Friday, December 29, 2006
But the only footage they can show is from Dearborn, Michigan. I was trying to figure out why, when presumably they've got tons of reporters and cameras down there- then I realized that it's probably because it's so damn unsafe there. Nice vote of confidence on our control on the ground, guys.
Man, Dearborn, MI- that's like showing tape from Williamsburg because you couldn't get any footage from Israel.
Here's one guy who disagrees. I don't agree with all the points made, but it's an interesting counter-perspective.
For some reason people in our government get away with calling the man evil. Evil is an ignorant word. What is evil? Does that mean he is possessed by the devil? Does that mean someone cast a spell on him, which controlled him to do bad things? Does it mean he is mentally ill? What is evil?I have to say, in regards the concept of evil, there's a lot here that makes sense to me. If we're judging evil purely on willingness to kill and brutalize, we must conclude that there are many, many "evil" leaders and regimes in the world, many of which the US has and continues to support. What made Saddam different? If we say that we're going to take out anyone who we decide is evil, issues of relativism and pragmatism aside, doesn't that mean we're essentially going to be invading a FUCK-TON of countries? I mean, what does Sudan have to do to get on our shit list?
Evil is an ignorant word because it prevents us from looking at reasons why things happen. It is such an easy thing to say we need to stop Saddam because he is evil. When I ask what did Saddam do that was so evil, I hear that he killed his own people and tried to take over other countries like Kuwait. Okay so maybe that makes him brutal or an asshole, but evil?
Part of the reason why Iraq is such a mess is that I believe we ignored how Saddam ran his country. Where the hell was all of this factional violence before the US invaded? Why wasn't Iraq a mess under Saddam? Maybe, just maybe Saddam knew the only way to keep the country together was to install terror. Again, not evil but he definitely believed in the concept that the means justify the ends, hence he was brutally pragmatic.
The US is not brutally pragmatic. We know the best way to stop the violence in Iraq is just to kill enough people to make the Iraqis fear doing anything wrong. However, that stance goes against our beliefs and concept of morality. The US does not believe the means justify the ends.
Remember when the Iraqi people looted businesses and museums after Baghdad fell? Now picture our troops killing everyone in the street out past 9 o clock, do you think there would have been looting? Of course not.
The US will never win the war in Iraq because we will never run the country like Saddam did. Saddam did what most dictators do when someone tries to kill them, they kill that person, their families, their friends and anyone associated with them. If a crazy militia tries to kill Bush, wouldn't you expect the government to come down hard on the militia? I'm not saying Saddam was justified in slaughtering every person he did, but I'm sure many of the slaughtered deserved to die and were revolutionaries against the government.
If you listen to the Howard Stern Show, every week Howard pleads for the US government to put Saddam back in power because he at least could run the country. At first it started as a joke but Howard is now more serious. What I am trying to do is add some intellectual legitimacy to the argument that maybe Iraq was better off with Saddam.
Since the invasion, (Excuse me Zell Miller, liberation) how many innocents have died compared to when Saddam was in power? I'm not sure of the answer but I do know people didn't have to fear suicide bombings when they went to a mosque or market.
To wrap up the first part of the column, my point is that Saddam was a brutal man that used any means to justify the ends. He was not evil. He had a purpose, even if it was an immoral and flawed one. His brutality also stabilized a fractured nation that probably shouldn't be a nation to begin with. The US will not win the war because a democracy cannot be brutal and use any means necessary.
I'm less interested in the rest of this guy's column as it regards the war in Iraq than the consequences this has in regards the philosophy of US foreign policy- while I (and many others, I suspect) would have vastly preferred the explanation that we were going into Iraq because Saddam was a bastard and the Iraqis deserved better, it does beg the question-
1- Is this the US' job?, and more important,
2- How can this be our primary goal without us applying it across the board?
One of the biggest problems with the US assigning itself the role of global policeman is that it doesn't seem to enforce its own rules evenly or equally across the board- fundamentally, the US' primary interest is its own, NOT the world's. This is why we were content to not only let the Taliban murder and repress countless Afghans but also do business with them until they made us mad. Ditto for Saddam. Saddam's first act as leader of Iraq was to purge the Baath party. We didn't care. Saddam gassed Halabja in 1988, when he was still an official US ally. Again, we didn't even blink.
Go back to Afghanistan. Who did we back? The Northern Alliance. Swap out old warlords for new ones. What's the difference between Saddam and a sadist like Rashid Dostum? Body count? Opportunity?
Is interventionism always bad? I don't think so. The willingness of powerful nations to stand up to repressive regimes is important, sometimes vital, in saving lives, particularly of innocent civilians. Indeed, decisions about US isolationism/interventionism had major consequences for my relatives in Europe and millions of others during WWII. Foreign policy matters; it does make a difference. And that is why the argument that America should stand by while people die is at first blush extremely repugnant to me. I picture people like Pat Buchanan and Charles Lindbergh sitting back on their laurels in the states while Auschwitz was puffing away at full efficiency and I'm horrified and disgusted.
But what is the alternative? Can America realistically intercede in every global conflict? I'm not sure. In any event it's irrelevant, since it has never done this in the first place. For all the rhetoric about fighting for the Iraqis' or Afghans' freedom, the fact is that America doesn't care about liberating people as a goal unto itself, only as a limited bonus (we certainly haven't shied away from taking people's freedom away if it served our interests). So how can we claim with any degree of credibility that we are fighting on the behalf of others? It simply isn't so- we let people die when it serves our interests, we let dictators rule when it benefits us, and we topple others when it benefits us, whether they actually threaten us or not. Forget the issues of morality; we've got a problem as far as basic HONESTY.
