Archive for September, 2012

Lies, Damned Lies, and Desmond Tutu

I’m all for calling someone a liar. We do so here all the time, don’t we Mr. President?

But if Archbish Des wants to call Tony Blair a liar, he’d better duck:

Archbishop Desmond Tutu called today for Tony Blair and George Bush to be tried at the International Criminal Court in The Hague for their role in the Iraq war.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner accused the former British and US leaders of lying about weapons of mass destruction and said the invasion left the world more destabilised and divided ‘than any other conflict in history’.

Writing in today’s Observer, he claimed that the US and UK-led action to oust Saddam Hussein in 2003 created the backdrop for the civil war in Syria and a possible wider Middle East conflict involving Iran.

He said: ‘The then leaders of the United States and Great Britain fabricated the grounds to behave like playground bullies and drive us further apart.

‘They have driven us to the edge of a precipice where we now stand – with the spectre of Syria and Iran before us.’

I don’t know what Syria and Iran have to do with deposing Saddam, but then I don’t have a Nobel Prize. Or maybe I do know. Ridding a miserable Arab country of its despotic dictator—and a war-monger—might have given hope to a whole region. That the Arab Spring is a miserable failure is on the Arabs themselves, not the brave soldiers and leader of the West who showed them the way.

But let Tony have his say:

‘I have a great respect for Archbishop Tutu’s fight against apartheid – where we were on the same side of the argument – but to repeat the old canard that we lied about the intelligence is completely wrong as every single independent analysis of the evidence has shown.

‘And to say that the fact that Saddam massacred hundreds of thousands of his citizens is irrelevant to the morality of removing him is bizarre.

‘We have just had the memorials both of the Halabja massacre where thousands of people were murdered in one day by Saddam’s use of chemical weapons; and that of the Iran-Iraq war where casualties numbered up to a million including many killed by chemical weapons.

‘In addition his slaughter of his political opponents, the treatment of the Marsh Arabs and the systematic torture of his people make the case for removing him morally strong. But the basis of action was as stated at the time.

‘In short this is the same argument we have had many times with nothing new to say. But surely in a healthy democracy people can agree to disagree.

‘I would also point out that despite the problems Iraq today has an economy three times or more in size with child mortality rate cut by a third of what it was.’


It’s so odd how sloppy and, well, dumb liberals can be. There are perfectly reasonable arguments against the decision to remove Saddam, just as there are against almost any war or any action. Why make [bleep] up? I would say it’s because they don’t want an argument or a discussion, they want a show trial. Actually, they just want a verdict, and only one will do:

Archbishop Tutu added: “On these grounds, alone, in a consistent world, those responsible should be treading the same path as some of their African and Asian peers who have been made to answer for their actions in The Hague.’

I’ll make a deal with the good Archbishop. I will support his call for a trial at The Hague if he and the rest of The Old Farts (I think they call themselves The Elders) stand trial first for their persistent libel and slander of Israel. Whaddya say, Des, shake on it?


Religion Studies

You can’t turn on the TV without a reconsideration of Jesus and the Christian message. Bearded men in robes stumble across a rocky landscape, looking thoughtful and holy, scholars opining on who Jesus really was and what he really meant. I’m serious, such programs are on all the time.

I wonder why they don’t do that with other religions?

Islam: The Untold Story has triggered nearly 550 complaints to both the television regulator Ofcom and Channel 4 itself.

It has also sparked a bitter war of words on Twitter involving leading historians and Islamic scholars.

Since it was screened last week, presenter Tom Holland, a historian with a double first from Cambridge, has been subjected to a torrent of abusive tweets, some of which have included physical threats.

He is accused of distorting the history of Islam by claiming the Koran makes little or no reference to the religious city of Mecca.

One Twitter user accused Mr Holland of trying to destroy Islamic history while another called him a ‘fool’ for suggesting Islam is a ‘made-up religion’.

Oh, I see. Never mind.

Dan Snow, who has presented history shows for the BBC with his father Peter, described the programme as ‘a triumph’, tweeting: ‘Dear angry, mad people – it is conceivable that you know more than the world’s leading scholars, but very unlikely.’

The Academy claims the programme’s assertion that there are no historical records detailing the life and teachings of the Prophet Muhammad is flawed.

‘Holland appears to have turned a blind eye to rich Islamic historical tradition,’ says the Academy.

Last night Mr Holland said: ‘The origins of Islam are a legitimate subject of historical inquiry and this film is wholly in keeping with other series and programmes on Channel 4.

