Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Judeo-Christian nutbaggery

It's time for Judeo-Christian bullcrap!

First, last night I noticed a very interesting thing- a commercial for Loew's, which got so much ire from Bill O'Reilly last year for saying Happy Holidays, is still saying it- but the only stuff they're showing in their commercials is for Christmas. That's a mighty big Hanukkah Bush there, Loew's, and the Macca-ornaments are the wrong colors. So much for Happy Holidays being such an equalizer.

Also, the Great Christmas Defender O'Reilly seems to have caved a little- last night he peddled his crap on his online "Christmas-Hanukkah Store". Funny, the Hanukkah part doesn't seem to be up there yet. Well, I'm sure that's just an oversight. I'll send Bill an email or something. And anyway Bill, who do you think you are? The Founding Fathers didn't have Hannukah in mind when they starved the Indians and stole their land anymore than they did Kwanzaa or Id-al-Fitr. Why are you caving into PC BS? I thought you were going to tell it like it is. What's with the exception for Jews? (Not that we aren't flattered, or at least confused.)

Moving right along, we come to Dennis Prager, still defending his glorious myth of Judeo-Christianity, despite the fact that no Judeo-Christians that actually exist. Again, the Founding Fathers were a lot of things, but they weren't Judeo-Christians, and the model Dennis is proposing for America is not only unconstitutional but undemocratic, and oh, yeah, not so good for the Jews (or Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, Shintos, Buddhists, hell, even Mormons!).

America decides what books get to be holy, by Book of Dumbass Prager.

"Hey, newly-elected Muslim-Commie-Hippy douche Congressman! You can't swear on the Koran! If you do, that means you're a Muslim, not an American! You know why? Because the only holy book in America is the Bible, and if you don't like it, you shouldn't be in Congress!"

Hey Dennis, why should government officials swear on holy books anyway? Why not have them swear on the Constitution or something?

"It doesn't matter! What matters is that Americans decided, as angry mobs do, that their way is right, and if you don't like it, don't run and get elected!"

But if Keith Ellison's district voted for him, clearly his being a Muslim doesn't bother them.

"That's why we're going to have to put everybody in the Minnesota 5th into America-camps. But I'm getting ahead of myself. The real issue is that Turban McJihad won't swear on a Bible."

But if he's a believing Muslim, there would be no point in having him swear on a book he doesn't believe to be true.

"He should at least have the decency to pretend along with everybody else, dammit!"

That doesn't make any sense.

"Does too!"

Doesn't this mean that the so-called Judeo-Christian social compact really just requires Jews to sublimate their identity to the majority's will and social mores under the guise of entering into a position of equality?

"Nuh-uh! You're just a multiculturalist Fascist, and Ellison is getting a free pass because he's Muslim. You think Bin Laden cares that we're nice to Keith? He doesn't even get CSPAN in that cave of his."

Actually, more people are probably supporting Ellison bcause they think he actually has a point...

"No, he doesn't. Furthermore, if you let Muslims swear on the Koran, it's just going to lead to somebody swearing on Mein Kampf. I guess the real question is, why do you love Hitler?"

Sigh. Bye, Dennis.

Pat Boone is annoyed, and not just because his music sucks or his face looks like it's about to collapse in on itself. See, Pat likes Wal-mart, and he likes Christmas. He's happy that Sam Walton's ghost has helped vanquish "militant atheists".

I'm thrilled to see that Wal-Mart has banished "the Grinch" that threatened to steal Christmas, and will be advertising Christmas sales and playing Christmas music – and not conforming to the total "Holiday" imagery and advertising of other milk-toast wimp marketers. Again, the family friendly vision of Sam Walton lives on!
Conveniently, the only families that shop at Wal-Mart are Christians. And Christians who really enjoy having their faith commercially butt-raped and then foisted back upon them like some Demon hell-spawn. I mean, have you really celebrated the birth of the Lord properly unless you've re-enacted it with gold-leaf china Nativity replicas? And what CHRISTMAS family newsletter would be complete without Madonna-and-Child postage? An American flag and two of those Navajo stamps just doesn't cut it. You might as well just flush your letter to Santa down the toilet and save the trip to the mail-box, or as we call it, "the Christmas communication center".

But wait, there's more about Walton's creepy ghost!

I believe he's smiling somewhere, possibly in the presence of the One whose birth Christmas celebrates.

Yeah, funny that. I don't think that One would be too happy at the travesty you've made out of his birthday. Next time just send cake (kosher, of course).

But banishing the Grinch isn't enough for Pat, because after taking this Christ-tastic step forward Wal-Mart apparently jumped three steps back and impaled itself on a rake:

So imagine my surprise, my shock really, when I read yesterday that this venerable company, the international outgrowth of Mr. Sam's personal vision, has agreed to automatically donate 5 percent of online sales directly to the Washington, D.C., community center for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people! The cash donation will come from online purchases made at Wal-Mart through the homosexual group's website. Every purchase made online for books, music, videos, clothing and accessories, children's clothing and toys, and electronics will automatically send 5 percent of the sales to the CCBLBT organization.

Those damn gays! How dare they buy things! Who do they think they are, Christians? Also, gays shouldn't be allowed to swear on a Bible. Maybe an AIDS pamphlet, though.

So what's Patty's response? Boycott Wal-Mart, of course. And he justifies it by appealing to more ghosts:

I suspect Mr. Sam is not smiling about the sudden flak, or the actions that caused it...He was a rock ribbed "traditional values" guy, and while he loved everybody and loved serving them, his own staff has told me of situations in which he took a stern, fatherly, moral stance with employees who weren't representing his American Christian values. He considered them his "family" and tried to lead them accordingly.

...How ironic, if Wal-Mart banishes the Grinch – but has its Christmas sales stolen by the gays!


Oh, and speaking of idealized fictions used to condemn elements of society that don't conform to artificially-created and retroactively-legitimized standards, more Pat Boone, who, not having any real things to be pissed off about, took the opportunity in his most recent column to bitch out people not praying on Thanksgiving. Right, because that's totally his business and totally affects him.

First Pat blames the ACLU, who apparently have sued Americans into submission inside their own dining rooms to the point that they no longer thank God for the glorious bounty before them. He appeals to BS nostalgia for the good-old-days that weren't so good if you weren't, say, a middle-class white Protestant male. He eulogizes the whitewashed, saccharine, and historical absurdity that was "the first Thanksgiving", and remenisces about finger-painting:

For all my life, and yours I expect, there were frequent everyday reminders that God was the source of our blessings in this country, and it was natural to take a day to offer thanksgiving—to Him.

In school, all kids were taught details of "the first Thanksgiving," in which our early forefathers dined with the Indians, sharing foods and customs and mutual faith in a Heavenly Provider, the Great Spirit, the loving God of heaven and earth. Most of us were encouraged to create our own drawings and images of what that event may have been like.


Yeah, and then we all ate paste. Cut to the chase, man.