So what are we supposed to do about Iraq and Afghanistan? I honestly don't know- the world is full of assholes and unfortunately, very often America supports just as many assholes- if not more- than it confronts them (and even then, it's got far more to do with self-interested strategy than any sense of humanitarianism or goodwill). And even when we do remove assholes, sometimes the only people around to get the job are other ones- how do you deal with a country when the only leaders and only armies all have blood on their hands, are all religious or nationalistic fanatics, and all want to butcher each other?
I don't know. Isolationism still seems like an immoral and selfish concept. But America's track record for interventionism seems equally so- if we are the world's policeman, we're corrupt, on the take, and more than willing to turn a blind eye if it benefits us. Maybe the answer is that we have to relinquish the illusion, pushed by the White House and various political organizations, that America is really going around the world to make things objectively better, that we are actually fighting for others. Because the reality is, not only is that not what we're doing, but it also isn't really possible. Sometimes America's interests and those of the world (or another country) simply don't line up- and we would be a hell of a lot better off if we would at least admit in those circumstances that we're looking out for number one and taking care of our own business. Like we always have.
We should apologize to the people of Iraq and Afghanistan. Not for removing Saddam and the Talbian, but fo not being able to offer them anything better. And for our selective consciences that switch on as soon as it affects us, but which we conveniently shut out as soon as there's no reason for them to be on our radar. Why are Iraqis not thanking Americans, Mr. Hannity? Maybe because they know that we never gave a shit about them in the first place- and we still don't. Even the people who say we should stay there and finish the job don't- we see them as a problem to deal with, and if we're really honest, I think it could be said that most Americans, liberal and conservative, resent the hell out of them. Should we have left Saddam in power? As much as I want to say no, it doesn't look like removing him has done a hell of a lot for the Iraqis.
The world is a shitty place. But we're kidding ourselves when we try to pretend that we're making it better by fucking with it.
Liberals are supposed to be the undying optimists, but what was the neocons' vision of "being greeted as liberators" if not utopian? As nice as the contrary would be, not every problem can be solved- and certainly not by us.
At some point there will be some sort of bloodbath in Iraq (more than usual). Maybe if they're lucky there will be an establishment of a feudal status-quo like Afghanistan. But this country is never going to be the enlightened bullwark of democracy people want it to be, certainly not in my lifetime. It isn't a Muslim issue or even a cultural issue per se- it's a question of values and priorities. The Iraqis want to kill each other more than anything else. Until that changes, our being there won't make a damn bit of difference- unless we're willing to take over Saddam's old job. And I don't think even Bush is crazy enough to do that.
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Rugrats Passover, for those who never saw it, was phenomenal. The premise of the babies re-enacting the Passover story was both funny as well as impeccably executed (the Simpsons did it ten years later, with fairly lamer results). But surprisingly, when it came time for a Hanukkah special, Rugrats choked. This time the show only had a few flashbacks, with most of the action centering on the babies trying to find the "Meanie of Hanukkah" and putting him down for a nap. While there was a nice reconciliation between Old Jewy Grandpa and Old Jewy Grandpa's Nemesis (apropriately named Shlomo for maximum comedic effect), I remember watching this and feeling cheated. Sure, Passover was cool, but what could be cooler than Hanukkah? Tough Jews with turbans, sandals and knives! Guerilla warfare, dead elephants!
I don't know whether it's the violence or what, but Hanukkah seems to be a trickier holiday to "gussy up" for children. Are you supposed to focus on that oil crap? No one I know ever did- in fact we all thought the oil was pretty damn boring. My family probably would have phased it out entirely except that the oil is what lets you have deep-fried food like latkes (I'm sort of surprised my folks have yet to look into Hanukkah sufganiyot, or, say, KFC). Are you supposed to focus on the anti-assimilation and fighting for religious freedom theme? Well that could kind of work, except that the Maccabees seem like they were more like religious extremists than the ACLU with guns (interesting debate here). When you start looking at the Maccabees as a kind of Jewish Taliban, it's a lot harder to justify whitewashing them the way we have the Pilgrims and Puritans (that is, for people who are uncomfortable with the rewriting of the P&Ps). This is all the more true for non-Orthodox Jews who exalt the "strong Jew" paradigm (hard-core secular Zionists come to mind) and who would have been on the wrong side of the Maccabees' knives. Lastly there's the fact that the Maccabees' military might didn't actually lead to really good things, as the rabbis themselves realized (in addition to being their political opponents).
So what to do with Hanukkah? Hard to say. But I find it interesting that this dilemma even seems to find itself in representations for children.
Take a look, folks. Fisher-Price has no issue making a "Little People" nativity scene.
Sure, there are no beards to be seen, and therefore we have to wonder if God hasn't just committed statutory rape, but it's fine, you have all the characters, let the kiddies play. Looks great.
But what do we get for Hanukkah?
Don't get me wrong, a Hanukkah village is fine, but where are my damn Maccabees?
(A few other interesting latke-for-thought pieces here and here.)
WND- German homeschool advocate says Nazis have returned
"We are demanding an end to these immigration raids, where they are targeting brown faces. That is major, major racial profiling, and that cannot be tolerated," said Rosa Rosales, president of the League of United Latin American Citizens, at a news conference.
