January 2010 Archives

Unjustified digs

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Solomonia notes that a number of prominent Jewish groups have come out in support of Rush Limbaugh.  Among them are American Friends of Likud, CAMERA, Emunah of America,  the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, the National Council of Young Israel, Religious Zionists of America and Z-Street.

There has been controversy, recently, over statements made by radio talk-show host Rush Limbaugh about Jewish voting patterns, political ties and the recent Massachusetts election. We are deeply dismayed by the unfounded criticism of the talk show commentator's observations.

While one may agree or disagree with Mr. Limbaugh's views on many subjects, his outspoken support for Israel has been eloquent, informed and undeniable. Moreover, in commentary on the Jewish people, he has been nothing short of a philo-Semite. We are grateful for his strong and singular voice on these issues."
Abe Foxman was incredibly off base on this (and Solomonia has said so all along).

And then there was the SOTU attack on the Supreme Court.  Wow.  Just wow.  Another "heckofajob Barry" moment.  It seems there just isn't an opportunity to debase the office our President isn't happy to take.  As for the Court's decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Committee, my take is very well summed up here.

Because at the heart of that decision was a sweeping defense of free speech protections afforded to Americans under the First Amendment, regardless of their corporate identity. We may not like what's coming our way, but as Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the 5-4 majority: "Because speech is an essential mechanism of democracy - it is the means to hold officials accountable to the people - political speech must prevail against laws that would suppress it by design or inadvertence."

Yes, even if that speech is uttered by a corporation.

I'm definitely among those who dreads "what's coming our way" (though it will be interesting to see if it's actually worse than what we already have with the 527s).  But as our government gets bigger and bigger, I've grown increasingly wary of giving it the power to place restrictions on speech.

Shabbat Shalom and a very Happy Tu B'shevat!

Out of the woodwork

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They're crawling, squirming and oozing out of every crack, it seems.  Now this.

The Holocaust only gets media coverage because of affluent Jews' financial backing, military might and lobbying fronts, presenting a skewed version of events to the world, a high-ranking Polish bishop told a Catholic news portal on Monday.

Tadeusz Pieronek, a Polish bishop and professor and a friend of the last pope, John Paul II, claimed that "the Holocaust as such is a Jewish invention" promoted in the press by Jews to gain support for Israel.
While enormously offensive, I'm sorry to say this isn't all that shocking.  It's getting to be more a question of "when" than "if" the next Holocaust denying bishop will pop up (and, yes, this is still by far the exception, not the rule).  This claim, however, did rock me back.

"The anti-Semitic history of Poland is an invention," he said. "A joke ... offensive to our people."
Funny, no one's laughing.  And that would be one of the most extensively and exhaustively documented and debated "inventions" in human history.  More complicated than is commonly acknowledged?  Yes.  But an "invention?"  Hardly.  Good to know it's still alive and kicking, though, and that, increasingly, people no longer seem afraid or ashamed to own it. 

Never again?  The pit in my stomach is telling me that's the joke.

Do us all a favor, Tad, and crawl back under your rock.

Washington disconnect

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Even now, the Obama administration clearly doesn't get it.

White House senior politcal adviser David Axelrod countered critics that believe Scott Brown's win in the Massachusetts special election for Senate Tuesday was a blow to Democrats' efforts to reform health care by saying that polls show the opposite sentiment.

"I must tell you that, if you look at the polling in the Washington Post yesterday on the Massachusetts race, it's very clear, people don't want us to walk away from health care," Axelrod said. "They want us to address their concerns with the program, and they want Brown to come and work with us and not be obstructionist. That was very clear in the polling."
Was it?  See also, Pres Sec Robert Gibbs on Fox News Sunday.

WALLACE: But, Robert, Scott Brown had a clear platform. Let's lay it out. Stop health care. Cut taxes. End backroom deals with special interest and don't give terrorists Miranda rights. It wasn't the same thing that swept Barack Obama into office. Scott Brown explicitly campaigned against the -- campaigned against the Obama agenda. 

