Monday, October 31, 2005

Ted Kennedy on Alito

[courtesy of Basil]

This is a quote of Ted Kennedy regarding Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito, spoken to Alito:
SEN. TED KENNEDY (D-MA):
“You Have Obviously Had A Very Distinguished Record, And I Certainly Commend You For Long Service In The Public Interest. I Think It Is A Very Commendable Career And I Am Sure You Will Have A Successful One As A Judge.”
Then, there's Frank Lautenberg:
SEN. FRANK LAUTENBERG (D-NJ):
“I Believe Mr. Alito Has The Experience And The Skills To Be The Kind Of Judge The Public Deserves – One Who Is Impartial, Thoughtful, And Fair. I Urge The Senate To Confirm His Nomination.”
Surprised? Well, it was fifteen years ago, when Kennedy was on the Senate Judiciary Committee (Lautenberg in the Congressional record), and George H. W. Bush nominated Alito. It will be interesting to hear what Kennedy will say now, but logic dictates it will be very hard for the Democrats to fight Alito without contradicting past statements some have made, or looking bad in general. While this theoretically would be the exact kind of battle they would use a filibuster on, as it is likely the last very important appointment Bush will make, it is more likely a terrible one to filibuster, as the Republicans' use of the nuclear option will be viewed as wise and neccessary by the general public.

Either way, an excellent choice politically (as well as the aforementioned judicially) for President Bush and the Republican Party.

UPDATE: The GOP has added quotes from today, and is calling it Ted Kennedy vs. Ted Kennedy.

Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "Rather Than Selecting A Nominee For The Good Of The Nation And The Court, President Bush Has Picked A Nominee Whom He Hopes Will Stop The Massive Hemorrhaging Of Support On His Right Wing. This Is A Nomination Based On Weakness, Not On Strength." (Sen. Ted Kennedy, "Kennedy Statement On Nomination Of Judge Samuel Alito To Supreme Court," Press Release, 10/31/05)

  • Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA): "[The President] Put Forth A Nominee With A Troubling Record On The Rights And Freedoms Important To America's Families." (Sen. Ted Kennedy, "Kennedy Statement On Nomination Of Judge Samuel Alito To Supreme Court," Press Release, 10/31/05)

Very distinguished record; troubling record. Which is it?

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Bush Chooses Samuel Alito

A great pick, from what I've read. I read and then skimmed the Wikipedia piece on him, and like his decisions and how he came to them. I also read through most of the famous "Menorah" display case (thanks Chaim), and there, too, I liked what he wrote.

Michelle Malkin has a roundup of dozens of bloggers on Alito - they know a lot more than I do, and they all think he's a great choice. Even DovBear thinks it's a good one, for now at least.

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PorkBusters 2.0

Instapundit and The Truth Laid Bear's Porkbusters project has been revamped by the Bear, and is now even more clear. Along with many other bloggers, I support the Fiscal Watch Team Offset Package, and hope it continues to gain momentum. The FWTOP details the supporting senators, the opposing senators, and updates nightly the supporting bloggers, while explaining what PorkBusters is all about on the side. It also lists pork by representative and by state, and explains how to find pork, and how to submit pork to PorkBusters - along with the responses of Representatives that Busters have received. Another great job by the Bear and Glenn.

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Bush On Road To Success

[edit: Welcome OpinionJournal.com and Best of the Web readers! Please feel free to check out the rest of SerandEz - BOTW fans may especially enjoy The Roe Effect or Roe vs. Gay from a while back, which are among the posts in the Best of SerandEz scroll to the left.]

After a couple weeks of holidays, it's been hard trying to figure out where to start blogging from: Miers' withdrawal, Libby's indictment, the UN trying to shield Syria, Coburn's amendments to cut pork getting shot down... etc. Instead, I'm going to look ahead from this point.

Where does President George W. Bush go from here? US deaths in Iraq have hit 2,000, which sadly has the anti-war crowd celebrating. Harriet Miers' has withdrawn her nomination for the Supreme Court, which has just about everybody celebrating but Bush. Syria plotted to kill a Lebanese leader, and the leader of the world organization responsible for doing something about it tried to protect Syria instead. Tom Coburn put forward at least two amendments to cut pork, and just 13 Senators voted for it - including just one Democrat, Russ Feingold, who is looking more and more like a great Presidential candidate who sticks to his principles.

Things seem to look terrible for Bush - and yet, I think this is going to turn into a great success story.

Think long-term: There are two major actions Bush made in his first term: Toppling the Hussein regime in Iraq, and the tax cuts/economic policies he implemented. The Iraqi people, for all the horrible things that are still happening there, are progressing very nicely, including passing a constitution - just a couple of years after the war. That is a major success story, and somewhat unprecedented in history. Meanwhile, the economy has been running so well, nobody even brought it up for a while until the hurricanes hit - and yet, GDP rose 3.8% anyway. Bush is - wisely - sticking to his guns and refusing to raise taxes to make up the losses, as taxes would not solve the problem, only exacerbate it; as evidenced by the large rise in tax revenue, despite [re: because of] lower rates.

This forced the country to think of other ways of coming up with revenue - notably, not wasting it on pork projects. Bloggers rallied (and still are rallying) with Porkbusters, while Senator Coburn pushed to cut the pork in the Senate. At the same time, Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers was met with opposition by conservatives and liberals alike, most importantly conservative bloggers. After enough poor feedback and other issues, Miers withdrew. Now, an interesting side note that has come from these issues is the dialogue that has been started between the Republican Party and conservative bloggers (which I've discussed a few times).

Bush, meanwhile, had the time and reasons to refocus. We will see who he'll nominate, but let's assume it is someone of the Janice Rogers Brown mold. The Democrats will be hard-pressed to fight a nominee they passed so strongly the first time around; and she will likely prove to be a solid justice. [edit:] He nominated Samuel Alito in place of Miers, and the Democrats will have a hard time convincing Americans that this nomination is worth a filibuster - especially when they've spoken so highly of him in the past. Toss in the threat of the nuclear option to get rid of filibusters, and the likelihood of Alito not making it to the bench is extremely low. Add in the already confirmed [and excellent choice] Chief Justice John Roberts, and Bush's impact on the Court could be felt for 30 years. Meanwhile, if Bush does begin cutting some of the pork from the budget, the already decreasing deficit could disappear - an incredible feat for a President who has presided over both 9/11 and a slew of major hurricanes.

Toss in the Middle East: In the next 3 years or so, Iraq should slowly grow stronger and stronger. If the US decides to take action against Syria (or Iran, for that matter), the already changing Middle East will learn democracy even faster. Bush's allowing Israel to direct the path they take is proving wise, and forcing the Palestinian people to choose democracy or terror. While it is still unclear which will win out, at least now they are battling over it.

If the President would also work on Social Security, he could go down as one of the most effective Presidents in history. His nomination of Ben Bernake to succeed Alan Greenspan as the Fed chairman was received with... quiet. The little that has been said has been mostly positive - just randomly clicking around on the Democratic Underground shows that the left thinkers believe him to be an excellent choice, much as the right does. If he can help push the neccesity to fix Social Security, to make the tax cuts permanent, and to seriously consider a different tax system, Bush will have covered just about every major issue - both foreign and domestic.

The biggest trick is to let his policies stay in place for as long as possible. Most of Bush's policies take the right approach - long-term fixes so problems do not recur; planned out ideas that do not rely on external revenues (taxes etc.) or fixes to sustain themselves. Unfortunately, many politicians rely on short-term fixes that make people happy enough to keep poll numbers high. It will take a dedicated President to let Bush's policies ride their course and build up this country and the rest of the world.

If - and this is not a small if - the people and politicians of this country can support the President, and if Bush himself can refocus his energies on doing what is in the best interests of this country for the long-term, rather than trying to broker compromises that serve nobody's interests, this country will be far better off. I think that the current situations have allowed Bush to realize this, and we will look back on this somewhat darker hour as the turnaround point of this Presidency. In the end, Bush will utilize this opportunity to push the proper - long-term - agendas and set this country for a healthy, prosperous, and safe future.

