Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Short Takes on Mass Graves in Ukraine and Prison Rape in America

Why does this not surprise me? Mendel Teichman, Chief Rabbi of the City of Uzhgorod near the border with Slovakia has discovered a part of the local cemetery with no headstones.It has been found to be a mass grave for Jews of the city who were massacred during the war. Its use as a mass burial ground was verified from official documents. The Jewish Telegraphic agency reports as follows.

Rabbi Mendel Teichman, the chief rabbi for the city of Uzhhorod, on the country’s border with Slovakia, and the region, in recent weeks had come across an open area with no fence and no headstones in the local Jewish cemetery.

The rabbi then found decades-old historical documents stating that the grave site was the resting place for more than 200 Jews killed by the Nazis in World War II.

I get the the uncomfortable feeling that people in Uzhgorod knew what happened and where the bodies were buried. The Nazis did not swoop down in the dark of night and act in secret. The used local "talent" to implement the Final Solution. In some cases in Poland, local people used to dig for gold fillings, jewelry and other things from which extra cash could be made. The people who are beating up Jews today and burning synagogues have probably heard talk in town from some of the old timers.

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Last week's New Yorker magazine had an article on the effects of solitary confinement upon prisoners. It is well documented and widely discussed. American prisons use it a lot. It is a powerful tool that breaks prisoners down psychologically. It can arguably be defined as torture.

I am puzzled at two issues that get too little attention. One is the de facto delegation of authority in prisons to gangs. The other is the tacit and sometimes less than tacit approval given to rape in prison. Conservatives all too often write it off in the hope of making prison as punitive as possible. Liberals want to focus on abuses by authorities. They do not consider the abuse by prisoners(who are supposed to be oppressed) to be politically useful. Common sense would prompt most people to realise that most prisoners will be getting out eventually . How many regular criminals became violent in response to abuse in prison? What about AIDS among prisoners? Prison should be an austere place. It should also be a safe place where civilised behavior and values are taught, where problems such as illiteracy and learning disabilities are addressed. The New Yorker has made legitimate points about solitary confinement. But there needs to be a grater focus on prison violence. The price for neglect of this issue will ultimately be paid on the street.


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Sunday, March 29, 2009

New York in the Year 2119

The following is the State of the City Address by His Royal Excellency Michael Bloomberg, King Michael IV to his subjects in the seven Boroughs of New York City.

Greetings to My Cabinet, to the Consultative Assembly, Borough Presidents of Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, Manhattan, the Bronx, Nassau and Westchester, to Duchess Caroline III, the Duchess of Suffolk and to my Loyal Subjects,

Today is the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the monarchy in the City State of New York. In the year 2019, my distinguished great grandfather Mike Bloomberg (after whom I am named) wisely replaced the extravagance of elections every four years with the far less raucous hereditary monarchy, of which I am the head. In my address to you, I will review the progress of our city state and my plans for its future.

There is much progress to report. The introduction of the Beijing Dollar (B$) has contained inflation considerably, making budget and pension management a far more viable proposition.
The campaign against tobacco, alcohol, transfats and other vices has improved the longevity of New Yorkers. Unfortunately, it has driven much of our night life end entertainment to Hoboken and to upstate Indian reservations. Despite the health improvements to New Yorkers resulting from the Bedtime Enforcement Act, there has been an accompanying flight of tax revenue to areas outside of our City- State. In accordance with my executive powers, I have instituted the following measures to improve our financial solvency and the quality of life in our City State.

1) There is a lot of pedestrian traffic and congestion in Manhattan. To lessen this, effective April 1, 2119, there will be one way streets only for pedestrian traffic from 14th St up to 96th St. The penalty for walking the wrong way on the street or failure to maintain correct speed will be double the jaywalking fine of B$ 150.00.
2) Non residents of Manhattan put a strain on its resources. Anyone who does not work or live in Manhattan must purchase and carry on their person a B$15.00 daily fun pass. Anyone found having fun without a fun pass will be fined B$ 100.00.
3) The wear and tear on city sidewalks is costing the city millions in sidewalk maintenance. Everyone over the age of 12 must wear a pedometer purchased from the city at a cost of B$ 50.00. Walking will remain the most economical alternative to travel by car. At a cost of B$ 0.30 per mile, it is a real bargain. This is half the per mile cost of riding a bicycle and one fifth the tax on odometer mileage.
4) There are 33 million New Yorkers living the seven boroughs of our city.Water, gas and oil have long been subject to nominal taxes to encourage conservation. In addition to the caffeine tax, which serves as a friendly reminder not to over indulge in even mild stimulants we are looking at an Atmospheric Usage Tax. Millions of New Yorkers burden the atmosphere through regular usage, pumping into it dangerous bacteria as they do so. The Atmospheric Usage Tax will be based on estimated lung capacity and atmospheric usage. A fee will be assessed after a medical examination. The annual examination will cost B$ 50.00. Annual fees will range from B$ 10.00 to B$ 60.00. Discounts to the needy will be available, but only in selected neighbourhoods.
5) When you pay taxes, you are really paying for services rendered. For this reason we are now going to extend the 17.65% City State sales tax to income taxes as well. Anyone paying City State Income tax will have to pay sales tax on it. This reasonable measure is long overdue.
6) King Michael IV gives complete freedom of speech during meetings of the Consultative Assembly. A transcript of of meetings is all anyone needs to be well informed. The City State sales tax will therefore be extended to newspapers. The proceeds will go towards paying for printing the Consultative assembly minutes and maintaining the Royal helicopter and limousine. This will enable the King to get out and mingle with the people so they will know what he thinks.

Because we have saved so much money on elections we now have more money to spend on Expo 19, the king's personal tribute to his great grandfather, Mike Bloomberg who laid the cornerstone for the monarchy by abolishing term limits. The rebuilt amusement park on Coney Island will be a royal gift to the people of New York. Our slogan will be "Let Mike take you for a ride !"

Since the resettlement outside the City State of everyone earning less than B$ 250,000.00 a year, life has improved greatly. The Screening Commission has created a consensus among the populace that makes everything run so much more smoothly. In conjunction with the Board of Reeducation, there has been a level of cooperation and good will that would have been unthinkable when my great grandfather founded the monarchy. If we are not like one big family, the New York City State has become like one giant friendly condo, which gets to choose its membership.

My great grandfather Mike faced tough challenges with a multiparty system and illegal immigrants. Today, there is no question of citizenship or party registration to divide us. All who are loyal to the Bloomberg Dynasty are welcome here. All have a place at the royal table.
The subjects who have given so much to the Bloomberg monarch deserve a token of appreciation. The hearty cheering deserves a gesture of royal gratitude. Accordingly, I will be suspending the Atmospheric Usage Tax. It remain suspended for the six month duration of Expo '19. You may now take a deep breath in our smokeless city. After all, its free. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, March 27, 2009

Zionism is the Problem? A Reply to Ben Ehrenreich

Back in 1975 when Kurt Waldheim was its Secretary General, the United Nations approved the Infamous "Zionism is Racism" resolution. Widely discredited and eventually repealed in 1991, it now has a proponent who in the tradition of "Jews for Jesus" seeks to lend new respectability to dubious ideas.

