Battles Here and in Israel

Horror and bloodshed abroad, and Jim Jordan is still here. A bad week all around.

Battles Here and in Israel

So, Mitt Romney has given up. In the age of Gaetz, Greene, Boebert, Gosar, Jordan, Scalise and the rest, it's hard to remember that this guy was the Republican Presidential nominee just 11 years ago. I know what his official statement said...

Biography - Mitt Romney
Yeah, the man looks like a shattered shell of his former self.

“At the end of another term, I’d be in my mid-80s. Frankly, it’s time for a new generation of leaders,” Mr. Romney, 76, said in a video statement. “They’re the ones that need to make the decisions that will shape the world they will be living in.”

And yes, 76 is getting up there. But I have seen no sign of any decline, and frankly, the man looks far younger than his years, dammit. So, I'm not believing this rationale for a moment. He's just had it, and no doubt, most rational Republicans with him.

The House of Representatives is now a rudderless ship headed straight for the rocks of governmental shutdown and the leading candidates to take over from the spinally gelatinous Kevin McCarthy, favor it. I talked about the consequences of a shutdown last week, but they are many, including triggering more interest rate increases due to a threatened United States credit rating. At this rate, my daughter will have to handle the transfer of the house we are trying to sell right now.

Sports, Immigrants, Abbott and Trump as Otter | Texas Outlaw Writers
“Lauren Boebert wants to pass new laws to make smuggling drugs and human trafficking, which are of course illegal, even MORE illegal. And they all want a 2,000-mile border wall since the one in Berlin worked so well. I imagine Canada feels like they have rented an apartment above a meth lab.”

And McCarthy's mortal sin for the Hateful 8 of the House, was to strike a deal to delay it for a few weeks.

The Hateful Eight: A perfect depiction of the volatility in the American  society
"We don't cotton to no governin' in our neck of the woods, pardner."

The leading candidates to take over the house are Jim Jordan, whom former speaker John Boehner described as a "political terrorist," and Minority Leader Steve Scalise who once reportedly described himself to a prominent reporter...

Stephanie Grace, a Louisiana politics reporter and columnist, told the New York Times that at the start of Scalise’s legislative career, while “explaining his politics”, he told her “he was like David Duke without the baggage”.

Grace said she thought Scalise had “meant he supported the same policy ideas as David Duke, but he wasn’t David Duke, that he didn’t have the same feelings about certain people as David Duke did”.

Scalise did not comment on Grace’s remarks. 

And while we are at it, the majority of both Democrats and Republicans in both houses support continued aid to Ukraine, but this tiny crowd does not. President Zelenskyy could be forgiven for a forehead-slapping "WTF?"

And now, this political Our Gang has to deal with the war in Israel...

Former '30s child star Sidney Kibrick reflects on filming 'Our Gang,'  leaving Hollywood at age 11: 'I had fun' | Fox News
"OK, but nothing for Ukraine, got me?"

Of course, their actual leader, Donald Trump, claimed today that if he was President, the Hamas attack would never have happened. Of course, the Soviet invasion of Ukraine wouldn't have either. Or one supposes, Hitler invading Poland, Lot's wife looking back or Cain killing Abel. He based this one though on the Abraham Accords that were reached during his term in office. But they involved relations between Israel, Bahrain, Morocco, Sudan and the United Arab Emirates. A good thing, obviously, but what that has to do with this weekend's attacks by Hamas is a connection that can only be made in a cranium full of eels, seemingly.

"Oh, and I can make you a deal on some used submarines."

Incidentally, this is after his frankly racist jibes at African-American women legal figures, and claiming that Hispanic immigrants are "tainting our blood." Yes, he said that. That's not a dog whistle, it's a train whistle. Consider...

 The US Department of Justice — under the Nixon administration, out of all administrations — sued the Trump Management Corporation for violating the Fair Housing Act. Federal officials found evidence that Trump had refused to rent to Black tenants and lied to Black applicants about whether apartments were available.

book by John O’Donnell, former president of Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City, quoted Trump’s criticism of a Black accountant: “Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day. … I think that the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault, because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Trump later said in a 1997 Playboy interview that “the stuff O’Donnell wrote about me is probably true.”

The Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino had to pay a $200,000 fine because it transferred Black and women dealers off tables to accommodate a big-time gambler’s prejudices.

 In congressional testimony, Trump said that some Native American reservations operating casinos shouldn’t be allowed because “they don’t look like Indians to me.”

While Trump suggested that Obama wasn’t born in the US, he also argued that maybe Obama wasn’t a good enough student to have gotten into Columbia or Harvard Law School, and demanded Obama release his university transcripts. Trump claimed, “I heard he was a terrible student. Terrible. How does a bad student go to Columbia and then to Harvard?”

Shall we go on? OK, how about publicly proposing a new version of The Apprentice with a black team versus a white team? And this is the North Star for the GOP right now? Mitt will have company before long.

And now there's Israel. This weekend's vicious and surprise attack by Hamas brought to mind a famous quote. In 1973, legendary Israeli diplomat Abba Eban famously quipped: "The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity."

I mentioned in January's post, my trip to Israel to report during the first Gulf War.

My War Story | Texas Outlaw Writers
As the Anglican Archbishop of East Jerusalem - a Palestinian Christian - Samir Khafiti told me on this trip, “For people here, the Bible is like yesterday’s newspaper. They are fighting battles that go back centuries.”