Now, if we continue to allow these relatively few militant revisionists to dictate our national and social policy, this picture, this hallowed tradition will just fade away, become a faint recollection, and finally disappear forever.

See, revisionism is actually what you're doing, because... oh never mind.

If I have my history straight, Thanksgiving Day was officially added to our national calendar by Congress when Franklin D. Roosevelt was president, as a commemoration in its own right but also as an extension of the Christmas holiday season!

That makes no godamn sense whatsoever. Next you'll be saying Valentine's Day is an extension of Easter (and fighting hard, I'm sure, to put the "Saint" back in, lest we forget the vague thing that makes Valentine ever-so-slightly-important).

Lastly, Pat ties in not thanking God for food with the whole evolution and natural selection thing. Apparently without a Thanksgiving Prayer, you're little more than a lizard. *acid tongue-flick to Pat's eye. Score!*

One last bit from Pat:

I guess I’m just old fashioned, too much a traditionalist. It feels so good, so right, to say out loud, "God in heaven, thank you for revealing Who You are to all who seek You and can read the evidence all around us, everywhere we look. Thank you for this living dream we call America, and all the blessings we enjoy because You instructed our forefathers through Your book..."

No, Pat, you can- and should- say whatever the hell you want. It's trying to guilt-trip the rest of us and suggest that nobody can celebrate anything differently than you and have it contain the smallest scintilla of meaning that makes you a shitty little cockroach. Screw being a traditionalist, I'd be satisfied if you just stopped being an asshole.

Hope you enjoyed the stuffing.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Why not just build them their own ghettos?

It'll be great, you can make them get a special pass to go outside, and get some Ukrainians to guard the checkpoints.

Oh, and maybe they can save up modesty rations. You know, "100 days without looking like a whore gets you a new tote-bag" or something. Or maybe a nice bleach-guard. Something in black, perhaps?

Of course it's modest, what do you take me for?

Haredim take "respecting women" to a whole new level

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

More FOX News Fun

First segment-

"How dare people not allow a creche in a public school? I mean, yeah, we have a Xmas tree, but we want a creche! What do you mean a menorah can also be a secular symbol? A manger can have HISTORICAL purposes, too!"

Yeah, like, um... National manger month. When we take the time to recognize the historic debt we all owe to our noble draft animals. Good point, Kasich.

Second segment-

"How dare this nursing mother in the back of a plane (that was delayed for three hours) not cover up when a flight attendant told her to! I mean, she was offending that poor flight attendant! People need to recognize that they live in society and that different people get offended about different things. What's wrong with just respecting people's sensitivities, you know?"

And no cognitive dissonance whatsoever.

This reminds me of a fun O'Reilly segment from last year. Actually, a couple. Apparently only Christians get offended about anything. Or maybe it's just that they're the only ones that matter.

"The more you know".

Fun with Indignation

From last night's O'Reilly (with special guest Laura Ingalls Wilder):

"I can't believe FOX was going to allow O.J. to write a book and have a movie produced. That's just sick. I mean, we're talking about a guy who millions of Americans believe killed his wife. And to promote this during the Christmas season, out of all times!"

I'm not an O.J. fan, but I did think this was an interesting standard to use. Let's see...

"I can't believe FOX is allowing this guy to market his book! We're talking about a guy who millions of Americans believe sexually harassed his intern for two and a half years. And during the Christmas season!"


Saturday, November 18, 2006


- AIPAC doesn't always represent Israel's or America's best interests-who said it? A 'moderate' AIPAC member. Interesting.

- The Israeli-Arab who founded a one-man Holocaust museum in Nazareth has been invited to Iran for a "Holocaust study conference". He says he's going to go and tell off Ahmadinejad to his face. Let's hope he stays safe.

- Mobius' snit about the Lego Ghetto is getting some media attention. And what do you know, the world didn't end.

As the Holocaust continues to occupy a central place in the American Jewish consciousness, parents, educators and the planners of communal events have been faced with a vexing question: Is it possible to teach children about the tragedy of Europe’s Jews in a way that, on the one hand, doesn’t trivialize the horrors but, at the same time, doesn’t induce nightmares?

...Schwartz worried that he was going to offend, but he persevered and today, after having done the program a number of times, he feels vindicated. “I get letters from rabbis, from educators saying this is the greatest program they’ve ever seen,” he said.

Barbara Wind, director of the Holocaust Council that brought Schwartz to Whippany, emphasized that the program includes far more than simply playing with colored blocks. After the walls are up and a few key structures are in place, Schwartz gives a lesson on the history of the ghetto, including the fact that only a 20-foot section of the outer wall still stands. This synagogue was turned into a stable, he says, and here, at 18 Mila Street, is where the Warsaw Ghetto uprising was planned.

“A 10-year-old isn’t going to see ‘Schindler’s List’ or ‘The Pianist,’” Wind said. “Here, in a non-threatening way, we can show that this was a heroic chapter. The Jews fought with bravery against what was the greatest army in the world and held out for over a month. That’s the message we’d like them to understand.”

And indeed, those who turned out for the November 5 event — a group that included about 40 children, some parents and a sprinkling of Holocaust survivors — responded positively.

Sam Bradin, an Auschwitz survivor at the event with his 8-year-old grandson, found the program to be educational and not at all inappropriate.

“Of course it doesn’t portray 100% what it looked like,” he said, “but more or less it gives the young people an idea of what went on there.

Reid Schalet, 12, who, together with his brothers Grant, 15, and Myles, 10, built an apartment building for the ghetto, spoke of how jarring it was to be able to picture just how tight the quarters were. The project, he said, enabled him to see anew the story of his grandfather, a Holocaust survivor. “It makes you realize how he had to live just to be safe,” he said.

For the curious, my response to Mobius is here.

- Some left-wing activists "seized" some tanks and checkpoints bordering the Gaza strip. Apparently all their efforts are working, because the Palestinians are finally catching on to this nonviolent resistance thing, too. Well, sort of:

Hundreds of Palestinians formed a human shield around the home of a militant in the northern Gaza Strip town of Beit Lahia late Saturday to prevent an Israel Air Force air strike on the building, residents said...he crowd chanted anti-Israel and anti-American slogans, and people said they were prepared to give their lives to protect the home. "Yes to martyrdom. No to surrender," the crowd chanted.

"We came here to protect this fighter, to protect his house and to prove that we are capable of defeating this Zionist policy," said Nizar Rayan, a local Hamas leader who joined the protest.
Gandhi would be proud. Maybe.

- There's more info on Lazer's supposed miracle and the continuing fall-out.
Following the shelling, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s Hamas accelerated their negotiations. The accelerated talks indicate “a siege mentality — in a siege we’ve got to be united,” said Bar-Ilan University’s Menachem Klein, an expert on Palestinian politics."

Way to go, God! Yasher Koach!