"This unfortunately reminds me of when Hitler began rounding up the Jews for no reason and locking them up," Democratic Party activist Carla Vela said. "Now they're coming for the Latinos, who will they come for next?"
Oh, and speaking of Nazi stuff, look what else I found in a Google search.
A POLICEMAN responsible for teaching other officers how to be racially sensitive has escaped being sacked despite standing by as a Jewish subordinate was subjected to a tirade of Nazi salutes by a colleague wearing a Hitler shirt.So much for the ravages of PC. I wonder if ol' Lou would support something like this. Freedom of speech and all. "Go wish somebody a happy Heil Hitler."
And as long as we're reviewing the year in stupidity, check this piece out. Bonus points for anyone who finds errors in it (I've already spotted one).
Pat's latest column essentially boils down to, "We've had Christmas as long as I can remember and nobody ever said anything then", therefore people complaining now must be full of crap. This is sort of like saying that slavery and killing the Indians was ok because they didn't write angry letters to Congressmen. By Pat's logic, black folks must have actually liked Jim Crow, and ditto for Jews and pogroms and, say, Shiites under Saddam. "Long live the Czar", right?
Pat says he can't understand why various different groups without much in common are banding together to go after Christmas.
Some are made up of people who apparently have only recently discovered that they object to Christmas observances. Many of them have participated in the Christmas traditions themselves. And many still do, albeit at home or behind the closed doors of their churches! What's afoot here?
Probably a bunch of things. Maybe they have a tree but don't want a creche in their face. Quite likely the issue of public square versus private space is a big issue too. Without giving any specifics, this is really a pretty useless couple of sentences.
It's not surprising that the Anti-Christian Lawyers Union (known to most by just its initials) would recently ''decide'' that open displays like manger scenes in public places are unconstitutional
Try 1989, genius, when the ACLU sued to remove a creche AND menorah. This, incidentally, is where we get the precedent that menorahs are secular symbols (which is a whole can of beans in of itself).
their lawsuits and threats against any Christian manifestations have become the expected background noise for Americans of faith.
Only people getting their news from you and Fox News. Check this out. Hell, take a look at this, too. Wait a minute, disagreeing with someone and yet finding something of merit in their argument? What a concept.
And, although we heard little or nothing from atheists and their small organizations in the past, they've recently decided that other citizens openly celebrating the birth of Jesus anywhere near them is offensive, and a ''violation of their rights.'' It was inconsequential to them for generations, but now they can't stand it.
See above argument, which of course, really isn't one.
Then Pat goes after "other" groups that are allying with "militant groups" (I must have missed when American atheists started going around with machine guns and shooting pastors) like Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, who "are lately persuaded that manger scenes in department store windows and town squares are somehow violating the First Amendment and abridging the ''rights'' of a few individuals – most of whom hadn't even thought to complain."
Wait, so first you say that no one ever complained, and now when people DO complain, you say that it's negated because they didn't complain earlier. Hey, Pat, I bet there was a long time before women were complaining about rape (and even longer until people were actually listening to them); that doesn't mean they were cool with it OR that it was inherently ok. Just because someone doesn't complain about something doesn't automatically mean it's fine, and just because you personally don't know anybody offended doesn't mean that no one is. Obviously you have to find balance on these things and can't have "avoiding offense" be your sole motivation or goal. But you also can't dismiss when somebody DOES complain just because "it was good enough for your grand-pappy". Not only is that patronizing, it's also damn stupid. Do you think anybody in Afghanistan was complaining in public when the Taliban was shooting people or jailing men for not having long enough beards? Get a clue.
Pat then takes us on another saccharine-sweet ride of his idyllic youth. It was a simpler time, when white people were more sepia-toned and black people weren't around, when the only Hispanics you had to hear about were that jackass Santa Anna, and where "Jew" was a curse word.
Hey Pat, I've got a brilliant idea: why don't you ask somebody who's NOT YOU about Christmas? And just because everybody in your house got some sort of lobotomy when they smelled Douglass Fir doesn't mean everyone else- Christian and non- thinks of Christmas- or a bunch of the things ASSOCIATED with it, like rampant consumerism, insipid carols, and the whitest Jews you ever did see, in the same way. Maybe some people like Christmas because it's an opportunity for family togetherness (raises hand) or, as you (almost) pointed out, because if tweaked the right way, it can serve as a good message for good vibes.
I've been around quite awhile now, admittedly, but I feel sure most people reading this have early memories similar to mine: The Christmas season heralded, right after Thanksgiving, by all kinds of carols on most radio stations. Department stores and other emporiums competing for the most attractive and impressive depictions of Mary and Joseph and the baby Jesus, the shepherds, and the three wise men. Little towns and major cities decorating the business sections and virtually transforming them into scenes from Charles Dickens' ''A Christmas Carol.''
And with all this decorating and celebrating, people's attitudes softened and spirits lifted, and the emphasis seemed to shift from ''getting'' to giving. New happy Christmas songs were added to the popular play lists, and constantly we heard ''Don't you wish Christmas could last all year long? Wouldn't the world be a better place?''
And incidentally, no, Christmas 24-7 would not make the world a better place- it would result in more BS lawsuits, more "War on Christmas" bitching, a major dip in the economy (the only people working would be in retail and manufacturing), and oh yeah, electric bills bigger than Dick Cheney's annual paycheck. We'll all be starving, but at least we'll have "Jingle Bell Rock". Woot.