That was the first of four trips to Israel and her neighbors, one of which was after the Oslo Accords were signed at the White House. Among the notable outcomes of the Oslo Accords was the creation of the Palestinian National Authority, which was tasked with the responsibility of conducting limited Palestinian self-governance over parts of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip; and the international acknowledgement of the PLO as Israel's partner in permanent-status negotiations about any remaining issues revolving around the Israeli–Palestinian conflict


The man on the left was assassinated by an Israeli radical for doing this, and the man on the right was so afraid of the same thing from his own, that he never pursued anything resembling a real peace with his Israeli neighbors. In short, the result of Arafat's cowardice was there never were permanent status negotiations, and the simmering stew of hate continued to, well, simmer.

But all was hopeful back then. I visited villages in the West Bank like Jericho, and talked with newly appointed Palestinian officials who now were enjoying some control over their community and their lives.

The Secretary of State, Warren Christopher was there to make the announcement along with Shimon Peres...

I met a Palestinian engineer, a lawyer and a teacher. I recall thinking, and reporting, these were the kinds of folks the new Palestine would need to build a government from scratch. That seems so incredibly naive after this weekend. And anyone who fashions themselves a Palestinian leader and thinks this invasion will further the cause of a "two-state solution" is certifiable.

When you visit Gaza City, you see why it is perhaps the most densely populated piece of real estate on the planet. I and another reporter went to the crossing point to Gaza to be allowed to interview the Hamas General in charge of the area. We went through the Israeli check point...

From there we were met in a sort of no-man's-land between it and the Palestinian checkpoint. Two tough-looking guys drove us to the Palestinian side, and through the car windows were handed back their pistols. My colleague and I looked at each other wide-eyed.

We then raced through the city at high speed to our interview. The General talked about the current state of affairs with Israel. Having seen "Patton" too many times it seems, he was also wearing an ivory-handled revolver on his hip as well. Hamas didn't actually formally control the strip at the time, but they were the militant wing of the former PLO and later the Palestinian Authority. For all intents and purposes, they were in charge.

And, by the way, even back then, Gaza City looked like the hell hole it truly was.

Bulldozers remove debris of Al-Jawharah Tower that was hit by Israeli air strikes during Israel-Palestine fighting last May, in Gaza City, December 21, 2021. Picture taken December 21, 2021. (photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMMED SALEM)

Fast forward to now. The current Netanyahu government may be the most right-wing in Israeli history. They have built more settlements on the West Bank so that if there were a future Palestine there, it would look like a piece of Swiss cheese. Violence from Israeli "settlers" and violence from Palestinian residents were becoming all too common. Government ministers have issued insulting and racist statements about their Arab neighbors in Israel and were planning a virtual takeover of the judicial system that sparked angry mass demonstrations.

They have pushed it to such an extent that the soldiers and pilots of the Israeli Defense Force have almost mutinied and refused to report to duty stations. That drew insults and angry responses from the more radical ministers against the country's military leaders. In short, Bibi was in trouble.

Rather than see this as an opportunity while the leadership was politically vulnerable, and international opinion was more and more negative, Hamas decided the time was right to stage this idiotic "invasion" and kill hundreds of innocent civilians. Make no mistake, it will and no doubt, already has failed. Reports of beheadings and videos of bodies put on display in pickup truck beds are in the press now. As I write this, the terrified civilians they have taken prisoner are the objects of what would have to be a massive rescue operation.

I don't know how it will go at this writing, but remember Entebbe. Israel knows how to do these things. Meanwhile, Gaza City will be reduced to even more rubble than it already is, International opinion will rally around Israel, as it should, and any hope of a return to negotiations is out the window, maybe forever.

I'm sure a lot of Palestinians felt good at an elemental level knowing they were firing rockets and storming through Israeli towns, killing indiscriminately. Mindless blood lust can have that mass effect. But the world has reacted in horror, as men, women, children, and the elderly are killed for no reason other than they are Israeli. An elderly Holocaust survivor was actually taken captive. And the response will be overwhelming and devastating. What did these guys expect?

As I mentioned, I have met and come to like many of the Palestinians I talked with on my trips, and many times, thought that this just might be the time both sides sit down and hash out a plan. A Palestinian Christian clergyman told me my naivete was born of being an American. He said Americans generally see a problem, fix it, and move on. Of course, he didn't live to see this Congress. But, I quoted him in my earlier column...

As the Anglican Archbishop of East Jerusalem, a Palestinian Christian, Samir Khafity, told me on this trip, “For people here, the Bible is like yesterday’s newspaper. They are fighting battles that go back centuries.”

He mentioned the Beatitudes, particularly, "Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." That was 32 years ago, and they are harder to find than ever. And Hamas has released a river of blood that may drown them forever.

Roger Gray has toiled at the journalism trade since 1970 and his first radio news job at KTRH in Houston. Over those woefully misspent years, he has worked in radio, TV and written for magazines. He was twice elected President of the Texas Automobile Writers Association and was elected to the Texas Radio Hall of Fame. He covered the first Persian Gulf War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, Oslo Accords in Israel and peace talks in Ireland. He interviewed writers, actors, politicians and every President from Ford to George W, and none of them remember him.
Now, he is part of the Texas Outlaw Writers, and if this doesn't pan out, the outlaw part will still work as he will indeed resort to robbing banks.