October 31, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Letter from a Florida poll watcher

Via Talking Points Memo:
The best of all was an 80 year old African American man who said to me: "When I first started I wasn't even allowed to vote. Then, when I did, they was trying to intimidate me. But now I see all these folks here to make sure that my vote counts. This is the first time in my life that I feel like when I cast my vote it's actually gonna be heard."

To see people coming out -- elderly, disabled, blind, poor; people who have to hitch rides, take buses, etc -- and then staying in line for hours and hours and hours... Well, it's humbling. And it's awesome. And it's kind of beautiful.

Sometimes you forget what America is.

(Reb Yudel)

And now for something completely apolitical

Menachem Butler reports on the Yale Symposium on Future of American Judaism

Ever optimistic for the future of American Jewry, Rabbi Ismar Schorsch, chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary of America (Conservative), said that the new challenge facing the American Jewish community is "to produce more serious Jews. As long as there are serious Jews, the community will survive, but when there are no serious Jews left, then the organized Jewish community will fall."
We need more serious Jews?

How about more leibedik Jews? More funny Jews. More humorous Jews. More side-slapping, rib-tickling Jews.

More Lenny Bruces, Woody Allens, Dan Berns, Daniel Boyarins, Jon Stewarts.

Let's organize: Levites for Levity; Cohens for Comedy; Jews for Jesters!

I think that would do more for the Jewish future than all the serious symposia in Syracuse.

October 29, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Why attacking Kerry is politically correct

The Gadflyer: Blue State Slander
Today John Kerry opened up a new line of attack on President Bush, charging that his policies and positions are a product of Texas, a state whose political culture lies far outside the American mainstream. "The former governor of Texas has governed like, well, like a former governor of Texas," said Kerry to the laughs and hoots of the crowd. "He's so far out on the right wing, he fell off the plane."

Kerry also brought up Tom DeLay, the ultra-conservative congressman from the Lone Star state. "George Bush makes Tom DeLay look like a Texas moderate!"

The new line of attack came as an independent liberal group began airing a new ad in which an elderly couple says, "George Bush should take his NASCAR-loving, tobacco-chewing, trailer-park-living, redneck freak show back to Texas, where it belongs."

October 28, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bush family ghostwriter - Wars seen as poll boost

Russ Baker interviews Bush ghostwriter Mickey Herskowitz:

According to Herskowitz, George W. Bush's beliefs on Iraq were based in part on a notion dating back to the Reagan White House -- ascribed in part to now-vice president Dick Cheney, Chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee under Reagan. "Start a small war. Pick a country where there is justification you can jump on, go ahead and invade."

Bush's circle of pre-election advisers had a fixation on the political capital that British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher collected from the Falklands War. Said Herskowitz: "They were just absolutely blown away, just enthralled by the scenes of the troops coming back, of the boats, people throwing flowers at [Thatcher] and her getting these standing ovations in Parliament and making these magnificent speeches."

Republicans, Herskowitz said, felt that Jimmy Carter's political downfall could be attributed largely to his failure to wage a war. He noted that President Reagan and President Bush's father himself had (besides the narrowly-focused Gulf War I) successfully waged limited wars against tiny opponents -- Grenada and Panama -- and gained politically.

(Reb Yudel)

Why I believe in our president

From The Gadflyer:

I believe in President George W. Bush. I've always believed him.

I believe the president invaded Iraq to secure liberty and democracy for the Iraqi people. I believe he had compelling evidence that Iraq was a significant threat to America and the world, and presented that evidence in a complete and balanced manner. Like 42 percent of Americans -- and 62 percent of Republicans -- I believe Saddam Hussein was involved in the September 11 attacks.

I believe we have enough troops on the ground in Iraq to ensure stability. I believe the rising American fatality rates, the rising casualty rates, and the rising American share of those coalition fatalities and casualties testify to the undeniable progress we're making there. I believe it is inappropriate and traitorous, however, for the media to broadcast pictures of American flag-draped caskets returning from Iraq.

I believed then-candidate Bush when he said during the 2000 campaign that America should not nation-build, and believe him now when he says our nation was divinely chosen for this task.

Read the rest

(Reb Yudel)

A Uniter After All: Bush Battle Brings Progressive Groups Together

From the LA Weekly: The Tsunami
"Progressives have been waiting for decades for a citizen-based movement to happen,"says Ed Cyr. "One that's independent of the party, that's integrated, that's effective." "This is it,"� says Cyr. "It's happened."
(Reb Yudel)

YudelLine Endorses a Candidate

(Commissioned for the New Jersey Jewish News)


By Larry Yudelson

I confess: I don't know John Kerry personally. I've never even shaken his hand.

All I have to rely on in judging him on Israel is a spotless voting record as senator; strong endorsement from pro-Israel allies; and his promises that he "will never press Israel to make concessions that will compromise its security."

I have to marvel, nonetheless, at the intensity with which Republicans claim to be able to look into Kerry's soul and find therein an enemy of Israel.

It's the same surety with which they mock Kerry's call for a "more effective, more thoughtful, more strategic, more proactive, more sensitive war on terror" -- as if a thoughtless, ineffective war was a good thing. And it's the same surety with which Bush insisted that toppling Saddam Hussein would create a safer Middle East.

The result has been the opposite.

Even as President Bush was prematurely declaring "mission accomplished," known stores of uranium and high explosives were left unguarded.

So much for keeping deadly weapons from the hands of terrorists.

And so much for proving America strong.

The Administration continues to downplay the cost of the Iraqi war, giving false assurance about the training of Iraqi soldiers.

Bush has illustrated the limits of American military power, and has offered no plans on how to increase it – even as he threatens American financial might through record budget and trade deficits.

By itself, that would be bad news for American client states in the Middle East – that is to say, Israel.

It gets worse.

We have created a vacuum that Iran and Saudi Arabia are entering to their own benefit, a failed state which nurtures terrorism.

As the Tel Aviv University's Jaffe Center for Strategic Studies recently put it, "Iraq has now become a convenient arena for jihad, which has helped al-Qaeda to recover from the setback it suffered as a result of the war in Afghanistan. With the growing phenomenon of suicide bombing, the US presence in Iraq now demands more and more assets that might have otherwise been deployed against various dimensions of the global terrorist threat."

The Bush record doesn't looks any more successful, thoughtful or strategic when you look away from the Middle East.