GIBBS: That may be what he campaigned on but that's not why the voters of Massachusetts sent him to Washington. If you look at exit [sic] poll, done by the ""Washington Post"" --
At least they're keeping their spin straight.  But let's look at that WaPo poll they keep talking about.  The one that supposedly shows that the message on Tuesday was to keep pushing ahead with the Democrats' health care agenda at all costs.  The poll was conducted, by phone, among a "random sample of 880 voters in the Massachusetts special election" (or so they told the pollsters) and "242 Massachusetts adults who did not participate in the election."  The latter were excluded, obviously, from the questions on what influenced their vote.

89% of the voters said "efforts at health care reform" were an important factor in their vote (56% said extremely important, 33% said very important).  Health care was a more important factor for Brown voters than for Coakley voters.  (Next in order of importance came "the economy and jobs.")  You can check for yourself the reasons those voters gave for why health care was an important factor to them.  The biggest reason by far among Brown voters was the political process (deal making, closed doors, lack of transparency), followed by general opposition to the current bill. 

And then there's this major disconnect from the spin.  65% of Brown voters (who, let's recall, were the ones who carried the election) said their vote was intended to express opposition to the Democratic agenda.  And 75% said they were dissatisfied and/or angry with the Obama administration's policies.  How do you spin that as a vote of confidence?

Fully 75% of Brown voters said Senator Brown should, in general, "work with the Democrats to try to get some Republican ideas into legislation" (as opposed to mainly work to stop the Democratic agenda).  So Axelrod is right on the obstructionist thing as far as it goes (though he neglected to mention the part about getting Republican ideas into legislation).  But only 48% of the Brown voters said the same when it came to working with Democrats on their current proposals for changes to health care.  50% said they'd like to see him stop those changes from happening.  This is as close as it gets to the spin, and even so, other responses seem somewhat inconsistent. 

For example, 65% of Brown voters said they and their families would be worse off if the President and Congress passed health care reform.  72% said the country as a whole would be worse off!  And 64% said Massachusetts would be worse off.  Now, again, these are just Brown voters.  But it's the Brown voters who are sending their candidate to Washington.  So I think they're the ones who count when determining why they're sending him there.

Mr. Alexrod?  Mr. Gibbs?  I do not think this poll says what you seem to think it says.

Of concern

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A few things.

I'm late on this, but let's keep an eye on it, shall we?

The Simon Wiesenthal Center rebuked remarks made by director Oliver Stone during a press conference for his new history documentary. Stone said, "Hitler is an easy scapegoat throughout history and it's been used cheaply. He's the product of a series of actions. It's cause and effect."

The director is using the series to expose what he calls lies and biases behind the conventional interpretation of American history and that would include reexamining WWII history and putting Hitler "into context."

Greg Gutfeld manages to put a good sardonic spin on this story.  It's rife with well deserved snark.

David Frum has been in Venezuela, blogging up a storm.  This is just scary.  Scarier than usual.

I picked an exciting week to visit Venezuela. The night before my arrival, the regime seized the country's largest shopping mall. The day after, Israeli authorities disclosed that a recently intercepted shipment of missiles to Hezbollah had originated in Venezuela.

These two dissimilar events are importantly related. The seized mall belonged to one of Venezuela's wealthiest Jewish families. Following an armed attack on the country's most visible synagogue in January 2009, the seizure sent a strong message: None of you are safe.

The Chavez regime's turn toward harshly anti-Jewish policies is part of an ominous self-radicalization.

There's too much in this to excerpt meaningfully.  Please read it all.

Meanwhile, the new tape from UBL (or whoever is playing him on audio), blames Israel for the (failed) Christmas bomb attack and threatens more of the same if the U.S. doesn't cut off support for Israel.  The State Department says he's just "trying to continue to appear relevant."  David Axelrod says it's just "the same hollow justification for the slaughter of innocent people."  That may be.  But still ...

There's a theme here.  It's not good.  Not good at all.

Buyer's remorse

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Wow.  This is one of the worst cases I've ever seen.  Mort Zuckerman is so dismayed by Obama's performance he's rendered almost inarticulate (and remember that this guy is the editor-in-chief of U.S. News and World Report, among other things).

I'm very disappointed. We endorsed him. I voted for him. I supported him publicly and privately.

