Friday, September 30, 2005

Haveil Havalim #39 - Reminder

Just as a reminder... HH#39 is being hosted here at SerandEz this Sunday. I'll probably post late Sunday night, as a lot of the submissions deal with Rosh Hashana; to allow more people who I'm sure are busy this weekend to submit posts; and so I can find a lot of people's pre-Rosh Hashana thoughts out there to put in as well. If anyone has a submission (submit as many as you'd like - I like reading them), please e-mail the link to serandez at verizon dot net. Thanks, and have a great Shabbos!

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From the Akeidah to the Beis Hamikdash

Both Mirty and On the Fringe (among others, according to BlogHead) discussed the Akeidah, which we read in just a few days on the second day of Rosh Hashana. To me, this has always been especially significant, as I remember hearing my father practice it every year in the days leading up to Rosh Hashana, with the special trup (tune) that is used only over the next couple of weeks.

Both Mirty and On The Fringe's explanations and analyzations of the lesson of the Akeidah are incredibly interesting and fascinating, but I want to address Paul's question:
Second thought, to which I have no answer:

* On Rosh Hashanah, we read of the two sons of Abraham, one of whom is exiled into the desert, and the other of whom is taken for sacrifice Har haMoriah (= the Bet Hamikdash).
* On Yom Hakippurim, we read of the two goats, one of whom is exiled into the desert, and the other of whom is taken for sacrifice in the Bet Hamikdash (= Har haMoriah).

--- what is the meaning of this profound parallel?
I responded in the comments:
We must learn to rid ourselves of that which is bad for us; seperate from our sins and bad influences. We must also recognize that we must serve Hashem with all that we have (b'chol nafshicha, b'chol l'vavicha, u'v'chol meodecha) - but recognize in our times of frustration that Hashem never asks too much of us and would never ask us to sacrifice that which is truly important.
The thought just occured to me spontaneously, and I have no idea if it is right; I'm curious as to what people think. It looks okay on first glance, but I'm biased. Anybody have any thoughts?

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Hamas Struggling in Elections

Hamas is unhappy today.
Hamas complained that many of its candidates were detained by Israeli troops before Thursday's election. The arrests are part of Israel's weeklong campaign against militants, triggered by rocket fire from Gaza on Israeli border towns.
Perhaps they shouldn't shoot rockets.

The results, however, suggest something even more interesting:
Jamal Shobaki, head of the Local Elections Commission, said Fatah took control of 61 councils, while Hamas won 28. Other parties and independents won 15 councils, said Shobaki, a leading Fatah member.

Final results showed Fatah winning 54 percent of the vote, compared to 26 percent for Hamas.
It would be interesting to see, if it can be gauged, how much of an effect the arrests had - not so much because people decided not to vote for Hamas, but rather because they were not being threatened to vote for Hamas. Hamas is trying to focus the media attention on the Israeli arrests to show how they have interfered with Palestinian elections; but as has been noted in the past, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have notoriously interfered with people's votes through threats - both spoken and inferred.

As an interesting and funny note...
Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said he did not trust the accuracy of the preliminary results, and that Hamas would soon publish its own count. In previous rounds, Hamas and Fatah released different figures, in part by each claiming independent lists as affiliates.
I can make up numbers too. I hear Netanyahu got 74% of the vote.

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Layah on Rosh Hashana

Hat tip: Layah. In the near future, SerandEz is looking to have Layah (my sister-in-law) join and contribute to the blog, with a focus on life issues. She majored in something that has to do with English and writing, so she's a much better writer than me. Welcome, Layah!

This is from the Eishes Chayil newsletter. May we all have a k'siva v'chsima tovah and a year of joy, good health, parnassah, shalom, yeshuos and geula!

Dear Year 5765,
Just yesterday we stood at your entrance without any ideas as to what your
days would bring - all 365 of them. Now another 365 days are standing lined
up one after the other, behind locked doors. We tried peeking in but
failed; even the smallest speck was hidden from us. And now as I write to
you, year 5765, I am shaking with awesome fright.

Would I have ever imagined what you would have looked like as I stood before
Hashem last Rosh Hashanah? I was full of wishes and hopes ... and wondering:
would you bring happiness, growth and success - or disappointment and
failure? Would you be filled with good times, good friendships? With what
would you fill up your hours and minutes? How would your newspaper headlines
appear? Would they be filled with excitement and good news or C"V... the
opposite. What was in store for the peoples of the world - would major
crucial changes take place? In my family? Or maybe around me... or within

Everything... everything was written and signed already then from Rosh
Hashanah till Yom Kippur of 5765. If I could have just known then what I
know now.

If only I would have just imagined, that within your days very precious
souls would be taken away from this world - our great leaders - and even,
woe to us our very own friends... would I not raised my voice and
intensified my kavana? I am convinced that had I sweated a bit more,
invested some more strength in the words "Haper Etzat Oivenu," I'm convinced
that I could have destroyed a few more arab terrorist groups - before their
explosion destroyed us. I am sure things would have been different if I
would have taken advantage of those hours of rachamim.

How many measures of emotional strength and how many tears I would have
invested in the words "avenu malkeinu na al tesheveinu reikam milfanecha"
had I seen then as I see now right in front of my eyes, the people who so
desperately await their own yeshuot; but yet another year just passed them
by unanswered, another 365 days. The days, hours and minutes that contained
were all full with their suffering, yet with their hope. If only I had
begged a bit more before Hashem stamped his final signature on that day! I
have no doubt in me that had I seen it all before me, I would have invested
every last effort and intensified my kavana to no end.

Sadly, it was davka then that my desperation and imagination decided to
stall. Davka then, when every hour, every minute was so crucial... when the
knock is heard and the knock departs - those crucial moments of "Kol dodi
dofek, petach le...!" "Me bekitzo ume lo bekitzo..." "Me yichyeh u me yamut"
Where was my imagination? Where was I when I had the power in my hand to
correct, to erase, to sweeten my fate and that of others?

When I flash in front of me the year that just passed, an accusing finger
screams at me:

This time I know. This time I'll try. This time I won't hesitate to let the
tears fall. I wont hesitate to beg. This time I'll put in every drop of
energy that I have. I know not what was yesterday, but I do know that
everything from the simple to the most complex will be decided upon and

Daven as if you were in the middle of the sea, stormy waves towering above
you angrily.
Daven as if you were hanging there by the nearest hair...Because dear
friend... YOU ARE!!
May we all have a k'siva v'chsima tovah and a year of joy, good health, parnassah, shalom, yeshuos and geula.

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Earle vs. Delay

UPDATE: The Political Teen has video (as usual).

There are many who have accused Ronnie Earle of simple partisanship for his indictment of Tom Delay. As of yet, no proof has been given at all to the charge Earle has made, but that is probably the proper path. What is suspicious, however, is the lack of any charge other than conspiracy. After months of looking into Delay, the only charge Earle has made is that Delay 'knew about' the actions, not that he committed any crime.

What is far more suspicious however, is this:
For the last two years, as he pursued the investigation that led to Wednesday's indictment of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay, Travis County, Texas prosecutor Ronnie Earle has given a film crew "extraordinary access" to make a motion picture about his work on the case.
Why would anyone allow extraordinary access in a case they are honestly pursuing? Hmmm. I wonder. Perhaps, these three quotes from the story explain the indictment itself:
Birnbaum and Schermbeck showed a work-in-progress version of The Big Buy last month at the Dallas Video Festival. At the moment, they do not have a deal for the film to be shown anywhere else. Their last film, Larry v. Lockney, was shown on PBS, and they hope that perhaps a similar arrangement might be made for the new picture. Whoever ends up showing it, the film has so far been funded entirely by its makers. "We tried really hard to get it funded," Birnbaum says, "but we didn't get any takers."
Earle "allowed us behind the scenes when the indictments came down last year, the first wave of indictments," Schermbeck says. "We got to follow him back to his home a couple of times, which I understand he doesn't allow anybody to do."
So far, The Big Buy has received almost no attention in the press. With DeLay's indictment, and increased attention to Earle as well, that situation seems likely to change. (The filmmakers say they will be back at work next week, filming a new ending to the picture.) "We're pretty low on everybody's radar," Schermbeck says. "We kind of took a gamble three years ago. We didn't know what was going to happen. We feel like, as documentary filmmakers, we gambled and it paid off."
I don't think Earle is stupid enough to be getting bribed; but I would not at all be surprised if he was looking for a little partisan fame.

