Thursday, December 21, 2006

happy holidays

Hello all! I have just replaced my broken monitor, which led to a week+ of no content on this page, with a new widescreen Dell. I will be as prolific as ever in the new year. I wish everyone the best, especially President Bush. He is having a really bad year. The way I see it, he should abdicate as he has so soundly bought into his own faulty logic that he is proceeding into battle with a shining sword that is bright with the strength of his own conviction and covered with the blood of everyone he has sent into Iraq. May the new year bring us new direction and the semblance of leadership.

happy holidays

Hello all! I have just replaced my broken monitor, which led to a week+ of no content on this page, with a new widescreen Dell. I will be as prolific as ever in the new year. I wish everyone the best, especially President Bush. He is having a really bad year. The way I see it, he should abdicate as he has so soundly bought into his own faulty logic that he is proceeding into battle with a shining sword that is bright with the strength of his own conviction and covered with the blood of everyone he has sent into Iraq. May the new year bring us new direction and the semblance of leadership.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

who loves kids, certainly not you.

I've been busy at work, so I apologize for feeding you commentary on a subject that is yesterday's news. I still think it is pretty amusing though.

Democratic Congressman, Steny Hoyer (D-MD), announced that when the House reconvenes next year, he will be try to push for a five day work week. That's right, Monday through Friday. Just like the rest of us. A bold move for Congressman Hoyer, considering the House will have met... let say around 71 days during 2006. Not very impressive. A whole ~60 days less than the average for congress during the 80s and 90s. And you wonder why people are complaining about lack of government oversight. It's a Republican's dream, small government! What government? What oversight?! All that really existed was the Executive Branch... and he wasn't really there all the time either.

Republican Jack Kingston wasn't too happy at the news.

"Keeping us up here eats away at families," said Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.), who typically flies home on Thursdays and returns to Washington on Tuesdays. "Marriages suffer. The Democrats could care less about families -- that's what this says."

Considering the rest of us work about 260 days (ok, with vacation let's go for 240 to be fair) a year and most of us also don't make $160k a year... do I need to continue? Sure, I understand that congressmen and women need to be in their home states with their constituents, but this is also the job they signed up for. So if Democrats don't care about families because they want congressmen to work more and be away from their families... big corporations, government organizations, and small business want us to work five days a week too, that would mean... I see where this is going? Uh oh.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

The Myth of the American Free Market

An excellent article by David Sirota on the myth of the American free market. People should know by now that we have never been "free market capitalists". We are and have always been "what's best for the American economy and will put up whatever protectionist barriers and tariffs we want to" capitalists. We only push for free markets and rapid market liberalization in developing countries and those in debt before we go in and squash them even further into debt. But that's just the cynical extremist inside me talking, Sirota actually has a very detailed and thorough discussion on the subject. It is worth your time to read.

Flattening the Great Education Myth & the Free Market Fundamentalists
David Sirota

Partisan War Syndrome rages across the progressive blogosphere. Wall Street Democrats hide their corporate fealty by declaring a new era of "The Common Good," claiming as their own a term their arch enemy, Noam Chomsky, coined years ago. Democratic lawmakers cheer about bringing a "change" to Washington, talk up important efforts to better-fund education, then quietly begin reassuring K Street that all will be the same when it comes to structural economic issues.
And lost in the din is the most important question: will free market fundamentalism finally be openly challenged?

That is the question I pose in today's San Francisco Chronicle in an op-ed entitled "Flattening the Great Education Myth." The piece describes a recent community meeting here in Helena, Montana and how local officials, hamstrung by a national trade policy that undermines their communities, are forced to focus exclusively on education as the way to build the economy. But, as the hard data shows, we cannot simply educate our way out of the problems associated with a globalization policy whereby our economy is regulated exclusively to enhance multinational corporate profits - and not to enhance ordinary people's lives.

Read more:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Fear Has Gotten the Best of Us

Yet another disgusting example of how the War on Terror has really crippled America as a nation founded on principle, morality, and combating injustice. Radio host Jerry Klein, in a bit of a social experiment, suggested that Muslims in the United States be marked with some sort of identification, be it a arm band or a crescent moon tattoo. Instantly the phone lines lit up, some expressing how sick the suggestion was, and the majority applauding such a suggestion.

