Thursday, August 30, 2012

"I don't know how there are any Jewish Democrats."

“I don’t know how there are any Jewish Democrats,” said Missouri Republican Billy Long, “With what Obama did to Bibi Netanayahu, I don’t know how there are any Jewish Democrats.”

Those are the words of Rep. Billy Long, Republican of Missouri.

Many on the right like to claim that antisemitism no longer exists on the right. They ignore names like Pat Buchanan and David Duke. This is especially true of the minority of Jews that are Republicans. Buchanan and Duke, to be fair, are largely marginalized on the right. Long, however, is not. He is a sitting Republican member of the United States House of Representatives and, whether he realizes it or not, a statement such as his is antisemitic.

That Jews have dual loyalty, or greater loyalty to Israel than the countries they live in, has long been an antisemitic meme. In fact, it has been one of the most dangerous and has been used to justify persecution against Jews and to treat us as outsiders that are not fully part of our communities. Billy Long, by implying that Israel is, and should be, first and foremost in the minds of Jewish Americans when casting our ballots is furthering that meme.

Yes, Israel is important to most Jewish Americans. It is our ancestral homeland. But that is the same way Mexico is important to Mexican Americans or Germany to German Americans or Poland to Polish Americans. I think you get the picture. Yes, it is important to us, but we don't vote on that issue alone. Like nearly all other Americans we overwhelmingly vote on domestic issues.

It's when one looks at domestic issues, and where Jewish Americans, as a whole, stand on those issues, that it becomes immediately obvious why not only are there still Jewish Democrats, but why we are also a majority of the community. Here are a few issues where the majority of Jewish Americans stand squarely opposite the policies advocated by the Republican Party:

  • Universal Health Care
  • Social Security
  • Responsibility to the needy
  • Education
  • A woman's right to choose
  • Women's rights
  • Marriage equality
  • Civil rights, in general
  • The idea that it's not every person for himself or herself

These are the reasons that we are so overwhelmingly Democratic. These are the reasons that 1920 was the last time a Republican presidential candidate won the Jewish vote. These are the reasons that this year Jewish Americans will once again overwhelmingly vote for Barack Obama. If Billy Long and other Republicans can't understand that, well, then, that's too bad for them. Like the overwhelmingly majority of Jewish Americans, I'll just continue voting Democratic.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A Note to Chris Christie about those 'Federal Bureaucrats'

The only ones who want 'federal bureaucrats' to come between her and her doctor are those that just passed a platform that calls for coming between a woman and her doctor. It's that platform that says a woman should not have the right to control her own body. It's those at the state level that seek to further erode a woman's right to control her own body. It's those that say women should not have access to safe and legal abortion. It's those that say women should not have access to affordable birth control.

All the Affordable Care Act does is expand access to health care. It begins the process of turning health care from a privilege for those that can afford it to a right for all Americans. It does not come between patients and doctors. Those decisions are still left in the hands of patients and doctors. All it does to health insurance companies is require them to provide the service that their customers pay for: health care.

Now, I understand that you think that you're all that. And I understand that you have your eye on 2016 in the race to succeed President Obama after he serves his two terms in office. And I know that you belong to a party that is completely disconnected from reality and has no problems with untruths that feed its warped sense of reality. Unfortunately for you, there are still enough people that will speak up for reality.

So, yes, when you claim that 'federal bureaucrats' will get between a woman and her doctor, expect pushback. Expect that the truth will be put out there. You, Governor Christie, are anti-abortion. You are the one that wants to get between a woman and her doctor because you are the one that says a woman should not be able to make one of the most basic, and important, decisions of her own life. Oh, and don't forget, you have to win re-election next year in blue New Jersey if you even want the chance to run for president in four years.

Hey Republicans... Where are the details?

Hey Republicans... Where are the details? You are doing a lot of complaining SO... where are your plans to fix the country? What are they?

Everyone needs to be asking these question: You don't like what President Obama is doing? What is your proposal to fix it? This election needs to be about solutions. SO... Republicans just what are your solutions?

Say you are talking about Healthcare... Ask a Republican about Healthcare and they will say something like "Obamacare is all about taking decisions out of people's hands and it is about big government". Aside from the fact that this is simply not true (but is a product of mis/dis-information) ask them, well then "What is Mitt Romney proposing we do?" What would YOU like to see us do? I would bet "dollars to donuts" that a solution that most people would come up with would either be Single Payer or some form of Obamacare.

Let's look at the Economy and Jobs. Today, House Speaker Boehner was whining about Jobs. Ok, it is pretty crappy out here (though getting better), so where is the Republican Job proposals. Just telling people that you are going to get America back to work means absolutely NOTHING. President Obama has a Jobs Proposal - The American Jobs Act (blocked by Republicans - of course), so... where is their plan. What are it's specifics beyond tax cuts for "Job Creators"? Again... we need to ask people, what would YOU suggest we do? My bet is that people would suggest something similar to what is in the Presidents plan.

Take Foreign Policy, Mitt and the Republicans have plenty to say to about how the President is guiding America down a path of weakness and destruction. Fine... tell us Mitt Romney, how will you deal with specific issues? Ask people... What would you do differently than the President? Saying, America looks weak is NOT an answer. Hold people accountable for their rhetoric.

If you are going to support something then BACK. IT. UP.

We need to put the pressure on the Republicans NOW! We need to be asking these questions and not accepting "pablum" like this: (from the Romney plan called Believe in America Plan for Jobs and Economic Growth - heads up it's a link to mittromney.com)
Reform Financial Regulation 
As president, Mitt Romney will also seek to repeal Dodd-Frank and replace
it with a streamlined regulatory framework. The recent financial crisis exposed
serious weaknesses in a regulatory system that was poorly equipped to deal with
dynamic and evolving markets. The government’s response was to layer on new
regulations and invent new bureaucracies that do not address the underlying
causes of a crisis driven by the over-leveraging of our financial institutions and
our homeowners. Rather than dealing directly with those issues, the government
gave itself an open check book to write ambiguous regulations that have left our
businesses and households uncertain of their obligations and uncompetitive in a
global marketplace.
Some of the concepts in Dodd-Frank have a place. Greater transparency for
inter-bank relationships, enhanced capital requirements, and provisions to address
new forms of complex financial transactions are all necessary elements of effective
financial reform. But these concepts must be translated into law in a way that
creates a simple, predictable, and efficient regulatory system appropriate for our dynamic economy.
A few questions come to mind... such as what the specifics involved in this? How specifically are you going to try to achieve financial regulation that promotes business but also protects consumers? I mean this paragraph is an INTRODUCTORY paragraph it is NOT a plan.

When asked about this and other parts of his "plan" previously... Romney has said "Well... I will tell you after the election"... Who should accept that for an answer? Should any of us?

Be aggressive, when people on Facebook or in the street or in blogs parrot the Republican line... ASK THEM: Where/What are the details? Make them explain their ideas. My bet... most can't do it and still feel they sound like rational people.  I just did this to someone and they simply couldn't tell me what President Obama did in specifics that they hated but more than that they couldn't tell me what their guy would do better.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Limbaugh Blames President Obama for NYC Shooting

Sadly this is not a misprint. Limbaugh blamed President Obama's "constant warfare on bosses." Seriously, what's next?

Can he not let New Yorkers deal with this attack? Can he not have any respect or sympathy for the dead and wounded? Can he have just one shred of human decency in his entire body?

Someone went and killed his boss today because he was a disgruntled former employee. It had nothing to do with President Obama. It had nothing to do with Mayor Bloomberg. It had nothing to do with "constant warfare on bosses." It had everything to do because he was pissed he got fired.

I understand Rush Limbaugh has his First Amendment right to be vocal about being an insensitive, uncaring, barbaric, completely insane, racist, misogynist, fill-in-every-other-group that's not white, male and Christian, but I have that same First Amendment right to speak up and call out his garbage. Similarly, his right only relates to the government taking action against him. His employer is perfectly free to fire him for this despicable behavior.

So, let me exercise my First Amendment right and tell Rush to shut the fuck up. If he manages to go back in time and do so yesterday, it still would have been too long a wait.