Now Pat's annoyed. And trust me... you wouldn't like him when he's annoyed. He's a direct descendant of Daniel Freakin' Boone, man. He'll mow you down and use your scalp as a hat.
Has our whole government and our whole legislative system suddenly become concerned that a very few atheists and people of other religions are being seriously – and unconstitutionally – offended?
Um, first, you can't be "unconstitutionally offended". Acting to avoid offense might cause you to do something which is unconstitutional, or you might advocate a position which is unconstitutional, but a feeling in of itself, AFAIK, doesn't place anywhere in the spectrum. And God forbid the government try to be sensitive to its minorities. Maybe this whole conversation could be easier if we toned down the persecution hysteria and stopped denying that both sides- that's right, BOTH, actually have legitimate points. Of course, we've yet to hear any of that from Pat.
No, all this friction and protest and legal action are being militantly prosecuted by individuals and groups who resent any notion that America is a ''Christian nation,''
They don't resent it; they argue that it isn't true. That's like saying scientists resent the Flat Earth theory. And frankly, the opposing side hasn't really made its case to me. And the Declaration of Independence saying "God" in it doesn't cut it, sorry. What is being resented is the attempt to impose Christian hegemony on the nation as a whole, and then the intellectually dishonest claim that it's justified because "it's a Christian nation anyway".
and who are determined not to be confronted by moral or spiritual expectations that might cramp their style.
I don't know what this means.
You can draw your own conclusions about the source of this anti-Christ spirit.
Yeah, because you've left us tons of options here. Also, nice literal demonization of your opponents, Pat. Grandpa Boone must be so proud.
Pat then shills for some youth choir for reasons not entirely clear. I'd like to think he's doing it out of the goodness of his heart, but let's be real, he just called everybody he disagrees with as having been touched by the Anti-Christ.
Do I have an overall point here? Just this: Nobody forces Christmas on anybody. Nobody forces a St. Patrick's or Sons of Italy or Chanukah or Kwanzaa or Cinco de Mayo celebration, or any of the many other festive celebrations that are special to groups among us in this diverse society, on anybody.
I'm not sure that washes. Christmas is a Federal holiday, so legally, it's already being imposed on everyone. This isn't necessarily bad, but don't act like Christmas, from a legal standpoint, is on the same level as Cinco de Mayo. Incidentally, "Sons of Italy" is an organization, not a holiday. (Hey, did anyone else catch that kick-ass Ancient Order of Hibernians parade last night?)
More from the High Priest of understanding:
Just like old Ebenezer Scrooge, people with pinched, warped, insensitive, self-absorbed, miserable souls can stand off and mutter ''Bah, humbug'' to their shriveled hearts' content. The festive spirit will pass soon enough, anyway.
And hey, if these admittedly hopeless nonbelievers want to devise some public display of their own – a depiction of a black hole, an empty eternity, a molding grave, an endless evolution from primordial ooze through ape ancestors all the way through to final meaningless ooze and blackness – more power to 'em! We'll find room in the public square for them, too.
Wow, Pat, you're so kind. Really? You'll let us into YOUR square, that your however-many-greats-grandfather built with his own two hands (plus slaves)? Wow, it's almost enough to make you become a Converso. And I'm sure the Prince of Peace would totally approve of you smearing millions of people as having "warped souls" just because they want to get your manger out of their face. And WE'RE self-absorbed.
But don't – repeat, don't – try to stifle our joy or rob us of the gentle, giving, and loving spirit of the Christmas season.
I must be missing something. Since when was Christmas exclusively celebrated via giant Nativity scenes in the town square? Didn't this used to be a CHURCH holiday? Man, I hope you never get a tradition that you have to punch a nonbeliever in the face.
Who's it for? It's for all who will receive it, be blessed by it, bask in it, profit from it, or even – like old Ebenezer himself – be surprised and overtaken and rejuvenated by it. Millions of us still hear the echoes of the angels proclaiming, ''Peace on earth, good will toward men.'' All men. Even the disclaimers, the nonbelievers, the Scrooges.
I get it, it's like Jesus. Sneaky, Pat. So you're saying Christmas should be cool because you mean well. Well, sorry, but just because you have good intentions still doesn't make it Constitutional, or necessarily offense-free.
Can't we all use a little period of peace right now? And will good will, like that exemplified and sung by the Children of the World Choir, hurt anybody?
I don't know, Pat, maybe it's like how people don't like being witnessed to. Or, you know, having their ancestors baptized. Again, just because you don't get it (or don't care to) doesn't invalidate the criticism.
Pat, of course, misses the real point. The question is whether, on a cultural level, Christmas is being pushed on people. Is this automatically bad? Depends who you ask, I guess, but it seems like a worthwhile thing to examine- that is, it would seem to be a legitimate thing for the millions of Christians of goodwill who don't understand what the problem is (unlike people like Pat Boone who automatically reject the suggestion of legitimate problems with how Christmas is disseminated, vilify their opponents as being defficient in soul or spirit, and then portray themselves as persecuted).
This issue is particularly important in the public square, which, in my and a lot of lefties' POV, is supposed to be a neutral area. You want to have a nativity in your front yard? Go nuts. Hell, have the three wise man sodomizing the Anti-Christ, and put Hillary Clinton's face on him. Somebody might not like it, but you have the right to do what you want on your own property. The real issue is where the boundary lines should be. The problem with the war on Christmas (aside from the issue of intellectual and media honesty) is that the two sides are talking past each other. With the exception of some wingnuts, left-wingers mainly want to iron out what is appropriate in the public square. Their opponents, however, dodge the issue by attempting to scuttle the debate before it starts by saying that it shouldn't happen in the first place. (We're a Christian nation, nobody's really offended by it, Who are you to tell us "real Americans" what to do, etc.)