What good is declaring homeland security a priority if the administration allocates more anti-terrorism resources to Wyoming than its police officers can handle but leaves the coastal ports unprotected from bombs smuggled in cargo containers?

What good are the administration's tough words against negotiating with members of the "axis-of-evil" if North Korea now claims to have developed nuclear bombs – and Secretary of State Colin Powell's denials have no credibility at home or abroad?

This pattern of looking away from the real threats continues with Bush's blindness to the aims of Saudi Arabia, a major funder of fundamentalist fanatic terror organizations.

It is an awkward fact that Saudi Arabia's ambassador Prince Bandar is a longtime Bush family friend, and that another family friend, fomer Secretary of State James Baker III is acting as a lawyer to the Saudis.

It is particularly awkward since Saudi Arabia was home of 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11, and the presumptive source of the operation's half million dollar price tag.

The Bush administration has avoided embarassment through the Orwellian tactic of actively rewriting history.

Bush has convinced many Americans – including the majority of those who will vote for his reelection nect week – that the hijackers were Iraqi and that the plot was orchestrated by Saddam Hussein.

Similarly, the administration casts Saddam Hussein – rather than Saudi Arabia – as the major financial backer of a decade's worth of Hamas suicide bombers and the violent intifada of the past four years.

Which raises the unpleasant question: What lies will the Bush administration peddle if granted another four years?

One popular lie this election season is that Bush has always been Israel's most steadfast friend.

Forgotten is the candidate who promised to move the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem "as soon as I take office" -- and then didn't.

Forgotten is the president who pushed a "roadmap to peace" on a resistant Israeli prime minister.

Forgotten is the president who protected Yasser Arafat from Prime Minister Sharon threat of exile – and didn't write off Arafat until (like Bill Clinton before him) feeling personally betrayed by the PLO leader.

And forgotten is the administration that quickly threatened Israel's foreign aid over the map of Israel's security wall.

A one-time flip-flop? Not necessarily. Israeli analysts attribute the dramatic decline in Israeli deaths from suicide bombings to the wall. But during the vice presidential debate, Dick Cheney gave credit to the removal of Sadadm Hussein.

Also interesting in Cheney's response to the debate question was his evident pride as he described Bush as "First president ever to say we'll establish and support a Palestinian state next door to Israelis." Imagine the outcry if Kerry had said such a thing! (And note the contrast to Sen. Edwards' strong, emotional support for Israel's right to self-defense.)

I won't claim to see into the soul of the candidates, or predict their behavior in the four years ahead. But what I do know that in the past four years have Bush's deeds have not matched his words, nor have the consequences of his actions matched his predictions. (Does anyone remember the budget surplus and social security lock box?)

Given the choice between a pro-Israel senator, vouched for by such pro-Israel stalwarts as Steven Grossman and Alan Dershowitz, and an incumbent president who proudly mocks the desire for "effective" and "thoughtful" policy, I'm voting for John Kerry without any reservations.

(Reb Yudel)

Joseph Biden on the Explosives

Sen. Joseph Biden on losing hundreds of tons of high explosives, via Norwegianity:

"Let me remind you, Rumsfeld started off the bid saying we only needed 40,000 troops going in, CENTCOM said 380, they agreed to 250, they sent 140. You had [Gen.] Abizaid testifying last year in the United States Senate, and I quote, 'There is more ammunition in Iraq than anyplace I've ever been in my life and it's not securable, I wish I could tell you we had it all under control, we don't.' He went on to say there is certainly not enough forces anywhere to guard this ammunition in Iraq...

"Because of these god awful mistakes that the civilians in this Administration keep making, the bar that John Kerry is going to have to go over to make this right again, is going to be incredibly difficult. But I think he has the guts and the gumptions to do what has to be done, and to make it clear to our allies that 'Look you don't have George Bush's incompetence to deal with anymore, you can't fend of your responsibility by saying there's no plan. Here's a plan, I need your help, you need to get involved in it.' But is it going to be hard, very, very hard."

October 27, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Alan Dershowitz on John Kerry

Campaign Confidential: It's the Courts, Stupid...
I know personally how strongly John Kerry feels about a safe and secure Israel. I remember vividly when John went to Israel with our dear mutual friend, the late Lenny Zakim, the New England director of the ADL. On his return, that's all John could talk about - - his admiration for Israel's combination of strength and determination to make peace. He has a perfect pro-Israel voting record in the Senate and I have no doubt that, as president, John Kerry's unwavering commitment to Israel will continue.
(Reb Yudel)

Origin of Hol Hamoed?

From the H-Judaica mailing list comes this interesting bit of eytmology:

I would like to suggest the following explanation: The origin
of Chol: The root is H (Het)-l-l (cf. Hullin, Hillul), and not
connected to Hol "sand". Etymology: "to break (the sacred; cf Eng.
"to break the Sabbath"), to untie, to allow (the sacred, the
forbidden"; cf. Arabic Halal "permitted, kosher" = Hebrew muttar
"untied" vs. 'asur 'tied'). Hol ha-Mo'ed is then "the break, the hole
between the Holidays"; yom Hol = "the day that work, etc., are
allowed, or the hole, the gap, the break, between one Shabbat and
another; cf. also Hebrew Halil - "hole-y instrument, flute'; Halal =
"murdered body (punctured by arrows, etc.); Hallon = "a hole for
wind, window". One may add that since l and r often interchange (cf.
miracle: milagro; margaret: margalit), also Hebrew Hor (Hrr) = "hole"
is a variant.

Yona Sabar, Professor of Hebrew and Aramaic

Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures

UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1511

October 25, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

George Bush and the Saudi connection

Some group calling themselves American Voters for a Secure Israel is going on the attack against George Bush and the Saudi Connection:

The terror coverups
Administration ignores Saudi role in funding suicide bombers while falsely claiming that Iraq war ended the intifadah. WHY?

Soft on the House of Saud (Washington Post)
One year after the Sept. 11 attacks, the Administration was still turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia. The Council of Foreign Relations issued a report in October, 2002 stating: "It is worth stating clearly and unambiguously what official U.S. government spokespersons have not," the report noted. "For years, individuals and charities based in Saudi Arabia have been the most important source of funds for al Qaeda, and for years the Saudi officials have turned a blind eye to this problem"

The site features an animated video, for those who appreciate such things.