‘We were of course aware that we were touching deeply-held sensitivities and went to every effort to ensure that the moral and civilisational power of Islam was acknowledged.’

Well, what do I know about it? Bugger all. I just figure what is sauce for the halal goose is sauce for the halal gander.


Smugly Smug In New York

Aren’t these liberal snots obnoxious? Don’t you just hope Obama loses?

I am trying to come up with a suitable celebration for a Romney victory. Definitely a great bottle of wine, but what else? Maybe I’ll just have to spend the day in Harvard Square, smiling cheerfully at all the glum faces? That’s not too exciting though. Any other thoughts?

- Aggie

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Evening Soaps

I don’t know if this is true or not—but then I didn’t watch Dynasty and Dallas back in the day for the cinema verité

Not since the feud between Ted Kennedy and Jimmy Carter tore the Democratic Party apart more than 30 years ago have two panjandrums of the party loathed each other quite as much as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

And yet this week, television viewers will be treated to a remarkable spectacle at the Democratic National Convention: Clinton will stand before a cheering throng of delegates on Thursday night and deliver a primetime speech nominating Obama, a man he once dismissed as incompetent, as president of the United States.

The Clinton-Obama feud is the worst-kept secret in the Democratic Party. It traces back to the bruising 2008 primary campaign, when Obama’s surrogates lambasted Bill and Hillary for being “racists” and a Clinton aide said of Obama that he “embraces the politics of trash.” The animosity still stirs such deep emotions that a year ago Clinton held a secret meeting of friends and political advisers at his home in Chappaqua and urged his wife to challenge Obama for the party’s presidential nomination in 2012.

According to two people who attended the meeting, Hillary rejected her husband’s advice that she run against a sitting president of her own party. But that didn’t stop Bill Clinton from going on a rant about Obama.

“I’ve heard more from Bush, asking for my advice, than I’ve heard from Obama,” my sources quoted Clinton as saying. “I have no relationship with the president — none whatsoever. Obama doesn’t know how to be president. He doesn’t know how the world works. He’s incompetent. He’s an amateur!”

Clinton is many things, most of them bad. But he’s a shrewd judge of character.

My sources inside the Obama campaign tell me that the last thing Obama wanted to see was Clinton, one of the country’s greatest orators, standing at the podium of the Democratic convention and sucking all the air out of the place.

The president, First Lady Michelle Obama and their senior political adviser, Valerie Jarrett, all argued strenuously against offering Clinton a plum assignment at the convention. They wanted to relegate him to a minor, non-prime-time speaking role. However, Clinton, who is viewed as an iconic figure by the party faithful, refused to accept anything less than the all-important nominating speech and threatened to boycott the convention unless his demands were met.

The decisive vote in the matter, according to my sources, was cast by David Axelrod, Obama’s chief political strategist, who argued that the Obamas needed Clinton far more than Clinton needed them. Axelrod had long been aware that things were not going as well for Obama as the mainstream media reported. On the eve of the party’s presidential convention, Democrats had outspent Republicans 4 to 1 and had poured more than $200 million into negative commercials against Mitt Romney, and yet polls showed the race to be a dead heat, with Romney beginning to pull ahead in some critical swing states.

Someone had to make the case that Democrats could fix the economy — and it couldn’t be Obama.

Enter Bill Clinton, who presided over boom times and balanced budgets in the 1990s and whose 66% favorability rating outstrips Obama’s job approval rating by 20 points. As the most admired Democrat in the country, Clinton appeals to the very constituency — white working-class voters — that gives Obama the most trouble.

And so Clinton was signed on to remind voters of the glory days of a Democratic president’s economy. Since then, Clinton has been furiously at work writing his speech in longhand, as is his custom. As he’s continued to revise the speech, he has received numerous suggestions from the Obama camp about what they want him to say. This, according to my sources, has made Clinton furious.

The Obama campaign has insisted on seeing the speech before Clinton delivers it, and Clinton has just as insistently refused to show it to them. As a result, no one — not even the president — knows what Clinton intends to say. This has led some Democratic insiders to speculate that Clinton will make not-so-flattering remarks about the last four years of Democratic rule in the White House.

“If I were the president,” one of these insiders told me, “I’d wake up at night in a cold sweat wondering what surprises Clinton is going to come up with.”

