May 29, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Why faith is not a good basis for being a Republican

The prooftexts are Christian, but Slacktivist's list of classical Christian views on Private property apply -- perhaps not as strongly -- to Jewish sources too:

But it is hypocrisy and nonsense when contemporary Christians who have sold off and abandoned every vestige of the traditional Christian understanding of wealth turn around and insist that the Christian understanding of sexuality is fixed, immutable and eternal. These people strain at the gnat of same-sex love while swallowing the camel of credit card usury. They are so obsessed with their mistaken belief that they live in the most promiscuous society of all time that they have failed to notice they live in the most affluent, the haughtiest, proudest and least concerned with the poor.

Slacktivist also reminds us that JPII no more joined the Republican party than he joined Hitler youth:
Allow me to quote again from the late John Paul II's encyclical On Human Work:

The church's constant teaching on the right to private property and ownership of the means of production differs radically from the collectivism proclaimed by Marxism, but also from the capitalism practiced by liberalism and the political systems inspired by it. In the latter case the difference consists in the way the right to ownership and property is understood. Christian tradition never upheld this right as absolute and untouchable. It has always understood it as subordinated to the fact that the goods of this world are meant for all.
Christians cannot speak of being "pro-private property" without also insisting that any understanding of private property is subordinate to the common good, to what is often called "the universal destination of goods." Pastor Ted is wandering off and should take care lest he be pierced with many griefs.

May 27, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Teaneck: The Band

Teaneck: The Band gives no indication of why someone lying in the middle of an L.A. road would name his band "Teaneck". Is that singer Loren Isaac's home town? Or just a wacky anagram for "can't eek"?

May 20, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Having bent over for Santorum, will OU now be caught in the Holocaust-denial crossfire?

It looks like those liberal anti-fascists offended by Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Manondog) are now being pointed to some of his earlier remarks where compared the New York Times to the Nazis and Communists.

He got a lot of applause for those remarks, but I wonder how Betty Ehrenberg will feel when reporters belatedly hear Santorum's speech at the 2003 OU convention.

It makes me wonder: If the OU is willing to buy into the Christian myth that the Nazis were a reflection of secularism, and conveniently ignore both a couple millenia of Christian antiSemitism and the role played by anti-secular, anti-socialist Catholic and Protestant groups in Hitler's rise to power -- well, with that kind of judgement, can we really trust their hashgacha?

(Reb Yudel)

Chavez story highlights how media has bought right-wing religious myth

The Revealer: Castro Ally, Christ Lover Befuddles U.S. Press

Chavez regularly employs religious -- even fundamentalist -- Christian rhetoric, in a style similar to that of American Christian conservatives. His sense of divine mission seem to be key to his popularity -- and his success.

It also complicates the story. This ain't a tale of Capitalism and God vs. godless socialism. In Venezuela, it's the secular elite who oppose Chavez, while in the U.S. opposition comes from an alliance of Castro-haters (a faith unto itself) and Christian conservatives who identify capitalism with Christianity. So what do we have here? A narrative of three gods, maybe four. It's a duel of the divine, a rhetorical clash of religious ideas. That won't play in the American press, where leftist economic ideas are by definition secular, so what does the American press do? Ignores the ghost in the machine.

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

Jews without money (and Ivy degrees)

It's graduation time, and I took the occasion to resurrect my prize-winning poem* in defense of Jews like me with so-so educational credentials.

That’s right, I went to state school And I don’t apologize. Although my profs in literature Won’t win the Nobel Prize.

And the whole place needs a coat of paint
And the sports teams always stink,
Still, I went to SUNY Albany
And I don’t care what you think.

* First place, Makor Purim Poetry Slam, 1999 (or thereabouts)

May 19, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Santorum: I'm sorry I compared Democrats to an anti-gay, anti-socialist, anti-new Deal, pro-Bush politician

That's what YudelLine expects him to say next, in defense of his actual remarks today that:

What the Democrats are doing is "the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, 'I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine.' This is no more the rule of the senate than it was the rule of the senate before not to filibuster." (click to view)
To put this in context, it is true that, as I heard right-wing radio broadaster Michael Savage say yesterday, the Democratic debate yesterday was led by "Jewish liberals."

It's also true that Rick "man-on-dog action" Sanatorum strongly disapproves of Nazi analogies used by others:

"Senator Byrd's inappropriate remarks comparing his Republican colleagues with Nazis are inexcusable," Santorum said in a statement yesterday. "These comments lessen the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate. He should retract his statement and ask for pardon."
But really, what do you expect from a group of people, headed by a president who wishes American troops had reconstituted the Nazi army in 1945 to take on Stalin, who wish to appoint a judge who likens the New Deal to the Bolshevik Revolution? Certainly the Bush and Walker families considered Hitler the lesser of two evils back in the '30s, as Republican bad-boy Pat Buchanan still does today.

