Monday, June 30, 2008

A Note To My Readers About The November Elections

It has long been my opinion that the Democrats have encouraged the creation of ghettos, not on the urban landscape, but on the political spectrum. Elementary political wisdom would dictate that a minority would withhold its support until one party or the other has made a fitting bid for their loyalty. To their detriment, African Americans and Jews have largely maintained a loyalty to the Democrats that resembles nothing so much as the tenacious loyalty of an abused wife.
Here in New York, the city has experienced an economic rebirth, not from government handouts but from sound economic policy. The plummeting crime rate, facilitated by sensible policing dispelled the heavy cloud of fear that was frightening prospective employers and investors from setting up shop in the Big Apple. This drop in crime has disproportionately saved the lives of African Americans and Hispanics.
There are African Americans and Jews who think out of the box. Orthodox Jews are leading an Exodus from the lockstep ranks of Democratic voters. There are Jews who look back not to the New Deal but to a boat full of Jewish refugees on the St Louis being sent back to Nazi Germany.
There are Jews who remember with gratitude the support of Richard Nixon during the Yom Kippur War There are African Americans too, who look back to the party of Lincoln, to the Republican judges of the south who led the judicial dismantling of segregation.
The politically slanted view of history that is being taught today does not do justice to the nuanced hues of our political spectrum.I am reaching the uncomfortable conclusion that the Democrats are relying on fear and polarisation to lock blocs of voters into their camp. In return, they need do little but spend a bit of taxpayers money to keep the masses happy.
Our country deserves far better. I believe as Barack Obama stated that our we must get beyond race. If I thought he believed this, I could entertain thoughts of voting for him. I do not unfortunately believe he represents any change from the bloc mentality of the Democratic Party.
I am reprinting a thoughtful editorial from an African American Republican Website. I am linking to the article and to the general site as well as adding them to my website favourites list. I hope my readers visit this fascinating website

An Open Letter To Obama From Black Republicans (reprinted from

At a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida, Senator Barack Obama displayed his hypocrisy when he played the race card against Republicans, while whining that he expects Republicans to play the race card against him. This dishonest tactic is straight out of the Democratic Party's race-baiting political playbook.
Since Obama wants the American people to believe he is disgusted by racism, we call upon Obama to condemn his fellow Democrats for their Jim Crow-style racist attacks against black Republicans because we do not adhere to the Democratic Party's liberal agenda.
More specifically, we ask Obama to condemn Democrat Senator Joe Biden who boasted proudly on FOX News that his qualification to be president was enhanced because his home state of Delaware held blacks in human bondage. "You don't know my state," Biden crowed, "my state was a slave state. " Imagine the media firestorm that would have ensued if a Republican had uttered such an outrageously racist comment.
We request that Obama denounce Democrat Senator Ted Kennedy who called black Republican judicial nominees, including Justice Janice Rogers Brown, "Neanderthals."
We ask Obama to condemn Democrat Senator Harry Reid who appeared on Meet the Press and attacked black Republican Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, demeaning the justice as an incompetent Negro, incapable of writing good English. "Slap at Thomas stinks of racism," was the headline of the New York Daily News' December 7, 2004 editorial.
We request that Obama denounce the Democrats who threw Oreo cookies (black on the outside and white on the inside) onto the stage during an appearance of Maryland's former Lieutenant Governor Michael Steele when he was seeking a seat in Congress.
We ask Obama to condemn the Democrat bloggers who posted a doctored photo of Michael Steel on the Internet, depicting him as a "Simple Sambo" with a Jim Crow-era "black face," nappy hair and thick red lips.
We request that Obama denounce the two members of the Democratic Senatorial Committee (DSCC) who resigned in September 2005 after admitting they illegally obtained Michael Steele's credit report in a violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, a federal offense. The two culprits were Katie Barge, the DSCC's research director who pled guilty to a misdemeanor, and her deputy, Lauren Weiner.
We ask Obama to condemn the Democrat talk show hosts and cartoonists who denigrated Dr. Condoleezza Rice after she was nominated to be the first black woman secretary of state. Democrat Pat Oliphant drew Dr. Rice as a big-lipped, buck-toothed squawking parrot, smearing her as an empty-headed stooge. Democrat Jeff Danzinger depicted Dr. Rice as a stereotyped "mammy," barefoot and ignorant. Democrat Ted Rall referred to Dr. Rice as President Bush's "House [N-word]". Democrat John Sylvester characterized Dr. Rice on his radio talk show as a stupid, servile black woman, calling her an "Aunt Jemima".
We request that Obama denounce Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, a former "Keagle" in the Ku Klux Klan, who led other Democrats, including Senators John Kerry and Barbara Boxer, in a filibuster of Dr. Rice's confirmation when she appeared before the Senate for her confirmation hearing.
We ask Obama to apologize for writing a letter in support of former Klansman Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, considering the following facts about Byrd.
- In 2001, Byrd was forced to apologize for using the N-word on television.
- Byrd pushed to have the Senate's main office building named after Democrat Senator Richard Russell, Byrd's mentor and leading opponent of anti-lynching legislation.
- Byrd, along with Democrat Senators Sam Ervin and Albert Gore, Sr., was a chief opponent of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and filibustered against the bill for 14 straight hours before the final vote.
- Byrd, along with other racist Democrats, smeared Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. during the 1960's. This racist attack on Dr. King was ongoing when Democrat President John F. Kennedy had Dr. King wiretapped and investigated by the FBI on suspicion of being a communist in order to undermine Dr. King. The relentless disparagement of Dr. King by Democrats led to his being physically assaulted and ultimately to his tragic death. In March of 1968, while referring to Dr. King's leaving Memphis, Tennessee after riots broke out where a teenager was killed, Byrd called Dr. King a "trouble-maker" who starts trouble, but runs like a coward after trouble is ignited. A few weeks later, Dr. King returned to Memphis and was assassinated on April 4, 1968.
We request that Obama apologize to all black Americans for the Democratic Party's 200-year history of racism against all black Americans as exposed in the books "Unfounded Loyalty" by Rev. Wayne Perryman and "A Short History of Reconstruction" by Dr. Eric Foner.
We ask Obama to embrace the 2006 report by the Commission appointed by North Carolina's governor which uncovered facts that prompted the Democratic Party of North Carolina to pass a unanimous resolution apologizing for the Democratic Party's role in the bloody 1898 Wilmington Race Riots where dozens of black Americans were massacred. That apology is on the Internet at: In a letter to the North Carolina Democratic Party, Lt. Governor Richard H. Moore wrote: "We can no longer ignore the fact that many of us grew up being taught a much sanitized – and inaccurate – history…. The truth is ugly."
If Obama refuses to condemn the Democrats for their racist past and current race-baiting against black Republicans, then what right does Obama have to preemptively accuse Republicans of using racism against him?
Sphere: Related Content

John McCain, A Decent Man

Notably absent from John McCain's campaign commercials is any use of his military service or other praiseworthy conduct in private life to increase his appeal to voters. This stands in marked contrast to John Kerry, who constantly invoked his eleven months in South Vietnam as an adornment to his qualifications

Now, the Democratic opposition has stooped to attacking McCain's military record with such thoughtful screeds as " Honestly, besides being tortured, what did McCain do to excel in the military?"
Retired U.S. Army General Wesley Clark (No relation to Ramsey Clark) made the statement that McCain's military service did not qualify him to lead the country. It seems that McCain has considerably seniority in the U.S. Senate to Obama, but about this General Clark has no comment.
Anti McCain videos on You Tube sink to the nether regions of tastelessness. Some are claiming that McCain made propaganda videos for the North Vietnamese. Aside from some clips of McCain lying down with injuries from being ejected from his plane and being questioned by a Vietnamese interviewer, nothing has come up. I scanned a video in which Ron Paul was mentioned. They made the laughable claim that the videos had been labeled top secret by the U.S. government. Videos made for propaganda purposes stamped TOP SECRET. That's a chuckle. When John Kerry made videos attacking American troops serving in Vietnam, they were made in America without an NVA soldier standing over him.
McCain seems to be an intensely private individual. In South Carolina in 2000, opposition dirty tricksters started a whisper campaign that he had a "black baby". He and his wife had adopted a Bangladeshi girl with a multitude of medical problems from one of Mother Teresa's orphanages, securing medical help for her that saved her life. A show of righteous indignation at such bigoted sleeze probably would have swung the primary. But McCain thought of his family first, and their need for privacy before he thought of the electorate or the media. He is not a self promoter. He facilitated the adoption of another child abroad with medical needs and arranged that her extensive medical expenses be paid for her.
When I see a man that has done good deeds in private with no self promotion, or fanfare, it leads me to believe that his motives in seeking office are similarly worthy. I have heard stories about McCain meeting with lobbyists to hear their side of the story and tossing them out of his office with Trumanesque eloquence when they attempted to offer a bribe. If anyone wants to have a contest of private personal decency between John McCain and Barack Obama, I don't think McCain has much to fear.
I have serious questions about some calls McCain has made on the issues. His co-sponsorship of the McCain Feingold campaign finance reform bill was extremely misguided. He has said some things about immigration reform that should be challenged. What seems beyond reproach is his decency as a human being. He also seems to be someone who will give conservative viewpoints a fair hearing without demonising them. I believe he would give a fair hearing to liberals over whom he would preside.
Obama predicted that there would be a barrage of sleeze unleashed against him by his opponents in the Republican Party. Against McCain, the sleeze has already begun.

