The Baehr Essentials

1. Let's start with a quick sports summary. Nate Silver argues that the Seattle Seahawks are the worst NFL playoff team ever, and the second worst playoff team in the history of the 4 major professional sports.  And to honor their distinguished 7-9 season, the NFL gives them home field advantage against the super bowl champion Saints next week.  Was Seattle rewarded with a playoff berth in exchange for the city agreeing not to plaster its buses with anti-Israel propaganda?  I will root for Seattle next week, since if they win (unlikely I think), and the Packers beat the Eagles,  the Bears get to host Seattle the following week. I don't think Seattle can beat the Bears twice in Soldier Field in one season, and not in the cold. 

And a shout-out to the stalwart Michigan representatives of the Big Ten's Legends division,  outscored 101-21 by two vastly superior SEC teams New Years Day.  The Buckeyes can restore Big Ten pride against the SEC by beating Arkansas tomorrow night. However, OSU's lifetime Bowl record against  SEC teams is 0-9.   

To inspire the OSU faithful.

And for historians, don't forget that the mighty Kenyon Lords have defeated Ohio State on the gridiron seven times, including twice in 1893

2. Israel faces very serious military threats as the year begins.  Iran now has 300 missiles that can reach Israel in 12 minutes. 

Hezb'allah has 40,000 rockets, many of which can reach all parts of Israel, and Hamas has rockets than can hit Tel Aviv.  The rockets in Hezb'allah's hands were supplied by Iran, and allowed into Lebanon from Syria, under the noses of UNIFIL, the United Nations forces in Lebanon. President Obama just rewarded Syria for its "good behavior" by making a recess appointment  of a new ambassador to Syria. 

Harry Kanigel had a comprehensive article in American Thinker yesterday on Israel's continuing need for defensible borders.

The strategic value to Israel of Samaria.

3. Another big year for the jihadists  and their religion of peace:  

4. Leo Rennert continues his outstanding work bringing light to the shameful bias in "news" coverage of the Middle East by the New York Times and Washington Post. It is one thing for fools like Nicholas Kristof, Tom Friedman and Roger Cohen to endlessly repeat their blather on the editorial pages. News coverage was supposed to mean something different.   

Much of the bias in coverage of the Middle East concerns which stories are reported, and which are not. As one might expect, if a story would put the PA and Hamas in a bad light, it will not be reported in either paper: 

Caroline Glick on Hezbollah and the information war.

5. Britain leads the developed world in both anti-Semitism and hatred of Israel by its elites.  Not all criticism of Israel is a reflection of anti-Semitic views , but some of it is, and in Britain, the line is crossed so often, that one no longer needs to work hard to identify it.  

Melanie Phillips continues her lonely fight.

6. While the left in the United States screams about the crisis of Islamophobia breaking out all over, the real story is that hate crimes against Jews dwarf those against Muslims, and are hugely "disproportionate" to use a Goldstone report term, to Jewish numbers and percentage  of the population in this country.  If the perpetrators of the hate crimes were identified by group, where known, , I will make an educated guess, that far more Muslims committed hate crimes against Jews,  than the number of hate crimes committed against Muslims by all other groups combined. 

Phyllis Chesler on the same theme.

In response to the murder of 21 Coptic Christians in Egypt, ( a greater number were massacred in Nigeria), Barack Obama denounced the violence which he said caused Christian and Muslim victims.  Did one Muslim bystander get a scrape on his knee?  

7. Greece is building a long wall on its border with Turkey to keep out illegal immigrants. Greece must therefore be heartless and racist, like the U.S and Israel. For the record, such walls exist along the border of many countries. 

8. George Will thinks too many bright American students want to be lawyers, and hedge fund managers, rather than scientists, or engineers.

9. The left has become increasingly unhinged  since the President agreed to an extension of the existing tax rates for all income levels. Two examples:

Nicholas Kristof argues that income inequality is the cause of unhappiness, lost souls, obesity, and poverty.  And also the San Diego Chargers missing the playoffs. He admits that not all people have the same skills. He fails to mention that not all people have the same motivation, and work ethic, and personal characteristics, or made the same investment in higher education, for which over the last 20 years, there have been outsized rewards.  I think those who are less well off are less concerned with how many multiples of their income are earned by hedge fund managers, than in their own income level and well being. Kristof points to two states with less income inequality- New Hampshire and Minnesota, and two states with higher income inequality- Mississippi and Louisiana. He neglects to mention that Mississippi and Louisiana have the highest African American percentages  of the population of all the states, and New Hampshire and Minnesota are near the bottom in that category. The real issue in the relative degree of income inequality in these states, may be cultural and historical, but most important, the average and median income level is far higher in the two northern states than the two southern states.   When 70% of black children are born out of wedlock, suffice to say, that starts kids off on the  wrong foot. How exactly does raising the estate tax level from 35% to 45% for a few thousand who pay it every year,  do much about addressing income inequality or raising the incomes of those at the bottom? It might mean the Treasury sells a few less bonds one month. Kristof, genius that he is, makes raising the estate tax one of his three key recommendations, along with extending unemployment insurance benefits , and more preschool education. Paying meagre unemployment insurance benefits does nothing to reduce long term income inequality, if that is the goal. It is better, I think to try things that put people to work. 

James Carroll, another hater of rich people,  makes a notable effort to outdo Kristof, labeling the Tea Party a collection of know nothings , creating a whiff of fascism in the American air.  

Michael Barone makes a counter argument:  

10. The best review of the year's news is always that of Dave Barry.