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NFL Picks - Week 8

11/1 UPDATE: I won!

I've decided to put these up every week to show how my system is working... I talked about this previously here. I have adjusted my system to take the Aikman Efficiency Ratings (available on FoxSports) of each team, add together their offensive and defensive ratings, and add 10 ratings points to the home team. I then choose as a winner the team with the higher rating in each game, and weight the points based on ratings differential. For further details, read the previous post on this. Meanwhile, here are this week's picks:
[Home teams in CAPS; (my)Winners in Bold.]

Arz 12 DAL W
Gb 10 CIN W
W Oak 1 TEN
Was 8 NYG W
L Cle 3 HOU
W Chi 7 DET
Min 14 CAR W
Jax 2 STL W
Mia 5 NO L
Kc 9 SD W
Phi 4 DEN W
L Tb 13 SF
Buf 6 NE W
Bal 11 PIT W
As of this moment... my Browns - the 3 - are tied with Houston [edit: down a FG], while Jacksonville, which I have 2 against, just pulled ahead of St. Louis. Oakland, which is my 1, is only up by 2 over Tennessee. The others all have solid leads to blowouts going on. Interesting, no?

[UPDATE:] St. Louis just pulled ahead of Jacksonville, so my own Browns are my only losing team at this point. Ouch.

[UPDATE:] Browns tied it up. I'm running at 6-0-2.

[UPDATE:] Bears sacked Garcia, ran it the fumble for a TD. Browns down 3, but driving with 2 minutes left. Again, 7-1 with the Browns the 1... EDIT: Fumble was overturned, so Bears-Lions is still tied. Dilfer just underthrew 4th-and-18 to a wide-open Antonio Bryant and it was tipped, and the Browns lose. Ugly.

[LATE GAMES:] San Diego and Denver are walking all over KC and Philly, and the others I'm losing tight. 7-1 in the early games, thanks to the Bears defense. I've lost just 3 points - not bad... gotta love math. [MORE:] Lost the tight ones, but now if NE and Pittsburgh both win I'll win my pool for the week. Other people lost more on the late games...

{Update} Nice! Both the Pats and Steelers won, so I won this week. We'll see if this happens again next week (hopefully! :) ). As a note, last week I was in a rush and did it quickly - I used my system, but adjusted it the wrong way, and tied for first. Had I done it properly, I believe I would have won then as well. As the weeks pass, the system improves, because flukes have less weight.

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Haveil Havalim #42; ARGH!

The ARGH! is not on Haveil Havalim - Batya did an amazing job again in putting this week's HH together. The ARGH! is about an (in my eyes) excellent and [for the first time in a while] well-written post I wrote last night that disappeared when I clicked Submit. Now I have to start over... Meanwhile, check out Haveil Havalim. For those who don't know...
“Haveil Havalim,” ”Vanity of Vanities” is the Jewish-Israeli blogging carnival consisting of posts from blogs all over the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim” is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon, who built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but norishkeit, “hevel” or in English “vanities.”
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StatCounter is Down...

StatCounter, counter of millions of blogs, is partially down. And here, I just thought I was writing so poorly lately that people stopped coming. So, even though that is NOT the case, it still made me realize I haven't been as focused lately - so I'll try and improve.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

NY Times - Half The News That's Fit To Print

I'm not quite sure where I saw this first, but it was either Michelle Malkin or LittleGreenFootballs.

The New York Times wrote an article after the US death toll in Iraq reached 2,000. Near the end of the article, it mentions a letter by a Corporal Jeffrey Starr.

Another member of the 1/5, Cpl. Jeffrey B. Starr, rejected a $24,000 bonus to re-enlist. Corporal Starr believed strongly in the war, his father said, but was tired of the harsh life and nearness of death in Iraq. So he enrolled at Everett Community College near his parents' home in Snohomish, Wash., planning to study psychology after his enlistment ended in August.

But he died in a firefight in Ramadi on April 30 during his third tour in Iraq. He was 22.

Sifting through Corporal Starr's laptop computer after his death, his father found a letter to be delivered to the marine's girlfriend. "I kind of predicted this," Corporal Starr wrote of his own death. "A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances."

The quote was 100% accurate. The Times, however, chose to cut the next few - extremely important - lines from its article. Thankfully, his uncle e-mailed Michelle Malkin the rest of the letter.
Yesterday's New York Times on-line edition carried the story of the 2000 Iraq US military death[s]. It grabbed my attention as the picture they used with the headline was that of my nephew, Cpl Jeffrey B. Starr, USMC.

Unfortunately they did not tell Jeffrey's story. Jeffrey believed in what he was doing. He [was] willing put his life on the line for this cause. Just before he left for his third tour of duty in Iraq I asked him what he thought about going back the third time. He said: "If we (Americans) don't do this (free the Iraqi people from tyranny) who will? No one else can."

Several months after Jeffrey was killed his laptop computer was returned to his parents who found a letter in it that was addressed to his girlfriend and was intended to be found only if he did not return alive. It is a most poignant letter and filled with personal feelings he had for his girlfriend. But of importance to the rest of us was his expression of how he felt about putting his life at risk for this cause. He said it with grace and maturity.

He wrote: "Obviously if you are reading this then I have died in Iraq. I kind of predicted this, that is why I'm writing this in November. A third time just seemed like I'm pushing my chances. I don't regret going, everybody dies but few get to do it for something as important as freedom. It may seem confusing why we are in Iraq, it's not to me. I'm here helping these people, so that they can live the way we live. Not have to worry about tyrants or vicious dictators. To do what they want with their lives. To me that is why I died. Others have died for my freedom, now this is my mark."

What Jeffrey said is important. Americans need to understand that most of those who are or have been there understand what's going on. It would honor Jeffrey's memory if you would publish the rest of his story.

May he rest in peace.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Pictures from LA (well, one, anyway...)


Ser & KickBoxer at Pizza World. They both hate the picture, but Serach said I could post it - so this will have to do until I touch up the rest and decide which to put up. :) Posted by Picasa

Hastert Blogs; Coburn Listens to Bloggers

[Previously on this subject: Politicos Pay Attention to Blogs (intro) and Unprecedented: House Republicans Invite Bloggers (in action).]

More and more instances of the Republican members of Congress having excellent conversations, discussions, and dialogue with bloggers keep popping up. Dennis Hastert has actually begun his own blog - and it has substance! Senator Coburn, who has been a strong leader in the battle against pork (ala Porkbusters), recently had a nice conference call with many leading blogs to discuss pork in the budget.

The best, and most interesting line:
Senator Coburn said that he hoped this would be the first of regular calls with bloggers on the subject.
Good.

I don't mind repeating this again and again:
It will be interesting to see if this type of activity continues, and to what extent. If this begins to become a trend (we've seen a small number of politicians pay attention to PorkBusters - but only after receiving notice), we may see a re-shaping of the political world as we know it. I think that whichever party truly latches on to the idea - not through paying lip service, but by truly paying attention to the blogosphere - will become far stronger, and fast. This should not be done irresponsibly, as has been done in the past by Presidents (and others) who too closely followed national polls. But the logical reasoning of bloggers, their analyses, and their sometimes ingenius ideas should not be ignored.

The Republican National Committee has taken the first step. Will more follow?

We can only hope.

Fun On 76th Ave...

...unfortunately. When we got back from the airport yesterday, we walked into our apartment reeking of gas. We also heard a screech of tires, and then lots of yelling and noise. After calling 311, I was connected to the fire department, who sent their customary 2 trucks for a simple gas leak. However, they couldn't get up our block, which was blocked by about 4 or more police cars and ten or more officers who were arresting at least one person and yelling at another to "Give the keys, because this car is not going to be here one way or another. We'll tow it if we have to. Give the keys NOW!! No more games!!" Apparently, there was a very drunk driver who was chased by a number of officers, then pleading with them not to arrest him because it was some kind of holiday. Meanwhile, the firemen seemed somewhat disappointed with our little gas leak, and we had to go elsewhere for the night while our apartment aired out - no easy feat, considering most of our friends are asleep at 2 a.m. Thankfully, 24Girl and her guests figured out sleeping arrangements for us at her apartment, though we only got to sleep at about 5. Anyways, the posts I want to write continue to be delayed. Argh.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Bye-Bye, LA...