Even if the amount of people who feel this way is infintesimal, it's still a worth-while question to ask, just like some of the stranger "anti-Christmas" moves (if they actually occur) should be rethought. I don't think the answer is to ban red and green, but nor do I think it's appropriate to be a jackass a-la Lou Dobbs.
The real problem, though, is that we aren't talking about the important questions- How can we deal with having multiple traditions coexisting in the same society? How do we deal with different celebrations? Do we celebrate everything? Do we celebrate nothing? Or do we attempt some sort of limited representation? Throwing your hands up and saying, "It's a Christian nation, na-na-na" is the equivalent of taking your ball and going home. Go hide if you want to, Pat, but don't act like you're being forced out. You're removing yourself from an important conversation, and you're skewing the debate to make people feel sorry for you and themselves.
Oh, and you've got a lot of nerve talking about goodwill when you say we're all alligned with the Anti-Christ. Go choke on a holly bush.
Merry Christmas, Pat Boone. Now get your Santa Claus off my lawn.
Friday, December 22, 2006
For any Jew who hasn't seen through the utter sham that Medved, Feder and Lapin represent, along with their 'fighting for a Judeo-Christian heritage' in America that requires burying menorahs in favor of Christmas trees; here's your chance to get off that bandwagon for good.
Jews who joined the struggle believed they were fighting for religion against secularism. This is the wake up call demonstrating that it's not for our religion. When Christians fight for a Christian symbol or tradition, it's celebrated as part of the struggle to bring back religion in America. when Jews fight for a Jewish symbol, it's treated as an evil attack on Christianity and on all that's good and holy. Instead of holding the airport accountable, the Jews are held accountable instead for daring to want a Menorah.
I first came across this argument in Dershowitz's "Chutzpah" a number of years ago, where he succintly put it, "Every society that officially prefers religion over nonreligion eventually selects one religion as the true/preferred/dominant one." This is why, besides my own personal agnostic leanings, I find people like Dennis Prager and Daniel Lapin so wrongheaded- I'm not saying secularism can do no wrong, but an increase in American religiosity, particularly on a legal level, cannot be good for non-Christians, regardless of whether they happen to be more liked by some Christians (Jews) than other groups (Muslims, atheists, Buddhists). The weirdest attempt to disprove this I ever encountered was in a Prager book when he claimed that Christianity was better for Jews than secularism because Hitler and Stalin were secular.
As I see it, Dershowitz got it right fifteen years ago when he wrote that Jews have to demand equal citizenship, not second-class citizenship. America not being a Christian nation is what gives Jews that protection, and it's hardly in their interest to attempt to attack that protection simply to pick up the scraps from Christian leaders' tables.
Incidentally, the exploitation of the rabbi's case is absolutely outrageous, though it seems that the way he went about trying to get his menorah up there was pretty dumb. It's also unclear to me to what degree this move was on the behalf of Jews versus Chabad itself (as exemplified by the fact that the menorah in question was the distinctive spiky Chabad type, not a curvy or blocky one, which I'm more familiar with). I mentioned this to a BT friend of mine who has some Chabad aquaintances, and she said "that's just the way the Rambam did it". I was suspicious but kept quiet until I could go to the nearest Google. Wouldn't you know it, I was right. Now if the rabbi had been advocating something like this, I'd be all for it. Yum, gelt.
Sorry, Rav. You should have stuck with what you're good at. Maybe next time try welding a menorah onto a plane (Dude, Mitzva Bombers! Hey, maybe Chabad can merge with the new Haredi Air.)
Edit: Hey, the rav finally got a menorah up! And, predictably, there's already more controversy. Oy. I hope he's getting extra mitzva points for this one.
Double-edit: Less people less idiots has a thought-provoking post about Christmas and Dobbs. And just for the hell of it, here's a nice crotch-shot of Lou, courtesy of loudobbs4president.com. Ow, my eye!
Enter Virgil Goode, whose much-quoted letter is actually even more bizarre the more of it you read.
When I raise my hand to take the oath on Swearing In Day, I will have the Bible in my other hand.
How nice for you. Now, is this a personal religious decision, or are you turning yourself into an exhibitionist in the hope that this will help you with your constituents? And did we get a new holiday when I was napping? Is there Swearing-In-Day cake? And are you allowed to have flavors other than vanilla?
I do not subscribe to using the Koran in any way.
Hey, what a co-winky-dink! I bet a bunch of Jews in office don't "subscribe" (?) to using the New Testament. And let's not even go into the two new Buddhists. I don't know how they slipped by ol'Eagle-Eye Goode, but clearly we need to start screening people better before we allow them to run for government. Hey, what about Catholics or Orthodox Christians? They should check before they swear that they're using the *right* Bible- got to have that Apocrypha. And if it's not written in Latin (or Cyrillic), I don't think it should count. Just a personal preference.
The Muslim Representative from Minnesota was elected by the voters of that district
Damn you, representative democracy! How many more Bibles have to be not-used before we wake up?
if American citizens don’t wake up and adopt the Virgil Goode position on immigration there will likely be many more Muslims elected to office and demanding the use of the Koran.