The question remains: Why did Clinton agree to add his luster to what is shaping up to be a rather lackluster Democratic convention? The answer is simple: As far as Bill Clinton is concerned, 2012 is not the decisive election. That election will be held in 2016, when Hillary will be 69 years old and have one last chance to run for president — a chance that Bill and Hillary intend to seize.

And so, look for Bill Clinton to use his hour of prime-time TV to burnish the Clinton brand and remind Democrats at the convention and throughout the country how much they miss the Clintons.

How can we miss them when they won’t go away?!


Greetings From the “Sh*tty of Boston”

Set your DVRs:

Clint Eastwood, move over. Here comes Mumbles Menino.

What an honor — the mayor will be addressing the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte on Wednesday. OK, so it’s not exactly prime time — 5 p.m. — but thank God for C-SPAN, because we’ll be able to record everything.

You can bet Hizzoner will be “splinkin’ ” from the heart. “I’m great to be here,” the “ionic” mayor will say. You don’t hear many politicians anymore who use “youse” as the plural of you, or who begin sentences, “So I says.” Stand by Charlotte. Here comes Mumbles.

That is our may-ah, the, ahem, Honorable Thomas M. (for Mumbles) Menino. And no one is better at translating—or at least transcribing—his incoherence than Howie Carr:

What a story Mumbles has to tell, about “Boston, Massachusetts, 375 years and making.”

It’s a “tight-night community,” and you can go to “any neighborhood in the Boston.” For almost 20 years now, Mumbles has been “tryin’ to bridge the grap” between various groups, and “they’ve done a great job of many different ways.”

As Mumbles continues speaking, heads will begin to turn. Who is this man? What language is he speaking? What’s up with his tongue? Where did he go to college?

“UMass of I am alumnus.”

He’s not just a street-corner ward heeler, he’s a philosopher, a deep thinker.

“When you’re elected, people elect you to make decisions. … It will take all of us together to turn around the sistuation.”

Perhaps Mumbles can be pressed into service later, during prime time. He’s quite experienced at doing introductions — “Let me induce our senior senator.”

When the votes are all counted in Boston on Thursday night, he will be able to say, as he has said in the past:

“I have did my duty.”

He’s a throwback, a living fossil. I guess that’s why he keeps winning reelection. When he’s gone, there’ll be no more like him. As the saying goes, before they made him, they broke the mold.

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Today’s Argument for the Eternal Existence of Israel


In the mid 1980s you could not find so much as one mango tree in Israel. Fast forward 20 years, and Israel not only has them – it is now one of the Middle East’s biggest exporters of this exotic fruit.

Menachm Shoham from Mosah Ramot owns of one of Israel’s largest mango orchards and processing plants in Israel. What started as a family business now processes over 300,000 fruits daily, making it the largest exporter in the region.

The Shoham’s plant exports some 8,000 tons of mangos a year, to Europe, the United States and even some Persian Gulf states.

Choke on that! That sweet, succulent, divine fruit you’re enjoying was grown by Israelis. And they’re getting better at it:

According to Dor, Israel leads the field of mango research and development. “In that respect, we’re the best growers in the world, with the best fruit-per-acre ratio. We’re also advanced in creating new varieties of mangos, and we’ve already patented six varieties – Maya, Shelly, Omer, Tali, Noa and Agam.”

Now you’re just showing off, Israel.

But seriously, if Israel’s existence were put to a global vote (a heinous concept, but play along), and the choice were between a bountiful supply of sweet juicy mangos and Arab sewage disruptions, do you think it would even be a contest?

Remember what happened to the greenhouses the Israelis left behind after they decamped from Gaza? Wealthy American Jews paid for the greenhouses to be bequeathed to the Arab villagers who took over the land after the Jews left.




Condolences and Confusion

There are many anonymous tragedies in our country (and, God knows, the world) that happen every day. Some of them might be instructive to know about, though, by definition, we never will.

Then, there are public tragedies. In these cases, we can learn something. But I’m just not sure what.

Leslie Elder was always a fighter. But in a message to a friend in the waning days of her life, she seemed exhausted.

The note, written at a time of spiritual darkness, suggested defeat after a decades-long struggle for medical coverage.

“I honestly don’t know how much more I can endure,” Elder wrote earlier this year in a Facebook message to her friend Liz Jacobs. “I am fighting for (Medicaid) and disability. I can’t work I sit in bed I cry a lot. I am still fighting for healthcare and still fighting foreclosure.