After a wonderful, relaxing week in LA, Ser, Kickboxer, and I are returning back to New Yuck. Apparently, I've completely missed the news the past couple of days, including the White Sox winning the World Series, Miers withdrawing her nomination, and my own tying for the win in my NFL Pool. (Bad, okay, good...)

Ushpizin update: Kickboxer (who we convinced last week to join us in LA for a few days) joined us Sunday, and watched Ushpizin - was completely drawn in by the movie, and really liked it. It's apparently showing in some areas of New York as well as here in LA, and the actress (Rand's wife) had never acted before in her life - not as I wrote in the last post.

LA update: Went to Ventura on Monday afternoon and walked around - got a ticket for a meter that had expired - even though 20 minutes earlier it had said 1:39. More on that (and the rude police officer) later. Ventura was nice/cute; last night we drove around with my good friend PhotoMan [he's an incredible photographer - Heritage hired him to take pictures on one of their trips to Europe and all the concentration camps et al; one of his pictures won an award I believe], ate at Pizza World, then drove around a bit - witnessing a helicopter and cops with guns checking out a bank and then driving around Rodeo Drive and Benedict Canon before heading back. Today we are probably going to head out to Universal Walk, primarily because it's right near here and our flight is at 3:30 out of Burbank.

When we get back tonight I'll hopefully be able to post some more substantive stuff; perhaps I'll post pictures from our trip, though I always seem to have trouble with uploading them onto Blogger... anyone know a good way of doing it? Thanks!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Best of Me [not "me" Me] Symphony #100

The 100th edition of the Best of Me Symphony is up! Congratulations Gary on this milestone. I haven't had the chance to read through the posts yet, but I'm sure it's excellent, as it has been every week I've read it so far. He also was kind enough to mention my Roe vs. Gay post from a while back.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ushpizin

Ser and I saw Ushpizin in Encino on Friday with her aunt and cousin. It was an excellent poignant film, and important to see - if only to encourage more videos like it to be shown here in the US.

It was interesting, touching, well-acted... just an overall very well-made film. For those who haven't heard of it - it's a film starring Shuli Rand. Rand was an Israeli actor who was chozer b'tshuvah (became religious) through Breslov [a type of Chassidus (Hassidism) - much focus on serving God with joy] and stopped acting. He ran into a director, who essentially questioned how he could not possibly do another movie with Rand. Rand explained some of the restrictions he would face which essentially prohibited making a movie. The director, who was not religious, told him to write all his restrictions, and he would create a movie around them. They also consulted with Rand's rabbi, who in addition to being very positive about the idea, made them promise to include Rand's wife (also a chozer b'tshuvah actress I believe) in the film, and allowed them to film within the Breslov community to make it quite authentic.

The director said his primary focus in the film was to show irreligious Israelis the lives of charedi (Haredi) Jews from within, as he felt that many chilonim (irreligious Jews) have a hatred for the charedim from a pure lack of understanding of them. The movie has been quite a hit in Israel (from my understanding), and we heard an excellent line that an irreligious Israeli had said: "For about an hour and a half, I actually liked the charedim."

The movie itself is about a very poor couple (Rand and his wife) who are both Breslover chozrim b'tshuvah but have not been able [to their frustration] to have a child. They cannot afford what they need for Sukkos, including a Sukkah, an esrog [citron], and most food - and they receive a couple of interesting guests for the holiday as well. It's very much worth seeing, and for anyone in LA, take out two hours to watch it. I'm not sure where else it's being shown, but I'm sure there's ways of finding out online.

Moadim L'Simcha! (Happy holidays!)

Friday, October 21, 2005

So much to write...

...So little time. Ugh. There's so much I want to post and read right now, but it's a waste to come to Los Angeles - in beautiful weather, I might add - and sit inside at a (slower) computer all day. Therefore, most of the blogging will have to wait until after I get back next Thursday. Meanwhile, the Political Teen and others wrote about their experiences at the Capitol (which I discussed earlier), and it's interesting - another thing to analyze later.

More posts to come on Sukkos, Miers, Blogging & Politics, etc.!

Meanwhile, a Ben story:
S.I.L. Layah: "Do you like the meat? Grandma's a good cook!"

Ben: "Yeah.......... And Grandpa's a good eat."
Classic.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

200th Post!

Wow. I started this blog one 4AM out of sheer boredom - then, after about 2 months of sporadic posting, starting to really enjoy it. Now, I'm at 200 posts - and thousands of hits. I hope y'all are enjoying reading it as I am writing it - Chag Sameach [Happy Festival] to all, and wish us a safe flight to the City of Angels in just a few hours!

Joining SerandEz in the future is S.I.L. - my sister-in-law, Layah. Welcome, Layah! Her posts will more often deal with life, life issues, happiness, spirituality, and what we can learn, leaving me with all the stuff that doesn't really matter. Nice. :)

As a quick note on Sukkos, whose schedule many other bloggers have been complaining about...

We flew in Monday morning from New York to my parents' house in Cleveland. I did not go to sleep Sunday night, as we had to pack up for two very different climates and ten days, and I had much to take care of at home. I managed to get about an hour of sleep on the flight, and we got a ride from Akron to Beachwood, where my dad picked us up.

I was immediately dispatched to get all the bamboo poles from the back of the garage, buried under some blankets and a plank on top of a ledge you need a ladder for. I then had to carry all of them to the sukkah, put them through some windows, come all the way around, and put them all up - no simple feat. You have to lift each pole up through the window, through the roof of the porch (which the fiberglass roof cranks up and rests against the side of the house), and balance it on the beams - but there's a wall on one side, and a raised siding on the other, so you have to put each pole all the way through on a slant, then straighten it. It also requires making sure you switch off thin and thick ends of the poles. Once most of the roof is covered, this is almost impossible, as you can't stick your head through, and can't see what you're doing.

After finishing the schach, I had to do the decorations - of course, the posters are just too small to fit well on the wall beams, so that took maneuvering, and after putting up all the chains and placing all the fruits nicely on the far end on a ledge (so pretty...!), I was finished. As often happens in Cleveland, it started to rain 20 minutes before Sukkos started. My father decided to crank down the roof over the schach to keep the sukkah dry, as we usually do. All of a sudden... SNAP! CRASH!!!

The cable that lets the roof go up and down snapped, and the roof crashed down right on the sukkah. The fruits went flying, which my 3-year old nephew found hilarious, and my father was devestated. A sukkah with a roof is not much of a sukkah. We ate in a different neighbor's sukkah each meal (and turned down many other kind offers), and had a wonderful Yom Tov - and I didn't realize until today that all my work was for naught. Hmph. That's what I get for complaining, I guess...

Chag Sameach! Ironic - "The Merciful One will re-establish for us the Sukkah of David which fell." My father's name is David. This kind of thing seems to happen every year...

Another mention from DovBear!

Though it's not as flattering as the last time, anyone who reads DovBear knows that a good bashing is the highest form of flattery he gives. Then again, I can't really complain: The first time I mentioned DovBear on my blog, I debated about whether to add him to blogroll:
DovBear has a tendency to say things that are misrepresentative and biased, but at the same time does back up much (well, some) of what he says. While I disagree with most of what he says, he often posts items which I could not have said any (well, much) better. He's a flaky moderate leftist with burts of right-wing straight-thinking, and does an excellent critique of many problems in the Orthodox Jewish world. [Orthomom does it better.] At the same time, he argues well in his comments (the true blood of his blog), though there's still a strong bias to the left that takes a while to break through. So, as much as I may disagree with him, he's still (kinda) worth reading - and now it's to your left.
So I guess I'm not one to talk.

