Daily News reporter Larry Cohler-Esses and I have uncovered some more unusual vote totals, this time in black neighborhoods of Cleveland. Those results are from the precinct-by-precinct tallies released by the Cuyahoga County Board of Elections, where Cleveland is located.
In the 4th Ward on Cleveland's East Side, for example, two fringe presidential candidates did surprisingly well.
In precinct 4F, located at Benedictine High School on Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Kerry received 290 votes, Bush 21 and Michael Peroutka, candidate of the ultra-conservative anti-immigrant Constitutional Party, an amazing 215 votes!
That many black votes for Peroutka is about as likely as all those Jewish votes for Buchanan in Florida's Palm Beach County in 2000.
In precinct 4N, also at Benedictine High School, the tally was Kerry 318, Bush 21, and Libertarian Party candidate Michael Badnarik 163.
Back in 2000, the combined third-party votes in those two precincts - including the Nader vote - was 8. Cuyahoga, like most of Ohio's 88 counties, uses punch-card balloting.
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As we contemplate the "values" of our fellow religious Americans, sometimes the question comes up: Whoa! Aren't we talking about people who worship a Jewish carpenter?
A similar question comes to mind when reading the d'var Torah exceprted below. Maybe I've been out of yeshiva for too long, but I'm having difficulty deciding whether the bit of "Torah" below is by any definition coherent or logical.
Every country in the world has the right to go to war to maintain sovereignty over its land; and the Jewish people not only have the right, but even the obligation.
G-d considers "arrogance" to be an abominable trait. But Binyamin who was born in Eretz Yisroel was a "sabra", and he had "national pride." This "national pride" was what was needed to have the mizbeach built in his section. Arrogance pushes one away from G-d; but a healthy sense of independence and national pride brings one closer to G-d. The individual who is subservient to other human beings can not fully be subservient to G-d.
Only the Jews who live in Eretz Yisroel have the mitzvah of aliyah laregel; to come closer to G-d. The Jew with the galus mentality can not be fully subservient to G-d, and thus only the free men in Eretz Yisroel have this mitzvah. The Torah expresses itself by stating that three times a year all the Jewish men must come to visit "the Master" Hashem. The Talmud understood this to mean that slaves who are subservient to their human masters don't have this mitzvah. They can not succeed in becoming fully subservient to Hashem, which is the purpose of the aliyah laregel.
Binyamin, of course, must be careful that his "national pride" not lead to the abomination of "arrogance". If the sabra's independence and "national pride" will bring him closer to Hashem, there will be no room to develop any arrogance. The closer one comes to Hashem, the more humble he will become.
Or are we just redefining humility?
For those dying to read more -- or just curious about the rabbi who wrote this -- you can click here.
From Yori Yanover's USAJewish :
Pollard's advisers continue to preach to him the morals of being right as opposed to the morals of being free.
And that, I fear, is the greatest difference between Pollard and Barghouti: the latter is a user, the former is forever being used.
Trebuchet Challenge - a video game that teaches physics.
Andrew Silow-Carroll's latest column is up: Fundamental, absolute pluralism. Since I'm the one blogging it, let me highlight a paragraph quoting Yitz Greenberg's latest book:
"[T]he deepest truth is that unless we hold on to our absolutes in pluralist fashion they turn pathological and tend to destroy others.
We can avoid this pathology only if we get to know the limits of our position.
My truth cannot or does not cover all people, all possibilities, or all times, because God wants others to contribute. We need the checks and balances to prevent the spinning out of control of our individual positions.
That is why our [Christian-Jewish] dialogue is so vital and so necessary. We are embarked on one of the great moral adventures of all time: to give up triumphalism, to accept that it is God's will that will be done, to accept the fact that we are only servants and agents, and to know that we have not been the sole vehicles of God's love or the redemption that is coming."
Joe Schick makes a case -- compelling enough on a quick read -- that "the exit polls have underestimated Jewish support for Bush."
Learning To Become Fluent in 'Faith-Speak' (Forward OpEd Page)
For American Jews, most of whom fall in the Democratic column; the re-election of President Bush -- aided as it was by the religious right -- has heightened the concern that we are fast becoming guests in an increasingly Christian nation.
That might indeed be the case, but I nevertheless remain optimistic about our communal ability to influence the national agenda. In order to do so, however, we need to redefine our modus vivendi. As the Torah tells us, those who lead are responsible for the character of their society.
It is essential that we, as a community, develop a list of priorities on those issues that would threaten or negate vital Jewish principles, principles that we hold critical to our Jewish identity. Perhaps more importantly, we need to relearn how to engage with a body politic that, in some ways, operates much differently than that of a generation ago.....
Zackary Sholem Berger explores the issues of the Ukranian election and the Ukranian Jewish community -- something I confess to paying no attention to at all.
Addressing such questions as "Who did the Ukrainian Jews vote for?" and "Is Yuschenko an anti-Semite?", Berger provides a thoughtful, well-linked analysis.
Oh, and his bottom line on those two questions?