copyright 2008 by on comments only
The top video is about McCain's time in Hanoi. The next video is clips from John Kerry speeches.
The link in the middle of the article is just so you would't think I was making things up. The last article linked at the end of this posting is about John McCain as a person
Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 29, 2008

John Barleycorn, A Song of Faith

I have heard a lot of discussions about earthly suffering. Why do the good suffer? Why do the wicked prosper? Usually, the answers are very satisfying intellectually, until I read about a Nazi war criminal getting out of prison, or see some unheralded lowlife cutting a swath of destruction with seeming impunity. What is usually said is that the world is a place of falsehood, that in the world of truth, that which is mysterious will all become very clear. What always resonates with me is the idea that we are supposed to institute justice ourselves in this existence so the world will be less random in its justice and fairness. This takes the ball out of G-d's court and throws it back to us. It is such an emotionally laden issue that I revisit it constantly. When Shalhevet Pas was killed in Hebron, when I visited a holocaust survivor who had buried his surviving child, these were times when the randomness of the world challenged my belief system.
Back in high school, I used to listen to a song performed by traffic called John Barleycorn Must Die. I enjoyed the music but gave no thought to the lyrics. The song gives sprouting barley the name of John Barleycorn, and follows its progress through the harvest cycle. It describes the barley being buried and sprouting from the soil.
In tones of profound and uncomprehending sadness it describes the barley being cut and bound. It describes the beating of the stalks and the kernels being ground to dust. The observer describes all he sees with great sorrow. At the end of the song describes a warm loaf of bread and glass of brandy that have been made from the ground barley. The last verse makes sense of all that had transpired earlier in the song.
There is certain mental imagery that goes with a song. When I play this song, I flash back onto all of the unexplained human suffering that challenges faith. The first time I made the mental connection, I was driving when the song was playing. I had to pull over to compose myself. The music gave wings to a concept I had struggled with. Even though this song is filed in the record stores as secular music, I personally classify it as a religious allegorical song. I can only say that it been a consolation for that which is senseless in my own life. I am reprinting the lyrics below. You can click on the video above to listen to it as well.

There were three men came out of the west, their fortunes for to try
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn must die
They've plowed, they've sown, they've harrowed him in
Threw clods upon his head
And these three men made a solemn vow
John Barleycorn was dead
They've let him lie for a very long time, 'til the rains from heaven did fall
And little Sir John sprung up his head and so amazed them all
They've let him stand 'til Midsummer's Day 'til he looked both pale and wan
And little Sir John's grown a long long beard and so become a man
They've hired men with their scythes so sharp to cut him off at the knee
They've rolled him and tied him by the waist serving him most barbarously
They've hired men with their sharp pitchforks who've pricked him to the heart
And the loader he has served him worse than that
For he's bound him to the cart
They've wheeled him around and around a field 'til they came unto a barn

And there they made a solemn oath on poor John Barleycorn
They've hired men with their crabtree sticks to cut him skin from bone
And the miller he has served him worse than that
For he's ground him between two stones

And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl and his brandy in the glass
And little Sir John and the nut brown bowl proved the strongest man at last
The huntsman he can't hunt the fox nor so loudly to blow his horn
And the tinker he can't mend kettle or pots without a little barleycorn
copyright 2008 on comments only Song and lyrics by Traffic video from You Tube Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 27, 2008

Roots of English

My latest bit of summer reading is an book called "The Mother Tongue, English and How It Got That Way." by Bill Bryson. It deals with one of my favourite topics, which is succinctly described by the title. The book paints a vivid portrait of England as a collection of related dialects that gradually coalesced into a common national language. Irregular verbs are transformed into artifacts of the developmental phase of modern English through the explanations in Bryson's book. Plurals such as oxen and geese are actually remnants of dialects that failed to achieve political and linguistic dominance.The influence of French rule and Viking invasions also round out the historical backdrop of English.
This book reminds me of "We Didn't Start the Fire". by Billy Joel. Each time I revisit either the song or Mr. Bryson's book, a new detail jumps out at me and captures my attention. His comparison of the expressive ranges of different languages is particularly interesting as is the information he presents about Celtic tribes who once inhabited areas across Europe.
English has benefited from the varied influences that have shaped it throughout its history. Germanic, Nordic, French and Latin contributions , of both grammar and vocabulary have made it a far more international language than Esperanto and a most expressive one as well.
The linguistic map of Europe has changed considerably since 1990 when the book was first written. It would be interesting to read Mr. Bryson's insights into the changes in European languages, particularly those in the Balkans.
It is interesting to see which books stand the test of time. "The Mother Tongue" has deepened my appreciation of English. I am grateful that it is stocked and displayed at Barnes and Noble. I look forward to reading more on this subject from this author

copyright 2008 by on text only Videos from You Tube.

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The videos at the top of this posting are dance music from Michael Praetorius and a Norwegian group called Folque that sounds a lot like the English group Fairport Convention. They showcase the beauty of both the Norwegian language and music. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Supreme Court Upholds Right To Bear Arms

For the first time in seventy years the United States Supreme Court has ruled upon the constitutionality of gun control. The crucial question in their deliberations was the intent of the founding fathers. Does the right to bear arms extend to all free citizens? Or is it confined to members of a legally sanctioned state militia? Opponents of the right to bear arms have adhered to the eviscerative approach to constitutional law, permitting gun ownership only to militia members. Today's ruling protects the right of Americans to defend themselves and their loved ones. It does not challenge the right of the government to prohibit gun ownership to criminals and the mentally ill. It was a landmark decision that touches the lives of millions of Americans.
It is fortuitous that this important ruling came in the midst of a presidential campaign. Even more telling is the narrowness of the plurality with which our Second Amendment was upheld. Todays decision was the product of a 5-4 majority. Our laws, as well as the manner in which they are enforced and interpreted should reflect the priorities and core beliefs of those who must obey them. A Supreme Court justice serves a life term. Many serve for decades. John Paul Stevens has been in office since 1975. The proudest moments of our nation's highest court have shaped the path of nations and popular thinking. Shameful landmark decisions such as the Dred Scott case, mandating the extradition of runaway slaves humble us a century and a half later.
Who will our next President appoint to the Supreme Court? There are two major schools of judicial thought. One is that courts need to legislate desirable social goals. The problem with this school of thought is the wide divergence in the general population of what constitutes a desirable social goal. The second judicial philosophy is that the intent of the founding fathers is paramount. The reason for a judge to be appointed for life is to prevent the pendulum of passing trends and fashions from distorting judicial wisdom. Elected judges play to an audience. Life appointees play to posterity.
We are privileged this November to shape our future for decades to come. As individuals, our major candidates fail to inspire. But this is not only an election of individuals, it is a choice of guiding ideology. To whom will our chief executive lend a sympathetic ear. Upon whom will he bestow the Presidential seal of respectability? As a contest of ideas, as a study in philosophical contrasts, this is an election of major importance. Whoever is chosen by the American people should be watched and questioned in office by a passionately concerned electorate. Our times demand no less. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Chaos in Zimbabwe

To spare his followers the wave of murderous violence unleashed against them, Morgan Tzvangirai the sole opponent of Zimabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has stepped down. His departure lays bare the sham of Zimbabwe's rigged elections . It is likely to trigger a wave of international pressure upon Mugabe to resign from office.
Zimbabwe ranks with the Congo and North Korea as yet another man made disaster that puts millions in danger of starvation. Once an exporter of food, Zimbabwe is spinning into an economic meltdown. Farms that were once productive have been expropriated, and given to political cronies of Robert Mugabe, the local dictator. Without expert management, farm after farm has gone under , causing the loss of thousands of jobs. In addition to this, entire neighborhoods were leveled in urban renewals schemes that never materialised.
In the past, South Africa was a regional superpower. In addition to jobs for immigrants from neighbouring countries, South Africa had a military presence in some neighbouring countries such as Mozambique and Angola. Instead of being a "progressive" superpower in the region and stabilising the transition in South Africa and Zimbabwe to majority rule, the government of Thabo Mbeki in Pretoria has steadfastly refused to oppose the rule of terror under Robert Mugabe in neighbouring Zimbabwe.
The United Nations has not done anything substantial in the Zimbabwean humanitarian crisis, letting it instead reach critical proportions. Given its past record of sex abuse epidemics in previous U.N. aid programmes in the Congo, Cambodia and Bosnia, perhaps the Zimbabweans are fortunate to be spared yet another plague. From Sudan and Mauritania to the Congo and Zimbabwe Sub-Saharan Africa stands as the region in the greatest need of outside investment and development. Its suffering peoples continue to be treated in the halls of the U.N. like children of a lesser god. It is sad that the dream of majority rule in Zimbabwe has turned into such a nightmare. Even with its skyrocketing crime rate in the Black townships, even with its wave of murders of Afrikaner farmers, South Africa remains far more prosperous than Zimbabwe. Past experience in other African countries that achieved majority rule has shown that it is far better for the new government when business is permitted to prosper. Zimbabwe faces years of reconstruction after the disaster of the Mugabe government. The suffering of Zimbabwe should serve as a lesson to South Africa not to drive out its white tribes, but to build a future in which all South Africans have a role.