Unprecedented: House Republicans Invite Bloggers

Before this week's holiday began, I found it interesting that the Republican National Committee had sought out the thoughts and opinions of a number of conservative bloggers regarding the Harriet Miers nomination. The idea of bringing bloggers in is important as it is neccessary to
show what the blogosphere is made of. Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, RedState, PoliPundit... These are people - constituents - who are seriously debating and questioning the decisions of their leaders. Sometimes, they agree; sometimes, they don't. But they have reasons, logic, and facts at their fingertips that factor into their decisions.

It will be interesting to see if this type of activity continues, and to what extent. If this begins to become a trend (we've seen a small number of politicians pay attention to PorkBusters - but only after receiving notice), we may see a re-shaping of the political world as we know it. I think that whichever party truly latches on to the idea - not through paying lip service, but by truly paying attention to the blogosphere - will become far stronger, and fast.
As mentioned there,
the logical reasoning of bloggers, their analyses, and their sometimes ingenius ideas should not be ignored.

The Republican National Committee has taken the first step. Will more follow?

We can only hope.
It appears more steps are following - and big ones, at that. A number of bloggers from larger blogs were invited to Washington to participate in "an exclusive interview opportunity." The invitation reads:
The House Republican Conference Invites Bloggers to the Capitol this Thursday for an Exclusive Interview Opportunity With House Republicans.

For the first time ever, Bloggers are invited to meet directly with House Members and blog from the Capitol. Members will be stopping in throughout the day to meet with bloggers and discuss the House Republican record of successful economic policies, their commitment to fiscal responsibility, and the details of the historic proposed budget amendment that is expected to reach the floor later this week.
The Political Teen (Ian Schwartz) is planning on attending, as are Matt Margolis of Blogs for Bush and Eric Pfeiffer from The Buzz. Many cannot make it, as it is on very short notice - including Instapundit, Polipundit, La Shawn, and it seems Michelle Malkin.

The hope is that this will include far more discussion and not become a simple meet-and-greet where Congressmen try to wow or fool bloggers with simple rhetoric. Considering they invited somewhat 'heavyweight' bloggers, this would seem to be the case. It is hard to imagine they would invite quality bloggers who are sure to post every detail within minutes unless they actually are planning on listening to what they have to say.

While it is a shame neither Instapundit nor N.Z. Bear will be on hand, as it likely will discuss PorkBusters and issues similar, the Bear has set up a page for bloggers who are there to update everyone on what is going on. The RNC was even open to an ongoing conference call for people to speak with/listen to representatives, but ultimately deemed it impractical for this event.

This small meeting could turn into a landmark event. While it is extremely important that the bloggers clearly state the issues with the pork, the concerns with the transportation bill, and the problems with the plans for rebuilding after Katrina, it is equally important that they impress upon the respresentatives just how quickly any issue is understood, interperted, commented on, and read by thousands of constituents. Within minutes, any idea or opinion - or the lack of either - is known by the public; and if they like what they're hearing, that will reflect very positively on the representative. But if the bloggers disagree with the answer, with reasons, proofs, and statistics to back them up; or worse, become impatient with the stalling - the representative is sure to hear about it.

Representatives, as mentioned earlier, should not just follow anything the blogosphere says - they only must recognize how important it is to listen to their voices. The RNC is taking incredible steps toward realizing this neccessity, and should be praised for it.

Now, let's see if they listen.

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Now available at: Cafe Oregano.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Chag Sameach!

Blogging will undoubtedly be sporadic over the next 10 days, as SerandEz head out to Cleveland for a few days followed by Los Angeles for a week to spend Sukkos with family - Ezzie's parents for the first days, Ser's sister for chol hamoed and the last days.

We wish everyone a wonderful Yom Tov and a Chag Kosher V'Sameach!

(For all those not familiar with Sukkos, I'm not sure where to point you... try Wikipedia entries for Sukkos or Sukkot or Tabernacles... Good luck!)

[EDIT:] As noted in the comments, try Aish.com!

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Best of Me Symphony #99

The BOMS #99 is up, including my old post, "A Soldier in Gaza."

Check it out.

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Sunday, October 16, 2005

Gush Etzion: 2 Killed by Palestinians

JERUSALEM (AP) - Palestinian gunmen traveling in a speeding car opened fire at a crowded bus stop in a West Bank intersection on Sunday, killing two Israelis and wounding four others before fleeing, officials said.

The bus stop attack occurred at the Gush Etzion junction, a main intersection at a large bloc of settlements south of Jerusalem. The army said troops were searching for the vehicle.

Israeli paramedics said three of the wounded were in serious condition.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Israeli security officials have warned that following Israel's recent withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian militants would shift their activities to the West Bank.

Sick. I wonder how they'll pin this one on Israel.

[UPDATE!] Sadly, the number of dead is now three - and Al Aqsa has claimed responsibility.

Haaretz (courtesy of LGF):

Three Israelis were killed Sunday afternoon and three were wounded, one seriously, when Palestinians opened fire on a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, the Zaka rescue service said.

Shortly after the initial attack, Palestinians opened fire again near the settlement of Eli, also in the West Bank, seriously wounding one Israeli.

The Gush Etzion shooting was carried out by Palestinian gunmen traveling in a speeding car. The gunmen apparently escaped to the West Bank city of Bethlehem.

“A Palestinian passed by in a car, let off a burst of fire, and struck down people standing at the hitchhiking post,” Shaul Goldstein, a settler leader in Gush Etzion, told Israel Radio.

The Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, affiliated with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ ruling Fatah movement, took responsibility for the attack, Israel Radio reported.

LGF's title is well put:
The Palestinian Peace Process

Sad.

[UPDATE 2:] Israel Perspectives is also blogging the subject. I liked a point he made (emphasis his)...
Israel's response?
David Baker, an official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, denounced the shooting. "Israel removed roadblocks and made a number of humanitarian gestures to ease up on the Palestinians," he told The Associated Press. "It's unfortunate that the Palestinians have exploited these measures to carry out these murderous attacks."

Do you want to know what's really unfortunate?

That in the Jewish State of Israel the life of a "Palestinian" is worth more than the life of a Jew.

It is a known fact. Whenever Israel eases up on the checkpoints and roadblocks Jews die, and yet, time and again, Israel enacts such measures.
Especially this part:
Why is it that the Israeli government cares more about providing humanitarian aid to the "Palestinians" than they do about the well-being of their own citizens?
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Available at the Political Teen.

Haveil Havalim #41

Haveil Havalim #41 is up at Biur Chametz, though it's about a half a year too early (groan...). It's entertaining in presentation, somewhat serious in content [all the Yom Kippur posts].

Check it out.

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Politicos Pay Attention to Blogs

[EDIT: Now Trackbacked at Basil, Point Five, Jo's Cafe, Cafe Oregano, Stop the ACLU]

The Political Teen has video of a CNN clip where they discuss the blogosphere's reaction to the Harriet Miers nomination. What's less important to me is the actual content of this discussion: It's a short point they make about the Republican National Committee.

[Background] Many bloggers [including myself] recently received an e-mail from Patrick Ruffini, he of the famous 'straw poll' on Decision 2008. He says in the e-mail:
Ezzie-

I have some news. Starting this week, I'm starting on a new path and taking leave from the day-to-day work of writing my blog at PatrickRuffini.com. I'll now be working at the Republican National Committee as their new eCampaign Director, helping make GOP.com a driver of votes and volunteer action in 2006. Needless to say, it's a job that will require all the time I've got! My announcement post is here:

http://www.patrickruffini.com/archives/2005/10/same_fight.php
In the CNN clip, the reporters mention that the RNC actually sought out the opinions of the conservative blogosphere to better understand their issues with the Miers nomination. They contacted them, and by my understanding, had an open conference call with them to discuss the RNC's position and the bloggers' positions. While no minds were changed in this call, the call itself is impressive: I don't know of another instance where a major political party sought out the opinions and comments of portions of the blogosphere, especially by a major decision. Granted, this is in response to criticism, and it is post-nomination; but they are obviously paying at least some attention to the criticism levelled at them, and not just shrugging it off.