Here's the transcript, courtesy of Media Matters (where there is also audio of his "performance"):

LIMBAUGH: The New York Daily News and a lot of the New York media and some of the television networks -- New York Daily News reporting that the Empire State Building shooter -- you heard about this? OK. New York Daily News reporting the Empire State Building shooter did indeed kill his boss. Well, he was fired yesterday. He went out there and he killed his boss. I wonder if Obama's constant warfare on bosses and so forth might have led this guy to pull the trigger.

[...]

LIMBAUGH: Oh, you ought to see the faces of the people on the other side of the glass. "Oh, no. Rush, you didn't really said that -- say that. We got time on the delay to -- no, Rush. Oh, you didn't really say" -- yes, I said it. And we're not going to bleep it out.

I'll guarantee you, the last time there was a shooting in New York, who'd the mayor blame it on? Tea Party people that didn't like health care, right? Gabby Giffords, you name it. The shooting out in Colorado. Brian Ross, Tea Party did it.

Well, here you got a guy shooting his boss for being fired. Who's out there ripping bosses to shreds every day? Who's out there ripping businesses to shreds every day? And who's out there killing jobs every day?

So, yes. We're trying to illustrate absurdity by being absurd. The absurd way the news media, the rest of the left, try to capitalize and politicize any terrible crime that they think they can associate with Republicans or conservatives. We've seen it time and time again.

So, why not give them a dose of their own medicine here? You think Obama, you think the Democrats have any blood on their hands with this shooting today?

Don't be frightened in there on the other side of the glass. It isn't any big deal.

MItt Goes Birther - Holy Crap he even flip-flops on this...

So  now even Mitt is full on in the "Birther" Movement.

Despite the President showing his Certificate of Live Birth and Long Form Birth Certificate proving that he was born in Hawaii. Despite the Honolulu Advertiser having his birth notice in their paper in 1961... Well... "apparently none of that is good enough for our Kenyan-Muslim-Communist-Fascist-Socialist President (I am full on being Snarky here)" - Here is Mittens:
Now, I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.
 That just gets a "WTF"????

I mean this is just so damn typical of Republicans. The whole unspoken - "I am not saying the President is not American, but, I am just telling people where I was born - you know in case they wondered". 

So... Mitt, they "know" where you were born as opposed to say.... that "other guy", you know the PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, President Obama.

Of course this wouldn't be a true Mitt Romney moment without a typical Mitt "Flip Flop". Here is senior Romney spokesperson Eric Fehnstrom from a May Article in the Atlantic:
"I can't speak for Donald Trump, Gloria, but I can tell you that Mitt Romney accepts that President Obama was born in the United States," senior Romney adviser Eric Fehrnstrom said on Friday
 I mean for G-D's sake... the guy can't even keep this one straight???? 

Now the President's team had this to say:
"Throughout this campaign, Gov. Romney has embraced the most strident voices in his party instead of standing up to them," said Ben LaBolt, Obama's spokesman, in a release. "It's one thing to give the stage in Tampa to Donald Trump, Sheriff Arpaio, and Kris Kobach. But Gov. Romney's decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America."
It's ridiculous. This is the guy that a major political party puts up for President and even worse has people that will actually vote for him. It is like someone said... "let's just he ridiculous we can be and see who will vote that way".

Unbelievable.

Krugman EVISCERATES (!) Ryan-Rand (and thus Romney)+

Diaried by Ian Reifowitz at Daily Kos

Isn't eviscerates a great word?

Paul Krugman today literally disembowels Paul Ryan's economic philosophy, demonstrating how it derives from absolutely nutty ideas contained in the novels of Ayn Rand that are either a) exceptionally radical, b) completely disproved by real economic events or c) both.

First, Krugman explains that Ryan's desire to shift wealth from the poor to the richest, by shredding the safety net and using the money to lower the taxes paid by the 1%, is due to his "contempt for moochers," and his adoration of those who earn great wealth. Of course he disguises his contempt by saying that these measures will help poor people, and that's what he wants. See, he's concerned that they don't get too lazy or anything like that while they live on the high life of food stamps. Ryan's ideas on this come straight from Rand.

Many of you all have heard that before, so let me move on to the next section, where Krugman brings up something a bit less well known, but far more bizarre in Ryan/Rand's economic fictional world. Apparently, Ryan's "thinking" on monetary policy derives not from any study of economic history and data, but from the novel he read as a teenager (insert the quote about orcs here), "Atlas Shrugged." I'll let Dr. Krugman speak for himself:
Well, it’s right there in [the aforementioned] 2005 speech to the Atlas Society, in which he declared that he always goes back to “Francisco d’Anconia’s speech on money” when thinking about monetary policy. Who? Never mind. That speech (which clocks in at a mere 23 paragraphs) is a case of hard-money obsession gone ballistic. Not only does the character in question, a Galt sidekick, call for a return to the gold standard, he denounces the notion of paper money and demands a return to gold coins.
Krugman then reminds us that we've been using paper money in the United States as our primary form of currency for a very, very long time. Two hundred years in fact. He makes the point that Ryan seems to want to bring us back to the good old days, in terms of economic thinking, of the eighteenth century. Then Krugman delivers the coup de grâce:
Does any of this matter? Well, if the Republican ticket wins, Mr. Ryan will surely be an influential force in the next administration — and bear in mind, too, that he would, as the cliché goes, be a heartbeat away from the presidency. So it should worry us that Mr. Ryan holds monetary views that would, if put into practice, go a long way toward recreating the Great Depression. 
And, beyond that, consider the fact that Mr. Ryan is considered the modern G.O.P.’s big thinker. What does it say about the party when its intellectual leader evidently gets his ideas largely from deeply unrealistic fantasy novels?
These are really good questions, no?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dedicated to the ODS crowd and their Republican Sponsors

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

This one is for you folks:

From the Website: Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews

Here are some of the choice ones:

"May you sell everything and retire to Florida just as global warming makes it uninhabitable."
"May your grandchildren baptize you after you’re dead."
"May you have a rare disease and need an operation that only one surgeon in the world, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, is able to perform. And may he be unable to perform it because he doesn’t take your insurance. And may that Nobel Laureate be your son. "
"May you feast every day on chopped liver with onions, chicken soup with dumplings, baked carp with horseradish, braised meat with vegetable stew, latkes, and may every bite of it be contaminated with E. Coli, because the government gutted the E.P.A."
And this one in particular to all of our friends in the ODS crowd. 
May you find yourself lost and stranded in a village of Palestinian Muslims, and may you be treated only with dignity, kindness and respect. 


Like CRAZY TX Judge, Romney Also Went There On Obama, the U.N., and "American Sovereignty"+

RE-Posted from Ian Reifowitz at Daily Kos

Thanks to our friend Hunter, you should all be aware of the truly insane wing-nuttery represented by Lubbock County (Texas) Judge Tom Head.

Here's what Judge Head had to say:
“He's going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the UN, and what is going to happen when that happens?,” Head asked. 
“I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy.
"Now what's going to happen if we do that, if the public decides to do that? He's going to send in U.N. troops.
What's truly frightening is the degree to which this kind of paranoia is prevalent in the minds of Republican voters. Over at the Huffington Post, Nick Wing made an incredibly important connection between Judge Head's "prediction" and statements made by the titular leader of the Republican party, Mitt Romney.
While it might seem outrageous that such a bizarre conspiracy theory is being promoted by an elected official -- as grounds to support a particular policy no less -- Head isn't the only one. GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney appeared to give some credence to the same theory in response to a question at a town hall in Ohio last month.
Here's the quotation from Romney:
"Turning to the United Nations to tell us how to raise our kids, or whether we can have the Second Amendment rights that our Constitution gave us, I mean, that is the wrong way to go, right? Do not cede sovereignty," Romney said. "I’m happy to talk there. I’m not willing to give American sovereignty in any way, shape or form to the United Nations or any other body. We are a free nation. We fought for freedom and independence. We are going to keep freedom and independence."
This kind of talk is rampant, by the way, in the right-wing media. And if Romney's remark about the 2nd Amendment leaves you scratching your head, you're not the only one. In case you missed it, this editorial from the Washington Times op-ed page goes right for the jugular. It's called "The U.N. Is Coming For Your Guns." Here's the opening paragraph:
The United Nations is deliberating over a treaty that will place comprehensive limits on the international weapons trade. The language of the draft agreement is so expansive it wouldn’t take an Obama-appointed judge very long to extend the treaty to cover the domestic firearms market as well. If American jurists continue to be enamored by the popular trend to consider international precedence when making U.S. rulings, you can kiss the Second Amendment goodbye.
We have an elected Republican judge saying that President Obama will -- not might, will -- invite "U.N. troops" into our country and hand over sovereignty to the United Nations. We have the Republican nominee for President playing on exactly that kind of paranoia by promising he'll never "give American sovereignty in any way, shape or form to the United Nations," of course implying that Barack Obama will. That, by the way, is another of the many, many Romney attempts to "other" Obama and paint him as, in some way or another, "not American." 
 