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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Red Democrats Vote for Roberts

[EDIT: Michelle Malkin has more; The Political Teen has video.]

As Best of the Web likes to point out often, it is interesting to see how Senators and Congressmen vote on contentious issues - particularly when they live in a state where the voters might disagree.

Chief Justice John Roberts was confirmed earlier today by a 78-22 margin, with all 55 Republicans, Jeffords, and half of the Democrats voting to confirm. Breaking down the Democrats:

Yes (23) No (22)
Blanche Lincoln (Ark.) Barbara Boxer (Calif.)
Mark Pryor (Ark.) Dianne Feinstein (Calif.)
Ken Salazar (Colo.) Joe Biden (Del.)
Chris Dodd (Conn.) Daniel Akaka (Hawaii)
Joe Lieberman (Conn.) Daniel Ionuye (Hawaii)
Tom Carper (Del.) Dick Durbin (Ill.)
Bill Nelson (Fla.) Barack Obama (Ill.)
Mary Landrieu (La.) Evan Bayh (Ind.)
Carl Levin (Mich.) Tom Harkin (Iowa)
Max Baucus (Mont.) Ted Kennedy (Mass.)
Ben Nelson (Neb.) John Kerry (Mass.)
Jeff Bingaman (N.M.) Barbara Mikulski (Md.)
Kent Conrad (N.D.) Paul Sarbanes (Md.)
Byron Dorgan (N.D.) Debbie Stabenow (Mich.)
Ron Wyden (Ore.) Mark Dayton (Minn.)
Tim Johnson (S.D.) Harry Reid (Nev.)
Jim Jeffords (Vt.)* Jon Corzine (N.J.)
Pat Leahy (Vt.) Frank Lautenberg (N.J.)
Patty Murray (Wash.) Hillary Clinton (N.Y.)
Robert Byrd (W.Va.) Chuck Schumer (N.Y.)
Jay Rockefeller (W.Va.) Jack Reed (R.I.)
Russ Feingold (Wis.) Maria Cantwell (Wash.)
Herb Kohl (Wis.)

Notice the red and blue: Those names that are in red are from "red"-voting, or Bush states; those that are in blue are from states which voted for John Kerry.

Of the "blue-state" Senators: Both Senators from New York, California, Massachusetts, Illinois, New Jersey, Maryland, and Hawaii all voted against Roberts. All of those states were solid blue in 2004, and are traditionally left in their views. Dayton (MN) is retiring; Biden may be running for President, and doesn't want to alienate the left. Stabenow (MI) has low ratings, is in a pretty heavily Democratic state - and is due up for re-election. With Michigan being a highly Arab state, a vote for Roberts could hurt her, as Roberts seems to favor the President having stronger powers to jail suspected terrorists, something the Arab community is not in favor of. Cantwell (WA) is also in a strong blue state, and is up for re-election in '06; Reed is in a strong blue state as well.

The red-staters are more interesting: Only three "red-state" Senators voted against Roberts: Bayh, Harkin, and Reid. Harkin is from Iowa, which elected Bush by 13,500 votes; Reid from Nevada, where Bush won by 21,000. Reid is not a surprise, as he is the Minority Leader of the Senate, and has always been far more to the left, and may be planning a Presidential bid. Harkin, too, is notoriously far to the left. Bayh has one of the best approval ratings in the Senate (full list here), and wants to keep the left-wing on his side if he decides to run for President.

The blue-staters who voted for Roberts deserve credit for standing up for what is right: Leahy (discussed here), Dodd & Lieberman (CT), and Kohl & Feingold (WI) [the last four are all well known for their integrity; I've met Feingold and Kohl and have been impressed]. Wyden, Carper, Levin, and Murray are the more surprising ones, though only Carper is up for re-election in '06, which allows the other three to not worry very much on the effect this vote may have on their futures - particularly if they vote against Bush's next nominee.

What may be most interesting in all this is how Carper's vote effects his chances in the next election - while the red-staters have essentially made their judge vote a non-issue (at least so far), Carper has turned his back on the left wing of his party. On the other hand, he may be catering to the right, figuring the left will vote for him anyway.

The red-staters who voted for Roberts are interesting as well: Excluding the three above, all the rest of the red-staters voted for Roberts, not wishing to alienate the majority of their state. Four of them are up for re-election in '06, and voting against Roberts - who most of the country feel is very qualified - would have been an easy way to cost themselves the election.

Today's Best of the Web, I have just seen, says the same things, so I will stop here. Read his analysis for a bit more detail.

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Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Gaza Evictees Act Improperly

For all the pain and sympathy I have for the people who lost their homes and whose lives were destroyed by the disengagement, I am dismayed by reports such as these:
A number of Gush Katif evictees and supporters disrupted a military ceremony at the Western Wall on Wednesday night.

They shouted “We won’t forget” and “We won’t forgive!” at the officers, some of whom took part in removing them forcibly form their homes.
I fail to see what disrupting the ceremony accomplishes, and would be curious as to why soldiers involved in the disengagement would be at a military ceremony at the Western Wall. Most ceremonies there are primarily new recruits getting sworn in; and as most of the disengagement soldiers were either retired or reservists, I can't fathom how a number of them could be at a ceremony.

Worse, though, is the allegations by Arutz-7, a news organization that serves an excellent service but has a tendency to exaggerate to the far right in some of its claims. [Even many friends of myself or my family who are more to the right have agreed on this point... 'Take the regular news and A-7, average them together, and you have what happened.'] But this claim is far worse than normal:
They were quickly carted off by police, some beaten without mercy. One female was arrested.
Beaten "without mercy"?! That sounds incredibly far-fetched and biased to me, and is more of an editorial type addition than a news report. The Jerusalem Post reports the story differently:
Several anti-disengagement activists disrupted an IDF ceremony at the Western Wall plaza in Jerusalem on Wednesday night, police said.

Five female teens were arrested and others were distanced from the scene after they unfurled a placard reading, "We will not forget, we will not forgive," while shouting and booing at the officers.
No mention of any 'beatings' are given. I think I'll trust the Post on this story.

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Israel Responds

It is hard not to be impressed with the actions of Israel over the past week. They have responded carefully, yet forcefully, to Hamas attacks, and rounded up about 400 terrorists, including many who were/are planning on running for political office.
Widening its five-day campaign against Palestinian militants, Israel for the first time fired artillery shells into the Gaza Strip on Wednesday and shut down 15 West Bank offices suspected of distributing money to families of bombers from the Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups.

Israeli aircraft also fired missiles at several Gaza targets, knocking out power in Gaza City for most of the night, damaging several buildings and destroying an overpass, but there were no injuries. In the West Bank, Israel rounded up 24 suspected militants, bringing the number of people arrested since the weekend to more than 400.
Israel is also carrying out the PR war properly: Stating unequivocally that they reserve the right to do as they see fit; no form of action is yet ruled out; and they will not cave to pressure asking them to let up, especially given the circumstances. They are treating any actions by Hamas as the closest thing to war.
A senior Israeli army commander did not rule out shelling Gaza towns.

"We will warn the population, make sure that they leave the area, while we target the sources of rocket fire," said Maj. Gen. Israel Ziv, the army chief of operations.
Israel says the strong reaction is necessary to show that new rules are in place following its withdrawal from Gaza after a 38-year occupation and that attacks from the area will not be tolerated.

"Terrorism must be rooted out," Vice Premier Shimon Peres told Israel Radio on Wednesday.