In a March 15 article in the Los Angeles Times titled "Zionism is the Problem", Ben Ehrenreich attempts to make a case for the fundamental illegitimacy of Zionism and the State of Israel. Going beyond even Jimmy Carter, Ehrenreich states as follows.

If two decades ago comparisons to the South African apartheid system felt like hyperbole, they now feel charitable. The white South African regime, for all its crimes, never attacked the Bantustans with anything like the destructive power Israel visited on Gaza in December and January, when nearly1,300 Palestinians were killed, one-third of them children.

Israel has gone to unprecedented lengths to avoid civilian casualties. Hamas has by contrast hidden behind civilians at every opportunity, even transporting arms in ambulances. It refrained from retaliatin for months and then endangered its own soldiers to protect civilians.

Ehrenreich deals in deceptions and half truths with the deftness of a three card monty dealer. He brandishes his Jewish credentials and throws around biblical quotations with the purpose of advocating the dismantling of the State of Israel at a time when not only its citizens but Jews around the world are under physical attack. How does justify what seems to be national suicide?
His ideas deserve close scrutiny and plausible answers.

Mr Ehrenreich takes a marginal group and attempts to pass off as mainstream Jewish thought its equation of Zionism and Nazism. He states as follows.

It's hard to imagine now, but in 1944, six years after Kristallnacht, Lessing J. Rosenwald, president of the American Council for Judaism, felt comfortable equating the Zionist ideal of Jewish statehood with "the concept of a racial state -- the Hitlerian concept." For most of the last century, a principled opposition to Zionism was a mainstream stance within American Judaism.

Even among non observant Jews, an attachment to the land of Israel remained during a time that the truly marginal Council for Judaism campaigned against the founding of a Jewish State. Ehrenreich overlooks the fact that much of the land in what was today Israel was barren and undeveloped until Jews came and developed it. Rather than employing solely Jewish labour in resettling the Holy Land, Arabs were attracted from neighbouring regions by the jobs that were created in the course of developing the land.

At the end of the war, European survivors found themselves unwanted when they returned to homes that had been occupied by their Christian neighbours. A safe home away from Europe was a practical necessity to the remnants of European Jewry.

You might ask why the plight of European Jewry should be an Arab problem. This is a question you might want to address to Mohammed Haj Amin Al Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem who worked closely with Hitler in advocating for and implementing the Final Solution. From his personal visit to Auschwitz to his activities of organising Bosnian SS units, Husseini was deeply interested in the extermination of European Jewry. Jimena.org, an organisation advocating for Jews from Arab countries reports as follows.

In 1941 pro-Nazi Palestinian nationalist leader Hajj Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem, arrived in Berlin, along with many other Palestinian leaders, as a guest of the German Nazi regime. He worked in several capacities for the triumph of the Nazi "new order:" he directed propaganda beamed to the Arabs of the Middle East and North Africa as well as Muslims in Asia to elicit rebellion and sabotage against the Allied powers; he was the linchpin for the Nazi espionage network in the Middle East and organizer of saboteurs who were spirited into the area; he organized an Arab Legion to serve with the German Army, and was active recruiting Muslim SS divisions in the Balkans and occupied Russia.

The Nazis welcomed him and his entourage warmly. He was given a generous stipend and subsidies to sustain five residences and suites at two hotels in Germany. He established an "Arabishes Büro" and a so-called "Jewish Institute" at Nazi expense.

With no small measure of German prodding, Arab nationalists during World War Two set upon Jews from Baghdad to Cairo. During this time, the word"Farhud" became widely known as the Arab equivalent of a pogrom. The Jews in Arab countries were often prosperous, with a history in Arab countries dating back many centuries. Many were terrorised into trading mansions from Damascus to Cairo and Baghdad for tents in Israeli resettlement camps. Many Jews fled to Israel in fear for their lives from a society in which the servile status accorded non Muslims had taken on a murderous edge.

Ehrenreich complains as follows about what he perceives as the defensiveness of Zionism's supporters.

For the last several decades, though, it has been all but impossible to cry out against the Israeli state without being smeared as an anti-Semite, or worse. To question not just Israel's actions, but the Zionist tenets on which the state is founded, has for too long been regarded an almost unspeakable blasphemy.

There are indeed opponents of Zionism who do not hate Jews. I have met such people, Their sincerity resonated with me. Such individual should not be tarred with the brush of Jew hatred. But there is a double standard by which Israel is judged by the nations of the world. When a hostile neighbour showers Israel with rockets and sends in suicide bombers, it is totally legitimate to remove the threat. Israel has endangered its own soldiers in attempts to pinpoint terrorists and spare civilians. Instead of lauding the Israelis, they are condemned for "targeted assassinations." Israel is consistently found wanting as it is judged by standards never used before. It is totally legitimate to cite and prove the application of double standards and to describe the injury that results from this.

If you want to somehow say that bombing a restaurant in Israel is an "act of resistance" what can be said when a synagogue is attacked in Turkey or a restaurant in Paris is bombed? What is a Jew to do? If we stay away from Israel, danger will find us in Paris or Caracas. One of the dead in Mumbai refused to have an Israeli flag draped over his casket. Will the "anti-zionists" who killed him apologise to his family?

Ehrenreich singles out the State of Israel for ethnic exclusivity in its accordance of citizenship in the following paragraph.

Founding a modern state on a single ethnic or religious identity in a territory that is ethnically and religiously diverse leads inexorably either to politics of exclusion (think of the 139-square-mile prison camp that Gaza has become) or to wholesale ethnic cleansing. Put simply, the problem is Zionism.

The concept of jus sanguinis or "right of blood" is a legal concept that predates the State of Israel by many years. It is described in Wikipedea as follows.

Jus sanguinis (Latin for "right of blood") is a social policy by which nationality or citizenship is not determined by place of birth, but by having an ancestor who is a national or citizen of the state. It contrasts with jus soli (Latin for "right of soil").

At the end of the 19th century, the French-German debate on nationality saw Ernest Renan oppose the German conception of an "objective nationality", based on blood, race or even, as in Fichte's case, language. Renan's republicanItalic conception explains France's early adoption of jus soli. Many nations have a mixture of jus sanguinis and jus soli, including the United States, Canada, Israel, Germany (as of recently), Greece, Ireland and others.