What we have, folks, is one candidate for President who has sought to strengthen American national unity, to enhance the ties that bind together Americans of different races, cultures, regions, sexual orientations, and religious beliefs, and another whose campaign centers on exploiting the divisions and fears that separate us from one another.
 
That's the choice ahead of us this November.

Texas Official: Give me Taxes to defend against Obama

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

A few weeks ago, in the wake of the Aurora shootings I wrote a personal perspective regarding Guns and Gun Control here: Guns and Violence in America - A personal perspective. After that I asked friends on Facebook to read it and share their perspectives as well.

I was surprised but most people across the spectrum from Gun Owners to Non Gun Owners (of my friends) seemed to share this perspective. But I got an interesting comment from one of them who started talking about the "Great Gun Grab" being sponsored by the U.N. One thing he told me was that he was going to move to Israel when that happens (unfortunately for him he doesn't quite understand that Guns are highly controlled there but it is along the same lines as those who hate Obamacare moving to Canada), but the other thing he said was he might "hang out for when the revolution comes", and then suggested I buy a rifle.
My response was along the lines of... "Well, um.... ok" and I let it drop.

So today on Facebook I come across this posting from a Progressive Friend: Texas official warns of Obama civil war:
A Lubbock County, Texas, judge, the panhandle county's chief administrator, is asking for a tax increase to hire deputies for the inevitable civil war he believes would follow President Obama's re-election. 
The way he puts it, Judge Tom Head wants to prepare for the "worst", which to him means "civil unrest, civil disobedience" and possible "civil war", according to a report from Fox 34 Lubbock.
Judge Tom Head and Commissioner Mark Heinrich told the station this week that a 1.7 cent tax increase for the next fiscal year was necessary to prepare for many contingencies, including Obama's re-election. He also mentioned to the station that the county needs a pay increase is needed for the district attorney's office and more funds to pay for more sheriff's office deputies.
"He's going to try to hand over the sovereignty of the United States to the (United Nations), and what is going to happen when that happens?," Head asked the station during a Monday interview. "I'm thinking the worst. Civil unrest, civil disobedience, civil war maybe. And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations, we're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy."
According to Head, the second Obama term will see retaliation from the U.S. Government for open rebellion and that U.N. APC's (Armored Personnel Carriers) will be depositing U.N. Troops everywhere - apparently including Lubbock, Texas.

The Houston Free Press, Lubbock County Judge Tom Head: 5 Factors To Consider As You Protect Your Homeland From Obama's UN Invasion has a great snarky article which list the following issues:
5. The UFO factor 4. Obama's fifth column
3. Is a 1.7-cent increase really enough?
2. Where to defend first?
1. What should we call this army? (this last one explores the possibility of the name "Give 'em Head" - Heh).
Is this something we need to particularly worry about now? I think probably not, but, I find it interesting that there are people talking about this and that as crazed as the Right has become that this is part of conversation amongst elected officials. But not only that, this is also a meme fostered by such powerful groups as the NRA (National Rifle Association) who in a a Robo-call (I got this particular one) asked if I agreed with the U.N. Gun Take-away and was I willing to surrender to the U.N. Anyway, I just thought this would make for interesting discussion, so... have at it.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Obama Campaign Helps Further Destroy Republican Meme About Jewish Support for GOP

The Obama campaign has released a list of rabbis that have officially endorsed the president's re-election. As Ira Forman, the Jewish outreach director for the Obama campaign, explained:

This list of rabbis represents a broad group of respected Jewish leader from all parts of the country. These rabbis mirror the diversity of American Jewry. Their ringing endorsement of President Obama speaks volumes about the President’s deep commitment to the security of the state of Israel and his dedication to a policy agenda that represents the values of the overwhelming majority of the American Jewish community.

Those Jewish values that Forman refers to are the same exact values that I referred to in my diary last night nominally addressed to Jewish Republicans and asking how they could support the Republican Party in light of those values. Of course, this all stands in sharp contrast to the meme that Republicans, and their willing allies in the media, like to make that they are making serious inroads within the Jewish-American community and that Mitt Romney is poised to capture a significant portion of the Jewish vote.

According to Max Slutsky, a Jewish outreach coordinator who wrote the post on the Obama website, the amount of rabbis is more than double the number of rabbis that endorsed then-Senator Obama when Rabbis for Obama was launched in 2008. He also notes that the number of rabbis that have endorsed the president is greater than 613. For those that are wondering about the significance of that number, there are 613 commandments in the entirety of the Torah.

And while President Obama has now demonstrated the breadth of institutional support within the Jewish community, The Times of Israel notes that Mitt Romney has not. There is, of course, an obvious reason for this. However, that also effectively destroys the meme that Republicans have done their best to perpetuate.

Let me close with one little fact to keep in mind whenever someone claims that Republicans can win the Jewish vote. The last Republican to win the Jewish vote was Warren G. Harding in 1920. Adlai Stevenson won the Jewish vote over Eisenhower twice. George McGovern lost 49 states to Richard Nixon in 1972, but he won the Jewish vote. Walter Mondale lost 49 states to Ronald Reagan in 1984, but he won the Jewish vote. Amidst similar claims of difficulty with Jewish voters four years ago, President Obama won 79% of the Jewish vote.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

An Open Letter to Jewish Republicans

What Republican values, exactly, are consistent with Jewish values?

  • Is it the part where they have no concern for the poor?
  • Is it the part where they have no respect for individual autonomy?
  • Is it the part where believing that you have obligations to the community, and the community to you, is socialism?

Those beliefs are at the core of the modern Republican Party. They also fly in the face of traditional Jewish values about responsibility to others and the respect of others.

In the Talmud, a prospective convert approached the two leading sages of the time, Hillel and Shammai. He asked that they teach him the Torah while standing on one foot. Shammai dismissed the man. He then went to Hillel. Hillel obliged him, stating:

What is hateful to you, do not do to your neighbor. That is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation of this — go and study it! (Shabbat 31a)

How is this consistent with the rhetoric of “forceful rape” and “legitimate rape” and “voter fraud” and countless other indignities spewed by Republicans at those that are not white and male?

Remember, we had the New Deal and the social safety net before there was a New Deal and a social safety net. When the massive wave of Jewish immigration came in the 1880s, our community organized quasi-governmental institutions designed to provide assistance to the needy. It wasn’t much given that our community, as a whole, was mired in poverty, but it reflected our values.

How is the drive to eliminate assistance to the poor and the middle class so that the wealthy can get more tax cuts consistent with these values?

When it comes to social issues, Republicans love to speak of ‘Judeo-Christian’ values. Do you not understand that the ‘Judeo’ part of ‘Judeo-Christian’ is merely a fig leaf? If there was any conflict between Jewish values and Christian values, which one do you think those conservative Christians that dominate the Republican party would choose?

Finally, Republicans love to argue about how they’re ‘pro’-Israel. Do you really understand why they ‘support’ Israel? Do you understand that they only ‘support’ Israel to fulfill their apocalyptic fantasies? Do you understand that the religious wing that dominates their party believes that we must all be gathered there to facilitate Jesus’ second coming? Do you understand that they believe that we will then either convert or we will be killed and burn in Hell?

How does this constitute support for Israel? How is it anything other than supporting Israel for antisemitic reasons?