- The Jerusalem Post has a piece summing up all its coverage of the haredi reaction to the Gay Pride parade- particularly interesting is its analysis of all the different parties involved:

Continuing the three-centuries-old standoff between hassidim and mitnagim, Sephardi and Lithuanian haredi leaders Rabbi Ovadia Yosef and Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv joined in the Eda's "holy war." In effect they legitimized groups previously considered "untouchables" in the eyes of the rabbis: shababnikim (alienated young people on the fringe of haredi society), and mizrahistim National Religious Party-affiliated hilltop youth living in the West Bank. As well, they joined with Christian and Muslim religious leaders in a rare display of ecumenicalism in a multi-faith coalition against the same-sex parade.

"We are very afraid of the cooperation with the settlers," Poppenheim said. "We don't want our young people to see that we are involved with them. For me, [extreme right-wing settler leader] Baruch Marzel is no less a danger than the participants in the parade. The haredi embrace of the Right has led to a very great moral deterioration since the days of the IZL," referring to the pre-state underground (the Irgun) which used terrorism to fight the British and Arabs. But, he added, the end justifies the means.

Funny, isn't that what the Lehi said?

- Lastly, I really, really don't get sports.

Interfaith homes can still produce Jewish children

Like a lot of other things your Bubbie told you about, it turns out that the old argument against intermarriage, "Your grandchildren won't be Jewish" isn't really that accurate. The Forward reports on a new study in Boston which says 60% of children from interfaith marriages are being raised Jewish.

The findings from Boston could fuel and shift the long-standing national debates over Jewish demographic trends, a seemingly obscure but perennially divisive topic in Jewish philanthropic and religious circles.

Previous surveys of the national Jewish population have suggested that the community’s population is shrinking — particularly in the northeastern United States. The surveys also have set off much hand wringing over the increasing number of Jews marrying outside the faith, a trend that is generally believed to produce non-Jewish children and thus lead to a decline in the size of the community.

The new survey, however, indicates that in the Boston area 60% of the children of intermarried couples are being raised as Jews, and that the number of people living in Jewish households appears to have increased by 50,000 since 1995.

“The arithmetic of intermarriage is that it takes only one Jew to make a family, where it takes two with in-marriage,” said Leonard Saxe, the Brandeis professor who led the study. “If a majority of the kids are being raised Jewishly, that increases the population.”

I've been of this opinion for a while- writing off your kids as Jews if they marry out isn't just stupid, it also precludes them from continuing their involvement with the Jewish community, turning the whole thing into a self-fulfilling prophecy. If Jews in interfaith relationships aren't told that "once you leave, you're basically dead" (what better reinforcement of this than the iconic image of a parent saying Kaddish over their "lost" child), they might actually decide to remain within the Jewish community, maintain their Jewish identity, and pass these things on to their children. What a shocker.

And no, naysayers, these kids aren't just Jewish because their parents named them Sam, Dave or Yeshayahu:

These Jewish children were enrolled in formal Jewish education — the same 92% rate as the children of two Jewish parents. The one difference between the two populations was that the children of intermarried couples appeared to receive Jewish education for a shorter duration.

The article notes that the Boston number of "actively Jewish" interfaith kids is high- twice that of NY, and almost twice of the national average. But it proves that it's not impossible- if you don't care about matrilineal descent (and a lot of American Jews don't seem to), intermarriage doesn't have to be seen as a barrier to raising a Jewish family.

Cross-Cultural Exchanges

My girlfriend is from the Deep South. Not originally, but that's where the family wound up. We went for a visit to North Caro-Missi-bama last year and it was a little bizarre. I had been told ahead of time that I was expected to go with them to church. They're liberal Episocpals, not something loopy like Southern Baptists or Pentacostals, so I knew that at least I wouldn't have to worry about being outed in the sermon. Still, the fact that I had been told, not asked, bugged me a little.

I turned out to be there on Youth Sunday, where, as a way of acknowledging that some of the youths have stayed past their Bar Mitzvah confirmation, the adults let them do things, like singing stupid songs and giving lame sermons. The highlight came when a friend of one of the gf's younger siblings gave a talk about responsibility. She knew about responsibility, she said, because she was the assistant manager at Pizza Hut. At some point she threw Jesus in there, and I heard a Pharisee reference once or twice. I was annoyed that she didn't know what she was talking about, but amused myself by looking at the nice color maps they have in the backs of their Bibles- "oh, so David's kingdom was that big? And Saul took this route when he was preaching the gospels? Wait, Corinth is where?"

The gf's parents apparently get a little weirded out when they hear how Jew-ey she and I (or at least our conversations) tend to be in everyday interaction, so we've been trying to tone it down when we talk to them- I'm not supposed to tell any specifically Jewish anecdotes about my crazy relatives, and the gf isn't supposed to let on that she's learned how to bake challah or sing the prayers for candle-lighting. I also started emphasizing just how nonreligious my family is. "One year we had burritos for Passover." That turned out not to be very effective, since they didn't know anything about Passover, but hey, I'm trying.

But the last time I saw her Dad (whose idiosyncracies reach far beyond mere regional and religious divides), we started having this weird conversation about this Jewish writer I've been reading up on. Apparently he really, really liked Jesus and decided, in the 40s, that the best thing he could possibly spend his time doing was to bring Jews and Christians together. So he wrote some historical novels about Jesus, Paul and Mary, and pretty much rewrote the Gospels to make Jesus super-Jewey, and the Pharisees much nicer than they appear in, say, John.

Now the gf's Dad, who for my own reasons I'll call Habakkuk, has never heard of this guy, and doesn't really have much to contribute as I'll telling him about him. The one thing he does say is, "Hey, that's just like this book by X, a Christian author I like! He rewrote the Gospels, too!"

Sounds neat, sez I, being polite.

"Yeah, you should totally take a look at it."

I'm sure I will, sometime when I have time, money and interest.

He goes back to his hotel, and the gf groans. "I can't believe he told you about X!"

"Why, what's the big deal? It's just another fictional vesion of the Gospels, right?"

"No, he's this weird super-Christian religion professor , and he wrote this as his "vision" of what the Gospels should have been like. I don't even know why my Dad reads him."


The next day, Habakkuk gives me a copy of said book. Thanks.

I mentioned all this to my father the other day, and hesmiled. "I wonder if he's evangelizing you?" Thanks Dad, you always know what to say.

So now it's getting time for the holiday season, and I've decided I need to give Habby something- and I think I know exactly what.

Now I just need to expand the glossary. It turns out 'highly accessible' is a relative term.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Stupid news, why must you complicate my theodicy?

Hey Lazer and the "Hashem-knows-best" crowd,

What's the divine explanation for this?

Haredi hotheads who are burning plastic garbage bins to protest Friday's Gay Pride Parade are poisoning themselves and their families, according to environmental health experts who say burned plastic releases "thousands" of dangerous chemicals, The Jerusalem Post has learned.