May 18, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Bill Maher's New Rule

HBO: Real Time with Bill Maher - New Rules

The people in America who are most in favor of the Iraq war must now go there and fight it. The Army missed its recruiting goal by 42% last month. More people joined the Michael Jackson Fan Club. "We've done picked all the low-lying Lynndie England fruit." And now we need warm bodies. We need warm bodies like Paula Abdul needs...warm bodies!

Now, last week, a Baptist minister in North Carolina told nine members of his congregation that unless they renounced their 2004 vote for John Kerry, they had to leave his church. Well, if we're that certain these days that George Bush is always that right about everything, then going to Iraq to fulfill the glorious leader's vision would seem the least one could do. And, hey, if it makes it any easier for you, just think of it as a reality show: "Fear Factor: Shitting Your Pants Edition." "Survivor: Sunni Triangle." Or maybe it's a video game, "Grand Theft Allah."

Now, I know you're thinking, but, Bill, I already do my part with the "Support Our Troops" magnet I have on my Chevy Tahoe. How much more can one man give?

Well, here's an intriguing economic indicator. It's been over a year since they graduated, but neither of the Bush twins has been able to find work. Why don't they sign up? Do they hate America or just freedom in general?

(Reb Yudel)

Has Herzl's Dream Been Replaced by Hoenlein's Nightmare?

Has Herzl's Dream Been Replaced by Hoenlein's Nightmare? asks YU student Eitan Kastner after hearing Malcolm Hoenlein, Executive Vice Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, speak at Y.U.'s Israel Club's Yom Hazikaron/Yom Ha'atzmaut Commemoration Ceremony and Celebration:

Yes, anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism are problems in the Arab world. But if the portrait of our future is so bleak, why bother at all? Is this little country, Israel, worth all the trouble?

(Reb Yudel)

Yeshiva University student reviews Daniel Boyarin

A Shtickle Faygele, Uber Nisht a Zionishe Kayfer (YU Commentator)

When the Hassid in Boro Park saw me reading Daniel Boyarin's Border Lines he asked if I had "sefeikos in emunah." I told him that he might sympathize with Boayrin, seeing as how both of them are anti-Zionists.

Sadly he was a "modern" Hassid and he told me that he didn't "judge people just on Zionism one way or the other.


As students in Yeshiva College, I feel like we fundamentally agree with Boyarin. Struggling to maintain boundaries without fetishizing them, we even erupt into internecine battles about where the boundaries should be and what precisely constitutes "fetishization." With all of Boyarin's discourse on his own troubled sexuality, it shouldn't surprise us that his definition of a fetish is probably a little different than ours, but the point remains just the same.

If we don't have boundaries, then we have no Talmud, no glorious hermeneutic of indeterminacy. If our boundaries are overwrought, then we commit violence to others unfairly. It is important to be "modern," and like my Hassidic friend not to "judge people just on Zionism [or any other issue] one way or the other."

(Reb Yudel)

DEA accuse of lying about imprisonment of Jewish doctor Fisking the DEA: Comments

(Reb Yudel)

Newsweek's Old News and Bush's Continuing Coverup

Corrente notes the accusations of Koran abuse go back at least two years, such as this March 26, 2003 report:

The men, the largest single group of Afghans to be released after months of detainment at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, gave varying accounts of how American forces treated them during interrogation and detainment. Some displayed medical records showing extensive care by American military doctors, while others complained that American soldiers insulted Islam by sitting on the Koran or dumping their sacred text into a toilet to taunt them.

But, if the White House is so sure that no such abuse ever took place, why not release the report of the Pentagon investigation and the accompanying investigative documents?

May 17, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Abortion and the culture of Texas Republicans

Pandagon: Texas lawmakers approve legal late-term abortion for the wealthy

It's amazing sometimes how the abortion laws can be so closely tailored to the needs and wants of the well-off men who dominate our government.

These are basically laws intended to make sure that teenage daughters don't get to choose for themselves and also to make sure that if wives or mistresses of the same wealthy men need an abortion, they can just pay for the psychiatrist and doctor to get one and it's all technically legal.

(Reb Yudel)

When the fuck did Lynndie England become Elie Wiesel?

That's the question that Jesse Taylor raises in the less bluntly titled post, What Not To Compare Judaism To on the Pendagon blog. At issue is a John Podhoretz post which basically argues that muslims in American custody aren't being treated any worse than Christians are treated by Jews when it's time to bake matzah.