I am a proud member of the religious left. I wear a kippah srugah. I keep a kosher home. I daven (pray) three times every day. I put on tefillin. I am guided by the Jewish values that have been instilled in me since the day I was born. That is why I am a liberal. That is why I cannot understand how anyone proud of their Jewish heritage can support a political party that holds values so contrary to those that define our community.

So, please, my fellow Jews that happen to be Republicans, explain to me why. Explain to me how Republicans are our friends. Explain to me how Democrats are not. I’m waiting.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Israel Does Spectacularly In World University Rankings

The Shanghai Academic Rankings of World Universities for 2012 is out. 

Although these tpyes of rankings are vested with much more significance than they should be within individual universities and departments, taken as a whole, they are, in my opinion, a decent indicator of a country's academic success.

Israel's university rankings are spectacular. 

The listings must be seen in the context of the utter dominance of US institutions and those from a small number of other countries.  For instance, in the overall academic rankings, 17 of the top 20 institutions are American (the other three being Cambridge, Oxford, and Tokyo), and of the top 50, 35 are American and 5 are British.  A similar pattern is present in all of the departmental rankings. 

So given Israel's small population of less than 8 million and its location in the Middle East, its numbers are stunning. 

In Computer Science, Israel has the #12 (Weizmann), #15 (Technion), #21 (Hebrew U), and #31 (Tel Aviv) departments.  But the stat that is even more impressive is that Weizmann and Technion have the #2 and #3 non-American CS departments in the world, and are #1 and #2 outside of North America.

In Mathematics, Tel Aviv university comes in at #26, the highest ranked department outside of North America or Europe.  Technion and Hebrew also crack the top 100, and together they are the only universities outside of North America, Europe, or East Asia to do so.

In Physics, Hebrew, Weizmann, and Technion all crack the top 100, accounting for three out of the only four institutions outside of North America, Europe, and East Asia to do so (the only other is the Australian National University).  In Economics, Hebrew has the top ranked department outside of the US, Canada, or Britain.  In overall Engineering/Technology, Technion is ranked #38 in the world, the highest rank for any institution outside of North America, Europe, or East Asia.

In the overall university rankings, Hebrew's spot at #72 makes it the top academic institution in the world outside of North America, Europe, East Asia, or Australia, and in fact #3 in Asia and #1 in Asia outside of Japan. 

Israel may in fact have the finest university system in the world on a per capita basis, if such a thing could be defined, as in the number and rank of top institutions divided by the population.  By contrast, except for a few heavily financed Saudi Universities which do make the middling levels of the top 500 overall university list, no institutions in the Middle East outside of Israel make any of the top 100 department or 500 overall university list.  In fact, given the high percentage of foriegn faculty at the Saudi universities, I would posit that of the Arabs who are faculty at these world class universities and academic departments in the Middle East, a majority are actually employed at Israeli universities.  How's that for apartheid?

So again, I must ask why some of those who claim to adhere to the values of the left, which supposedly include education and scientific progress, as well as some of those who claim to adhere to the values of the right, which supposedly include meritocratic acheivement and economic prowess, are so quick to side with Israel's enemies and take an extreme one-sided view of the Israeli / Arab conflict.  I know the answer - antisemitism - but I am still asking them.

Obama Paid MUCH Higher Than Romney's 13% -- He Averaged 27.7% From 2000-2011

From Ian Reifowitz cross posted at Daily Kos

The latest news is that Barack Obama has encouraged Mitt Romney to release five additional years of tax returns and has promised in return to ask for no more than that.

Yesterday Romney said he looked at his returns going back ten years and that he paid "at least 13%" in taxes in every year.

Let's take him at his word for now. Anywhere near 13% on tens of millions of dollars of income every year is still absurdly low. Take a look at Barack Obama's federal tax returns over the past 12 years (Warning: I'm no tax lawyer. I just divided Adjusted Gross Income by Total Tax). Here's the rate he paid:

Year                    Rate
2011                   20.5%
2010                   26.2%
2009                   32.5%
2008                   32.2%
2007                   33.8%
2006                   28.1%
2005                   33.0%
2004                   19.4%
2003                   21.8%
2002                   26.6%
2001                   31.6%
2000                   26.5%

Obama had two years just above or below 20%, and another just below 22%. The other nine years he paid "at least" 26%, with five of those years coming in around 32-33%.

Mitt Romney paid "at least 13%" on an income that almost certainly dwarfs that of the (still well-off) Obamas. That fact highlights the absurdly REGRESSIVE nature of our tax code. How can our system allow a multi-millionaire to pay far lower income taxes than people who get their income through working at a job?
That's crazy.

PS-While some of you might have been able to turn the information I've provided above into a cool-looking graph, I'm not that guy. I can, however, take a picture, so enjoy the high-tech loveliness below:

Obama tax information. From MS Word on my laptop.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

"These are YOUR people" - Yes we are ALL Americans

The other day an acquaintance and I were discussing the election and when he dropped a bomb on me and in effect summed up the Republican position in a nutshell. Now a little background here. This guy is a hardcore Republican supporter who constantly repeats whatever talking point Drudge, Limbaugh, Cavuto, or Malkin happen to be parroting that day. Today it was that Biden will be out as the V.P. Who knows what tomorrow will bring....

Anyway, so this brings us to the other day and a conversation we were having about the election. Now I always knew that the Right has racism in their agenda (either because the President was African-American or because they think he is a MOOSLIM - snark there) but, I guess this brought it home. Here is VERBATIM, exactly what he said....

"You might win but let's look at who's on your side. You have the 'Pro-Death Crowd', the minorities, the inner-cities, the illegals, the gays, crazy women... I mean of course you are going to get a lot of votes but look at who's voting for your guy, These are your people."

Now look at this.... This is some "down deep" stuff. This apparently is what spins the Right Wing machine. Hatred of the "other". Anyone who is not a White, and Male (and /o r "dutiful" women). I mean when they talk about "taking the county back" this is what they mean. They mean taking it back to pre-civil war days when pretty much everything was done by white, land owning males. It's like the last 150-200 years never happened.

Of course, they won't admit to that and they will point to the handful of "good" minority voters and/or supporters who will join their cause. I have known the guy who told me this for years and he has never acted in an unfair manner towards any one. SO when he said this... POW! I was floored. I never realized quite the amount of bigotry that seemingly good people can hide.

Of course this explains a lot. How people can ignore the lies, double standards, and outright hypocrisy of the Republicans so that they can justify their votes that way. G-d forbid they would ever admit to their racism and/or fear of others. I see this daily in the fight for the "Jewish Vote". People playing on the fear of Barack HUESSEIN Obama. Even though, Mitt Romney has said he would do EXACTLY what the President has done (of course never admitting the President has done those things), the lunatic fringe of supporters there have gone as far as to claim the President is a racist. Here was one disturbing quote from the nutty right:
The problem, once again, is not the fact that Jews live and build housing for themselves in Judea and Samaria, but that racist western progressives, like Barack Obama, believe it is.
Once again trading on simplistic fear meme's to make their points.

OH and as an answer to the comment: "These are your people".... Even though I am a Middle - aged , middle income, White guy... I proudly said: "Yes they are my people. We are ALL Americans. Not just some of us."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

NYT's Resident Conservative Douthat: 'Moderates Should Like Paul Ryan'

The New York Times' resident conservative, Ross Douthat, tried, and failed, to make a compelling case for the Republican vice presidential candidate to someone other than hard-core conservatives in "Why Moderates Should Like Paul Ryan":

But moderates — and maybe, just maybe, the occasional liberal as well — should appreciate Ryan all the same, because he’s almost single-handedly responsible for saving the Republican Party from some of its own worst impulses.

Failing political parties tend to develop toxic internal cultures, and the post-2008 Republican Party was no exception. Reeling from two consecutive electoral repudiations, Republicans looked poised to spend President Obama’s first term alternating between do-nothingism and delusion. They would demagogue every Democratic proposal, decline to offer any alternative on any issue, and seal themselves inside a fantasy world where tax cuts always pay for themselves and budgets can be balanced by cutting funding for NPR.

Douthat then proceeds to praise Ryan's policy proposals simply because he put them out there and got his far-right colleagues to go along with him. That, in essence, is the substance of his defense.