I don't particularly mind that nothing much came of the call, at least specific to the nomination. What's important is that the Republican National Committee is not ignoring their strong base in the slightest; on the other hand, they aren't required to agree with everything that the bloggers say, either. If they did rush to convince the President to pull the nomination or Miers to remove herself, I don't think that would be very wise.

What is important is the call itself: Hopefully, with Ruffini now running the eCampaign, a greater respect and acknowledgement of the blogosphere will exist within the RNC. While I have no clue if he played any role in this conference call, I would not be surprised. His own experience within the blogosphere allows him to show the rest of the RNC what the blogosphere is made of. Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, RedState, PoliPundit... These are people - constituents - who are seriously debating and questioning the decisions of their leaders. Sometimes, they agree; sometimes, they don't. But they have reasons, logic, and facts at their fingertips that factor into their decisions.

It will be interesting to see if this type of activity continues, and to what extent. If this begins to become a trend (we've seen a small number of politicians pay attention to PorkBusters - but only after receiving notice), we may see a re-shaping of the political world as we know it. I think that whichever party truly latches on to the idea - not through paying lip service, but by truly paying attention to the blogosphere - will become far stronger, and fast. This should not be done irresponsibly, as has been done in the past by Presidents (and others) who too closely followed national polls. But the logical reasoning of bloggers, their analyses, and their sometimes ingenius ideas should not be ignored.

The Republican National Committee has taken the first step. Will more follow?

We can only hope.

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Would-Be Suicide Bomber Arrested

[Found at LGF]
In another raid, the army arrested a 14-year-old Palestinian boy who told his interrogators that militants from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades — which has ties to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah movement — pressured him to carry out a suicide bombing after he quarreled with his father.
What is most interesting is the sequence of events that led to his arrest. First, the boy was recruited:

Militant groups have increasingly turned to youths to carry out attacks in recent years, hoping the army would be less suspicious of them. The boy, identified by militants and his parents as Salah al Jitan, would have been one of the youngest Palestinian suicide bombers.

Salah’s parents, who confirmed their son is 14, said that after they quarreled with him about a month ago, five armed Al-Aqsa militants came to their house to tell them to leave the boy alone. Last week, they came again, this time to take him away for a suicide bombing, said his father, Moussa al Jitan.

But not everything went as the terrorists hoped.
The father said Salah did not want to go, adding that he would not let them take him.
It's not like the "Martyrs" could just kill him.
The teenager did not leave the house until Israeli forces arrested him Monday, a move his parents welcomed. "Good, he will be in jail. That's better than dying," said Sariel al Jitan, his mother.
No kidding. Interesting, as well, to note the threats against him.
The teenager said the militants threatened to kill him and tell everyone he was a collaborator with Israel if he didn't carry out the attack, the army said.
What a dumb threat: "If you don't blow yourself up, we'll kill you." Shockingly, the Al-Aqsa Brigades denied the story, and claimed that they turned down the child's offer to be a bomber.

Jamal Tirawi, an Al-Aqsa commander the army accused of recruiting the boy, said the account was "a lie."

Tirawi said Salah was 17 and approached the group to volunteer to carry out an attack. Al-Aqsa refused because he is the only son in his family, Tirawi said. "The boy is lying, and the Israelis are lying," he said.

Firstly, the parents stated the child was 14. They also backed the Israeli account of the story. Why would they do such a thing, and risk their own lives - unless it were true?! It's also strange that any group would turn down a bomber - at least for the reasons stated.

The real story here, however, is the parents' refusal to allow their child to be a bomber. It will be interesting to see if other parents begin doing the same - which I think is quite likely.

There are 2 possibilities as to what will happen, both with positive long-term results.
1) The Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades leave the parents and child (if released) alone. This would result in other Palestinians no longer fearing the arm of Al-Aqsa, and they would now be able to begin refusing the desires of the terrorists.
2) They kill the parents, the child, or both. This would turn many Palestinians against Al-Aqsa: While they may respect the suicide bombers, they're not neccesarily jumping at the chance to send their own children to become ones - and they won't want to be forced into it. It may result in a mini-civil war in which the terrorists are marginalized by the people they claim to represent.
Either way, this story may turn out to be a lot bigger than it seems.

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Saturday, October 15, 2005

Carnivals: Clueless, Cordite

Two excellent carnivals are up: The Right Wing Nut House hosts the Carnival of the Clueless, while GullyBorg hosts the Carnival of Cordite. Clueless is about... cluelessness, and includes my post ripping the Guardian; Cordite is about guns [duh], and includes my post on guns and children.

Check it out.

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Friday, October 14, 2005

Cable News Race - Results

The battle for viewers is always on between Fox, CNN, and MSNBC. I think the results speak for themselves - and show who America trusts.
FLASH: CABLE NEWS RACE
WEDS NITE, OCT 12, 2005
VIEWERS

FOXNEWS O'REILLY 2,687,000
FOXNEWS HANNITY/COLMES 1,559,000
FOXNEWS SHEP SMITH 1,500,000
FOXNEWS GRETA 1,499,000
CNN KING 821,000
CNN ZAHN 818,000
CNN COOPER 766,000
CNN BROWN 687,000
CNNHN GRACE 653,000
MSNBC RITA COSBY 455,000
MSNBC HARDBALL 429,000
MSNBC SCARBOROUGH 334,000
MSNBC OLBERMANN 319,000
MSNBC TUCKER 280,000
Before anyone points out that there are two channels that are more to the left, and take viewers away from each other: The two together still aren't even equal to Fox.

Shocker.

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List of Jewish Blogs

Ms. Space Cadet has put together a huge list of cool Jewish blogs. It's pretty amazing, really. I'm not sure how many months it took... but it's impressive. Check it out.

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Post-Yom Kippur Post

[EDIT: Now on Open Trackback at the Political Teen and Basil's Blog]

I'm sorry, I ran out of time before Yom Kippur to wish everyone a G'mar Chasimah Tovah, and though part of me feels this is somewhat foolish, I wanted to ask everyone for mechila (forgiveness) for any wrongs I may have said, thought, or done - and to tell everyone I forgive for any slight in return, though I am not aware of any.

I had also wanted to post this hastily written, yet powerful thought from my sister-in-law, with some slight additions of my own:
Yesterday I went to the funeral of my father's cousin's wife. A woman in her 40's. This is happening much more often, isn't it? Everyone knows a few families. There are things we know, but the shock of a tragic death often helps transport it from mind to heart. First, how important it is to accomplish now, because we never know when it's going to be our time to pass on. And our deeds in this speck of world is all that decides our eternity. (Reminds me about the famous shtetelian legend about the poor guy who went to the land of diamonds only to mistakenly return home with a ship full of chicken fat.) Also, out of this morbidity can come joy. Every day you have a family, appreciate it. Every day you feel healthy, appreciate it. Imagine what life would be like without it. It isn't coming to us.
Sadly, much of the theme in Lander the past number of weeks has been death. For the second time in just 3 months, a fellow student was taken from this world - just an hour or so before one of the Rebbeim was to give a speech to the students l'zchus refuah shleimah for him [for the merit of a speedy recovery]. The first, Zavil Pearlman, who - despite a sickness since birth, which, although I was pretty friendly with him, I never knew about until just before his passing - had one of the largest smiles I've ever seen on a constant basis, and was 19, I believe. Shmuel Auman was 22 [?], and left behind not only grieving parents and siblings, but a wife and child as well.

Earlier this summer, a good friend's mother, and one of my old rebbeim's wives, was killed in a car crash. The Keren Devorah link to the left can tell better stories of her life - and passing - than I ever could. All of these tragedies remind me of a friend's away message, which although I can't see now, Orthomom had a post similar to it recently:
To realize the value of one year
Ask a student who has failed his final exam.

