Monday, July 31, 2006

The Delusions About Lieberman - Part Billion

Some blogger, "Matt Stoller" at MYDD says this, among other filth, about why he hates Lieberman: "Lieberman [has a] vicious and reactionary nature"

I really have no idea what these people are talking about.

He's responding to this question "I'm not posting this to be critical. I'm genuinely perplexed. Why do some people like Lieberman? What, really, is there to like about the guy?" from the world famous in Poland Eschaton/Atrois.

One guy (Sundog) on the comments to Eschatrois: "Pro-Lamont guy here: What a silly statement. It's quite true that over his long history, he's been a solid Democrat. It's just the last few years and the war I have a problem with.//Comments like this help excuse his irrational hatred of the netroots."

Ya think?

Juan Cole - Friendly Words

Hey, you remember when I said that Juanito Cole was not a friend of the Jewish State? And you probably felt that I was exaggerating, because we Hebrews toss around these epithets a lot (it being the 9 days and all).
When you should see his restrained commentary about the Qana bombing:

"The Israelis appear to be engaged in a concerted campaign of ethnic cleansing in the Shiite towns and villages of southern Lebanon, "

What a sweet, temperate man.

Ugly Template

Oy, is this template ugly. I am trying to teach myself Blogger Template Code but they seem to make it incomprehensible on purpose. Oh, don't believe me do you? Check out this help page.

A New Feeling

One gift I've received from Hakadosh-Baruch-Hu has been a general feeling of hope. When I first realized (around 6 or 7 years old) that the world is filled with know-nothings who hold all the power and money, I recognized that a good brain, good family, and good friends can get you through almost everything.

In the past few days, I've gotten very worried about even that assumption.

It could be that my political views are not mainstream in the least. I am a moderate-Democrat (I would say a "Lieberman Democrat" but I'm afraid of the snipers, see below) in America and a Likudnik in Israel. Those two identities are rarely found together.

Which means that I have a tough time finding news to read online. The sites which are even passably pro-Israel are also rabid-Republican. There are a few which support Lieberman and, ipso facto, support Israel, but getting to those sites can be difficult.

The worst part is seeing the horrible anti-Israel hate on the Left Wing sites. As you can see from posts below, I believe being a Democrat does not mean being a liberal. But almost every 'Democratic' website has not gotten that memo.

Just reading page after page of hate against Lieberman and Israel makes the world feel very small, and very very dangerous.

Backpost: Hezbollah's Free Speech

Email Backpost so I'm keeping this at it's original date.

Check out this story from the Columbia Journalism Review from July 27 - that shows the two-part Hezbollah PR racket:
  1. Only allow reporters to see what you want them to see and
  2. threaten their lives ("The Party of God has a copy of every journalist's passport, and they've already hassled a number of us and threatened one.")

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Orthodox Jewish Boxer?


See the New York magazine story about Dmitry Salita, a shomer-shabbat boxer.

On one side, as a Torah-U-Madda-nik, I am in favor of Orthodox Jews not be restricted by any profession. There's halakha for everything, according to my practical theology. Yet, there are certain professions I'd like to think are permanently off-limits (e.g. any of the sex-worker trade). Boxing is one of them (see the Noda Bi-Yehuda about hunting).

2009 Update: He's gotten more coverage in recent years. I still say oy.

Pic of Salita from here. Backpost finished 2009-12-08. I had just the link and the word 'oy.'

The Cost of Propaganda

The blood libel against Israel is working. It kills. The Seattle case, Gibson's rant.

What I believe I meant, is it's wrong to believe that propaganda, or as Hillary & McCain like to say "just words", have no effect. Whenever there's bad stuff in Israel, the anti-Semites (sorry, "anti-Zionists"), malign Israelis - which then result in Jews getting beaten, stabbed, shot, and/or killed. There's more to say about this, but shorter may be best.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. Just the lines in bold

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Backpost: Lieberman Endorsements

Backpost: 7/29/06. 11:08 PM. This was sent to the guest-moderator at TPM, named DK. The whole thing is intact from back them. As such, I'm keeping this post in its original date; 4/15/08.

I too find the NYTimes endorsement of Lieberman significant. I decided to
check out, though, the Connecticut newspapers.

First the "Hartford Courant", the largest CT daily, endorses Lieberman. So does the "Connecticut Post" (Bridgeport)

The Stamford Advocate says they will provide endorsements, but just not yet...

Most of CT newspapers don't seem to have specific websites (its all very
strange) and all link to the Courant piece from the AP.

The two Democratic House members (Rosa DeLauro and John B. Larson) endorse Lieberman as well.

You can see Lieberman's endorsement page to confirm these.

I think this issue holds an important angle. For the non-Connecticut crowd,
the New York Times is huge. For Connecticut, especially the poor part, the
local newspapers may carry more sway.

NYTimes Endorses Lamont

Yup. Seriously. You would think that the newspaper who financed Judith Miller and the lies about Iraq, might not be so supercilious about Lieberman. But I guess Lieberman is too pro-Israel to receive an endorsement.

Late Addition:
Here's a letter I sent into the TPM (who's making a whoop-de-doo about the NYTimes endorsement, grrrr)

I too find the NYTimes endorsement of Lieberman significant. I decided to check out, though, the Connecticut newspapers.

First the "Hartford Courant", the largest CT daily, endorses Lieberman. So
does the "Connecticut Post" (Bridgeport)

The Stamford Advocate says they will provide endorsements, but just not yet...

Most of CT newspapers don't seem to have specific websites (its all very strange) and all link to the Courant piece from the AP.

The two Democratic House members (Rosa DeLauro and John B. Larson) endorse Lieberman as well

You can see Lieberman's endorsement page here.

I think this issue holds an important angle. For the non-Connecticut crowd, the New York Times is huge. For Connecticut, especially the poor part, the local newspapers may carry more sway.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Michael J. Totten: Lebanon’s Premature Liberalism

This is a fascinating insider's look at the situation in Lebanon - Michael J. Totten: Lebanon’s Premature Liberalism

More Left-Wing Foolishness

This is all of a piece, similar to what I recently posted here, about the inane myths in the left-wing echo-chamber. In the example below, the master of the Great Orange Satan, the Kos himself, repeats the standard nonesense:
Daily Kos: State of the Nation:
I grew up in a war zone. And there was one clear lesson I learned -- there will never be peace unless both sides get tired of the fighting and start seeking an alternative. It's clear that in the Middle East, no one is sick of the fighting. They have centuries of grudges to resolve, and will continue fighting until they can get over them.
Centuries of grudges, eh? Moron.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. The link and the quote.

Israeli Military & Civilian Losses

Israeli military & Civilian losses in the conflict with Hezbollah as of July 27, 2006 (from the JTA). Each listing includes the victim’s name, age and city of origin, and is in chronological order.