October 24, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

God's Own Party: Republicans work to Christianize America

Don't let the following article disturb you; as Republican apologists Dennis Prager and David Klinghoffer argue, making America an officially Christian nation is a good thing.

beliefnet: The Bush campaign has hired David Barton who calls the U.S. a 'Christian nation'

The Republican National Committee is employing the services of a Texas-based activist who believes the United States is a “Christian nation� and the separation of church and state is “a myth.�

David Barton, the founder of an organization called Wallbuilders, was hired by the RNC as a political consultant and has been traveling the country for a year--speaking at about 300 RNC-sponsored lunches for local evangelical pastors. During the lunches, he presents a slide show of American monuments, discusses his view of America’s Christian heritage -- and tells pastors that they are allowed to endorse political candidates from the pulpit.

Barton, who is also the vice-chairman of the Texas GOP, told Beliefnet this week that the pastors' meetings have been kept “below the radar.... We work our tails off to stay out of the news.� But at this point, he says, with voter registration ended in most states and early voting already under way, staying quiet about the activity “doesn’t matter.�

Barton’s main contention is that the separation of church and state was never intended by the nation’s founders; he says it was created by the Supreme Court in the 20th Century. The back cover of his 1989 book, “The Myth of Separation,� proclaims: “This book proves that separation of church and state is a myth.� Barton is also on the board of advisers of the Providence Foundation, a Christian Reconstructionist group that advocates America as a Christian nation. (Click here for an explanation of Reconstructionism.)

In an appearance on D. James Kennedy’s radio show, "Truths That Transform," Barton says: "Was America ever a Christian nation? Well, according to the eyewitnesses--yes." And he adds: "I would say if 88% call themselves Christians, I would say, yeah, you probably have a fairly good basis to call it a Christian nation."

In a July 2002 interview on Pat Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network, Barton had the following exchange:

Robertson: "The question is asked, was America founded as a Christian nation? We have said yes, yes, yes. But you have the proof."

Barton: "There is a lot of proof. Not the least of which is a great Fourth of July speech that was given in 1737 by one of the guys who fought in the revolution, who became a president, John Quincy Adams. His question was why is it in America that the Fourth of July and Christmas are the most celebrated holidays? His answer was that at Christmas we celebrate what Jesus Christ did for the world [with] his birth, and on the Fourth of July we celebrate what Jesus Christ did for America, since we founded it as a Christian nation."

The lunches are coordinated by the RNC’s evangelical outreach director, Drew Ryun. “He and I make it very clear we are not partisan per se, we’re biblical,� says Barton. But according to Federal Election Commission filings, Barton has earned $12,000 this year from the RNC for “political consulting.� A spokesman for the RNC, Scott Hoganson, did not respond to questions about Barton.

October 22, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Saudis funding Iraqi insurgents

Insurgents funded by Saudis, U.S. says (AP)
WASHINGTON · Iraq's new security forces are heavily infiltrated by insurgents, and the guerrilla groups have access to almost unlimited money to pay for deadly attacks, according to a U.S. defense official who provided new details on the evolution of the rebels.

A significant part of the insurgents' money is coming from sympathizers in Saudi Arabia, and the Saudi government is neglecting the problem, said the official, who was authorized by the Pentagon to speak on the issue this week, but only on condition of anonymity.

(Reb Yudel)

Three busted, four reported

New York Daily News - Home - Bust three in temple's holy war



Three men involved in a wild brawl over control of a prominent Brooklyn synagogue were arrested yesterday, law enforcement sources said.

The arrests followed an angry feud within the borough's Satmar community that turned violent during services at the Yatev Lev temple in Williamsburg two weeks ago, sources said.

Hundreds of worshipers were on hand when backers of two feuding rabbi brothers vying for control of the synagogue came to blows, cops said. Several worshipers suffered broken bones.

The power struggle to lead the congregation is between the followers of Rabbi Aron Teitelbaum, the oldest son of Grand Rabbi Moses Teitelbaum, and those of Aron's younger brother Zalmen, according to sources.

The bitter feud - which has led to street fights and a court battle - ignited several years back, when the father stepped down and chose Zalmen to run the congregation.

The appointment infuriated Aron's followers, who believe the oldest son should be the next in line to lead.

On Oct. 6, some of Aron's followers stormed the synagogue during dancing rituals that are part of the Simchat Torah - the holiday marking the end of the year-long reading of the Torah, Satmar sources told the Daily News.

The temple crashers flipped over metal benches and yelled, "Take your kids home because there's going to be fighting!" witnesses said.

"They did this many times before, but not with such power," said Moses Lawfer, a Zalmen follower. "This time they bused people from upstate."

However, followers of Aron - who have a satellite community in Orange County - say they were just attending the services.

Three Brooklyn men who align themselves with Zalmen were slapped with assault charges, according to sources.

----With Veronika Belenkaya and Nancie L. Katz

(Reb Yudel)

Movin' On

Errol Morris: Election '04
Listen to Real People who voted for George Bush in 2000, but will be voting for Kerry in 2004.

October 21, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Interfaith activists for a more kosher world

Yahoo! News - Indonesian Muslims Attack Pig Farms
JAKARTA, Indonesia - Muslims armed with machetes attacked several pig farms in Indonesia, slaughtering around 20 swine they claimed were giving of "offensive" odors, The Jakarta Post reported Thursday.

Police did nothing to stop the attack Wednesday in South Tatura, central Sulawesi province, the paper reported. The farms belonged to local Christians.

"The farms give out a bad odor and this is offensive, especially during Ramadan," said local Muslim leader Abdul Haris, referring to the Islamic fasting month where religious feelings often run high.

He said the farms were also polluting a local river, presumably with dung from the animals.

Muslims are forbidden to eat pork, which is considered unclean.

October 20, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Bush supported Cuban torture

Broad Use of Harsh Tactics Is Described at Cuba Base

Many detainees at Guantánamo Bay were regularly subjected to harsh and coercive treatment, several people who worked in the prison said in recent interviews, despite longstanding assertions by military officials that such treatment had not occurred except in some isolated cases.

The people, military guards, intelligence agents and others, described in interviews with The New York Times a range of procedures that included treatment they said was highly abusive occurring over a long period of time, as well as rewards for prisoners who cooperated with interrogators.

(Reb Yudel)

Bush: The New Age President

The Revealer: Our Magical President
I happen to like the idea that faith is a path away from easy certainty, but I know it's just that -- an idea. Wallis' idea, and that of one strain of Christianity. It's not an idea shared by many New Age religions. Such beliefs emphasize that certainty is easy, if you'll just give up the illusion of reality, since certainty is as close to you as your own heart. One need not investigate with the tools of rationalism, but rather, simply -- the simplicity of it all is key -- feel.