From former YU student Idealogian comes this cautionary tale of naif-meets-nightlife:
Last week, for the first time in my life, I went to a bar. I mean, I've been in places that have a bar - jazz clubs, restaurants, wedding halls - but I've never actually gone to a place that is a bar. Not really the type of atmosphere I enjoy. But last week, it wasn't really up to me.....
I decided that I'd go but not hang out for too long or drink anything. I didn't want to be a part of the whole "eat, drink and be merry" experience, especially with some people who have a history of taking that creed a bit too far, in my opinion. So I got there at 6:30, left at 7:00, and drank only a glass of water. (I later found out that some of my co-workers didn't get home until 2:00 AM and can't remember all that much about the last few hours before that.)
I told my parents about this over the weekend, and the following conversation ensued:
Me: Just a glass of water.
MF: A glass of water?!
Me: Yeah, just some water. With ice.
MF: New York City, unfiltered water?
I would have been better off with a beer. That'll teach me to stay sober.
Does the love affair between Orthodox Jews and radical reconstructionist Republicans have you wondering what the difference is, other than the length of their beards?
Wonder no more.
Yes, they agree on how wonderful Israel is, how bad homosexuality is, and the need for the second coming of George W.
Hat tip to The Revealer, which probably actually is the new Protocols.
Yori Yanover is back! His inagural posting, Turkeys for Jesus dares asks the question:
What's the Baltimore Jewish Times doing with this feelgood Jew for Jesus story as its cover item?
PaleoJudaica.com reports from the Society of Biblical Literature conference:
Yesterday evening after the Qumran session, Esther and Hanan Eshel gave an impromptu presentation on the new 1 Enoch fragment, whose story broke on PaleoJudaica some time ago.
They are calling it XQpapEnoch, since they are confident it comes from a Qumran cave, but they don't know which one, and (unusually for a Qumran scroll and uniquely for a Qumran Enoch manuscript) it's written on papyrus rather than leather.
It contains the damaged Aramaic text of 1 Enoch 8:4-9:3, a passage that tells how the archangels looked down from heaven on the corruption of the earth before the Flood, and it allows us to correct one of Milik's reconstructions since the word in question survives on this papyrus....
The fragment belongs to the Kando family. (Kando was an antiquities dealer who brokered the original Dead Sea Scrolls acquistions.) The Enoch papyrus is one of 12 unpublished fragments owned by them. The Eshels have seen infra-red photos of 6 of these. Five are biblical fragments from three already known manuscripts: 4QIsac, 4QGenf, and 8QGen. The other six look like "black corn flakes" and are now on tour in the USA in the From the Dead Sea Scrolls to the Forbidden Book exhibition.
The Eshels haven't seen the fragment in person yet but the are confident enough of its authenticity to publish it now. They passed around a photo of the text during the lecture and Moshe Bernstein promptly challenged one of their readings. Scholarship in action. [emphasis added]
That's the question addresses in the latest posting by The House of Hock
Short answer: No more than a year, since, as he points out, the latest issue of the Orthdox journal Tradition is dated "Fall 2003". (HoH doesn't address the possibility that the dating is from the Jewish calendar and has been malingering in publication for over 3700 years).
More seriously, he reviews an article by Rabbi Yehuda Herzl Henkin on tzniut, or modesty:
The article is on tzniut, what exactly is the definition, what is allowed, what is not allowed, both in clothing, and in voice. It is a very good study, from the sources onwards, of how we get to where we are.
On the way, he SEVERELY critcizes, Rabbi Eliyahu Pinchas Falk, who wrote a book entitled Oz v'hadar Levusha(a quotation from A Woman of Valor- meaning stregnth and beauty are her rainments). R. Henkin shows how R. Falk deliberately distorts sources, including what appears to be deliberate misreading of R. Moshe Feinstein, among others.
R. Falk claims in his book that the standards for tzniut or tremendously strict, and he claims that they are all HALACHA.
R. Henkin shows what the bottom line Halacha is(in his view) and how other things are obviously minhag, and not a minhag that should be binding on all.
Would-be Texas governor touts Olive Oil for Peace
Long-time pals Richard "Kinky" Friedman (of detective novel and Texas Jewboys fame) and Farouk Shami (founder and chairman of the board of Farouk Systems) are determined to nurture youngsters in the war-torn Middle East.
Their new product -- Olive Oil from the Holy Land -- pays homage to Farouk's Palestinian family roots and the deep friendship possible between Jews and Arabs.
Proceeds from the sale of Olive Oil from the Holy Land will go toward funding Neve Shalom/Wahat Al-Salom (Oasis of Peace), and their "School of Peace" program, a grass roots conflict management workshop that aims to change the hearts, minds, and attitudes of teen age children.
FARK.com: Police arrest 42 at weekend house party. In other news, Monday morning found very light attendance at the Joseph Kushner Hebrew Academy
(Tip of the yarmulke to Yutopia, who gets credit for a McGreevy reference).
But seriously: It's times like these that I am very glad that I don't edit a local Jewish newspaper for the Livingston Jewish community -- unlike my friend Andy.
Update: Yutopia's mom knows where the Kushner grownups were....
Atid is "The Academy for Torah Initiatives and Directions", but importantly it's a modern Orthodox Jewish educational think tank, headed by Rabbi Chaim Brovender.