To realize the value of one month
Ask a mother who has given birth to a premature baby.

To realize the value of one week
Ask an editor of a weekly newspaper.

To realize the value of one day
Ask a daily wage laborer who has ten kids to feed.

To realize the value of one hour
Ask a couple waiting for the wedding ceremony.

To realize the value of one minute
Ask a person who has missed the train.

To realize the value of one second
Ask a person who has survived an accident.

To realize the value of one millisecond
Ask the person who has won a silver medal in the Olympics.

Use every moment wisely, it is a divine gift.
Savor the moment. As Layah said:

It isn't coming to us.

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SerandEz Gets Results

As many know, I am a proud member of the Alliance. As an aside, the Alliance recently posted the many suggestions for gifts for terrorists in honor of Ramadan - including mine.

I also asked the Alliance for suggestions in how to post the Blogroll of the entire Alliance - without it taking up pages and pages, but at the same time in a way it could still be recognized by TTLB's Ecosystem and others as being there, so as to keep the Alliance way up in the rankings. I had noticed a show/hide link on another blog, but it wasn't on Blogger, so it wouldn't work. In response, Phin devised a way to create a similar item on Blogger - and lo and behold, it works! I have now used it (somewhat clumsily) for my own blogroll as well. Check it out.

The advantages are obvious: Now, Alliance members can all link each other, without hurting the loading time or format of their blog - yet still pump each other way up in the TTLB rankings. Ah, yet another contribution to the War Against Glenn... Heh, Indeed.

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The Political Teen Turns... One!

Congratulations! Ian Schwartz, who began blogging as a 16-year old, has now been blogging for one year. While many others have, as well, he is well known for his incredible knack for finding and linking excellent video clips of important and breaking news stories for the blogosphere.

His writing has certainly progressed, after looking at his first post... It is amazing to see just how much. I thought the name "Teen" was a euphemism - until he mentioned the SATs. It is also interesting to note how fast his hits climbed: 1,000 after about one month, 3,000 after three. Nine months later, he's already broken 1 million. Incredible.

Iraq Shames US - Good

Instapundit points to two excellent articles - and exactly how connected they are.

Kerry (no, not that one):

Iraq Will Shame Us Again.......

By voter turnout for the Constitutional referendum being even higher than it was in January's elections, and thus higher % wise than any vote we've had in recent history here.
If there ever was an "every person can make a difference" story, Iraq is it. There are people that have been working tirelessly in and out of the political arena to make things work that have made this compromise come to fruition that will never be known.....except by the way that the next generations get to live....
Why won't they be known? Simple:
A new study released today by the Media Research Center, TV’s Bad News Brigade, reveals the three commercial network nightly news broadcasts have been overwhelmingly biased in their coverage of Iraq. The MRC analyzed all broadcasts of ABC’s World News Tonight, NBC Nightly News, and the CBS Evening News from January 1 through September 30 and found 61 percent of the stories were negative or pessimistic while only 15 percent of the stories were positive or optimistic – a four-to-one ratio. The trend in coverage has also become increasingly negative during 2005, with pessimistic stories rising to nearly three-fourths of all Iraq news by August and September.
News about the war has grown increasingly negative. In January and February, about a fifth of all network stories (21%) struck a hopeful note, while just over half presented a negative slant on the situation. By August and September, positive stories had fallen to a measly seven percent and the percentage of bad news stories swelled to 73 percent of all Iraq news, a ten-to-one disparity.
Thankfully there are more and more alternative sources to find real news. The future of Iraq is not a story to be missed.
Whether a shepherd's son, or city kids, they are the future, and they can hold their traditions and customs while allowing for freedom among them, if only their elders continue creating and keeping the balance in the coming years. They are certainly proving to the world right now that they are willing to give their lives to try to make it work. And many of us are grateful and proud to have been witness to this. Count me among them.
Me too.

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Meme Seven

Before I do any other blogging, I feel I must do this "7 Meme" which Krum tagged me with. (After Orthomom got him, because Steg got her...)

The line on this is...
? » Karl » Jen » Z » Mirty » Rav Fleischmann » Steg » Orthomom » Krum » Ezzie.
Before I even do it, I'm going to tag a few others to do it. Unfortunately, most of the people I would tag already have been tagged! So, I'm going to go with Jack (who never did it), Jewish BlogMeister, LifeofRubin, Shoshana, Soccer Dad, PsychoToddler (who also never did), and Ze'ev.

Okay. Now, onto the meme. (What's a meme, anyway?!)

7 things I can do:
1) Math.
2) Make Shabbos for about 20 people in less than 3 hours.
3) Help others feel special.
4) Listen.
5) Stay up for more than 48 hours*.
6) Write a 3-page essay [not double-spaced] on a topic I know nothing about in less than 45 minutes - and get an A.
7) Play, analyze, or coach football.
Bonus) Procrastinate - big time.

*69 once. Long story.
7 things I can't do:
1) Do something as soon as my wife asks me.
2) Change a diaper.
3) Sit in a boring class for more than 5 minutes without doing something else.
4) Sit without shaking my leg for more than a minute or two.
5) Remember what I wanted to ask for more than 15 seconds.
6) Drink coffee that's not in the form of a latte.*
7) Hit anyone.

*Starbucks - venti, caramel - syrup, no sauce, with whip. If iced, all same, with very little ice.
7 things I hope to do in my life:
1) Have a truly happy, healthy, God-fearing family with incredible Derech Eretz (manners). Everything else we get is just a bonus.
2) Move to Israel - before any kids are too old to adjust well.
3) Continue having guests, and adding happiness to their lives.
4) Help others as much as possible. More than I am now.
5) Be constantly better than I am.
6) Keep priorities in order.
7) Enjoy learning Torah, for an extended period of time.
7 things I say often:
1) Shocker.
2) Dude - that's crazy!
3) Check it out.*
4) Don't worry. I will/It'll get done.**
5) Wanna come over?
6) Don't worry (, dude)... I'll take care of it/It'll get done.***
7) Yah-yah.

* - usually while blogging
** - usually to my wife; it does, in the distant future
*** - to people except my wife; it does, in the not-as-distant future
Okay, y'all - now it's your turns!

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Laura Bush: Not Accusing Left of Sexism

I first saw this issue brought up by Instapundit, which directed me to The Political Teen, where I watched the video. After watching it, I immediately felt that the First Lady had not accused anyone of sexism, but was merely brushing off Matt Lauer's questions, so she could bring in some points about Harriet Miers. Rather than write an entire post about this, I'll quote snippets from Big Lizards, who gives an excellent analysis, and others.

Big Lizard:
Despite the newest charge sweeping the blogosphere, Laura Bush did not call Miers opponents "sexist."
As opposed to the original transcript, Big Lizard points out, which says,
Asked by host Matt Lauer if sexism might be playing a role in the Miers controversy, she said, "It's possible. I think that's possible. . . . I think people are not looking at her accomplishments."
the true transcript should read differently.

Lauer: You had pushed for a woman to be the nominee --

Laura Bush: That’s right. And I know Harriet well, I know how accomplished she is, I know how many times she’s broken the glass ceiling herself. She’s a roll model for young women around our country --

Lauer: Some are suggesting --

Laura Bush: Not only that, she is very deliberate and thoughtful and will bring dignity to, uh, wherever she goes. But certainly to the Supreme Court, she will be really excellent.

Lauer: Some are suggesting there’s a little possible sexism in the criticism of Judge [sic] Miers.

Laura Bush: That’s possible. I think --

Lauer: How would you feel about that?

Laura Bush: That’s possible. I think she is so accomplished that... I know, I think that people are not looking at her accomplishments and not realizing that she was the first elected woman to be the head of the Texas Bar Association, for instance, and all the other things. She was the first, uh, woman managing partner of a major law firm. She was the first woman hired by a major law firm, her law firm.