Bush feels. The press, so far, does not. In grappling with Bush's presidency, it has expanded its range, developed a more nuanced understanding of traditional Christian fundamentalism, recognized liberal evangelicalism, and acknowledged the limitations of Enlightenment thinking. But it still can't account for the kind of magic that says, If you believe you can do something -- become president despite losing the popular vote, launch a war without evidence, and maybe, if you REALLY believe, get re-elected anyway -- you can.

(Reb Yudel)

How to fight (and lose) a faith-based war

Post-war planning non-existent (Knight Ridder)
WASHINGTON - In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

(Reb Yudel)

Who lost Iraq? (Hint: It wasn't the pessimists)

War and Piece reports on the Knight-Ridder story:

Knight-Ridder's Warren Strobel, Jonathan Landay, John Walcott, et al have an important three-part reconstruction of the decisions that led to the US failure to win the peace in Iraq, based on documents and interviews with more than three dozen current and former US officials. Here's a snip from the first part, with the devastating title: "Post-war Planning Non-Existent":
The Bush administration's failure to plan to win the peace in Iraq was the product of many of the same problems that plagued the administration's case for war, including wishful thinking, bad information from Iraqi exiles who said Iraqis would welcome American troops as liberators and contempt for dissenting opinions.

However, the administration's planning for postwar Iraq differed in one crucial respect from its erroneous pre-war claims about Iraq's nuclear, chemical and biological weapons programs and links to al Qaida.

The U.S. intelligence community had been divided about the state of Saddam's weapons programs, but there was little disagreement among experts throughout the government that winning the peace in Iraq could be much harder than winning a war. . .

A half-dozen intelligence reports also warned that American troops could face significant postwar resistance. . .

"It was disseminated. And ignored," said a former senior intelligence official.

Why was it ignored? You know the answer. The should-be post-war planners in Feith's office refused to do any planning, except to lobby to install Ahmad Chalabi, now working with Shiite insurgent Moqtada al Sadr and suspected of passing US intelligence to Iran.

(Reb Yudel)

It's an ownership society, and they're the owners!

Rise of the Corporate Plutocrats
Today, it's not just the boss, but those second, third or fifth in command who pull down seven-figure salaries, own multiple homes and stay in hotels where rooms cost more than most mortgage payments.
(Reb Yudel)

Faith-based? Or just another false prophet?

Robertson: I warned Bush on Iraq casualties
"You remember Mark Twain said, 'He looks like a contented Christian with four aces.' I mean he was just sitting there like, 'I'm on top of the world,' " Robertson said on the CNN show, "Paula Zahn Now."

"And I warned him about this war. I had deep misgivings about this war, deep misgivings. And I was trying to say, 'Mr. President, you had better prepare the American people for casualties.' "

Robertson said the president then told him, "Oh, no, we're not going to have any casualties."

So whose God do we believe? The president's? Or Pat Robertson's?
(Reb Yudel)

Spreading the word

In 2004, we want to make it easy for people to understand the importance of voting and why John Kerry is the stronger candidate for President, and also easier for them to pass this information along to people who are undecided.
(Reb Yudel)

What he tells you 98 times must be true!

George Bush, Tax Hiker

But let us take the 98 votes at face value. Does this prove Bush's contention that Kerry sits far outside the mainstream? You can't answer that without some basis of comparison. In 1992, George H.W. Bush painted Bill Clinton as a hopeless liberal, the primary evidence for this claim being the fact that Clinton allegedly raised taxes 128 times as governor of Arkansas. So that would make Kerry, with his 98 tax hikes, some … let's see, 23% less liberal than Clinton, who is viewed (outside conservative circles) as a moderate.

Meanwhile, Kerry's campaign has a detailed list of 642 Kerry votes to reduce taxes. (Maybe Bush should be painting Kerry as a crazed tax-cutting zealot totally unconcerned about fiscal responsibility.)

Meanwhile, Dick Cheney as a member of Congress from Wyoming voted to raise taxes 144 times. If 98 tax-hike votes make Kerry a far-out liberal, than Cheney would have to be placed somewhere in the ideological vicinity of Che Guevara.

If Bush had merely said that Kerry was more likely to raise your taxes, at least the accusation would be meaningful and plausible. After all, Kerry did vote for the last two major tax increases, in 1990 and 1993, and he openly plans to restore the top tax bracket to where it stood under Clinton.

But the Bush philosophy seems to be: Why level an honest accusation when a dishonest one is nearer to hand?

(Reb Yudel)

The president's babysitter is missing....

The Burning Of Brent Scowcroft (This Is Rumor Control)
Scowcroft is far more critical of Dick Cheney than of George W. Bush: believing that his Colorado friend (and colleague in the first Bush administration) could have reined in the young Bush's faith-based foreign policy.

Scowcroft was among the coterie of senior advisors that settled on Cheney as an appropriate Vice President, a decision that he now bitterly condemns. "For God's sake, the guy was put there to provide some adult supervision," he ruefully admitted to one colleague.

(Reb Yudel)

Bush always said that national building was a bad idea!

Former CPA Health Official: Post-War Iraq "Read Like a Bad Novel" (This Is Rumor Control)

A weekend editorial in the prestigious British medical journal, The Lancet (subscribers access only) is the latest in a series of reports detailing how incompetent post-war planning, riddled with political cronyism, in this case involving humanitarian aid, contributed to the Iraq war's chaotic aftermath. One of its authors, Dr. Frederick Burkle was the senior health diplomat in Baghdad following the war and argues that a presidential directive taking the unusual step of giving the Department of Defense control of the planning and delivery of humanitarian relief was a big mistake. Dr. Burkle, who is currently doing a research project in China tells This is Rumor Control, "I have no idea whose decision it was, it really shocked us."

(Reb Yudel)

The downside to a faith-based administration

Post-war planning non-existent (Knight Ridder)

WASHINGTON - In March 2003, days before the start of the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, American war planners and intelligence officials met at Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina to review the Bush administration's plans to oust Saddam Hussein and implant democracy in Iraq.

Near the end of his presentation, an Army lieutenant colonel who was giving a briefing showed a slide describing the Pentagon's plans for rebuilding Iraq after the war, known in the planners' parlance as Phase 4-C. He was uncomfortable with his material - and for good reason.

The slide said: "To Be Provided."