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copyright 2008 on comments only by
Both videos in this posting are from You Tube. The video at the top starts with a bitterly sarcastic happy birthday wishes to Robert Mugabe against a backdrop of pictures depicting suffering Zimbabweans. The video at the bottom is a chilling report from South Africa about Afrikaner farmers being murdered by racist gangs. It should be noted that the highest murder rate in the world is among Afrikaner farmers. If South Africa does not watch out, it could easily go the way of Zimbabwe Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Freedom of Religion in Pakistan and Elsewhere

For Americans, the idea of religious freedom is barely worthy of mention. Our country was founded by dissidents, convicts (Georgia) and those seeking a change of venue in which to seek their fortune. In many countries, the idea of religious freedom is severely limited by the law of the land. A Christian or Hindu in Pakistan who explains to a neighbour that he does not believe Mohammed to be a prophet actually risks hard time in prison or even death on blasphemy charges. There is a basic realisation among many that we live in a world in which G-d hides and people differ in their search for Him.There is a fundamental distinction between beliefs considered heretical and murder, between heresy and robbery. In our insane world, people are being murdered because they opened the wrong prayer book, stripped of property and freedom for calling G-d by the wrong name.
There is a story in the Talmud about Abraham. He used to entertain guests with lavish meals and opulent hospitality. When thanked by the guests, he would ask them to thank G-d and not him. One elderly guest , when asked to thank G-d, gave effusive thanks to his own idol, refusing to thank G-d. Abraham angrily chased him away. Far from thanking Abraham for defending his honour, G-d reproached him for chasing the man away. "I have suffered his idolatry for over ninety years. " G-d said. "Couldn't you put up with him for a few hours?"
Some people are troubled by poverty, by man's inhumanity to man and disease. We are given a world with these imperfections to correct with our G-d given abilities. Allowing human suffering to continue is an affront to G-d's will. There is a place for the battle of religions. The internet is such a place, as are the broadcast media and the press. We all have G-d given intellects with which to weigh the different perceptions of the Divine will.
The right to seek the A-mighty in one's chosen manner cuts across many religious barriers. There are physical diseases such smallpox that are making a comeback in a world that grew too complacent. Ideological sickness claims as many casualties as do physical maladies. It is time to resume our vigilance and restate our basic support for religious freedom in this suffering world.

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I am presenting the two videos at the top of this posting. One celebrates religious diversity in Pakistan, and ends with a quiet appeal to end the blasphemy laws in that country. The other video talks about the plight of Shia Muslims who are being persecuted and murdered by the Sunni majority in that country. Pakistan is one of many countries facing the struggle for religious freedom. I wanted to portray two different sides of the struggle existing in that country. I will be revisiting this topic b'ezrat HaShem in the future. The videos are from You Tube.

copyright 2008 by on comments only Sphere: Related Content

Monday, June 23, 2008

Forced Conversions to Islam

The threat of international communism has faded into obscurity. Instead of an era of peace and tranquility, we are now faced with the spectre of international Islam. In America , we complain about fundamentalist Christians who talk about the unbaptized going to hell. For non Muslims living in areas with a Muslim majority, hell is sometimes here on earth. Zanzibar was joined to Tanzania back in the 1960's Its overwhelming Muslim majority is a legacy of its days as the port of departure in the slave trade, in which Arab merchants bought slaves from warring tribes who customarily sold their defeated enemies.
This video is from Christian Broadcasting Network. It puts a human face on the worldwide problem of forced conversions to Islam. Egypt, Pakistan and other areas with a Muslim majority. This particular incident occurred in Zanzibar. Fortunately, the parents were able to find the girl, who was kidnapped a second time before being yet again freed.
Immigration from Islamic countries is bringing Muslims to North America and Europe. Honour killings of women and girls who take to Western ways have already been reported in Europe, America and Canada. In Australia and Europe, crimes are committed against non Muslim women who are held in utter contempt by many Muslim immigrants. Female genital mutilation as a feature of some Islamic subcultures is already being uncovered by law enforcement and child welfare authorities in the UK and Europe.
Do we really want to expand the tent of multiculturalism to these practices? There is a theology and a legal framework of tolerance that is built into our cultural framework. Are we going to step aside and see it dismantled?
There are many Muslims who have no desire to take away our G-d given free will. There are Islamic societies that are tolerant of different belief systems. These are the Muslims that we should welcome with open arms. Those who want to rob people of their free will should be fought and opposed without remorse. This should be the clear position of law enforcement and immigration in America and elsewhere.
America rejected religious compulsion very early in its national history. A desire never to return to such practices is deeply rooted in our national character. Those who wish to bring us back to the days of theocracy are welcome to remain home. There is a world of difference between being compelled by one's government and impelled by one's convictions. This freedom is dear to minorities in Muslim countries and it is treasured by most Americans as well. Sphere: Related Content

Watch That Outfield ! Obama and Code Pink

A regular feature of a campaign is an unwanted endorsement. If the Nazis or the KKK endorse a candidate, it is fairly certain that his office will issue a statement rejecting the support. This is the way that the political centre defines its left and right flanks.
Both McCain and Obama have been called upon to repudiate questionable supporters. Both have come through and issued statements disassociating themselves from various disreputable reverends. Where McCain is quick to disassociate himself from John Hagee, it took Obama a good while to say that Reverend Wright was wrong. When a campaign headquarters in Texas was filmed with Che Guevara's picture superimposed upon a Cuban flag, a repudiation of Castroism and Che Guevara was noticeably absent from his statement of disassociation.
On the heels of a North Korean endorsement comes the news that Jodie Evans, a co-founder of Code Pink, an antiwar group opposed to American involvement in Iraq has not only endorsed Barack Hussein Obama but raised at least $50,00o.00 dollars for his campaign. What distinguishes her political views from those of so many other antiwar activists is the candidness with which she supports some of America's most ruthless enemies.
According to Evans, Osama bin Laden was justified in destroying the World Trade Center because of U.S. troops stationed in Saudi Arabia. In portraying American troops as aggressors for being stationed in the Saudi Kingdom, the Hollywood fund raiser ignored the credible fear that the Saudis themselves had of an invasion of Sadaam's Iraqi troops. For years the Saudi Kingdom has relied on foreign assistance to defend itself, most notably from Pakistan.
Evans is very frank about her desire to undermine the war effort as shown in the following excerpt from her interview with Paul A. Ibbetson on his "Conscience of Kansas" radio programme.

Evans: We were attacked because we were in Saudi Arabia. That was the message of Osama, was that, because we had our bases in the Middle East, he attacked the United States.

Ibbetson: Do you think that’s a valid argument?

Evans: Sure. Why do we have bases in the Middle East? We totally violated the rights of that, that country. Why do we get to have bases in the Middle East? [2]

Evans was frank about her indifference to the welfare of American troops.

Ibbetson: I understand the activism and the protesting of George W. Bush and Cheney…What is this protesting and work against the military recruitment…in Berkeley?

Evans: As an antiwar activist, one of the things you try to do is you try to find the pillars that keep us at war and try to undermine those pillars. And one of the things: You can’t go to war if you don’t have soldiers.

When pressed to clarify the “pillars” her deeds “undermined,” the Obama bundler removed all doubt she aimed at our uniformed men and women themselves:

Ibbetson: You said you want to undermine the pillars of the war effort, and part of those pillars of that effort is the military, complex or whatever. Would you –

Evans: Well, the soldiers that fight the war. If you don’t have soldiers, you won’t be at war.

When pressed about her motives, the hollywood radical finally blurted out, “You’re right! We were trying to undermine the war effort!”
Another gem from the interview was , "Why is being communist anti-American

If Obama does not repudiate Evan's support, he will have a capable fund raiser in his corner. In December 2004, Evans helped raise $600,000 to be used in a refugee camp in the enemy stronghold of Falujah. Scant attention was paid to possibilities for the supplies to be diverted to military use. During trips to Iraq, she met with leaders of the armed opposition to the central Iraqi government. Her collaboration with America's enemies was knowing, calculated and premeditated.