Mofaz pledged Tuesday to step up pressure on the militants, saying a ground invasion into Gaza is possible as a last resort. He spoke while touring an Israeli artillery battery near Gaza.

"This battery ... is not meant to be decoration. It is operational, within range and it will respond against every firing of a Qassam in real time, and that is to deter," he said.
They are also wisely ignoring any comments by Hamas leadership - whether promises to halt attacks or promises to strike back.
The Israeli strikes were triggered by weekend rocket fire from Gaza at Israeli border towns. Since then, Hamas and Islamic Jihad have announced they would halt attacks, but Israel said it would press ahead with the campaign, including targeted killings of militant leaders.
Hamas commentator Ghazi Hamad said that "Israel could weaken Hamas, but not destroy it." The group, which opposes the existence of Israel, has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks since violence resumed.

Hamad said Hamas has a support network extending from East Asia through the Gulf to Europe, and that Israel would not be able to stop the flow of money and donations.

"Israel is monitoring, but it can't monitor every channel," he said, suggesting that some of the money is brought in through tunnels under the Gaza-Egypt border.

The military activity came after various Palestinian factions, including Hamas and the ruling Fatah movement, renewed their commitment to a cease-fire, although they also said they reserve the right to retaliate for perceived Israeli truce violations.

Israeli army spokeswoman Capt. Yael Hartmann called the militants' pledges "meaningless" and said the open-ended military operation would continue.

"The ... operations to destroy the infrastructure are not based on Hamas' declarations," she said. "As of now, we're continuing with our operational plans."

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Anatomy of a Photograph

Courtesy of LGF...

This breakdown of a photograph - and how it was cut and edited - is absolutely amazing. ZombieTime has outdone himself. Check it out.

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A "Real" Post

Soccer Dad made a sarcastic comment on his blog - in complete jest - but it got me thinking. [emphasis mine]
Just in case you thought that blogging was all work and no play, blogger AnyLetter doesn't do just one, but two carnivals. First he did the inaugural "Carnival of Computing" then he stepped into the breach and addressed a need when there was a snafu with the Carnival of the Capitalists (though he didn't get paid for it!) and hosted this week's Carnival of the Capitalists.

And if he hasn't had enough fun, AnyLetter is hosting the second Carnival of Computing on Thursday... And man stop with all these carnivals and do some real blogging. Life's not just one big carnival. I think that you're having too much fun! :-) (Seriously, thanks for filling in at Carnival of the Capitalists and best of luck with the Carnival of Computing!)
Part of me finds my though process at the moment quite ironic: Soccer Dad is the blogger who first introduced me to the concept of blogging carnivals, trackbacks, and the like; and here, a comment by him is making me re-think just how I go about doing so.

I enjoy blogging carnivals. Soccer Dad originally introduced me to Haveil Havalim, the Jewish/Israel 'Vanity of Vanities' blogging carnival, and I thought the concept was brilliant - allowing dozens of people who have similar interests to see each other's thoughts on those subjects. Since then, I've submitted to the Carnival of the Capitalists and the Carnival of Comedy (also on Soccer Dad's suggestion), and been interested in many of the other posts in those carnivals as well.

This week, I've been introduced to the 'open trackbacks' that people sometimes put up - essentially, tell your readers at some point in a post that so-and-so bloggers are hosting open trackbacks, and send a 'trackback' to that post of your own post. Others will see your trackback on the host blog, and come back and read your post on your blog. I decided to spice it up with my own idea - I trackbacked to a new post of mine in which I listed the people who were hosting, and my post itself consisted of a mini-carnival of my own posts. I split up about two weeks' worth of posts by category, and wrote little one-liners explaining what each post discussed. My reasoning was simple: Open trackbacks are essentially invitations for bloggers to show off some of their work; why not show off a whole slew of examples, but instead of sending a million trackbacks, send one - and then let the bloggers themselves choose what subjects may interest them. Everyone wins: I get to show off my work, and the rest of the blogosphere can more clearly ascertain what posts of mine may interest them - if any.

I also did a bit less writing, and a bit more editing, when creating new posts this week. [For an explanation of the difference, see the Best of the Web post which quotes Don Beste.] For example, last night and earlier today there were many issues I was interested in posting about. However, I noticed that four major bloggers - all of whom I enjoy - had either already covered or linked to the subjects, and those posts were written quite well. Rather than write the exact same ideas in slightly inferior language, I made a post of links to the subjects I found interesting.

But at the same time, I've felt like I'm "cheating" a bit. Whether I'm cheating the people who read this blog, or myself, or both - I'm really not sure. But I feel that by cutting my writing time to make trackbacks, join carnivals, or create personal carnival posts, I'm getting a large number of hits - not because I necessarily wrote a good post, but because of a few well-placed trackbacks on larger blogs. Trackbacks are great, but they seem to take away from the true substance: The writing of the blogs themselves.

On the other hand, the purpose of trackbacks is specifically to allow people to do as I am - show the rest of the blogosphere that a blogger has written a relevant article on the subject which they may enjoy. If they do, great. If not, big deal. But without the trackback, they'd never even have the opportunity to decide for themselves. The writing is almost worthless if nobody will ever read it. [I actually disagree with my own statement, as I get enjoyment, regardless of whether anyone reads it or not - but it is designed to reach an audience of more than myself, and therefore I derive satisfaction more in the knowledge that others have been presented another point of view than in my own ability to place my thoughts coherently on a computer.] As I read recently on another blog, "If a blogger writes a post and nobody reads it, does it make a sound? Does it mean anything at all?!"

When it comes down to it, both ideas are necessary and compatible. We obviously need to write, because that is at least part of the reason many of us are blogging in the first place. By the same token, we need the trackbacks and carnivals et al for another part of the reason many of us are blogging - it is a form of joining a community: One in which we not only share our own ideas, but see and share others' ideas as well. I'm not cheating myself or the readers - I'm opening the blog to a much larger audience, whose potential feedback can easily add far more substance than a few more posts that I would otherwise write.

My only innovation, if it can be called that, is the self-aggrandizing - yet guest-friendly - "self-carnival," as one commenter put it. I'm curious if others have done so in the past - I'm not so naive or egotistical to think I'm the first - and how it worked out, and I'm also interested in other people's thoughts on the matter.
(As a side note... if it is an idea people are interested in duplicating, what should it be called? A "self-carnival"? A "self-carnival open trackback submission" [SCOTS]? An "Everyone Go Out and Blog Over Outlandish and Selfish Trackbacks" [EGOBOOST]?)
To me, the idea of bloggers creating these self-carnivals every once in a while seems like a wonderful way to introduce the rest of the blogosphere to one's own blog - something that is especially important for those who are new at blogging, such as myself. It's different than the sections that many place on their blogs, and - at least the way I imagine it and did it - is primarily focused on recent posts, such as over a 1- or 2-week period. I think it's a wonderful idea, but I'm biased. What do you think?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Intelligent Design vs. Schools

[NOTE: Rushed post, sorry. Accounting fair today...]

This should be an interesting trial:
Dover is believed to be the nation's first school system to mandate students be exposed to the intelligent design concept. Its policy requires school administrators to read a brief statement before classes on evolution that says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps." It refers students to an intelligent-design textbook for more information.

Intelligent design holds that Darwin's theory of natural selection cannot fully explain the origin of life or the emergence of highly complex life forms. It implies that life on Earth was the product of an unidentified intelligent force.

Eight families sued, saying that the district policy in effect promotes the Bible's view of creation, violating the constitutional separation of church and state.
What is slightly disturbing about this trial is that it will accomplish little, unless there is a counter-suit immediately following it. The problem lies in what this suit is over: Whether ID can be forced to be taught in schools. The answer, likely, will be no, because it's not a 'proven scientific theory'. The primary argument the other way is said by the school:
Its policy requires school administrators to read a brief statement before classes on evolution that says Charles Darwin's theory is "not a fact" and has inexplicable "gaps."
This is an excellent answer, but doesn't solve the issue.