“I am so upset but perhaps it was not meant to be. I don’t know anything anymore,” said Elder, who died in July at age 63 without insurance coverage.

As she typed the note, Elder could scarcely breathe. Her lungs had filled with fluid over several months; her respiratory system was shutting down. After visits to the emergency room and several free clinics, Elder was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

But what makes her family bristle: Elder did not have to die.

If she had had health care, “Absolutely she’d still be here,” said Jacquelyn Elder, Leslie’s daughter, adding that Hodgkin’s lymphoma has a high survival rate. “That is something really hard to deal with.”

First, the condolences. Ms. Elder sounds like a spirited woman, and a loving—and loved—wife and mother. We are sorry for her passing, and for the physical and mental pain she endured.

But I’m already confused, and I’ll give it away that the story is incomplete. First, as the story makes quite clear, she had health care—in emergency rooms and free clinics—though that would hardly be adequate to a woman in her condition. Indeed, Hodgkin’s lymphoma is highly curable, but it takes several months radiation and chemotherapy. Not likely to get that at a free clinic.

So, how did she get to be 63 and without health insurance? We’ll get there.

First, her battles with government-supplied health care (or lack thereof):

Elder’s family spent her final months fighting for Medicaid, with no clue that they qualified for Florida’s high-risk pool. They are not alone: Of the estimated 200,000-375,000 people expected to enroll in PCIP in the first year, less than one-third have done it, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

Leslie’s husband, Jim Elder, admitted that he did not know many details of the program, and much of the conversation about health care has been confusing.

“I was under the impression that pre-existing (PCIP) didn’t start until 2014,” said Jim Elder in a recent interview with CNN.

Jacobs, a nurse who met Leslie Elder in her role as a health care advocate and spokeswoman for the group National Nurses United, fears the Elders’ story will be echoed repeatedly, even with ACA’s passage.

“In a humane health care system, as much of the rest of the world has, no one would have to know the arcane minutiae of how to apply for a high risk pool,” said Jacobs. “Everyone would have (coverage) that qualifies you for health care when and where you need it.”

That sort of access is promised to many through the ACA, but stories like the Elders’ suggest the act — at least as it relates to high-risk pools — still has some kinks.

In the midst of the family’s confusion, Elder was unwittingly suffering from cancer again — her fourth diagnosis. During a 2009 interview with CNN she quipped, “I don’t get a cold, I get cancer, and cancer, and cancer.”

Okay, we’re getting somewhere. She is a multiple survivor (told you she was spirited!), and CNN has been aware of her for years. I am astonished that no one who knew of her condition—not her providers, not her media exploiters—told her of the health care options available to her.

And about that private coverage:

By then, the Elders had been on a roller coaster, going from what they describe as the best medical coverage to having none. In between came skyrocketing insurance premiums, high deductibles, and stacks of unpaid medical bills following each cancer diagnosis.

At a certain point, feeling like her pre-existing conditions were to blame for her soaring and unaffordable insurance rates, Elder gave up on coverage.

Her insurance company Aetna later said Elder’s previous cancer diagnoses were not the culprit for the rate increases.

Although the company did not cite a specific reason for the increased rate, Cynthia Michener, an Aetna spokeswoman said: “There can be other contributing factors to rate increases for small business policies, including, for example, the aggregate cost of the entire pool of small business policies in the state.”

During the interview with CNN three years ago, Elder admitted to volleying between fear of the unknown and acceptance of her fate, even though without insurance, she had no idea whether she had cancer again.

She had coverage; she dropped it. And once she dropped it, no company was obliged to pick it up for her—though the state government would have, if asked.

To summarize: she was frequently (and expensively) sick; she made an error in dropping her coverage; she was poorly, even negligently, advised; she got sick again.

I don’t know what conclusions we are meant to draw, but to me, this is the perfect storm of health care disaster, from a personal point of view (she died), and a coverage point of view (she could have been treated).

In looking for a cause of this tragedy, the only entity clearly innocent of all charges is private health insurance. They didn’t drop her, she dropped them. She and her family (and their circle of friends, advisors, and handlers) missed out on opportunities available to them, and ObamaCare only made things more confusing. Several thousand pages of legalese can do that. If we had to pass the bill to know what’s in it, she was a goner from the outset. I read this story as saying the act did as much to kill her as its bloated claims promised to save women like her.

