope so.

This article contains some opinions written by William Kristol and Daniel Pipes in The Weekly Standard and National Review.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pilar Rahola: The Pope's Trip to Barcelona

As I have done before, I am reprinting here an article written by Pilar Rahola. For those of you not familiar with Dr. Rahola, she is a Spanish Catalan journalist, writer, and former politician and Member of Parliament.

I translated the article.  All the brilliant points are Pilar's. All errors are mine.

The Pope's Trip to Barcelona

Some time ago I wrote that there are some illustrious heroes of the left who when they see a Catholic priest they get skin rashes, but when they see an imam they get an orgasm. Certainly, the attitude that the left has is a function of ideological pathologies with respect to the different religious leaders, and reflects a source of either humor or shame. The truth is that today, in Spain, attacking the Catholic Church is a sport generally successful.

First, because this most ancient church, which exists in the recesses of the Episcopal Conference, is quite laughable. And second, because faithful Catholics are very quiet, and respectful of freedom of expression and accustomed to being used as the punching bags of all lefties craving attention. Although I share the idea that religions need to conform to freedom of opinion, I think that attacking Catholics is more than opinion. It is, in many cases, a bitter resentment that leads to intolerance, and is born out of the deepest contempt. Even though I am unable to understand just faith, I respect those who work for a better world. Do not forget that it was the Catholic Church, that continued the heritage of Judaism, in what today is called solidarity, and their acolytes are still those who practice it the most around the world.

It is true that the Vatican is a source of power, historically more earthly than spiritual, and it is also true that the pedophilia scandal is deplorable and has not yet been well resolved by the Church. How long will the Church to understand that pedophilia it is not sin but a crime? But with all this, the Church deserves the respect that so many deny it.

The case is illustrated by Ricard Gomà (Councilman in Barcelona), who uses the magazine published by City Hall to protest against the "intolerant" Benedict XVI and his trip to Barcelona. Besides the ugliness of political propaganda paid with public money (why not use the newsletter of his party?), and the old accusations, it is remarkable the noise made against the Pope and the silence maintained against some of the fundamentalist imams who pollute the minds of so many people.

Demonstrate against the pope and not the imam of Lleida? (This imam was accused of polygamy and spousal abuse). Funny way to fight intolerance. It is particularly interesting that those who supposedly fight against intolerance blandish the flag of freedom contradict themselves so.

In short, nothing new under the sun of stupidity with which some decorate their old ideologies.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Fair and Balanced Reporting From Israel

Whenever we watch the news or look at photographs in newspapers depicting atrocities of war, we tend to forget that behind the pictures lurks a photographer.  In the case of embedded journalists who travel with the army, one can understand how they managed to capture the images.  However, in the case of spontaneous outburst by children in the West Bank or Gaza, it becomes more difficult to understand whether the media was there to report, or incite or in some cases to do both.  The following video deals with the issue.

Thank you Honest Reporting for bringing this to our attention.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Kurt Browning: Singing in the Rain

I have been busy the last few days, and unable to place any new entries. Hopefully, I will start blogging again tomorrow. In the meantime here is a fabulous video of Kurt Browning doing Singing in the Rain. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Reuben Sandwich

Time to put politics aside and have a few laughs. Enjoy this video.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

From the Unbelievable to the Passé

From the Unbelievable to the Passé

Worth Reading

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Representative Eric Cantor outlines the Republican agenda for the next two years.  By the way, he is the only Republican Jew in Congress.  It is time we Jews learn who our friends are, and begin supporting them. 

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Another article in the Wall Street Journal explains why 30,000 McDonald's employees may loose their health coverage.  So far the majority of people I have spoken to do not seem to understand that the fine print in Obamacare was designed to eliminate health insurance programs, that although no perfect, offer coverage to millions of Americans, most of whom are poor or very young.  This was done to lead eventually to a single payer system.  Of course then we will discover how wonderful government programs are.  Have you been to the DMV or Post Office lately?

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Environmentalists show they can be as caring as al-Qaeda

I just finished watching a video produced in England to promote cutting carbon emissions.  When I saw this video for the first time I assumed that it was an anti-environmentalist group that produced it. I was wrong.

This gives a new meaning to the term "environmentalist wacko."

Friday, October 1, 2010

In the news...

Rick Sanchez says CNN is run by Jews, and not in a complementary way. Well, I always suspected him of being suspected him of being stupid. Now he has confirmed it.

Update:  CNN has just announced the Rick Sanchez has been fired.  The usual suspects will blame Jewish domination of the media.

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