A countersuit or reverse lawsuit would make more sense: Based on the finding the judge will likely make in this case, suing schools that teach evolution should win as well. As Darwinism (or even neo-Darwinism) still require similar jumps of reasoning, they are also not 'proven scientific fact'. If those lawsuits win as well, a compromise could then be reached that both should be taught as possible sources of creation.

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Straw Poll

Patrick Ruffini has an excellent straw poll for the 2008 GOP Nomination for President. Interestingly enough, as of so far... Condi Rice, my personal favorite, is leading - despite her announcing she won't run. Ruffini lists those who may run and those who say they will not seperately - if you only include those who haven't said "No" yet, Guiliani is leading by a wide margin. It's quite interesting, as it splits the voters up not only by state, but by every demographic or issue possible. Check it out.

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So Much Material, So Little Room!

Some excellent links from the Fab 4 of Blogging...

Instapundit links to a number of carnivals, including Haveil Havalim; a RadioBlogger transcript of a great interview of Rep. Peter King, who destroys Chris Matthews of MSNBC (see The Political Teen); and a great post that revisits the supposed weakness of the blogosphere - and realizes the media has proved it to not be.

LGF has two photos - one the media shows, one of the media setting up the picture. But there's no media bias. He also has Sheehan getting arrested, along with a video link from Bareknucklepolitics, and pictures of the throngs - of media - surrounding her. His best link, perhaps, is about what went on at the protests.

Michelle Malkin points out that even the NY Times' own editors no longer trust their reporters, has pictures of Sheehan's arrest and other protest photos, and a story about a boy named Montana which I actually saw on Jack's Shack first.

The Political Teen
has video of Sheehan's arrest, video of King's interview with Matthews, and video of Charles Rangel trying to defend his "Bush = Bull O'Connor" statement. He also asks a pointed question about Sheehan.

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Monday, September 26, 2005

Crazy Shabbos - Sun and Fun

[NOTE: This is Part VI of a series... Check out the rest - I, II, III, IV, V]

I wake up Shabbos morning to Kickboxer banging on the door of our room, telling me I have to get up to go to davening. Hmph - guests. Kidding. Anyway, I get up, go to Lander, daven, and come back with Ex-Pres and Memphis in tow. Memphis has on these really nice looking shades that are way too reflective, freaking people out when they talk to him because you can't tell if he has eyes. He and I were also the only two people in the entire place to not have dark suits on - despite it being about 90 degrees and sunny. I don't understand the hang-up on light suits - they usually look nicer, are more comfortably cool, especially in the summer, and I've never heard of any concept that dark suits are better for your soul. I'm always impressed by Chofetz Chaim, which is generally made up of a wide spread of colors and styles among the guys. I also find it ironic that Chofetz Chaim, a full-time yeshiva, is more "open-minded" about issues such as dress, while Lander, a yeshiva-college, gets hung up on shtick such as this.

Ah, but back to our home. We walk in, and Kickboxer is slightly freaked that I came back during haftorah and put up all the food, as she thought the whole time it was Serach. Meanwhile, I hear 24Girl yell my name from outside to come open the front door, which always makes me wonder what the neighbors think - every weekend, people constantly scream up to others to open the door, instead of just buzzing it. Half the apartments by us are frum, so they probably don't even notice; but the Gentiles are probably thinking these people are morons for not just pressing the button.

I let her in, and she joins the two girls her sister had sent over on the couches. Serach was making salad in the kitchen with Kickboxer, Memphis was just lazying around, and Ex-Pres was hogging the A/C. After a couple more minutes, Shifra shows up, and she joins in the making of the salad. Why it takes 3 people to make a salad, I'll never know.

After kiddush, everyone gets up to wash. For some reason, after everyone else has washed, Serach is still making or doing something in the kitchen. It seems that at every meal, there's always that one person who waits until about a minute after everyone else to finally wash. She sits down, I make the blessing on the bread, start to cut into the challah... and it falls apart, into about 15 little pieces. Typical. Everyone laughs as we start passing around bits of bread, and the meal starts.

But before I forget... a couple funny lines from Friday night that were left out:
Serach: ...I thought Ezzie was ugly the first time I met him! And I still married him!
Ex-Pres: Wow. Every time I think we've hit rock bottom in this house, Serach, you manage to create another new low.
Earlier, when Serach started discussing her father, who's an utter genius (note: Ex-Pres and Serach like having 2nd-grade arguments along the lines of "My father invented this!" "Well my father saved this guy's life!" "Well my father is a nerd" "My father is a bigger nerd") :
Serach: He got his PhD from Columbia in bio-physical chemistry and smicha (ordination) from R' Zalman Levine - the son of the Malacher - and...
Ex-Pres: Blah, blah, blah. Don't you think we've been subjected to your father's resume enough times?
And, when Serach mispronounced a word, thinking it was a "Tuf" when it was actually a "Samech", and pronouncing it "T", Ex-Pres jumped on it.
"T?!" What are you saying?! How would you like it if I called you Terach instead of Serach!?[Terach was Abraham's idol-worshipping and evil father, not exactly a positive figure in Jewish history.]
I'm drawing a bit of a blank on a lot of the Shabbos day meal - it involved a lot of Memphis making fun of KickBoxer for somewhat New York-jappy comments (even though she's not one - basically picking on every word that came out of her mouth); Shifra, Kickboxer, and Serach talking - and talking - and talking; and 24Girl blurting out a comment every once in a while like, "Oh my gosh... I can't wait for season Five!!" There was also some fighting for gummy bears and other assorted candies that Shifra had bought, with Ex-Pres and the girls keeping the basket away from each other for extended periods of time. After all, we're all very mature.

Signing off for now - Parts VII and more will be coming soon!

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Haveil Havalim #38

Kesher Talk has posted this week's Haveil Havalim, and she has done an excellent job. There's a couple tear-jerkers, and a number of inspiring and thoughtful posts - along with a number of analytical ones, including two of mine. Check it out (title link).

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Haveil Havalim #39

I will iyH be hosting Haveil Havalim #39 next week, so please send in your submissions (whether your own post or someone else's) to myself at serandez at verizon dot net, or Soccer Dad at dhgerstman at hotmail dot com.
“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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Reuters: Israel Mounts New Air Strikes, Hamas Ends Attacks

Courtesy of LGF...

You think you’ve seen it all, but then al-Reuters creates another headline so biased it makes your jaw drop:
Israel mounts new strikes, Hamas ends attacks.

By al-Reuters Palestinian propagandist Nidal al-Mughrabi, of course.

Hamas ends attacks? You mean, since yesterday?

Hamas’s most senior leader, Mahmoud al-Zahar, announced his group’s decision to halt attacks shortly after Israel killed an Islamic Jihad leader in an air strike in a resumption of its policy of targeting militants for assassination.

“The movement declares an end to its operations from the Gaza Strip against the Israeli occupation, which came ... in response to the assaults by the enemy,” Zahar told reporters, adding Hamas would abide by a ceasefire declared in March.

UPDATE at 9/25/05 9:15:09 pm:

You have to read almost to the end before you find this outrageous paragraph, revealing the headline as a blatant lie:

Militants in Gaza from the Popular Resistance Committees and al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group, fired several rockets into Israel hours after Sunday’s Likud session and after Zahar made his comments.
If this isn't bias, I'm not sure what is.

UPDATE: The more I think about the complete idiocy of Reuters to print this, the more upset I get. This is similar to a first-grade mentality: *Slap!* "Haha, I hit you! Truce! Now you can't hit me back!" Hamas, by last count, had shot over fifty missiles into Israel - ostensibly for an explosion that they caused which killed at least 16 and wounded 100 of their own people. Do the other Palestinians really believe this propaganda, when they saw with their own eyes what really happened? Do they care? Reuters' obsession with "balance" over facts is getting worse and worse. When will they finally cease to be recognized as a "news" organization?!
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Sunday, September 25, 2005

Pictures from the protests

Out of all the pictures from the protests and counter-protests this weekend, this was the best one that I've seen. For more great pictures, check out: Michelle Malkin, The Political Teen, Mudville Gazette, EU Rota, Just Never Mind, and Global Cop from D.C. Also, courtesy of Instapundit, there's Narley. [Note: Many of these are just one picture of many - a drawback of Hello/Picasa is that each picture is its own post. Go to the home pages or archives to see many more great pictures.]

