April 26, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Bush makes anti-government libertarians of us all

Andrew Sullivan demonstrates how the presumption of innocence of those charged with a crime is bolstered when the prosecuting government has a track record on injustice:

I do not know all the facts about the decision by the US military to bring extremely serious charges against an officer, Lt. Col. William H. Steele, who supervised the Camp Cropper detention facility. Camp Cropper was a site where torture and abuse occurred, as it did at almost every U.S. detention camp in Iraq. But Steele, of course, is not being charged with the war-crimes that took place there. He is being charged with treason. My own sources describe him as a man of integrity, a man who actually tried to treat detainees as human beings. Another James Yee? I don't know. But I'm deeply skeptical of this accusation.

April 22, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Moment of Silence: 36 Innocent victims of the Bush War

I'd like to see an American day of mourning for these killings, enabled by our tax dollars:

Gunmen in northern Iraq stopped a bus filled with Christians and
members of a tiny Kurdish religious sect, separating out the groups and
taking 23 of the passengers away to be shot.

Armed men in several cars stopped the bus Sunday afternoon as it was
carrying workers from the Mosul Textile Factory to their hometown of
Bashika, which has a mixed population of Christians and Yazidis -- a
primarily Kurdish sect that worships an angel considered to be the
devil by some Muslims and Christians.

The gunmen checked
passengers' identification cards, then asked all Christians to get off
the bus, said police Brig. Mohammed al-Wagga.

With the Yazidis
still inside, the gunmen drove them to eastern Mosul, where they were
lined up along a wall and shot to death, al-Wagga said.

two suicide car bombers attacked a police station Sunday in western
Baghdad, killing at least 13 people and wounding 82, police said.

The first driver raced through a police checkpoint guarding the station
and exploded his vehicle just outside the two-story building, police
said. Moments later, a second suicide car bomber aimed for the
checkpoint's concrete barriers and exploded just outside them, police

The blasts collapsed nearby buildings, smashing windows and burying at
least four cars under piles of concrete. Metal roofs were peeled back
by the force of the explosions. Pools of blood made red mud of a dusty

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April 18, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Bush celebrates innocence in deaths of 6 million Jews, 31 Virginians!

It's been quite a couple days for the Grand American Decider. George W. Bush, who has consistently proven  that "W stands for Wimp" in his failure to attend military funerals for the more than 3,000 American soldiers who have died in his Iraq Adventure, found two memorial services he had time to attend.

First, he went to Virginia Tech, where a lone gunmen had turned a placid American college campus into  a scene from a Baghdad university --  except that the dozens of students murdered by the Iraqi thugs loosed by Bush's grand Iraqi adventure never get a picture on the American editions of CCN or Newsweek.

"Only 31 ? Heh, maybe Baghdad is dangerous after all. Heh, Heh. I mean, golly, I bet 157 folks will get blown up there tomorrow," the Commander in Chief failed to tell a grieving university.

Because that would involve honesty, and honesty is  what we won't hear from Bush. Never had. He's the decider, heh. He decides. He decides what is true and false. Heh. Or maybe he just says it.

I'll say this for Bush: He was innocent of the Holocaust. He killed no one in World War II.

And really, all the folks dying in Iraq aren't Jewish.

And if there's one thing America's Jews seem to agree on, it's that "Never Again" really means, "Never Again to Jews."

Because if it meant never again to hatred and prejudice, why would America's top hate monger -- the man who turned the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Act into a tool to disenfranchise  American citizens -- be invited to speak?

(Reb Yudel)

Why does the Bush administration have a list of everyone who has ever used anti-depressants?

notes the following from ABC News:

Some news accounts have suggested that Cho had a history of antidepressant use, but senior federal officials tell ABC News that they can find no record of such medication in the government's files

Get that? The government has access to your medical records. So if you have some condition you don't want the world to know about: Support the President. Support the Party. After all, it's for your own good!

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April 15, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Junior's first game

Proud Abba dept: Not only did he create this game, he beat it! Maybe I will too.... someday.

Make Your Own Game

(Helpful hint: Use the mouse to navigate, rather than the arrow keys.)