Monica Seidman Lehrer, 40, of Nahariya
Nitzan Roseban, 33, of Safed
Omer Pesachov, 7, of Nahariya
Yehudit Itzkovitch, 58, of Meron
Shmuel Ben Shimon, 41, of Yokneam Illit
Asael Damti, 39, of Kiryat Yam
Nissim Elharar, 43, of Kiryat Ata
David Feldman, 28, of Kiryat Yam
Rafi Hazan, 30, of Haifa
Dennis Lapidos, 24, of Kiryat Yam
Reuven Levy, 46, of Kiryat Ata
Shlomi Mansura, 35, of Nahariya
Andrei Zelinksy, 36, of Nahariya
Rabia Abed Taluzi, 3, of Nazareth
Mahmoud Taluzi, 7, of Nazareth
Shimon Glickblich, 60, of Haifa
Habib Isa Awad, 48, of Iblin
Dou’a Abbas, 15, of Kfar Mrar

Sgt. Maj.(res.) Eyal Benin, 22, of Beersheba
Sgt. Maj.(res.) Shani Turgeman, 24, of Beit Shean
Sgt. Maj. Wassim Nazal, 26, of Yanuah
Staff Sgt. Alexei Kushnirski, 21, of Nes Ziona
Staff Sgt. Yaniv Bar-on, 20, of Maccabim
Sgt. Gadi Mosayev, 20, of Acre
Sgt. Shlomi Yirmiyahu, 20, of Rishon le-Zion
Sgt. Nimrod Cohen, 19, of Mitzpe Shalem
Staff Sgt. Tal Amgar, 21, of Ashdod
Sgt. Yaniv Hershkovitz, 21, of Haifa
Cpl. Shai Atias, 19, of Rishon le-Zion
1st Sgt. Dov Steinshuss, 37, of Carmiel
Staff Sgt. Yonatan Hadasi, 21, of Kibbutz Merhavia
Staff Sgt. Yotam Gilboa, 21, of Kibbutz Maoz Haim
Maj. Benjamin (Benji) Hillman, 27, of Maccabim Re’ut
Staff Sgt. Refanael Muskal, 21, of Mazkeret Batya
Staff Sgt. Nadav Baeloha, 21, of Carmiel
Staff Sgt. Liran Saadia, 21, of Kiryat Shmona
Staff Sgt. Yonatan (Sergei) Vlasyuk, 21, of Kibbutz Lahav
Maj. Ran Yehoshua Kochva, 37, of Beit Hanania
2nd Lt. Lotan Slavin, 21, of Hatzeva
Staff Sgt. Kobi Smileg, 20, of Rehovot
Col. Zvi Luft, 42, of Kibbutz Hogla
1st Lt. Tom Farkash, 23, of Caesarea
Maj. Ro’i Klein, 31, of Eli
Lt. Amihai Merhavia, 24, of Eli
Lt. Alexander Shwartzman, 24, of Acre
Sgt. Shimon Adega, 21, of Kiryat Gat
Staff Sgt. Edan Cohen, 21, of Jaffa
Staff Sgt. Shimon Dahan, 20, of Ashdod
Cpl. Ohad Klausner, 20, of Bet Horon
Cpl. Assaf Namer, 27, of Kiryat Yam.
Lt. Yiftah Shreirer, 21, of Haifa

I Am Not Landis

I have an alibi. I swear.

Northern Refugees

The town of Alon Shvut is the quaint academic/yeshiva town (a.k.a. a "settlement" over the "green line" populated by "Hebrews") I lived in for a year.

They are doing their part to house refugees from the North of Israel. I find it notable that residents of Acco need to go to the West Bank to be safe.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel's Nobility

It was a terrible day for Israel - 8 soldiers killed by ambush. According to Haaretz (whose editors are not apologists or propagandists for the government, as you know) about today's deaths in Bint Jbail :

...officers in the Golani and Paratroops Brigades charged that the IDF employed insufficient force before the soldiers were deployed to search the homes. They said that once the civilians had been told to leave the town, the army should have regarded Bint Jbail as a battlefield and destroyed any home where Hezbollah guerrillas were suspected of hiding.
Military sources claimed Wednesday that the IDF's current tactics are having an insufficient impact on the Katyusha rocket launchers and expose the soldiers to excessive danger. The criticism was mostly aimed at the decision not to employ large ground forces in Lebanon, which would give the IDF a significant advantages over a guerrilla force.
The sources also criticized what they described as insufficient utilization of aircraft in ground support operations, because of concerns that they might kill Lebanese civilians that did not evacuate target areas.

Israeli soldiers die so civilians don't.

It's not even that Israel has the most moral army in the world (it is) - because I assume all armies of Democratic countries minimize civilian casualties.

It's just that Israel is accused of war crimes for targeting civilians... while soldiers are dying to protect the very same civilians...

The Juan Coles of the world perpetuate a libel, this blood libel, against Israel.

A modified version of this post was emailed to the TPM in response to the Juan Cole post; Marshall wrote back to me saying that he agrees. Which means that, yet again, Marshall demonstrates he is a thinking Leftist

Late Update: Here are the obituaries

Soldiers in Prayer

Here's a stirring page of Israeli Soldiers in Prayer.

I have said time and again: Israel survives because of Hesder soldiers.

Rant: Deliveries and UPS InfoNotices

It's not hard for me to know why, in general, I linked to this UPS page: Deliveries and UPS InfoNotices, but I don't remember a specific incident. Basically, in my New Haven neighborhood, the UPS guy doesn't wait for us to come to the door before he drives off. Getting packages from them is impossible. Fed-Ex ground is fine, USPS as well. UPS just hates on the neighborhood, or the driver has pressing business with a pipe, who knows. I've complained to the home-office to no avail. So I have asked everyone to stop using UPS for my house (and in general I've stopped using them, preferring all the other many options).

Backpost finished 4/11/08. Just the link.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Spirit as a Movie

I saw this headline the other day and I got scared and angry (scangry?) - "Spirit" comic comes to life on big screen. Despite my strong attraction to the film medium, I am enough of a bright-eyed connoisseur to recognize that things I love in one medium will 99% of the time be trashed by the inept maroons of Hollywood.

Don't believe me? Explain how Robert Heinlin's best book, Starship Troopers, was turned into thick bovine crud.

The Spirit (or I should say, The Spirit), is one of my favorite comic book heroes, created by the best comic artist ever - and the single greatest influence on my art - Will Eisner.

The idea that Hollywood anii would befoul my favorite funnybook character is too much to bear. But then I read the story: "The movie will be adapted and directed by Frank Miller."


Not only is that not bad news, it's good. If Will Eisner is number one on the funnybook list, Frank Miller is number two. And my man Robert Rodriguez may have taught him a few things from their collaboration on "Sin City." The feared warp of the universe has been repaired.

Rockets vs. Missiles

Background: Another Lebanon War era post. This was just a good column from one of my favorite reads - and genre of non-fiction - the 'explainer' column from Slate. There are a few of these columns about, like the Straight Dope, and Imponderables (and to some extent, Snopes). I don't have a good term for the genre (although the Wiki suggests "Skeptic Multimedia;" ugh).

Anyway, the question to the Explainer is what's the difference between
Rockets vs. Missiles? Short answer: guidance.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. Just the link.

Andrew Bergman

Premiere magazine had a cover story listing the "best comedies ever" - a topic calculated to both interest and enrage - and while many of my favorites were on there, they also listed some real doggies. One movie they discussed was "The In-Laws" (1979). I had heard of it before and avoided it on the general principle that it appeared to be part of that execrable 'comedy' subcategory: The Two Hours Trapped With An Annoying Person movie.

But, like all red-blooded American bloggers, I checked out the movie on IMDB and found that the screenwriter, Andrew Bergman, has written some of the funniest films out there. Consistently top-notch stuff! One guy wrote these 4 movies, which I consider some of the best comedies of all time: Blazing Saddles, Fletch, The Freshmen, and Soapdish!

So we tried out The In-Laws. Whoa, is that a good movie. It's worth it's reputation; it has perfect casting (Falk and Arkin!); and gives Bergman a 5 for 5 of top comedies.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. Had most of this back then.

Blog spellcheck

Blogger provides a spellchecker feature. Nice of them. Funny fact: the word "blog" is not in the spelling dictionary.