This is particularly sad in light of stories like this:

Whether divinely inspired or not, once lit, the bonfires proved difficult to extinguish. Last Monday as members of the Eda Haredit set fire to garbage in the Mekor Baruch neighborhood next to a building occupied by Ger Hassidim, Avraham Lehrer, one of the tenants, came downstairs to beseech the rioters not to incinerate the dumpsters - and release the toxic fumes of burning plastic.

"The smell hurts the children, our children. What's the point?" he pleaded in vain.

"So shut the windows, everyone is suffering a little for the struggle," one young man replied.

"But why set them on fire? For what? I'm also opposed to the parade. But why harm our children for no reason?," asked Lehrer, already casting suspicion on himself as a traitor.

"You have a part in the parade of abomination," someone else shouted at him. "Be ashamed of yourself, Gerer [Ger Hassid]."

Lehrer and some of his neighbors brought out a hose to extinguish the fire, and were screamed at by passersby. "There's a problem here. They're all shababniks who should go to the army," he said.

Brilliant, team. Because when it comes to birth defects, Tay-Sachs really isn't enough, right?

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

James Dobson and others like him inspire a fun song parody

(To the tune of "Hey Jude", and with all apologies to legitimate feminine hygiene products everwhere.)

Oh, and this is possibly not work-safe. Just as an FYI.


Hey douche,
You're kind of weird,
And you're starting,
To creep us out,
It's not that
We don't appreciate your guts,
But to be honest,
We think you're kind of nuts.

Hey douche,
We get afraid,
When you say that
this is a Christian nation,
Because well,
We sort of think it's not,
And we get worried,
With talk of salvation.

And anytime we feel the pain,
You don't refrain,
You say that we're attacking Christmas,
And if we support the ACLU,
You say, "you Jews,
Ought to just go to
Back where you came from..."

Na-Na-Na-Na-Na, Na-Na-Na...

Hey dooouche,
Don't let us down,
We don't want to hear that
You only like us because God said so,
Remember, we tend to be insecure,
And we don't feel well,
When you bring up Hell.

And sure sometimes you act so nice,
Give kind advice,
And maybe buy some Israel bonds,
But then again sometimes you backtrack,
Then give us flack,
And then act surprised when we don't get a-long,

Na-Na-Na-Na-Na, Na-Na-Na...

Hey douche,
Now don't get mad,
We promise, we'll stop,
Defending sin,
And fine, we won't control the banks this year,
And maybe we'll even,
Let Eckstein back in.
In, In, In, In, In,

Na-Na, Na-Na-Na-Na,
Na-Na-Na-Na, Hey douche....

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Who's Expendable?

Just when I want to give Lazer Brody some props for having his priorities straight, he pulls something out of his hat...

Last Wednesday and Thursday, as haredi radicals were calling anyone supporting the Gay Pride parade in Jerusalem illegitimate Jews, as well as Egyptians, of all things (which has some creepy parallels with this sort of drivel) , and usign violent protest as an intimidation tactic, Rav Lazer actually stood up and said that while he didn't support the marchers, haredi violence was counter-productive, particularly when it involved trashing their own communities:

Raising a hand against a fellow Jew is a heinous sin. Let everyone calm down and let the Impurade march around its home turf of the Knesset, the government offices, and the faculty of Archeology. Lets get back to more important things.

Amen, Rav.

However, no sooner had the Rabbi made his peace with the parade ("Our free choice is to try and stop the parade. Apparently, for Divine reasons that we can't understand, Hashem is deciding otherwise. Whatever Hashem does is for the very best."), then God threw a curve-ball. What was Lazer's response?

Only 48 hours before the planned Impurade, the Israeli Artillery made a mistake so miserably bad, that it can only be a miracle: From a relatively short range, they were off target by nearly 1000 meters, killing 19 Gazans. The Palestinians have now cancelled their hudna, and are screaming for revenge. Israeli internal security has nearly 100 warnings of imminent terrorist threats. The police went back to the courts and claimed that with 12,ooo blues guarding the pinks, then Israel's security would have black prospects. So once again, Hashem has prevented the Impurade. The parade has now been toned down to a rally within the confines of the local university, which is anyway deep-seeded with intellectual and spiritual impurity.

Yeah, thanks God! Thanks for sparing Jerusalem all that defilement and the hareidm the terrible choice of killing their fellow Jews or risk letting their kids see some colorful flags. And all it cost was the lives of 19 expendable A-rabs. You really do know how to get a deal!

Also, since when do we thank God for making the army incompetent killers? It would be one thing if Lazer was thanking the Big Guy for "guiding the soldiers' hands" to stop killers, but thanking him for a deadly accident (that killed women and children) because it helped swing a political descision? That's sick. What's next, thanking God for Paul Wellstone's plane crash? Or the Chernobyl meltdown? (LessUkrainians= less anti-semites, right?)

Is the moral here that whatever makes things go "our" way, bloody as it may be, counts as a miracle, as long as it isn't Jews that are dying?

Keep your miracles. I don't want them.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Fun with Anti-Christs

If you're like me, you regularly take a look around some of the weirder parts of the J-bloggosphere. I came across a few references to something called the "Erev Rav" over at Akiva's:

...our main service and battle is to break and to remove the strength of the Erev Rav, the k'lipah of Armelius the Evil, from Israel; the Erev Rav is our greatest enemy, the one who separates the two moshiachs. The k'lipah of the Erev Rav works only through deception and roundabout ways. Therefore, the war against the Erev Rav is the most difficult and bitterest of all. We must strengthen ourselves for this war, and anyone who does not participate in the battle against the Erev Rav becomes, de facto, a partner with the k'lipah of the Erev Rav, and was better off not being born in the first place.

...As I see it, with Sharon gone, but not gone, it's possible that we are now in a transition phase between the Mashiach ben Yosef period and the Mashiach ben David period of history. Olmert (Armilus) and his gang are standing in the breach causing a separation between these two Mashiachs and their power base is centered at the gates of Jerusalem on the western side just as was written.

I asked a smarty-pants friend of mine about this Erev Rav and Armilus (and two Messiahs) stuff, and he was clueless. Luckily, Google is smarter than many, many well-meaning friends, and I came up with a few answers.

First of all, I'll have you know that it's not just Messianic Jews who believe in two Messiahs. It's also slightly more observant Messianic Jews.

Jewish tradition speaks of two redeemers, each one called Moshiach. Both are involved in ushering in the Messianic era. They are Moshiach ben David and Moshiach ben Yossef...

The term Moshiach unqualified always refers to Moshiach ben David (Moshiach the descendant of David) of the tribe of Judah. He is the actual (final) redeemer who shall rule in the Messianic age... Moshiach ben Yossef (Moshiach the descendant of Joseph) of the tribe of Ephraim (son of Joseph), is also referred to as Moshiach ben Ephrayim, Moshiach the descendant of Ephraim.He will come first, before the final redeemer, and later will serve as his viceroy.