I hope there are changes. I think he's already laid in huge problems for the country. The fiscal program was a disaster. You have to get the money as quickly as possible into the economy. They didn't do that. By end of the first year, only one-third of the money was spent. Why is that?

He should have jammed a stimulus plan into Congress and said, "This is it. No changes. Don't give me that bullshit. We have a national emergency." Instead they turned it over to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi who can run circles around him.

It's very sad. It's really sad.

He's improved America's image in the world. He absolutely did. But you have to translate that into something. Let me tell you what a major leader said to me recently. "We are convinced," he said, "that he is not strong enough to confront his enemy. We are concerned," he said "that he is not strong to support his friends."

The political leadership of the world is very, very dismayed. He better turn it around. The Democrats are going to get killed in this election. Jesus, looks what's happening in Massachusetts.

It's really interesting because he had brilliant, brilliant political instincts during the campaign. I don't know what has happened to them.

You were taken, Mort.  That's what happened.  You were bamboozled.  Flim-flammed.  A lot of people were.  But they're waking up now. 

I can't predict things two years from now, but if he continues on the downward spiral he is on, he won't be reelected.

From your mouth, Mort ...

And the tide turns

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THANK YOU MASSACHUSETTS !!

And thank you, Senator Elect Scott Brown !!

Right on it

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If you're even remotely interested in the Massachusetts senate race, you'll be hard pressed to find better or broader coverage than Solomonia.  Links, polls, videos and updates galore. 

(Oh, and Bill Kristol is linking to Allahpundit at Hot Air?  This is probably not news but it's the first time I've noticed it.  Very cool.)

Coakley's big lie

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If I was a Massachusetts voter, this one would really steam me up.

Curt Schilling called a swing and a miss for Martha Coakley yesterday after the candidate gaffed and referred to the former Red Sox ace as a "Yankee fan" on a Friday night radio show.
Oops.  Wrong story.  That was supposedly just Coakley's lame attempt at ... humor.  The big lie is this one.

1,736 WOMEN WERE RAPED IN MASSACHUSETTS IN 2008.  SCOTT BROWN WANTS HOSPITALS TO TURN THEM ALL AWAY.
I am and have always been adamantly pro-choice.  Yes, it makes my voting choices complicated.  But when I say that, as a pro-choice voter, this blatantly false and prejudicial (if not defamatory) ad pisses the living hell out of me, I sincerely hope that sentiment is shared by a good number of like-minded voters in Massachusetts.

These are the facts:

  • Leaving aside the question of whether that medication is even an abortifacient (disputed), the amendment required the hospital to have in place an established procedure of referral to a staff person or another hospital (admittedly a burden on the patient/victim) unencumbered by such conflicts.
  • The amendment was rejected and Brown voted for the bill without it.
Such caveats to legislation providing for controversial health care measures are widespread.  Many living will statutes, for example, include a similar opt-out provision for personnel and facilities whose religious principles forbid them from "pulling the plug."  While the emergency factor may appear to be lacking in the latter situation (it's often not), the root of these opt-out clauses lies in a fundamental provision of our Constitution: with very limited exceptions, laws shall not be enacted that tend to inhibit the free exercise of religion. 

When pro-choice candidates resort to such dishonest and manipulative tactics in their campaigns, it always provides useful fodder for those who would legislatively limit the options women have open to them in the event of unwanted pregnancies.  Martha Coakley damages the cause of reproductive rights by displaying such gross disregard for the truth and employing such cynically manipulative tactics in the guise of defending them.  Her desperate attempt to clean up the mess that she herself has made of her campaign will hopefully backfire big time.

Let me be clear?

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In one paragraph, this WaPo piece expertly delivers a broad indictment of our so-very-articulate President.

When Obama is being "clear" these days, he is saying something quite different than when he was being clear in 2007 and 2008. His shifting use of the phrase traces the arc of Obama's time on the national stage, from campaign sensation to a president beset with challenges that rhetoric alone cannot overcome. In a presidency in which everything is murkier than Obama could have imagined, the "let me be clear" preface has become a signal that what follows will be anything but.
The rest of it is pretty darn good, too.

The problem with commercial television

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Viewers with working brain cells just don't respond positively to most TV ads.  So it's not in the interest of the network execs (who depend on ad revenue for their survival) to attract an audience of viewers with working brain cells.