Triviality Dump

As you may have noticed, I am dumping on the blog my backlog of fun/innocuous posts that have been accumulating over the past few days. I am also working on tuning up the Blog Template. After I finish the backlog, I'll return to more serious topics.

Fun and Legal Pseudo-Treasonous Assault

This is fun for about 45 seconds, but it's worth it for those moments: Bash Bush on Bubbles, from

Dave Barry Online (Pirated)

I was searching, as a favor to Mrs. Styx, for the resolution of the famous Dave Barry story about the "Lavender Hill Mob." In my search, I found the original story online, because, I swear I am not making this up, some Russian website has pirated his books and placed them online.

Check it out: “Dave Barry” at FictionBook.lib

Coke Zero vs. Diet Coke

What is the difference between Coke Zero and Diet Coke? Naturally, for a serious question like this, I went to the Wiki:

Coke Zero is "a low-calorie variation of Coca-Cola Classic sweetened with aspartame and acesulfame potassium (also known as Ace-K)."

"Diet Coke does not utilize a modified form of the Coca-Cola recipe but is instead an entirely different formula. The controversial New Coke, introduced in 1985, used a version of the Diet Coke recipe that contained sugar and had a slightly different balance of ingredients."

So the difference is rather simple; Diet Coke is New Coke with nutrasweet and Coke Zero is Coke Classic with nutrasweet.

Note, neither match up to the real thing, which in the Styx's opinion, is the greatest soft drink in the universe. But, that just may be my logo talking.

Absurd Triviality Alert - Pengu

Oh glory be, someone found Pengu online, again. Yummy.

My Old Blog is Working Again

It's hard to explain, but I managed to get my old blog working again. It took, I believe, a combination of:

1. time
2. constant fiddling with the Template & Settings,
3. luck
4. an extensive set of new writing on a new blog, thus making a decision to switch back to the old blog too onerous to contemplate, showing that the merciless Internet Demons have a wicked sense of humor.

As it is, I will keep the Old Blog just a set of Archives. I was going to transfer all the Benjieposts to a new blog anyway, this way I will just slice away the reposts.

Viva la Styx!

Rant: The Evil, Blogs

Why do people hate blogs? I hear this from people and it's in the same tone people used to have back in the 80s when they talked about answering machines. While I don't feel old, I realize that because I grew up in the transition time between in the years between when virtually all phones were corded (and many rotary! glad that died a swift death), and when people reacted strongly to leaving a message on an impersonal machine.

As I've mentioned before, while we don't have our flying cars in the 21th Century (yet), we have made enormous mind-boggling futuristic advances in communication and computing technology. But no flying cars. I'm actually happier to have my palm tero - wireless phone/Internet/color computer - which is probably more powerful than the system that launched the Apollo missions.

Anyway, this was supposed to be about blogs. Right, OK. So, people hate blogs. Who hates? So far the resistance has come from two groups:
  1. Politicians and Old Media Employees
  2. Old People (anyone above 60)
The latter group hates blogs for the same reason they hated answering machines. They have no idea what blogs are, so let's hate it! It's a stupid word to begin with (any decent word that starts with the B-L diphthong? Colors don't count). And it's a synecdoche for everything bad in new technology. And because info-technology is evolving very very fast, there's a lot to feel uncomfortable about. A blog is seen as just a way to waste time on the tube-ridden internet, and bloggers are the punk ruffians who have made the internets - and by extension the outside world outside of Archie Bunker's living room - a bad place.

We can ignore this group. They will soon pass into irrelevancy.

It's the first group - Politicians and Old Media Employees - who actually know (a bit) what blogs are, and don't like 'em. Back in 2006 my comments on this matter would have been prescient and interesting. Now, they're just a post-mortem. Because in the past 18 months, The Man has gone from fear to acceptance on blogs. They use 'em (badly, usually) and have gotten to understand that blogs are the newest incarnation of the technology tidal wave.

Sadly, this has led to many blaming blogs for early deaths - an epidemic, like Satanism in the 70s and comic-book-fuelled-child-delinquency in the 50s - without recognizing that blogging is no different from the 24/7 news stations. Except that CNN/FOX et al. have stopped doing actual news and have gone to entertainment while blogs have the chance to be the real 24/7 news that TV can't manage. Because TV costs a lot, requires made-up bimbos to read cue-cards, and is seen as a medium of entertainment and not information.

If anything, I hope blogs will finally kill off 24 hour news stations. Everything started going downhill (culminating with Chris Matthews) when news was perceived as 'profitable.' Viva la blog.

Backpost finished 4/11/08. I had just the first line (bolded). I've expanded it... all over the place. That's why it's now a 'rant.' And as far as I know, I've said much of this before as well.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Vladimir Arutinian

Anybody ever heard of Vladimir Arutinian? Anybody? Evidently I thought you should 18 months ago. A quick visit to the link and, woopsy-daisy, look at that: "On 10 May 2005 he made an attempt to assassinate U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to Georgia [FSU]." Yeah?

The wiki elaborates:
On 10 May 2005, Arutyunian threw a Soviet-made RGD-5 hand grenade, wrapped in a red tartan (plaid) handkerchief, toward the podium where President Bush stood as he addressed a crowd in Freedom Square in downtown Tbilisi. The grenade landed 18.6 metres (61 feet) from the podium, near which Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, his wife Sandra E. Roelofs, Laura Bush, and other officials were seated. The grenade, however, failed to detonate.

Georgian officials claimed that the grenade was a non-combative engineering type used in training, which either did not contain explosives or would have had to be very near the President to cause him any harm, and that it had been placed approximately 100 feet from the podium where Bush was speaking, in an attempt meant to scare the crowd and gain media attention.

However, after an investigation, Bryan Paarmann, head of the FBI office in Tbilisi, reported that it was a live grenade which had been thrown, hitting a girl in the crowd, which cushioned the impact and prevented the grenade from detonating. Officials initially said that President Bush had been in no danger, but Bryan Paarmann of the FBI later identified the attack as endangering the President's life...
So, basically, if I understand it, the security around W was so poor back in 2005 that some Russian whack-job was able to throw a grenade at him? And the only reason he wasn't hurt was because said whack-job was stupid?

OK, let's say Arutinian was just trying to 'cause a scene.' Fine. Is that why the security people allowed Arutinian to keep his grenade when they found it before he threw it? No... because if they found the grenade he would have been arrested and whisked off to some black site to be tickled by the CIA.

Basically, the complete irony of the security regime of W is that the president's life was saved because his potential assassin was the only living person who is more incompetent than W himself.

Pic from here. Backpost finished 4/8/08 3:03 AM, started 7/24/06, 10:03 PM. I had just the link.

Left Wing Lebanon Commentary

18 months ago, my twin blog obsessions were about the flailing Lebanon War and the primary challenge to Joe Lieberman. It was as a result of Israel's botched mission in Lebanon that even centrist blogs like TPM were taken over by yammering leftists who considered that every action in the Middle East that didn't snuggle up to Muslim terrorists was a bad thing. So the following quote, from the until-then reliable TPM, shows the crazy extent of the leftist backslide.
Grrrr. From TPM:
"In any particular flare-up in this unhappy region, debating who shot first is a distraction, since the conflict has been going on for generations. The question is, or should be, does the US have a policy with a realistic chance of success, and is the US involved in a process to further that this case, to resolve the flare-up of the moment? Whether a long term 'solution' is possible is always another question....see Bill Clinton/Camp David, etc."
What's wrong with this?
  1. It's inane to think that "who shot first" is irrelevant because "the conflict has been going on for generations." The first statement is immoral and the second is incorrect. The myth that the Arab-Israeli conflict is an ethnic stranglehold, like Bosnia or Iraq, is pure intellectual laziness. Besides the fact that Israel has been existence for 60 years means that it's a young conflict. It's just a way that pundits can sweep everything under the rug and start their comments afresh, as if they had a right not to look up facts anymore.

