September 27, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

The rapping of the president 2004

Since we don't live in a swing state, we have to take our political advertisements off the Internet. This one, from Billionaires For Bush, has a beat that can't be beat.

Watch it!

(Reb Yudel)

Leonard Nimony, Leonard Bernstein -- and fortunately, not William Shatner

TrekToday reports that Leonard Nimoy Fronting New Radio Show

Leonard Nimoy (Spock) will be presenting the 13-part series of two hour episodes, which will cover a variety of select material from the Milken Archive, a project aimed at preserving and cataloguing 350 years of Jewish music. The show will go out on WFMT Radio Network stations and XM Satellite Radio, with the first broadcast of the latter to be aired at 8:00pm ET on October 7th.

"I grew up speaking Yiddish at home in Boston and hearing this music during services at synagogue and at social events where my uncle and four cousins played klezmer music," said Nimoy, adding that he felt "very much at home" with both the program and the music.

The show will explore a variety of themes and American Jewish music, ranging from film scores and operas to Holocaust reflections, through to world premieres of recently discovered Jewish compositions by renowned composer Leonard Bernstein.

So Nimoy, a Jew who became famous playing a Vulcan, fronts again for a Jewish cause. How typical of American Jews. When do you think we'll see an alien winning his/her/its fame portraying a human Jew, and then using that fame for his/her/its own culture?
(Reb Yudel)

Where's the Soy?

Tom Tomorrow on how George W. convinced the National Cattlemen's Beef Association to break its nonpartisan tradition and endorse President Bush.

Federal regulators wanted the cattle industry to stop feeding their herds the ground up carcasses of diseased cattle, cow cannibalism being the method by which mad cow disease spreads from one cow to the next.

But apparently the elimination of this handy source of animal feed would cost the cattle industry some money, so lobbyists whispered in the right ear, and the proposed regulation was scuttled. In short, the Bush administration is playing politics with public health in exchange for an endorsement.

(Reb Yudel)

Annals of Rochester Retailing

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle reports that local furniture store Viking International is a hit. Not that we care -- except that the story quotes retired professor of marketing at the Rochester Institute of Technology -- and my father -- Julian Yudelson,

"For a long time, there has been a shortage of high-end furniture retailing in Rochester," Yudelson said. "Viking has found a niche in a particular segment of design and, as the upscale market in Rochester gets younger, that bodes well for Viking."

The article does not note, however, that Professor Yudelson plans to leave high-end furniture aside this weekend to dwell in a wooden booth of his own design, constructed by him, his son and his grandchildren.

(Reb Yudel)

The UnGreat Debates

Bob Harris at This Modern World points to the official debate rules, and summarizes them:

In the "Town Hall" debate, audience members will ask their moderator-screened questions, but they won't be allowed any follow-up, and if they deviate from approved levels of free speech, they will be silenced. Candidates will therefore be able to a) change the subject entirely, b) misleadingly paraphrase the question (one of Monkey's best tactics), or c) stall by following-up an earlier point, especially since their opponent is forbidden from asking any direct questions in response. Huge point for Monkey.
While I'm arranging for one of my holiday guests to watch the first debate at a neighbor who (a) had a large TV screen (b) isn't Jewish, I plan on staying home.

This is less because of adherence to a news-free yom tov (I freely guzzle the Shabbos New York Times) but because Bush's victory is a foregone conclusion.

I say that because of a comment I heard on CNN a couple of weeks ago, where one of the anchor people claimed that Bush lost his debate with Gore "because Gore seemed condescending."

Back in high school, Bush might have lost because he lied and made up facts. But for CNN and the other gullible so-called-liberal media, facts don't count. (see Columbia Journalism Review's Campaign Desk for ongoing coverage of the weak-kneed, soft-headed media.)

So I assume that the Media will juxtapose the President's Neumanesque "What Me Worry?" optimism with all the boring, depressing, so-called facts that Kerry will bring in. And in on our Mad world, Alfred E. Newman will win the day.

(Reb Yudel)

I should have posted this before Yom Kippur

Really, a post that touches directly on questions of gossip, slander -- the whole litany of "sins of the mouth" which fill the lists of crimes we read on Yom Kippur -- should be posted before Kol Nidrei, not afterwards.

Two points in my defense. First, this only appeared today on Joshua Micah Marshall's Talking Points Memo web log, presumably because the Joshua Green's subscribers-only Atlantic Monthly article he quotes just went up.

Second, we are still in the period of repentance, which by one measure stetches through the end of the Sukkot festival, and by another, runs straight through next Yom Kippur. So take this frightening, edifying example of the truly evil tongue to heart over the coming weeks and months.

The story at hand involves top George W. Bush advisor and campaign manager Karl Rove. At the magazine blurb puts it,

Karl Rove is at his most formidable when running close races, and his skills would be notable even if he used no extreme methods. But he does use them. His campaign history shows his willingness, when challenged, to employ savage tactics.

As Marshall says, introducing the following passages, "one of the most lizardly passages in the article describes how Rove launched a whispering campaign against one Democratic opponent suggesting that the candidate -- a sitting Alabama state Supreme Court Justice, who had long worked on child welfare issues -- was in fact a pedophile:"

When his term on the court ended, he chose not to run for re-election. I later learned another reason why. Kennedy had spent years on the bench as a juvenile and family-court judge, during which time he had developed a strong interest in aiding abused children. In the early 1980s he had helped to start the Children's Trust Fund of Alabama, and he later established the Corporate Foundation for Children, a private, nonprofit organization. At the time of the race he had just served a term as president of the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse and Neglect.

One of Rove's signature tactics is to attack an opponent on the very front that seems unassailable. Kennedy was no exception.

Some of Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children.

"We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile.

"It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out--he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out."

This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state.

"What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile. That was really, really hard to take."

For the record, this behavior is not considered lashon hora, which is reporting on true matters. (This post is lashon hora, which I offer in the name of a higher cause.) The behavior described is motzi shem ra, or defamation.

And from a Jewish standpoint, from the perspective of the Yom Kippur machzor, what this behavior -- slandering a good man in the worst possible way precisely because of his innate goodness, damaging him, his family, and the children he helps -- says much about the character and values of the man who acts this way. But it says much more about the character and values of the man who pays his salary.

September 26, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Knockin' on Heaven's Door

Bob Dylan showed up for Yom Kippur services yesterday morning at Adath Israel in St Paul, MN, an Orthodox congregation with a strong Chabad tilt.

He received the third aliyah, says a source, and returned in the evening for the concluding Neilah service.

Whether he joined in the traditional Chabad singing of "Napoleon's March", and whether he was dressed in rags for the melody, has not yet been ascertained.

It certainly promises to be a year of blessing for Bob fans, no matter which side of the religious question they come down. Bob's autobiographical Chronicles comes out next month, and there is talk of a new album. More immediately, there's some serious Bob as the cover story of this week's Newsweek.

September 24, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Mystery Pollster's McGovernite Past!

Looking for the ins-and-outs of polling in these last pre-elections weeks? Then you've probably already followed the recommendations of anti-Clinton centrist Mickey Kaus and pro-Bush faux-Libertarian Glenn Reynolds and visited Mark Blumenthal's new Mystery Pollster blog.

But do Mark's blogger fans know of his secret past as a strong, unabashed McGovernite?

That's right. Back in '72, when I was in third grade and Mark in fourth, our liberal Jewish school in Cleveland was strongly pro-McGovern. After the Democrat won in the school poll, it was baffling that the national landslide went in the opposite direction.

But however much we kids may have echoed our parents' liberal politics, noone was a political junkie like Mark.

I remember a couple of years later in the summer of '74, sitting in front of the Blumenthal tv set, waiting for the breaking-bulletins about Watergate and ultimately the president's resignation. Mark was not only watching eagerly; he had a tape-recorded primed to record the moment for posterity.

It's exciting to see someone's life take an exciting course plotted more than 30 years ago. Maybe it's time for me to reapply to the NASA astronaut corps....