I'm adding this to my blogroll, but to give you a taste, I'm linking to the first paragraphs of a posting that's topical even for those with not connection to education:
If you teach Sefer Yoel or Shmot (or even just getting ready for the Seder a bit early this year), the approaching plague of locusts which began hitting Israel today is a great opportunity to deal with a bit of "realia" in the classroom. (Of course, for farmers--and all dependent upon them--this is a potentially tragic occurrence. Don't forget this.)click for the rest...
You must see the eyewitness account of the 1915 locust plague that hit Jerusalem as recorded in the Luach of Rav A.M. Luntz. It cited in the Da'at Mikra to Yoel (p. 16, note 59) in Trei Asar, vol. 1: (excerpt and loose translation here)....
Yep: No metaphor, but a real, live, mutant reptile.
As promised, my column on "Trading Spouses." I'm thinking of printing t-shirts with the following quote, said by the Jewish mom on the show but equally appropriate for folks from blue or red states:
"I feel alone because I’m different. And I have different opinions and beliefs. I don’t share their values, and I don’t share their diet, and I’m anxious to go home."
Today's NY Post has an article from one of its copy editors, Dawn Eden, criticizing the school district of South Orange and Maplewood, N.J., for banning religious music during its holiday concerts. Writes Eden, sensibly:
"Their children will miss out on some of the most challenging and enriching musical experiences of their high-school career — all to satisfy administrators who'd rather please no one than make the effort to oversee a culturally diverse and rich holiday program."
Does it matter? I think so, in this case: Among the objections some parents might have to school-sponsored religious music is the fear that their children will be influenced by others' religious ideas. In that case, Eden's syncretic beliefs embody these fears. This topic begs for a discussion of those fears, even if to dismiss them; a writer as personally invested in the blending of Christian and Jewish ideas as Eden, and one who brings other biographical information into her essay, is being coy when she leaves her current beliefs out of the mix.
Her current beliefs also seem germane in the context of Eden's concluding line: "one of New Jersey's greatest music programs goes from Handel to scandal — all so that students barred from singing about a living God can instead sing about a living snowman."
Were readers aware of her religious beliefs, they might interpret her use of the phrase "living God" not as a clever rhetorical trope, but the kind of theological assertion that is central to this issue. Is Eden arguing for musical literacy and "the power of inspirational music to bring people together," or does she want students exposed to the words of "the living God"?
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency retracted a story earlier this year when it turned out that the freelance writer who they assigned to cover a debate featuring a messianic Jew was herself a messianic Jew. My point, like theirs, is not that messianic Jews have no place writing about religion -- hardly. And nothing that Dawn wrote for the Forward suggested a conflict between her subject -- pop music -- and whatever her religious beliefs were at the time. But there are cases, and this is one, in which editors and readers deserve to know when a writer's personal and professional attachments to a story may influence what they write on the subject.
The ability to simultaneously maintain the triumphalism of a mandate, and the sense of being an embattled minority has much to do with the continued political success of the far right. It allows them to maintain the energy and righteousness of opposition even while they claim the most autocratic control of American political institutions since the 1920s. It is also a defensive shield that made it very difficult for Democrats in the past election to treat the Republican right as what it is: the ruling party, and a particularly corrupt one.--The Decembrist: The Remnant
Shoshana Cardin addresses the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities:
"I have always felt that we are guests in a host country. The calendar is Christian. We are guests in a wonderful, wonderful society because we are free to worship as we feel. But once again, we are afraid."
Remarks like these strike me as a tad hysterical. Does feeling at home depend on the majority agreeing with your political agenda? It's an odd conflation of Jewish peoplehood and the Democratic Party platform. Would Cardin thus feel "not at home" in Israel, where the religious right controls marriage and social status issues; gender equity and sexual harrassment awareness are about 10 years behind the United States; and the security forces are often accused of over-reaching in their war on terror?
The Shoah, I think, established the terms for at-homeness, a la Robert Frost: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in."
Thanks to Warren Ellis for this timely warning.
The Tennessee Baptist Convention quashed a motion promoting Christian schools and home schooling (sound familiar?). The Jackson (Tenn.) Sun editorializes:
"Evangelicals should realize that even if they withdraw their children from public schools, or if they send them to Christian schools, public schools will still educate the vast majority of America's children. Abandoning public education would help no one. Surely the faith of evangelical Christians is strong enough to survive public education. After all, it does represent the real world in which they they ultimately must live."
Great "Trading Spouses" last night, in which a liberal Jewish mother swaps families with a born-again Christian from California's Orange County.
A preview from my column later this week:
"The two finally return to their respective homes, having confirmed their – and America’s — worst assumptions about the other."
What's the word from the General Assembly of the United Jewish Communities?
First coverage is from Ha'aretz. Nathan Guttman's opener presents a post-election drama which certainly wasn't typical of the GA's I attended in the '80s and '90s:
On stage for the debate were two speakers representing polar opposites in contemporary American Jewry: Dennis Prager, a popular radio talk-show host who is considered a reliable representative of American conservatism, and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, who represents the once-dominant way of thinking in the Jewish community - strict liberalism.