Douthat does admit that Paul Ryan is not a moderate and that his policy solutions are decidedly conservative. In describing the selection, Douthat writes, "Mitt Romney chose one of the most explicitly ideological options." Of course, the real kicker comes at the end, when Douthat says that Ryan's selection was classic Romney:

Against this backdrop, Romney’s choice of Ryan looks a lot like Ryan’s own policy positioning: It was more politically risky than the alternatives, but it was also more responsible. As a presidential candidate, Romney picked his running mate the way he probably made hiring decisions as a businessman. Out of an array of qualified applicants, he picked the man who’s done the most impressive and important work.

If Douthat means by "the most impressive and important work" to undo the New Deal, Great Society and every other program that has helped secure middle class prosperity since the end of World War II, then he is correct. That is exactly what Paul Ryan seeks to achieve. That is exactly what Mitt Romney has endorsed now that he has brought Ryan on as his running mate.

Perhaps Douthat is right that we liberals should like Paul Ryan, just not for the reason he thinks. We should like him because Mitt Romney has managed to complete President Obama's work for him. Romney has now clearly delineated the choices available to the American people. By putting the GOP policy wonk on his ticket he has now made clear exactly what he stands for. So, let the Republicans talk about what they stand for. They have their chief prescription man on the ticket.

As for me? We have a great candidate with a strong record of accomplishment. We have our catchy slogan: 'GM is alive and bin Laden is dead.' Let us talk about our record now. Let us talk about Barack Obama.

DREAM Come True -- Obama Immigration Reform Kicks In TODAY

From Ian Reifowitz Cross Posted at Daily Kos:

It's not comprehensive immigration reform, but it is real progress:
With their expectations soaring, young illegal immigrants across the country are preparing to apply for a temporary reprieve from deportation that the Obama administration is offering. For the first time, as many as 1.7 million of them could be allowed to work legally and live openly in this country without fear of being expelled.
There is plenty of room for debate about President Obama's immigration policies. To review, he appears to have made a calculation that if he got "tough" on enforcement that Republicans would then work with him to pass some kind of comprehensive immigration reform, or at least the DREAM Act. Obama did step up enforcement, leading to record numbers of deportations, but Republicans (and a handful of Democratic Senators) blocked the DREAM Act anyway.

After it became clear that passing any significant immigration legislation would be impossible, the administration unilaterally made three policy changes. First, in mid-2011, the White House announced that efforts to deport those here illegally would thereafter focus on those who had committed a crime while in the U.S., and felons in particular. Another change made early in 2012 permitted family members of immigrants to apply for hardship waivers earlier than previously, thus helping to keep families from being separated while they waited to hear from the government.
Then, in June, the President announced an executive action that, much like the DREAM Act would have done on a permanent basis, would suspend deportations for two years for young people who were brought here illegally as children and who were making good progress in school or received an honorable discharge from the military. These young people would also be able apply for work permits without having to worry that they would be deported. This is the policy that will be formally put into effect on Wednesday.

It is important to note that Mitt Romney condemned this new Obama executive branch policy. On a related note, Romney stated that he would veto the DREAM Act if it reached his desk as President, although he added that he'd support a limited DREAM Act only for those undocumented immigrants who served honorably in the U.S. military. While he ruled out rounding up the estimated 11 million here illegally, he offered another solution:
"The answer is self-deportation," Romney said. "People decide that they do better by going home because they can't find work here because they don't have legal documentation to allow them to work here."
Additionally, Obama opposed the Arizona immigration law and cheered the Supreme Court decision that nullified much of it. Romney, on the other hand, in February called the Arizona law "a model," and refused to say whether he agreed with the Supreme Court's ruling after it was issued.
To return to the new policy taking effect tomorrow, we can see how important it is by the reaction of people who will be able to take advantage of it less than 24 hours from now. Here's one example:
“It’s like giving us wings to the people that want to fly,” said Noe Torres, now 26, who said he had been living illegally in California since his parents brought him here from Mexico when he was 4.
In addition to the policies his administration has implemented, Barack Obama has also spoken throughout his career about immigrants in a humane, inclusive way.
In The Audacity of Hope (pp. 317-18), Obama wrote:
America has nothing to fear from these newcomers...they have come here for the same reason that families came here 150 years ago.…Ultimately the danger to our way of life is not that we will be overrun by those who do not look like us or do not yet speak our language. The danger will come if we fail to recognize [their] humanity…if we withhold from them the rights and opportunities that we take for granted.
On April 29, 2011, as part of a speech he made in support of the DREAM Act, President Obama offered the following about the DREAMers:
They grew up as Americans. They pledge allegiance to our flag. And if they are trying to serve in our military or earn a degree, they are contributing to our future -- and we welcome those contributions.

We didn’t raise the Statue of Liberty with its back to the world; we raised it with its light to the world. Whether your ancestors came here on the Mayflower or a slave ship; whether they signed in at Ellis Island or they crossed the Rio Grande -- we are one people. We need one another. Our patriotism is not rooted in ethnicity, but in a shared belief of the enduring and permanent promise of this country. 
Obama's inclusive definition of our national identity is one that says that those who "crossed the Rio Grande" are just as American as those who "came here on the Mayflower." That's a simple statement, but it speaks volumes. It exemplifies a inclusive, unifying national identity that includes immigrants and everyone else as full and equal members of the American community. That's Obama's America.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My Grandma Died Yesterday

This is a personal posting.

Yesterday my grandmother passed away.  She was 93.

The funeral is tomorrow in Detroit and I'm not even able to go, because of too many work obligations.  Here is what I asked my mom to say on my behalf:


I can only speak to her as I knew her, as my grandmother, through the last third of her life.  But if ever there was the platonic ideal form of a grandma realized in the material world, it was her.  She loved her family unconditionally, and with all of her being.  She lived to support and nurture and feed us, and to revel in our existence and presence.  When I think of pure unconditional love and support, I have always thought, and I will always think, of her.  

My grandma really was like that.  She really did say "Eat mamalah, eat."  I once had a dream where secretly everyone I knew was conspiring against me, except her.  She was the one who was truly loyal.

----------

She was born in Rogers Park, on the far North Side of Chicago.  She met my grandfather at a USO dance shortly before WW2, and they moved to Biloxi, Mississippi where my grandpa was going through officers' training.  Having come from Chicago and Detroit, respectively, they were completely unadapted to the climate of the Gulf Coast and, as she later recalled, spent all of their time sitting still.

There was a tradition where there was a sort of 'coming out' ball in Biloxi for the officers' wives, and she was introduced by the announcer with "Ladies and gentlemen, the Jewess."  Those were less PC times, to put it mildly!  Ironically, I would posit there was less actual antisemitism in the hearts of those Southern aristocrats in 1941 than there is today in the heart most of the people at Daily Kos.  Certainly there was less than in the heart of any person who recommends a diary by David Harris Gershon.

My mom was born while my grandfather was in Europe for the War, and then her two brothers followed over the next 11 years.  My grandparents built a midcentury suburban existence back in my grandfather's hometown of Detroit, and lived in that melieu, playing cards with the neighbors long after everyone had moved to condos in farther flung suburbs or Florida and they were no longer neighbors.  That's when I came along and how I remember her, always with a story of cards or mah-jhong, reveling in having a grandson, telling me stories, showing me how to cook, playing restaurant or library or whatever games we could come up with.

-----------

Her death was not a surprise in the slightest.  She had the most gradual fade-out from life possible, due to vascular dementia.  About 15 years ago it was clear that something might be wrong neurologically, as she began walking with a strange gait.  About ten years ago she started becoming very forgetful, not remembering what had been said even a few minutes before, and forgetting basic details from her life.  By five years ago she did not remember many peoples' names, although she did still 'know' the people - it was just that the name had been erased from her memory.  Three years ago when I visited, my grandpa and the home health care aid managed with difficulty to get her out of bed.  She looked at me and pointed and said "Who is that guy?"  It was a very sad moment for me.  By two years ago she was in a vegetative state.  So it has been two years that she's been dead to the world.

Now she's officially dead, in the way that the coroner defines it.  The difference isn't really consequential, but it is the symbolic end of an era.  Never again will I have a grandmother around.