Starting a political polling blog right now is a bit like the opening of the first Star Wars movie. We are in medias res -- in the middle of events -- with bombs exploding and lasers blasting in all directions. Nonetheless, it is also a moment of peak interest in the workings of my chosen career. An unexpected confluence of events has provided the opportunity to act on an idea I've pondered for months. So ready or not, here we go.

I am a Democratic pollster, but my aim here is not to try to spin the latest poll results in any particular direction. There are many other voices in the blogosphere that perform that function admirably. My hope is to provide a bit of straight shooting – the same role I play for my clients – with respect to polling methodology and what the polls can and cannot tell us about the state of the campaign. I also hope provide a bit of criticism and fact checking on the good, bad and ugly of surveys in the public domain. That's criticism in the formal sense, less about attacking and casting blame than about evaluating and providing an authoritative though, admittedly, subjective opinion.

I have spent most of the last 18 years as an apprentice analyst, senior analyst and ultimately a partner in firms that conduct surveys for Democratic candidates, working with some of the most brilliant pollsters and political strategists in America. Over the years, I have had the opportunity to design and analyze literally hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of polls designed to plot strategy and track campaigns as they progress toward Election Day.

Read more from the Mystery Pollster blog.

September 23, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Imagine if things were improving in America like they are in Iraq?

President Bush is insisting that the situation in Iraq is improving; that despite the naysayers, the situation has "turned the corner."Juan Cole asks what America would look like if we were turning the same Bushian corner:

What if 3,300 Americans had died in car bombings, grenade and rocket attacks, machine gun spray, and aerial bombardment in the last week? That is a number greater than the deaths on September 11, and if America were Iraq, it would be an ongoing, weekly or monthly toll.

And what if those deaths occurred all over the country, including in the capital of Washington, DC, but mainly above the Mason Dixon line, in Boston, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City, and San Francisco?

What if the grounds of the White House and the government buildings near the Mall were constantly taking mortar fire? What if almost nobody in the State Department at Foggy Bottom, the White House, or the Pentagon dared venture out of their buildings, and considered it dangerous to go over to Crystal City or Alexandria?

What if...

Follow the link to read it all. Please.

(Reb Yudel)

Welcome to the 21st Century

Just a random entry from John Robb's consistently excellent web log. A former military officer, he casts an analytical eye on what he calls "global guerillas" -- a notion that explains the present chaos around the world, and a notion that he argues both candidates are ill-equipped to deal with.
In general, peak oil seems to be a technical model that has value. The real debate is over when the peak will be. A major aspect of peak oil that most people miss is that three major underlying assumptions have changed (this could be a book in itself since their addition makes peak oil nearly innevitable):
  • Demand patterns. The act of bringing both China and India online has accelerated demand for oil.
  • Geopolitical risk. As we search for large deposits of oil to exploit, we tend to find them in risky locations (Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria, Venzuela, and the Caucuses). Further, formerly safe locations (Iraq and Saudi Arabia) don't look too safe anymore.
  • Global Guerrillas. New methods of warfare that target oil production.
These are the decades your science fiction writers warned you about in the '70s.
(Reb Yudel)

The return of Ivan, sponsored by global warming?

Kurt Cales sees the return of Hurricane Ivan as a herald of The Era of the Mega-Storm


Average global temperatures have risen roughly 1 degree Celcius in the last twenty years. If existing trends continue, global temperatures will rise between three and ten degrees Celsius by the end of the century, with most computer models pointing toward the upper end of this range.

That's energy going into creating even hotter water in the Caribbean and consequently even more powerful storms there.

This raises the possibility of a permanent cyclonic band forming over the Southeast US, with hurricanes becoming weekly occurrences from March until November. Not a pleasant thought, to be sure ....

(Reb Yudel)

Yom Kippur Sermonizing

Eve Kessler's Campaign Confidential blog at the Forward posts Yom Kippur statements from Bush and Kerry.

Guess which candidate betrays his total lack of Jewish ancestry by discussing theology on the eve of a day full of halacha!

And guess which candidate vouches for the quality of God's mercy!

Two statements that reward a close reading.

(Reb Yudel)

Bob Dylan's brother's mother--in-law buried

Via Expecting Rain comes this obituary from The Daily Tribune of Hibbing, Minnesota

Myrtle M. Jurenes, 92, HIBBING -- Funeral services for Myrtle M. Jurenes, 92, Hibbing, will be held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, 2004 in the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, Hibbing. The Rev. Clem Gustin O.S.C. will celebrate The Mass of Christian Burial.

September 22, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Why did they die?

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal

Edward of Obsidian Wings asks a straightforward question: "What have our 1,000 troops died for?"

This question has a straightforward answer. The first 100 died (and the first 500 were maimed) to liberate Iraq from a dreadful tyrant who had no operational ties with Al Qaeda, no weapons of mass destruction, posed no threat to the U.S., and posed little threat to his neighbors.

The next 900 died (and the next 4500 were maimed) because:

  1. Cheney and Rumsfeld wanted to show that we could conquer, occupy, and control Iraq with a small force all by ourselves so that the Syrians and the Iranians would be scared of what we could do with the rest of our army.
  2. Nobody in the White House dared propose any change in policy when it became clear to everybody that Cheney and Rumsfeld were wrong.

Further conclusions to draw from this straightforward answer are left as an exercise for the reader.

Anyone not satisfied with that answer is invited to improve on it in the comments.

September 21, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Let's keep Allah out of heaven!

Midwest Cancels Flight After Arabic-Style Writing Found (TheMilwaukeeChannel.com)

MILWAUKEE -- Midwest Airlines canceled a flight ready to take off for San Francisco after a passenger found Arabic-style handwriting in the company's in-flight magazine and alerted the crew.

The plane, carrying 118 passengers and five crew members, had already pulled away from the gate at Mitchell International Airport Sunday evening.

It returned to the gate, the passengers got off, security authorities were notified, all luggage was checked and the aircraft was inspected. Nothing was found.

The passengers were put up in nearby hotels and booked on a Monday morning flight.

The writing was in Farsi, the language used in Iran, said airline spokeswoman Carol Skornicka.

She said she didn't know exactly what the writing said but was similar to a prayer, "something of a contemplative nature."

So let's see. We turn back a plane because someone doodled in Farsi. We turn back Yussif Islam because he's some sort of threat -- though not, I might note, a real enough terrorist menace to justify surveilling and catching associates.

Is this a new move to keep America safer?

Or is this just an election-eve effort to reasure Americans that Big Brother loves them enough to keep evil foreigners away?


(Reb Yudel)

Why does Bush hate the CIA?

At U.N., Bush Cites Headway in Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

"Bush also played down the significance of a CIA report forecasting more difficulty in Iraq. "The CIA laid out several scenarios and said life could be lousy, life could be okay, life could be better, and they were just guessing as to what the conditions might be like," he said.

"The confidential August report to policymakers, according to an administration official who described it yesterday, outlined three scenarios over the next 18 months: a period of "tenuous stability," a time of "further fragmentation and extremism" or a period of "trending to civil war."

So the CIA was "just guessing" what conditions could be like?

Do you think that Dubya's opposition to the intelligence agency -- heck, to all intelligence -- might be part of his long-standing rejection of his father?

(Reb Yudel)

Presidential Words

John Kerry Speech at New York University

In Iraq, this administration has consistently over-promised and under-performed. This policy has been plagued by a lack of planning, an absence of candor, arrogance and outright incompetence. And the President has held no one accountable, including himself.

In fact, the only officials who lost their jobs over Iraq were the ones who told the truth.

General Shinseki said it would take several hundred thousand troops to secure Iraq. He was retired. Economic adviser Larry Lindsey said that Iraq would cost as much as $200 billion. He was fired. After the successful entry into Baghdad, George Bush was offered help from the UN -- and he rejected it. He even prohibited any nation from participating in reconstruction efforts that wasn’t part of the original coalition – pushing reluctant countries even farther away. As we continue to fight this war almost alone, it is hard to estimate how costly that arrogant decision was. Can anyone seriously say this President has handled Iraq in a way that makes us stronger in the war on terrorism?