The charge that Gaza is a prison camp is ludicrous. Its elected government has both declared and waged war on Israel. People disguised as civilians have committed terrorist acts. Israel would normally be a lucrative and natural trading partner for an adjacent Palestinian state. It is the Palestinians themselves who have through terrorism made the most solid case against a Palestinian state. If Ehrenreich wants a bi-national state, he need look no further than Israel, which has Arab citizens represented by Arabs in parliament. How many Jewish citizens are there of Gaza? How many Jews are citizens of the Palestine Authority?

Singapore is 275 square miles in area. It was pushed out of the Malaysian federation in 1965. It is not a concentration camp. It is an oasis of prosparity. It has not sent suicide bombers to Malaysia. It has not fired rockets into their territory. If the Palestine Authority wants to duplicate Singapore's economic prosperity, they might want to look at their foreign policy.

Israel has not done as Czechoslovakia and Poland did at the end of World War Two. Fed up with ethnic German's collaboration with Nazi invaders, they led a number of European nations in expelling hundreds of thousands of ethnic Germans.

Israel has not done as Turkey and Greece did in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne, according to which they had a population exchange which was notorious for its brutality. There were Arabs who fled their homes when war broke out in 1948. And there were almost a million Jews who left all they owned in Arab countries and fled to Israel. Israel urged many fleeing Arabs to stay. Many did. Their descendants are Israeli citizens. Does this not satisfy Mr. Ehrenreich?

Ehrenreich advocates a binational state. He pines for leaders who do not yet exist. He condemns Israel for electing Binyamin Netanyahu with far more vehemence than his criticism of Hamas, which was freely and fairly elected. Does he want Jews to go home? Just where is home? How much education will it take to create the sort of Jew and the sort of Muslim Ehrenreich longs for?

Ehrenreich reminds me of the old saying by Wolf Bierman that a government that loses its faith in the people must disolve them and elect another.

Ehrenreich talks about "saving Judaism" His "Judaism' is stripped of most of its commandments. When you do away with Jewish Law, and with the Jewish land, what are you left with? Israeli Jews encompass an ethno linguistic rainbow. It is a transracial unity made possible by Torah. Jewishness stripped of faith and practice degenerates into a social clique. Traditional Judaism has a law to which converts may swear allegiance much as do those who become Americans. Despite their ancestry, the entire history of the Jews back to Abraham becomes theirs as well, to pass on to their children. How is this racism?

Traditional Jewish life is tied to a code of conduct. It is also tied to dietary law and the land of Israel. Barring Jews from Israel prevents the fulfillment of volumes of commandments. There is no polite way around this.

When you strip away the Hebrew language, the laws of the Torah and the land of Israel from the Jewish people, their disappearance is inevitable. Ehrenreich's proposals point inexorably in that direction. He is asking us to be a light unto the nations by telling the last man to leave to turn out the lights, to melt into the landscape and to disappear.

I have seen the entire spectrum of skin colour in Jewish houses of worship. We are a nation of laws that welcomes converts. This synthesis of standing apart yet welcoming the stranger is the antithesis of racism. Judaism without Torah is likely to emit one last puff of tribalism and exclusivity before it peters out. Its motto seems to be "I don't know what I am, but you're not it."
I am sure that Mr. Ehrenreich does not mean to be cliquish and exclusive. But what else can his amorphous attempt at Judaism be before it disappears? Does he want us to cease our existence as a people? Perhaps if he honestly asks himself these questions, he can then answer us.


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Thursday, March 26, 2009

A Double Murder in Crown Heights

What is it like to work all day long in your own little bodega? Mohammed Mansoor Abuzaid opened his own piece of the American dream a few months ago on Utica avenue in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Instead of building his dream, he and his son were killed by masked bandits last night near where I live.

This block is like a little assembly of nations. A lot of West Indians Spanish speakers, Koreans and citizens of various Arab countries work and own shops here. They work long hours trying to pay the rent, distributors and taxes. Many are sending money to relatives back home. Some of the smaller shops keep costs down by employing family. Mr. Abuzaid was working with his son. It has been reported that their indignation at being robbed got the better of their discretion. They were reportedly shot dead for the crime of refusing to habd over their money

These are the second and the third murders in the last month. The previous murder was a woman who was shot dead in her apartment as her five year old played in another room. I am waiting for communal indignation to yield some clues to that crime. The cries of an orphan must surely awaken the mercy of heaven. Will we care enough to find the woman's killer.

Where I live, we absorb a lot about our neighbours. My children used to notice that the guy in the little bodega used to wear the same kind of yarmulka as me, except that in his community it is called a kufi. My wife tells me they had twin boys around the age of one of my sons. The Abuzaid family was Yemeni. There are a few Yemeni stores around that block on Utica. In another store owned by a Yemeni, I stopped and talked about Yemeni and Arab food that we both enjoyed. Another store owner told me when one of my kids tried to buy beer from him. I appreciated having someone out there who cared about someone elses kids .

One of my kids married a Yemenite girl. We love her and her family, and when I'm out on Utica avenue, I have a connected feeling that is deepened by my familial ties. Living in New York is like that. Most of us come closer together and leave the troubles of our respective homelands behind. Whether it's terror in the Middle East or violent elections in Jamaica, we just want things to work.

We hear with mind numbing regularity statistics from the police and from city government that tell us that our eyes deceive us, that crime is down. Nicky Perry, Mr. Abuzaid and his son bear witness with their unavenged blood that the statistics are cheap propaganda.

There are now news trucks and exotic police vehicles crowded into the block of the murder.
It is a healthy sign that the news trucks are here. I saw quite a few police around. Some had white shirts and gold badges. I hope that they will get the help from the community they need to do their jobs.

I have two suggestions in addition to community cooperation with the police in hunting down those who murder our neighbours. One suggestion is practical. The other is more an attempt to honour our dead.

The first suggestion is that of the right to bear arms. I wish Mr. Abuzaid would have been packing heat. The sad ending of his hard life might have been far different if he had not been deprived of the means to defend himself. Criminals are emboldened when those who obey the law are disarmed. We should increase the number of people licenced and trained in the safe use and ownership of firearms. Let criminals wonder if prospective victims might be armed.

The second suggestion is commemorative. Let the sidewalk in front of a murder scene be blocked off for seven days. Let people walk around the place where there was a murder and reflect upon it. A murder leaves a hole in the social fabric. Let it be marked temporarily by a hole in the landscape. When parents lose a child, or children lose a parent, we are all diminished. Let the name and picture of the deceased be put upon the barricades to move passers by to indignation and acts of mercy. It is not only the police or city government that must brig peace to our community. It is us. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Geithner Resign Now !

The official position of the United States government at this time is that our currency is the US dollar, and that we want it to be a viable and health world currency. In accordance with that position, the US government has rejected calls by the Chinese government to have a world currency that would replace the dollar.

The cornerstone of the Chinese proposal is the idea of pushing the dollar out as a world currency. This could have repercussions on the value of American savings and purchasing power. It should be seen not only as an economic proposal but an extension of China's political aspirations.