I suppose if we had had a National Health Service in place, Leslie Elder might be alive today. If she could have gotten an appointment to see a specialist within a reasonable amount of time. If that specialist, overworked and underpaid, correctly diagnosed her condition; and if the eight-month course of treatment had been followed rigorously. And if she hadn’t gotten a hospital-borne infection that ravaged her depleted body. She would have been fine until the next cancer.

For the truth is we can’t save everybody. That’s not to do with health care, but to do with cancer (and other often-fatal conditions). Ms. Elder survived cancer in both breasts and both kidneys. She “didn’t make that happen”, as the president might say, or not herself alone—American medicine did. The sad irony is that she died of a curable form of cancer, her fifth, when the medicine and the coverage were available to her. That she lived as long as she did is a miracle of modern medicine; that she died as early is a cluster[bleep].

I wonder if we need fewer laws, not more, and simpler approaches to these worrying issues. Worked out with the insurance companies, not over their dead bodies. Just a thought.


Humorless Much?


When I went to Bali a few years ago, I didn’t go, like most tourists, for the beaches or, like Elizabeth Gilbert, for love. I went for the religion. I wanted to learn something about the unique brand of Hinduism practiced there.

Balinese Hinduism differs from Indian Hinduism in many ways. For example, in Balinese temples there are often no images of God. But for me the most arresting religious image I encountered was the empty chair.

I saw this chair, typically crafted of stone, everywhere in Bali—on streetcorners and mountaintops, and in households and rice fields. It is a shrine to Ida Sanghyang Widhi, the High God to Balinese Hindus. And it symbolizes, among other things, the indescribability of the divine.

Historians say this icon was brought to Bali in the sixteenth century from Java. Religious Studies scholars see some Buddhist influence here, which would not be surprising since Buddhism thrives throughout the Indonesian archipelago that encompasses Bali.

I saw the empty chair as an invitation—an invitation to reckon with God on your own terms and in your own way. I also saw it as an elegant refusal—a refusal to reduce God to simplistic terms we can understand.

ZZZZZZZ—huh, wha? Sorry, please go on.

Clint Eastwood has now turned “the empty chair” into a meme of a very different sort. In his speech on Thursday at the Republican National Convention, he argued with an invisible Barack Obama in an empty chair, drawing applause from the audience but upstaging Mitt Romney in the process.

What struck me as I saw this performance was how different Eastwood’s use of the empty chair was from how people use it in Bali.

In Bali, to stand in front of the empty chair is to reckon with your limits, and particularly with what you don’t know. But Eastwood and those who applauded him were driven by hubris, not humility. They claimed to know what Obama would say if he were in fact sitting in that chair, and of course the words they put in his mouth (including profanities) were words of their choosing, not his.

Maybe this is what Neil Diamond meant in “I Am I Said”:

“I am,” I said
To no one there
An no one heard at all
Not even the chair

Of course the chair didn’t hear. It was reckoning with your limits… or its limits. Or something.

I’m still not sure this piece isn’t a complete joke. Rather, I know that it is, but I can’t decide if it’s intentional or not. And lest you have any concerns:

My point is not that Obama is a God and should be treated with the reverence of one.

Duly noted!

Personally, I thought Eastwood’s performance was note perfect. His seeming rambling always rounded to a sharp point. Mark Steyn compared him to a jazz improvisor, but I think it was pure comic genius. Professor (racist code word alert!) Irwin Corey made a career out of this sort of performance.


Thank God He Hasn’t Slowed the Rise in the Oceans! [UPDATED]

Because we need a big honking tsunami right about now:

A man makes a sand sculpture with a likeness of President Barack Obama near the site of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina September 1, 2012.

Now I know why some religions ban graven images. That looks more like Nipsey Russell than Barack Obama.

Just another racist “dog whistle”?

Still think so?

Don’t call me a racist because I think the damned sand sculptor is a rank amateur. Or maybe he’s just not moved by his subject. Other subjects are just more inspirational, I guess:

As Buck mentions in the comments, the Democrats are getting rained out, when it was the Republicans who were supposed to suffer from the elements.

A torrential downpour that struck Charlotte Saturday afternoon damaged the Mount Rushmore-style sand sculpture bust of President Obama — an ominous beginning to what many fear is a plagued convention.

Workers were trying Saturday afternoon to reform the base of the sculpture, built from sand brought in from Myrtle Beach, S.C., pounding and smoothing out the sand that had washed off the facade of the waist-up rendering of the chief executive.