By any measure, the answer is no. Nuclear dangers have mounted across the globe. The international terrorist club has expanded. Radicalism in the Middle East is on the rise. We have divided our friends and united our enemies. And our standing in the world is at an all time low.

Think about it for a minute. Consider where we were… and where we are. After the events of September 11, we had an opportunity to bring our country and the world together in the struggle against the terrorists. On September 12th, headlines in newspapers abroad declared “we are all Americans now.� But through his policy in Iraq, the President squandered that moment and rather than isolating the terrorists, left America isolated from the world.

We now know that Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and posed no imminent threat to our security. It had not, as the Vice President claimed, “reconstituted nuclear weapons.�

The President’s policy in Iraq took our attention and resources away from other, more serious threats to America.

Threats like North Korea, which actually has weapons of mass destruction, including a nuclear arsenal, and is building more under this President’s watch…

… The emerging nuclear danger from Iran…

… The tons and kilotons of unsecured chemical and nuclear weapons in Russia…

… And the increasing instability in Afghanistan.

Today, warlords again control much of that country, the Taliban is regrouping, opium production is at an all time high and the Al Qaeda leadership still plots and plans, not only there but in 60 other nations. Instead of using U.S. forces, we relied on the warlords to capture Osama bin Laden when he was cornered in the mountains. He slipped away. We then diverted our focus and forces from the hunt for those responsible for September 11th in order invade Iraq.

We know Iraq played no part in September 11 and had no operational ties to Al Qaeda.

The President's policy in Iraq precipitated the very problem he said he was trying to prevent. Secretary of State Powell admits that Iraq was not a magnet for international terrorists before the war. Now it is, and they are operating against our troops. Iraq is becoming a sanctuary for a new generation of terrorists who someday could hit the United States.

September 20, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Good thing my parents subscribe to Time these days

MSNBC - The Power of No:
It's an unanticipated legacy of the affluent '90s: parents who can't, or won't, set limits. Now a growing number of psychologists are warning of the dangers of overindulgence and teaching how--and where--to draw the line.
(Reb Yudel)

RightWingBob.com

RightWingBob.com - The Ultimate Ultra Right Wing Bob Dylan Fan Site redeem his wrongheaded take on the news with a germane Dylan lyrics. In his own words:
I do not attempt to maintain that Bob Dylan shares my views on anything. One of the many reasons I admire Bob Dylan is that he has resisted the temptations and entreaties that have surely swamped him through the years, to throw his weight into a partisan political context.

At a gig in Tempe AZ in 1979, he has been quoted as saying from the stage: "I don't think I've ever said anything that's been a lie. Never told you to vote for nobody. Never told you to follow nobody."

Correct (if not grammatical), and considerable credit is due to him for that fact.

(Reb Yudel)

Anti-sprawl leader takes new position

Anti-sprawl leader takes new position (NJ.com)
Barbara Lawrence, one of the state's most high-profile sprawl opponents, announced yesterday she was leaving the nonprofit New Jersey Future after 12 years to become executive director of the Henry and Marilyn Taub Foundation in Teaneck.

During her tenure, the battle against poorly planned overdevelopment became a rallying cry and top political issue in New Jersey and nationwide. But Lawrence said it was time to move on.

(Reb Yudel)

Untaneh Tokef Tkufat Hayom

A belated link to 110 Stories by John M. Ford, a poetic September 11 flashback. Viewing the video is highly recommended.

(Reb Yudel)

Bush backer has plan to take the spark out of poverty

slacktivist reports that a Texas utility, headed of course by a major Bush backer, plans to raise rates for those with bad credit scores....

(Reb Yudel)

It could be worse.... one scenario

John Robb warns:
Our amazing military, when bogged down in hot guerrilla wars transforms itself into an extremely expensive, legitimacy depleting liability.

For example, we have set up a situation where we can't lose either Afghanistan or Iraq.

Two hot guerrilla wars would put all of the military assets we have into those theaters. The additional cost would run well in excess of $400 b a year. Casualties and confusion would rise as attention is divided between the theaters.

This situation would then make it possible to strike at other areas (Saudi Arabia in particular) with impunity. Events would be staged to bait the US into expanding new areas of operations. The key here is to inflate the bubble of US power to the point it become vulnerable to catastrophic failure. Add global guerrilla systemic disruption to the mix and we are in for a disaster.

(Reb Yudel)

Blurring denominational boundaries

Bloghead continues and points to a discussion of the blurring of denominational boundaries within the Jewish community.

Like intermarriage, this is a generational issue. Unlike intermarriage, where the conventional wisdom cried "Gevalt!", the conventional wisdom here for two decades has been, "ain't it grand to see Jews sitting together like brothers!"

I don't disagree, but as the trend continues people will start noticing that their oxen have been gored. Jack Wertheimer seems to have been the first to sound the alarm, but he won't be the last. Stay tuned.

(Reb Yudel)

Liar, liar, Iraq on fire....

Matthew Y. asks the logical question concerning the President's failure to serve in the National Guard three decades ago, Does This Matter?

The fact that George W. Bush lies constantly about everything he does is very relevant to discussing his performance as commander-in-chief.

If I had my druthers this issue would be talked about by noting that he lies about Iraq ("my choice was to trust the word of a madman"), about Libya (where the deal had nothing to do with Iraq), about North Korea (where the US, and not the DPRK, was cheating on the agreed framework), about tax policy (among other things, said his plan cut taxes for everyone when it didn't), about health care policy (left $50 billion or so off the pricetag for his Medicare bill), and about education policy (keeps saying people either "oppose" or want to "water down" NCLB when they actually want to increase federal spending aimed at NCLB implementation).

Sadly, though, it's hard to get that stuff on the agenda. The press is more comfortable talking about lies that pertain to a person's personal life, such as this National Guard stuff.

But if it becomes established that Bush is a liar, that may make it easier to shed light on his policy-relevant lies.

(Reb Yudel)

Anyone remember what Bin Laden wants?

Kevin Drum in the The Washington Monthly quotes Juan Cole to recall what Bin Laden's plan was... and take stock in which presidential candidate has done the most to realize it:
Al-Qaeda hoped to draw the US into a debilitating guerrilla war in Afghanistan and do to the US military what they had earlier done to the Soviets. Al-Zawahiri's recent message shows that he still has faith in that strategy.

The US cleverly outfoxed al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, using air power and local Afghan allies (the Northern Alliance) to destroy the Taliban without many American boots on the ground.

Ironically, however, the Bush administration then went on to invade Iraq for no good reason, where Americans faced the kind of wearing guerrilla war they had avoided in Afghanistan.

....It remains to be seen whether the US will be forced out of Iraq the way it was forced out of Iran in 1979. If so, as al-Zawahiri says, that will be a huge victory. A recent opinion poll did find that over 80 percent of Iraqis want an Islamic state. If Iraq goes Islamist, that will be the biggest victory the movement has had since the rise of the Taliban in Afghanistan. An Islamist Iraq might well be able ultimately to form a joint state with Syria, starting the process of the formation of the Islamic superstate of which Bin Laden dreams.

(Reb Yudel)

Geneva wasn't trashed in a day

Guardian Unlimited | Special reports | Rumsfeld's dirty war on terror
In an explosive extract from his new book, Seymour Hersh reveals how, in a fateful decision that led to the abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, the US defence secretary gave the green light to a secret unit authorised to torture terrorist suspects.
(Reb Yudel)

W is for Will of God

Beliefnet's Steven Waldman asks: Does God endorse George Bush?

It's hard to recall another instance of a presidential campaign so confidently promulgating the idea that its candidate had divine endorsement. The potentially dangerous implication is that since God put George W. Bush in the White House, opposing him is opposing Him. A person could get smited for that.

Of course, it's always possible God did put George W. Bush in the White House. But if He did, it doesn't theologically follow that He wants him to have a second term. Even those who believe that God controls world events usually concede it is hard for humans to divine the intent of the Divine.