Gee, if I were a muslim reading this, I couldn't feel any better about the Jews unless I had been wrapped in an Israeli flag by American interrogators as a show of their strength. The willingness of the RepuJews to sell out their people to sound clever while enforcing the Party Lines continues to astonish me.

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

Hodu l'adoshem ki tov

This smallturkey.jpg wild turkey shows up at my window in suburban NJ every day. At first, we were quite excited, but after a week of visits we went from "Wow!" to "Enough already."

So I've named her "Pesach."

May 16, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Yori Yanover, Threatened by 'Victim Advocate' 'WhistleBlower', Unveils the Anonymous who Roared

Short version: The bloggers will probably be dragged through the legal system long before the rabbis they've been blogging about.

Long version: As noted here last week, Yori "blogging since 1995" Yanover outted Vicki "blogging Jewish sex crimes" Polin as 'Rachel', the cult victim / blood libelist who appeared on Oprah to claim she had been forced to kill a baby as part of an abusive Jewish cult.

This prompted Vicki Polin to decide that Yori's friend, Rabbi J. Hershy Worch, was yet again a threat to Jewish women everywhere -- despite the fact that he currently holds no pulpit and teaches in no school.

When Yori posted about that vindictive move, "Jewish Whistleblower' aka "me" aka ??? emerged from his/her Canadian Internet connection to threaten Yori. Charging that Yori was failing to report income, "Jewish Whistleblower" wrote

If he does not come clean and make full restitution on behalf of his friend in less than 48 hours, I will be forced to make the full details of this public in order to protect Jewish children who have been deprived of food on their plate by Yoram's alleged actions.

For the record, Yori claims that annual sales of Rabbi Worch's tapes have so far been well below the level requiring him to file a form 1099 with IRS. (Whether that claim is plausible depends on how popular you view Rabbi Worsch).

I want to note an important point here in JWB's language: He will be "forced" by Yoram's "alleged actions."

Talk about a willful denial of responsibility.

JWB claims he is above the realm of choice; he is, like Jacob our father in the haggadah, anus al pi hadibur, compelled by God's word, to do what he does.

Yori responded today by challenging the basis of anonymous accusations, starting with Worch's alleged disgruntled ex-girlfriend. Those of us who have been paying attention to this whole sordid mess since it first began staining the pages of the now-defunct Protocols blog a year ago aren't at all surprised by this move. After all, JWB had then held up threats to Yanover, his family and his livelihood as the steps he would be "forced" to make if details about various alleged victims were made public in message board (which, for the record, were not under Yanover's control). Having prematurely launched his threatened assault for other reasons (apparently, a combination of vengeance on behalf of Vicki Polin and the apparent spite of Worch's ex-wife), JWB shouldn't be surprised that this information is coming out now.

Where this all is heading, I have no idea. (It is interesting to note that Luke Ford so far has not weighed in on the lastest twists.) Whether any of this rises to criminal harassment is up to the lawyers to decided. If they get involved, then JWB will no doubt be dragged away from his anonymity, as email and telephone records are subpoenaed by those involved in the battle.

Meanwhile, of course, if any of the rabbis fingered by Vicki's Awareness Center are actually guilty of anything, they must be laughing all the way to the.... well, wherever sleazy rabbis go where they laugh. JWB and Vicki have, no doubt inadvertently, focused the discussion squarely on the accusers rather than the accused. Real victims -- and their real advocates -- deserved much better.

May 15, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Choose the farm, Cuke!

Grocery Store Wars: Join the Organic Rebellion or at least watch some well-done pro-organic/Star Wars parody.

May 13, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Rappers spin Naomi Shemer (in her grave?)

On Yom Ha'atzmaut, our shul had an erev shira. Sadly, many of the songwriters featured had died in the past year, including Ehud Manor and Naomi Shemer.

Now, browsing on, I discover a tribute,
Various Sing Naomi Shemer By Various. Only click through if you're willing to hear a hip-hop version of al kol eleh, or various other interpretations of Naomi's classics.

(Reb Yudel)

Dick's pet president

My Pet President? Even More to the Story than you think (Daily Kos)

Washington's airspace was being invaded. Jets were being scrambled and defense grid was lit up. Laura and Nancy were rushed to the WH Bunker and, Dick Cheney split town in a motorcade that looked like it was headed to the Baghdad airport. and the city was placed in Full OMFG mode.

While all this is going on GW is less than five minutes away even by bike from the absolute Nerve center of America's entire secure communications and electronic intelligence network. And nobody even bothers to tell him what's going on

There's really no reasonable explanation for this except that his handlers made a deliberate decision to keep him away from the reins of power while the grown-ups handled the crisis. And this isn't the first time its happened.