The essential task of Moshiach ben Yossef is to act as precursor to Moshiach ben David: he will prepare the world for the coming of the final redeemer. Different sources attribute to him different functions, some even charging him with tasks traditionally associated with Moshiach ben David (such as the ingathering of the exiles, the rebuilding of the Bet Hamikdash, and so forth).

The principal and final function ascribed to Moshiach ben Yossef is of political and military nature. He shall wage war against the forces of evil that oppress Israel. More specifically, he will do battle against Edom, the descendants of Esau.

...The immediate results of this war will be disastrous: Moshiach ben Yossef will be killed. This is described in the prophecy of Zechariah, who says of this tragedy that “they shall mourn him as one mourns for an only child.” (Zechariah 12:10). His death will be followed by a period of great calamities. These new tribulations shall be the final test for Israel, and shortly thereafter Moshiach ben David shall come, avenge his death, resurrect him, and inaugurate the Messianic era of everlasting peace and bliss.

You can see why the Jews for Jesus folks love this stuff. Also, why will the Messiah need a viceroy in the Messianic age?

The essential function of Moshiach ben Yossef is to prepare Israel for the final redemption, to put them into the proper condition in order to clear the way for Moshiach ben David to come. Of that ultimate redemption it is said, that if Israel repent (return to G‑d) they shall be redeemed immediately (even before the predetermined date for Moshiach’s coming). If they will not repent and thus become dependent on the final date, “the Holy One, blessed be He, will set up a ruler over them, whose decrees shall be as cruel as Haman’s, thus causing Israel to repent, and thereby bringing them back to the right path.” In other words, if Israel shall return to G‑d on their own and make themselves worthy of the redemption, there is no need for the trials and tribulations associated with the above account of events related to Moshiach ben Yossef. Moshiach ben David will come directly and redeem us.

Ok, got that? So there's actually two Messiahs, because the real one's a busy guy. Just think of it as sweeping up the dirt before you mop the floor. (Why not just use a Swiffer? I don't know; ask God.)

So, what about that Armilus and Erev Rav stuff? Bartholomew helps us out:

the Erev Rav were converts who joined the Jewish people just as they were leaving Egypt. The Erev Rav numbered in the millions! According to our sages they were not sincere and continually caused the Jews to rebel against G-d. They were responsible for the most grievous sin the Jews were ever involved with, the sin of the Golden Calf. They were also the driving force behind every major movement within Judaism to undermine our commitment to G-d and His Torah. They are power-hungry, selfish opportunists who seek power and glory at all costs, and will stop at nothing to attain their goals.

According to the Zohar and the Holy Ari, (the two most important sources of Jewish mysticism), some souls of the Erev Rav return in every generation to harass the Jews. However, just prior to the redemption the original Erev Rav will return in full force to seize control of the Jewish people. Their goal is to delay the coming of Moshiach as long as possible. This is because after Moshiach comes they will be stripped of power forever. One of their methods is to keep the Temple Mount out of Jewish hands so that the Third Temple cannot be rebuilt.

They accomplish their goals through falsehood and deceit, convincing the Jews that they are friends seeking their well being. This is explained in detail by the great Gaon of Vilna in a book authored by his disciple Rabbi Hillel of Shklov called Kol Hator, recently republished in Jerusalem.

Holy bullcrap, Batman! And there's more, you say? Possibly involving questionable math and spelling?

Why yes, it's everybody's favorite pseudo-science, gematria! The centuries-old-time-waster that makes the Bible codes look almost reasonable.

Armilus, the Hebraic form of Romulus (200+40+10+30+60=340), was the founder of Rome (Edom).

Romulus shares the same numeric value as Peres (80+200+60=340).

Um, actually, I found this gematria-calculator and it said your math is off:

ARMILUS. = 341 [ארמילס]
ROMULUS. = 400 [רעמלס]
PERES. = 340 [פרס]

Just for some extra gematria fun:
341=Yesterday, Altar of Incense, Miracles, and Red Cow (which is pretty damn interesting, actually).
400= a pseudonym for Yesod ("foundation" of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, identified with the circumcision [covenant] and Joseph. Hey, remember all that Yosef stuff we talked about before? Interesting...)
340="Ferocious lion", "words" and "forehead". OOh, evil!

Sorry, where was I?

we read that the leader at the End of Days will be either Romulus, or Tarmelo.

...Tarmelo, spelled in Hebrew backwards is Olimert!

Now you understand everything.

I understand that your spelling sucks.

Tarmelo (350) טארמלע
Olimert (359)

And just for fun...

350= City of Seven Hills (Vatican) and "El Shaddai" (one of the names of God).
359=Adolf Hitler.

Ok, I know that last one looks kind of bad. But keep in mind that 359 also corresponds to "I, the Death, even in Arcadia". Go ahead, check.

And anyway, the PM's last name is Olmert, which actually makes 349- which corresponds to the all-malevolent "sceptre". Hey, don't laugh, those things can have sharp edges.

Also, these wingnuts say Olmert isn't just the Anti-Christ AND the head of the Erev Rav, but also Amalek. A three-peat!

So what's the big deal you ask? Well, aside from blaming their political problems on the Anti-Christ, these jackasses are also engaging in some pretty racist arguments.

Racist? Really?
Yep. Take a look at this web forum conversation from way back in March:

it is incredible that a Jew could give up Jewish land, especially given the actions and words of the Arabs over the past 100+ years. Olmert's actions and words (again, if and only if this report is true) would identify him spiritually with the Erev Rav. For those who don't know, the Erev Rav is the "mixed multitude" brought out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus by Moses, but these were false converts to Judaism with an ulterior motive - to sabotage the Jews and G-d's plans for them. Jewish lore indicates that the Erev Rav have (in a spiritual sense) members present in every generation, but that the final generation will have the souls of all of those who were at Mt. Sinai - Jews and Erev Rav alike. And the Erev Rav, knowing that the Moshiach is about to come, will do everything that they can to stop the Redemption and the Moschiach.

Someone else adds:

One who would do such a thing is certainly not a Jew inwardly. Such a corrupt heart would be spiritually of the Erev Rav, ancestry notwithstanding.

So not only are the people who do things these guys dislike politically total jerks and possibly the forces of the Anti-Christ, they also aren't real Jews- spiritually OR, genetically! They're "fake converts" from Egypt, of all places! So remember, the next time you see any Jew who isn't, say, this guy, just keep in mind that behind that clean-shaven, open-minded, Darfur-Saving, Gay-Pride-Parade-Marching, smile, you're really looking at one of these guys. And, as you know, we stopped listening to those bozos shortly after we gave them a Kool-Aid Nile Delta.

Man, this seems pretty convenient. I wonder why frum Jews haven't used the Anti-Christ race-card before. Just magine how much more entertaining Jewish history would have been if instead of just accusing the Hasidim of heresy, the Vilna Gaon said they were Gauls.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Credit where due

I don't hate the haredim, really I don't. I just really, really, disagree with them. But not all the time- here are some Jewish values I can get behind.
Is there a chance for Israeli-Palestinian coexistence in the West Bank?