Just for those keeping score: Ellison isn't Arabic, he's a black convert from Detroit whose family has been in this country about 150 years longer than mine. And holy crap, more Muslims swearing on their holy book? Man, it's almost enough to make you want to ban the whole mock swearing in ceremony altogether. Or maybe that's just me.
And just what is the Goode position on immigration, you ask? Apparently, it's stopping "illegal immigration totally and reduce legal immigration and end the diversity visas policy pushed hard by President Clinton and allowing many persons from the Middle East to come to this country."
That's funny, I thought most of the illegal immigrants were Mexicans, who, incidentally, are largely religious Catholics. Hey Virg, help me out here. Is this about illegal immigrants, xenophobic Nativism, or actually giving a rat's ass what people fake-swear on in front of the news cameras?
I fear that in the next century we will have many more Muslims in the United States if we do not adopt the strict immigration policies that I believe are necessary to preserve the values and beliefs traditional to the United States of America and to prevent our resources from being swamped.
Jesus Godamn Vishnu Christ, Virg, you're really wrapping a lot of bullcrap into this letter. If I had to represent it in math terms, I might choose something pithy like, say, 50 pounds into a 5 pound bag (or maybe one of those padded envelopes you get at the post office). So let's get this straight: the election of an American Muslim to Congress who wants to use his own book is bad and antithetical to American values- and the way to deal with this is to stop allowing Muslim IMMIGRANTS into the US. And while we're at it, let's stop illegal immigration (Mexicans), and throw something in there about protecting American resources- which I guess legal immigrants shouldn't be allowed to have access to unless they're WASPs. Or at least not rag-heads. Yeah, that's totally Constitutional.
The Ten Commandments and “In God We Trust” are on the wall in my office.
Don't feel bad, no one ever gave the Capitol major points for imaginative decorating.
A Muslim student came by the office and asked why I did not have anything on my wall about the Koran. My response was clear, “As long as I have the honor of representing the citizens of the 5th District of Virginia in the United States House of Representatives, The Koran is not going to be on the wall of my office.”
So, does that mean that as long as the 5th doesn't have (enough) Muslims in it, you won't have the Koran there, or is it that as long as the 5th has you, the office won't have the Koran? And furthermore- who gives a crap?!?
More on Goode here. I particularly like how he's convinced that barring the doors to Muslims will preclude more Muslims getting elected to Congress. Someone should explain the concept of proselitizing to him. And hey, there are a lot more Jews in Congress than Muslims- maybe we should start denying visas to Israeli ex-pats and Jews from the former Soviet Union.
More on the Prager-Ellison-Goode mental masturbation here. I have to say, I might have to change my opinions of Ed Koch. Anyone who calls Prager a schmuck is all right by me. Money-quote right here (though unclear how accurate):
"The New Testament is not my Bible but it is America's Bible," he said, noting that Jewish officeholders who had insisted on the Hebrew Bible were "secularists" who didn't believe what was in it anyway.
Hmm. Maybe we should ask this guy.
Oh, and speaking of anti-Muslim hysteria, check out Debbie Schlussel's mind-turd on Obama. She blames ol' Barak for how some Muslims might perceive him:
In Arab culture and under Islamic law, if your father is a Muslim, so are you. And once a Muslim, always a Muslim. You cannot go back. In Islamic eyes, Obama is certainly a Muslim. He may think he's a Christian, but they do not.
Hey, all the better for us- maybe he can serve as a mediator between us and, I don't know, all the Muslims we seem to keep pissing off. Or, even better, he could get the drop on all these hypothetical Muslims Schlussel thinks would be supposedly sympathetic to him.
But wait, there's more!
Obama went to a Muslim school for two years in Indonesia. His mother, Anna, married an Indonesian man (likely another Muslim, as Indonesia is Muslim-dominated and has the largest Islamic population in the world).
What difference does it make? Especially since Obama spent "two years in a Muslim school and two years in a Catholic one"? Exactly what is the issue here? Obama's supposed religious education? Indoctrination? How many Muslims are there in Hawaii, Debbie? Should we start interviewing Obama's old neighbors to see if he was part of some nefarious pre-teen terrorist cell? Where the hell are you going with this?
And Obama has a "born-again" affinity for the nation of his Muslim father, Kenya, and his Kenyan sister.
Although Kenya is largely Christian, it has a fast-growing Muslim population that has engaged in a good deal of religious violence and riots against Christians.
My family's from Poland and the Ukraine. I can find those countries interesting and take pride in my heritage and history without supporting what those governments do (hint, hint).
So, even if he identifies strongly as a Christian, and even if he despised the behavior of his father (as Obama said on Oprah); is a man who Muslims think is a Muslim, who feels some sort of psychological need to prove himself to his absent Muslim father, and who is now moving in the direction of his father's heritage, a man we want as President when we are fighting the war of our lives against Islam? Where will his loyalties be?
NO WAY, JOSE . . . Or, is that, HUSSEIN?
Hey Deb, imagine if anybody said this about a Congressman of Jewish origins: Even if "Alberto Kahane" identifies as a Christian, and despised the behavior of his great-uncle Meir, is a man who Jews think is Jewish, who feels a psychological need to prove himself to his absent Jewish great-uncle, and moving in the direction of his father's heritage (I saw him eating a blintz! And is that a Jewish National Fund tzedaka box in his office?) really a person we want in office? God forbid he take a trip to Israel or something.