(Reb Yudel)

Sainthood is cheap

Simon Cozens, reknowned programmer currently studying to be a missionary working with Christian students in Japan, notes an interesting synergy between John Paull II's last will and testament and the requirements of sainthood.
(Reb Yudel)

Last thoughts (for now) on Vicki Polin and the Awareness Center

Vicki Polin, if not guilty of homicide, is responsible for a tremendous motzi shem ra, a terrible libel on the Jewish community.

Unfortunately, putting aside all the controversial charges again well-known and unknown rabbis, the Awareness Center web site has allegation that serve no purpose whatsoever.

I challenge all supporters of the Awareness Center to explain what purpose is served by (1) citing cases of Israeli sex crimes where the perpetrator is anonymous, either by court order or because he has not been caught, or (2) naming someone who was only accused of rape by the woman who killed him. Who does publication help in these circumstances?

Meanwhile, Luke Ford continues to cover the story, as does Yori Yanover. Those interested in tracking the views of Jewish Whistle Blower, the blog commenter formerly known as 'me', should visit the new JewishWhistleBlower 2 blog, which mirrors JWB's content and allows comments.

Oh, and one more thing: Putting out a "Call to Action" on a rabbi whose only claim to timeliness is that a friend of said rabbi has criticized you is more pathetic than it is sleezy. It makes one wonder: What other of Vicki Polin's "Action Alerts" were motivated more by personal animus than immediate concern over safeguarding others from harm?

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

The Yiddish are coming....

Why Chabad bugs the mainstream, IMHO:

Suburban Chabad Houses are closer to the European model: Orthodox rabbis serving congregants who may but probably don’t live an Orthodox lifestyle. That disconnect, I suspect, is what really bothers non-Chabad rabbis. Yes, they think those non-Orthodox Chabadniks belong in non-Chabad synagogues. But they also think Jewish authenticity is not defined by black suits and dark beards, but by a congruity among what people believe, how they act, and the expectations of the communities they join. To them, Chabad’s brand of suburban diversity feels paternalistic, misleading, and expedient.

(Reb Yudel)

Mister, we could use a man like Dwight D. Eisenhower again

Presidential Papers, Doc#1147 Personal and confidential To Edgar Newton Eisenhower, 8 November 1954. In The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower

Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history.

There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas.5 Their number is negligible and they are stupid. (emphasis added)

(Reb Yudel)

Year 5 of the responsibility era

Daniel Gross summarizes the United Airlines bankruptcy plan:

Tens of thousands of people who worked hard, and played by the rules, who met all their contractual obligations and planned for retirement accordingly--just lost at least one-third of their retirement income.

And not because they screwed up and made poor choices, but because the executives who ran the company and willingly agreed to fund the pensions screwed up and made poor choices.

Welcome to the ownership society!

The other two-thirds of their retirement funds will be paid by we taxpayers. For this management got millions of dollars in their bank accounts?

Privatize the gains. Socialize the loss. It's the Republican way.

May 12, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Pat Buchanan: Does George Bush agree with me that fighting the Nazis was a mistake?

Pat Buchanan: Was World War II worth it? follows on the heels of the president expressing regret that Truman didn't listen to the John Birch Society and launch World War III back in 1945:

For much of Eastern and Central Europe, victory brought the iron rule of another empire. V-E day marked the end of fascism, but it did not end the oppression. The agreement in Yalta followed in the unjust tradition of Munich and the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Once again, when powerful governments negotiated, the freedom of small nations was somehow expendable.

(Reb Yudel)

Michael Medved renounces Judeo-Christian values

The Torah says: m'dvar sheker tirhak, distance yourself from lies. Too bad Michael Medved was listening at Sinai, as
Rock the Vote Blog reports:

So then he starts calling me a liar for saying that there are politicians who want to get rid of Social Security entirely.

Why is worth going after Medved and other similar hacks?

Because they're contributing to the culture of lies and propaganda which threatens American democracy, my gay family members, and American Jews. (In that order. Remember: According to the famous poem, first they came for the communists and trade unionists. Jews were very far down on the original Nazi list.)

Medved, of course, will be safe.And some day, him and his ilk will be celebrated the way we today celebrate, in song and film, the brave kapos of 60 years ago.

(Reb Yudel)

Homeland Security Chief Confessess: Politicians Raised Threat Level for no good reason!