  2. Another problem is why on earth should the U.S. have a responsibility to mediate this conflict? It's the flip-side of Iraq, in my opinion. If you don't think that the US should have been involved in Iraq, and these Leftists don't, then why get involved in Lebanon? It's Israel's problem, Israel is an ALLY (and Hezbollah, not), so let's let the ally do what it needs.
Backpost finished 4/11/08 1:20 PM, started 7/24/06, 9:40 PM. I just had the link, quote, and 'grrr'.

Silver Lining for November Loss (Updated)

The TPM bring up a silver lining if the GOP keeps the Senate: McCain is in line to be the head of Armed Services, which means that we may get a serious investigation into the conduct of the war.

2008 Postscript: Well wasn't that quaint. We learn a few lessons from this:
  1. A steady refrain of my backposts has been and will continue to be how much despair I was in back in 2006 based on the previous 6 years of totalistic thuggery from Bush & Co.
  2. The knowledge that were it not for the slim victories we Democrats had against the Rove-engineered elections of '06 (cf. the Attorney Scandal to understand that there's more than one way to rig an election), the Senate would still be in the GOP's hands. True, because of the current deadlock, it's not as useful as it could be, nonetheless, we need to thank God for the fact that the GOP is not in control.
  3. Especially in light of yesterday's testimony of Petraeus and Crocker in front of the self-same Armed Services committee and the slavish toadying of McCain to the delusions that the war in Iraq is going swell, we can see that the 'silver lining' of '06 would have been just another disappointment.
  4. Then again, McCain's toadying is a world better than the Bush Crew's thuggery, so it would have been even more refreshing had we lost the midterms. Eh.
Backpost finished 4/10/08. Had the title, the link, and the basic sentence.

Democratic Possibilities in 2008 - Part 1

Background from 2008:
Back in 2006, even before the midterms, I was hoping to find out who would be the Democratic nominee. Obama was not on my radar as POTUS; rather he was my permanent preference as VP to a top-tier well-known nominee. As I said a few months later in Feb 07, I thought it would be Edwards-Obama. Anyway, as you can see from the data in '06, Obama wasn't even on the Wiki radar neither.
[Original Post] I should restate my objectives. The GOP analysis was to predict who would get the nomination, based on the current political and/or criminal landscape. It was an exercise of prognostication, similar to my noted (lack of) success in predicting the Oscars. As such, this is not who *will* get the nomination, but who I am hoping to support.

Let's start with the List from the Wiki

Announced candidates for the Democratic Party:
1. Senator Joe Biden of Delaware
2. Former Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska
3. Senator Christopher Dodd of Connecticut

Other potential candidates
4. Senator Evan Bayh of Indiana
5. Senator Barbara Boxer of California
6. Governor Phil Bredesen of Tennessee
7. Retired General Wesley Clark of Arkansas
8. Senator Hillary Clinton of New York
9. Former Senator Tom Daschle of South Dakota
10. Former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina
11. Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin
12. Former Vice President Al Gore of Tennessee
13. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts
14. Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio
15. Senator Bill Nelson of Florida
16. Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico
17. Motivational Speaker Tony Robbins of California
18. Governor Tom Vilsack of Iowa
19. Former Governor Mark Warner of Virginia

Backpost finished 4/10/08, 11:51 PM. I had much of the text.

Presidential Candidate Overview

Who is eligible to be a presidential candidate?

According to the Constitution, any native born American older than 35. You do not have to be a lawyer (thank goodness), or have previously held elective office.

Until the
12th Amendment, the President & Vice were the number 1 & 2 most votes in the Electoral College.

14th Amendment, abolished the three-fifths compromise and thus allowed "slaves" to vote and, I suppose, be elected into office.

Nineteenth Amendment gave women the vote and thus the ability to hold office.

However, until the past few years, to be a viable candidate, one needed to be a white,
Christian male. Preferably the candidate is over six feet tall, married, and has a full head of hair.

Functionally, to be elected president, you need to be nominated by one of the two major parties. No third party has won the Presidency (except when they actually became the majority party - see the transition from
1852 when the two parties were Democrat vs. Whig and in 1856 when the Whigs were outvoted by the Republicans, even though the Democrats won, and finally 1860 when the Republicans won and the Whigs were nearly non-existent)

Until 1968, the local and statewide political machines determined who would receive the nomination of the major political parties. After that point, the McGovern Rule was implemented by the Democrats, relying on state caucuses to determine delegates.

To be considered a viable presidential candidate you need to fall into one of three groups:

1. Current or recent elected official (usually a Governor, Senator or Cabinet Secretary)

2. Eccentric Zillionaire (e.g. Ross Perot)

3. Independent Celebrity from
movies or sports (e.g. Schwarzenegger for a governorship; not sure if this one applies outside of California, nor has it happened for the Presidency)

Realisticly, as a quick glance at the
list of Candidates for the Democrats and Republicans will show, the people I will analyze are from category 1. 2 & 3 will arise only as a sign of terrible times, and I don't need to predict that seriously.

Color Coding

Because I alternate between serious issues (Israel, American Politics, kid posts) and Absurd Trivialities (movies, humor), I find myself censoring possible posts for stealing the thunder of more cogent articles.

One idea to alleviate this tension is to create multiple blogs for each topic (which I have done, back in 2003, between this Styx and my Torah website) But that may be unwieldy.

Another idea is to color-code the posts, to identify when I am being serious or absurdly trivial.

The experimental colors are:


The Styx 2008 Election Project

Since I am hocking numerous people (and you Styx readers) about the Democratic Party, I should try to come up with analysis and research related to the big enchilada: the 2008 Election.

True, November 2006 is still in the future, and that will factor heavily into the calculations, especially on the GOP side.

What I hope to do in the coming weeks is analyze the possible candidates for 2008, using the two most important tools available to mankind: The Wiki and YouTube.

The reason why such analysis is necessary is this question: "who had heard of William Jefferson Clinton in 1990"?

Who is this Hertzberg Clown?

Good question, airless void. Naturally, I went to the online Oracle, and here's what the heilige Wiki says about my geriatric interlocutor:

The son of Sidney Hertzberg, a Jewish journalist and political activist, and Hazel Whitman Hertzberg, a Protestant professor of history and education at Columbia University, .... In 1977 he joined the White House speechwriting staff and was Carter’s chief speechwriter for the final two years of his term.

This explains it; Hertzberg is the product of an intermarriage and was the spokesman of the worst years of the worst Democratic goofball since William Jennigs Bryan attacked Darwinism in Tennessee.

No wonder he hates Lieberman and makes Joe's religious belief the point of attack - and no wonder I instinctively reacted to Hendrik's venom.

However, as my worried father asked me after I read him my exchange, "do you think they'll ever publish you in the Newyorker?" Well, considering that Hertzberg was also responsible for the worst years of the Newyorker [as the Wiki states: "In 1992, when Tina Brown became editor of The New Yorker, she recruited Hertzberg as her executive editor, and he helped her redesign and revitalize the magazine"] I may be considered a hero.


Hendrik Hertzberg vs. the Styx

In the last post, I made refence to this article by Hendrik Hertzberg, where he said some nasty, ignorant things about Lieberman.