A Knight Ridder review of the administration's Iraq policy and decisions has found that it invaded Iraq without a comprehensive plan in place to secure and rebuild the country. The administration also failed to provide some 100,000 additional U.S. troops that American military commanders originally wanted to help restore order and reconstruct a country shattered by war, a brutal dictatorship and economic sanctions.

In fact, some senior Pentagon officials had thought they could bring most American soldiers home from Iraq by September 2003. Instead, more than a year later, 138,000 U.S. troops are still fighting terrorists who slip easily across Iraq's long borders, diehards from the old regime and Iraqis angered by their country's widespread crime and unemployment and America's sometimes heavy boots.

"We didn't go in with a plan. We went in with a theory," said a veteran State Department officer who was directly involved in Iraq policy.

(Reb Yudel)

Maybe it takes a wounded vet to care for one?

ABC News: Injured Iraq Vets Come Home to Poverty

Following inquiries by ABC News, the Pentagon has dropped plans to force a severely wounded U.S. soldier to repay his enlistment bonus after injuries had forced him out of the service.

Army Spc. Tyson Johnson III of Mobile, Ala., who lost a kidney in a mortar attack last year in Iraq, was still recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center when he received notice from the Pentagon's own collection agency that he owed more than $2,700 because he could not fulfill his full 36-month tour of duty.

(Reb Yudel)

Iraq war: Expectations vs. reality

Iraq War: Expectations vs. Reality (Knight Ridder)

(Reb Yudel)

If Sanches is so smart, why isn't he serving stateside?

General Reported Shortages In Iraq (washingtonpost.com)

The top U.S. commander in Iraq complained to the Pentagon last winter that his supply situation was so poor that it threatened Army troops' ability to fight, according to an official document that has surfaced only now.

The lack of key spare parts for gear vital to combat operations, such as tanks and helicopters, was causing problems so severe, Army Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez wrote in a letter to top Army officials, that "I cannot continue to support sustained combat operations with rates this low."

October 19, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

A war hawk for Kerry

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish

THE COMPETENCE FACTOR: The Gordon piece bears re-reading. It addresses a major issue in the debate we're having over the election. Sarah Baxter, Greg Dejerejian and others rightly point out the superior worldview of the Bush administration in response to terror.

But that really isn't the issue this time around. The issue is: even if they see the world the right way, are they capable of pursuing their policies competently?

I cannot believe that anyone fairly reviewing the shambles that is the Iraq occupation can have any real confidence in this administration's ability to meet logistical means to ideological ends.

It hurts me to say it, but Rumsfeld is clearly the main man responsible for ignoring early advice, refusing to heed the military, creating an intimidatory atmosphere in which important criticism cannot be heard, and for sticking to theories when cruel, hard experience has debunked them. Here's Garner again:

"John Abizaid was the only one who really had his head in the postwar game. The Bush administration did not. Condi Rice did not. Doug Feith didn't. You could go brief them, but you never saw any initiative come of them. You just kind of got a north and south nod. And so it ends with so many tragic things."--NYTimes

Do you really trust these people to protect us in the months and years ahead?

Do you trust them to make the right decisions?

Do you trust them to subject their own beliefs to scrutiny?

That's the first issue in this election, before we get to the question of Kerry. I say this as someone who did once trust them, and who found himself unable to marry the reality on the ground with the words coming from the White House. I trusted but couldn't verify. And the stakes are too high for me to trust again.

October 18, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Why does the president hate our soldiers?

The New Republic Online: Iraq'd

When a ground commander requests troops to carry out his mission, and is told that those troops are needed elsewhere, there are only two interpretations. One is that the commander's superiors determine that the request is unnecessary, and the commander in fact has what he needs. This is highly unlikely in this case, given Anaconda's tactical importance as the largest logistical base in Iraq. The attacks have gotten so bad that the cargo planes that fly in to resupply the base keep their engines running to avoid losing the aircraft to insurgent mortar fire. The idea that Hilman is blowing smoke when he says he needs additional forces just to protect his base is simply not likely to be true.

The other interpretation is that there aren't enough troops to enable the commander to fulfill his requirements. It's getting hard to deny that this is the case in Iraq. And it surely reflects frustration that Hilman is detailing his two rejections to a reporter. Which leads to further series of questions: Why is Hilman really being denied? How far up the chain are Hilman's requests flowing? Are commanders at Multinational Force-Iraq stymieing requests from ground commanders to preserve the Bush administration's fiction that there are enough troops in Iraq?

(Reb Yudel)

George Bush vs. the Unborn

Why abortion rate is up in Bush years (Houston Chronicle)

I, Glen, am a Christian ethicist, and trained in statistical analysis. I am consistently pro-life. My son David is one witness. For my family, "pro-life" is personal. My wife caught rubella in the eighth week of her pregnancy. We decided not to terminate, to love and raise our baby. David is legally blind and severely handicapped; he also is a blessing to us and to the world. Gary Krane is an investigative journalist.

We look at the fruits of political policies more than words. We analyzed the data on abortion during the Bush presidency. There is no single source for this information -- federal reports go only to the year 2000, and many states do not report -- but we found enough data to identify trends.

Our findings are disturbing.

Of course, they prove their liberal bias by looking at deeds, not words.

(Reb Yudel)

The way it might have been

it's all one thing postulates an alternative universe, one where the old-time electoral college system was still in place:

What if George W. Bush had been elected president?

With the election only a few weeks away, I've decided to take a break from wondering whether Gore's bigger threat is McCain or Nader and instead indulge in a little speculation, inspired by Patrick Nielsen Hayden imagining the horrors of a hypothetical Bush presidency.

Now, this game is a little hard to play, considering that Gore won by half a million votes. But let's grant Patrick's premise: 1. The U.S. still has the blatantly undemocratic Electoral College....

Though it's hard to imagine Bush in the White House instead of facing hard time for the Enron/Halliburton fiascos, alternative history doesn't have to be easy. So, where would we be under a Bush presidency?

Let's start with the Republican strength, the economy. Gore struggled with the economic downturn early in his term and barely has us back on track. You can depend on Republicans to be fiscally conservative. Bush would have built on Clinton's success in turning around the deficit. Now, he might not have done as well as Gore because he would have insisted on tax cuts for the rich and for corporations. But consider this possibility: To make those tax cuts palatable to the American people, he would've had to give something in return. My guess? Universal health care. Remember, it's not a partisan issue. Nixon tried to come up with universal health care. Bush, with a Republican Congress, could have succeeded. And, if he had, I wouldn't mind if the debt wasn't shrinking as fast as it has under Gore. Heck, I wouldn't even mind if Bush was running a small deficit.