Eschaton cites USA Today:
The Bush administration periodically put the USA on high alert for terrorist attacks even though then-Homeland Security chief Tom Ridge argued there was only flimsy evidence to justify raising the threat level, Ridge now says. Ridge, who resigned Feb. 1, said Tuesday that he often disagreed with administration officials who wanted to elevate the threat level to orange, or "high" risk of terrorist attack, but was overruled.
Readers are invited to submit suggestions of what exactly the Bush gang would not do in pursuit of their agenda.
(Reb Yudel)

Drug war corrodes Torah values in America

A key basis of Torah law is that the rich and the poor receive the same justice. Not so in prohibition America, according to this article from CityPages

Kevin Kuntz, 39, was facing life in prison after task force agents found several methamphetamine labs at his home. He received 90 days in prison, followed by eight years' probation, in exchange for $100,000, according to his attorney, Fred Marsh.

Also arrested at the Little Elm house on the same charges as Mr. Kuntz were Glenn Boliver, 37, of Lake Dallas, and Patrick Pappas, 40, of Watauga.

Mr. Pappas agreed in April to plead guilty to a lesser charge and received a 12-year prison sentence. Mr. Boliver's case went to federal court, where he pleaded guilty to conspiracy charges in September and was sentenced 19 years in prison.

His [Boliver's] attorney, Clifton Holmes, said, "My guy didn't have $100,000."

I imagine that one consequence of the focus on the ethics violation of army recruiters will be a policy shift, in which joining the imperial legion overseas will wipe out juvenile drug offenses....

(Reb Yudel)

This Yom Ha'atzmaut, take a minute to celebrate America's support for the Middle East's second Shi'ite state!

This Is Rumor Control reports (as rumor, 80% confidence) that:

There are currently several thousand Pasadran, Iran's Revolutionary Guards, in Iraq's Basra region in the south, sent there to exert Iran's influence on the majority Shi'ah population that dominates Iraq's new government.
I'm glad no-one in my family died in the past two years fighting on behalf of the Iranian Revolution.

May 11, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Is Vicki Polin a confessed murderer?

"When I was very young, I was forced to participate in that [ritual] in which I had to sacrifice an infant." -- 'Rachel', The Oprah Winfrey Show, 1989
When that show was aired, the Anti Defamation League jumped to attack Oprah Winfrey for irresponsibly allowing a woman to broadcast the blood libel on the basis of "recovered memories."

Now, it appears that the woman with the wild claims is none other than Vicki Polin, founder of The Awareness Center, the Jewish Coalition Against Sexual Abuse/Assault. So claim Yori Yanover and Luke Ford. I tried researching the allegations a while back, and was able to determine that Vicki was working in 1989 for the same Chicago organization that the pseudonymous 'Rachel' was working for.

If Vicki is Rachel, here's the key question: Was Vicki Polin raised by a murdering Sabbatian cult? Or is she a victim of false memory syndrome?

If the former, then the highest moral priority would be to prosecute the cult. To start with, shouldn't her parents be investigated? If that level of evil is happening in the Chicago Jewish community, what excuse is there for Vicki and her collaborators to be wasting their time posting every Israeli sex crime on the Awareness Center web site?

And if 'Rachel's story is false -- as I am quite inclined to believe -- what does that say about Vicki and her judgement? What does that say about the presumption that accusers are always telling the truth?

Or in other words: If the allegations are true, and if we are to take the Awareness Center seriously, why focus on the 'survivors' of abuse when there so many innocents who didn't survive?

Why the silence?

Where is the outrage?

(Reb Yudel)

A thousand posts delight

Congrats to Andy, and to this blog, for the previous post, which was the 1000th posted with the current setup. We may not be the biggest or the most frequently updated of the J-blogs.... but YudelLine was the first.

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

What makes Jack Abramoff run?

Is Jack Abramoff the 21st century version of Sammy Glick, Budd Schulberg's ruthlessly careerist Hollywood mogul?

It’s probably unfair to compare Abramoff to Sammy Glick. Glick grew up in abject poverty on the Lower East Side; Abramoff’s parents moved to Beverly Hills when he was a boy. Sammy turned his back on religion, while Abramoff adopted Orthodox Jewish practice as a teenager. Sammy was a successful filmmaker; Abramoff’s stab at movie production, the lurid 1988 thriller Red Scorpion, was a critical and box office flop.

But there are certain parallels, shall we say.

May 10, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

The 60-second guide to the "minutemen" and their neoNazi ties

Orcinus looks at the "Minutemen" border vigilantes, and warns that if history is any guide, what began as farce will end in tragedy:

Vigilantism always claims to be about law and order and preserving "traditional values." It is always, in the end, about the brutal imposition of mob rule without regard to the humanity of its targets. The proof, in the end, lies in the strange fruit it inevitably produces.