The anti-war protesters are troubling - both with their signs and their actions. The disgusting words and ideas that comes out of their mouths and signs range from slightly off to downright disgusting, let alone wrong and crazy. There is a lot of hate and rage inside many of these people...

These men support the war. The anti-war protesters yelled at them, as well, telling them to "Go back there!" among other things. Posted by Picasa


Sharon the Genius? Israel Strikes Back at Gaza

After Palestinians terrorists fired 35 rockets yesterday at Israeli towns, Israel is responding full-force.
Israel launched a "crushing" retaliation Saturday against Hamas in Gaza with deadly airstrikes, troops massed at the border and a planned ground incursion after militants fired 35 rockets at Israeli towns — their first major attack since the Gaza pullout.
This is both bad news and good news: The bad news, though not surprising, is that the Palestinians are unable and unwilling to do anything to stop the terrorists from acting as they please - if not actively participating and encouraging. The good news is that the Israelis, at least so far, have no qualms about responding at full force to what should be considered an act of war, as I wrote after Sharon's UN speech:
Sharon is essentially holding the Palestinians to be absolutely perfect and responsible for Hamas, Islamic Jihad et al for any attacks, whether by suicide bomber, shooting, mortar, or missile. (There already have been rocket and mortar attacks.)

As a response to any attack Israel reserves the right to respond as they see fit. As an autonomous entity, the Palestinians' actions could theoretically be construed as an act of war (if they weren't until now).
Today's actions bring back the thoughts many have had regarding Sharon throughout the disengagement process. A couple of months ago, I and others remarked during conversations about Israel that from a simplistic standpoint, Sharon's actions make no sense. [My friend Reb Abe sent me an article by Victor Davis Hanson in Jewish World Review along similar lines.] Sharon, after all, is the general who led many successful campaigns and spoke out strongly in favor of the settlements, and was considered much toward the right end of the political spectrum. He was elected along those same lines - promising not to give away Gaza, to fight the terror, to move the country away from the "peace" accords which led to much of the terrorism which has killed and wounded many thousands. As the article points out,
"Brilliant tactician, lousy strategist." So goes the conventional wisdom about the old bulldozer Ariel Sharon.

But that assessment is exactly backward.

Sharon's strategic insight has always proved more impressive than his messy tactical operations. For now, keep that in mind — even as we seem to watch divided Israelis yell at each other while united Palestinians gloat about expelling the Zionists.

Gen. Sharon's counterattack across the Suez Canal in October 1973 during the Yom Kippur war was also seen as reckless, in its disregard for logistics and lines of communication. His 1982 army that invaded Lebanon proved tactically lax in allowing allied Christian militias to commit atrocities.

But Sharon's long-term thinking? That's another story altogether. Trapping the Egyptian 3rd Army in the Sinai, and then showing the world that Cairo itself was defenseless in the path of an Israeli armored division, was a strategic masterpiece aimed at ending the 1973 war outright to Israel's advantage.

The march into Lebanon forced Yasser Arafat out of the Middle East for a decade — and he might have been discredited for good as a defeated terrorist had third parties not escorted him to Tunis or brought him back under the Oslo accords.

Yet, within two years, he turns around and gives away Gaza - despite the Palestinians doing absolutely nothing on their part to stop the terror. He does so against most of his own party; against the platform he was elected on; and against the wishes of most of the defense heads and the people who elected him. It just doesn't make any sense.

Unless, we look at everything from a different angle: Sharon is making a brilliant strategic move. He has decided that Israel must show the world the true state of Palestinian terrorism, and the inability of the Palestinians to be a true nation among the other nations of the world. They are purely devoted to terrorism and the destruction of Israel: Not the rebuilding of a proud Palestinian nation, on their "rightful lands," as they claim. Therefore, the best way to show this is to pull the curtain away, and show the world what is truly going on behind it. It is a win-win situation for Israel (discounting the tragic losses of hundreds of homes), as there are only two possibilities:

1) The terror stops. The Palestinians immediately shape up, begin building an infrastructure, controlling the terror, and taking away the terror groups' power; anti-Israel sentiment is removed from the schools and streets, and children begin going to school on a regular basis. Jobs are created, trade begins, and corruption is removed from the Palestinian leadership.
2) The terror does not stop. Palestinians continue assaulting Israel with rockets and mortars. Wanton destruction. Borders are controlled by either nobody or terrorists. Abbas has no control over Hamas and the other groups. Hamas builds a museum for terror weapons. Children join terror rallies - and die when explosives go off.

In the first example, the Palestinians prove all the doubters wrong; but Israel is perfectly willing to accept this, as this means - finally - that peace has come to the region. In the second example, Israel has pulled the curtain on the Palestinians, and showed that what is behind the curtain is nothing but pure hate and terror. With the settlers now safely behind the Gaza wall, Israel can strike back at any attacks with as much firepower as they desire - with no worries about accidently hitting its own people, nor that the Palestinians have easy targets nearby to retaliate against.

Again, Hanson puts it well:
Gaza itself is only a tessera in a far larger strategic mosaic. The Israelis also press on with the border fence that will in large part end suicide bombings. The barrier will grant the Palestinians what they clamor for, but perhaps also fear — their own isolated state that they must now govern or let the world watch devolve into something like the Afghanistan of the Taliban.
He agrees with the notion that the Palestinians can truly shoot themselves in the foot - or head - if they don't watch where their hands are reaching.
Palestine as a sovereign state rather than a perpetually "occupied" territory also inherits the responsibility of all mature nations to police its own. So when Hamas and co. press on with their killing — most likely through rocket attacks over the fence — they do so as representatives of a new Palestinian nation.

In response, Israel can strike back at an aggressor without worry about the blowback on isolated vulnerable Israeli settlements.

Sharon's withdrawal policy from Gaza is thus a critical first step of turning the struggle from an asymmetrical war of terror back into a conventional standoff between delineated sovereign states. And that can only help a militarily superior Israel.
At the same time, Sharon is showing a sharp contrast between the Israelis and Palestinians - and in essence had to fool his own people. Sharon right now looks like a centrist: Not only did he tick off the right by disengaging, he is now about to split off from the Likud and form his own centrist party. He comes out looking as a leader who is able to move from the right to the center, make hard choices and sacrifices, and rein in the hard-liners to his right.
Politically, Gaza plays well. If the once right-wing Sharon can harness his own zealots, the world wonders why Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas cannot muzzle Hamas and Hezbollah?
Not only that, but the Palestinians have publicly been stating the same garbage and hate that has always been around: But they're looking increasingly stupid as they do so, with no Israelis around to constantly blame.
From their creepy rhetoric so far, Palestinian militias have proclaimed that Gaza is the first step toward the eventual destruction of Israel proper. But once again that only plays into Israel's complaint that withdrawal is seen by Palestinians as something to be manipulated rather than as an opportunity upon which to build a just society.

The pullout from Gaza is bringing long-needed moral clarity to a fuzzy crisis. Heretofore the Palestinians have counted on foreign support through fear of terrorism, influence with oil producers, unspoken anti-Semitism and carefully crafted victim status accorded savvy anti-Western zealots. But now they are increasingly on their own, and what transpires may soon end their romance of the perpetually oppressed.
In desperation, they have tried to retain this idea, repeating the same lies they have in the past - but now, these lies are easily spotted and called on; and remind the world that perhaps many of the statements in the past weren't so accurate either.
The chain of events began Friday afternoon, with an explosion at a Hamas rally in Gaza's crowded Jebaliya refugee camp in which at least 15 Palestinians were killed and dozens wounded.