After all, in the Bible, God is described as doing things for all sorts of inexplicable reasons—sometimes as a reward to the people, and sometimes as a punishment.

(Reb Yudel)

Ten Cuidado del Nombre Bush

The New Democrat Network presents a political ad you can dance to. English subtitles included!

(Reb Yudel)

From the charming mixture of brain chemicals that brought us Lyndon LaRouche

Barry Chamish was kind enough to send me his latest article, alleging that Ofra Haza was murdered in a conspiracy that centers around... Shimon Peres, who else?

Long-time Chamish readers may recall that even back in 1994, Chamish placed Peres at the center of a conspiracy that included the Council on Foreign Relations, which obviously (well, obviously to Chamish, at least) was just a front for the worldwide Freemason conspiracy.

While Chamish subsequently gained fame (though lost some credibility) with his Rabin assasination theories, what's most interesting to me is that his thinking has indeed evolved in the past decade.

He no longer blames the ills of the Jewish people and the world on the Freemasons.

It's now the fault of Shabtai Tzvi, or at least his nefarious followers.

And before you breathe too easy here in the United States, you should know this: Barry Chamish is convinced that Kerry is part of the Sabbatean plot as well.

Don't say that YudelLine didn't warn you!

(Reb Yudel)

Rumsfeld: We're not as bad as the terrorists!

Matthew Yglesias agrees with matthew: Don Rumsfeld, who claims: "I'm Not As Bad As a Terrorist"

The Republican Party takes another dive into the pit of moral relativism:
Amid allegations he fostered a climate that led to the prison abuse scandal, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Friday that the military's mistreatment of detainees was not as bad as what terrorists have done.

"Does it rank up there with chopping someone's head off on television?" he asked. "It doesn't."

And, yes, I am happy to concede that Donald Rumsfeld is morally superior to, say, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. By the same token, George W. Bush is morally superior to both Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden. Interestingly, though, neither Hussain nor bin Laden will be on the ballot in November.

(Reb Yudel)

The candidates on science

news@nature.com reports on the U.S. election:

In the build-up to the US presidential election, science is making a sizeable impact on the political agenda. But what will another four years of George W. Bush mean for science, compared with a term under Democratic challenger John Kerry?

To find out, Nature has asked the two candidates 15 questions about their science policies. Their answers are displayed below in our interactive feature, along with in depth analyses of the key issues, an investigation of electronic voting and our correspondents' lively and opinionated blog.

(Reb Yudel)

Fight pesky constitutional rights. Vote for Bush!

TalkLeft: Bush Appointees Most Conservative Judges Ever

A study of thousands of federal court cases has found that judges appointed by President Bush are the most conservative on record in the areas of civil rights and civil liberties.

The study's authors say the re-election of Bush would give U.S. courts a strong rightward tilt that could last for years

September 19, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

What a waste it is to waste one's allies

As Matthew Y. explains, Once Bitten, Twice Shy:

A little while back, Laura Rozen took a break from her regularly scheduled neocon-bashing to express consternation over European fecklessness with regard to the Iranian nuclear program.

Feckless our European friends may be, but who can really blame them?

Has anyone done themselves any favors over the past four years by working with George W. Bush or by putting their faith in the Bush administration's intelligence estimates? Of course not. Everyone -- from Ted Kennedy on NCLB, to the Senate Democrats who cooperated on the Medicare bill, to Tony Blair and the other "liberal hawks" on Iraq, to the men and women who've volunteered to serve in the United States military -- who's acted with anything other than maximal distrust of the Bush administration has gotten screwed. Royally.

Some people have lost their lives.

Jos Maria Aznar lost his job, and John Howard may lose his. Colin Powell lost his reputation. Many of us have merely suffered shame and embarassment.

But virtually no one is better off than they would have been had they just steered clear.

The only exceptions are cold, calculating, ruthless men -- Vladimir Putin, Ariel Sharon, Hu Jintao, Ahmed Chalabi, Iyad Allawi -- who've managed to play Bush rather than getting played.

One can't expect any reasonable people anywhere to cooperate in good faith with the United States government over the next four years if the president is re-elected and that's just the way it is.

If I were a foreign minister somewhere and Colin Powell headed for my door, I'd run. Fast.

(Reb Yudel)

The president would have you believe....

The New York Times > Opinion > Presidential Qualities and Military Records (5 Letters)

According to the White House, we're supposed to ignore the fact that George W. Bush pulled strings to get into the Texas Air National Guard, more strings to transfer to Alabama (where he may or may not have reported for duty) and still more to get out early.

Instead, we should simply accept Mr. Bush's honorable discharge (and dental records) as proof that he fulfilled his service commitment.

On the other hand, we're supposed to think that the Silver Star, Bronze Star and three Purple Hearts awarded to John Kerry by the Navy are suspect and undeserved.

I'm going with the Navy on this one.

Dale A. Carlson
San Francisco, Sept. 9, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Cheney's money or my life? No contest for W!

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: September 19: Today's Reason Not to Elect George W. Bush

"On Homeland Security, Democrats tried to double the number of containers at ports and airports checked for Weapons of Mass Destruction. The one billion dollar cost would have been paid for by reducing the tax cut of 200,000 millionaires by five thousand dollars each. Almost all 200,000 of us would have been glad to pay 5,000 dollars to make the nearly 300 million Americans saferbut the measure failed because the White House and the Republican leadership in the House decided my tax cut was more important- If you agree with that choice, re-elect them. If not, give John Kerry and John Edwards a chance."

- Bill Clinton, July 26, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

70 things about Leonard Cohen on his 70th birthday

Guardian Unlimited | Arts Friday Review | Who held a gun to Leonard Cohen's head?
Cohen's maternal grandfather, a rabbi, wrote a 700-page thesaurus of Talmudic interpretations.

September 15, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

In final post for 5764, web logger praised Internet!

It's a wonderful thing to be able to just print out Bava Kama 2b, after having forgotten to bring a gemara to learn with my daughter over the yontiff. Special thanks to God's own agents, E-DAF.com, for making it possible.

Shana Tova, y'all!

(Reb Yudel)

Allison Kaplan Sommers shares the ultimate sibling rivalry holiday story

An Unsealed Room: Sibling Rivalry Taken to New Levels


There sat my kids, Eitan, who is eight, and Naomi, who is almost six, with their slices of apple, and my husband drizzling honey on them from a honey dispenser.

Eitan says, "Daddy, put more honey on mine so I can have a sweeter year than Naomi."

(Reb Yudel)

Remembering why we are in Iraq

Eschaton:

From Newsweek's Christopher Dickey on Fresh Air today. At about minute 32.
Now, in the summer of 2004 we are in much greater danger. Because, by pushing too far, by rushing into the war, and it's still not clear what the agenda was for this war. Why were we in such a rush in March of 2003 to go to war. Was it because Saddam was refusing to cooperate? It wasn't up to the United States to determine that - the terms of the Resolution were clear. It was up to Hans Blix to say 'he is in material breach again and we will go to the security council.' We couldn't wait for that. We had to go to war I think probably because of the administration's concern about the domestic political agenda."
Step back a minute and think about what he's saying. The Middle East regional editor of Newsweek says, rather nonchalantly, that the administration went off to war for domestic political purposes. What's shocking is that this isn't shocking. Especially, you know, given the sacrifices that have been made for the Bush '04 election campaign.

Don't you see? We couldn't wait for the inspectors because the inspectors were lying because they couldn't find any of the stuff that our paid INC intelligence assets said were there. How were we to know that the Iraqi exiles we paid millions to were getting even more millions from the Iranians?