Well, I couldn't let that stand. So I wrote a letter to the Newyorker. The tone of my letter was a bit strong because for all the years I've read the NY I have seen them only publish 1 or 2 an issue, and the only people they print have the status level of college presidents and heads of state; hence I assumed I was just sending off a hot email into the echo-less void.

Turns out, hey, they actually sent my email to Hertzberg and he responded to me. I reprint below the complete interchange. Comments for clarity are in italics.

I. Letter to New Yorker, Friday July 21, 6:54 pm (20 minutes before Mincha at shul)

Subject: Hertzfeld went over the line

Yes, I spelled his name wrong in the subject line, even though I spelled it correctly in the text of the letter; this is foreshadowing

To the Editors of the New Yorker:

Hendrik Hertzberg's article about Senator Lieberman in the most recent New Yorker (found online here) was an open an attack on an Orthodox Jew that I have seen in a mainstream magazine. There is much to criticize Lieberman about, but Hertzberg's article is filled with such bile that I found it as frightening as reading Pat Buchanan.

A prime example of Hertzberg's hatred is when he makes a moral equivalency between Bill Clinton's adultery and Lieberman's divorce (an absurd claim on its face). Hertzberg states that Lieberman: "had the gall to cite differing 'levels of religious observance' as the only specific reason he was willing to give for the divorce."

Gall?! Why is that gall? I guess it is when you discredit religious observance in general and use it as a subterranean attack against honest people (like Lieberman). Who's next?

Hertzberg should be ashamed of airing the darkness of his mind and the New Yorker should show more judgment into allowing such things to be printed without a caveat ("Warning - Ignoramus Alert" would be nice).

Respectfully submitted,
[The Styx]

II. Hertzberg's response, Monday, July 24, 2006 10:25 AM

Dear Mr. [Styx]:

Your letter (appended below) was forwarded to me by "The Mail." Thanks for writing.

I see your point about "a moral equivalency between Bill Clinton's adultery and Lieberman's divorce." You're quite right. On the face of it, divorce is of course worse. Divorce tears a family apart and forces the children to shuttle back and forth between one parent and the other. Adultery is awful too, and it's hard on the kids too (especially when sanctimonious holier-than-thou types drag it out into public view and rub the kids' faces in it), but on the face of it it's not in the same league as divorce. Adultery, per se, is more a bump (or a big, nasty pothole) in the road, a road to which both spouses are committed "till death do us part," in contrast to the sort of person who is more committed to "religious observance" than to his own flesh-and-blood family.

Sincerely, Hendrik Hertzberg aka "Hertzfeld"

III. My Response to Hertzberg, Monday, July 24, 2006 11:30 AM

Dear Mr. Hertzberg

First, thank you for your reply.

Second, I do wish to apologize for spelling your name wrong in the subject line of the email I sent.

As someone whose name is frequently misspelled, I too feel the pain and shame of having a misspelled name.

I am sure you agree that having one's name misspelled or misattributed is actually a far worse moral crime than adultery or divorce combined.

Third, after seeing your reasoning below, I have come to agree with you. I no longer think you are an amoral bigot with underdeveloped abilities in reasoning and judgment. Any thoughts I had that you should not be allowed to offer opinions or analysis - based on your substandard quality - have been changed. Even though the rise of blogs has shown that opinion and analysis no longer be sought in the mainstream media where antiquated notions of authority and ability hold sway, I no longer think of you as one of those obsolete clowns.

Good luck to you, sir, in the years ahead

[The Styx]

Lieberman & TPM, Round II

After sending my analysis of the political ire surrouding the Lieberman-Lamont race, I sent another email (which will never see the light of day) to the TPM about the antagonism toward Lieberman from the hard-left:

Hello Dr. Josh,

I want to clarify one point about anti-Lieberman "anti-Semitism." It is clear nonsense to say that the opposition to Joe is because he's Jewish. I mean, nobody is cursing out Russ Feingold the way they do Lieberman.

What's working against Lieberman is not that he's Jewish but that he is *openly religious.*

And not just religious, but it is in a *traditional* movement (the Jewish equivalent to Baptists, maybe). Open religious values are considered dangerous and suspect by the Liberal wing of the Democrats. Religion is clearly the motivation against abortion and it's assumed to be the source against women's-rights, gay-rights, etc. And especially under the presidency of Deacon Bush, the GOP has become identified as the religious party. All this plays into the suspicion against Lieberman.

Ironically, those who are not members of an organized religion can still be as wild-eyed crazy about their beliefs as the thumpingest of the holy-rollers. Just replace the word "religion" with "ideology" and the hard-Left (especially the Naderite purists) are as intense as the Christianists.

The hard-left Democrats do not want to have openly religious politicians - look what happened to Barack Obama recently. I don’t believe that hard-left hates religion (that's a Coulter screed), but I do think orthodox religion is not understood by the non-religious (and vice-versa), and considering that so much evil to groups and individuals is committed in the name of religion, it's not hard to see why there's a stigma.

But just as there is an uneasy alliance in the GOP between the cultural conservatives/Christian right and the libertarian anti-government types, there's this fragmentation among Democrats between the Ideological Liberal and the wing and the Disempowered Core (what I described in my previous email as the blue-collar, non-white, female majority of America). The Disempowered Core is defined not as much by ideology but by the desire to get conservatives out of power. And the DC does not fear religious politicians like the hard-left does.

One aspect of the Democrat platform is, or should be, a definite separation between Church & State; but the establishment clause cuts both ways - most Americans feel there's a legitimate place for religion in the public sphere.

As I said in my last email, "Democrat" does not mean "Liberal" and to succumb to another ideology of the hard-left is foolish for us as a party. And I want us to win in 2006, impeach the running dogs in the White House, and start repairing the world.

How the Lieberman stuff fits into the venom against Israel is another essay entirely (oh, but it does fit in).

Thanks again

P.S. The anti-religious attack, in my anthropological opinion, is revealed by the code words of "smug," "sanctimonious," or "Holy Joe." A good example of these smears can be seen in Hendrik Hertzberg's New Yorker piece. One crazy example is where HH makes a moral equivalency between Clinton's adultery and Lieberman's divorce, stating that Lieberman: "had the gall to cite differing 'levels of religious observance' as the only specific reason he was willing to give for the divorce." Gall?! Whoa. Only someone who discounts the concept of differing levels of religious observance could make such a claim. But that explains why Hertzberg was full of such bile against Lieberman.

Friday, July 21, 2006


The Wiki does a good job of collecting resources.

Just to remind everyone of two important facts -

1. Proportion in this war cannot be determined by casualty rolls, but with the number of attacks and for that, the numbers are even

2. Because this is war, our enemies are using every weapon possible, especially propaganda. When war begins, I hate to say, its important to ignore all the negative information coming from the enemy sources.

Lieberman-Lamont & the TPM

My secret identity is a joke, but I keep it up the same way people use cheap locks for their mountain-bikes - it works against the lazy not the criminal.

Anyway, to add more futility to the secrecy of the Styx, you can see how well I fare in an interchange about Lieberman-Lamont at the TPM. I wrote to the blogmaster, in response to this post, and he listed my comments along with others here; I am "JC."

Naturally, I got whomped by some Cro-Magnon communist, but its nice to take an impotent stand.

The whomper claims: "The truth is that this is a super-safe Democratic seat in one of the most reliably pro-Democratic, anti-Bush states."

Wait a moment for the whiff of ordure to dissipate. Ready? OK. I emailed the TPM this morning with a response; its unlikely to be printed, so I will fill in all you reader(s):
"Connecticut is Not Blue"

The concept that Connecticut is a reliable "blue" state is silly.