Maybe not, but things like this can't hurt.

(And what's with the spelling? Modeiin Elite sounds like a brand of sneaker or something.)

Torah Powers!

Also, "Pool of Abomination". Priceless.


Dammit Shmuley, stop being so darn reasonable and go back to ranting about boobies so I can make fun of you some more.

I feel so... deprived.

Oh, wait, never mind. Tell you what, Shmuley, I'll give you a call when I need you.

Also, Joseph Farah is a total hypocrite. Which is good, because apparently Ted Haggard is not.

And now you know.

Ride 'em Jewboys

You know what's even better than actual problems facing Jews around the world? Totally cracked-out fantasies about bad-ass frontier Jews.

No, I'm not talking about Sol Star or Six-Gun Moses. I'm talking Abir Warrior Arts- which means Rav Lazer "high on crazy" Brody.

Lazer starts off strong:

King David killed a lion and a bear at age three, as a lone shepherd in the wilderness. As Hashem's anointed, he was not only a monumental Torah scholar, but a fierce fighter that spent every available minute in personal prayer.

Tell me, was he praying while practicing his sword-and-sling-play? Or did he just magically absorb these skills by osmosis? Or maybe he found a secret manual in a cave... sorry, I'm getting ahead of myself.

People find it hard to believe when the Zohar says that Israel is the fiercest of the nations. The missing piece to the puzzle is Abir - the ancient Hebrew art of combat; if folks knew about the secrets of combat that Hashem revealed to our forefathers, for He grants power to his faithful, then they'd understand exactly how the Zohar is so right on target.

There's the cave-book. Hi, Judaism-on-crack! *waves*

Anyway, yeah, I'm quite impressed by this. Apparently the only reason all the weird shit in the Bible doesn't make sense is because YOU, yeah, stupid skeptic you, didn't know about this crazy Jew-Jitsu, which, incidentally, Lazer can hook you up with discount lessons for. (Now with free coffee mug, with your choice of crazy Haredi rabbi face emblazoned on the side!)

How did Abraham kick ass, you ask? Abir. How did Jacob wrestle with "an evil archangel" [Really? I never heard that. Also, a friend who reads Hebrew and Greek says the Masoretic and Septuagint both have this verse as "man"- the angel bit is all midrash.]? Abir. Moses, Joshua, and all the Judges? Abir.

Yeah, this makes total sense. I wonder who else this works for. Ooh, Noah! How else could he have gotten all those animals to stay in line and get in the boat? All he had to do was Abir-chop a few lions with a "maneuver Aleph" before the rest of them got the hint. And Lot's wife? Duhh, clearly he hated her and didn't want to give her a divorce, and to get out of it, he kicked the air around her until all the water molecules in her body salinated! Man, this Abir stuff is even better than my copy of The Bible for Total Retards.

From generation to generation, a select few carried the secret of Abir - the ancient Hebrew art of combat. With the destruction of the first and second Temples, dispersion and exile among the nations, Abir was largely forgotten.

What, was the temple a dojo? Did the Holy of Holies have the Grand Master's Office and a vending machine?

As our faith in The Creator and the observance of His Torah and its laws and our devotion to prayer and scholarship took precedence throughout the Diaspora, our knowledge of Abir diminished with each passing generation.

Damn prayer and scholarship, they screw you every time.

Jews were held in contempt under the watchful suspicious eyes of their host nations who often sought to control them by limiting their mobility within the confines of a ghetto. In most cases, Jews were commonly denied the right to bear arms or own land and curfews were often enforced upon them.
Collectively congregating to train in Abir or any form of Jewish combat arts would have been seen as incitement to overthrow their hosts and an invitation to collective genocide. That occurred often in our history without any provocation. These harsh conditions were mirrored in Jewish Communities across Europe as well as in Asia and throughout the Middle East and Africa.

That's right, the fact that all the people who knew this secret martial art never practiced it in public and let themselves and all their neighbors be killed for hundreds of years to avoid being discovered and killed is a lot more believable than having them be helpless, powerless and not Mr. Miyagi.

So apparently out of all the people who knew Abir, the "more exotic" Jewish groups, like, say, this random clan in Yemen, preserved it better- predictably, because they "never assimilated". Right, because it's not like you could learn martial arts without reading Hebrew. And of all the exotic, random Yemenis, there was one family who preserved these secrets best. And it just so happens to be the dudes Lazer's friends with! And it turns out they're perfectly happy to share their ancient secrets with shmoes like you in exchange for holy, holy money.

This rare photo from 1922 is proof of something that history finds incredible: King Abdulla Ibn Hussein of Transjordan sits under the watchful eyes of his Jewish bodyguards, Habani Yemenite brothers Sayeed, Salaah, and Saadia Sofer (notice Safeed's especially long sidecurls, left), uncles of today's Abir Aluf, Grandmaster Yehoshua Sofer, may Hashem bless him.
Yehoshua Sofer's father, known as the "Abir Ro'im", or "shepherd knight", is the younger brother of Sayeed, Salaah, and Saadia pictured above, and the son of Nachman Sofer, the Abir master of his generation, a fierce warrior and kabbalist that had 5 wives.
So they were Arab shills and polygamists, but at least they had cool hats. Fantastic.

Today, Abir Ro'im is well over 100 years old, and blind.

Yeah, let's totally give him swords!

Yet, he still possesses an uncanny personal radar and could cope with literally any threat.

We get it, he's part iron-lung and part bat. Wonderful.

[Also, these guys look pretty damn white for a bunch of Yeminites. Compare the old man's skin tone to his three 'brothers' in the picture- they're quite the swarthy bunch- much darker than, say, the King of Jordan. And how can the young Grand Master have been "born into" the Breslover sect (source) if his father was Yemini? Wait, even better- apparently Sofer's grandfather- the 5-wife-guy- served in an infantry unit of the Russian Army while on a pilgrimage to Breslov (source). So, was he going from Yemen to Breslov? And where did he hear about Breslov in the first place?

Wait, it gets even better! In ANOTHER interview, Sofer said he was the "scion of a Breslov family that traces its lineage to the brother of Rebbe Nachman of Breslov himself! (source) Ok, let's give Sofer the benefit of the doubt: maybe it's his mother who's descended from Nachman. Or maybe his one of his grandfather's wives (the present GM's ancestor) was descended from Nachman, and that's how the grandfather heard about him. Or maybe the grandfather was part Yeminite and part-descended-from Nachman, and that's why he was a Breslover and on a pilgrimage, and that's how Sofer was "born into" the sect, and why he looks as white as sour cream. Of course, that doesn't quite account for how old Blindy's (half?-)brothers have the complexion of coffee while he looks like an Irishman who's never seen the light of day. But hey, maybe this all a bunch of "I'm authentic because I'm vaguely Arabic and therefore exotic" hooey. Or maybe Sofer's given so many interviews he's forgotten what he's already said.]
Apparently the Abir guys have fallen on hard times, though, which is too bad, because, according to Lazer anyway, the new Grand Master is a really great guy. He can even see; what a catch!
So you should all send him money. Not for himself, but for the sake of the Jewish people and its mysterious, not-quite-existant, possibly-Yemnite-maybe, pseudo-martial art.