(Reb Yudel)

Are Republicans Betting on the End of History Democracy?

Over at Eschaton, a guest blogger muses:

One reason I don't think it's at all paranoid to suspect that the Republicans have deliberately taken over the voting system in order to cheat is that they keep doing things that don't otherwise make sense. There's a rather long list of things you just wouldn't expect them to think they could get away with unless they really thought they could control the ballot box, because otherwise they would have to expect that the public would kick enough of them out to not only end some political careers but also make impeachment - and prison - a distinct possibility.

And then there's this nuclear option thing - why would they be willing to remove any possibility of stopping majority party initiatives unless they were absolutely sure that they could never become the minority party again?

(Reb Yudel)

Israel Prepares for a Multi-Polar World?

U.S. Suspends Cooperation With Israel on Fighter Jet (Forward) provides a good snapshot on the tension between Israel's ties to China and Israel's ties to the U.S.

In a clear sign that the Bush administration's anger over Israeli-Chinese military ties is nearing a boiling point, the Pentagon is suspending information-sharing with Jerusalem on a key fighter-jet program.

The seriousness of the rift had been downplayed for months by both American and Israeli officials. Last week, however, the Pentagon announced that it was suspending information-sharing with Israel on the American-led, multinational effort to produce an all-purpose attack aircraft, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

The big question, not addressed in the article, is what underlies Israel's willingness to push it's arms trade with China to the limits of American tolerance, and a bit beyond.

Is it simply a matter of valuing the well-being of its arms industry (and accompanying technology of self-defense) above diplomatic niceties, which can be papered over?

Or has Israel decided that American hegemony may not last forever, and that the American alliance, which replaced tight French connections in the earliest years of the state, may not continue to be a strong enough base in the years ahead?

And if so, what would it mean for us, American Jews, if Israel were to choose China over the United States?

(Reb Yudel)

This Year's Unfortunate Yom HaShoah Headline Award

Goes to the Palm Beach Post, for Rock 'n' roll never forgets Holocaust's horror. Special kudos to some equally unfortunate opening grafs:

When remembering and teaching the Holocaust, we often forget the power of the popular song.

Some rock, pop, folk and rap songs serve as gripping reminders of the Shoah. On the 60th anniversary of the liberation of Hitler's death camps, and in observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day today (celebrated this week by area Jewish organizations), it's worth listening to how contemporary music shouts and cries "Never again!"

Snark aside, though, the article, by Stars of David: Rock 'n' Roll's Jewish Stories author Scott Benarde redeems itself -- at least in my eyes -- by noting the efforts of Dan Bern and Peter Himmelman, as well as Rush, Indigo Girls and even Jill Sobule.

May 6, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Yori Yanover on Yom HaShoah

Writing in USAJewish:

This Yom Ha’Shoah is special for me, because it’s the first one I’m experiencing without my father, who passed away last December. My father was my permanent witness to the Holocaust and I relied on him for a lot of my sense-information regarding the years 1939-45. It’s not that he was any less biased or self-preserving than any other source, but he was familiar and I could compare and contrast his stories with a wealth of sense information I had acquired from my years as his child.

May 5, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

America: Love it or Leave it!

AMERICA! Love It Or LeaveIt!

(Reb Yudel)

If you voted for war, it’s past time you enlisted.

So says Norwegianity, who adds:

I don’t think I’ve ever met a pro-environment person who didn’t stoop down to pick up litter on a regular basis. I do it around my apartment building. I may not grab every piece of trash, but if I see it twice, I usually grab it and take it to the dumpster.

But what exactly do pro-war people do besides yelling “War, war, war!” Do they visit our troops in military hospitals? Volunteer at local VA facilities? Put on fundraisers for the families of Guard members no longer pulling down decent paychecks?

Or do they just go about their business doing their damnedest to ignore any and all bad news from Iraq?

(Reb Yudel)

Your taxes paid for $3 Million for Republican Propaganda

Think Progress summarizes the president's social security scare tour. The good news is that, so far, it hasn't worked.
(Reb Yudel)

I'm shopping for a Multifunction Laser Printer - any thoughts on Brother?

I'm shopping for a laser printer / sheet-feed scanner.

The Brother MFC-8440 Laser Multifunction seems like the best bet so far (the Brother MFC 7420 costs less upfront, but has higher priced consumables -- after 10 reams of printing [5,000 pages] -- the total cost of the MFC-8440 is less).

I'd love to hear from anyone with experience -- good or bad -- with this model, or any other multi-function machine.

May 4, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Rumsfeld Reinvents the Talmud

You are one of those rare people who, as the Talmud puts it, would rather light candles than curse the darkness.