-----------

I'm going to Israel in two weeks.  I am trying to figure out how to tie that in, what I could do of significance for her memory while there.  Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mitt, Please Shut Up and Stop Pandering. Sincerely, A Jewish-American.

Mitt Romney is continuing with his latest effort to pander to Jewish voters. He seems to be operating this campaign under the assumption that Israel is, by far, the most important issue to Jewish-Americans and that he can use standard GOP lies on the issue to sell his bill of goods to us. Well, it's wrong. It is also nothing more than accepting, as fact, one of the most antisemitic claims out there, namely that Jews have either dual loyalty or greater loyalty to Israel than any other other country.

Romney's ad is below. The is composed of clips from his disastrous trip overseas, which included a stopover in Israel.

Mitt is undoubtedly this desperate, and this eager to pander because he knows that Jewish-Americans are not buying the bill of goods he's trying to sell us. Despite years of Republican efforts to vilify President Obama, Jewish-Americans still strongly support President Obama's re-election. I suspect that as we draw even closer to the election, and Jewish support for the president remains strong, these attacks will intensify and become increasingly desperate.

What I find most annoying, though, is how Mitt Romney tries to portray himself as to Jewish-Americans and claim that Barack Obama is not a friend to us. Forget the fact that our Jewish values place most of us, if not an overwhelming majority of us, to the left of President Obama. It gets to much more basic, and core, issue. It is about respect for our culture, our beliefs and our identity.

Earlier this year, Nobel laureate Elie Wiesel, who survived both Auschwitz and Buchenwald, called on Romney to denounce the Mormon practice of posthumous baptisms. This came after it was learned that famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal's parents were posthumously baptized and that Wiesel had his parents had been entered into a database to begin the process. Romney remained silent.

If Mitt Romney respects us — if he respects our culture, our beliefs and our identity — then why does he remain silent? Why does he not condemn this practice? Why does he say nothing while Holocaust survivors and their relatives feel even more pain?

And it's not as though he'd even have to break with his religious beliefs to do so. His church has already agreed to not engage in such baptisms unless requested by a close relative. Every time that agreement is broken, they reiterate that promise and pledge not to break it again. So, again, why does Mitt Romney remain silent? If he was a true friend to Jewish-Americans, as he claims, he would not do so.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dog Whistle: Romney's Been Attacking Obama On Welfare All Year

From Ian Reifowitz posted at Daily Kos

Welfare. Raising the issue of welfare in a presidential campaign is not simply raising a policy concern. As our own Greg Dworkin noted earlier this morning, it's a dog-whistle for racism.
This is not, however, a new tactic for Romney. Romney and his fellow Republicans have been blowing this particular whistle throughout the 2012 campaign.

To recap yesterday's events, Mitt Romney attacked President Obama over welfare, accusing him of "taking the work requirement out of welfare" because his administration had been granting waivers to a number of states regarding the law's work requirements. A Republican National Committee ad said: “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check.”

The President's campaign pushed back hard, noting that the administration was simply responding to requests from various governors, including Republican governors, for flexibility in how they accomplished the employment-related goals laid out in the 1996 Welfare Reform Act. Bill Clinton condemned the RNC ad as "not true" and further stated:
We need a bipartisan consensus to continue to help people move from welfare to work even during these hard times, not more misleading campaign ads.
Joe Klein of Time offered that Romney's welfare push "flopped" for three reasons:
1. The waivers would be granted only if states came up with alternative ideas to create jobs for people on welfare.
2. As governor of Massachusetts, Romney himself asked for such a waiver in 2005.
And, this third bit is just too good…
3. As governor, Romney offered welfare recipients free auto insurance, registration, inspections and memberships in AAA. 
But as I said at the outset, this is not a new tactic for Mitt Romney. Back in Iowa, on the eve of the caucuses in January, here's what Romney said:
“I think President Obama wants to make us a European-style welfare state where instead of being a merit society, we’re an entitlement society, where government’s role is to take from some to give to others. What I know is that if they do that, they’ll substitute envy for ambition. And they’ll poison the very spirit of America and keep us from being one nation under God.”
Maureen Dowd accused him of "raising the specter of welfare lines in inner cities."

Don't forget that in that same month, Newt Gingrich called Obama "most successful food stamp president in American history." Rep. James Clyburn (SC-D) compared it to the old lie, one that goes back to Ronald Reagan, about the "welfare queen," saying that now Obama is being called "king of the food stamps."

Yesterday's attacks by Mitt Romney and the RNC are part of the broader rhetoric Republicans have been using against Barack Obama all year in an attempt to "blacken" him and paint him as "the other." What Romney is doing here is also an appeal to the notion, central to Party rhetoric according to a new groundbreaking book on that movement, that Americans are divided into two categories: the deserving and the undeserving, a notion suffused with racism.

These attacks are not new. They are merely a more subtle version of what Republicans have been doing for almost 40 years.

Thankfully, Barack Obama and his team, backed by Bill Clinton, know how to push back. Hard.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Mitt Romney insults Israel. Can this man get anything right?

This in from Buzzfeed:

Romney's latest insult/gaffe

Romney: America Is No Kibbutz

Mitt Romney bills himself as an ardent friend of Israel running against President Barack Obama who hasn't visited the American ally since taking the oath of office, but Romney's friendship only extends so far.

At a fundraiser today in Chicago — barely a week after visiting the Holy Land — Romney took a shot at the Israeli Kibbutz movement, a product of the early socialist zionist movement and integral to the story of the founding of the State of Israel.

“It’s individuals and their entrepreneurship which have driven America," Romney said. "What America is not a collective where we all work in a Kibbutz or we all in some little entity, instead it’s individuals pursuing their dreams and building successful enterprises which employ others and they become inspired as they see what has happened in the place they work and go off and start their own enterprises.”
 It's incredible... the man just can't get anything right.

Aside from his insult of the British (who are putting on a great Olympics so far), and having his spokesman tell a reporter to "Kiss his Ass" during the Polish leg of his trip. Romney has been in craptacular form with his Israeli part of the trip. 

Before this latest gaffe/insult... Romney had managed to insult every Arab Nation at a time when America is engaged in serious alliance building to combat the threat of Iranian hegemony in the region. He then went on to immediately engage in some pandering by (doing the same thing candidate Obama did in 2008) and talk about an undivided Jerusalem. Well, this made the Rightists and their ODS allies just about cream with joy. The only problem was that hours later Romney (in typical Etch-a-Sketch fashion) immediately REVERSED himself by saying that he was going to follow in the path of every previous American administration for the past 35 years.

Which takes us now to this. Where Romney basically says... "Good thing that we are not like those idiot Israelis who live in a crappy little country and built their society with collective work. I mean G-d forbid anyone would want to be like Israel".....

So you have a Republican Party which had speakers at CPAC who were White Supremacists, who ran a candidate (Ron Paul who got roughly 10-15% of the Republican vote) who had ties to radical Right Wingers like the Neo-Nazi site stormfront AND who also said that had he been President during WWII he would not have saved the Jews. Finally, this year have a candidate who would not speak out against the conversion of Holocaust victims to the LDS Church.

And yet Republican Jews and their Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) Suffering friends cannot understand just why Jews are breaking hard for the President. I am not sure actually who is dumber... Mitt Romney and/or his handlers OR members of the American Jewish community who would vote for this guy.

Governor Romney - HONOR THY FATHER

POSTED BY IAN REIFOWITZ AT DAILY KOS






Need I say more?

Monday, August 6, 2012

New Term.... The "MO Crew"

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Just a quick hit... I was reading this diary (from Christian Dem in NC) just published about Fox complaining about the Olympians NOT having enough patriotism.
 
In this diary I wrote a quick comment that this is all the Republicans seem to have. Knowing they don't actually stand for anything but "Get the Muslim Black Man OUT of the White House so we can lower taxes for our rich friends, install a theocratic Christian Government, and basically get what we can get for as long as we can get it"

So anyway... Given the following, it's pretty easy to see why a good short acronym for who they are. The one I came up with is the Manufactured Outrage Crew (or "MO Crew").