International relations wouldn't be that different either. With sanctions and inspections working in Iraq, Bush also would have kept the pressure on Israel to create a viable Palestine. Frankly, peace in the Middle East was inevitable.....

(Reb Yudel)

Do-it-yourself Campaign Ads

p2p-Politics lets you view, upload and email campaign ads. I'd be happier if they weren't in Quicktime format, but still.... for those of us not in swing states, the Internet is giving us too the illusion of living in a democracy.

October 16, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

The Bush Economy

John Robb pass along some interesting graphs from the Bush economy....

Extrapolate over four more years for extra credit....

(Reb Yudel)

Seymour Hersh: Israelis wouldn't piss in Mideast well like Bush had

Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh spills the secrets of the Iraq quagmire and the war on terror (Berkeley University)

[Hersh] talked about an Israeli, a longtime veteran of the troubles between his country and the Palestinians, who had emailed him to say, in essence, "We've been killing them for 40 or 50 years, and they've been killing us for 40 or 50 years, but we know that somewhere down the line we're going to have to live with those SOBs…If we had treated our Arabs the way you treated them in Abu Ghraib, the sexual stuff, the photographs, we couldn't live with them. You guys do not begin to understand what you've done, where you have put yourself in the Arab world."

"They just shot them one by one"

There was more -- rumors of atrocities around Iraq that to Hersh brought back memories of My Lai. In the evening's most emotional moment, Hersh talked about a call he had gotten from a first lieutenant in charge of a unit stationed halfway between Baghdad and the Syrian border. His group was bivouacking outside of town in an agricultural area, and had hired 30 or so Iraqis to guard a local granary. A few weeks passed. They got to know the men they hired, and to like them. Then orders came down from Baghdad that the village would be "cleared." Another platoon from the soldier's company came and executed the Iraqi granary guards. All of them.

"He said they just shot them one by one. And his people, and he, and the villagers of course, went nuts," Hersh said quietly. "He was hysterical, totally hysterical. He went to the company captain, who said, 'No, you don't understand, that's a kill. We got 36 insurgents. Don't you read those stories when the Americans say we had a combat maneuver and 15 insurgents were killed?'

"It's shades of Vietnam again, folks: body counts," Hersh continued. "You know what I told him? I said, 'Fella, you blamed the captain, he knows that you think he committed murder, your troops know that their fellow soldiers committed murder. Shut up. Complete your tour. Just shut up! You're going to get a bullet in the back.' And that's where we are in this war."

October 14, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Israelis: War on Iraq Good for Terrorists

Yahoo! News - Think Tank: Iraq War Distracted U.S.
TEL AVIV, Israel - The war in Iraq (news - web sites) did not damage international terror groups, but instead distracted the United States from confronting other hotbeds of Islamic militancy and actually "created momentum" for many terrorists, a top Israeli security think tank said in a report released Monday.

October 12, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Who said it was going to be easy?

Who said Iraq was going to be easy?

Well, besides Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld and Chalabi and Wolfowitz and Feith...

U.S. Faces Complex Insurgency in Iraq

BAGHDAD, Iraq (AP) - The U.S. military is fighting the most complex guerrilla war in its history, with 140,000 American soldiers trained for conventional warfare flailing against a thicket of insurgent groups with competing aims and no supreme leader.

The three dozen or so guerrilla bands agree on little beyond forcing the Americans out of Iraq.

In other U.S. wars, the enemy was clear. In Vietnam, a visible leader - Ho Chi Minh - led a single army fighting to unify the country under socialism. But in Iraq, the disorganized insurgency has no single commander, no political wing and no dominant group.

U.S. troops can't settle on a single approach to fight groups whose goals and operations vary. And it's hard to sort combatants from civilians in a chaotic land where large parts of some communities support the insurgents and others are too afraid to risk their lives to help foreigners.

"It's more complex and challenging than any other insurgency the United States has fought," aid Bruce Hoffman, a RAND counterinsurgency expert who served as an adviser to the U.S.-led occupation administration.

But please, folks. Let's keep the leadership that chose to put us in this awful place.

What's the use of changing horseman in mid-apocalypse?

(Reb Yudel)

Syrian Surprise

This Is Rumor Control speculates that Israel and America may have reached an understanding about deposing Bashir Assad and taking out Iran. I would feel far more sanguine about the possibility if not for the Bush and Sharon track record of "quick" invasions and the creation of new "friendly" regimes:
You may have noticed Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's curiously upbeat predictions in a set-piece interview on the eve of the Jewish New Year in Yedioth Ahronoth, headlined "Prospective Positive Changes in Iraq, Iran and Syria that would Favour Israel." In the interview, Mofaz hints at the possibility of international action against Hezbollah force in southern Lebanon. Even the Yediot interviewer expressed surprise at Mofaz's optimism. But politicians can be a self-serving lot. And wishing to appear prescient and clever, they often use such occasions to hint at matters that may already be the subject of confidential debate and exchange in Washington and Jerusalem. All the same, the Mofaz interview deserves closer inspection.

First, let's take a step or two back: This is Rumor Control has, for some six weeks, been highlighting Iran's policy of supporting resistance to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The support is financial as well as military (by the provision of weapons and by direct support of advisory personnel on the ground.

All of this was belatedly acknowledged by the Bush administration.

This Is Rumor Control has also been clear in pointing to the precise reasons for Iran's apparent hostility: Iran is convinced that the U.S. intends to attack its nuclear facilities or to acquiesce in an Israeli attack.

Read the rest.
(Reb Yudel)

Who could it be now?

John Kerry for President raises the question:

During the second presidential debate, Bush was asked to "give three instances in which you came to realize you had made a wrong decision, and what you did to correct it."

Bush refused to answer the question directly, but he did imply he was unhappy with someone in his administration: "I made some mistakes in appointing people, but I'm not going to name them. I don't want to hurt their feelings on national TV."

Who is Bush so unhappy with? The following is a list of contenders....