Without a backer(s) or sponsor(s), Abir is an endangered species.
Think of your grandchildren, and do the right thing. Do you really want them to live in a world without Abir Warrior Arts?


Also, the Abir dudes are sooo cool, a lot of old rabbis used them as bodyguards. Because, you know, if there's one thing 112-year-old Kabbalists who spend almost all their time inside study halls need (besides drool-catchers), it's bodyguards.

Quid Pro Quo

Israel's gays, as usual, being only too willing to be the bigger men (not a pun, you pervert), have offered a possible compromise solution regarding the parade issue.

Brilliant, sez I.

Hey, how about that? The haredim have already come up with a counter-offer. Apparently they like dialogue just fine as long as it isn't with women.

Actually important news the haredim (and their apologists) should be screaming about

"So you say your husband ran off and wouldn't give you a writ of divorce, keeping you in legal limbo and preventing you from remarrying? Too bad, sweetheart. That's your problem."

That's been the stance of traditional Judaism since the Talmud was codified. The non-Orthodox movements have abolished this practice because, you know, it's kind of backward not to mention sexist and generally abusive. The Orthodox have not. But now, finally, a light from the heavens broke- the illustrious Chief Sephardic Rabbi, the sage Rav Shlomo "I totally wasn't in the house" Amar has decided to do something about it! Amar called a conference to deal with the issues of "chained women". Sure, one little conference might not do anything at once, but the mere fact that it's happening sends a signal, an important signal, that Judaism is willing to deal with its problems, not just sweep it under the rug. That it genuinely cares about the well-being of its wives, sisters and daughters, and doesn't consider them second-class citizens who deserve to be kept behind closed doors. It's a signal, damn it!

Oh. I guess this sends a signal too.

Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar last week canceled the conference on women whose husbands refuse to grant them a divorce (agunot), which was due to take place in Jerusalem on Tuesday, at the order of ultra-Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv.

For those keeping score, that's Rabbi "I ban books I can't read because my advisors tell me they're heretical" Eliashiv, also famous for his "cancer is a punishment for sin" and "Indian wigs aren't kosher because of idolatry" rulings.

Incidentally, check out the original preconditions Eliashiv apparently demanded before giving his agreement (which apparently counts for squat) in the first place-

Three months ago, Amar persuaded the Haredi sage Elyashiv to approve the conference. Elyashiv conditioned his consent on banning women from the conference.

After all, what the business do all those un-divorced women have being around all these holy sages? They're probably just their to check out the man meat. Whores.

But what about the all the valid reasons shadowy backdoor intruigers might have for pressuring senile old men into squelching a purely symbolic act of lip service? (Artist's depiction ->)

some hareidi elements felt that the women's groups that pushed for the conference were themselves exerting pressure

That's right, the women who were banned from even attending might still have been able to convince some of the men to take theoretical positions on their behalf! Scandalous. You know what, forget the gays, guys. It's obviously the women who are the real danger to religious Jews. Never mind a mechitza, you should encase them in lead boxes, Kryptonite-style.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Sackcloth: Hugh Downes says it's the latest craze

For thousands of years, Jews have worn sackcloth as a sign of mourning. Amos and Jeremiah reference it when they talk about disasters that will befall the Jewish people. You know, big-deal ones, like the destruction of the Temple, exile, etc.

But what about parades?

I sat down with these two prophets for a round-table discussion.

FY: So, guys- sackcloth and parades. Thoughts?

Amos: What?

Jeremiah: Did I hear that right?

FY: Yeah, parades. I mean, being scattered and dispossesed is bad, but aren't parades awful, too?

Amos: Um...

Jeremiah: I think it depends on the context. We had parades in the Bible, you know.

Amos: The whole 'Exodus' thing was kind of like a parade.

Jeremiah: No, stupid, there were no floats, so it doesn't count.

*grumbling* The Ark was kind of like a float.

FY: Guys, guys, that's all very interesting, but what about a parade celebrating a sin?

Amos: Like tax fraud?

Jeremiah: Draft dodging?

Amos: Disrespecting your fellow Jew?

Jeremiah: Child molestation?

FY: No, not anything like that. It's a gay pride parade. In Jerusalem.


Amos: Oh.

Jeremiah: Well, you know, we aren't big fans of that.

Amos: Yeah, the big guy has some strong feelings about it. Don't ask me why.

FY: But is it a "mourning" worthy occaison? In the same category of losing a relative or a national disaster?

Jeremiah: Is it on Shabbat?

FY: I don't think so.

Amos: Did they get a permit? All nice and legal?

FY: Yeah.

Jeremiah: Are they using violence to get what they want? Are they trying coerce people into being like them? Are they turning people gay?

FY: Well there was one place in Tel Aviv, but aside from that...

Amos: Pssht. Tel Aviv. Who cares?

Jeremiah: Yeah, screw Tel Aviv. What are frum people doing there anyway?

FY: So no sackcloth?

Jeremiah: Let me put it this way- ashes and sackcloth are an indication of mourning. If you
really think that these guys' parade is that awful, then go ahead.

Amos: But compared to
actually horrible things that have happened to the Jewish people...

Jeremiah: Exile. Second Exile. Jewish War. Repression following the Bar Kochba revolt. Inquisition. Crusades. Cossacks. Holocaust. Stalin. Munich Olympics. Mel Gibson's Passion...

Amos: ...I have to say, this whole thing just seems silly.

Jeremiah: Once you've seen Ten Tribes dissappear into the ether, you start to get philosophical about this kind of thing. It becomes a little harder to get worked up about the small stuff.

Amos: Also, sackcloth looks stupid.

And there you have it. Thanks to the Prophets for stopping by, and I hope you'll all be sure to check out their new spoken-word album, "Straight Out of Nineveh".

Saturday, November 04, 2006

I don't care that I'm weird, dammit.

I am profoundly amused by a conversation going on over at Jewschool.

WTF is wrong with people?

Taking a page from the Jewish Museum’s Nazi bondage fetish playbook (I’m referring, of course, to the Mirroring Evil exhibition), The Holocaust Council of MetroWest brings us the latest and greatest in Holocaust youth education:

Join Livingston architect and educator Stephen W. Schwartz and use 50,000 LEGO blocks to build a 400 square foot model of the Warsaw Ghetto, the scene of one of the greatest and most inspirational Jewish uprisings during World War II. Please wear socks and be prepared to get down on the ground for this unique, educational experience.

Recommended for ages 6 and up - Adults must accompany children

Oh, golly!