The American government response to the Chinese proposal was clear cut. Reuters News reports as follows of Timothy Geithner's response to the Chinese proposal.

In a congressional hearing on Capitol Hill, U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a Minnesota Republican, asked Geithner: "Would you categorically renounce the United States moving away from the dollar and going to a global currency as suggested this morning by China and also by Russia, Mr Secretary?"

Geithner replied, "I would, yes."

She posed the same question to Bernanke, who said: "I would also."

A mere day later, Geithner is singing a different tune. According to Politico.com, Geithner has today spoken far more approvingly of the Chinese proposals. The following remarks by Geithner hit world currency markets like a slap in the face.

"I haven’t read the governor’s proposal. He’s a very thoughtful, very careful distinguished central banker. I generally find him sensible on every issue," Geithner said, saying that however his interpretation of the proposal was to increase the use of International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights -- shares in the body held by its members -- not creating a new currency in the literal sense.

"We’re actually quite open to that suggestion – you should see it as rather evolutionary rather building on the current architecture rather than moving us to global monetary union," he said.

"The only thing concrete I saw was expanding the use of the [special drawing rights]," Geithner said. "Anything he’s thinking about deserves some consideration."

The continued use of the dollar as a reserve currency, he added, "depends..on how effective we are in the United States...at getting our fiscal system back to the point where people judge it as sustainable over time."

If Geithner wants to act like a college professor sitting on the fence and judging between the US and China, there are probably scores of universities that would welcome him with open arms. But Geithner is the Secretary of the Treasury. Any careless remarks by him at the present time could have catastrophic impact. Any talk of downgrading the US dollar by the Treasury could have a major negative effect on markets.

Bloomberg News reports as follows about the world market response to the Geithner proposal.


Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner sent the dollar tumbling with comments about China’s ideas for overhauling the global monetary system, only to drive it back up by affirming that it should remain the world’s reserve currency.

The article continues further.

The dollar slid as much as 1.3 percent against the euro within 10 minutes of news accounts of Geithner’s remarks. The U.S. currency was down 0.6 percent at $1.3553 as of 12:31 p.m. in New York.

Billions of dollars are made and lost from off the cuff remarks. As a Treasury Secretary, Geithner must surely know that.

My father would say when I did something incredibly foolish," What was going through your alleged mind when you did that?"

I must now pose that question to Geithner.

If drastic action is not taken now, it will appear as though President Obama shares Timothy Geithner's lack of confidence in the US dollar. Timothy Geithner has spoken at length against America's interests. As a representative of the nation's interests, he should support our country and our currency. President Obama should demand Timothy Geithner's resignation. The sooner the better. Geithner has no common sense and no discretion. He is a loose cannon. He should resign now.



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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Cardin Bill, A Bill to Save Ailing Papers

Congress is now turning its attention to faltering newspapers. In an attempt to save faltering papers from going under, a proposal has been made to allow a troubled paper to reorganise as a non-profit. Reuter's News reports on the proposed legislation as follows.

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

The bill is aimed at local newspapers,not news conglomerates. It does allow non profit organisations to buy failing papers from conglomerates.

What is interesting about the bill is that it does not involve a government bailout. It simply utilises the tax code to be used to create a viable climate for a paper to survive. Direct subsidies would of course create a paper that is beholden to political sponsors. It would likely be influenced in its editorial policies.

The blueprint for a bailout of newspapers should be used for helping other ailing corporations. The best remedy for a business is creating a favorable tax and regulatory climate. Taking away obstacles from people helping themselves is a lot better than throwing money at the problems that brought them to bankruptcy.

The internet has created a new environment for newspapers and magazines. No one knows exactly how the industry will restructure to save itself. The Cardin proposal is a wise one that might well save jobs in a troubled industry. The danger of it creating a biased breed of reporting is minimal. We already have a news media that is as biased as any paper ever was in Moscow or Pyongyang, where the role of the press as party cheerleader was never in question. I do not think that we should sit back and let the ailing press die out. We also should not give them a dime in direct subsidies.

The Cardin bill shows a caution that should apply to all corporate bailouts. Reduced regulation and tax relief are potentially effective tools for helping a business discover what it must change to survive in a changed world. Its underlying philosophy is sound and more applicable to other businesses than its proponents realise.

It is not only the internet that has contributed to the demise of newspapers. It is the insidious and at times blatant bias that has caused many to walk from them in disgust. This problem will not be remedied by subsidies or tax holidays. Hopefully, the ailing news industry will come to realise this. The sooner it does so, the better off the country will be


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Monday, March 23, 2009

The Problem of Corporate Bonuses: A Problem and a Symptom

The grass roots uproar about corporate bonuses is a healthy thing. In most businesses, a person is rewarded for performing well and demoted or fired for big time mess ups. Somehow the capitalist incentive system seems to have gone out of capitalism.

The uproar over bonuses is not likely to subside. Unfortunately, the Obama administration seems to be manipulating it for their own purposes. A lot of the current difficulties resulted from government mismanagement. People who should not have gotten mortgages got in over their heads with debts to large to carry. The Madoff scandal is an instance where government regulators were asleep at the switch. In the current volatile political and economic climate, there are countless lightning bolts of public anger looking for a place to strike.

There is a need to examine the mistakes that were made in order that they not be repeated. Any successful business should examine its failures. Unfortunately, it is very easy for this constructive inventory of shortcomings to degenerate into recrimination and scapegoating. When healing our economy becomes a job for the government, the temptation for one party to blame another becomes overwhelming.

We are creating a demonised image of greedy capitalist magnates that is attracting a lot of anger, much of which is destructive. Millions of Americans are stock holders. As individuals, their net worth and economic clout is small. But on a mass level, the small scale investor, the holders of 401k's are potentially a powerful force for healing. It would be far better for our country if sick corporations appealed to shrewd and skeptical investors for free will investments instead of going to Washington to beg from Congress. The best thing Washington could do is to cut taxes on investments in troubled industries and to go light on everyone else. Unfortunately, Congress is giving welfare checks to corporations without making sure that they have found and corrected their mistakes.

There is a lot of grandstanding and finger pointing in the current deliberations about our sick economy. We have even found out that the knowledge of impending bonus payouts was concealed from the public for weeks on end. If we are going to solve our country's problems we can not work in a climate of demagoguery and media manipulation. The bonus payouts and obscene perks are a tiny fraction of corporate budgets in troubled businesses. But they are a symptom and a symbol of a skewed corporate philosophy. We need an honest accounting of what went wrong and what we must do in the future. We must restore the incentive to achieve and produce that has driven American capitalism until now. Most importantly, workers, managers and investors need each other. Class warfare, whether it is bosses who outsource work to China or extortionate union demands will kill our economy.

Patriotism is a lot more than waving a flag and having a cookout. It means recognising that we are all in this together and that we all have the potential of making a constructive contribution.