(Reb Yudel)

Bush promises faithful: I will overturn Roe v. Wade

Continuing with my belated debate coverage, here is the lead of Paperwight's Fair Shot: Dred Scott = Roe v. Wade.
Some people seem to be a bit boggled by Bush's Dred Scott remark last night. It wasn't about racism or slavery, or just Bush's natural incoherence. Here's what Bush actually said:
If elected to another term, I promise that I will nominate Supreme Court Justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.
Bush couldn't say that in plain language, because it would freak out every moderate swing voter in the country, but he can say it in code, to make sure that his base will turn out for him. Anti-choice advocates have been comparing Roe v. Wade with Dred Scott v. Sandford for some time now. There is a constant drumbeat on the religious right to compare the contemporary culture war over abortion with the 19th century fight over slavery, with the anti-choicers cast in the role of the abolitionists.
Here's the simple Google link that makes the case: search abortion dred scott
(Reb Yudel)

Evolutionary autumn

A Puzzle for the Autumnal Equinox (The Loom) looks at two theories that try to explain the evolution of this season's colorful display. Interesting stuff.

October 11, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Leonard Cohen's new album is coming

Leonard Cohen's new album, Dear Heather is coming out later this month. The two-hearts-linked-as-a-Magen David caught my attention; Cohen has just recently spent five years as a Buddhist Monk.

The fan-created Dear Heather web site features lyrics, biographical details of some of the album's subjects (one song is dedicated to A.M. Klein), a paen of praise by everyone's favorite dissolute Yeshiva of Flatbush grad, Leon Wieseltier, and -- believe it or not -- a complete Hebrew translation.

(Reb Yudel)

Wise words from Eve Kessler

Campaign Confidential: It's Tied:
Well, yes, it's been tied since 2000. But it remains tied because President Bush broke his promise to be a uniter, not a divider. Had he tried to fulfill that promise, he would be winning in a walk.
(Reb Yudel)

Post Sukkos Quarterbacking

Political Wire reflects on the first debate, and asks: Do They Just Make it Up?

Three articles make it hard not to conclude the Bush administration just makes stuff up about Iraq as they go along:

The Boston Globe reports Vice President Dick Cheney continues to link Saddam Hussen with the terrorists who struck America on 9/11. "Although the extent of any relationship between Al Qaeda and Hussein has been widely disputed, Cheney proceeds with his contention with nary a nod toward such questions."

Reuters notes that many of the "assertions about progress in Iraq" that President Bush made in the first debate -- "from police training and reconstruction to preparations for January elections -- are in dispute, according to internal Pentagon documents, lawmakers and key congressional aides."

Finally, in a front page story, the New York Times says the White House "embraced the theory that aluminum tubes bound for Iraq were for nuclear centrifuges despite contrary views from America's leading nuclear scientists."

(Reb Yudel)

Back from vacation, Tom Friedman finds that Bush made a mess of his war

Tom Friedman: Iraq was the right war, executed by the wrong administration. Iraq: Politics or Policy?

This war has been hugely mismanaged by this administration, in the face of clear advice to the contrary at every stage, and as a result the range of decent outcomes in Iraq has been narrowed and the tools we have to bring even those about are more limited than ever.

What happened? The Bush team got its doctrines mixed up: it applied the Powell Doctrine to the campaign against John Kerry - "overwhelming force" without mercy, based on a strategy of shock and awe at the Republican convention, followed by a propaganda blitz that got its message across in every possible way, including through distortion. If only the Bush team had gone after the remnants of Saddam's army in the Sunni Triangle with the brutal efficiency it has gone after Senator Kerry in the Iowa-Ohio-Michigan triangle. If only the Bush team had spoken to Iraqis and Arabs with as clear a message as it did to the Republican base. No, alas, while the Bush people applied the Powell Doctrine in the Midwest, they applied the Rumsfeld Doctrine in the Middle East. And the Rumsfeld Doctrine is: "Just enough troops to lose." Donald Rumsfeld tried to prove that a small, mobile army was all that was needed to topple Saddam, without realizing that such a limited force could never stabilize Iraq. He never thought it would have to. He thought his Iraqi pals would do it. He was wrong.

For all of President Bush's vaunted talk about being consistent and resolute, the fact is he never established U.S. authority in Iraq. Never. This has been the source of all our troubles. We have never controlled all the borders, we have never even consistently controlled the road from Baghdad airport into town, because we never had enough troops to do it.

(Reb Yudel)

Jewish politics on Amazon

Amidst the political books of this season, I found an interesting reviewers comment on Amazon's listing of the new travel-sized edition of the Etz Hayim Torah and Commentary:

Lastly, why bother to include the Hebrew text of the Torah unless you are going to exploit that by making at least a sprinkling of remarks related to the Hebrew language or grammar.

Rather than criticize the Reform movement as Elliot Dorff does at p. 1477, the RA and USCJ should invest in a modern page layout program that will allow them to add a little Hebrew back into the commentary and notes. The religious language of the Jewish people remains Hebrew and the commentary once it is shorn of its Hebrew language content is greatly weakened like Shimshon (Samson) without a full head of hair.


(Reb Yudel)

More on Korea

Kevin Drum, writing in The Washington Monthly following the first debate:

John Kerry has by far the better of the argument here: we should have both multilateral and bilateral talks. What's more, all the other countries involved in the talks agree, because they understand the reality of the situation. But George Bush refuses. After all, that would be giving Kim Jong Il something he wants.

In the meantime, the multilateral talks have ground to a halt, North Korea is busily building nuclear weapons, and we've lost two years in which it's just possible we could have put a stop to it. Sure, maybe bilateral negotiations wouldn't have worked, but we'll never know because Bush stubbornly declined to try based on little more than personal pique.

In this, he's following the path of conservative hawks who have derailed progress with North Korea for the past decade. For the definitive story, read Fred Kaplan's "Rolling Blunder" from the May issue of the Washington Monthly. It's a grim recital of error.

October 6, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

What a tangled web the Republicans believe

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: October 03, 2004 - October 09, 2004 Archives discusses how the Republicans are trying to spin away Bremer's admission that he repeated begged the Administration to send more troops to Iraq:

Yesterday afternoon the Bush campaign told the Post that Bremer had requested more troops, but that the president preferred to take the counsel of his military commanders.

So it's either Bremer never said anything and now he's just making excuses (the Journal line.)

Or, yes he said something, but we chose to ignore him (the Bush-Cheney 04 line.)

Is BC04 lying too? In a cynical ploy to shift blame onto the president?

So with the regime-change dead-enders' media strategy you have dishonest arguments, poor coordination, lack of a game plan. Remind you of anything?

Makes you wonder. Do you think someone in the White House is a compulsive liar -- or just a serial fabricator?