I'm staring at my Republican governor (who is going to handily win reelection ) and Republicans in 3 of the 5 House seats (Rob Simmons (R), Chris Shays (R), Nancy Johnson (R) vs. John Larson (D), Rosa DeLauro (D)) and I hear disturbing echoes of 2000.

My very-liberal friends told me in 2000 they were voting for Nader because 'third parties don't make a difference' in the reliable states like New York, Massachusetts etc. Then we watched in horror as New Hampshire went to Bush (273,559 - 48.07%) because of the Nader votes (22,198 - 3.9%) which if only added to Gore (266, 348 - 46.8%) would have rendered Florida's butterflies moot (Bush would've been 267 without NH's 4, and Gore 270). And New Mexico was another squeaker (300 votes!!) but in our favor, despite Nader's 3.55% of the vote.

I know what you're saying, "But those are New states, in the old Hampshire and Mexico, Gore would have won." True. You're also thinking that Nader voters can't be added to Gore because Nader people would have just stayed home. Also, true. That's what scares me, because the hard-left of our party aren't actually reliably Democrat!

My anger at the Lieberman-Lamont race has nothing to do with the possibility of Lieberman losing the seat in the Senate. He will win in November even in a three-way. My anger is at the left wing of the Democratic party who, in my perception, are self-destructing in the name of pure ideology.

These Nader-Democrats are "true believers" and they scare me as much as the Chistianists in the GOP. Our true believers want purity in their politics and they will destroy anyone who does not match their ideals.

It's funny because the attacks against Lieberman - that he is not Democrat enough and too sanctimonious - are just accusers looking in the mirror.

You and I probably agree that its more important for Democrats to take control of the House, Senate and eventually the Executive than to have ideologically pure candidates. Even a liberal Republican votes for his party more often than a conservative Democrat, that's the way legislatures work!

If Joe weren't a good Democrat, and if he weren't popular in the national party, I would drop him in a flash and with glee. But he's good for the party. I claim, and I think the numbers and history back this up, that the Lamont supporters are too much like Nader supporters - they want bible-thumping levels of purity from their candidates and will punish apostates accordingly.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Friend Alert

An article in the Jewish Week by a friend of my family, Ira Kaminow, the webmaster/creator of Just-Tzedaka.

Lamont ahead in latest poll

This makes me nearly blind with anger. The latest Quinnipiac poll shows Lamont edging ahead of Lieberman for the August 8th primary.

The poll still shows Lieberman winning in November, though. The poll states:
Anti-war Connecticut U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont has surged to a razor-thin 51 - 47 percent lead over incumbent Sen. Joseph Lieberman among likely Democratic primary voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released today.

In possible general election matchups: Lieberman defeats Republican challenger Alan Schlesinger 68 - 15 percent; Lamont beats Schlesinger 45 - 22 percent, with 24 percent undecided; Running as an independent, Lieberman gets 51 percent, to 27 percent for Lamont and 9 percent for Schlesinger.
My growing disgust at Lamont is barely contained.

He had the gall to show up at the Pro-Israel rally last night at the local JCC. He got some applause and, thankfully, some boos. Then when Lieberman's message to us was read, there was a resounding - and repudiating - applause.

Why "gall"? Because all of the political messages that were read were from elected officials - our already elected representatives. For Lamont to show up was so he can suck up votes - and this was a rally for us to express solidarity and support in a time of war, not for vote-schnorring.

Given that his only issue is to attack Lieberman on Iraq, how dare he posture that he is pro-Israel? The two constituencies do not correlate! The odds that he legitimately opposes the Iraq war yet supports Israel are infinitesimal. It's just an example of his whoring for votes.

14,000 dead

According to these statistics, more than 14000 civilians have been killed in Iraq - since Janurary 2006. The number is staggering. I cannot wrap my mind around that. The CNN quotes a UN study:
"more than 5,800 deaths and more than 5,700 injuries reported in May and June alone."
Every time there's a massive suicide bomb in Iraq, I think to myself "how do they even have any more people." And the fact that this is all Muslim on Muslim makes you realize what they would do if they had free reign in Israel or America or Western Europe!

{2009 Update: Pic from here.}

My Profile Picture

I placed a picture on my personal profile page which is not of my face but, like Dr. Manhattan, a symbol of something I believe in: caffeine.

The Bomb Drawing Pictures

You may have seen these pictures of little Israeli girls writing happy bloodthirsty messages on bombs that, we all now, are used to kill little Lebanese children. Picture 1, picture 2, picture 3.

Here's research on the explanation. Summary: the kids were under fire from Hezbollah rockets and were writing messages - as a way to relieve frustration - against the terrorists who were trying to kill them every day.
  1. Sandmonkey:
    kids were in bomb shelters for days. city is a ghost town. only poor people stayed. a new army unit arrived, kids were bored, went out with parents to look
    there were TWELVE photographers there and they egged the kids on. the kids are low class, not educated, have never met a Lebanese, just want to live their lives, don't understand why Lebanon attacked their home, etc. the photographers told them "hey, your cousins in america will see you!." mostly foreign photographers. so the kids, who were bored and restless and had been cooped up in bomb shelters for 5 days, took the felt markers and drew messages to nasrallah. there were no cries of hatred toward lebanese. and a big problem is that the israeli tv does not show dead lebanese. it shows destroyed buildings, but not dead bodies. so no one has a face of the dead in their minds. too aware of our own suffering, etc. make sense?
  2. Yahoo Pictures (the originals, many on other websites were touched up). For an example of the propaganda, see here.

Tefilat HaDerech

On YouTube and IDF Tank Crew, about to go Lebanon, says Tefilat HaDerech.


2009 Update: Embedded video -

Hezbullah preventing civilians from fleeing

This comes from Yedioth Achronot, not known for their rightwingyness, nor for being a mouthpiece of the government. The head of IDF intelligence says that:
The IDF has found that Hezbollah is preventing civilians from leaving villages in southern Lebanon. Roadblocks have been set up outside some of the villages to prevent residents from leaving, while in other villages Hezbollah is preventing UN representatives from entering, who are trying to help residents leave. In two villages, exchanges of fire between residents and Hezbollah have broken out. (Hanan Greenberg)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Response to Mearsheimer and Walt

Finally, an academic puts out a reasoned point-by-point critique of a recent anti-Semitic screed. Acquire here:
Zealous Realism: Comments on Mearsheimer and Walt by Marc Landy, Boston College.

Juan Cole Sees Some Light

Juan Cole, Professor of Middle East Stuff at the University of Michigan is a well respected member of the left-wing blogosphere and a commonly quoted expert on the Middle East. He also hates Israel. He may or may not hate Jews, I'm sure some of his best friends are Hebrews, but Juanito sure does hate him some Israel.

Just be warned, whenever you see the man quoted in a blog or Mainstream Media, you should know they are employing Edward Said's replacement.

On his website [called Informed Comment, meant to be as truthful as Fox's 'fair and balanced' no doubt] you can read some wonderfully twisted reportage and commentage about the nasty Israelites.

However, as an example of just how bad Hezbollah is, even Juan Cole thinks they have gone too far.

This is important to know because we pro-Israel people don't make a distinction between the PLO, Hamas, or Hezbollah. They are all terrorists; they all want to kill Jews, they will not stop until we're dead. I guess they *do* wear different uniforms and may even kill each other a few times just to keep in practice, but, c'mon, what's the difference?

Anyway, if Juan Cole thinks Hezbollah is off the chain, then I we need to figure out what exactly makes the Hezzies different from the PLO and, uh, explain that to people? Ah, forget it, they'll never follow simple arithmetic.