The greatest dangers in life must be faced not with clenched fists of rage but cool appraisal , calm calculation and steadfast resolution. I find these ingredients for national recovery to be in all too short supply. If we are serious about securing a stable future, we should demand this of our leaders and ourselves. Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Pacifica Radio and Indignant Listeners

The Jewish Journal reported a disturbing story about a talk show in Los Angeles that crosses all lines in its discussion of Israel and Jews. The article details a lopsided enforcement of civility that gives free rein to Arab homicidal rage yet presses the mute button on any opposition to it. The following excerpt gives a sense of what listeners in Los Angeles heard.

A caller identifying himself as Mohammed said, “I believe that so-called Israel should be annihilated totally, wiped off the map ... I hope that Iran has the gall to nuke and exterminate them so they go back to Europe.

“And as long as there is one Palestinian man, woman or child, there will be no peace in Palestine ... as far as I’m concerned, so-called Israel should be exterminated from the face of the earth. That’s my personal opinion. They have no right to exist….”

Augustin Cebada, the show’s host, did not interrupt or argue. He let Mohammed finish, then said, “OK, maybe those are your opinions, and there’s probably a lot of people out there who agree with you. We have free speech in this country….”

Cebada later took a call from Dan, who objected to what he’d just heard: “When a caller calls with that kind of hatred, that kind of Nazi rhetoric, that Israel should be wiped off the map, that’s what fuels the fire, and you people did not respond by saying, ‘This is the kind of hatred we don’t need.’ And that’s what’s fueling the hatred, isn’t it?”

This time, Cebada cut the caller off, saying: “There’s a lot of hatred in your voice, Dan, in your tone. This program offers a forum so people can express what they’re feeling….”

The radio station in question, KPFK FM is part of the Pacifica network has been famous since the early sixties for championing any anti American cause that they could find.

Years ago, I was listening to WBAI, their New York affiliate and a program sponsored by the North American Man Boy Love Association came on. During a fund raising drive, program hosts defended the program on free speech grounds. Sometimes, when a periodic fund raising drive is drawing near, the stations and the network will make lame gestures of concern as shown in the following announcement on the KPFK web site.

KPFK Programming In The News

The recent article published in The Jewish Journal website on March 18 and regarding a program we air named La Causa, is of great concern to KPFK and the Pacifica Foundation. KPFK has taken immediate measures to review and address some of the allegations and concerns expressed in this article and we'll do so with the programmer in question and in great detail. KPFK is committed to fulfilling the Pacifica Foundation mission and creating a balance in the complex, independent and autonomous programming structure that makes the current programming line up at KPFK. We Thank You for your continued support and ask that you allow us the time necessary to address this matter fully and with the best possible outcome.

Station Management

The reprehensible programming on Pacifica stations sometimes attracts the ire of listeners. WBAI in New York has occasionally appealed to listeners to earmark contributions for specific programs of which listeners may approve such programs on classical music and jazz. Some irate listeners have been known to tie up the fund raising operators with crank phone calls. A far more subversive way of expressing disapproval is to phone in fake pledges. Eventually, the extremely low rate of pledges being honoured could be construed as a referendum on the programming of Pacifica and its affiliates. It has been reported that large pledges are verified with a call back. For this reason, activists who oppose any part of the Pacifica radical agenda have often made small pledges, which are followed up by mail, which costs the station money as well.

I do not of course condone or advocate such action as has been taken by community activists opposed to the Pacifica radical agenda. I am simply reporting in a factual manner how indignant citizens have expressed their displeasure with the Pacifica agenda. I hope my readers will simply not make any pledges during the fund raising drives of Pacifica affiliates. I would never condone flooding the station with fake pledges. That might make "free speech" a bit costly.

And I certainly would not condone making crank phone calls such as made by one gentleman who quietly made a five hundred dollar pledge. When asked if it would be check, Master Card or Visa, he replied that he was making a contribution through Visa. When the pledge operator asked for his Visa number the crank caller replied. "Get a visa to go to North Korea ! Because that is where you belong."

The pledge operator replied with some naughty language that is usually intercepted by the seven second delay button before it hits the air.

Although obscene and threatening phone calls can be traced instantly with modern technology, fake pledges and the occasional exercise of free speech would not run afoul of any state or federal law.

I am presenting the reaction of outraged citizens to Pacifica programming simply for educational purposes. I am sure that my readers would not engage in such activities themselves. The last thing I would want would be for people to actually copy the pranks I have described. So please monitor the programming of Pacifica radio associates and express your displeasure responsibly. Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pandering Pelosi on Illegal Immigration

In the wild world of Nancy Pelosi, Enforcing our nation's immigration laws is "un American". I thought it might be unfair competition to Saturday Night Live to make such a statement, but the woman is actually serious. Fox News reports as follows.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi recently told a group of both legal and illegal immigrants and their families that enforcement of existing immigration laws, as currently practiced, is "un-American."

The speaker, condemning raids by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, referred to the immigrants she was addressing as "very, very patriotic."

"Who in this country would not want to change a policy of kicking in doors in the middle of the night and sending a parent away from their families?" Pelosi told a mostly Hispanic gathering at St. Anthony's Church in San Francisco.

It must be stopped....What value system is that? I think it's un-American. I think it's un-American."

A further indication of Pelosi's advanced dementia was her willingness to make her pandering statements in front of a live microphone and camera.

Pelosi pandering to illegals

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Someone needs to tell Pelosi that whatever she says in San Francisco is going to be heard in Peoria and beyond. Once someone gets you on camera, you may as well be speaking on national television.

Pelosi is cynically playing at American's heart strings. Getting arrested is never a pretty sight. Millions of lawbreakers have wives and children. I have seen arrests. It is not a pretty sight. But the responsibility for the trauma of a police raid for anything should rest upon the shoulders of the law breakers.

At first glance, illegal immigrants might elicit sympathy. Driven by economic need, they travel thousands of miles to do jobs unwanted by Americans. But are those jobs really unwanted? Or is the appraised value of such work being depressed to steer certain jobs away from native born citizens of our country? What about the impact in certain neighbourhoods on rental costs? Is illegal immigration really a victimless crime?

Pandering Democrats like Pelosi have an interest in importing new citizens who are likely to vote Democratic. Greedy businessmen are happy to depress wages to save a few bucks on wages. When they both get their way, the workers who have less to spend in a tight job market sit on their wallets. Then you read headlines about retail spending being down.

Most Americans are descended from immigrants. Very few people want to shut down immigration. The right to work in America and become a citizen should be a gift bestowed upon those deemed worthy by the American government on behalf of the American people. The solution to poverty in Mexico is to aid them in developing their economy.

Immigrants are by nature more aggressive and enterprising than those who stay home. Mexico and other developing nations should be developed further to provide opportunities that will make the young and restless want to stay there. It is possible for their economy to complement rather than compete with ours.