As Big Liz points out,
What a difference a single interruption makes!
...in reality, Lauer asked the question and paused; Mrs. Bush started to answer and was cut off by Lauer, who finished asking the question... so the First Lady, being a trouper, simply re-commenced her same answer. She did not say "that's possible... I think that's possible;" she dismissed the charge with a curt "that's possible," then started a new sentence on a different topic.
Listening to the audio, it is clear that she was not agreeing with or even emphasizing the point. In fact, she was brushing it off. She said the most non-commital thing it was possible to say: "that's possible." In fact, if anything, she underplayed it.
Though both Michelle Malkin and Captain's Quarters disagree, I'm far more inclined - based on watching the video - to go with Big Lizard.

Malkin:

So, the First Lady pulled out the sexism card in her defense of Harriet Miers on NBC's Today Show.

Matt Lauer lapped it up.

Did the White House not inform Mrs. Bush that some of the most vocal criticism and questioning of the nomination comes from conservative women? Or does she buy into the Left's conservative-women-are-self-loathing-traitors-to-their-gender line, too?

Captain's Quarters:
Instead [of answers], we get attacked for our supposed "sexism", which does more to marginalize conservatives than anything the Democrats have done over the past twenty years -- and it's so demonstrably false that one wonders if the President has decided to torch his party out of a fit of pique. After all, it wasn't our decision to treat the O'Connor seat as a quota fulfillment; that seems to have originated with the First Lady herself, a form of sexism all its own.
While these points would be excellent if she had played the card, I still don't think she was intending to do so. Check it out and decide for yourself.

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Sharon Stands Strong

[EDIT: Now on Open Trackbacks at The Political Teen, Stop the ACLU, Basil, and Cafe Oregano]

Though I was against the disengagement, I have been continually impressed with Ariel Sharon's actions since. (emphasis mine)
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged Tuesday to continue with steps toward peace with the Palestinians, but only if they do their part first, while ruling out new initiatives.

Sharon ruled out new peace plans. "We have nothing new to invent," he said. "We have a plan the Cabinet accepted, the road map, that can be implemented if the Palestinians do their part. I definitely plan to continue this." Israel insists the Palestinians must dismantle violent groups before Israel takes any steps.

In the past, Israeli governments - including Sharon's - have been too easily swayed by international pressure to make further concessions. It seems that the disengagement so shocked the world - in that it actually came to pass - that they could not react immediately. At this point, there is nothing to say or do other than agree with Sharon's assessments.

Perhaps Sharon is a genius after all.

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Academia, Law, & Journalism

Tel-Chai Nation (title link) points to an excellent study by David Horowitz and Joseph Light regarding the ideologies passed down to students at premier colleges and universities throughout the country. He found it through Moonbat Central, who had this to say:
Leftwing professors are systematically brainwashing young lawyers and journalists, encouraging them to ply their trade in the fashion of a Hillary Clinton or a Dan Rather instead of a John Adams or a Benjamin Franklin. This is the sad conclusion of a new study by David Horowitz’s Center for the Study of Popular Culture (CSPC). The survey confirms what most of us long suspected — that leftist ideologues dominate the faculties of American law schools and journalism schools by an overwhelming margin.
The study found that most law and journalism professors at elite schools identify themselves as Democrats. This finding has special significance in today’s polarized environment, in which Democrats have evolved into a full-fledged party of the left in the European mode. Democratic National Committee chairman Howard Dean recently told NBC’s Tim Russert that he sees little substantive difference between a "liberal Democrat" and a "Democratic socialist." In such times as these, registering for the Democratic Party plainly implies opposition to mainstream American culture, values and tradition.
Most disturbing are the final numbers they came up with. For example, in premier law schools:
Columbia, 46 Democrats; just 2 Republicans. Stanford: 28-1. NYU: 68-5. Harvard: 45-7. Yale: 46-5.
In schools of journalism:
Columbia, 15-1. USC, 13-1. NYU, 8-2. Berkeley - for all its celebrated "diversity" - 10 Democrats, 0 Republicans.
Sad. The rest of the study is interesting as well... Check it out.

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Ignorance is Bliss

Another story about my nephew...
Yesterday Ben was making a sukkah decoration. He took a little strip of paper and rolled it up and said "Look - steam is coming out!"
So I said "What do you mean?"
He said "Like the man standing next to the stroller. He had a paper in his mouth and steam was coming out."
The guy was smoking!
Innocence in bliss.
Just a note: "Like the man standing next to the stroller." Does that not disgust you? If you want to smoke - fine. But don't do it next to a toddler. Geez.

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A Quiet Day...

As many probably noticed, I didn't really blog today. I'm sorry, I was a bit busy (after I finished Forrest Gump). Tonight/tomorrow I should get a couple posts in...

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Bonfire of the Vanities; Forrest Gump

I finally saw Forrest Gump. It's one of the most amazing movies, and stories, I've ever seen.

I was included in this week's Bonfire of the Vanities, hosted by "This Blog is Full of Crap"... it's really funny, and I have to agree with WizBang, who comments on the Bonfire:
The Bonfire of the Vanities (a self-submitted collection of the worst posts by otherwise excellent bloggers) is hosted by Laurence Simon at TBIFOC this week. Never was there a better Bonfire marriage of content and location, as they're both "full of crap."
Check it out.

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Carnival of Liberty #15

The Carnival of Liberty is up, and my post on President Bush's speech ("Freedom Will Prevail") was included. For a quick explanation of the carnival...
Welcome to the 15th weekly Carnival of Liberty, where you'll find some of the Web's best thinking on the fundamental human rights of Life, Liberty, and Property and the limits of government power.
Check it out.

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Monday, October 10, 2005

Bombs in Georgia

It appears everyone is blogging on this, for good reason. (Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, The Political Teen, LGF...)

Ian asks the key question:
Last week it was the suicide bomb at the University of Oklahoma and an explosive was found in Midvale, and now this. I’m hoping that this is just some copycat and not the real thing. Is anyone else scared of Arab suicide bombers in the US?
As I commented there, I addressed this last week:
I am sincerely hoping this is not the beginning of small suicide attacks along the lines of what Israel has faced for years, and as it has not yet been coined a terror attack, [EDIT: since found out to be one] perhaps I am jumping the gun. But the worry we must all face is the possibility that suicide bombings and planted bombs will come to this country, devestating our way of life in addition to the pure terror, destruction, and murder that they cause.
More importantly:
Regardless of whether this had anything to do with terrorism or not, it serves as a reminder of just how vulnerable we are to attack here in the United States.
As a side point, the bombs themselves may not even be the worst part of an attack:
Not only was there a suicide bombing just a few hundred feet from a stadium with close to 100,000 people in it (including staff), there was a second bomb found nearby - which was only detected after the first bomb had detonated. The explosion from a bomb is extremely loud. That people inside a racous stadium of Sooner fans could hear it is telling enough; imagine if the bomb had gone off inside the stadium.

I heard a Palestinian terrorist blow himself up near a bus in Israel, though I was inside a car, on a highway, with some traffic, over a half-mile away - and it was not a quiet sound. Now, place that sound in the middle of tens of thousands, and imagine the panic that would ensue immediately afterwards. Forget how many may be killed in the blast itself: Far more would be hurt or even killed in the rush for the exits, perhaps rushing right into a planted, second, bomb - a tactic often used by the Palestinians against Israelis.
And finally:
Thank God nobody was hurt, save the suicide bomber. Let us hope we learn from this instance; not from one that has far worse consequences.
How many more bombs do we need to find before action is taken? Does someone need to be killed first?

I hope not.

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3 Israelis Plead Guilty to Bomb Plot

No, not Jews.
Three Israeli Arabs pleaded guilty Sunday to planning to plant bombs on a commuter train track and discussing bombing Tel Aviv's Azrieli Towers, the tallest buildings in Israel.