Hamas blamed Israel for that blast, claiming Israeli aircraft fired missiles into the crowd, and said its rocket attacks on Israeli towns were meant as retaliation. However, the Palestinian Authority held the Islamic militants responsible, saying they apparently mishandled explosives at the rally. Israel denied involvement.
Sharon is looking increasingly like a genius, much to the horror of the Palestinians - and the Palestinians are looking increasingly pathetic while digging their own graves.
So Ariel Sharon leaves, with a "Hasta la vista, Gaza — and be careful what you wish for."
You never know when you might get what's coming to you.

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Friday, September 23, 2005

My Best Recent Posts - Trackback Carnival

I have noticed that a number of bloggers are posting trackback carnivals, so rather than edit a bunch of posts, I figured I would just link everything in one place.

Trackback hosts: Point Five, Wizbang, StoptheACLU, MyVastRightWingConspiracy, EuphoricReality, bRight & Early, Basil's Blog, Jo's Cafe, Cafe Oregano, and Jack Army. If there are more that I missed, sorry... I copied Point Five's list.

A brief synopsis of my own recent posts: (please feel free to peruse the archives too!)
Hot Topics in the Blogosphere: Stuck on Stupid and PorkBusters.

Economics: E-Bay & Skype discusses their merger; Negative Income Tax discusses the effect Netanyahu's conservative policies have had on Israel, and how that could help the US.

Middle East: Palestinians take over Gaza and Abbas vs. Hamas discuss the transfer of power, and the disasters that have followed, in Gaza, while 60 Minutes Should Show This Instead discusses Pallywood - the Palestinian version of Hollywood, where they fake injuries and fierce gunfights for the world media. The two posts on Sharon's UN speech analyze what he said, what he meant - and who he is warning, while another post about Israel joining the Security Council turned out to be interesting yet inapplicable. In addition, the Iraqi President asks for our continued help, while the Good News from Iraq will be turned over to the Wall Street Journal.

Justice John Roberts, Katrina, & the Media: Roberts' excellent speech, an excellent point he made, and the role of judges in our judicial system were followed by a ruling that the media portrayed incorrectly, along with a disgustingly leading - and surprising (to ABC) interview of a Hurricane Victim. The President takes the right approach; Reuters does not in its caption of a picture, nor does the rest of the media when reporting on Cindy Sheehan's protest. Neither do Senators Reid or Durbin, in their disgusting choice of words Justice Roberts [read the quotes carefully], as opposed to Senator Leahy, who was honest and fair. Another poor choice of words is spoken by ABC when it talks about its new show, but it's not as bad.

Humor: Everyone knows Kids Say the Darnest Things, and that wives hate sports fan husbands on Sundays, but if you're Jewish (and maybe if you're not) you may appreciate the Crazy Shabbos series, which is far from over, but still quite funny. Make sure to read it in order. Haveil Havalim 36 & 37 are roundups of some of the better Jewish bloggers' posts of the week.

Sobering/Uplifting: The last great Nazi hunter is gone, at the same time that Hamas wants to build a museum for terror weapons. But there are still some heroes out there.

Please, read, enjoy, and feel free to comment or critique! Thank you!

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Alliance: Next Secretary General of UN

As a new member of the Alliance of Free Blogs, a fun group dedicated to competing with Glenn Reynolds, I have to complete a "Precision Guided Humor Assignment" every week (I believe). If I don't... Nothing happens. But they're fun anyway. This week's assignment:
Who should replace Kofi Annan as UN Secretary General?
I'm too lazy to think of anything really funny, and it's 445am, but I think it should be Bibi Netanyahu, which would flip things around a bit; or John Bolton, because that would tick off the maximum amount of people on the left. I've seen others who suggested Schwarzenager, but I believe they wanted him to bring his guns. Hmmm...

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Israel on the UN Security Council?

[Hat tip: TBIFOC, through TTLB]

[NOTE: Ouch. I write a whole post, then realize that this wouldn't apply for over 10 years - thereby reducing my hypothesis to garbage. But I'm going to post it anyway, and, I may as well submit it to Ian Schwartz's open trackback. Please, tell me what you think of the ideas, if it were possible in the near future - let's say, Syria being overrun by the United States.]

Ha'aretz reports:
Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said Tuesday that Israel will seek a seat on the UN Security Council for the first time, another sign of Israel's improved ties with the United Nations.
This would be interesting for a number of reasons. As TBIFOC notes:
Some may say that having the United States sitting at the table is a de facto seat for Israel, but remember that there have been quite a few times that the UN Abmassador from the USA has sat silently and abstained instead of exercising the veto as they were morally obligated to.
But perhaps this is not the point. To pose a hypothetical: Israel may feel it needs its own veto power on the court, in case something comes up against Israel which the USA would not veto. What would fall into this category? I can think of a number of possible reasons:

1) Attack on an Iranian nuclear plant, if the UN fails to stop Iran from building one. Sharon already warned the UN about Iran when he spoke to the General Assembly.
And we know that, even today, there are those who sit here as representatives of a country whose leadership calls to wipe Israel off the face of the earth, and no one speaks out.

The attempts of that country to arm itself with nuclear weapons must disturb the sleep of anyone who desires peace and stability in the Middle East and the entire world. The combination of murky fundamentalism and support of terrorist organizations creates a serious threat that every member nation in the U.N. must stand against.

2) Attack on Gaza in response to a terror attack. Sharon last week:
The most important test the Palestinian leadership will face is in fulfilling their commitment to put an end to terror and its infrastructures, eliminate the anarchic regime of armed gangs, and cease the incitement and indoctrination of hatred toward Israel and the Jews.

Until they do so, Israel will know how to defend itself from the horrors of terrorism. This is why we built the security fence, and we will continue to build it until it is completed, as would any other country defending its citizens.
I am among those who believe that it is possible to reach a fair compromise and coexistence in good neighborly relations between Jews and Arabs. However, I must emphasize one fact: There will be no compromise on the right of the State of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, with defensible borders, in full security and without threats and terror.

3) Attack of Hamas if they fail to disarm before elections. Again, Sharon last week:
The most important test the Palestinian leadership will face is in fulfilling their commitment to put an end to terror and its infrastructures, eliminate the anarchic regime of armed gangs, and cease the incitement and indoctrination of hatred toward Israel and the Jews...I call on the Palestinian leadership to show determination and leadership and to eliminate terror, violence and the culture of hatred from our relations. I am certain that it is in our power to present our peoples with a new and promising horizon, a horizon of hope.
And this week:
"We will never agree that this terrorist organization, this armed terrorist organization, will participate in the elections," he told reporters on September 18.

It's possible, as well, that Israel just wants a release from some of the power the United States holds over them. No longer can the United States tell Israel what it can and cannot do, and silently hold that veto power over them; Israel will now be able to do what it feels is best for its own country, with less (though not zero) pressure from the US to affect its decisions.

No matter the reason, Israel deserves a turn. It has proven itself to be the most moral and decent country - and the only democratic country besides Iraq - in the Middle East, if not the world. Its restraint in the face of terror has been unprecedented, and it has never been on the Security Council since its creation - though all its neighbors have, many times.

So, although I have realized this cannot happen for many years, I still must state that this is a position Israel deserves and needs now - regardless of, and possibly because of, the situations which might arise in the near future.

Israel should be a member of the UN Security Council. Period.

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Woman President: "Fictional, yet real"

[Note: Link above may be no good quickly... sorry]


Screening & Discussion with Members of the Commander Writing Team, Eleanor Clift, Gwen Ifil, Helen Thomas, and President of The White House Project

Tonight, Thursday, September 22nd, The White House Project and ABC will host a private advance screening of Commander in Chief, the first primetime television program starring a woman president. Following the screening, notable journalists and members of the Commander in Chief crew will take part in a discussion moderated by Marie C. Wilson, President of The White House Project.