In a statement to the World Tribunal on Iraq in June of 2005, Jodie Evans removed all doubt about her solidarity with America's enemies

"We must begin by really standing with the Iraqi

people and defending their right to resist. I can remain myself against all

forms of violence, and yet I cannot judge what someone has to do when pushed

to the wall to protect all they love. The Iraqi people are fighting for their

country, to protect their families and to preserve all they love. They are

fighting for their lives, and we are fighting for lies."

Obama is faced with yet another distasteful endorsement that he must repudiate. More importantly, he must ask himself and explain to the American people why he is such a magnet for America's sworn enemies. The facts are out there for all to see. The mainstream media has failed us yet again in providing vital and readily available information that would facilitate an educated choice in November. We can not thank the major news outlets, for they have remained silent about these dubious endorsements. We can however thank Obama's endorsers who have performed a valuable function in educating us about him.
America faces a very clear choice about its future. The truth is out there.

Thank you to Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Bloggers For Choice

"Choice" has become an article of faith in the Democratic Party. Whenever a nominee is presented for the U.S. Supreme Court, the Democrats wage holy war to make sure that the nominee won't overturn Roe vs. Wade. How "pro choice are they? What about choosing how to educate one's children? What if you want to send your child to a Christian or a Jewish school? As long as you are willing to pay school taxes as well as tuition, you've got no problem. Does this present a problem for blue collar workers who want a religious education for their children? Don't worry. The Democrats are for working people. They know what is best for you.
What is the cornerstone of the war on private schools? It is the Blaine amendment.James Blaine was a speaker in the U.S. House of Representatives. An attempt was made to make it an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Although it fell short of that, it was adopted by numerous state legislatures. It banned public money going to private schools at a time when many Irish immigrants were creating a refuge from bigotry in their own Catholic schools. At a time when "Irish need not apply". was a common notation in help wanted ads, it was not such a leap to take a cruel slap at their schools. It is ironic that the descendants of those who enshrined their bigotry in the Blaine Amendment now chafe under its restrictions.
The modern day beneficiaries of this legislative monument to bigotry defend the monopolistic stranglehold of the public schools on American education with pious genuflections at the wall of separation between church and state. Although teachers unions are blamed for defending this legal monopoly, they are ultimately the losers. They too must pay a hefty price in wage cuts if they choose to teach at a religious school.
There is an collection of images that evoke associations of religious intolerance. The turbaned mullah, the veiled women of Islam, the dour Puritans and the Chassidim in antiquated attire are all easy targets for the smugly "tolerant". But the most pervasive face of intolerance does not distinguish itself with exotic attire. It is not clothing but expressions of disdain towards religious faith that are the new garb of religious coercion. In their distorted world, an abortion can be offered to a child, but not a Tylenol. In defiance of all logic they deny that their lack of religious faith is itself a religion. It is totally fitting that the cornerstone of their stranglehold on education is a piece of legislation that was a monument to bigotry in the 19th century. If they really were "pro choice " in any matter besides abortion they would support the repeal of the Blaine Amendment and advocate private schools getting their fair share of tax dollars.
What is their motto? "Be glad you live in America, where you're free to do whatever I want." Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, June 21, 2008


( Mega hat tips to Findalis and Rebel Radius)

There is a story that is recurring with disturbing frequency. As detailed in the video that accompanies this post, there are credible rumours that the internet will be vastly restricted in the year 2012. The story is that the internet service providers will offer packaged with limited numbers of channels. Those who want to go off the beaten path and visit small sites like this one or go on bulletin boards will have to pay a per site surcharge. This will have a chilling effect on bloggers who will face the reluctance of potential viewers to pay per click. It will drive the masses of internet viewers to the same mainstream providers of (dis)information who are being deserted in droves by masses of viewers who want a free democratic media where news consumers have free run in an uncensored marketpalce of ideas.
I am a small end blogger. Look at my site meter and you can see I am not a big name blogger. But Magdeburger Joe and Rudi Stettner are the launching pads for my dreams. I am going to fight for their survival. I will join anyone else who wants to do the same thing. If this plan is launched, I am going to take methodical notes of every advertiser and every advertiser and every single half rate magazine and newspaper that joins this new package service. I will boycott each and every advertiser that signs up to support this strangulation of free speech. I live in Brooklyn, and there is a multitude of retailers who are mom and pop affairs. If the internet service providers want to strangle my dreams and stifle my voice, I will fight back. It is ESSENTIAL for every blog, every bulletin board to sizzle with collective rage at this outrageous attempt to strangle free speech. While we have a voice, let's shock the internet service providers with our vehemence, anger and indignation. The major networks and newspapers are facing legitimate competition and they are losing. Now they want to play dirty pool.
I am posting the links to this story. Some of my readers are fellow bloggers. This is going to be a major cause on this blog and on Magdeburger Joe now and in the future. I am driven by moral and political considerations. I am also driven by self interest.
This information is too new to formulate a united strategy in defense of internet freedom. But the struggle will with G-d's help move forward. I will share new information with my readership as it becomes available. Let anyone who would advertise or join a restricted internet that small bloggers and freedom minded individuals are watching them. They will be shunned and boycotted as quislings and collaborators in this war on free speech. Internet service providers have in the words of Mao Tse-tung "let one hundred flowers bloom." They will not be cut down without fierce battles. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 20, 2008

Obama and McCain: Weighing the Merits

The dispute between Barack Obama and John McCain about campaign funding is replete with delicious irony. Not very long ago, John McCain was prominent in his support of campaign finance reform. Now that he is running for office, a web of useless regulations is hamstringing his ability to raise funds.
Barack Obama, formerly a supporter of public funding of presidential campaigns now realises that there is more money to be had from private campaign funding. As always, Obama changes positions like some people change neckties. A man who can publicly ditch his pastor in search of a few votes can hardly be expected to remain loyal to any core principles. Under Bill Clinton, we had "I smoked weed but didn't inhale." Obama's variant on this is "I went to church but I wasn't listening." I want a candidate who is serious and passionate about his manner of worship, not someone who needs a photo op in the pews.
There is a disturbing tendency in the Republican party towards apologetics. Many Republicans try to prove that they are as kind and gentle as the Democrats. Rather than staking out ideological turf and duking it out, they let the Democrats define the terms of engagement. McCain shows such weakness on the issue of legal and illegal immigration. He was already stung by campaign finance reform. He should learn from that mistake. Campaign contributions should be labeled. If some oil billionaire wants to bankroll a candidate, that should be public information, but it should not be prohibited.
One thing that bothers me about both candidates is that neither has been a governor or mayor. The government of a state has many structural parallels to federal government. Gubernatorial experience is unfortunately not a choice in this election. McCain beats out Obama on the issue of naivete. His statements on foreign policy show a lot more experience and thought than those of Senator Obama. Fidel Castro, Jimmy Carter and Hamas all see something in Obama . This alone should sound a note of caution to voters in November.
A critical issue that will face our next President is appointments to the Supreme Court. Such appointments cast a shadow across the country that can stretch for generations. McCain seems far more trustworthy to appoint judges who interpret the constitution instead of legislating from the judicial bench.
Both candidates are far from perfect. There are risks we will be taking with a McCain presidency, particularly on immigration. But Obama's eternal flip flopping is indicative of one of two possible faults. One is that his positions are poorly thought out , necessitating their frequent correction. The other possibility is that Obama will say anything to get elected. It seems far more likely that both expediency and lack of thought are driving Obama's frequent position changes.
The results of the voter's choice in November will be with us for many years to come. Although I strongly favour John McCain, the voting public will need to remain involved in the political process after the election no matter who wins.
copyright 2008 on comments only
Please click on video at top of pag Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Drill Now!! Say the Overwhelming Majority of Americans

(From World Net Daily)

With gas prices reaching historic highs, a Rasmussen Reports telephone poll shows Americans looking for relief are consistently backing the same answer: Drill for our own oil.

The survey found 67 percent of voters support drilling for oil off American coasts, and 64 percent believe it at least somewhat likely drilling will lead to lower prices at the pump.(Click link above for full story.)

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Across the political spectrum, Americans support off shore drilling in Florida and California as well as other states. Efforts to facilitate off shore drilling have continued to attract opposition in Congress. Presidential aspirant Barack Hussein Obama has in his capacity as Senator from Illinois has voted and spoken against lifting the ban on offshore drilling. He claimed that it was only a short term solution to America's oil problems.