The sand sculpture was protected from above, and Mr. Obama’s face didn’t see too much damage. But the storm was so strong that its heavy winds blew the rain sideways, pelting the president’s right side and leaving the sand pockmarked and completely erasing his right elbow.

The symbolism groans under its own weight. He was pelted from the right, eroding his base. I’ll say. Republicans looked at Isaac and didn’t blink; Democrats are as a-scared of water as the Wicked Witch of the West.

PS: Where are the complaints about the carbon cost of bringing the sand from South Carolina to North Carolina? Maybe the sand is “better” in SC, but if them oceans don’t get lowered, all the sand will be underwater anyway.

PPS: Hahahaha!!!

The large Rushmore-style sculpture drew comparisons to Mr. Obama’s 2008 convention in Denver, when he accepted his party’s nomination on a stage that looked like a Greek temple.

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A Beautiful Day in the Negrohood

Won’t you be my negro?

An Assembly candidate whose campaign sent mailers using the word “negrohood” to residents in his Sheepshead Bay district apologized Wednesday — calling the racially tinged language a “typo.”

“As the candidate, I take full responsibility for this inadvertent error and I am sorry to anyone who was offended by it,” Ben Akselrod, who’s running in the Sept. 13 Democratic primary against Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz, said in a statement.

The Friends of Ben Akselrod sent the mailers last week, claiming that his opponent “has allowed crime to go up over 50% in our negrohood so far this year.”

Akselrod didn’t specify Wednesday whether his campaign intended to use the word “neighborhood” instead.

He said he faced discrimination as a Jew in his native Russia, and rejects “any form of racial and ethnic bias.”

As Mark Steyn observed:

Mr. Akselrod now says it was a “typo.” Could happen to anyone. You’re typing “neighborhood,” and you leave out the “i,” and the “h” and “b,” and the “o” and “r” get mysteriously inverted. Either that, or your desktop came with Al Sharpton’s spellcheck. And then nobody at the campaign office reading through the mailer spotted it. Odd.

I very much doubt Mr. Akselrod intended any offense or the subtlest hint of racial divisiveness. Just as I doubt using the words “Chicago”, “golf”, “professor”, or “jug-eared twerp” carry tones of racial animosity that only dogs can hear. Our media has become the biggest joke since Jack Benny passed, only no one’s laughing with them. We’re laughing at them. How could you not?


Rotten to the Corrie

If there is any good to come out of the death of Rachel Corrie—no, wait. That’s just wrong. There is no good in her death, or anyone else’s, save a few monsters. And she was no monster, though she did have her moments:

Don’t we all?

We’ve already expressed our condolences to the Corrie family several times, as well as our own sadness at her death. So let us amend that opening to read if there is any good to come out of the judicial decision clearing Israel’s good name now and forever, it is the outrage the verdict has elicited among the Jew-haters:

Former President Jimmy Carter called “unacceptable” a court ruling that declared the State of Israel is not responsible for the death of American activist Rachel Corrie.

“The killing of an American peace activist is unacceptable. The court’s decision confirms a climate of impunity, which facilitates Israeli human rights violations against Palestinian civilians in the Occupied Territory,” Carter said in a statement from the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

I don’t want to gloat—mustn’t give in to inappropriate feelings—but anything that gives Jimmy Carter indigestion needs to be mass-produced and introduced into the public water supply.

And while I wouldn’t wish a heart attack on this guy, a case of shingles wouldn’t be unwelcome:

A UN investigator condemned an Israeli court on Thursday for clearing the military of blame for the death of American activist crushed by an army bulldozer, calling it a “victory for impunity”.

The ruling handed down on Tuesday on the civil suit brought by the family of Rachel Corrie was part of a pattern of decisions exonerating Israeli military actions and political leaders, said Richard Falk, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories.

“The judge’s decision represents a defeat for justice and accountability, and a victory for impunity for the Israeli military,” Falk said in a statement issued in Geneva.

Let’s hear it for impunity! Our word for the day.

But if we are to mark Corrie’s death with any fitting tribute, let it be the truth:

Numerous pictures of Corrie standing defiantly in front of an Israeli bulldozer appeared in the media, but upon investigation it transpired that not a single one was from the incident that killed her. Some were taken hours before the fatal incident with a different bulldozer; others were sloppy photoshopped forgeries. Why were there photos after she was injured and not before?

Corrie was not the only member of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) who was nearly crushed beneath the bulldozer’s maw that day. Indeed, at least two – “Will and Jenny” – were pulled away by their colleagues at the last second.