Honestly, I have no particular interest in the story, the show, or the discussion itself. Glenn Reynolds (Instapundit) agrees with Bill Quick (Daily Pundit) about this, as well.
Yes. I'll be on pins and needles waiting to watch a tv series about a woman President written by Eleanor Clift, Gwen Ifill, and Helen Freaking Thomas.

How about a series about a President who actually has brains and leadership qualities, written by Jonah Goldberg, Roger Simon and, well, me?

UPDATE: You know, that's not all that bad an idea. Hey, Roger, Jonah. I give great pitch, and Roger, you've got the track record (although I am produced). Want to try to put something together for Fox?
I'd watch that.
What I do care about, however, are the interesting lines that follow:
The premier event comes a week after The House Project released a Roper Public Affairs Poll that found nearly 80% of Americans feel comfortable with a woman President of the United States. "These poll numbers demonstrate America's increasing comfort with a female commander in chief. While ABC's show is fiction, the message from this poll is real -- American voters recognize the strength and value of women's leadership in the highest of offices," said Marie C. Wilson. The same poll also found widespread support for female leadership roles including the Vice Presidency and the Supreme Court.
Though in this case, it does make some sense, I (much like Best of the Web and others) cannot get over this "fake but accurate" or "fictional yet real" mentality: That somehow, it doesn't matter if something is false or fiction; as long as the message it sends across could be true or real, it's an important one that is worth wasting hours of airtime over.

I wish the best of luck to ABC that their show be a smashing success, assuming it's any good. Just please, spare me the political rhetoric that it's supposed to send.

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Hamas to Convert Synagogue to Weapons Museum

LGF: Incredibly vile behavior from the terrorist gang the world is trying desperately to promote to a “political entity:” Hamas To Convert Synagogue to Weapons Museum. (Hat tip: LGF readers.)

As the New York Sun reports:
Emboldened by Israel's withdrawal from Gaza and part of the West Bank, Hamas yesterday announced its plan to turn a synagogue in Netzarim into a museum that would display weapons employed by the terrorist group's members against Israeli civilians.

A statement issued yesterday by Hamas said, "Qassam rockets and other locally made arms will be exposed, since it is the legal weapon that evicted the occupation forces."
As LGF points out,
where the hell is the world’s outrage about this? Newsweek prints a false rumor that a Koran was dunked in a toilet, and the entire planet goes nuts. Hamas announces that they’re going to turn a Jewish house of worship into a memorial to mass murder ... and the silence is absolutely deafening.
Nice double standard. Another one is later in the Sun article, when discussing whether Hamas will have to disarm before the Palestinian elections in January.
On Tuesday the Quartet, a diplomatic group comprising America, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations, released a statement that envisioned the disarming of Hamas in phases and not necessarily as a precondition for its participation in parliamentary elections on January 25.

"We also agreed that ultimately those who want to be part of the political process should not engage in armed group or militia activities," the joint statement said. "For there is a fundamental contradiction between such activities and the building of a democratic state."

The inclusion of the modifier, "ultimately," could pave the way for Hamas to run candidates and join the government even if it keeps its weapons.
Ah, the old "should not" - a very threatening statement, that Hamas is sure to listen to. Can you picture it now?
Quartet: "You know, you really shouldn't." Hamas: "Oh yes, you're right - let's go give away our weapons now."
Sharon, for his part, is sticking to his guns about this one, stating that Israel absolutely will not support elections in the territories unless Hamas is disarmed.
"We will never agree that this terrorist organization, this armed terrorist organization, will participate in the elections," he told reporters on September 18.
And, as he points out,
"I don't see how they could have elections without our help."
The Palestinian infrastructure is so poor - especially with Hamas armed - that to run proper and fair elections without help from Israeli security and Israeli advice and infrastructures would be impossible.

To both his credit and shame, President Bush has not taken a stance either way.
Mr. Bush has not specified whether Hamas must disarm. Speaking to the Jewish Republican Coalition yesterday, he said that the Palestinian Authority was unifying its security services.

"The policy of this government is to streamline the security forces so there's only one authority with security forces, and that's the authority that campaigned based upon a peace platform," Mr. Bush said. "The policy of this government is to help entrepreneurship flourish, to help small businesses start. The Arab world needs to help right now. They need to step in and help the peaceful democratic forces within the Palestinian - within Gaza, to thwart those whose stated objective is the destruction of Israel."
Though at least he recognizes what they are all about.

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Thursday, September 22, 2005

Good News From Iraq

Courtesy of, and as I was looking at the Outside the Beltway traffic jam, I found this excellent article by Jeff Jacoby of the Boston Globe. He discusses Arthur Chrenkoff, who began a blog months ago about the Good News in Iraq, which the mainstream media failed - or chose not to - cover.

Read the entire article, but here are a couple of choice quotes:
The first installment appeared on May 19, 2004. Headlined ‘‘Good news from Iraq — bet you didn’t know there was any,’’ it offered a respite from the grim litany of insurgent violence, Abu Ghraib prisoner abuse, and coalition casualties that the mainstream media’s coverage of the war tends to dwell on. In Iraq, it proclaimed, there was news to cheer: the democratic election of town councils in Dhi Qar province. The publication of 51 million new Ba’ath-free textbooks for Iraqi schoolchildren. The ‘‘brain drain in reverse’’ that was bringing thousands of educated Iraqi expatriates back to their homeland to teach. The revival of Kurdish music, long suppressed under Saddam. The reflooding of the ruined southern marshes. The 3-1 upset soccer victory over Saudi Arabia that meant Iraq was going to the Olympics. And more.
This was new - but why?
Chrenkoff had been thinking about this for a while. On April 3, when his blog was just four days old, he posted an entry about ‘‘what is really happening in Iraq’’ that listed a few of the things that were going well. But he kept it brief. ‘‘I won’t bore you with a litany of good news,’’ he wrote.
But people weren't bored.
Good news about the war, he was to discover, didn’t bore readers. His May 19 entry, which ran to three single-spaced pages when printed, drew a phenomenal response, fueled by favorable mentions in some of the best known and most widely read blogs —,, and’s ‘‘Best of the Web Today.’’ A week later he ventured forth with ‘‘Good news from Iraq, Part 2’’ — this one five pages long — and the response was even more enthusiastic.
The ‘‘good news’’ format was straightforward. It briefly described the latest positive developments and linked to a source providing more complete information. Typically these were published news stories, but they could also be government releases, military reports, industry Web pages, opinion polls, or accounts by Iraqi civilians.
That ‘‘niche’’ — a widespread interest in the things going right in Iraq — was obvious. So why didn’t Big Media fill it?
A possible answer, that rings quite true to many:
‘‘The war on terrorism and the effort to bring democratic reform to the Middle East is the most important enterprise in which America is involved,’’ says James Taranto, the editor of, who early on recognized the importance of Chrenkoff’s work. ‘‘But you don’t get the sense that the mainstream media appreciate this. You get the sense that they’re rooting for America to lose — or at least that they wouldn’t be upset if America lost.’’ By contrast, he suggests, ‘‘American journalists covering World War II basically saw themselves as being on the side of their country’’ — and their patriotism was reflected in their journalism.
In other words, journalists are either too hung up on a misconceived notion that fairness is presenting the contrasting side - always; or they are choosing to only show the side that contrasts with what one what normally expect. A hang-up, if you will, on the notion that the media's responsibility is to try and help place pressure against the government in almost every instance - particularly in the case of war. Though not every way is Vietnam, the media treats it as if it is.

Finally, the Good News reports had to come to an end, but its finality is still quite amazing:
Last week, Chrenkoff posted ‘‘Good news from Iraq, Part 35.’’ It was 44 inspiring pages long — and the last of the series. (He has accepted a position with an employer whose rules won’t permit him to keep blogging.) ‘‘I don’t know what Iraq and Afghanistan will look like in five or 10 years’ time,’’ he wrote in a farewell, ‘‘but I hope for the best. If, despite all the horrendous problems and challenges, both countries manage to make it through and join the international family of normal, decent, and peaceful nations,’’ many people will wonder how they managed to get there. ‘‘But you, who have read these round-ups for the past year and a half, will not be surprised.’’
Thanks to Chrenkoff, no we won't.