Ruskay said that despite his organization being "deeply involved" in funding and helping Israel in many social issues, the burden of the responsibility laid on Israel's government.
"My own personal view is that the question of the poor in Israel is fundamentally an issue of Israeli government priority," he said.
He criticized the Israeli government's use of its resources, which are primarily spent "on roads, on security, the [West Bank separation] fence and the settlements," rather than helping its poor.
"We are talking about relatively small money. This is a matter of Israeli priority."
Ruskay said that the Jews of North America could come together to help Israel realize its vision by becoming involved in other fields such as environmental issues, democracy and Israeli Arabs, Ruskay said.
Same-sex partners are eligible to be considered common-law spouses according to the inheritance law, Nazareth District Court ruled yesterday in a precedent-setting decision.
According to the decision, taken by a majority of two judges to one, an individual who maintained a joint household for some 40 years with his partner, who died four years ago, is eligible to inherit that partner's apartment even though a will had never been written concerning the matter.
Ami Eden wants a tax reform package that will End the Working Penalty
The National Catholic Reporter runs two obits on Yasser Arafat. One from the Lebanon Daily Star, and one from our man Yossi:
In practical terms, Arafat has insured that a comprehensive peace agreement will remain elusive even after his death. The abyss of mistrust he leaves behind insures that the Israeli public will insist on a prolonged testing period of Palestinian intentions before agreeing to share Jerusalem with an armed Palestinian authority.
The concretization of that mistrust is the security barrier Israel is currently completing along the length of the West Bank -- which should, in fact, be called the "Yasser Arafat Memorial Fence."
Arafat created the conditions that made the fence -- once inconceivable for Israelis -- a life and death necessity, embraced by almost all parts of the political spectrum.
Article: Lesbian couples raise well-adjusted teenagers says New Scientist:
Teenagers raised by lesbian mothers show no developmental differences compared to those brought up by heterosexual parents, according to the first large national study in the US.
Previous research has focused mainly on younger children and found no significant disparities in child welfare between same-sex and heterosexual families.
But few studies have been done on adolescents, who some researchers think may be more prone to - or conscious of - discrimination against their families. Others have speculated whether a teens' own sexuality is affected by that of their parents.
"There's been this debate about whether being raised by single-sex couples is good or bad for children," says Stephen Russell, a sociologist at the University of Arizona in Tucson, US. "We would call into question suggestions that growing up with single-sex parents is somehow problematic."
"The switch from congregations that are embedded in local places and the lives of people in those places to congregations in which members commute at least some distance to attend worship services and other activities is eroding valuable social ties within local places and among different groups of people, according to some social science accounts."
Isn't this what Rabbi Schorsch has been trying to tell us?
The Poor Man finds the following juicy paragraph in a right-wingers ravings:
Many are caught up with being a die-hard political party member. They refuse to go outside their party affiliation, and will vote strictly party line, regardless if they know their candidate is supporting abortion, same-sex marriages, and other issues they may not really support in their hearts. The Bible says: "to thine own self be true."
Oh My God It Burns! claims to tell the true experience of a dedicated gang of scientists who converted dirt cheap vodka into something drinkable.
masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build the big bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desksBack in '63, people remembered how recent Republican President Dwight Eisenhower had warned of a the "military-industrial complex" having an undue influence on politics, and Dylan -- Goldwater fan that he might have been -- probably didn't have Kennedy or Johnson in mind.
Today, with the country being run by Haliburton, it's understandable that Dylan's barbs cut too close to the White House for the Secret Service.
Relations between Russia's Defense Ministry and the Israeli military have gotten positively cozy. There's even talk that Israel may start supplying the Russians with advanced equipment, like drone aircraft, for use in Chechnya.
I figure that I should save the $55 pretty quickly if I can lower the heat, but I want to know: Is this legit?
Nicole Mancini, 29, and John Thurber, 35, were arrested at St. Mary's Church on Wednesday after workers said they heard the woman say she wanted to sacrifice the boys.Poor, deluded woman. She thought God wanted self-sacrifice. If only she read the newspapers, she's understand that God only wants you to kill people who are different from you....
"We could tell this woman was not right," said church secretary Donna Landolfi. "She said, 'Let's go make the sacrifice."'
Police said Mancini told them that Jesus sacrificed himself for her, so she was going to sacrifice the boys to free her soul.
New from the Jewish National & University Library:
The Jewish National and University Library is proud to announce the first stage of a project to digitize rare and out-of-print monographs from its collection.
The aim of this project is to make these works freely available not only to on site users but also to the public worldwide. This will both preserve the originals and greatly increase the number of people who will be able to refer to them.
An initial group of some 100 volumes has been digitized with the generous support of the Dorot Foundation. Additional works will be added weekly. Selection will be based on considerations of demand, preservation and funding. Only works in the public domain will be considered.
The JNUL catalog record for each such work contains a link to the digitized version.