1. When you have to complain about Olympic Athletes NOT being patriotic enough because they don't have a little flag on their uniforms, Forget about the fact that they are competing for their nation. Forget about fact that after events they medal in or win they drape themselves in the flag... Look at all their interviews... Every single one of them talks at one point about how proud they are they could do this for their country. Total MO

2. The Romney Tax Returns. The Republicans are spitting and sputtering about concerning Harry Reid and just how OUTRAGEOUS it is for him to make the charge he made. I wonder what they would be saying regarding this had President Obama NOT released his tax returns. These idiots were so insistent on the President's birth certificate even after the Certificate of Live Birth AND the Birth Notice in Honolulu imagine what they would be calling him if HE was the one withholding tax information. But No..... It's about Harry Reid for them. They manufacture their outrage against Reid to cover the fact that Mittens simply won't release his records. Total MO.

3. The Ohio Military vote issue. Again... complete MO based on nothing that resembles the truth in this matter. BUT, this is just something to play on the Republican meme that the Democrats (and their dastardly Muslim, Kenyan, Socialist, Fascist, Communist, President) not only wants to make "Amurika" weaker but also doesn't support the troops. Of course, this one is totally made up but it still factors as complete MO

4. The completely Manufactured Outrage over the Presidents foreign policy in the Middle East from the absolute ridiculous claim that the President "cozies up to the Jihadis that are now trying to control the Arab world" to the President "encouraging" Iranian Nukes to his lack of naming Jerusalem the Capital of Israel (even though Mitt Romney says he will follow all policies of the previous Administrations for the last 35 years).

And the list just goes on but above are just four perfect examples of how Republicans have become the party of Manufactured Outrage or better known as the "MO Crew"

Friday, August 3, 2012

Ahmadinejhad: Zionists control the World and the Zionist Regime Must be Annihilated

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

It seems that this week the world Jewish population and the population of Daily Kos has been subject to the crazed ravings of the anti-Semitic fringe. At least one diarist has been banned and another so far has collected over 27 donuts (and still counting) on their tip jars alone in two diaries.

Not sure what's causing this but.... first we had the Palestinian Government in Gaza call the Holocaust a "Zionist lie" in response to the Palestinian Government in the West Bank's good faith effort to send an adviser to Palestinian President Abbas to visit Auschwitz and to better understand the Holocaust.
NOW, we have Hamas' friend and ally the Iranian Regime as represented by President Ahmadinejhad channeling the Protocols of the Elders of Zion and screeching about Zionist control of the world. For those of you unfamiliar with it:
The Protocols of the Elders of Zion or The Protocols of the Meetings of the Learned Elders of Zion is an antisemitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages, and disseminated internationally in the early part of the 20th century. Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the United States in the 1920s. 
Adolf Hitler and the Nazis publicized the text as if it were a valid document, although it was exposed as fraudulent. After the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, it ordered the text to be studied in German classrooms. The historian Norman Cohn suggested that Hitler used the Protocols as his primary justification for initiating the Holocaust—his "warrant for genocide".[1]
The Protocols purports to document the minutes of a late 19th-century meeting of Jewish leaders discussing their goal of global Jewish hegemony by subverting the morals of Gentiles, and by controlling the press and the world's economies. It is still widely available today and even now sometimes presented as a genuine document, whether on the Internet or in print in numerous languages.
So now, here is the President of Iran as reported by the Islamic Republic News Agency: Ahmadinejad: Qods Day to liberate Palestine, solve entire world problems
Ahmadinejad added, “It has now been some 400 years that a horrendous Zionist clan has been ruling the major world affairs, and behind the scenes of the major power circles, in political, media, monetary, and banking organizations in the world, they have been the decision makers, to an extent that a big power with a huge economy and over 300 million population, the presidential election hopefuls must go kiss the feet of the Zionists to ensure their victory in the elections.” ..... 
....Ahmadinejad said that Israel is the symbol of the globally ruling Zionism in the world, reiterating, “Among the western governments and politicians there are great differences of tastes and the political competitions are tough, but is supporting the Zionist regime, they are all united.”
The president pointed out that in order to evolutionize the status of the world decision making is needed, the forces must get united, and their ultimate objective must be the annihilation of the Zionist regime (vb1 emphasis), emphasizing, “The Zionist regime is both the symbol of the hegemony of the Zionism over the world and the means in the hand of the oppressor powers for expansion of their hegemony in the region and in the world.”
So... President Ahmadinejhad... the "Zionist clan" has been ruling the world for 400 years has it? Hmmmm. Israel, the Zionist State is only 64 years old. Zionism as a political philosophy is only slightly over 140 years old. SO... who has been doing what for 400 years... "Zionists"??? Really?

No. the President of Iran and his supporters and apologists are talking about Jews. Plain and simple. Nothing more nothing less. It is anti-Semitism plain and simple.

It is time that we as progressives stand up to the people that would support this in our movement and in our lives.

I want to quote an opinion column written by a young African American Woman in the Times of Israel. Not a source that I usually quote nor one I like. However, her words here are powerful:
I want to spark a global revolution. Dear reader, as believers in democracy and the rights of mankind, we must unite. We, as Jews and non-Jews, must come together to suppress the evil phenomenon that is anti-Semitism. Businesses and communities and filmmakers and others must come together to stand against this injustice. This must be as popular as NIKE, as hip as Drake, as pervasive as Coca Cola. We must expose the anti-Semitism that is rampant in the Middle East and growing in Europe. We must have lectures, events, outings, Shabbat dinners — and we must educate, cultivate, and change lives. Film is the medium through which this can be accomplished. 
I am not concerned about the long, arduous road that is this battle. We must fight with every fiber of our beings. We will win. We have no other choice. We must end anti-Semitism once and for all.
Join me.
Please join all of us to fight this scourge.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Palestinian Authority Does the Right Thing... HAMAS Denies Holocaust

Cross Posted at Daily Kos

Last week the Palestinian Authority took a positive step in the direction of understanding by sending an adviser to President Abbas, Ziad al-Bandak (The President's adviser on Christian Affairs) to tour the Nazi Death Camp at Auschwitz. Now this is a very important thing as one of many criticisms of the P.A. as that it has traded in Holocaust denial and anti-Semitic memes.

Indeed as was quoted in the International Business Times
“Last week, I visited the West Bank and Israel, where I met people from varied walks of life," Ed Husain, a senior fellow for Middle Eastern studies at the Council of Foreign Relations, wrote recently on the Arab Street blog. "In conversations with young Arabs, I was saddened to hear that Holocaust denial continues to be part of the normative mindset among so many in such an important part of the world. Their grievances with the modern state of Israel are real, but this does not give them the mandate to rewrite history. 
“These are not fringe conspiracy theories," he added. "I’ve heard similar rejections of the Holocaust from political leaders in the Middle East, academics, youth leaders and imams. The virus is so widespread that it impacts Muslims living in Europe. For several years, the Muslim Council of Britain refused to attend Holocaust Memorial Day.”
So, the visit by Mr. al-Bandak is positive as he will no doubt be able to communicate back to the P.A. and President Abbas about the horrors of the Holocaust.

HOWEVER, winners in the last Palestinian election (2006) HAMAS has a different take on this. Rather than looking at this for the bridge building attempt that it was, or just keeping their mouths shut... Hamas had this to say:
“It was an unjustified and unhelpful visit that served only the Zionist occupation," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman. 
Barhoum also repeated Hamas’ belief that the Holocaust was a fabrication, by claiming that the visit by Bandak was “a marketing of a false Zionist alleged tragedy."
Also.. there is this:
A comment piece published by the Hamas-run Filastin newspaper also criticised Mr Bandak's visit. 
"What is the wisdom in such a simple step that supports the Jews and their crimes?... Neither the Jews nor we believe that Hitler killed six millions Jews," the article read
In 2009 the Hamas-led administration in the Gaza Strip resisted attempts to introduce lessons about the Holocaust in UN-run schools.
What makes this particularly disturbing (as if Holocaust Denial was not disturbing enough) is that Hamas is and has been the government in the Gaza Strip after winning the National Palestinian Elections in 2006 with 44.45% of the vote. However, their "star" has fallen with the Palestinian electorate and now they trail (or as of June 2012) Fatah 49% - 44%
 
STILL with 44% of the vote they remain a popular force. In this case the P.A. did the right thing. Reaching out to understanding the other side of the conflict. That should be applauded. Hamas on the other hand should be roundly condemned and shunned for this racist and mind bendingly idiotic commentary.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Teh Lunatic Fringe haz a Sad over President Obama

So in looking at sites where I term the "Teh Lunatic Fringe" hangs out I happened to notice a comical post about President Obama today. Amongst the usual silliness of the "WeHateObamaFest", there were a few glaring tidbits of Republican craziness that simply call out to be... well... called out.