(Reb Yudel)

I guess Bush really does believe that Islam is a religion of peace

From AMERICAblog:


Bush talking about CUTTING Homeland Security budget next year

The White House put government agencies on notice this month that if Bush is reelected, his budget for 2006 may include $2.3 billion in spending cuts from virtually all domestic programs not mandated by law, including education, homeland security and others central to Bush's campaign.-- Wash Post

The war in Iraq has cost so much that NOW BUSH MAY HAVE TO CUT HOMELAND SECURITY FUNDING. How in the name of God can this man say this war has HELPED make us safer? Outrageous. This is a campaign ad in and of itself. Especially coming from the man who objected to creating the Dept. of Homeland Security in the first place.

Oh, but it gets better. The cost of all Bush's promises at the GOP convention could reach $4 trillion dollars. This, at the same time he talks about CUTTING HOMELAND SECURITY BECAUSE WE HAVE NO MONEY. Of course we have no money, because Bush has been spending like a drunken sailor. And now he plans to spend even more, AT THE EXPENSE OF THE WAR ON TERROR.


Of course, those of us who aren't convinced that Bush has already delivered a peaceful New World Order aren't quite convinced by Bush's budget priorities.

(Reb Yudel)

The Accountability Era begins now!

HoldThemAccountable.com has a television ad worth viewing, and a letter to the president worth reading by all who care about American security:

Mr. President, on September 7, 2004, the count of American soldiers and military personnel killed while serving our nation in Iraq passed 1,000. Our nation's security is now more tenuous than ever, but it is not only because of al Qaeda.

Bringing down Saddam Hussein was an honorable goal, but decisions that you and your advisors made -- in mismanaging the Afghanistan campaign, in refusing to hear dissenting opinions, in selectively presenting evidence to press the case for a war in Iraq, in ignoring and insulting our traditional allies, in undersupplying our troops, in setting unrealistic expectations, and in refusing to admit your errors -- have left the United States less secure now than it was a year ago.

The collateral damage resulting from your Administration's poor decisions and misjudgments in how you elected to promote, to carry out, and to clean up after this war will redound to the country's detriment for generations. And over a thousand American families whose loved ones were killed in action -- and tens of thousands more families that were impacted by casualties, and hundreds of thousands that were impacted by overseas deployments -- will never be the same.

Yet still no one in your administration has been held accountable for the mistakes that have been made. And you have no plan to extricate our troops from this situation you created. Most shamefully, you continue to turn away questions about your conduct before, during, and after the war by invoking the memory of the September 11th attacks

(Reb Yudel)

Bush signs off on democracy prevention on Russia

Laura Rozen of War and Piece quotes from the Washington Post:

Last year, in a speech before the National Endowment for Democracy, Bush criticized past administrations for turning a blind eye to autocratic governments in the Middle East. "Sixty years of Western nations excusing and accommodating the lack of freedom in the Middle East did nothing to make us safe -- because in the long run, stability cannot be purchased at the expense of liberty," Bush said.

But, with only tentative and belated exceptions, mostly involving Powell, the Bush administration has remained largely silent as Putin has slowly dismantled democratic institutions, including taking over or closing all independent national television channels, establishing dominance of both houses of parliament, reasserting control over the country's huge energy industry and jailing or driving into exile business tycoons who have defied him.

She concludes:

That an administration driven often enough by political expedience can get away with the sham that it is committed to any sort of values is highly disturbing.

I think Kerry is right to focus on the meme: Bush deceived you. He deceived you and he'll do it again. Because it's the truth.

(Reb Yudel)

Hezbollah find place in Bush's America

In the Forward, Marc Perelman interviews Senator Bob Graham and hears the Lebanese Party of God has made headway into the U.S.A:

The Bush administration has failed to act against a major Hezbollah infiltration of the United States, Senator Bob Graham told the Forward.

In an exclusive interview, Graham, a Florida Democrat and former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said that Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Lebanese Shiite militant organization, has more trained operatives in America than Al Qaeda does. In the midst of promoting a new book blasting the Bush administration for allegedly covering up the extent of Saudi Arabia's role in the September 11 attacks and for diverting to Iraq resources from the fight against radical Islamic terrorism, the senator said that at least several hundred Hezbollah operatives are now in the United States. The precise estimate, he said, is classified.

"Frankly, we don't really have a strategy to prevent trained operatives from entering the U.S.," said Graham, a third-term senator who will retire at the end of the year.

So let me ask you: Do you feel safer than you did three years ago?

September 14, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Hulk writer takes on action figure

Peter David proposes A Democratic commercial


I think the following would be an interesting script for a commerical for a Democratic activist group:

1) Footage of Candidate Bush stating that he's against nation building.

2) Footage of dead and dying American soldiers and dead and dying Iraqis, including some of that brutal footage from "F 9/11."

3) Footage of Bush declaring "MIssion Accomplished."

4) Footage of headlines declaring over a thousand Americans killed.

5) Footage of Candidate Bush stating that he supported the assault weapon ban.

6) Footage of newspaper headlines about the assault ban treaty being lifted without a word of protest from the White House, intercut with dead and dying young people or terrorists fighting assault weapons.

7) Footage of Bush saying that he's keeping us safer. Freeze Frame, and the following words appear:

"While he's lyin', we're dyin'."

Paid for by the Committe of People Who Don't Want to See More People Die On George Bush's Watch.

(Reb Yudel)

Forged memos prove that....

Matthew Yglesias summarizes the matthew: Killian Memos Return:


Now it looks like they're forgeries. Assuming they are forgeries, we can conclude the following:

* George W. Bush pulled strings to avoid combat service in Vietnam by entering the Texas Air National Guard, failed to complete his service in a rigorous manner and has lied about it repeatedly for years.

* CBS News, like the United States of America, is run by some kind of idiots.

* Other Texans, less fortunate than Dubya, died so that he could avoid service in a war he supported.

September 13, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Advice from Israel

Eve Kessler blogs former Al Gore speechwriter Kenneth Baer's advice following a trip from Israel: Campaign Confidential: What He Learned in Tel Aviv


In an age of fanatics who do not hesitate to turn our planes into missiles and their own children into suicide bombers, the argument that less expensive health care will make America strong rings hollow -- no matter how important such a policy may be.

Kerry needs to continue to make his newly reinvigorated case against Bush, but add to it a powerful indictment of how Bush has waged the war against terror in a way that has not made America safer. In addition, Kerry needs to prove that he will not hesitate as commander in chief to find and destroy terrorists.

If he does not, I am afraid that a glimpse of America's future can also be found in Israel. Israelis debate with gusto every political issue under the sun, but come election time there is only one issue that matters: security. And ever since the dominant party of the center-left, Labor, lost the trust of the electorate on this issue, they lost not just one but two elections.

(Reb Yudel)

You can vote for Kerry -- or you can keep a Papist in the White House

It's only logical: Pill propelled into abortion debate (BBC News)

The birth control pill revolutionised women's health - and grew to become one of the most popular forms of family planning. But it is now under attack from pro-life groups in the US.

A growing number of doctors and pharmacists are now refusing to dispense it, on the grounds that it is actually a form of abortion.

Of course, like plenty of other "traditionalists," Bush only favors Catholic dogma when zygotes are at stake. He's happy to support a "culture of death" enforced by helicopters and electric chairs.

(Reb Yudel)

Bush administration: Terror, Si!

Amid Cheers, Terrorists Have Landed in the U.S.

The terrorist backgrounds of Posada's three comrades-in-arms are as well documented as their leader's. Guillermo Novo once fired a bazooka at the U.N. building; in February 1979, he was convicted and sentenced to 40 years for conspiracy in the 1976 assassination of former Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and his American colleague, Ronni Moffitt, in Washington. (His conviction was subsequently vacated on a legal technicality.) Gaspar Jimenez was convicted and imprisoned in Mexico in 1977 for murdering a Cuban consulate official; he was released by authorities in 1983. Pedro Remon received a 10-year sentence in 1986 for conspiring to kill Cuba's ambassador to the United Nations in 1980. These are violent men. Panamanian prosecutors said they had planned to detonate 33 pounds of explosives while Castro was speaking at a university in Panama. Had they not been intercepted by the authorities, the blast not only would have killed the Cuban president but quite possibly hundreds of others gathered to hear him speak during the inter-American summit.