The initial selection of titles ranges from 15th century incunabula to early 20th century works.
why it is that the current flourishing of religious faith has, for the first time ever, virtually no element of social justice? Why is its public phase so exclusively focused on issues of private and personal behavior? Is this caused by trends in the nature of religious worship itself? Is it a displacement of economic or social pressures? Will that change? What are the factors that might cause it to change?The comments and the trackbacks are well worth reading. Here's the question for my readers: Is the situation any different in the Jewish community?
Yahoo! News has the story. Surely major cognitive dissonance for anyone who believes that Bush is (1) Israel's Best Friend Ever and (2) a man of his word.
Any ideas on provenance?
The following announcements are from the pricelesss TeaneckShuls mailing list:
Rabbi Elazar Abuchatzeirah Shlita,of Be'er Sheva, the grandson of the Baba Sali Z"tzkl is in the United States for a rare visit. The holy Rav, world renowned, pillar of Torah Judaism, giant of our times, who turns the many to righteousness, whose prayer on behalf of others are fulfilled, for complete health, blessing and wealth, happiness, children, marriage and peace between husband and wife; will be visiting Teaneck on Monday November 15, 2004.
The Rav will be available from 6:00 - 7:30 pm for women, whose requests will be conveyed to the Rav through an intermediary.
At 8:00 pm, for men only, Rav Abuchatzeirah Shlita will deliver a Dvar Torah and words of chizuk and will be available to speak to men only until 10:00 pm.
Rav Alfasi the disciple of the holy Tzadik, Baba Sali Zt"l, will be in Monsey for one day only. Rav Alfasi will be seeing people on Sunday, November 14th by appointment only. Those wishing to get a bracha or advice from the Rav, please call...
I did some Googling of the host of the Teaneck event, and the picture gets even stranger from a sociological point of view.
The apparently faith-based denizen of the world of Sephardic wonder workers / charlatans is also a successful professional, a highly recommended doctor living in a million-dollar house.
What does it take to qualify as a "holy man" to members of Teaneck's modern Orthodox congregations?
Religious Zionists of America-Mizrachi Presents:
November 11,2004 - 8PM
Yossi Klein Halevi on
The Future of the Jewish State
At the Jewish Center, 131 W. 86th St. NY
$10 minimum at the entrance.
Shmuely Boteach's latest Jewish Press piece: "George Bush`s America: Moral Beacon in a Dark World"
Martin Peretz, gracious in victory, denigrates Kerry supporters in today's Wall Street Journal (subscription only):
"But the problem is that many Democrats have a downright hostile attitude to the flag, to patriotism itself, which is thought by some in the party to be a retrograde sentiment. And they have, at best, a queasy disposition towards religion. To tell the truth, it gives many of them the creeps. You can't really do much with that, can you?"
Except quote James Baldwin, of course: "I love America more than any other country in this world, and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually." (Notes of a Native Son)
Or Thomas Jefferson: "Question with boldness even the existence of a god; because if there be one he must approve of the homage of reason more than that of blindfolded fear." (Letter to Peter Carr, August 10, 1787)
As I mentioned in today's USA Today piece, Bush picked up an enormous number of votes from Orthodox Jews on election day. From what I hear, one person who deserves an enormous amount of the credit for these gains is my very old friend Tevi Troy. A policy guru on the campaign and before that in the White House, Tevi also worked tirelessly reaching out to the Jewish community as a liaison. Bush's victory has many and morre obvious authors of course (Though wouldn't it be fun to watch the reaction in certain quarters -- Middle Eastern, Liberal Jewish, paleo-whatever -- if Bush's margin were attributable to the Jewish vote?). But this is an important trend -- Orthodox Jews are only about 10% of the Jewish population, but they are the fastest-growing segment because they have so many kids -- and Troy played an enormously important part in accelerating that trend.
"Update: Ahem, the trend I was referring to here wasn't the increase in the Orthodox population, but in its Republican vote. Though Tev is a good family man."
Last week, I mentioned Bassam Beromi, an emerging Israeli Arab rock musician whose band recently released its first album. Today, Sagi Bin Nun profiles Hilal Zaher, another Israeli Arab musician now affiliated with the Pow Ensemble in the Netherlands. In contrast to Beromi, whose music is entirely Western, Zaher has incorporated traditional Arab musical forms and instruments into the ensemble's electronic fusion style. His personal background, though, mixes East and West in a way that Beromi can't match; Beromi may have become a figurative "Ashkenazi," but Zaher is at least partly the real thing.
Zaher's maternal grandfather was the brother of Tawfik Toubi, a lifelong communist who was one of the three Arabs in the First Knesset, while his grandmother Tzipora was a Jewish Holocaust survivor from Poland. This makes him halachically Jewish, and his childhood included exposure to Jewish culture as well as Passover seders and Rosh Hashanah meals at his grandmother's house. His mother is registered as an Arab, while her brothers are registered as Jews.
The Unbearable Costs of Empire (Business Week, July 29 2004)
The combination of unsustainable public debt and foreign debt is a deadly and explosive mix by itself. Rising real interest rates and a looming housing bubble bursting make it all the more dangerous. Financial markets will exert the necessary discipline if politicians refuse to do so, but either way the U.S. can't afford even the $486 billion a year that it's currently spending annually on the military and homeland security.