First of all we have this piece of brilliance:

When Barack Obama ran for president he stood up before the Jewish world and lied through his teeth. He said:..."Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel and it must remain undivided"...
By contrast, in Mitt Romney's recent trip to that city he said:

It is a deeply moving experience to be in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel...
Well it is true that President Obama made the comment cited above regarding Jerusalem (same as Mittens did) while on the campaign trail... and horror of horrors, the President has not changed U.S. policy in this regard from U.S.policy in the past thirty five years. Well imagine that. A politician not fulfilling a campaign promise. What will happen next... the sky will turn blue? Water will continue to be Wet?

This piece of propaganda however is followed up with commentary and a whole piece about President Obama lying to the American Public and trumpeting the true Jewish "friendlness" of Mitt Romney. Unfortunately.. it is complete and utter horseshit. Let's see why.

First of all, complaining about President Obama lying about anything and then comparing that to Mitt Romney is positively laughable. Don't forget the fact that Willard has taken three sides on every issue imaginable and has the consistency of total chaos. But even better... After saying this Mitt refused to say this is what he would do. When questioned regarding his recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel Romney had this to say:

"I think it's long been the policy of our country to ultimately have our embassy in the nation's capital, Jerusalem. The decision to actually make the move is one, if I were president, I would want to take in consultation with the leadership of the (Israeli) government which exists at that time. So I would follow the same policy we have in the past (vb1 emphasis)."

Wait... what??? So basically Mitt Romney would do EXACTLY what President Obama is doing. ROH-ROH, So when President Obama says this.. he is lying through his teeth. When serial liar Mitt Romney says it.... He is doing what exactly?

I mean is the problem that the President didn't follow through on a campaign promise and so we shouldn't vote for him because he missed that one? If that is the case then there would be ZERO politicians who would be deserving of our votes. Further... the author of this is actually asserting that Mitt Romney of all people WOULD keep his campaign promises? Mitt Romney, the man who will say anything to get elected? Seriously? WOW!

Then the author goes to double down on "Teh Stoopid":

In response progressives, including Jewish progressives, claimed that this represents a "gaffe" that is deeply insulting to the perpetually insulted Palestinians. 
Being a Jewish Progressive - we don't claim that this is a "gaffe". It is just laughable that on one hand Mr. Romney would say we (America) should call Jerusalem the Capital of Israel - the problems that this official designation at this time aside (though I think we should call West Jerusalem the Capital - I have no issue there) and complain about the Obama administration not doing this. Then on the other hand conveniently leave out that Mittens said that he would do EXACTLY the same thing as the Obama Administration.

The "gaffe" that Progressive Jews point out refer to is when Romney talked about "superior cultures" and attributed that to the Palestinians without acknowledging the role played in economic suppression of the Palestinians by both Israel and it's sister Arab nations. AND then Romney went on to insult Mexicans and others in his explanation. Further, now is dicey time in American relations in the Middle East. Iran is attempting to influence the region and gain overriding control in the area. Pissing off all the Arab nations for a symbolic gesture at time when America needs all the allies it can muster against Iran is probably one of the DUMBEST things a President can do.

Ok so there is that, but then it gets better. The lunacy continues...
The very first obligation of any leader is to defend his or her people. A leader who cannot be trusted to do that cannot be trusted to do anything whatsoever. If liberal diaspora Jewry is so weak that they will not stand with Israelis on the question of Jerusalem then it very much highlights the split between us.
Wait... WHAT???? Come again?  The President of the U.S. is the leader of World Wide Jewry? Or wait if Mitt Romney gets elected does that mean he is the leader of World Wide Jewry? Who knew? Here's a note to the author of this article. Jews that live in America are Americans. The President of the United States has an obligation to defend ALL of the people of the United States, not just Jewish people. At the current time that is exactly what he is and has been doing - defending Americans (and as a bonus through President Obama's exceptional support for Israeli anti-Missle defense systems also defending Israeli lives).

Ok... this keeps going... we get this gem:

Most Israelis do not much like or trust Barack Obama for the simple reason that Obama has proven himself untrustworthy.
Israelis, because they live there, are much stronger on security and other issues revolving around the Arab-Israel conflict and they most definitely have the ability to discern who their friends are and who their friends are not. Most Israelis do not much like or trust Barack Obama for the simple reason that Obama has proven himself untrustworthy. 
Hmmm.... so the one time Prime Minister of Israel and current Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and the Two time Prime Minister and President of Israel Shimon Peres don't have the ability to discern who their friends are and who their enemies are? Really? Interesting I guess then when they say:

BARAK: I should tell you honestly that this administration under President Obama is doing, in regard to our security, more than anything that I can remember in the past. … In terms of the support for our security, the cooperation of our intelligence, the sharing of sorts in a very open way even when there are differences.

PERES: When I look at the record of President Obama concerning the major issues, security, I think it’s a highly satisfactory record, from an Israeli point of view.
they are praising their enemy... eh? But this one gets even better. When someone makes the claim that "Most Israelis do not much like or trust Barack Obama it is good to back that one up with facts. UNLESS.. .one doesn't understand what the word "Most" means. In fact, "Most" Israelis (at least according to the Jerusalem Post Poll of 2011) APPROVE of Barak Obama by a 54%-39% spread. So I guess "most" means something under 50%. Again... new definitions abound...

The thing that is amazing is that the author of this article who takes the American diaspora to task for it's support of President Obama only does so over the issue of Jerusalem, as if that issue is the be all end all for the State of Israel. He uses all the idiotic rhetoric about how "Jews in the diaspora need to be tougher and grow a spine" or some such nonsense like that. Well here is a newsflash for our little tough friend:

Telling us that supporting the excellent friendship that the Obama Administration has shown to Israel is spineless is patently ridiculous (like the rest of this P.O.S. article). The Obama Administration has shown time and time again just how supportive of Jewish Americans and Israel it is. It has been (as Ehud Barak says) an "exceptional friend" to our people.

The lies, gross distortions and outright buffoonery of this not only needs to be questioned but it seriously needs to be countered and that is what I and the rest of us at PZ are doing here.  

Rep. King: Obama Birth Announcement Telegrammed from Kenya

Add a new level of craziness for Republican congressman Steve King of Iowa. The newest conspiracy theory put forward for birtherism is that President Obama was born in Kenya and his parents then proceeded to telegram a fake birth announcement from Kenya to Hawaii. I kid you not. (h/t Think Progress)

After initially seeming reasonable, and defending the proven fact that President Obama was born in the United States, Rep. King proceeds to go full birther:

That doesn’t mean there aren’t some other explanations on how they might’ve announced that by telegram from Kenya. The list goes on. But drilling into that now, even if we could get a definitive answer and even if it turned out that Barack Obama was conclusively not born in America, I don’t think we could get that case sold between now and November.

Seriously? Is the birth certificate not enough? Is all the other evidence not enough? I don't remember reading any stories questioning the qualifications of former Michigan governor George Romney. That Governor Romney was born in Mexico. Plus, they conveniently seem to forget that President Obama was born to an American mother. It wouldn't matter where in this universe he was born; he would be an American citizen. That, of course, is beside the point.

I won't delve into the exact motivations because those have been covered before and I think they are fairly evident, even if birthers refuse to admit them. President Obama is American citizen. He was born in Hawaii. Every piece of evidence imaginable proves that fact beyond any measure of doubt. Then again, this ignoring of the facts is typical for the modern Republican Party. I'd laugh if it wasn't so damn dangerous.

Note: You can help his challenger, Christie Vilsack, unseat him.

Christie Vilsack for Iowa

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