Compounding the frustration felt by many Americans is the news that China will with Cuba's cooperation soon start drilling off the Florida coast for oil.(see link ) This will bankroll a regime with politics similar to those of the Hugo Chavez regime in Venezuela. It will also add to America's balance of payment problems with China, thereby hastening the decline in value of the U.S. dollar. Instead of buying the oil from American companies, we will be buying from China. Compounding the folly is the fact that the Chinese and the Cubans will be tapping the same vast subterranean lake of oil that also reaches into U.S. waters. They will be draining oil from beneath us with no opposition or regulation in the Chinese or Cuban legislatures.

Environmentalists with unchecked veto power over America's energy options are endangering America's economy and security. It is one thing to proceed with reasonable precautions. It is quite another matter to avoid drilling for oil entirely.China is notoriously indifferent to ecological concerns. Now they are going to drill off Florida's coast with their infamous indifference to the environment.

When we are evaluating the positions of Obama and McCain, we should look at their past record on these issues. Obama in particular is prone to saying whatever will play in front of a given audience. He has a past record in the Senate and in the Illinois state legislature. That is what we should be questioning him on.

Oil will be a part of our economy for a long time. Looking for alternatives such as solar, wind and hydroelectric power should,however be encouraged. Investment in petroleum alternatives should come from those whose vested interests are not tied up in oil. The oil industry should certainly be watched to protect us all from environmental disasters and profiteering. But there is a big difference between regulating and shackling. To paraphrase a famous Obama statement, America needs to have a dialogue about oil.

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Great Indian Music From Silk Route

Silk Route is a musical group from India that was very popular in the 1990's. They produced several albums before splitting up. A couple of members of the group continue to be active in music. The group sings in Hindi. Their music is a fusion of Indian and western music. To me it sounds a bit like John Denver and Cat Stevens.
Bollywood movies have brought various forms of Indian music to European and American audiences. On a world scale, Bollywood is far more popular than Hollywood. The movies tend to have modesty guidelines that are far more stringent than those in European and American movies. This did not prevent the Taliban from banning Indian movies. Both Arabs and Jews from Arab countries provide an enthusiastic audience for Indian cinema. Israel has a full time Bollywood TV channel.The films tend to be about three hours long, with song and dance numbers worked into the sound track. In the former Soviet Union, many Russians also enjoy Indian movies. A famous Indian star, Raj Kapoor appeared in a Russian stadium to 50'000 fans.
Indian music has had its influence in the west, from the Beatles to Akvarium in Russia.
India is really a country of multiple nationalities that is held together by a colonial legacy and the English language. Having passed one billion in population, it is quite likely to surpass China in population. It is a country to watch as a new world economy ties us all closer together.
Indian music is rich and varied. I consider myself fortunate to have discovered Silk Route. Although it is unfortunate that the group broke up, I am sure that there will be other similar groups that provide a stylistic bridge between east and west.
About 5% of the world's population speaks English as a first language. Such a humbling thought makes me wonder about the musical treasures beyond our linguistic frontier. I am happy to share Silk Route's music with the readership of Rudi Stettner. As always, Rudi stettner and Magdeburger Joe listen to the world that listens to us. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

How Would CNN Cover D Day?

Past wars in which America has fought were waged in an entirely different political climate. The Vietnam war was the first war fought with live real time media coverage. For the North Vietnamese, the American anti war movement was an important part of their strategy to defeat America. I used to look at photos of American and European antiwar demonstrations in the pages of the Vietnam Courier, a propaganda weekly published by the government of North Vietnam. American communists played their role as fifth columnists willingly in the name of "proletarian internationalism", much as members of the German American Bund were proud of their support for Hitler in the 1930's.
America was aware of the value of morale building during World War Two. Movies were made during the war to explain our country's objectives and to motivate our population. A clear sense of America's purpose in fighting coexisted with lively political debate and a vibrant electoral process. There was a clear sense that the survival of our way of life was dependent upon winning the war.
Within three months of 9/11 was an anti war demonstration in New York City to protest the war in Afghanistan. This demonstration was within walking distance of Ground Zero. I can not inagine such a demonstration in February 1942 in Honolulu near Pearl Harbour.
What would World War Two have been like with today's style of news coverage? Please click on the video in this posting to get a good idea of how D-Day would have been covered.
Copyright 2008 by on text only video is from You Tube Sphere: Related Content

Monday, June 16, 2008

Brooklyn and America's Future

A lot of news coverage related to the 2008 Presidential elections focuses on voting blocs. Women, African Americans, white working class voters are all spoken of as blocs to be courted in a formulaic fashion. This approach tends to omit shades of gray that would provide a more accurate picture.
One set of brush strokes missing from the picture is the inner city Christian vote. Brooklyn is known as the borough of churches. This name is reflected in storefront churches as well as imposing large churches and cathedrals. Synagogues and mosques, of course, round out the picture.
Many of these churches are involved in charitable enterprises as well as efforts to provide a social milieu for those who wish to lead orderly and productive lives. The more conservative denominations tend to be more intergrated racially than liberal denominations. A common purpose has a way of bringing people together. There seems to be a greater mix of charitable works in these less publicised churches than the more prominent denominations headed by people such as Reverends Wright and Sharpton. The people in these churches are not indifferent to issues of racism and discrimination. Their focus is simply different. There is a balance between social activism and promoting individual responsibility. People in these churches seem to have perspectives and strategies that attract little attention from media moguls who are waiting for the next angry speech or the next demonstration.
Many African Americans, Hispanics and Haitians make great sacrifices to send their children to private church schools. They want to transplant some of the values from their countries of origin to American soil. They have a common cause with many Jews and whites who also send their children to private religious schools.I am looking for a political strain that represents this common denominator between Jews and Christians. I am looking for a political movement that weds pragmatism and social agenda that takes a benign view of racial diversity. I have seen political figures in Brooklyn such as Marty Markowitz and Eric Adams that reach out to all of their constituents. Adams became most famous for his founding role in One Hundred Blacks in Law Enforcement. Just as that organisation strived to improve the relationship between police and the communities they serve, he now to create bridges and a common cause between the diverse assortment of groups in his state senatorial district. He has through his office helped many individuals and community organisations. I see the political alliances being forged in Brooklyn by people of good will as being the wave of the future. Although I am less hopeful when looking at national political races, my fondest hope is that national candidates will take a page from the people of Brooklyn. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 15, 2008

High Jerusalem Real Estate Prices, A Possible Solution

I have heard more than a few Israelis complain of skyrocketing real estate prices in Jerusalem. Many people buy apartments to live in during vacations, leaving them empty the rest of the year. Others buy residential property as a business transaction, renting it out to others.
It would be logical to tax those who live year round in Jerusalem at a lower rate than those who are not year round residents. Those who live in the city year round pump money into the city economy. This deserves recognition. Those who are vacationers or investors should care about the welfare of those who live year round in the city. Money collected from people whose property is taxed at a higher rate could be used to develop and subsidise homes for first time buyers.
Tourist dollars are important to the Israeli economy, but so too is the year round well being of Israeli workers. There are many peoplewho would be happy to drive Jews from the Holy City. We should not inadvertently be among them. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 13, 2008

A Meilitz Yoshar(Told to Me By Rabbi Aryeh Prager of Crown Heights)

A concept with long antecedents in Jewish tradition is the idea of a Melitz Yoshar, a righteous advocate. Although every human being can approach G-d himself, a saintly person can advocate or countersign the prayers of individuals. It should be noted that such an arrangement encourages common people to seek the guidance of those best versed in Jewish tradition.
About thirteen years ago, an emmisary of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi David Zaoui lived and worked in an upscale part of Paris known as Neuilly Sur Seine.As is common at Chabad Houses around the world, Rabbi Zaoui wanted to have a public menorah lighting during Channukah. When the rabbi approached the mayor of Neuilly Sur Seine with his request, the mayor eagerly agreed and expedited the request.The menorah lighting became an annual event in which the mayor was a regular participant.A friendship grew between the rabbi and and his friend, who rose to positions of increasing responsibility in government over the course of their friendship.The two discussed Jewish teachings together, including the Seven Noahide Commandments which resonated with the rabbi's friend.
Last Year, the rabbi's friend, who was now a government minister was campaigning for the presidency of France in a heated contest that was watched with great interest around the world. In keeping with the custom of many Lubavitchers, the rabbi assisted the candidate in writing a letter requesting the Rebbe's blessing in his quest for the French presidency. There are Jews and gentiles who place prayer requests in books that are sacred to them They also hope that a fortuitous placement of such a prayer request will provide them with specific guidance in a particular situation. There are many books of the Rebbe's correspondence over his lifetime. Many Lubavitchers place such letters in books of the Rebbe's letters.
On the the page in which the candidate and the rabbi placed the candidate's letter was a letter from the Lubavitcher Rebbe congratulating Zalman Shazar on his election to the presidency of Israel. The presidential aspirant was very much encouraged by the subject matter of the letter.
A short while later, Nicholas Sarkozy was elected President of the French Republic.The president maintained a warm friendship throughout his life with his Jewish grandfather. To this day, he openly attributes his success to the blessing he found in the pages of the Lubavitcher Rebbe's responsa. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Narrow Road, Drive Carefully !!!!