The transcript in Tel Aviv court said Mujahed Dukan, 19, Amin Ziyuti, 20 and Dubian Nusseirat, 27, admitted plotting during the summer and fall of 2004, along with a group of Palestinians from the militant Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, to lay explosives on a railroad track at Netanya, north of the city.
The Azrieli towers, for those who do not know, are the Israeli equivalent of the Twin Towers and the Sears Tower in one. The devestation from such a blast would cripple Israel at a far larger rate than even the effect felt by the US from 9/11 - which has yet to truly subside.
The three men were arrested by Israeli security forces the day before they were due to take delivery of three bombs from militants in the Balata refugee camp in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Talk about cutting things close... but here's another important point:

Arabs make up about 20 percent of Israel's citizens. Though many have been radicalized by five years of violence between Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, including their relatives, few Israeli Arabs have taken an active part in the conflict.
Though their numbers are few, there have been Israeli Arabs who have participated in attacks, much as these three were planning to. Yet, Israel still allows them to be citizens of what is the only Jewish state in the world - to the point that 20% of the country is made up of Israeli Arabs. Jews, however, are not allowed full citizenship in any Arab country to my knowledge, and cannot even live in many: Most especially any territory that is controlled by the Palestinians. We've all seen the footage of what happens when a Jew wanders into Ramallah or Gaza, and it is sickening.

What's almost sadder is the last paragraph:
Prosecutors are seeking a 15 year jail term for Dukan -- who initiated contacts with the Nablus group -- and eight years for Nusseirat. Ziyuti's punishment is still under discussion, the court record said. Sentencing is set for Oct. 21.
Bomb plots aren't even life sentences? Eight years?! Thieves get far worse punishments half the time. Israel's justice system, while far more humane than anything the Palestinians do in their "judgements", is still nowhere near true justice. Sad.

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Coulter vs. Maher

This is just a straight link. The Political Teen has the video from Bill Maher's show when Ann Coulter came on. It's an excellent dialogue, in which Coulter resoundingly makes Maher look dumb on a number of issues, including Miers, Bennett, blacks, indictments... Check it out.

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Best of Me Symphony #98 (and it's not just me...)

[EDIT:] I forgot to mention: Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert, put this week's BOMS together.

The Best-of-Me Symphony #98 is up! Included are two of my old favorite posts, the Israelization of London and The Roe Effect. The BOMS is best described by its usual host, Gary Cruse:
The Best of Me Symphony is built around the best posts from your blog archives. Post submission criteria are very simple. The post must be at least 2 months old and the submitter must think it is a very good post. How easy is that?
Pretty easy. And the posts I've read so far have been excellent. Enjoy!

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Sunday, October 09, 2005

Haveil Havalim #40 is up!

Ze'ev over at Israel Perspectives has done a magnificent job, and I'm not just saying that because he linked to three of my posts. (Shidduch Music Video, Dr. Seuss on Sukkos, and unfortunately, my atrocious NFL picks.) Check it out here! For a reminder of what Haveil Havalim is...
“Haveil Havalim,” ”Vanity of Vanities” is the Jewish-Israeli blogging carnival consisting of posts from blogs all over the world. It’s hosted by different bloggers each week and coordinated by Soccer Dad. The term “Haveil Havalim” is from Kohelet, Ecclesiastes, which was written by King Solomon, who built the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and later on got all bogged down in materialism and other “excesses” and realized that it was nothing but norishkeit, “hevel” or in English “vanities.”
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A Dr. Seuss Sukkos

(Hat tip: Reb Abe)

This is really cute, but interesting as well (it's a Dr. Seuss-type poem about the laws of building a sukkah):

Hag Sameach

Rules of the Sukkah

Contributed by Rabbi Arthur E. Gould

You can build it very small1
You can build it very tall2

You can build it very large3
You can build it on a barge

You can build it on a ship4
Or on a roof but please don’t slip5

You can build it in an alley6
You shouldn’t build it in a valley7

You can build it on a wagon8
You can build it on a dragon9

You can make the skakh of wood10
Woud you, could you, yes you should

Make the skakh from leaves of tree
You shouldn’t bend it at the knee11

Build your Sukkah tall or short
No Sukkah is built in the Temple Court

You can build it somewhat soon
You cannot build it in the month of June12

If your Sukkah is well made
You’ll have the right amount of shade 13

You can build it very wide
You can not build it on its side

Build if your name is Jim
Or Bob or Sam or even Tim

Build it if your name is Sue14
Do you build it, yes you do!

From the Sukkah you can roam
But you should treat it as your home15

You can invite some special guests
Don’t stay in it if there are pests

You can sleep upon some rugs
Don’t you build it where there’s bugs

In the Sukkah you should sit
And eat and drink but never…

If in the Sukkah it should rain
To stay there would be such a pain16

And if it should be very cold
Stay there only if you’re bold

So build a Sukkah one and all
Make it large or make it small

Sukkah rules are short and snappy
Enjoy Sukkot, rejoice be happy.

Notes

1Maimonides (RMBM) Mishne Torah, Hilchot Sukkah, Chapter 4, Section 1. The minimum height of a Sukkah is 10 tepachim. A tepach is a measure of the width of the four fingers of one’s hand. My hand is 3 1/4 inches wide for a minimum Sukkah height of 32 1/2 inches. The minimum allowable width is 7 tepachim by 7 tepachim. This would result in a Sukkah of 22 3/4 inches by 22 3/4 inches.

2The maximum height is 20 Amot. An Amah is the length from the elbow to the tip of the middle finger. My Amah is 15 1/2 inches for a maximum height of 25 feet. Others say that 30 feet is the maximum.

3According to RMBM the Sukkah can be built to a width of several miles. Shulchan Aruch also says there is no limit on the size of the width.

4RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6.

5RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 11. RMBM states that one may construct a Sukkah by wedging poles in the four corners of the roof and suspending scakh from the poles. The walls of the building underneath are considered to reach upward to the edge of the scakh.

6RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 8-10 discusses the ins and outs of building your Sukkah in an alley or passageway.

7There is a location referred to in the Talmud called Ashtarot Karnayim. According to the discussion there are two hills, with a valley in between where the Sun does not reach. Therefore it is impossible to sit in the shade of the roof of the Sukkah. I can’t find the reference…hopefully next year.

8RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6. You can go into a Sukkah built on a wagon or a ship even on Yom Tov.

9RMBM Hilchot Sukkah Chapter 4, Section 6. OK, RMBM says a camel but dragon rhymes with wagon a lot better, don’t you agree. Anyway, RMBM says you can build your Sukkah on a wagon or in the crown of a tree, but you can’t go into it on Yom Tov. There is a general rule against riding a beast or ascending into the crown of a tree on Yom Tov.

10Chapter 5 deals with the rules for the scakh. Basically, you can use that which has grown from the ground, and is completely detached from the ground. So, for example, you cannot bend the branches of a tree over the Sukkah to form the scakh. But you can cut the branches from a tree and use them as scakh.

11This would be a violation of the rule cited in the prior footnote.

12Shulchan Aruch, Hilchot Sukkah, Perek 636, Section 1 The Sukkah should not be built sooner than 30 days before the Hag. However, if the structure is built prior to 30 days, as long as something new is added within the 30 days, the Sukkah is kosher.

13Of course it’s a well known rule that you must sit in the shade from the roof of the Sukkah and not in the shade that may be cast by the walls. It seems that this might affect the height of the walls, depending on the longitude of the location where you are building your Sukkah.

14Traditionally, women, servants and minors are patur from the Mitzvah of Sukkah. In our day we hope we know better than to read out half the Jewish people from the observance of Mitzvot. Of course, that’s just a personal opinion of the author.

15MBM ibid Chapter 6, Section 6 explains that you should eat, drink and live in the Sukkah for the 7 days as you live in your own home. One should not even take a nap outside of the Sukkah.

16RMBM ibid, Section 10 If it rains one should go into the house. How does one know if it is raining hard enough? If sufficient raindrops fall through the scakh and into the food so that the food is spoiled—go inside!

© Rabbi Arthur E. Gould, Sukkot 1999 - 2001. Used by permission.


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