-- U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, bidding farewell to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, at a Pentagon ceremony April 29.

Does the Talmud really say that? In case you missed it, the YudelLine crew conducted an in-depth investigation on that very issue earlier this week.

(Reb Yudel)

Beware of Auslander?

Jerusalem Post reviews Beware of God:

In Beware of God, Auslander's book of short stories, the pages fly by, kicking against the Torah, driven by rage, scabrous anecdotes, spiritual investigation, surreal twists, talmudic debate, absurdist climaxes and realist flurries, all underpinned by an omnipresent sense of the author's guilt over his own lapsed faith (apparently, Auslander abandoned Orthodox Judaism after his favorite baseball team, the New York Rangers, lost a crucial game).

Throughout the collection, Auslander excels when treading the fine line between serious and funny. He does it brilliantly with the opening story "The War Of The Bernsteins," in which a middle-aged couple fearfully filters their every action through a "cost/benefit analysis of reward versus punishment," to ensure smooth passage into the World To Come.

As Mr. Bernstein "weighs sitting in a buddy booth at the Show World Peep Center with an erection in his hand against sitting among the holy forefathers in the Garden Of Eden with a crown of eternal love on his head," his wife, after buying a red silk nightie, worries that the lusty effects on her husband will eventually see her charged with "conspiracy to cause masturbation."

(Reb Yudel)

The most important thing about science - X 250

E=mc2 centenary survey | What we found (Spiked Online)

Over 250 renowned scientists, science communicators and educators - including 11 Nobel laureates - were asked what they would teach the world about science and why, if they could pick just one thing.

(Reb Yudel)

New Jersey Senator Confronts Twisted Christian Hate Speech

Sen. Lautenberg blasts Robertson, calls on Frist to condemn remarks (Raw Story)

Dear Senator Frist,

As I am sure you are aware by now, during an appearance on last Sunday’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, the Reverend Pat Robertson commented that federal judges posed a greater threat to our country than “bearded terrorists who fly planes into buildings.”

I have sent a letter to Reverend Robertson calling on him to apologize publicly to the families who lost loved ones on September 11th, as well as to the families of those who have been killed serving their country in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The almost constant assaults on our federal judges by the radical right of the Republican Party has now caused one of its most prominent spokesmen to claim judges, not terrorists, are the number one threat to this country. I hope you will join me in condemning such harmful and heated language and call on Reverend Robertson to publicly apologize to every family who has lost a loved one to terrorism. Your silence on this matter would send a resounding signal to the entire country that the radical right controls the leadership of the Republican Party.



May 3, 2005

(Reb Yudel)

Richard Joel's challenge

Uriel Heilman interviews Y.U. President Richard Joel for the Jerusalem Post
"What are the educational services we need to provide to the community at large in advancement of the Jewish story? What are the array of services that are available to the community that will enhance the impact of ideas we believe in and raise the profile of YU for prospective students?" It's all part of Joel's argument for the significance of a place that is both a yeshiva and a university – Orthodox, yet committed to engagement with modern life.

"We exist to live life modeling certain values," Joel said of YU. "The Orthodox, if they're going to be a light unto the nations, can't retreat."

(Reb Yudel)

Does Matza humor ever get stale?

I belatedly discover's - Matzah rap. Sam Apple's Who Let the Jews Out is funnier and more educational.

(Reb Yudel)

Why isn't there a Grammy for Best Jewish Album?

JVibe's Call for a Jewish Grammy

Currently, there are 107 different Grammy award categories. And of those 107 awards, at least six are handed out each year for Christian-themed music.

(Reb Yudel)

Don't read this if you value security

The wiseBull Moose muses:
Here is a thought experiment - what would be the Republican response if a Democratic Administration stood fecklessly on the sidelines observing as North Korea and Iran armed themselves with nuclear weapons while our military was severely weakened? Consider this passage in today's Washington Times,
"Global tensions over nuclear proliferation escalated during the weekend when North Korea fired a short-range missile into the East Sea/Sea of Japan, and Iran warned that it might resume enrichment of uranium after the failure of talks with European nations."
And if you feel a little nervous about the evil doers armed to the teeth with the ability to vaporize their victims, here is something else to keep you up at night. The Washington Post frightens us with this headline U.S. Called Unprepared For Nuclear Terrorism.
"Although hundreds of thousands of lives could be saved by rapidly evacuating people downwind of a radiation cloud, officials have trained only small numbers of first responders to prepare for such an event, according to public health specialists and government documents. And the information given to the public is flawed and incomplete, many experts agree."

Meanwhile, the Administration lacks the resources to adequately rebuild the military. By the way, where were the neo-cons when the Bushies lavished tax cuts on their wealthy buddies in the middle of a war thereby depriving the military of critical funds?