"According to the law which they shall teach you, and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto you to the right hand, nor to the left."(Deuteronomy 17:11.)
Every time there is an election, we hear the ubiquitous metaphor of left and right used to describe political beliefs. After the French Revolution, it is reported that revolutionary deputies in parliament were seated to the left of the legislative chamber. Conservatives were seated to the right. This seating arrangement has been enshrined in our lexicon as a descriptive term for political beliefs. Its unfortunate effect is to dampen political discourse. I had an otherwise intelligent social studies teacher in seventh grade who once dismissed an idea by saying, "That would be socialism." The thought immediately flashed through my mind, "So now tell me what is wrong with the idea."
Years later, the Cambodian genocide dampened my enthusiasm for Marxism enough for me to stop and listen to my father's critique of planned economies. He described societies in which five year plans were the norm, and how they failed. His opinions were devoid of dismissive labels. Long after his passing, I strive to recreate his clarity of thinking.
Political ideologies often compete with religious faith in channeling the passions of belief. I have experienced the hypnotic appeal of Marxism, and looked with honesty at its stratospheric body count. Various forms of fascism have a long list of casualties to their credit as well.
Every time the Torah portion of "Shoftim" is read , the words "thou shalt not turn aside from the sentence which they shall declare unto thee, to the right hand, nor to the left." resonate in my soul. My understanding of these words is that they have political ramifications. It is very tempting for an adherents to an "ism" to close their eyes to uncomfortable truths that do not conform to their political philosophy. As a former communist, I used to rationalise the transgressions of Marxist regimes in order not to shake my belief system. At the end of the Vietnam war, the Cambodian genocide made this impossible. Politics is simply one aspect of the collective level of human existence. It need not be a "dirty business". Indeed, it is a necessary business.
On a personal level, there are political figures to the left and to the right who serve as living reminders to Jews not to feel at home in one place on the political spectrum. London Mayor Ken Livingston is such an example. According to the Yid With Lid" blog, "On two occasions Livingstone gave red-carpet treatment to Sheikh Youssef Qaradawi whom he invited to London. This Egyptian sheikh lives in Qatar and has supported suicide bombings as being consistent with Islam. He was presented by Livingstone as a ‘progressive' and the kind of moderate who could positively influence British Muslims." By contrast, Livingstone has villified Israel and British Jewry with a vehemence seldom shown to others.
On the right, Patrick Buchanan offers a similar warning to Jews to that offered by Ken Livingstone on the left. There is a disturbing overlap of terminology and political positions between Patrick Buchanan and those at the outer fringes of American politics such as David Duke and the holocaust revisionists.
Regarding the holocaust , Buchanan is quoted as saying "Diesel engines do not emit enough carbon monoxide to kill anybody." -New Republic, 10/22/90
Regarding Adolf Hitler, Buchanan states "" "He (Hitler) was also an individual of great courage, a soldier’s soldier in the Great War, a leader steeped in the history of Europe, who possessed oratorical powers that could awe even those who despised him. But Hitler’s success was not based on his extraordinary gifts alone. His genius was an intuitive sense of the mushiness, the character flaws, the weakness masquerading as morality that was in the hearts of the statesmen who stood in his path." - St. Louis Globe – Democrat, Aug 25, 1977"
When discussing racial segregation, Buchanan waxes nostalgic in the following quote. "In the late 1940’s and 1950’s…race was never a preoccupation with us, we rarely thought about it…. There were no politics to polarize us then, to magnify every slight. The ‘Negroes’ of Washington had their public schools, restaurants, bars, movie houses, playgrounds and churches; and we had ours.” - Right From the Beginning (1990)
Anyone who looks to the left for anti Jewish paranoia can find identical notes sounded in Buchanan's writings. In the following quote, Buchanan's magazine "American Conservative" actually levels the charge that Jews had prior knowledge of 9/11. "

"And then there are the movers. Urban Moving Systems of Weehawken, New Jersey was largely staffed by Israelis, many of whom had recently been discharged from the Israeli Defense Forces. As has been widely reported, three movers were photographed celebrating in Liberty State Park against the backdrop of the first collapsing World Trade Center tower. The celebration came 16 minutes after the first plane struck, when no one knew that there had been a terrorist attack and the episode was assumed to be a horrible accident. The owner of the moving company, Dominik Suter, was questioned once by the FBI before fleeing to Israel. He has since refused to answer questions.

Whether the movers and the art students had jointly pieced together enough information to provide a preview of 9/11 remains hidden in intelligence files in Tel Aviv, but the proximity of both groups to 15 of the hijackers in Hollywood, Florida and to five others in northern New Jersey is suggestive."

Buchanan is very effective at bringing some revolting ideas into the political mainstream. He is a living reminder that the right of the political spectrum is fraught with danger as well.
An enduring metaphor used to describe the Jews is that of the canary in the mine. There are lethal gases that accumulate in coal mines that have no odour. Miners used to carry canaries in the mine with them as protection. When a bird dropped dead off its perch, it was a stark warning to those in the mine to leave with haste. To masses of Germans who were cheering Hitler, the sight of Jews scrubbing the streets was an annoying element of discord in a pretty picture. It is easy for those lulled by what for them is an attractive ideology. It is even easier to bribe the unemployed and the desperate.Too late, the German people found that their "salvation had a steep price tag.
There have been rude awakenings in generations past of those who became enamoured of revolutionary idols. The victims in the Stalinist show trials of the thirties were dedicated revolutionaries who fell afoul of Stalin. Hitler's circle of hate widened beyond Jews. According to the famous poem by Martin Niemoller , "In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up."
It is important that we seek truth and justice, wherever it may exist on the political spectrum. In Russian, the word for truth is "pravda". In Serbian the word for justice is "pravde".
Human language itself illuminates a connection between justice and truth. If we seek to build a just society, we must be honest with ourselves. We are living in dangerous times. We need G-d's help and the full benefit of our senses to make proper choices.
Although I am voting for McCain, although I frequently side with conservatives on current issues, I do not canonise anyone in government. The best that can be hoped for in the political process is to strive for perfection through imperfect means. May G-d help us

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

McCain Predicts Continued High Gas Prices

Gas prices will remain high and probably will even rise, predicted presidential contender John McCain in an interview on NBC's Today Show.
"I don't think it's going much lower, and it could go higher," McCain said during the interview ."I don't think so, not when you've got a finite supply, basically, and a cartel controlling it.
McCain explored some interesting ideas during the interview, such as making the oil companies share some of their windfall profits with consumers. He also suggested that oil companies participate in research and development on reducing our dependency on foreign oil.
"The point is, oil companies have got to be more participatory in alternate energy, in sharing their profits in a variety of ways, and there is very strong and justifiable emotion about their profits," McCain said during the Today Show interview.
Although it was the Republicans in the Senate who shot down a tax on the windfall profits of the oil companies, McCain himself has shown a flexibility of thinking that should serve him well in the general election. He suggested a summer holiday on federal gasoline taxes to provide needed relief from skyrocketing gas prices. Although this might provide temporary relief, it would not likely address the root causes of volatile gasoline prices.
A multifaceted attack on America's energy dependency problems should include finding new sources of fossil fuel within our borders. It should also include developing new combustible energy sources from agricultural waste to urban garbage. Wind and solar power are renewable resources that can and should be developed .
Although the oil companies should participate in solving our country's dependency problems, it is probably wise that research and development should be independent of the oil companies . For example, an electric car with solar paneling and a plug recharger could be expected to cut into gas sales. It is reasonable to anticipate that a gas company would be loathe to compete against itself by designing cars that are largely or completely gas free. We do not want a situation to arise where oil companies buy up patents for energy saving inventions and then end up locking the blueprints in a safe. For this reason, a financial base should be organised for an energy revolution in which oil companies and gas refineries do not have a controlling interest.
The government can not itself come up with the long term solutions to these problems, but it can create the tax and regulatory climate in which progress is likely to occur.
There are a lot of people who stand to profit from the current spike in crude oil prices. Oil companies, and governments abroad who would like to tilt the American election elections have an interest in promoting high gas prices. The oil companies do not need to be punished, but they should be watched.
If we treat the current rise in gas prices as a wake up call, our country can emerge stronger from our current difficulties. The solutions to our difficulties are readily apparent. Allowing the profit motive to spark human initiative can accomplish a great deal. A presidential campaign year is a good time to push a lot of constructive ideas. The best candidate will not have all the right answers. But he should have the right questions. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Oil Independence, A Question For Our Next President