Nancy Pelosi is not content to take America's money, she is taking away America itself and handing it over to illegal immigrants. She wants to portray those who oppose her as bigoted and hard hearted. In her twisted world, defending our borders is un American. Discussing and combatting her ideas should according to her party be regulated by the "fairness" doctrine. Even as her party opposes military spending, she demands travel perks on military jets. Maybe she should have a non military plane at her disposal. She could name it after the "Fairness Doctrine." She could call it "Doctrine Air".

Unfortunately, defeating Pelosi at the polls might be an uphill battle. Her Congressional district is supportive of her ideas. But both she and her party have to face the American people every two years. The clock is ticking. Pelosi is being recorded. When the time comes, we will hit "Play back". And that will mean "pay back." Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Bad Paintings of a Bad President and Thoughts of Our Future

Despite the mounting evidence of his breathtaking incompetence, there are still people who want to make a personality cult out of Barack Obama. Now it is possible to view a collection of Obama Icons on BadPaintingsofBarackObama.com, a site featuring really bad paintings of a really bad president. Here are some highlights.




The art of the personality cult has always fascinated me. From Kim il Sung to Chairman Mao, from Saddam Hussein to Papa Doc, egotistical autocrats have long attempted to project their images onto canvas. At the bottom of this posting I have included below portraits of Kim Il Sung, Josef Stalin and chairman Mao.

Bad paintings are only the most comical aspect of the suspension of disbelief that made Obama possible. Far more insidious was the rigged coverage in the media of the Obama campaign and the completeness with which he was sheltered from scrutiny.

There is a great temptation in the American media to create heroes and to then destroy them. Obama through his dazzling incompetence seems to circumvent this trend by destroying himself politically. His "stimulus package" has been a corporate welfare giveaway that buys time for the banks while leaving millions of homeowners with no relief in sight. He has proposed to make veterans pay for medical care out of their own insurance before the government will pay. This offends not only millions of veterans but those who honour their dedication and sacrifice. Aside from the complete disregard this shows for America's veterans, it shows a political tone deafness that is likely to erode Obama's popularity in the upcoming months.

Obama is way over his head. He is ignoring and offending America's long term allies even as he seeks friends among our most determined enemies. What is Obama thinking? Who is he listening to? The one redeeming feature of inexperienced leaders is the ability to seek out and heed good advice. Obama seems to lack even this.

The Obama administration needs to have Congress and a critical media looking over its shoulder. Sensible economic proposals and foreign policy are badly needed. Any president that was endorsed by Jimmy Carter needs an extra dose of scrutiny and distrust.

Democracies have an amazing ability to heal themselves, even from a presidential election that resembles nothing so much as a train wreck Las Vegas wedding and the throbbing headache the morning after. Obama has served us notice that we will need to make good use of the checks and balances built into our political system.

An assertive Congress as well as a vigilant media can mitigate some of the damage Obama might otherwise inflict on our country. With talk radio and blogs, this is to a considerable extent a grass roots proposition. For the sake of the nation's future, we should not shirk this important task.







Sphere: Related Content

Toil and Tears in Zimbabwe

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Zimbabwe stands out even in Africa as a cauldron of violence, corruption and starvation. The grudging accomodation of the country's white minority along with tribal and political warfare has reduced the troubled nation to being a supplicant among troubled nations rather than being an exporter of food.

The Zimbabwean dollar now stands at about 25 billion to one US dollar. Since independence in the late 1970's the government has rolled out new currency several times, simply lopping three zeroes off the old currency each time.

Foreign creditors have long refused to accept Zimbabwean currency, which takes only a few months to lose any value it might have. Now, this lack of confidence has spread to the markets and groceries across Zimbabwe. According to Sam Chakaipa, an opposition activist in Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwean dollar has been replaced by gold as the new currency in Zimbabwe.

Gold in the Zimbabwean marketplace is measured by tenths of a gram. One gram of gold is worth about thirty dollars. So one tenth of a gram is worth about three dollars. The Zimbabwean country dwellers to not trade in heirlooms, or gold coins. The gold that they use in trade is tiny specks and splinters. Those who are able bodied pan through tons and tons of mud in hope of finding a few specks worth three or four dollars. On the average, a day's grueling work is enough for one person to stave off starvation. The sick and the elderly, who can only get worthless banknotes face starvation. The country faces a man made famine which is creating a wave of economic refugees in neighbouring South Africa.

Zimbabwe once had industry, farms and a vibrant economy. Its population was educated and well fed. Now its economy is the fastest shrinking in the world. Its president Robert Mugabe basks in the fading glory of having fought for majority rule in the former apartheid state of Rhodesia. Now, in a nation of grinding poverty, he stands out as a multi millionaire with mansions in Zimbabwe and factories in China. His Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) crushes the opposition headed by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) with a wave of violence that has frightened away investors and blighted the life of citizens.

What can Zimbabwe expect in the future? Even at a middle class dinner party, a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk is a gift cherished by a dinner host. Poorer folk consider themselves fortunate if they can scrounge edible leaves and roots from fields and wilderness.

Zimbabwe has plenty of natural resources. It has agricultural potential as well. But it is the human variables that have pushed this tormented country to the brink of starvation and chaos. It is ultimately the human and social variables that are crucial in turning a nation's wealth into a blessing for its people.

What can the world do for the suffering Zimbabwean people? In the short term, there should be humanitarian relief efforts to save its people from the brink of starvation. Unfortunately, a corrupt government can steer foreign aid to political supporters of the regime. For this reason, the government of Robert Mugabe should be pressured to hold free, honest elections and to step down. Investors will not want to invest in a country that is in chaos.

The country may need international supervision for a transitional period. Sometimes, national emergency overrides national pride. In 1979 for instance, the Vietnamese were welcomed into Cambodia despite the historical enmity between the two countries. Even Vietnamese occupation was preferable to the infamous Cambodian genocide in which two million perished. Zimbabwe is at that level of human suffering. Perhaps the British, who ruled the country until 1965 might oversee the reconstruction of a clean government and trustworthy administration. I am pointedly ignoring the impotent and useless United Nations, which is infamous for running violence ridden camps in which UN employees terrorise the refugees who live there.

The United States should follow the body count and assign Zimbabwe a high priority in peace making efforts. Even on such a tormented continent as Africa, Zimbabwe stands out.

It has long been said that darker skinned people matter little in the deliberations of the United Nations. The reality on the ground does little to give lie to this assertion. Americans should try to find organisations that are able to get aid to the suffering people of Zimbabwe. The people of this tormented nation do not have a lot of political clout. But in the eyes of G-d, we stand as equals with them. And in the eyes of man, the colour of tears is the same.