You'd get your ass handed to you, and rightfully so. We don't get to disqualify people based solely on who their parents were (not that you've demonstrated anything actually objectionable in Obama's heritage in the first place). If that's an issue for the voters, fine- but this column is just as much a litmus test as Prager's.
So buzz off Debbie. I mean, Dumb-ass.
And regarding that whole, "once a Muslim always a Muslim"- does that mean we shouldn't let Steve Centanni and Olaf Wiig back to work? What if they run for office? After all, Muslims still see them as Muslims, right? If anything, Centanni is less trustworthy than Obama- he ACTUALLY (fake) converted, Obama was just (sort of) born into this (maybe).
Let's start a petition!
(Hat tip: DovBear)
Wednesday, December 13, 2006
Aish ha-Torah has visited a great deal of torment and suffering upon the Jewish people. Their brooding, medieval, property-value-destroying monstrosity of a headquarters casts an oppressive shadow over the stones of the Western Wall plaza. Their campus representatives, armed with pocket dictionaries of American slang circa 1991 to appeal to the young generation, prowl the quads and halls of America’s universities attempting to sucker hungover sorority girls into “taking a little time off” in Israel (”Hey dudes and dudettes! You know what’s way mondo? Finals week - NOT!! But you know what seriously is radder than Jason Lee popping a wicked ollie? Yiddishkeit!”).
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
You see, Rutz claims that soy contains estrogen. This means that men are "suppressing your masculinity and stimulating your "female side," physically and mentally." Wow, sounds almost as bad as The View and Oxygen (don't even mention Lifetime).
More from Rutz:
Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. That's why most of the medical (not socio-spiritual) blame for today's rise in homosexuality must fall upon the rise in soy formula and other soy products.
Yeah, dammit! We need to be feeding our babies steak as early as possible. Better yet, release them into the wild and teach them to hunt moose in packs. It works for wolves- you never see any of them marching in a parade.
Homosexuals often argue that their homosexuality is inborn because "I can't remember a time when I wasn't homosexual." No, homosexuality is always deviant. But now many of them can truthfully say that they can't remember a time when excess estrogen wasn't influencing them.
Hell, why not blame the diapers while we're at it? Maybe there's some gay-virus that's passed through a particular kind of plastic in the Huggies. And that also explains why so many Depends wearers lose interest in sex right around age 80... Eureka!
Research in 2000 showed that a soy-based diet at any age can lead to a weak thyroid, which commonly produces heart problems and excess fat. Could this explain the dramatic increase in obesity today?
Yeah, it's not fast food's fault- it's that damn soy shake. When will parents learn? Also, this explains why I've gone from an A cup to a double-B- it's made me fat AND feminine! Damn you, soy!
Rutz also blames soy for leukemia and cancer. On the plus side, though, he says soy sauce is fine, though I'm still skeptical. I mean, you know who REALLY likes soy sauce? The sushi-eating, shit-on-America-first, liberal Hollywood fairy patrol. Just to be safe, I'd say stay away from anything that even has a "y" in its name. (Don't worry, you can still have Thanksgiving, just call those orange things sweet potatoes, no one will ever know.)
So wait, if soy makes you gay, and feminine, and infertile:
- Is homosexuality really curable by prayer?
- How come it's been a food (not just a condiment) in Asia for 2,000 years without us ever hearing about this? If Ben Franklin was eating soy and writing about it in the 1770s, don't you think he would have mentioned it if his testicles had suddenly started shrinking?
Saturday, December 02, 2006
Rabbi Levi Brackman has a bit of really torturous logic. See if you can find the part that gave me an aneurysm (and right after I had made my keyboard milchig, too!):
Recently I had a conversation with a secular Israeli academic, who said to me that being Jewish is a genetic state and our common connection is the fact that Hitler would have gassed both of us. I find the notion that my identity is defined by Hitler rather offensive.
It's no more offensive-or racist- than telling converts they don't count because they weren't born into the tribe.
In fact, it arouses defiance in me. For the first time I realized why so many secular Jews in America choose not to marry Jewish. The more one dilutes the Jewish gene through intermarriage the less one is able to be defined by an evil man such as Hitler.
That is a stupid strawman and you are a moron.
One may argue that our connection is our common heritage and, although this is a major factor, in the age of globalization it is becoming less and less important to people. I posit that the most important common factor among Jews is in the here and now. Jews have a religion in common – Judaism.
Which has taken zillions of different flavors and dimensions over the several thousand years it's been kicking around the planet. Just because you don't like the latest incarnation doesn't mean you get to write them off.
The fact that I can go into any synagogue in the world and pray together with the quorum in a familiar manner, that we all keep the same Shabbat and the same dietary laws, believe in and study the same Torah, have faith in the same God, is what binds us.
Sorry? Don't you mean the same Orthodox synagogue? Oh, I get it- you're already taking Amar's lead and ignoring the existence of the non-Orthos. Nice. Also helps the argument.
The second one takes the religion out of the equation and we are left with an awfully troubling question: What unifying factor do we as Jews have? In fact, without religion, the desirability of living in Israel is severely challenged as well. Who wants to live in a country, Israel, whose whole existence and definition are shaped by a genocidal dictator?
That is still a strawman, and you are still an idiot.
So if we can agree that it is Judaism that defines and unites us as Jews, the question arises: Who defines Judaism? Liberal and Reform Jews may reply that it is Jews who define Judaism; tradition, however, would suggest that it is the Torah and God that define Judaism.