When America entered World War Two, the Japanese had control of the world's natural rubber supply. The invention of synthetic rubber, which took some time, broke the Japanese stranglehold on our rubber supply. That one natural resource was a valuable lesson from our history not to put ourselves at the mercy of potentially hostile nations.
America today faces determined enemies with an alliance of fickle friends. The Iranian government was once solidly in our corner. Now Iran spearheads a determined opposition to America's interests throughout the world. Saudi Arabia is reputed to be suffering from internal unrest. Its financing of terror groups has bought it internal stability, but no one knows how long that will hold up.
America has a strategic and economic interest in fostering energy independence. Montana and Alaska have massive oil reserves, as does Florida. Environmental concerns are a reason to proceed with caution, but they should not stop us from developing energy independence. The Alaska pipeline has been a boon to the caribou population, which has thrived due to the warmth provided by the pipeline. While it is true that humans can inflict great damage on the environment, we can have a positive impact as well.
Developing oil independence can and should include alternative energy sources. There have been advances in wind and solar power. The development of these alternative sources of power could not completely replace oil, but it could provide a considerable percentage of our energy needs.
Our national trade deficit could be partially alleviated by addressing our dependence on foreign oil as well.
Israelis, who have a far more pronounced dependence upon foreign oil than America have taken conservation measures that should be studied by those who wish to cut down on America's production of waste. Anyone who has bought milk in Israel, for instance, has found it far cheaper to buy plastic bags of milk, which use far less plastic than the bottles we are accustomed to in America.
We should not wait for our next crisis to pursue energy independence as a strategic national goal. Environmentalists can provide a needed cautionary note, but they should not deter us from taking bold and necessary steps to develop our national resources.
Our next president should work on creating the right tax and regulatory climate for developing our economy in a new and independent direction. We should ask the candidates what their position is on this pressing issue.We should also examine their past record in deciding for whom to vote. Along with immigration and national security, this is a most pressing issue facing our country. And It won't go away. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, June 8, 2008

A Happy Shavuot

Tonight at sunset starts the Jewish holiday of Shavuot, or the feast of weeks. For forty nine days, starting from the second night of Passover, Jews count the Omer. At the beginning of the counting, an offering of barley is brought in the Temple. On the fiftieth day, an offering of wheat is brought. Barley is considered a food for animals, and wheat is meant for human consumption. This is interpreted as symbolising a process of spiritual refinement, in which those counting the omer refine themselves into a more spiritual mode of functioning, achieving the purpose of human existence by rising above the animalistic level.
What is also significant is the placement of Shavuot after Passover. A holiday of physical liberation was a preparation for spiritual birth and more importantly, a path of service to G-d. The emphasis during the counting of the omer is on refining one's own personality and behavior. In a sense, one is not only being freed to serve G-d but also to refine one's self.
Liberation struggles in the modern call to mind this recurring theme. The former Soviet Union has in recent times thrown off the shackles of communism. South Africa has likewise done away with apartheid, the institutionalised racial segregation that had existed in that country.
In both revolutions, we find that freedom was itself a greater challenge than achieving political liberation. In South Africa there has been crime wave and fraying of social bonds borne of a deep impatience. Just as the restrictive yoke of grammar permits a wider expressive range, so to do societal restrictions permit greater individual and collective achievement. In the case of South Africa , the inner struggles of those newly freed has proven to be at least as turbulent as the struggle against apartheid.
The former Soviet Union has undergone a similar period of turbulence. A considerable number of former Soviet subjects even echoed the complaints of those who complained to Moses that he had brought them out of Egypt to starve in the desert. One need not be caught up in a political upheaval to be aware of this distinction between the inner and the outer battle fronts. Those who have struggled to overcome poverty find that wealth has its own challenges. Every victory brings with it a new struggle
The ten commandments that were given on Shavuot are an eternal bond between G-d and the Jewish people . The lesson of the link between external struggle and internal struggle is also an eternal legacy, not only to the Jewish people but to the world.

P.S. The next posting will be on Tuesday night, 10. June because of the Shavuot holiday Sphere: Related Content

A Salute to Nexhat Osmani and Albania

One of my favourite Albanian singers is Nexhat Osmani. The video in this posting will be the second posted on a Winter Riders website. Albania has fascinated me since childhood. From 1944 until the late 1980's, no Americans could enter Albania unless they were ethnic Albanians. It was a shrill critic of Soviet and Chinese Communism, decrying their abandonment of Stalinism. It maintained a tense ceasefire with neighbouring Jugoslavia, and claimed ominously that two thirds of Albanians lived under the rule of non-Albanians.
The kingdom of Albania was very hospitable to Jews within its borders during World War Two. Albania resisted foreign occupation with no outside assistance. It should be noted in fairness that the Italian occupiers of Albania were also relatively kind to the Jewish population under their jurisdiction as well. Albania is about 70% Muslim, practicing a variety of Islam that bears little resemblance to the Saudi or Iranian varieties . In many ways, Albanian ethnicity trumps religious allegiance. A notable division in the country is linguistic. The Gheg dialect that is spoken in the north of Albania has some inflectional and vocabulary differences from the Tosk dialect spoken in the south of the country. Albanian is not Slavic, Grecian or Turkic. It is at its core unrelated to the languages of its neighbours. It is a language that stands alone.There is a minority of about 260,000 ethnic Greeks in the country. Although they suffered discrimination under the Hoxha communist dictatorship, their lot has improved considerably. It can be said with certainty that they suffer less discrimination than do Albanians in Greece.
Despite some improvements, particularly in the area of political and religious freedom, Albania remains the poorest country in Europe. Despite this, Albania is a country of breathtaking beauty. It definitely has growth potential in the area of tourism. Despite the uniqueness of its language, its music has some similarity to other music in the Balkan region.
Albania is eager to move forward in the twentieth century. It would be a good idea for Western countries to invest in this fascinating moderate Muslim country. Democracy in any location fares far better on a full stomach. Albania, which only gained independence from Turkey in 1912 is still writing the early chapters of its modern history. It would be wise for America and Europe to lend a helping hand. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, June 6, 2008

Charles Hynes , The View From Flatbush And Crown Heights

There is a disorienting lack of proportion in Brooklyn when it comes to law enforcement. Charles Hynes, District Attorney of Brooklyn sees bias all over in the Jewish community. There is now an international manhunt for Yitzy Shochat, a respected member of the Crown Heights community because of his alleged involvement in a physical altercation with an African American youth. The dispute, in which no racial epithets were uttered is presumed to be racial because the victim was of a different race than the suspects. In the past, Jews have been told that bias had to be a primary motive for an assault for bias charges to be pursued even where racial epithets were uttered. It should be additionally noted that the victim of the assault suffered only minor injuries. Despite this, interpol is now involved in an international manhunt that has netted D.A. Hynes as much publicity as have cases where death occurred.
Charles Hynes seems to have something in common with former district Attorney Mike Nifong of Duke University rape hoax fame. Both Hynes and Nifong have attempted to mobilise political support by highlighting racial tensions among their political base. For Nifong, his actions as District Attorney were found to be legally unwarranted. He ignored evidence that would have been exculpatory and failed to turn it over to attorneys for the defense. If Hynes succeeds in pursuing his absurd international manhunt, the evidence likely to come to light is unlikely to justify bias charges or such an absurd use of law enforcement resources.
Hynes has on the other hand puzzled many New Yorkers with his kid glove treatment of a Rabbi in a Brooklyn Yeshiva who faced charges of sexual abuse from former students. (See article from Jewish Week.) from 4/30/08

In the widely publicised case, district Attorney Hynes accepted misdemeanor charges in what was originally felony charges involving alleged sexual abuse of two students by their Rabbi in Yeshiva Torah Temimah. According to the article, (reprinted below) Hynes's claimed to have made the decision to accept reduced charges to spare the children the trauma of testifying. He claimed that he acted with the parent's consent.
Subsequent communication with the parents reveals pressure from the District Attorney's office to agree to reduced charges. Claims by Hynes that closed circuit testimony by the children were not going to be granted were also contradicted by those close to the case, who indicate that such permission was indeed granted.
The problem of sexual abuse of children in schools cuts across religious lines. It has been widely discussed in the Jewish community as it has been elsewhere. Hynes has criticised the Crown Heights Jewish community for not working with law enforcement. In Flatbush, there were Orthodox Jews who were eager to cooperate with the District Attorney in prosecuting someone accused of serious sexual abuse. In this case, it was Hynes who refused to cooperate.
The inconsistencies in Hynes' account of what happened in the Torah Temimah case beg for an investigation. Viewed together with his zealous search for bias in Crown Heights, his legal priorities seem distorted and incoherent if not suspicious.
The people of Brooklyn need a District Attorney who applies the law fairly, not treating a common scuffle like it is the crime of the century. The parents of the abuse victims in Torah Temimah were ready to cooperate with Hynes. When Hynes disappointed them, he disappointed Brooklyn. He has shown basic flaws in his judicial judgement. He does not seem to share the values and priorities of the people who elected him. Today in 2008 with Hynes as in 1991 with Dinkins, we should mark Hynes' next election date on our calendars . Weshould start grooming his opponent.