(Reb Yudel)

Flashback 1996: The Hizbullah wing of the Republican Party

This old New Republic article, Neocon v. Theocon by Jacob Heilbrunn, provides some timely insight on how the Grand Old Party became the Party Of God. It's also worth pondering in light of the Catholic-Evangelical alliance that decided the last election, and of Pope Benedict's role in the same.

This war is deeply personal. On one side are the mostly Jewish neoconservatives, a fairly small group of ex-New York leftists who have wielded influence greatly beyond their numbers through sheer intellectual energy. Since the conservative renascence began in the late 1970s, the neocons have given it much of its form and heft; building on the earlier work of William F. Buckley Jr., they provided most of the ideas and arguments that allowed conservatism to compete with (and in many areas triumph over) liberalism. As conservatism benefited from the neocons, so did the neocons benefit from conservatism. They made conservatism intellectually respectable, and conservatism made them intellectually important. Now challenging the neocons is an equally small (and equally ambitious, and equally disputatious) group of what might be called theocons--mostly Catholic intellectuals who are attempting to construct a Christian theory of politics that directly threatens the entire neoconservative philosophy. This attempt, in the eyes of at least some of the neocons, also directly threatens Jews. What makes the matter all the more painful for both sides is that, until recently, the neocons and the theocons were, for the best of political reasons, the best of friends.

And this war is fundamental. It is rooted in a battle over the identity of the American nation. The neoconservatives believe that America is special because it was founded on an idea--a commitment to the rights of man embodied in the Declaration of Independence--not in ethnic or religious affiliations. The theocons, too, argue that America is rooted in an idea, but they believe that idea is Christianity. In their view, the United States is first and foremost a Christian nation, governed ultimately by natural law. When moral law--moral law as defined by Thomas Aquinas and enunciated by John Paul II--conflicts with the laws of man, they say, the choice is clear: God's law transcends the arbitrary and tyrannical decrees of what the theocons increasingly refer to as an American judicial "regime."

The war between the neocons and the theocons first broke into the open in November, when Neuhaus published a symposium in his magazine, First Things, titled "THE END OF DEMOCRACY?" The symposium made explicit for the first time the central point of the Catholic intellectuals' thesis: that the government of the United States (in particular the judiciary) had become so debased--so, essentially, unChristian and therefore so illegitimate--as to threaten the existence of America as a nation under God, and that this crisis might require a revolutionary response. The ultimate paradox: a conservative revolution.

In the introduction to the symposium, the editors likened the United States to Nazi Germany and cited an encyclical from Pope John Paul II to justify entertaining the possibility of revolution against a judicial tyranny: "Law, as it is presently made by the judiciary, has declared its independence from morality." The editors asked point-blank whether "we have reached or are reaching the point where conscientious citizens can no longer give moral assent to the existing regime." They went on to observe that "America is not and, please God, will never become Nazi Germany, but it is only blind hubris that denies it can happen here and, in peculiarly American ways, may be happening here." The same issue contained quotations from the theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer on resisting the Nazi regime.

(Reb Yudel)

Social Security Solvency made Simple

Atrios of Eschaton explains:
The only thing "to do" about Social Security is to improve its long run solvency. The only reasonable way to improve its long run solvency is to pre-fund the Trust Fund. But, we have a president running around claiming the trust fund is just a file cabinet, and a bunch of Republicans in Congress who agree. So, throwing more money into the "file cabinet" is just a way to throw more money at tax cuts for the rich. That is, in fact, what the president has told us.

Pre-funding is a sucker's game as long as the president is a liar. Well, he's a liar. Not about blowjobs, of course, but about unimportant things like your retirement. It isn't even a particular pressing issue by any standard. But, even if it was -- pre-funding the trust fund is just funding tax cuts for the wealthy as long as these people are in charge.

Bush has declared that your payroll taxes should pay for Bill Gates's tax cuts.

Why continue to enable him?

(Reb Yudel)

Emma Goldman, Management Consultant

Time Management for Anarchists: The Movie is a useful, gentle introduction. If you see only one self-help Emma Goldman movie this year....

May 2, 2005

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

Is Rumsfeld's quote really from Talmud?

You are one of those rare people who, as the Talmud puts it, would rather light candles than curse the darkness.

U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, bidding farewell to his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz, at a Pentagon ceremony April 29.

Question: Is this really in the Talmud? Can anyone provide a citation? I've seen the expression attributed to an "old Chinese proverb"; alternatively, Adlai Stevenson is quoted as saying it regarding Eleanor Roosevelt.