The ghoulish photographer was an ISM member who went by the name of “Joe Smith.” His real name: Joseph Carr, a self-proclaimed anarchist who apparently used aliases to travel in and out of Israel and anti-American hotspots like Fallujah, Iraq. His March 17 affidavit immediately after Corrie’s death suggests a narcissist who speaks more about his trauma than Corrie’s death, and an agitprop specialist who had all of the press contacts and numbers readily at hand to launch a press campaign just 30 minutes after her death.

Rachel Corrie is portrayed as a brave fighter who defiantly stood in front of the Israeli destruction machine, and some of her colleagues testified to that fact subsequently. But the first accounts and affidavits after the accidental death state that Corrie was sitting or kneeling on the ground, not standing. Of course it was difficult for the tractor driver to see her; her profile was very low among the rubble, and the view from the armored tractor was limited.

hen the bulldozer approached a house today,” wrote The New York Times in its report of the accident, “Ms. Corrie, who was wearing a bright orange jacket, dropped to her knees.” Dale stated then that she was kneeling and “began to rise.”

“The bulldozer drove toward Rachel slowly, gathering earth in its scoop as it went,” an ISM friend of Corrie’s stated in 2003. “She knelt there, she did not move.”

Another colleague related: “She did not ‘trip and fall’ in front of the bulldozer. She sat down in front of it, well in advance.?“ He added: “Corrie dropped her bullhorn and sat down in front of one of the bulldozers.”

Why would the “internationals” risk their lives in such a way? And was Corrie a partner to this treacherous game? Reporter Joshua Hammer explained that on that fateful day the ISM members decided to take their confrontation with the IDF up a notch. They needed to prove themselves to the local population:

An anonymous letter was circulating which referred to Corrie and the other expatriate women in Rafah as “nasty foreign bitches” whom “our Palestinian young men are following around.”

That morning [of Corrie’s death], the ISM team tried to devise a strategy to counteract the letter’s effects. “We all had a feeling that our role was too passive,” said one ISM member. “We talked about how to engage the Israeli military.” That morning, team members made a number of proposals that seemed designed only to aggravate the problem. …“The idea was to more directly challenge the Israeli military dominance using our international status,” said the ISMer.

One of the ISM founders, Thom Saffold, admitted to The Washington Post the day after Corrie’s death that “it’s possible they [the protesters] were not as disciplined as we would have liked.”

Saffold continued with astounding callousness: “But we’re like a peace army. Generals send young men and women off to operations, and some die.”

That wasn’t the only statement indicating that Corrie was cannon fodder for the ISM. Another of ISM’s founders, George Rishmawi, told The San Francisco Chronicle in 2004:

hen Palestinians get shot by Israeli soldiers, no one is interested anymore. But if some of these foreign volunteers get shot or even killed, then the international media will sit up and take notice.

Another ISMer in Gaza committed to writing similar sentiments in a letter home in February 2003:

You just can’t imagine it unless you see it, and even then you are always well aware that your experience is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US citizen.”

The author was Rachel Corrie, one month before she died.

Rachel Corrie believed what she believed and did what she did. She paid the consequences of her beliefs and actions. But for Jimmy Carter, Richard Falk, her parents—anyone—to make her out to be anything she is not is a crime against decency. I’m sorry she’s dead, even if she was happy to die. Let her rest in peace, and shame on those vultures who would feed off her crushed body.


Happy… uh… Happy European… Jewish… um… Hang on a Sec

Here we go: Happy European Day of Jewish Culture—2012!

Let’s get this party started!

On Sunday, 27 countries across Europe will celebrate the annual European Day of Jewish Culture 2012.

What begun in 1996, near Strasbourg, France, as a local effort to open abandoned and decaying synagogues to the public, with the ultimate goal of raising enough funds to restore them, has today developed into a continent-wide one-day cultural event focused on a theme – and its ultimate goal is to celebrate and divulge Jewish culture across Europe.

No doubt, every EU country will have put money and efforts, alongside local Jewish communities and institutions, to celebrate Jewish culture and showcase its support for continuous Jewish revival as a sign that despite history, in today’s Europe, Jews are truly at home.

A home, perhaps, but a home for the criminally insane:

A Jewish seminary has advised its students not to wear skullcaps in public after Rabbi Daniel Alter, 53, was attacked in front of his young daughter after collecting her from a piano lesson on Tuesday.

A group of four young men hit him in the face repeatedly, shouted religious insults and threatened to kill his daughter. The rabbi needed hospital treatment to his face.