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by Hella Winston and Larry Cohler-Esses

It’s the case they can’t keep straight.

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes’ shifting explanations of a widely criticized plea deal earlier this month for alleged child sex molester Rabbi Yehuda Kolko took several dizzying turns this week.

Contrary to earlier statements from Hynes’ office, Sex Bureau Chief Rhonnie Jaus disclosed Tuesday that parents from two families whose children Rabbi Kolko allegedly molested had been willing to let their children testify. Hynes’ spokespersons had earlier said otherwise.

But Jaus stressed that in the end, both families had signed affidavits agreeing to the deal after Rabbi Kolko had offered to plead guilty to a non-sex-related misdemeanor and receive a sentence of three years’ probation.

“These were very small children,” said Jaus. “Both parents were trying to be
good parents.

[But] nobody was rushing in to have their child in a courtroom. We felt the plea was in the best interest of the case.”

Jaus said that both families had consented to the agreement “verbally and in writing,” and that at one family’s insistence, she had spoken with their attorneys in a related civil case as well. Hynes said that without their consent, he would not have allowed Rabbi Kolko to plead his charges radically downward.

But in a letter to Jaus obtained by The Jewish Week, one father indicated he had been pressured into signing his consent statement.

The letter, dated one day after the father signed the affidavit, said, “I understand what the district attorney wants from me and I will sign the letter,” referring to the consent affidavit.

But the father added, “I feel justice was not served because I see the damage Kolko caused to our son.” The Jewish Week is withholding the name of the family because of the alleged victim’s age.

This father emphasized, “My son was ready to go to trial and we feel he would have done an excellent job and I am sorry to hear that [the case against] Joel Kolko will not proceed further.”

“That’s a letter just telling the judge about how one kid suffered,” said Jaus. She voiced distress that The Jewish Week had obtained the letter from court case files, saying, “I’m not sure how you got those files. They’re not supposed to be publicly available.”

Looking For A Way Out?

In an interview, the father, asked if he had felt pressured to “sign or else” made a motion of his fingers across his neck.

“I believe they were looking for angles out,” he said.

The father added that the prosecutors had led him to believe they had plans to pursue Rabbi Kolko by some other routes, with heavier penalties for him down the road. Alternatively, he said, he thought they hoped to use Rabbi Kolko to prosecute the administrators of the school he taught at, Yeshiva Torah Temimah in Flatbush, on charges of knowingly allowing him to molest children.

“If there’s no deal involved, and this is what they gave him, shame on them!” he said.

The new disclosures are the latest in a series of often contradictory explanations Hynes’ office has offered over the last two weeks for the Kolko plea deal, which has attracted censure both in Brooklyn’s Orthodox community and from legal experts. A series of previous actions perceived by some as lenient towards prominent Orthodox institutions or individuals accused of wrongdoing have led to criticism — dismissed by Hynes — of his close relationship with the community’s leadership.

Rabbi Kolko, 62, a teacher at Torah Temimah for about four decades, faced felony charges of touching two first-graders in their sexual areas and of forcing an adult former student to touch him during a visit to the school. Under the plea agreement, Rabbi Kolko, made no admission of sexual wrongdoing. He will not have to register as a sex offender and pleaded guilty only to a misdemeanor.

Outside the case, others — many of them now beyond the legal statute of limitations — have given accounts of being molested by Rabbi Kolko as long as nearly four decades ago. Five former students have filed a civil suit against Torah Temimah, alleging school administrators knew about Rabbi Kolko’s molestation of themselves and other students over many years but sought to conceal it and intimidate students who spoke out.

A Hynes spokesperson said right after the plea deal was reached that Hynes had agreed to it because the families of the two children alleging the rabbi had molested them would not let their sons testify. Hynes has since offered a series of revised accounts. In the first revision, soon after, Hynes said through a spokesman that one of the families had, in fact, agreed to let their son testify, but only via closed-circuit TV, and the other not at all.

Since then, Hynes or his aides have put out further, often inconsistent, accounts:

- Last week, via a spokesman, Hynes acknowledged he had applied for judicial permission for one of the alleged child victims to testify via closed circuit TV — but had withdrawn this motion before the judge could rule on it. Spokesman Jerry Schmetterer said his boss did so because “the bureau chief of the sex crimes unit did not have confidence the approval would be obtained and therefore made the decision to settle on the reduced charges.”

- In an interview Tuesday, Hynes said that “the victim’s family wanted the case resolved the way it was” — and denied that he had ever applied to the court for permission to use a camera for one of the children.

- He called back shortly afterward and said he had misspoken — that, in fact, he had applied to the court for CCTV testimony but withdrew the motion because such judicial permission “has never been granted in the history of the world.” Hynes emphasized that families for both of the alleged child victims had signed affidavits consenting to the plea deal.

- Jaus, the Sex Crimes bureau chief, told The Jewish Week Tuesday that the same father willing to allow his son to testify in open court for the original sexual molestation charges was “adamant” that he did not want Rabbi Kolko to be sentenced to prison. Yet the trial at which he was willing to testify, if it had taken place and led to a conviction, would almost certainly have meant a jail sentence for Rabbi Kolko.

Avoiding A Court Appearance

Nevertheless, Jaus appeared to offer the most coherent account of what happened. One family, she said, was prepared to let their 10-year-old son testify against Rabbi Kolko only via CCTV, under a law that allows minors in sexual abuse trials who are judged “vulnerable” by the court to do so in a quiet, separate room, out of the presence of prosecutors, defense attorneys, the accused molester and courtroom onlookers. The provision is intended to minimize “mental or emotional harm” to such children from the testifying experience.

The court scheduled a hearing on Jaus’ motion for March 31. But she withdrew her motion before this could take place because Rabbi Kolko’s attorney offered to plead guilty to the reduced charges.

In deciding to accept the offer, Jaus said, the wish of one family not to see Rabbi Kolko do prison time was a factor, along with the rabbi’s advanced age, poor health and lack of a prior record.

Another factor, she said, was deep uncertainty over whether the judge would grant her motion to allow testimony via CCTV for the other child, as his family required.

“It’s an extraordinary step to have it granted,” she said. “In my experience, we have not had it granted in my bureau. I think it was used once before I came.”

This was a revelation to the boy’s father, who stated vehemently that prosecutor Marc Fliedner told him in a late March phone call that the court had, in fact, approved the CCTV motion. “He said, ‘We got it,’” the father insisted. “He said, ‘Great news; the judge granted it.’”

Jaus stressed that only a hearing had been granted for late March. A message left for Fliedner was not returned.

The State Division of Criminal Justice Services, which provides media equipment for such cases, reports that courts statewide have employed their cameras 17 times since 1998 for children judged vulnerable. Legal scholars say judges are often reluctant to grant this motion out of concern that it undermines the constitutional right of a defendant to confront his accuser.

Still, case law has found this alternative acceptable when judged necessary. And if any case might be seen to meet the bar, it could well be this one.

As Dr. Simcha Y. Cohen, a psychologist and rabbi counseling the alleged victim, noted in an affidavit in support of the motion, “Within the Orthodox community ... confrontation or challenge of rabbinic leaders is strongly discouraged. This dynamic comes more intensely into play when the rabbinical leader is a teacher in a yeshiva setting, and the member who is being required to communicate such confrontations is a child.”

Jaus nevertheless defended her decision to abandon this effort once Rabbi Kolko’s lawyer put the plea bargain opportunity before her.

“I thought it was an opportunity for the children to be spared having to testify in court,” she said. “Getting approval for CCTV was iffy.” And even if it came, she said, “The case rested solely on the two kids. There was no other corroborating evidence. It’s their words standing alone.”

Professor Marci Hamilton of Yeshiva University, an expert in child abuse cases, voiced dismay at this assessment. “If you have just one child, you have a tough case,” she said. “But if you have two, you have corroboration.

“This has all the earmarks of the usual prosecutors’ deference to religious groups,” she said. “I think it’s hard to explain.”

But Jaus said that thanks to TV shows like “CSI,” “Many people expect to see corroborating evidence such as medical evidence, fingerprints. DNA. We just had the word of these children.”

Asked about the possibility her deal could now allow Rabbi Kolko, in the absence of a sex charge conviction, to go back to working with children, she replied, “He’s now pleaded guilty to two counts of endangering the welfare of a child; two counts with two separate children. I’d imagine most schools would not want someone who’s been convicted of something like that.” Sphere: Related Content