You know, when I think about the senseless slaughter of 10,000,000 innocent Jews, Roma, queers, political dissidents and other undesirables, I think LEGO. Because the sheer shock and stupendous horror of history’s most brutal, horrid genocide are so effectively communicated by children’s toys.

Say what you will about Zbigniew Libera’s LEGO concentration camp (pictured at right). It at least is presented in a context which gives way to discussion, whether on the position of the Holocaust in popular culture, the marketing of violence to youth, or even the participation of mainstream German corporations (the proprietors of popular household brand names) in the Shoah. It’s supposed to be controversial.

Six year-olds reconstructing the Warsaw Ghetto with LEGO as an educational activity? That’s senseless and tasteless.

This tickles me quite a bit, because I remember playing with Playmobil quite a lot as a kid and through my mid-teen years (see title, you jerk). And, like many a child, I played "outside the lines"- I made my Playmobil into whatever I was interested in at the moment. I made little Hasidic Jews getting mugged for their diamonds; I re-enacted my family standing on line at Ellis Island; and, after first reading it at age ten, I acted out the plot of MAUS.

Hey, that's the look I got the last time I told this to someone in person!

My point is that I played games I thought were interesting. I related to knowledge and experiences, especially history, by setting up my own mirror world to it and jumping in and wading around in there. I also played Maccabees once (the hardest part was finding enough pirate bandanas for turbans), and I can't imagine anyone would be pitching a fit over that. In fact...

I was fascinated by Eastern European Jewish history as a kid. It killed me that you could buy eight dozen different kinds of fireman or policeman, but no orthodox Jews- those I had to make myself. (The only exception to this I ever saw was this figure, which, predictably, was never made, after Jackie Mason decided it might be offensive to Haredim, which is pretty funny if you've ever heard Jackie Mason.) It didn't matter that we weren't Orthodox; in fact, that was why I wanted one so badly- I had these people in my head and mind that I needed to act out.

And the same was true with the Holocaust. I recreated my own ghetto- mostly made out of videotapes that I had Spiegelman's family live in, until deported to the camps. I even tried to change their clothes when they arrived at Auschwitz (years later, I saw these, and was extremely annoyed, as I knew they would have been great).

Weird? Sure. But offensive? Hardly. If playing with Legos actually makes kids interested in the Holocaust, so much the better- personally, I'd be damn interested to make a Warsaw Ghetto out of Legos (my father's family had a branch that lived-and died- there), and if anyone had asked me when I was twelve and deep in my Holocaust phase, the only objection I would have had would have been that "Legos sucked" compared to Playmobil. I would argue that the Warsaw Ghetto, in particular, lends itself to children's fantasy (and adults', for that matter) because it is primarily a hero narrative- good guys and bad guys, pretty simple. The really grisly stuff is in the concrentation camps themselves, which is why I have far more serious misgivings about this artist's Lego concentration camps- particularly the use of the living skeletons. But again, that's the difference between art and play. There are different limitations to these things, and it's incorrect to conflate them.

These kids are basically playing war, and the Warsaw Ghetto was basically that. I can see how it would disturb people who want to canonize the Holocaust (I'm thinking particualrly about Arthur Hertzberg's comment that the US Holocaust Museum in DC was the "National Cathedral" for American Judaism), but there's nothing inherently wrong with this idea, and it might even get Jewish children interested in the period and particularly in Jewish heroism during the Holocaust. No, not every aspect of the Holocaust- or of any historical period, frankly- is necessarily appropriate for children's play- anyone want to make an opium den out of duplos?- but the idea that "kids playing Holocaust" should automatically evoke disgust and attack is moronic. The descision-process by which this activity was reached may indeed be questionable, but the idea itself is legitimate.

My only issue would be with the ages of the people involved- I don't think that six-year-olds are on the level where they can really understand something like the Shoah, much less try to interact with those stories on a personal or unconventional level. But for, say, ten-year-olds? Why not?

If I have to be the lone voice in the wilderness, I'll do it- I get it, Holocaust Council. I get it.

For those coming in late...

And who might think that only a few Congressmen are national embarassments, I refer you to the most recent Rolling Stone. Also, their old Abramoff article's up there, too, and will also make you cry, in a totally non-partisan, what-the-hell-is-wrong-with-people kind of way.

Highlights from the most recent article (slightly paraphrased because they don't let you copy-paste, the bastards):

Of the 111 rules introduced in the first session of this Congress, only twelve were open [eleven were] appropriations bills, which are traditionally open. That left just one open vote... In the second session of this Congress? Not a single open rule, aside from appropriation votes.

This year, the second session of Congress will set the allt-ime record for fewest days worked: ninety-three... House members will collect $165,000 paychecks for only three months of actual work... the current Congress will not only beat but shatter the record for laziness set by the notorious "Do Nothing" Congress of 1948, which met a combined 252 days total... This Congress- the Do-Even-Less Congress- met for 218 days, just over half a year, total.

And my favorite:

The Republican-controlled Congress has created a new standard for the use of oversight powers. That standard seems to be that when a Democratic president is in power, there are no matters too stupid or meaningnless to be investigated fully- but under Bush, no evidence of corruption or incompetence is shocking enough to warrant congressional attention. One suspects that Bush would have to drink the blood of Christian babies to inspire hearings in Congress...

The number bear this out. From the 1950s through the Republican takeover in 1995, no Democratic committee chairman issued a subpoena without either minority consent or a committee vote. In the Clinton years, Republicans chucked that long-standing arrangement and issued more than 1,000 subpoenas to investigate alleged administration and Democratic misconduct, reviewing more than 2 million pages of government documents.

Guess how many subpoenas have been issued to the White House since Bush took office? Zero... Republicans spent more than $35 million investigating the Clinton administration. Including independent counsel, the taxpayers spent more than $150 million, including 2.2 million to investigate former HUD secretary Cisneros for lying about improper payments he made to a mistress. In contrast, today's Congress spent barely half a million dollars investigating the outright fraud and government bungling that followed Hurricane Katrina, the largest natural disaster in American history.

Vote however you want, folks, but don't kid yourselves that Congress has done its job "more or less ok", or "about as crappy as it always does". It's failed miserably, the Republicans in particular, and much worse than in years past. This is more than mere Democratic sniping on my or RS's part- there's actually a real problem here, and people need to deal with it instead of supporting the party-line and replying that it's "business as usual"- because it's not. We passed "business as usual" about ten miles ago, now we're headed towards "majorly incompetent, lazy, corrupt, and generally souless bastards", who, incidentally, we're all paying for. Has anyone wondered that perhaps one of the reasons the country is so polarized because so many of our government representatives are MAJOR ASSHOLES who spend their time stabbing each other in the back and stealing as much money as they can get away with?

And yeah, this goes for the Dems, too.

(Incidentally, I'm always amazed that with his writing style and flare for the crotch-kicking dramatics, the editors let Matt Taibbi write in the magazine at all. Then I remember that he is an editor, which explains everything. Maybe there's hope for my literary career after all.)