“We have also given guidelines to our students on how to behave so that they do not become victims of such attacks,” the college’s rector Walter Homolka told the Berliner Morgenpost.

“We have advised them not to wear their skullcaps on the street, but to choose something inconspicuous to cover their head with,” he said.

Maybe the girl played the piano really badly. And they were Schumann devotees.
I’d suggest Red Sox caps, but if you wore one you’d just want to kill yourself.

But that’s just Germany, where Jewish traditions come under scrutiny from millennium to millennium.

How ’bout a trip to the bonny, bonny banks of Scotland (are their banks owned by the Jews too)?

The opening show of the Israeli dance company, Batsheva, at the Edinburgh International Festival was disrupted several times on Thursday night, as pro-Palestinian protesters in the audience called to halt the performance.

Before the show began, some 300 activists protested against Israel outside the festival doors. Police forces had to escort Culture and Sports Minister Limor Livnat, who attended the show, through a side door so she would not have to go through the angry mob.

However, the security efforts to keep the protest outside the festival halls did not pan out, as dozens of pro-Palestinian activists managed to enter the dance hall where over 1,500 people were watching the performance.

Shortly after the show began, the protesters began wielding signs and shouting “free Palestine.’ The Batsheva dancers had to stop the performance several times, while police took control of the situation and forced the protesters to leave the place.

As Palestine is the historic name for the Jewish homeland, Israel is doing its best to free it. You might address your frustrations to the local Arabs.

But if you think Germany and Scotland are (or wish to be) judenrein, stay the hell away from Holland:

The Palestinian Authority charged Friday that recent statements made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman against PA President Mahmoud Abbas constitute incitement and he should be prosecuted in international courts for extremism.

In recent weeks Liberman has repeatedly said that no diplomatic progress was possible with Abbas at the PA helm. Some two weeks ago he dispatched a letter to Quartet members calling for elections to be held in the Palestinian Authority and the selection of a “new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership.”

“Due to Abbas’s weak standing, and his policy of not renewing the negotiations which is an obstacle to peace, the time has come to consider a creative solution, to think ‘outside the box,’ in order to strengthen the Palestinian leadership,” Liberman wrote.

On Friday, the PA Information Ministry stated that Liberman had “crossed every red line in his continuous incitement against Abbas,” according to the Bethlehem-based Ma’an News Agency. The PA Information Ministry went on to accuse Liberman of calling for the assassination of Abbas.

The ministry said that Liberman should be charged at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, calling on the EU, US and UN to take action against his “continuous incitement,” according to Ma’an.

We don’t need to refute this, do we? You barely need a frontal lobe to know what a joke it is for the Arabs to accuse Israel of “incitement”.

And speaking of jokes:

Consider this year’s theme for Sunday’s celebrations – Jewish humor. Jokes will be in abundance, as if to suggest that self-irony is what makes Jews what they are.

Jewish humor is very distinctive and very real – and there is something both redeeming and philosophically intriguing in the phenomenon of a people making fun of itself for the better part of a history that was not always that funny. Yet, Jewish existence is not a joke. Nor is making a good Jewish joke all there is to being Jewish. Jews should know better – especially because, as of Monday, the harsh realities of affirming Jewish identity in Europe will return to haunt Jews who define their identity through so much more than Jewish humor.

When Jews wish to pray regularly in their European synagogues – the same places that will open their doors to the European Day of Jewish Culture on Sunday – they can only do so at their peril or under heavy security.

Jews who wish to publicly display the outward paraphernalia of their faith do so at their peril as well — chances are they will be beaten up here and there. It has happened before. It will happen again. It rarely gets more than the perfunctory condemnation of a society that, deep down, still feels uncomfortable when Jews dress, eat, and pray, like Jews.

Jews who wish to impart their children with a Jewish education know their little ones will grow sheltered in the golden cage of a caring Jewish school – happy islands with no anti-Semitism inside, thanks to the barbed wire and high walls plus round-the-clock security service outside. They also know that metal detectors and police patrols will not always deter those who thirst for Jewish blood — ask Jews in Toulouse and ask no further – though plenty of others could tell you stories late into the night of how Jewish toddlers grow accustomed to cops with sniffer dogs and machine guns outside their kindergartens.

So, enjoy the day tomorrow, our good friends! It’s all you get for the next 365. As the old joke goes, coffee break’s over, everyone back on your heads!

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