Cable TV was supposed to liberate us from all this.  Forget it.  Resistance is futile.

So if you're wondering why all your favorite shows get canceled while tons of dreck stays on the air season after season ... consider yourself complimented.

I know.  Just stating the obvious.

What they do

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They rush to the rescue.  It doesn't matter who or where.  There they are (if they're allowed in).

Representatives of the Chabad-Lubavitch organization and of ZAKA, the Jewish search and rescue group, are already in Haiti to help survivors and Jews in the disaster zone.

Ahead of Shabbat, Chabad envoys were working hard to prepare kosher food and a proper Shabbat meal for Jewish aid workers already on the devastated island.

Chabad's emissary to the Dominican Republic, Shimon Pelman, told Ynet that he arrived in Haiti in order to identify and assist Jewish residents and rescue workers, in order to provide them with challah bread and wine for Shabbat.
There are (or were) only about 25 Jews living in Haiti (most if not all of them near the quake's epicenter).  It doesn't matter who or where.  This is what they do. 

Meanwhile, ZAKA has also sent a team to Haiti. The group's spokesman, "Motti Bukchin, spoke with the first volunteers who landed in the island and told Ynet that during the night they were taken into a shelter to protect them from rioters On the streets.

ZAKA volunteers have decided to launch a fundraising effort in order to purchase first aid and medical equipment for survivors, as well as water, food, and tents. Mati Goldstein, Zaka's mission commander in Haiti, said that donations to the group would enable it to "purchase medical equipment and items to be used by the millions of refugees and homeless."

ZAKAChabad.

Shabbat Shalom.  

Harry Reid a racist? Comeon ...

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Having been under the weather for the past few days, I emerged into one of the more bizarre "debates" I've heard in the media in a long time.  Harry Reid's a racist?  He insulted Obama?  Really?  Even if you read his faux pas in context ?

He was wowed by Obama's oratorical gifts and believed that the country was ready to embrace a black presidential candidate, especially one such as Obama -- a "light-skinned" African American "with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one," as he said privately.  Reid was convinced, in fact, that Obama's race would help him more than hurt him in a bid for the Democratic nomination.
Yeah.  His comment was insulting, all right.  But it wasn't Barack Obama he was insulting.  He was insulting me.  And you.  And every voter in this country.  Maybe the insult was justified and the voters lived up to his low expectations.  Maybe we are all too bigoted to vote for an African American who looks and sounds more like an African American.  And maybe the Democrats' white guilt did induce them to nominate a presidential candidate on the basis of race.  But, accurate or not (I think the jury's still out), it was an insult, directed at the American people (not the candidate) from an awfully high and mighty moral ground.  You're not going to hear Senator Reid use that as an excuse, of course. 

Someone agrees.  Sort of.

Tripping over his own tongue is SOP for Reid.  But calling for him to step down?  Let those voters he so casually denigrated handle it.  He's toast in November. 

Security and intelligence

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One of the better analyses of what's wrong with our airport "security" measures I've read in the last several days.

Ben-Gurion Airport is in one of the most targeted countries in the world for acts of terrorism. Yet it has successfully managed to avoid hijacking and bombing attempts, even though security there is usually much quicker than at any US airport of similar size. Perhaps this is because security at Ben-Gurion does not rely only on technology. Security officers there do not mindlessly monitor people taking off shoes and belts as they walk through metal detectors. They are not just looking for bombs. They are looking for stories, connections and intelligence, and they hire and train brilliant people to look for those stories by asking probing questions.
Indeed they do.  Hello?  Anyone paying attention?

Shame on Brit

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I usually love Brit Hume, but he really stepped in it (video) today.  We get Fox News Sunday at 9 AM here and I figured there would be major piling on from the left.  There is.

Brit Hume had some advice for Tiger Woods during this week's "Fox News Sunday." Woods will recover as a golfer, Hume says, but it remains to be seen whether he will recover as a person.

"He's said to be a Buddhist," Hume said. "I don't think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. ... Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery."

It was an unbecoming and inappropriate remark and Mr. Hume deserves every bit of the flack he's getting for it.

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