For a small but powerful minority in the Cuban American community, the Posada gang are freedom fighters. But Sept. 11 taught the rest of us about the danger of political fanatics who seek to rationalize their violence. To uphold his oft-stated principle that no nation can be neutral in the war on terrorism, shouldn't President Bush have condemned Moscoso's decision to release these terrorists? To protect the sanctity of U.S. borders and the security of Americans, shouldn't the administration have taken all available steps to keep known terrorists out of the United States?

But Florida is crucial to Bush's reelection strategy. Currying favor with anti-Castro constituents in Miami appears to trump the president's anti-terrorism principles. So far, not a single White House, State Department or Homeland Security official has expressed outrage at Panama's decision to put terrorists back on the world's streets. The FBI appears to have no plans to lead a search for Posada so he can be returned to Venezuela, where he is a wanted fugitive. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, which has rounded up and expelled hundreds of foreigners on the mere suspicion of a terrorist link, has indicated no intention to detain and deport Novo, Jimenez and Remon.

(Reb Yudel)

Mark Helprin: Bush has failed Sept. 11 challenge

Mark Helprin in the Wall Street Journal: Written on Water

We have followed a confusion of war aims that seem to report after the fact what we have done rather than to direct what we do. We could, by threatening the existence of Middle Eastern regimes, which live to hold power, enforce our insistence that the Arab world eradicate the terrorists within its midst. Instead, we have embarked upon the messianic transformation of an entire region, indeed an entire civilization, in response to our inability to pacify even a single one of its countries. As long as our war aims stray from the disciplined, justifiable, and attainable objective of self-defense, we will be courting failure.

Our strategy has been deeply inadequate especially in light of the fact that we have refused to build up our forces even as our aims have expanded to the point of absurdity. We might have based in northern Saudi Arabia within easy range of the key regimes that succor terrorism, free to coerce their cooperation by putting their survival in question. Our remounted infantry would have been refreshed, reinforced, properly supported, unaffected by insurgency, and ready to strike. The paradigm would have shifted from conquer, occupy, fail, and withdraw--to strike, return, and re-energize. At the same time, we would not have solicited challenges, as we do now, from anyone who sees that although we may be occupying Iraq, Iraq is also occupying us.

We have abstained from mounting an effective civil defense. Only a fraction of a fraction of our wealth would be required to control the borders of and entry to our sovereign territory, and not that much more to discover, produce, and stockpile effective immunizations, antidotes, and treatments in regard to biological and chemical warfare. Thirty years ago the entire country had been immunized against smallpox. Now, no one is, and the attempt to cover a minuscule part of the population failed miserably and was abandoned. Not only does this state of affairs leave us vulnerable to a smallpox epidemic, it stimulates the terrorists to bring one about. So with civil aviation, which, despite the wreckage and tragedy of September 11, is protected in an inefficient, irresponsible, and desultory fashion.

(Reb Yudel)

Paging Seth Lipsky and Douglas Feith!

BostonHerald.com Chalabi's group fires member for visiting Israel

Remember when the Iraq was being promoted as a way to create a pro-Israel Arab government? Well, that looks about as plausible as Arik Sharon's 1983 dream of creating a pro-Israel regime in Lebanon.


Actually, Israel's real allies - Turkey and India -- haven't benefitted very much from the Bush wars. Then again, why should Israel complain -- we in the U.S. of A haven't done too well either.

(Reb Yudel)

If I had bet on this software / I'd be a teaching man today

OK, so the headline is a little over the top. But at least one of my failings as a high-school teacher had to do with keeping track of student participation.

This aptly named Participate program claims to solve just that problem.

I have no idea whether it works as claimed. But if it does, the $15 piece of software -- and a less-than-a-$100 Palm computer -- will definitely be in my pocket if I ever again venture before a classroom.

September 12, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Start the new year with a new hope

In a clear sign that at least some Jews put Israel and American interests ahead of spin and mirrors, there will be a Kerry fundraising event in Englewood:
You are invited to a reception in honor of John Kerry and John Edwards, with special guests Cam Kerry and Jay K. Footlik (Senior Campaign Advisor on Middle East and Jewish Affairs):

Saturday, September 18, 2004, 8:15 PM, Englewood.

Minimum Contribution: $500 per person. Contributors of $1,000 or more are also invited to attend an event with John Edwards on Sep tember 28.

I've omitted the detailed address, which can be found in the Teaneck Shul mailing list.

September 6, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Time to take the keys away from the drunk drivers!

Lies move Democrats to dig up dirt writes Susan Estrich:

Too much is at stake to play by Dukakis' rules and lose again. That is the conclusion Democrats have reached. So watch out. Millions of dollars will be on the table. And there are plenty of choices for what to spend it on.

Will it be the three, or is it four or five, drunken driving arrests that Bush and Cheney, the two most powerful men in the world, managed to rack up?

After Vietnam, nothing is ancient history, and Cheney is still drinking. What their records suggest is not only a serious problem with alcoholism, which Bush but not Cheney has acknowledged, but also an even more serious problem of judgment.

What if Bush were to fall off the wagon? Then what? Has America really faced the fact that we have an alcoholic as our president?

Or how about Dead Texans for Truth, highlighting those who served in Vietnam instead of the privileged draft-dodging president, and ended up as names on the wall instead of members of the Air National Guard.

Or maybe it will be Texas National Guardsmen for Truth, who can explain exactly what George W. Bush was doing while John Kerry was putting his life on the line. Perhaps with money on the table, or investigators on their trail, we will learn just what kind of wild and crazy things the president was doing while Kerry was saving a man's life, facing enemy fire and serving his country.

Or could it be George Bush's Former Female Friends for Truth. A forthcoming book by Kitty Kelley raises questions about whether the president has practiced what he preaches on abortion. As Larry Flynt discovered, a million dollars loosens lips. Are there others to be loosened?

Are you shocked? Remember Dukakis? Now he teaches at Northeastern University. John Kerry has been very fair in dealing with the Swift Boat charges. That's why so many of my Democrat friends have decided to stop talking to the campaign, and start putting money together independently.

September 5, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Disengaging from illusions

Yossi Klein Halevy in the Jerusalem Post:
Astonishingly, Israeli society has yet to hold an intelligent debate over Ariel Sharon's Gaza plan. Instead, we have the cynical taunts of the settlers and their supporters, who assume that Sharon has become a defeatist, and the inarticulate responses of Sharon's supporters, who assume that the arguments in favor of withdrawal are so self-evident that they barely require defense.

In large measure, the poverty of our debate over withdrawal is the fault of Sharon himself. A disastrous communicator, Sharon hasn't offered a single compelling speech - or, for that matter, a single memorable argument - in defense of the trauma we are about to inflict on ourselves.

The arguments of opponents need to be treated seriously by those of us who support unilateral withdrawal. We need to admit that the opponents have a point: The projected scenes of Palestinian celebrations on the ruins of Gaza settlements could very well encourage terrorism, at least in the short term.

And what do we do when the missiles start falling on Ashkelon? What will we have gained by destroying thriving communities, dividing Israeli society, and embittering some of our most idealistic citizens? The most obvious answer as to what we will gain is what we will lose: We will be freeing ourselves from more than a million Palestinians.

For Sharon's opponents, though, the demographic gain of withdrawal isn't obvious at all. The demographic argument, they insist, is bogus: Israel has no intention of granting citizenship to Palestinians, so they pose no demographic threat.

But what opponents fail to understand is that in the 21st century, Israel doesn't have the luxury of indefinitely maintaining the status quo - or of granting "autonomy" to Palestinians, a position once vehemently opposed by settlers.

Instead, we have the following choice: continue to keep the Palestinians in limbo and turn Israel into an international pariah, the target of a campaign to become a bi-national state. However isolated we are today, we haven't yet become a pariah, and the still-intact Israeli economy is proof of that. For some settlers, the notion of Israel as pariah is hardly disconcerting but, instead, confirms Jewish chosenness. Yet the vision of the biblical Balaam of "a nation that shall dwell alone" is the antithesis of Zionism, which intended to restore us not only to the Land of Israel but to the community of nations. For Zionists, Balaam's vision isn't a blessing but the curse he intended it to be.