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I was very troubled in writing this story and found a British charity that operates humanitarian missions in Zimbabwe. I was frustrated at not being able to find an American charity. The British site I visited took a donation of ten British Ponds The name of the organisation is H.E.L.P. I hope my readers will check out this and other charities operating in Zimbabwe. Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Thoughts About Peace Talks Between Jew and Gentile.. And Between Jews

Top leaders of Jewish organisations want to change the focus of interfaith outreach from Catholic Jewish dialogue to Muslim Jewish dialogue. Vos Iz Neias reports as follows.

Washington - A top Jewish umbrella organization in the United States is launching a campaign to initiate dialogue and cooperative efforts with the Muslim community.

The Jewish Council for Public Affairs announced the initiative as part of a bid to shift the focus from the community's recent rapprochement with Pope Benedict XVI. While restoring good ties with the Catholic Church is seen as important, especially following the fallout over the bishop who was reinstated despite his past statements denying the Holocaust.

There is a growing sense among activists and rabbis in the Jewish community that reaching out to American Muslims is a more urgent need than relations with Catholics.

The JCPA says it seeks to foster greater Jewish-Muslim cooperation in promoting civil rights, defending civil liberties, and combating terrorism. The JCPA also says it seeks to join forces with Muslims to combat anti-Semitism, xenophobia, and anti-Islamic prejudice.

The JCPA must be living in a different world than I am. New York is a salad bowl of different religious and ethnic groups. The world of work and business is the best way to foster dialogue, not about faith and comparative religion but about simply coexisting. The majority of people want safe streets and good opportunities for their families. Most immigrants want to leave conflict back home.

For those who are curious about the attire and customs of their neighbours, literature and classes should be made available. Some people are more curious than others. Accomodation should be made for that.

There is a legal definition of tolerance. It means at least being civil to those with whom one may disagree and who one dislikes. Anyone who does not respond to pragmatic business interests or curiosity should at least fear crossing the line into criminal behavior. Intelligence and law enforcement will always have a place in maintaining peace in America or anyplace else. The Bush administration showed a keen awareness of this. Unfortunately, there seems to be a drift from common sense under the Obama administration, which is attempting to have dialogue with a long list of enemies while neglecting friends.

In Israel, a case has been making the news that points to a need for peace talks between Jews. Vos Iz Neias reports as follows.

New York - On Sunday, Elhanan Buzaglo was sentenced to four years imprisonment for the vicious beating of a woman, nine months ago in Jerusalem's Ma'alot Dafna neighborhood. Buzaglo, a member of a charedi mishmar hazniyut, a self-appointed chastity squad, pled guilty as part of a plea bargain struck with the State Prosecutor's Office.

Buzaglo, who broke into the 31-year-old divorcé’s apartment along with four other men, was convicted of receiving $2,000 from the mishmar hazniyut for his role in the attack, which was intended to intimidate her into leaving the predominantly charedi neighborhood. Judge Noam Solberg wrote in his decision that "the punishment must reflect the abhorrence of his acts … and deter him and others like him."

Even though the Jerusalem District Court described the assailants as an "armed militia," Buzaglo, 29, was the only defendant to be convicted in this barbaric attack. According to newspaper reports last October, a series of flaws in the investigation, including a problem with the recording device, enabled Buzaglo's dispatchers – the modesty patrol members – to evade indictments.

The sentence meted out to Buzaglo is entirely appropriate. The violence being reported in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and other places in Israel against those deemed immodest masks a lot of problems. Many people who do do not fit into rigid molds of behavior and learning are leaving Judaism entirely. In some happy cases, they return to other orthodox groups that are more tolerant of differences. Communal laws and ordinances must ultimately be an expression of collective desire and direction. In order to change behavior, the heart must ultimately be transformed. Imitating the hatred of women prevalent among Israel's Arab neighbours will not bring peace to Jewish communities. The murderous intent of Jew haters world wide should remind us that we are in the same boat.

The peace talks that Jewish leaders are calling for between Jews, Christians and Muslims are entirely appropriate between Jews. The problems of a troubled economy, crime and drugs are a common concern to Jews and gentile alike. We would do far better to join forces in working on these problems than to focus on intractable differences of religious philosophy.

Whether in Israel or America, there is a place for dialogue and a place for the law. In search of peace, we must use both




Sphere: Related Content

Monday, March 16, 2009

Note to Readers

For some time, I have had an inactive site, "thewinterriders.com". It links over to rudistettner.com and to magdeburgerjoe.com. Its url is easier to spell, which makes it useful in promoting all three sites.

I am now putting thewinterriders.com to an additional use. I am running on that site stories which I believe are worthy of attention. On the site I am putting the opening paragraphs of stories along with possibly a single sentence. The stories themselves will not be original. I will eventually run the rss feed for thewinterriders.com on Rudi Stettner and on Magdeburger Joe.

I am not promoting thewinterriders in any competitive sense such as registering it on J Blog Central, since it is not my writing. All it is intended to be is sort of a scrap book for my readers. I want it to in a small way drive up traffic for those whose articles I feature. Additionally, I find that it looks very tacky to have a post at the top of the blog that is months old. It makes all three blogs look as though they are inactive, which is not the case. Anyone who wants to send me an article is welcome to do so. I will always link back in the middle of the article you send. Bloggers should be good neighbours to each other. I know how pleased I am when someone links back to me . This is a chance to return the favour.

I welcome reader feedback and suggestions about my new innovation in The Winter Riders Group.

http://thewinterriders.com/ Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Comments on the News From Israel

Benyamin Netanyahu has been holding secret talks with Tzipi Livni in an effort to broaden his coalition government beyond the ranks of the right wing parties. Agence France Presse reports as follows.

JERUSALEM (AFP) - - Israeli prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is holding new talks with centrist Tzipi Livni in a last-ditch effort to form a broad government instead of a narrow right-wing coalition, officials said on Sunday

Livni, the outgoing foreign minister and leader of the centrist Kadima party, had rejected joining a cabinet with Netanyahu late last month because of his hardline positions over the peace talks with Palestinians.

But the two held a secret meeting during the week that lasted into the early hours and were due to meet again on Sunday, officials in Netanyahu's Likud party said.

"Netanyahu and Livni met on Wednesday for new talks to examine whether Kadima would join a national unity government headed by Likud," one official said.

An old friend of mine who is a Soviet emigre from back in the 60's views Israeli politics with a cynical eye. He told me as follows.

"In Russia, we had one party. We voted and the Communist Party put in their candidate. In Israel, we have a multi party election and afterwards, we have a "national unity government". Two guys rotate in the Prime Minister's chair and have the same policies. How does this differ from Russia?"

Netanyahu seems to be conforming to my friend's predictions. Does he differ from Livni? Last time he was in office he sold out Hebron. What does he want to give away this time?


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Israeli negotiations for a prisoner swap with Hamas are at a sensitive stage. Agence France Presse reports as follows.

JERUSALEM (AFP) - - Egyptian-brokered negotiations on a prisoner swap with Hamas are at a crucial stage and any deal will be decided in days, senior Israeli officials said Sunday as two envoys held talks in Cairo.

