Wednesday, May 10, 2006

O'Reilly tosses the N-word around... again.

In discussing the media's "mis"-treatment of Tony Snow, O'Reilly made the following comment:

So, you got these smear merchants on the Internet and they operate through some newspaper people and a couple of television people who just parrot what they give them. They're despicable human beings, these smear merchants on the -- on the net. And the press is even worse. It just spits out their propaganda. I mean, these are Nazis. These are Joseph Goebbels people.

As just one of millions of people whose families or extended families were destroyed by Hitler and his goons, I'd like to offer this observation: Bill O'Reilly should be beaten with a stick.

In case anyone's curious, Media Matters has a bunch of stuff on GOP-ers throwing out Nazi references. You know, for the next time O'Shmuckface or Sean McOrangutan tries to dishonestly and hypocritically characterize all lefties as supporting comparisons between Bush and Hitler.


New Charity Idea

Inspired from this thread over on DovBear (based on this incredible- if true- story from Ynet), the Friar is announcing a new charity. I know what you're thinking, you already give enough- to the shul, to AIPAC, the ADL, maybe even a few political parties or two. If you're non-Orthodox and over the age of 30 and have incredible feelings of guilt and no backbone, you probably piss some decent multiple of 18 down the drain at this thing every year, too.

But this is a really important cause, everyone, so let's all give till it hurts.

Every year, as millions of Jews around the world struggle to make a living (whether through honest work, legitimate economic support from government and religious institutions, or, occaisonally and depressingly, fraud), there are upwards of 1,000 rebbes, Roshei Yeshivas, and other great Gedolim who have to live without furniture. These noble sages, these brilliant minds, these wonderful souls who take time out of their busy schedules to intervene with the Almighty on our behalf (and, you know, convince him not to blow us all to Hell) deserve a little something back, don't you think?

And don't try and take the easy way out and say, "Aren't most of these guys filthy rich?" That's an ugly, hurftul stereotype, and if you keep it up, we'll call Abraham Foxman on you. Yes, some of these halogen-like illuminaries happen to have some private assets, but since when is that against the law, you dirty Bolshevik? Besides, some of these guys have really large families, and they have to make a living, too. Just because everyone may THINK of the rebbe as being "their father" doesn't mean he has to pay their bills, too. Being a rebbe ain't free, bub.

In any event, a major portion of every community's assets goes towards charity works. It's been documented that the frummies are the ones who give more to Jewish charities- and they've got more kids and less jobs in the first place! It's time for the rest of us less-than-ehrlicher-yidden to suck it up and play our part.

Just listen to this one testimony from our friend and partner, Lakewood Yid:

"I've been to the house of R' Steinman. I can assure you that if you saw someone living like that in USA, you would call in the social worker. Just about the only furniture he has is his bookcases."

That's right. That this Torah Godol should have to live in a tiny apartment with only a single bookcase is a major Hillul Hashem. Even the Vilna Gaon had a hammock. Thanks to your donations, we can provide high-quality furniture, new and used, to hardworking sages like Rav Steinman, so he can be well-rested for continuing the fight against the biggest enemies facing world Jewry today- rabbis who dare to teach evolution, and police who dare to arrest baby-killers.

Please, friends, donate now- and also be sure to write in if you think you know a Godol in your area living in less material comfort than his spiritual body can stand. Remember, if your Rav's backside isn't soft from getting a heated shiatzu 8-motor massage... how will you kiss it?

Other Gedolim on our list:

- Gerer Rebbe shlita- 1 heart-shaped, red-plush, "Magic Fingers" revolving bed.
- Rav Yosef Shalom Eliashiv, shlita- 3 matching pinstripe Ottomans, stuffed with goosefeathers (and a few shtreimels, for class).
-Rav Ovadia Yosef, shlita- 1 top-of-the-line tanning bed; comes complete with novelty oversize sunglasses.

And many more! So don't delay, call now and donate your time, money, car, SUV, house... just no prayers, we've got enough of those, thanks.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

No, I'm not dead. (Cue the Shehecheyanu.)

Your humble friar has been and continues to be horribly busy, but so as to not leave his readership without some food for thought, here is a brief comment on the present inanity surrounding the Anthem idiocy controversy.

First, I'd like to point out that most young people really don't care about the national anthem. Unless you're from a military family or are a direct descendant of Francis Scott Key, you probably- at best- associate the anthem with sporting events, which, needless to say, is not particularly patriotic- or sensical. The truth of the matter is that the national anthem is not very relevant to contemporary American life- either in context or content. That the anthem is only invoked in the most hokey of American experiences, sports, says something rather profound about the importance- or lack thereof- of this song.

Incidentally, when did we decide a song was so important? When did we decide that the way to communicate important things about American politics, principles, philosophy, policy (hey, p-words are fun!) was via song? No offense to song lyrics, but I've always been a "prose" guy myself. While songs can be meaningful for some people in some contexts, generally they're relegated to the back shelf in the minds of most modern people.

Which brings us back to the anthem debate: it's really, really, stupid. The national anthem has little contextual basis to tie it so closely to either American-ness or American society the way some of its advocates are suggesting (when was the last time you sang the anthem, either for fun or for some actual reason?), and furthermore, its lyrics are similarly out of touch. Yes, the rockets and bombs bit is somewhat moving- but don't pretend like the America of today, or the wars and struggles it's dealing with, are substantially similar to what was going on in the War of 1812, ok? That's just bullshit.

Other points to note:

  • The actual song has 4 stanzas- how come the uber-patriots aren't yelling about everyone cutting it down by three-quarters? Surely the loss of time at sporting events, public school assemblies, and a myriad of other inconsequential gatherings is worth it to properly honor our country and the outdated, preachy ramblings of the stupid song they arbitrarily picked? Full version (including the lines "Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution" and "Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-rescued land/ Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation") available here.
  • The nation did just fine without a national anthem for over 150 years. Congress didn't make SSB the anthem until the early 1930s (because, you know, that's what people needed in the Depression- cheerful and relevant songs about the British blowing forts up).
  • The melody is a rip-off of a popular British song, To Anacreon in Heaven, the 1800s-version of "On top of Old Smokey".
  • Bush's inauguration featured a Spanish version of SSB.
  • The First Lady has gone on record saying she personally could give a shit.
  • A Spanish version of SSB was commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Education in 1919- eleven years before SSB was even the NATIONAL anthem!
So up yours, Bushie, up yours, Senator Lamar Alexander (the guy who says muti-linguistic anthems will "celebrate" multiculturalism, to the detriment of an invented "common American culture"), and the same to all their apologists. If you think the anthem isn't about politics, maybe you should actually read the words sometime. And if you think most people actually care about this issue when they aren't being beaten over the head with it, maybe you should get out more.

Full disclosure: I went to California private schools until college. Not only did I not know all the words to the pledge OR the anthem until I was 12, I didn't know what they were, either. ("Wait, you mean the 'baseball song?'")

Fun tidbit: The National Anthem in Yiddish.