And even these spending levels are a lot less than would be necessary to maintain America's power in the world. Over the next decade or so, the Chinese economy will actually surpass the U.S. in size. America has 100,000 troops in East Asia. If the U.S. were to try to maintain its current dominance of the region -- something that will probably prove impossible -- it would boost our military spending even further.
The bottom line is that the American empire just isn't affordable. Within a decade or so, the U.S. will be forced to be much less preemptive and outward-looking and to engage in scaled-back foreign policy -- even if the foreign-policy Establishment never changes its views or ambitions.
"This was a race that could have been celebrated as a watershed in the history of pro-Israel lobbying. It featured two candidates who disagreed on most everything but, in the midst of a global war on Islamic fanaticism, were unshaken in their support for the Israeli government. Instead, pundits like Charles Krauthammer, Dennis Prager, Shmuley Boteach, Martin Peretz, and William Safire — multiplied by bloggers and serial e-mailers — sullied Kerry’s unblemished Senate voting record on Israel and made him and his party scapegoats for historical events beyond their control. At the same time, they discounted history when praising President Bush’s Israel policy, and confused 'pro-Israel' with their own particular ideological vision for the Middle East."
"Because of my religious background and my faith, if I had a choice between a candidate who was bad for doctors and bad for high-income earners but good for Israel, there would be no choice," said Mandell Ganchrow, a physician and former president of the Orthodox Union. "I'd be willing to put aside my personal agenda to support the candidate who's good on Israel.So impressive. With the security of Israel at stake, Mendy puts aside his natural inclination to vote the interest of rich doctors. What a moral leader.
"Unfortunately, the role of Israel in the life of the secular Jewish community is not nearly as important," he said. "That's a big difference in our community."
I've got news for you, Mendy: Those Democratic Jews you disparage -- they vote against their financial self-interest because they think it's the proper, moral and Divinely-mandated thing to do.
Soldiers Describe Looting of Explosives (LA Times)
WASHINGTON -- In the weeks after the fall of Baghdad, Iraqi looters loaded powerful explosives into pickup trucks and drove the material away from the Al Qaqaa ammunition site, according to a group of U.S. Army reservists and National Guardsmen who said they witnessed the looting.
The soldiers said about a dozen U.S. troops guarding the sprawling facility could not prevent the theft because they were outnumbered by looters. Soldiers with one unit â€” the 317th Support Center based in Wiesbaden, Germany â€” said they sent a message to commanders in Baghdad requesting help to secure the site but received no reply.
The witnesses' accounts of the looting, the first provided by U.S. soldiers, support claims that the American military failed to safeguard the munitions. Last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency -- the U.N. nuclear watchdog â€” and the interim Iraqi government reported that about 380 tons of high-grade explosives had been taken from the Al Qaqaa facility after the fall of Baghdad on April 9, 2003. The explosives are powerful enough to detonate a nuclear weapon.
During the last week, when revelations of the missing explosives became an issue in the presidential campaign, the Bush administration suggested that the munitions could have been carted off by Saddam Hussein's forces before the war began. Pentagon officials later said that U.S. troops systematically destroyed hundreds of tons of explosives at Al Qaqaa after Baghdad fell.
washingtonpost.com: Sudanese Troops Attack and Destroy Camp in Darfur (Washington Post)
Forward Senior Political Correspondent Eve Kessler reflects after offending some readers of her blog:
Campaign Confidential: My Apologies
I didn't start this blog to be a 'blogger'; it was initially a way of being able to post news items to the Web site without bothering our production department.
But then I got seduced by the form.
As I warmed to having a blog -- and if you have a blog, you have to FILL a blog -- I started posting ruminations, comments and asides as well as links, source material, etc., in a stream of consciousness way. Some may say a thoughtless way. Whatever. You saw me have a conversation with myself -- which is what a blog is for most people who keep one.
Anyway, I should have been mindful that I had an audience -- a couple of hundred visits a day, as it happens -- and that the half-formed thoughts and bits of choler and pique I posted would resonate in ways that I didn't intend. If anyone felt hurt or abused, I'm sorry.
Ziyuf HaTorah is the phrase introduced by Rabbi Herschel Schachter in his whatever-it-takes, leave-no-straw-man-standing attack on women's prayer groups. It means a "forgery of Torah."
Pay attention, because it looks like a lot of counterfeit Torah will be used to prop up the "big-tent" of red-state JesusLand.
From Jerry Falwell on CNN:
FALWELL: Well, I think there are two major burning issues. They're not the only ones. But clearly the sanctity of unborn life, the -- we believe Christians believe, evangelicals, conservative Catholics, orthodox Jews, that life begins at conception and therefore that abortion is wrong.I'm not going to cite the Talmudic sugyot disproving that statement; I don't want to be responsible for a shas-burning party in Alabama. Nor, though, am I going to hold my breath waiting for YU roshei yeshiva to rebut Falwell. What the Democrats haven't noticed yet is that hatred of liberals is the new civic religion.... and it's wonderfully ecumenical.