Its mighty easy to win discussions and achieve "agreements" when you're only arguing with yourself. And I like how in Brackman's world the Torah and God have been directly programmed into frummies' brains, presumably via some sort of divine flashdrive or file-sharing mechanism, without any messy human intervention. Come on, Levi. Even if God dictated the Torah at Sinai, Moses was still WRITING IT DOWN.
Whichever way one puts it, the majority of religious Jews in Israel are Traditional and not Reform, Conservative or Liberal; thus, Judaism in Israel, a democratic country, is defined by Traditionalists such as the Sephardic Chief Rabbi.
Let's get this straight: The majority of Jews in Israel are secular. Of the religious MINORITY, the majority are traditional (and the haredim are a minority of them). So rather than have the MAJORITY be represented by Israeli Judaism, it should instead be represented by an unelected lackey of a minority of a minority?
And what's with this appeal to democracy anyway? Like Levi would really change his opinion if tons of Reform and Conservative Jews immigrated and became the religious majority? I doubt it; instead we'd be hearing about how "the majority of real religious Jews are Traditional". What BS.
It does not seem unreasonable for his office to say that they want to rule on this definitively religious matter. Although I have sympathy for those converts whom the Israeli authorities will not accept as Jews, yet denying these authorities the right to decide who is and who is not considered a Jew undermines the Jewish status of Israel and causes the entire character of the Israeli state to fall even further into question.
Yeah, oh, and El Al deciding they want to make up flights for inconvenienced passengers ALSO totally undermines the Jewish status of Israel, too. Just ask Elyashiv. Not only that, it gives a victory to Hitler. Why do you love Hitler so much?
Separating Traditional Judaism from the state of Israel would in essence transform Israel from a Jewish state into a secular state defined by Hitler and run by Jews. Is this what Jewish leaders in the Diaspora really want to see happen?
Actually, I think they'd prefer for you to grow brains, stop the bullcrap and pay attention to the real arguments for once. Levi, you're a real yutz, and as soon as I learn Aramaic, I'm totally going to curse you with a Godwin deNura.
Edit: Those of you who check out the Elyashiv link will note that the picture of him closely corresponds to the artist's depiction offered here. Let it never be said that the Friar doesn't pay attention to details.
And take Metzger with you, while you're at it.
So let's review- in the past two years, Rabbi Amar has said that no rabbis outside of Israel are legitimate except those personally vetted by him. This in turn disqualifies their converts, even Orthodox ones, unless their rabbis were/are on Amar's master list, which, conveniently, is long out of date and contains a great many dead people. Just splendid.
Now Amar's gone after converts again, proving he really doesn't care about Klal Israel as much as he does circling the wagons and tightening the fence around the
Exactly who does Amar think he's saving here? This is more than an attack on converts, this is an attack on Jewish pluralism, this time even drawing blood from his own camp! Amar wants power and hegemony, and he doesn't care who he has to step on to get it. This man is exploiting his office and authority, and has the audacity to claim he's doing it to protect Israel and the Jewish people. Yeah right. This is about controling who gets to be a Jew, period. Amar can't excommunicate halakhic Jews who aren't Orthodox (he could if he would), so he's making their converts second-class citizens as best he can.
You're an embarassment to your office, Rabbi. And not just because of that hat.
...while misuse of Holocaust imagery in contemporary culture does not lend itself to easy definition or categorization, we, too, can recognize it when we see it. At the same time, we must be careful not to excoriate individuals or institutions merely for seeking to find innovative or unfamiliar ways of dealing with the Shoah.
Four and a half years ago, I was sharply critical of an exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York entitled "Mirroring Evil: Nazi Imagery/Recent Art." That ill-conceived show included one artist's "Giftgas Giftset" of poison gas canisters packaged with Chanel, Hermes and Tiffany & Co. designer logos; a historical photograph of emaciated Buchenwald inmates into which another artist digitally inserted himself holding a can of Diet Coke; a "Lego Concentration Camp Set," complete with crematorium and plastic inmates made with the popular children's building blocks; and an installation of six glorifying plaster busts of the notorious Auschwitz SS doctor Josef Mengele. I believed then and believe today that individually and collectively, these works desecrated and trivialized the Holocaust.
Just because artist Zbigniew Libera's "Lego Concentration Camp Set" was part of an offensive exhibit does not mean, however, that Lego building blocks cannot legitimately be used in the context of Holocaust education. Stephen Schwartz, an American architect, has developed what appears to be an effective children's workshop in which a 400-square-foot replica of the Warsaw Ghetto is constructed with Lego blocks, followed by an age-appropriate history lesson on the ghetto.
Wait, you mean we have to use nuance and judgment? No fair!
Its lucky that Itzhak Perlman had polio as a child, otherwise, with his dedication and strength of character, he probably would have been a commander in the IDF Special Forces and the world would have never have had the benefit of his music. So you see, even when Hashem gives someone polio, it's all for the best.
Jesus Fucking Oy Christ.
Lazer, please go jump in a lake. Maybe you can do get some quality time with Nachman down there. And who knows? If you catch pneumonia or some aquatic bacteria, that might be for the best too. Wait, no, I've got it! We'll find out there's polonium in the lake and it causes you to grow gills, and that way you can finally do kiruv work to all the disaffected mermaid Jews! Breslov house of the Marianis Trench! That'll show those Chabadniks what for!
And if your new assignment from Hashem happened to force you to spend the rest of your life underwater, and therefore unable to use a computer, well, that would clearly be for the best as well.