(Reb Yudel)

What profiteth America if it loses a Ba'athist dictatorship, but gains two new Muslim fundamentalist states?

The New York Times:One by One, Iraqi Cities Become No-Go Zones
In the heart of the area called the Sunni Triangle, Samarra is the most recent place where the American military has decided that pulling out and standing back may be the better part of valor, even if insurgents take over.

In Iraq, the list of places from which American soldiers have either withdrawn or decided to visit only rarely is growing: Falluja, where a Taliban-like regime has imposed a rigid theocracy; Ramadi, where the Sunni insurgents appear to have the run of the city; and the holy Shiite cities of Karbala and Najaf to the south, where the Americans agreed last month to keep their distance from the sacred shrines of Ali and Hussein.

The calls are rising for the Americans to pull out of even more areas, notably Sadr City, the sprawling neighborhood in eastern Baghdad that is the main base for the rebel cleric Moktada al-Sadr. There, leaders of his Mahdi Army are demanding that American soldiers, except those sent in to do reconstruction work, get out.

Who did you say is winning the war on terror?
(Reb Yudel)

What won't Bush lie about?

Commander in Chief lies about military service

As David Corn notes:

A group of veterans motivated by 30-years of resentment accuse John Kerry of exaggerating his Vietnam wartime service, and their attack makes the front pages and cable gabfests. But when a news report showed that George W. Bush had overstated his military experience, Bush escaped without a scratch.....

True, Bush was hyping his military record way back in 1978. But he repeated and defended the misrepresentation in 1999 while campaigning for the White House. And, no doubt, Kerry's critics would consider any remark Kerry made twenty-six years ago fair game.

(Reb Yudel)

Republicans to New York: Drop Dead

Shoulda posted this a week or two ago, but now, with the image of the Republicans standing before the Madison Square Garden Crucifix still fresh in our retinas, a partial listing of what Republicans really think about "Jew York City," courtesy of David Sirota.
WHITE HOUSE ATTACKS NYC AS 'MONEY GRUBBING': New Yorkers "treat [post-9/11 reconstruction funding] as a little money-grubbing game." - White House Budget Director Mitch Daniels, 2/4/02

GOP ATTACKS NEW YORK AS ANTI-AMERICAN: On 3/13/03 Former GOP Congressman and MSNBC talk show host Joe Scarborough said "New York City, the city hit hardest by September 11, now takes a big stand against the war with Saddam. Is the Big Apple sending a bad message to our men and women in uniform?...New York City is the latest city to back war as a final result. Is the Big Apple being anti-American?...New York City, hit the hardest on September 11. Now the very same city is working against the president in his showdown with Saddam...But up next, New York City, ground zero in the attack on America. Now that city's not standing by us in the looming attack on Iraq."

September 3, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Judgement of Dubya's pal Putin questioned

Russian Siege Sparks World Horror, Solidarity
Some analysts questioned Russian security forces' tactics in storming the school, though Moscow has said the move was forced on them when hostage-takers opened fire on fleeing children.

"I suspect that Putin's immediate concern will have been to be seen to be strong rather than be seen to be negotiating," said Alex Standish, editor of Jane's Intelligence Digest.

"And if that means sacrificing civilians caught up in the middle, I don't suspect that is the key issue as far as Putin is concerned," he said.

(Reb Yudel)

Wimp. Coward. No Honor. No Guts. No Loyalty. George W. Bush

Brad DeLong traces the short, tragic arc of Zel Miller. Watch as the former Dixiecrat segregationist is hailed as the Prodigal Son one night, only to be tossed down the memory hole the next:
Senator Zell Miller carries the Bushies' water, and performs his designated role as attack slug. But then he discovers what the Bushies do when the going gets tough: they leave town in a hurry. Loyalty, for them, runs only one way.
(Reb Yudel)

George Waffle Bush on campaign advertising

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: A Weblog: George W. Bush, Wimp-in-Chief

George W. Bush: Face the Nation: March 5, 2000: Bob, there are people spending ads that say nice things about me. There are people spending money on ads that say ugly things about me. That's part of the American--let me finish. That's part of the American process...

George W. Bush: Larry King Live: August 12, 2004: Well, I say they ought to get rid of all those 527s, independent expenditures that have flooded the airwaves. There have been millions of dollars spent up until this point in time. I signed [the McCain-Feingold] law that I thought would get rid of those, and I called on the senator to -- let's just get anybody who feels like they got to run to not do so....

George W. Bush: White House: March 27, 2002: [McCain-Feingold] does have flaws. Certain provisions present serious constitutional concerns. In particular, H.R. 2356 goes farther than I originally proposed.... I believe individual freedom to participate in elections should be expanded, not diminished; and when individual freedoms are restricted, questions arise under the First Amendment. I also have reservations about the constitutionality of the broad ban on issue advertising, which restrains the speech of a wide variety of groups on issues of public import in the months closest to an election...

George W. Bush: Face the Nation: March 5, 2000: You know, let me--let me say something to you. People have the right to run ads. They have the right to do what they want to do, under the--under the First Amendment in America...

George W. Bush: Larry King Live: August 12, 2004 : Well, I haven't seen the ad, but what I do condemn is these unregulated, soft-money expenditures by very wealthy people, and they've said some bad things about me. I guess they're saying bad things about him. And what I think we ought to do is not have them on the air. I think there ought to be full disclosure. The campaign funding law I signed I thought was going to get rid of that. But evidently the Federal Election Commission had a different view...

(Reb Yudel)

Abu Ghraib: A strategic disaster for America

Matthew Yglesias:
As we continue contemplating the latest revelations from the Abu Ghraib investigations, it's worth keeping in mind that alongside considerations of truth, justice, and the American way, there are some very real strategic issues in play here. The United States has, at the moment, roughly zero credibility in the Arab world.

That's an enormous, show-stopping problem for the president's grand strategy of Middle East transformation because it's really, really hard to create political systems where the will of the majority prevails if the majority hates you.

At some level, the thinking inside the administration seems to be that maybe this doesn't matter, because we can resolve the wide problem of anti-Americanism in Arab countries by producing a successful outcome in Iraq.

But after a brief honeymoon, our problems with Arab public opinion in general simply replicated themselves among Iraqi Arab public opinion, which was baffled by our inability to provide security and basic infrastructure, and which is suspicious of our motives since America's Iraq policy has shifted so many times in the past twenty years.

Abu Ghraib was and is a powerful reason for Iraqis to think that the aforementioned problems were the result not of bungling, but of malice.

(Reb Yudel)

The critics carp

Matthew Yglesias likes The President's Speech:
The only problem, really, with the president's big speech last night was that the policies he's actually pursuing bear little resemblance to the policies he was talking about, the candidate he's actually running against bears little resemblance to the candidate he was talking about, and the world he's actually living in bears little resemblance to the the world he was talking about.
(Reb Yudel)

These are the women Rav Kook warned us against

The Jewish vote chooses life... promotes family values... stands with Israel

September 2, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

When bad things happen to good domain names....

Jewlicious brings us this double-cautionary tale, of one website that doesn't double check its links to Jewish holiday sites, and another site that failed to keep possession of all its domain names:


The first link, to http://www.vjholidays.com/rosh/tendays.htm is supposed to get you info on the 10 Days of Penitence. That is however, NOT the case. The site should be called bjholidays.com, not vjholidays.com Please do NOT click on this link if your are offended by hard core porn… And uh, I forgive zipple.com for this egregious offense. I hope y'all forgive me.

(Reb Yudel)

God to Electorate: Get a Clue!

Or so argues Pandagon:
Interesting stat: since the Republican convention arrived in New York, the New York Yankees experienced the worst loss in their history, the Mets haven't won a game, and Florida, which is run by Jeb Bush, is facing down a second hurricane.