Regarding Andy's call to spread out from our Blue State ghettoes -- personally, I'm more than ever inclined toward a state-rights position. It will only help the economies of the blue states if we become more libertarian, and the heartland more theocratic.
But it looks like the good minister is having none of that. Falwell, who never consider the racist theology of Bob Jones to be anti-Christian or otherwise heretical, now compares the struggle against gays to be -- are you ready -- the moral equivalent of the battle against slavery:
And secondly, we believe the family consists exclusively of a unit that begins when a man and a woman legally marry, period. That means diverse family forums polygamy, same-sex marriage, et cetera, are all unacceptable and the president introduced a federal marriage amendment to hopefully, and we hope we can bring it back up again in January, to define family permanently.Then again, what can we expect from the party that brought us the income tax is a Holocaust argument?
COOPER: But Democrats argue look, John Kerry doesn't support gay marriage. I mean he doesn't want a constitutional amendment about it, but he didn't support gay marriage. Why is it that the Republicans have been able to benefit from that whereas the Democrats did not? Is it simply the question of the constitutional -- the federal amendment?
FALWELL: Well, nobody believes John Kerry on that because his voting record, pro choice, his voting record on the family issues, does -- belies his statement. And the fact that he would not support a federal marriage amendment, it equates in our minds as someone 150 years ago saying I'm personally opposed to slavery, but if my neighbor wants to own one or two that's OK. We don't buy that.
Mobius at JewSchool asks concerning Yasser Arafat's reported (and denied) death:
Wrong? Well, possibly premature.
And gloat? He was not a young man; seems to be dying relatively painlessly.
Had he fallen off a camel or buried beneath his paperwork, that would be cause to gloat. Had he been strung up on a lamp pole, you could elbow your place at the gloating table.
But so many Israelis and Palestinians killed and wounded, and Arafat dies painlessly (though ironically -- bad blood indeed!) -- all we can do is repeat Blessed is the Just Judge.
Blue shirts are back (Ha'aretz)
The past few years have seen a relatively quiet but fascinating revolution take place among the blue-shirted youth movements, symbolizing the Zionist left.
From skimpy organizations that raised battered flags of an outmoded, devastated world (even before the death of the song about the world that had existed before, which the forerunners of today's youth wanted to raze to the ground) and suffered, among other ills, from the crushing bear hug of political parties and groups that had lost their way, they are becoming an intriguing and meaningful socio-ideological force.
Spearheading this development is the Working and Studying Youth movement, which was established in 1924 in order to protect the rights of young workers. Its heyday as an established central movement came in the 1950s and 1960s, but afterward it found itself relegated to the sidelines, along with the Histadrut labor federation and the labor movement.
The coach of any youth soccer league can tell you the secret of success if Democrats want to change the electoral college map: Spread out, kids, spread out. There are simply too many of the key Democratic blocs living in too few places. They have to take a cue from Philip Roth's new book, which imagines a program called "Just Folks" in which Jews are resettled from the cities to the heartland so they can become acculturated. No: Jews, and gays, and blacks, and feminists have to pick up and move in bunches to the swing states to acculturate the folks there in their citified ways. The Jews can have Florida, gays might enjoy Ohio, and African-Americans can put down roots in Colorado. Cue the Beverley Hillbillies theme song; You're a'movin' to the panhandle!
A new compilation by 18 Israeli artists and produced by alt.country artist David Peretz entitled Shir Zarah, or Stranger Song, pays tribute to Leonard Cohen on the occasion of his 70th birthday by interpreting a number of his classic works in Hebrew. Featuring such artists as Billy Levy, Gabriel Belhassan, Morphlexis, Razi Ben-Ezer, and Sagol 59, the one-of-a-kind album is available exclusively for download from Israel's leading indie music website, Hasharat Ha'Iver, or The Blind Janitor. (c/o Khen)
HE READS PROTOCOLS?: Your Jedi mind control tricks no longer have any effect on me Luke Ford!! Some masochistic bozo is reading Protocols so I don't have to. Ha! Ha! I'm finally free to do as I please. Free of Luke's hypnotic powers. Free of the overwhelming, all-conquering urge to visit Protocols! Free of my indefensible desire to read the latest self-serving blurbs from Chakira and Adam Ragil.
So is this what it feels like to think for myself?!?!
This is great! This is wonderful! This is sarcasm!
What kind of idiot reads Protocols (I could stop right there, eh?) and then reprints essentially the whole thing on his own worthless blog, and then boasts that he's doing us all some sort of tremendous favor? Hey buddy. Why dontcha' take out the garbage so I don't have to, tough guy. Then, we can talk.
I promised to seriously cut down on my political postings; I'm shooting for no more than one a day. However, sociology of religion is another category entirely. So, in that vein, some Amy Sullivan in The Washington Monthly:
Hate to point this out (no, actually, I don't--I've been saying this for a while now), but the "huge fundamentalist Christian revival" took place about thirty years ago, not last month, and it has always been explictly political. If I may condense a few decades of history into one sentence, the perfect storm that led to what we now call the Christian Right was this combination:
Angry reaction by conservative evangelicals to court rulings on school prayer, Bible-reading in public schools, and abortion motivating them to enter the political realm for the first time
Outrage among Catholics, who had previously kept kind of quiet while focusing on assimilating amid anti-Catholicism, mobilizing them into a politically active force
The realization by Republican strategists that they need to form a cohesive electoral block and that their best bet for winning the South was partnering with white church leaders, since those institutions were the last acceptable bastion of racism
Rock-solid coalition of Christian Right and Republican Party.