Anyway, this is what Cole has on his site:
[Ar.] Hasan Nasrallah, the leader of Hizbullah (Hezbollah), gave a televised speech on Sunday explaining his own strategy. He said in an eerily calm and calculating voice that he had aimed his rockets only at military targets, not at Israeli settlements 'in Occupied northern Palestine' (i.e. Israel). In contrast, he said, the Israeli military had from the beginning targeted civilians. (In fact, Nasrallah's katyushas are impossible to aim with any precision and in loosing them on Israel, he inevitably killed and wounded civilians; likewise in Haifa. His opening statement is a self-serving lie.)

He complained at length about Israeli airstrikes against civilian targets. He linked hitting the Israeli warship to Israel's airstrikes on Baalbak [where they hit a Husayniyah or Shiite mourning center].

He added, "We arose to strike at the city of Haifa, and we know the importance and grave significance of this city. Had we targeted with our missiles the chemical and petrochemical factories, an enormous catastrophe would have ensued for the inhabitants of that area. But we deliberately avoided those factories, which were in the sites of our missiles, since we were eager not to push things toward the unknown and were eager that this weapon be a weapon not of revenge but of defense . . . a weapon that would return the crazies in the Olmert government to a modicum of reason and save them from a grandiosity complex, or, I might say, the stupidity whereby they distinguish themselves . . . But because we set those targets aside this time does not mean that we we always adopt this position. At any point where we consider that we are involved in defending our nation and our people and our families, we will resort to all means we can in pursuit of that defense . . . " (-Cole translation)

He also denied that there were any Iranian Revolutionary Guards in Lebanon or that he had had Iranian help. He said people were always putting down the Arabs and saying they could not accomplish anything, but, he said, look at the Israeli warship in flames. That was an Arab accomplishment.

Uh, wouldn't an Arab accomplishment be more like, oh, inventing something or building up something nice? Destroying things and killing people is not an accomplishment.

I watched in horror as this maniacal speech unfolded in which Nasrallah actually threatened the Israelis with releasing chemical gas from local factories on civilians in Haifa. Despite fighting them for all those years, he clearly does not understand the Israelis' psyche or the trauma of the Holocaust. A threat like that. The Israelis don't like being caught in a quagmire any more than the next person, which is why Nasrallah could get them to leave southern Lebanon. But his victory appears to have given him megalomania, and he has now gone too far.

Hizbullah's attacks on Israeli civilians are war crimes. The killing of the civilians in Haifa at the train station was a war crime. And threatening to release chemicals from factories on civilian populations is probably a war crime in itself, much less the doing of it.

Obviously, I do not accept that Hizbullah's actions justify the wholesale indiscriminate destruction and slaughter in which the Israelis have been engaged against the Lebanese in general. But they do have every right to defend themselves against Nasrallah and his mad bombers.

If we can only get Cole to understand that Lebanon, ya know, supports Hezbollah... actually, that's too strong... howzibout: Lebanon effectively is Hezbollah... yeah ... maybe he'll see that 1+1 = 2?


{2009 Update: pic from campus-watch.}

Jewish Agency Materials

The Jewish Agency (Sochnut) has some useful material for the current situation, inlcuding a translation of the special prayer for the 3 recent captives [verbatim below except in italics]:

May it be Your will, oh L-rd, our G-d and G-d of our Forefathers, That the verses of these Psalms which we have read before You today will find favor and will be accepted as if spoken by King David, Your servant and annointed one, of blessed memory.

May You do this for the sake of Your Holy Names that is written in them, alluded to and included within them. Accept mercifully and graciously our prayer and request.

May our supplication come before You that You shall take pity, forgive and have mercy upon Your servants, the son of Your handmaidens,

Gilad, son of Aviva Shalit
Ehud, son of Malka Goldwasser
Eldad, son of Tova Regev

And You shall save them in both physical salvation and compassion, together with all the hostages and prisoners of Israel, Your People.

"He who liberates prisoners in good health, may He redeem them from their captors. Bring them forth from captivity to freedom, from slavery to redemption, from darkness into light, Restore them to complete health, both in mind and body. Fortify their spirit and increase their strength, spreading happiness and joy, So that they may be strengthened and healed, and know eternal happiness.

May the proliferation of public prayer, protest and grief on his behalf, far and wide, act on their behalf to protect, shield and redeem them from the house of his imprisonment.

And He will cast asunder their evil sentence that has been decreed, their good deeds shall be enumerated before the Almighty blessed be He, including all that they have done and accomplished on behalf of our people and our inheritance.

So shall He cast asunder his evil sentence through the Holy Name that is alluded to in the initials of the words ""??? ??? ??? ????? ????? ????; accept the delight of Your People, exalt us and purify us exceedingly.

May He fulfill for them the Biblical declaration, as it is written: And those redeemed by the L-rd shall return and come to Zion in gladness, with eternal happiness on their heads; they shall know rejoicing and happiness; sorrow and grief shall fade. May this come to pass speedily in our days. Amen." (Isaiah 35:10)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

The Morality of the Second Lebanon War

This was written to a Jewish email-group in response to someone who claimed "From so far away it looks to me like Israel has acted with a degree of disregard for civilian life in Lebanon that really upsets me."

Dear Ploni

Like you, I am very upset about the number of civilian casualties in Lebanon. Whenever a democratic country is in a war against a dictatorship, this moral question comes up because the tyrants use their civilians as shields and weapons. Often the people have no choice; the dictators purposefully destroy the line between solider and civilian.

Lebanon is a Terrorarchy - it's effectively controlled by Hezbollah. Note, according to Joe Klein, Iran is also controlled by the same terrorists. The Palestinians are also now a Terrorarchy; Hamas uses the same tactic as Hezbollah in Lebanon - they use innocents as weapons. We can even hold aside the fact that many Lebanese families knowingly and happily house the Hezbollah missiles - we are concerned about those who are as innocent a civilian as can be.

The particular terrorist groups the world faces now are often not in the freedom-fighting genre (which could possibly be applied to the Basques, the IRA, or even the PLO in an alternative universe). The terrorists we now have are the mindless genocidal slaughter variety. These terrorists are committed to the eradication of their enemies across borders and time. Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda would gladly kill my two year old son in Connecticut tomorrow even if Israel were to disappear today.

These terrorist groups are the individual equivalent of psychotic serial killers - people who take joy in the killing, who will not stop even if you accede to their demands. They don't mind killing their "own" - as we see with suicide bombers. And they value death over life.

For example, in Israel right now, Hezbollah and Hamas hide behind innocent people to fire rockets at other innocent people. What can anyone do to defend themselves from a psychotic serial killer who uses innocent victims as weapons? On 9/11 al-Qaeda used American citizens to destroy the twin-towers... if al-Qaeda tried to use a plane-bomb again today, what should we do? Shoot down the plane, saving the lives on the ground, or let the plane continue its course?

The former is now assumed to be the policy, but the latter may be more morally palatable - at least we don't actively kill innocents. Or do we assume that any innocent being used as a weapon loses individual rights and is considered part of the terrorist threat?

All of the conclusions at this level become horrible. The terrorists transform almost everything they touch into a threat. And because they turn innocents into weapons, these terror groups are the greatest evil the world currently faces. They are a super-evil because they transform hostages, victims and innocents into more evil. Groups like that need to be destroyed quickly, utterly.

Moreover, by nature of this particular enemy, the moral conclusions need to take a long term view. Halakha understands this in a number of occasions.