April 6, 2007

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

Appelbome, peeled?

I just had a thought onthe Peter Appelbome-kosher gasoline piece (see below). Is it possible the Times reporter actually thought the original article was the real thing, and wasn't let in on the joke until he showed up on Cedar Lane? And having wasted a day in Teaneck and with a deadline looming , turned his mistake into an April Fool's thing?

April 2, 2007

(Andrew Silow-Carroll)

It's a gas

Why did yesterday's Peter Appelbome's NY Times article on Teaneck, "In This Town, Talk Turns to Putting the Volvos on a Kosher Diet," make me slightly uneasy? [Sorry, it's on TimesSelect.] Appelbome roams Cedar Lane with an article from the "Bergen County Jewish Times" claiming a local gasoline dealer is selling kosher-for-Pesach gasoline that will not contain corn-derived ethanol (corn = kitniyot). It even quotes a few of the "rabbis" in the piece saying the idea is not necessary but not bad either, in that it means the driver is "going above and beyond the basic requirements of the law." Most of those he interviews are slightly incredulous but not all that surprised, a reflection no doubt on an ethos that accepts increasingly strict interpretations of the chalacha.

After the jump, however, the original article turns out to be an April Fool's joke, one that has been floating around the web in recent weeks. A pretty good joke, in fact, within the context of the Orthodox blogosphere, where there is frequent satire of the humra-of-the-month club variety.

But isn't this joke slightly lost in the context of the Times' general readership? The premise of an April Fool's joke is that your reader eventually catches on to the ridiculousness of the premise (yesterday NPR ran a fake story about towns with crazy names, and the sculptors who are immortalizing them). But outside of the Orthodox world, how is anyone to know that "pesachdik gasoline" is far-fetched? Is it any more far-fetched than kosher-for-Pesach lipstick or petfood? You'd have to be an insider to know that ethanol-free gasoline is a hoot. (If I were in a conspiratorial mood, I might consider the article as a backdoor way to mock the Pesach restrictions in general. In general, I think I am turning into everyone's paranoid Uncle Sy when it comes to writing about Teaneck.)

So what would a general reader make of the Times article? I'm not sure, but I know what I was thinking as I read it -- "Look at those crazy Orthodox, at it again." And I am glad I made it to the jump, or I might have bought it hook, line and sinker. And even now that I'm in on the joke, the article still leads me to think, "Look at those crazy Orthodox -- they'll accept just about anything they think their rabbis say" (except the one guy who balks when he hears that the gas will cost more than $9 a gallon. "Ha-ha!" is the least charitable implication. "You know those Jews -- when it comes down to money or religion, which one will they choose?") Thanks, Peter, for helping bridge the community relations divide in my adopted town.

It's odd -- Appelbome took a lot of grief for his last article on Teaneck. I agreed with the critics who thought it poorly sourced, one-sided, and shallow -- even as I insisted that it reflected a very accurate picture of Teaneck's growing divide between the Orthodox and everybody else. Was this a little contrition on his part? If so, a very weird way to go about it. And would a similar article have been written about Muslims -- say, if he were to walk the streets of Patterson asking people if they had heard about the latest fatwa? Because, the idea that you can have some gentle fun with a religion assumes that the practioners have a sense of humor. In the case of the Appelbome article, that seems a dubious distinction.

(Reb Yudel)

Think Passover! Switch (to matzah)!

Matza vs. Bread: Pyramid (#5 in a series)

You can find four more at the Ben Yehuda Press web site.

April 1, 2007

(Reb Yudel)

Leggo my Legumes!

The ADDeRabbi nails kitniyot:

First of all, the word ‘kitniyot’. It doesn’t mean ‘legumes’. It means ‘little things’. That’s what the word means. There was a Pesach ban, at some point that is shrouded in mystery, for some reason that is shrouded in mystery, on little things that grow and are edible. Over time, the category has grown to include new little growing edible things that were discovered (fortunately, like grains, only little edible things that grow from the ground were included in the ban; can you imagine Pesach without chocolate or coffee?), like soy, peanuts, corn and most recently quinoa.

More yeast-free goodness follows.