Someone here has shut God's ears....

(Reb Yudel)

Norman Lamm: Vote with eyes firmly focused on past

The Y.U. President who ceded Orthodoxy to ArtScroll endorses the U.S. President who read the Pet Goat while New York City burned, according to the Forward:
Rabbi Norman Lamm, the chancellor and president emeritus of Yeshiva University, said he was supporting Bush because "one of the greatest principles of Judaism is gratitude, hakarat hatov. For us not to express that opinion is a serious mistake. On the major things, on Israel and the war on terror, on that alone, he has my vote."
(Reb Yudel)

Forward treats JTA critic like royalty

Note the twist on a JTA paragraph in the Forward's artice, Orderly Protest Lacks Anti-Israel Vitriol:
"The fact that I have to march with people who stupidly carry signs about ending the occupation and who misunderstand the settler movement saddens me," said Yori Hanover, 50, who fought for Israel in the Yom Kippur War. "But I'm driven to cooperate with whoever is out there to help me to get rid of Bush, this stain on America."
(Reb Yudel)

Franklin Update: With friends like these edition.

This Is Rumor Control is quoting sources on the DOD-AIPAC-Israel story with a predicion as to actual charges (a prediction which will help in determing whether the site is serious or just another DEBKA):
The "minimal charge" to be brought against senior Pentagon official Lawrence Franklin will be a "complaint" proffered by the FBI for "mishandling of official government documents," according to reports from government investigators who have spoken to This Is Rumor Control. The complaint "is likely to be followed by the filing of formal charges," we were told. Franklin will be charged with turning over "a draft NSC policy paper on Iran" to Steve Rosen, the director of foreign policy issues for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee and the organization's liaison to the Government of Israel. Rosen turned over the draft policy paper to Naor Gilon, an official in the Israeli embassy who is a reputed expert on Iran. "Right now we are working on the complaint and have not decided on the depth of the criminal charge, but we certainly will at some point in the future. This will take some time, I wouldn't expect anything this week. My bet is that this will not rise to the level of full-blown espionage," this investigator said.
However, another of their sources, a senior Israeli intelligence official in Tel Aviv says that, Dennis Ross to the contrary,
"our access in Washington has been shut down, especially on the most sensitive matters. We just don't have the access that we once had." This senior Tel Aviv-based Israeli intelligence official, who is responsible for monitoring U.S. military policy, speaks bitterly about Israel's relationship with the Pentagon's neo-conservatives. "These guys are more zealous than we are and they're not very professional," he says. "We were shut out [of sensitive intelligence sharing] the first minute after reports circulated that we were responsible for 'doping' U.S. assessments on Iraq's weapons of mass destruction. And you know what? we didn't do it. Chalabi did it. So now we wander around Washington asking people what the U.S. policy on Iran is, because honestly we don't know -- and no one will tell us, let alone talk to us. Now there's this. And because we were shut out by the administration we knew nothing about what the U.S. was planning for Iran. So it stands to reason, doesn't it, that we would recruit Larry Franklin as our spy? The only problem is that we didn't recruit him as our spy. Our so-called friends in Washington did. And guess who gets blamed?"
In other words: with friends like Wolfowitz, Feith, and Franklin, who needs enemies?
(Reb Yudel)

Who's Being Untsniusdik Now?

Apikorsus Online asks, "Who's Being Untsniusdik Now?"
I wonder what Rav Shachter was thinking last night when Rebbetzin Jungreis delivered a "benediction" before the entire Republican National Convention. He was probably proud to see an Orthodox Jew standing up for the president. For some reason, modesty is only an issue in Orthodox settings. Keep women behind a curtain in shul, and the rest of their lives is irrelevant.

September 1, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Santorum Leads Goy on Jew Action at GOP Gathering

The MSNBC headline reads DeLay makes intense appeal for Jewish voters but let's not forget Senator Rick "man-on-dog-action" Santorum:
I dont expect 20 percent of the vote, I will not be satisfied with 30 percent of the vote, I will not be satisfied with 40 percent of the vote, George Bush deserves the majority of the Jewish-American vote here in the United States of America! shouted Sen. Rick Santorum, RPa., who helped warm up the Plaza Hotel crowd for DeLay.
No word on whether House Majority Leader Tom "The Exterminator" DeLay will penalize Jews if they don't measure up to Santorum's expectations.

DeLay, meanwhile, thrilled his Jewish audience by declaring "there is no Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is only the global war on terrorism."

Given that "war on terror" has so far translated into the creation of an additional one or two Muslim fundamentalist states in the Middle East, I'm not sure that's a very comforting formulation.

(Reb Yudel)

Why George Bush is the Terrorists' Choice

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal publishes excerpts of James Fallows's new Atlantic Article, "The Lost Year"
At the beginning of 2002 the United States still operated in a climate of worldwide sympathy and solidarity. A broad range of allies supported its anti-Taliban efforts in Afghanistan.... President Bush was still being celebrated... fewer than 10,000 U.S. soldiers were deployed overseas as part of the war on terror, and a dozen Americans had died in combat. The United States had not captured Osama bin Laden, but it had routed the Taliban leadership that sheltered him, and seemed to have put al-Qaeda on the run....

I also remember the way 2002 ended.... 200,000 members of the U.S. armed forces were en route to staging areas surrounding Iraq.... [T]he Administration refused to discuss plans for the war's aftermath—or its potential cost. In December the President fired Lawrence Lindsey after Lindsey offered a guess that the total cost might be $100 billion to $200 billion.... Lindsey's controversial estimate held up very well... at striking variance with the pre-war insistence by Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz that Iraq's oil money, plus contributions from allies, would minimize the financial burden on Americans....

(Reb Yudel)

Grisly 'NY Times' Photo Draws Few Complaints

Editor and Publisher reports:
Today's grisly Page One photo in The New York Times of an apparently dead women slumped out the window of a bombed out bus in Israel drew a "small number" of complaints, according to Times officials, who said the disturbing picture was the subject of lengthy discussions before it ran.

"We acknowledge that the picture is unusually violent and grisly. Our editors thought long and carefully before choosing it for the front page," the paper said in a statement Wednesday morning. "They concluded that the picture was an appropriate way of depicting the horror of the latest violent turn in the Middle East, with 14 civilian victims and an apparent end to a six-month period of relative calm between Israelis and Palestinians.

"While we are determined not to present disturbing scenes unnecessarily or for mere shock value," the statement continued, "there are times when our readers would not be well served by a sanitized version of events. We believe that most readers expect us to give them a full and representative view of important news. We do regret the discomfort of readers who do not share that view in this case."

The photo was taken by Iian Zagdon of Reuters.

(Reb Yudel)

FBI seizes computer from AIPAC official Steve Rosen

From the Jerusalem Post:
FBI agents on Friday copied the computer hard drive of a senior staffer at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee who has been questioned in relation to the case of a Pentagon official suspected of turning over a classified document either directly to Israel, or via the pro-Israel lobby group.

Sources in Washington said the hard drive was that of Steve Rosen, AIPAC's director of foreign policy issues.

It was not clear if FBI agents also seized other materials from Rosen's office. AIPAC says it is cooperating fully with the FBI's investigation.

Steve Rosen is the long-time AIPAC official who remained at AIPAC through a series of scandals in the 1990s -- some of which (such as the successful effort to fire Andrew Silow-Carroll as editor of the Washington Jewish Week) he was central to.

As I've said, this scandal isn't Pollard II; it's much bigger, and it's potentially much more serious.

Pollard was either a rogue individual or a standard intelligence effort.

This scandal may implicate -- or a be a frame-up-job against -- an entire political faction with the Bush Administration.

Guilty? Innocent? Fall guys? Another effort to "criminalize foreign policy differences"? Proof that a presidential pardon does not a ba'al teshuva make?

Like 9/11, like the Iraq War, the Israeli separation fence, we have here another moment central to any history of this decade for those of us in the American-Jewish-Israeli triangle, and a moment whose full import may not be clear for years to come.