Mishna 2:5 in Rosh Hashanah explains that Rabban Gamliel ruled that people who violate Shabbat to rush to save people from a collapsed building can violate Shabbat to return to their homes after the rescue is over. The counter-argument was that since the life- threat is over, there's no allowance to violate Shabbat any more. Rabban Gamliel felt that in the long term, in a future incident, people would not rush to save lives on Shabbat if they would not be able to get home afterwards. (This is why we allow Haztalah paramedics to return home after driving to a hospital on Shabbat).

Unfortunately, war is filled with these long-term goods that involve short-term evils. To look short term in war would mean you could never order a soldier to shoot a man or to take a hill, because the success of the individual act does not measure up to the cost of an individual human life. War must be fought in the aggregate. War is hell for many reasons, but for me, the biggest is because it requires so much faceless, individual evil.

Despite war's hell, we can demand that Israel take precautions to act as morally as possible. They do that, as far as I've read, by warning the Lebanese to evacuate specific places. Why this isn't the same as Hezbollah saying "Hey! We're gonna hit Haifa" is that the IDF is hitting an area only to neutralize terrorists/missiles and Hezbollah is purposefully targeting the innocent.

Another way Israel, and we, will act morally is to mourn the loss of all innocents. We do not champion the deaths of the Lebanese. In fact, Israel seems to care more for them than Hezbollah does. I know I care more about the innocent Lebanese than the terrorists do. That's the whole point.

Note, we don't even want to kill terrorists - we would prefer the terrorists to JUST STOP KILLING PEOPLE. If they would lay down their missiles and just, ya know, drink coffee, eat couscous, get a real job, whatever, I'd be perfectly happy.

The psychic pain we feel at the death of innocents is ironically not a reason to stop the warplanes - it's the reason we need to use them, if they will destroy Hezbollah and Hamas.

My bottom line is that I support Israel's effort to destroy both Hezbollah and Hamas. If my analysis is correct, that they are psychotic serial killers who will not stop killing and who purposefully use innocent people as part of their terrorism, then they need to be stopped immediately.

{2009 Update: pic from here.}

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Don't Forget the Torture

Just in case a new reader wanders onto the blog and wonders why I think George W. Bush is ripe to be impeached, check out this story about the hitherto under-reported story of how Bush & Co. made it American policy to regularly torture prisoners of war.

The article, by Lawrence Wilkerson, is a set of questions reporters should be asking the administration about the routine practice of torture.

Lawrence Wilkerson "was Secretary of State Colin Powell's chief of Staff from 2002 to 2005, and served for 31 years in the U.S. Army.... including as Deputy Executive Officer to General Colin L. Powell when he was Commander, U.S. Army Forces Command (1989), Special Assistant to General Powell when he was Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (1989-93), and as Director and Deputy Director of the U.S. Marine Corps War College at Quantico, Virginia (1993-97)."

What do we learn from this article?

1. That the Executive branch is horribly evil and needs to be kicked out of power

2. There were some men of integrity in the Exec Branch, but they were silenced (emphasizing point 1)

3. That the current press corps have ignored their responsibilities

4. Because the press corps is populated by no-nothing hacks (like this guy) who dare not upset the government

5. Since the press won't take on the government we need to have Congress do it, and they can't do that unless the Democrats win it in 2006, which won't happen as long as the Hard-Left Wing of the Democratic party (a.k.a. the Terminal Loser Wing, the Walter Mondale-Michael Dukakis-John Kerry Wing) keeps dominating the platform.

Why is the Press so Craven?

The answer is complicated. It's as complicated as the reasons behind the US Civil War and World War II; i.e. a lot of little causes surrounding one big one. But I will get to that anon.

Backpost finished 4/9/08. This is the first 'draft' item I've found in the blog. Boy that's a long time ago... computer years are like double-dog, so 2=28! Note, I don't see why I didn't post this at the time, since it seems fully formed. But I searched my archives, and it seems not to have been blogged.

Anyway, it's cute to see what I was thinking back before the '06 midterms. Those were wretched times. And considering the post I just wrote, this is old news to those who've been following the news with any diligence.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Lieberman Letter

I agree with you on the disaffection with Lieberman from Democrats. But Connecticut is a strange state. According to the Secretary of State, the voter registration in 2005 was, out of 1,952,648 total active registrations, 427,803 Republicans, 653,055 Democrats and 867,761 Independents. That shows that any Connecticut politician needs to court many types of voters (it also suggests that an independent run isn't the suicide-path the pundits have been claiming).

Two things about Lieberman that I think need to be emphasized: his backing of the Iraq war, like many of his actions, comes from a sincere belief not from cynical posturing. He is wrong to support the war (and I've written him often about that), but I think he's a remarkably honest politician and that's a rarity.

Which means, actually, that he's a really *bad* politician. As we've seen with his commericials and his public behavior, Lieberman is uncharismatic, clumsy and a nerd. He is not very good at the politics game. Ned Lamont is much better at commericals and he'd make a very good politician for the state (and I hope he continues to be active), but I hate to see Lieberman get punished for not being slick. Maybe it's the nerd in me...

[Ed. note: My views on the Iraq war will be in a later post]
Posted July 26, 2006. Sent to the Editor of the TPM on Friday, July 14th.

Onion is Better Than I

OK, besides being very funny, the Onion wrote this story (Bush: 'Our Long National Nightmare Of Peace And Prosperity Is Finally Over') in January 11, 2001 - I have never, ever been that prescient. Man.

A sample quote:
"My fellow Americans," Bush said, "at long last, we have reached the end of the dark period in American history that will come to be known as the Clinton Era, eight long years characterized by unprecedented economic expansion, a sharp decrease in crime, and sustained peace overseas. The time has come to put all of that behind us."

The Right Path

In this time of terror and war, when Israel is under siege from two fronts, [and considering the players (Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hezbollah) even more fronts can open up] who knows if Israel is acting and reacting correctly? Well, one sure way to know is to see how France reacts and, oh, looky here:
Chirac: Israel has gone too far.
Thank Goodness!

Donate to Northern Communities

The North of Israel is being pounded by hundreds of rockets. Haaretz reports that 220,000 Israelis spent last night in their bomb shelters.

According to the National Council of Young Israel:
Funds are needed to stock the shelters with food, mattresses, bedding, toys, etc. In general, the financial state for these families is not good, and the current violence adds to an already dire situation. Please make an emergency appeal this Shabbat. Funds can be sent to: Young Israel Charities, c/o National Council of Young Israel, New York, NY 10038.
I recommend giving to whatever charities you can.

Thursday, July 13, 2006


I could spend many a page on this Senate race (and I will). A quick article that frames the issues well is from the NY Observer.

Quote from Lieberman:
"I am a Democrat in the mold of Truman, Kennedy, Humphrey,” Mr. Lieberman told The Observer just after the event. “I continue to be socially progressive here at home, and I believe you have to put muscle behind your ideals in foreign policy."
This race is about the out-of-control left-wing of the Democratic party. These are the same people who destroyed Humphrey in 1968, nominated McGovern in 1972, Mondale in 1984, Dukakis in 1988, voted for Nader in 2000 and nominated Kerry in 2004.

The Democrats used to be and should be again, the party of blue-collar workers and all minorities (including Catholics and Jews). However the money and vocality comes from the hard-left - the suicide-bombers who are so out of touch they considered Kerry a moderate because he fought in Vietnam as a teenager.

Lieberman is the type of candidate Democrats need to support. If we hope to win in 2006 and 2008 we need the moderates, the cultural conservatives, the unashamed patriots - which is the majority of the country and the majority of national Democrats.

The fact that some buggy-eyed wacko like Lamont is getting money and support is a sign that the Democrats are ready to lose, yet again.