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Sheehan Protest Attracts Large Crowd of 28 Others

I found this on the Political Teen, who got it from Confederate Yankee.

Cindy Sheehan staged a protest today in the nation's capital, and there were many reporters around to take pictures.

Here's the picture in the news, and here's the one online.

Which one says more? You decide.

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Crazy Shabbos - Friday NightCap

[This is Part V of a yet to be known number of posts about a Crazy Shabbos recently... Read Parts I, II, III, and IV first!]

We left off with Serach referring to me as "ugly", but I realized I'd left out a few parts. Ezzie's memory = not good...

Before Shabbos, I'd been taking out the garbage, about the same time KickBoxer showed up in her car with the flowers that went into a pitcher. At the same time, I see another friend of Serach's from Cincinnatti standing outside. She asks where we live, so she can surprise Serach on Shabbos.

Friday night, as mentioned before, we had a lot of guys over. This friend came over with her cousin near the end of the meal. Now, she went to seminary for three years, as did her cousin, I believe. Therefore, they felt uncomfortable sitting down in a room with a few guys, even though they were only planning on staying for a few minutes. Though I think it's something people should be able to do anyway, I do understand their point of view, so I was only mildly surprised when they - along with Serach - retreated to the kitchen.

This resulted in my commenting to the guys at the table, "I do believe that's the first time I've seen that here..." In retrospect, I should have made a joke about women voluntarily retreating to the kitchen, but alas...

Anyways, back to the table, and later in the night. The ShanaGimel girls are gone, and I believe the Ex-Date and her Doc Husband have gone too (they were nice, I must say...), and DeepThroat and HighVoice are singing, with myself, Toast, Memphis, and even BeardedMan joining in. Ex-Pres was probably shmoozing, but at least he spared us. Now, DeepThroat has a very good, deep, baritone voice, but can go pretty high; HighVoice has, well... a really HighVoice, but is a beautiful singer. I just like hearing really great singing and/or music, in general.

They sang a bunch of songs, including the Im Eshkachech which they had sung *at* my wedding, which was gorgeous. They also pulled off some impressive harmonies, with a little help from myself and the others in giving them a base to harmonize off of both high and low, so it sounded really nice. I noticed KickBoxer with wide eyes - apparently, she loves music, and was really enjoying the performance.

This time, Serach didn't fall asleep. She has in the past, including last Rosh Hashana when there were 9 guys singing quite loudly at the table. But I digress...

DeepThroat was about to go back, so I walked him out, and started talking. And talking. And talking. We were out there for about a half-hour when we were called out to by Serach, which means that Ex-Pres was badgering my wife for about the same amount of time. Meanwhile, Memphis was probably making fun of Kickboxer's tri-state tendencies, and Toast and BeardedMan were just sitting there enjoying the show.

After a while, Toast and BeardedMan left as well, and HighVoice joined the conversation outside. Which means Ex-Pres is contemplating falling asleep on the couch, much as he did a month earlier, when there were three girls over. That time, he decided to insist that he was homeless (sort of true), and we had invited him over as a chessed case (absolutely true). He took a couple pillow, put them on the couch, and put a blanket over himself, resulting in the following exchange:
"Is he really homeless?"
Sort of.
(scared) [The girls were supposed to be sleeping on the couches] "Is he really going to sleep on the couch!?"
I don't think so.
(unconvinced) "Are you sure? He looks like he is..."
Don't worry. He'll find a park bench, or head back to the apartment he's staying at.
"Oh. So he's not really homeless?"
Oh, he is. It's not his apartment. But our A/C is better. And on. Don't worry, though - I have no problem kicking him out when you want me to.
Speaking of air-conditioning, last Shavuos, Ex-Pres did a good thing:
"Oh my gosh, Ezzie, it's boiling in here!! Yeah, I know. Nothing we can do... the A/C shut off, it thinks it's cool in here. Can't you ask a neighbor? No, I don't trust my neighbors. One family collects junk; one swears at us and hopes all the Jews in the building die, along with vandalizing every thing in sight; one abuses her great-granddaughter; and the nice Spanish ones aren't around.
All of a sudden, :::whoosh::: the air goes on.
A bunch of people turn wide-eyed at Ex-Pres, and one asks simply: What the hell did you just do?!! I turned it up - you said it was hot in here.

Since Ex-Pres is Israeli, and technically still lives there, though he hasn't been there in a couple years, he does not keep second day of Yom Tov. Therefore, we call him our Yom Tov guy. Unfortunately, this didn't help us this Shabbos. As soon as he walked in, he walked over to the A/C to get cooled down. Of course, when someone stands right in front of the air, this may result in its thinking that it is cool inside... and turn off.

It was a very hot meal. And Ex-Pres got yelled at a couple of times, notably when KickBoxer came back and discovered that the room she'd be sleeping in was about 90 degrees. Actually, she was nice about it... just made a comment anytime he'd say a word. Miraculously, it turned back on when I was sitting near it during the singing (and serving of Serach's blueberry something or other - I didn't have, but everyone else said it was great). Unsurprisingly, it shut back off after everyone left, and KickBoxer boiled all night. It turned back on the second she got up in the morning. Ouch.

Anyways, back to outside: I'm talking to DT and HV for a while now, and we kept getting jokes made and yelled at from the window by Serach, KickBoxer, and Ex-Pres/Memphis. Serach's about 5"0, and so is KickBoxer. At one point, I hear the front door of the building open, and I notice DeepThroat about to say something to them. The two young Arab ladies walk by, in their colored hijabs and full garb, and walk down the path out of sight. DeepThroat cracks up, and explains,
'I was about to say "Ha-Ha, you can stop dressing up now!!" - I thought it was Serach and KickBoxer! Whew... That would have gone over well...'
As if we don't have enough to worry about with our wonderful neighbors... like a couple weeks ago, when Serach was walking back in, the kids all scattered, leaving the phone books (meant for the building's tenants) ripped to shreds in their wake, and pieces of paper that had "DIE! DIE! DIE!" written all over them.

Well, I finally went back in after another little while... Ex-Pres and Memphis took their leave, and KickBoxer and us were the only ones remaining. We remembered to close the shades this time (we usually just keep them closed, but we'd opened them for air), learning from a previous mistake:
We had walked one friend of Serach's home along with another co-worker. When we came back, I noticed I could see right into our apartment. Thank God it was late, because I commented on this fact apologetically to the two girls who were staying over. One of them responded, "Well, I hope there was nobody outside, because while she was in the bathroom, they probably got quite a show from me..."
At least the lights were off, unlike the time I'd set the Shabbos clock backward.
(Ser's friend) Aren't the green ones on, the red ones off? No - why would it make a difference? I'm pretty sure it does. Nah - they both hit the thingie and turn it. There's no difference. Have you ever used one before? No - but I looked at it, I'm sure it's fine.
Next morning: The lights were on all night. And then shut off this morning. Whoops. Yeah - I didn't sleep at all. Uh-oh. Exactly.
And the little Chinese wall we put up stayed up, unlike when it almost fell on another guest... though that wasn't my fault, as the guest adjusted it in an unbalanced way - even though I warned them not to. But, Kickboxer is nothing if not blunt: Tell me if the couch is comfortable when it's opened up. I don't think it looks comfortable, but everyone else says it actually is. It's not. See? I knew you'd give an honest answer. I think everyone else just likes that it's Queen-size. Maybe... but it's not so great. Tomorrow, I'm just going to take a nap on the couch itself - it's really comfortable on its own. But the bed sucks. My mother liked it pulled out a lot more than not. Don't ask me, that makes no sense.

Well, good-night... Parts VI and on (Shabbos day and beyond!) are coming soon!

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