And as a result, for a good twenty years now, people have assumed that if you're religious, you're a Republican and that if you're a Democrat, you can't possibly be religious. We know that isn't true. What's more, John Kerry's campaign (particularly in the last stretch of October) made great strides toward knocking down that mistaken belief. But unfortunately, it's going to take more time until perceptions match reality.
I gotta say, it doesn't help much when exit polls and sloppy reporting use terms like "moral values" and "moral issues" as shorthand for very narrow, divisive issues like abortion and gay marriage, feeding into twenty years of Republican rhetoric. Opposition to the war in Iraq is a moral issue. The alleviation of poverty is a moral issue. Concern about abortion is a moral value, yes, but you can stay at the level of empty rhetoric about a "culture of life" or you can talk about how to actually reduce abortion rates, which is what most people care about more. (Did you hear once during this election season that abortion rates have risen under W. after they fell dramatically during Clinton's eight years in office?)
"Religious" does not mean Republican. And "moral" does not been conservative. There's going to be a lot of discussion about all of this over the coming weeks and months, and it's incredibly important to make sure we're neither sloppy about our terms nor overly broad in how we characterize "the faithful."
Jerusalem Syndrome brings us word that the 36th Annual Conference of the AJS Program Schedule has been added to the World Wide Web.
Though the session entitled "Jews and Shoes" has already been mocked in the headline of this article, the program boasts many sessions that sound interesting. Over the next few weeks, I'll go through the program and highlight interesting sessions.... the poor man's substitute for actually showing up.
Losing sucks. I was a Phillies fan, my first day as an RFK volunteer was the California primary. I feel for all of you. You put your guts into this, and came up short despite your best efforts. You didn't do anything wrong. The Democratic party will be better off tomorrow than it was the after Bush-Gore or 2002 thanks to you. Cold comfort I know, but please, after the rest you need, come back here and get to work. Your country needs you.
Put the ego on the shelf. Speaking for myself, it doesn't matter a damn who's president. I have a great job that pays me to go to ballgames and shoot my mouth off. Someday I'll inherit wealth, so my personal future isn't an issue.
I've been luckier than I deserve all my life. That's why I'm a Democrat. That's why you mean so much to me. I voted and worked for John Kerry because the people who REALLY lost this election have np recourse. They're huddled in basements in Fallujah, or nervously getting ready to storm those basements.
Things are going to go bad very quickly in the next 2 years. It's an even-money bet which comes first: Sharon bombs Iran's nuclear plants. and we get $125 a barrel oil, or China pukes at the next Bush budget. drops $150 billion in 10-year notes on the market, and everyone's mortgage payment goes up $1000 a month. And those aren't even the worst possibilities.
I hate activism. Doesn't suit me. But I'll be here sometime tomorrow, hungover and ready to go. We've moved into the danger zone. No turning back
When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race... -- Bob Dylan, "Last Thoughts on Woddy Guthrie"
I've been listening to Anthem and My Country II pretty much around the clock since they arrived last week. Immensely topical for the next 20 hours -- and as timeless as Phil Ochs and Woody Guthrie at their best.
JERUSALEM, Oct. 31 - In the final hectic days of the American presidential campaign, the candidates have been no-shows in one battleground: Israel.
Israel may not have electoral votes, but it does have an estimated 100,000 potential American voters, including a large chunk from critical swing states like Florida, Ohio, Michigan and Pennsylvania. And an estimated 10,000 Palestinian-Americans living in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are eligible to vote.
"We want people to think 'terrorism' for the last four days," said a Bush-Cheney campaign official. "And anything that raises the issue in people's minds is good for us."
A senior GOP strategist added, "anything that makes people nervous about their personal safety helps Bush."
He called it "a little gift," saying it helps the President but doesn't guarantee his reelection.
The tradition of late-campaign travel madness dates back at least as far as 1960. That year, Republican Richard Nixon closed his campaign with a 7,170-mile, 36-hour trip that started in Los Angeles on the final Sunday afternoon. He made stops in Alaska (he'd promised to get to all 50 states), Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois before returning to California.
Democrat John Kennedy, who defeated Nixon, kept up a similar pace but covered shorter distances. His final 48-hour itinerary: Waterbury, Wallingford, New Haven, Bridgeport, Hartford, all in Connecticut; Suffolk County, N.Y.; Teaneck, Jersey City and Newark, N.J.; Lewiston, Maine; Providence, R.I.; Springfield, Mass; Burlington, Vt.; Manchester, N.H.; and finally Boston.
Both men were pretty much done, though, by midnight Monday. The first candidate to keep going into Tuesday morning was Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988, who, after a rally in Los Angeles late Monday, had a predawn event in Iowa and a morning one in Detroit before going home to Boston.