A special cabinet session on Monday will hear the report of the two envoys and will then make its decision, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said at the start of the weekly government meeting.

"The government will receive the update and in accordance with the circumstances and the information, we will decide," he said.

Israeli media said the envoys were carrying an ultimatum from Olmert warning that if Hamas does not agree to a deal by Sunday night, the group will have to deal with the new Israeli government, which is likely to be less flexible.

But Hamas insisted it would not give in to "Zionist pressure" and said its demands for the release of hundreds of prisoners have not changed.

"We do not have anything new on this issue," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said. "We are sticking by our conditions and we don't care about the Zionist pressure."

What is passing without comment is the lopsided numeric ratio of prisoner swaps with Israel's enemies. Hundreds and sometimes thousands of Arabs are swapped for one Jew. Hamas has taken this to grotesque lengths, in which the Jews returned to Israel are not even alive. If the condition of the Jewish corpses were to become known, it is likely that Jewish rage would alter the political climate.

Israel's conditions should be simple. Live prisoners for live prisoners. Dead prisoners for dead prisoners. Additionally, we need to reconsider Israel's lack of a death penalty. Sami Kuntar, the baby killer who is a national hero in Lebanon was not in uniform when he committed his crimes. He should have been executed. We made exceptions to Israel's lack of a death penalty for Adolf Eichmann. There are new Nazis in our generation who worship Eichmann and Hitler as well. Let these modern day Jew killers join their role models in hell. And let the European grandchildren of Nazis and Nazi collaborators who protest join them as well. We will be cursed no matter what we do. If we can not earn peace through the love of our enemies, let our peace come through their fear of us.


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Friday, March 13, 2009

Notes and Rants to Readers

Dear Readers,

This posting is semi personal. I usually write about issues and talk little about myself. Although I mix politics and religion in generously, some people dislike anything even remotely chatty. Additionally, I put up a lot of secular music. Any reader who is an orthodox Jew knows by now that I hold by some of the more lenient opinions on secular music. One of these opinions concerns Women singing. Many hold that listening to even a recording is not allowed. I gratefully avail myself of the leniency that permits recordings of women singing. The text of any article accompanying such a recording will clearly note the name of the performer. This way, anyone who goes according to Jewish legal opinions other than mine can skip the parts of my site that they feel falls short of their halachic standards.

Since I write about people, it seems deficient to write in a manner that mutes half of the human race. In order to not exclude those who do not listen to women singing, I may start reprinting lyrics where appropriate. My personal attitude towards halachic (Jewish legal) strictness includes a number of factors. I feel that legal stringency should not be ostentatious or demeaning of others. Interpretation of Jewish law should not be a way of "keeping up with the Goldsteins."
Those who differ with each other on Jewish law should be respectful of each other. One of the reasons we still have a mosque on the Temple Mount is because of carelessness in this regard.

There are times I temporarily take on a strictness to achieve inner change. A relationship with G-d, like a marriage requires periodic fine tuning. I have on occasion given up reading newspapers for a period of time just to clear my head. The only one who knows is my wife, who would like me to make such changes permanent. Withdrawing from music during the times of mourning on the Jewish calendar is important to me. It also serves the purpose of withdrawing from music, which deepens my appreciation of it. All of this is personal. The only reason I mention this is because it is reflected in how I run this site and Magdeburgerjoe.com.

In general, I only mention personal matters if they have general implications. I try not to be chatty and certainly try not to be a purveyor of gossip.

This posting is some personal notes that to some extent reflect my belief that everything is political, everything is religious, we all breathe the same air and we all return to the same earth.

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My motorcycle broke down. By a fortuitous stroke of fortune, it broke down a block away from a repair shop. My regular mechanic told me that it would take a week for him to look for it. He lost a customer. I vote with my feet. For the next week , I 'll be walking more and reading more. With a trade like that, I won't mind trading the windy solitude of my motor cycle for more mental and physical exercise. As my children often say, "It's all good".

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Pushing a shopping cart is good. Getting exercise is good. Every time I do something for my health, it is a reminder that lengthening my life is worth the series of small sacrifices. Turning away from beer, pickled herring and honey dipped donuts is way of telling my family that more time on earth with them is worth the sacrifice of some earthly pleasures.

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I had to buy Shabbos candles. The ones I bought were made in Israel. I passed over candles made in China. My wife lights one candle for each of our children, according to our custom. The Chinese force women in China to abort every child after the first. (In some regions they are allowed two children) How can I support such cruelty in the course of performing a mitzva.

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In addition to the ubiquitous Chinese electronic goods, there are now an abundance of Chinese grocery items. Aside from candles, I passed over garlic and toilet paper. I am very concerned about political freedom and labour practices. Every time I shop is a chance to vote. I would rather spend extra money than support oppression.

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After I am satisfied that a product is kosher or of satisfactory quality, I have a list of questions.

1) Where was it made?
2) How does that country treat its citizens?
3) If I know that a company is good to its workers, I give them preferential treatment. Whether or not being kind pays is in good part up to consumers
4) How did a particular country treat Jews during World War Two ?
5)How are they treating Israel and Jews today?
6) Are there other issues that I should be concerned about? The Netherlands allows doctor assisted suicide. There have been instances in the Netherlands which doctors killed patients that they thought were wasting their time. The list of jurisdictions approving similar laws is increasing. I shop accordingly. Heineken beer does not pass through my front door.

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I do not think that there should be a Hechsher Tsedek. I am worried that the people who are getting involved in such matters have hidden agendas such as loyalty to non orthodox forms of Judaism and vegetarianism. I do think orthodox Jews should care about worker's rights and be informed about who scores well in this area I also think that there should be web sites that rate businesses on their treatment of workers, respect for the environment and whatever other issues might concern consumers such as supporting businesses that employ American workers. I give preferential treatment to Israeli goods as well. In the times of Jew hatred in which we live, I think that we should help Israel whenever possible.

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I was saddened and sickened to read about the guy dressed chassidic who was convicted of molesting his daughter over a nine year period starting when she was nine. He could have spared the Jewish people massive disgrace by shaving his beard and announcing his conversion to some other faith. The people who were quoted as impugning the victim as being non religious should hang their heads in shame. Molesters, whatever else they may be are moises u mediach transgressors who lead others astray. Wearing religious garb reduces their Judaism to nothing more than a costume party. We need to get beyond such nauseating hypocrisy. After reading the suicide note of the boy from Lakewood who wrote about molestation, we need to wake up. We are talking not only of saving souls but saving physical lives.

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On a parting note, I am signing off before Shabbos with a song from Zion Golan, who sings Yemenite Jewish music. I have always felt an affinity with the Jews of Arab countries that is not adequately explained by my mostly Ashkenazic ancestry. Maybe G-d reached into a different basket when he assigned me a soul. Have a good Shabbos



video Sphere: Related Content