(Reb Yudel)

The Proudest Moment in Cheney's Foreign Policy?

Via the totally amazing Debate Spotter, which lets you search debate transcripts for individual words, comes this moment of Cheney proudly describing his boss as the
First president ever to say we'll establish and support a Palestinian state nextdoor to Israelis.
(Reb Yudel)

Got Them Hard Time White House Blues

The Poor Man: It's Hard Work! The incumbent repeated during his debate last week:
It's hard work. It's incredibly hard.
The Poor Man dares to ask: Is the job incredibly hard? Or is the job-holder incredibly light?
(Reb Yudel)

Yori Yanover Predicts a Violent October

My old html-and-bourbon buddy Yori Yanover sends the following USAJewish-style notes on the American matzav:

A Violent October

My American wife always mocks me for the predictions I used to make, back in the roaring Reagan years, that a revolution was imminent, and US workers, students and the unemployed masses were sure to rebel against their Republican masters. She was right, I was wrong, no revolution took place.

But this year politically-related violence is rearing its head, ugly or otherwise. The AFL-CIO is engaged in a series of election-headquarters protests, disrupting the orderly labor of simple, God fearing Republican staffers, and all because GW Bush wants to steal their overtime pay. Read the two items enclosed, then the one about rumors of a draft and what Tom "Moneybags" DeLay did, protesting way too much, if you ask me.

So, we may be looking at a very violent October. And should the Republicans steal the vote yet another time, there may actually be... dare we think? Nahhh...

Yori Yanover

Shots fired at Bush Tenn. headquarters

Knoxville, TN, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- An unknown gunman fired several shots into the Bearden, Tenn., Bush-Cheney campaign office Tuesday, WBIR-TV in Knoxville reported. According to Knoxville police officers on the scene, it is believed that the two separate shots were fired from a car sometime between 6:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. One shot shattered the glass in one front door and the other cracked the glass in another of the front doors.

Protestors Ransack Bush/Cheney Headquarters In Orlando
2 People Receive Minor Injuries During Protest

ORLANDO, Fla. -- A group of protestors stormed and then ransacked a Bush-Cheney headquarters building in Orlando, Fla., Tuesday, according to Local 6 News. Local 6 News reported that several people from the group of 100 Orlando protestors face possible assault charges after the group forced their way inside the Republican headquarters office.

While in the building, some of the protestors drew horns and a mustache on a poster of President George W. Bush and poured piles of letters in the office, according to the report.

"We told them to leave, they broke the law," Republican headquarters volunteer Mike Broom said. Two protestors received minor injuries when the crowd stormed the building, including a Republican volunteer.

One of the protestors said she wanted to send a message. "We want to send a clear message to Bush, we want him to take his hands off our overtime pay," protestor Esmeralda Heuilar said.

House defeats bill to reintroduce draft GOP hopes to quash rumors of its return

Washington -- Persistent election-year rumors that President Bush has a secret plan to reinstate the draft if he is re-elected led Republican House leaders Tuesday to force a vote that overwhelmingly rejected a bill to reinstate conscription.

The result, a 402-2 vote against the draft, was a foregone conclusion because Bush and Democratic challenger Sen. John Kerry say they oppose reinstating the military draft, and almost no one in Congress supports the idea. But the action by Republicans to push a vote in the House's last days before its election recess showed that the rumor has legs. The Republicans say Democratic candidates, party organizations and such youth-oriented independent groups as Rock the Vote are spreading the rumor that a draft is imminent.

October 4, 2004

(Reb Yudel)

Someone please explain

Why The Kerry doctrine isn't better than the incumbent's "principles"?
Defend the country. Promote freedom. Pay attention to the facts. Listen to the experts. Make sure your buddies have your back. Plan for victory. Tell the truth.
(Reb Yudel)

President Bush's Jewish Problem

In this Bloghead post concerning the president's possible senility, an anonymous commentator writes:

Bush is a moron, his father was a moron but the alternative is an evil calamity, to Jews most of all.
Really, who is senile now? Or, as I wrote:

"The alternative is an evil calamity"?

You mean, he'll attack the weakest of Israel's strategic enemies at the behest of the strongest?

You mean, he'll reveal the limits of an army based on expensive weapon contracts rather than troops, training, and supplies, and thereby weaken the image of the U.S. in the Middle East?

You mean, he'll make the creation of a Palestinian state an American policy for the first time?

You mean, he'll create one or two new Islamicist countries where a secular dictatorship used to be?

You mean, he'll alienate Israel's staunchest regional ally (Turkey)?

You mean, he'll grant al-Qaeda a strategic victory by withdrawing troops from Saudi Arabia?

You mean, he'll strengthen the Arab world by encouraging American fuel consumption?

You mean, he'll threaten to cut aid to Israel over a minor political dispute?

You mean, he'll blur the threat from jihadist organizations and divert focus to more politically convenient enemies?

You mean, he'll undertake the sort of populist fiscal policies (tax cuts and benefit increases) that put the new into the New Israeli Shekel back in the '80s -- with serious consequences for anyone whose livelihood, assets or aid packages are denominated in dollars?

You mean, he'll loudly promise to take unprecedently pro-Israel positions (e.g. move the embassy to Jerusalem) and then go back on his word time and time again?

You mean, he would put political correctness ahead of pragmatism and allow an unstable dictatorship to acquire nuclear weapons?

You mean, he would allow the director of a muslim state's "rogue" nuclear development program to be "punished" but then immediately pardoned?

That would indeed describe an "evil calamity", and "to Jews most of all."

Alas, that describes the incumbent. Sometimes, you know, you have to look beyond the mangled, well-meaning words to see the actual deeds.

(Reb Yudel)

Whatever happened to A.Q Kahn?


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The A.Q. Khan network has been brought to justice.

BLITZER: To justice? The guy has been -- Khan has been freed. He's been pardoned by President Musharraf... Khan himself lives in a villa. And the IAEA would like to question him, and the Pakistani government doesn't even allow that to happen.

RICE: I think we all know that A.Q. Khan was a particular kind of figure in Pakistani lore, a national hero... if you don't think that his national humiliation is justice for what he did, I think it is. He's nationally humiliated.

FYI: Earlier this year, Khan's underground nuclear bazaar--dubbed the "nuclear Wal-Mart" by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei--was uncloaked, solving the mystery of how North Korea, Iran and Libya acquired so much nuclear technology so fast. The answer: Khan's network sold it to them.