"'The first caller to the station in Washington said that Klein must be "off his rocker." The second congratulated him and added: "Not only do you tattoo them in the middle of their forehead but you ship them out of this country ... they are here to kill us."

Another said that tattoos, armbands and other identifying markers such as crescent marks on driver's licenses, passports and birth certificates did not go far enough. "What good is identifying them?" he asked. "You have to set up encampments like during World War Two with the Japanese and Germans." "'
"I can't believe any of you are sick enough to have agreed for one second with anything I said," he told his audience on the AM station 630 WMAL (, which covers Washington, Northern Virginia and Maryland

"For me to suggest to tattoo marks on people's bodies, have them wear armbands, put a crescent moon on their driver's license on their passport or birth certificate is disgusting. It's beyond disgusting.

"Because basically what you just did was show me how the German people allowed what happened to the Jews to happen ... We need to separate them, we need to tattoo their arms, we need to make them wear the yellow Star of David, we need to put them in concentration camps, we basically just need to kill them all because they are dangerous."

Has our nation been profoundly changed for the worse by the War on Terror? Sadly, I would have to say yes.

Quotations from: Read Reuters article

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Dennis Prager makes himself look like an idiot

Keith Ellison will be sworn in as the first Muslim in the House of Representatives when the 110th Congress opens up for business next year. Dennis Prager, a conservative columnists saw this as an opportunity to claim that Ellison would be sworn in and take the oath of office on the Koran, and subsequently went on a tirade about how such an act would be ridiculous.

What's more ridiculous, the notion of Ellison taking his oath on a Koran or Ellison's lack of understanding about the House of Representatives and the US Constitution (and disguised racism)?

“If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book [the Bible], don’t serve in Congress... Devotees of multiculturalism and political correctness who do not see how damaging to the fabric of American civilization it is to allow Ellison to choose his own book need only imagine a racist elected to Congress. Would they allow him to choose Hitler's "Mein Kampf," the Nazis' bible, for his oath? "

These sorts of comments are written to incite a sort of xenophobia not seen in America for decades. It takes advantage of the current War on Terror and events of 9/11 to in effect, limit the rights of Muslims living as American citizens. What Prager repeats over and over again is that American tradition is being trod upon and that it threatens our very way of life. What nonsense. Keith Ellison is an elected official is deserves the respect of everyone, not for his religion, but for his character. Prager is trying to turn him into some anti-American monster before the man has even taken office.

The facts are this. The House of Representatives does not have people sworn in on any book, be it the Bible, Torah, or the Koran. The Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi will have the Congressmen and women raise their hands and take the oath on the floor of the House together, in the absence of any holy book.

It is ridiculous to think that one should even be required to take an oath on the Bible. The oath exists as a show of allegiance to the nation that as a public servant, the US Constitution will be upheld. Any ritual requiring those taking the oath to use a book, are impressed to do so as a show that they are willing to swear before that which they hold most holy. It would seem obvious that if you are pledging an oath, you would do so in the presence of your God(s), your holy book (if you are of the religious persuasion at least), so that your oath is meaningful to you. For Jews or Muslims to swear on the Christian Bible would be like asking someone to swear on some random person's first born child.

Also making the comment that 'those unwilling to swear upon the Bible should not run for office' is far more anti-American than any pledging upon the Koran.

Article XI of the US CONSTITUION.
"The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States."

I can't tell if Dennis Prager is actually interested in American tradition or if he's trying to stoke the fire of American aversion towards Muslims. His words are not dissimilar to those of Joseph McCarthy during the second Red Scare.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Coulter: Mean and Nonsensical

The New York Daily News likes to pick on Columbia University a lot. Because FOX likes to invite Ann Coulter to opine on anything and everything, she jumped on the fray and made all kinds of ludicrous statements. Comments ranged from really mean to just plain weird.

Talking about a S&M demonstration: "they could go on the web to ask the Imam for how large the branch can be to beat your wife with"

Uh... "Christians have more sex, better sex, more sexual satisfaction, so you know they need to have to form clubs to figure out what evangelicals have right away, you want a sex club, become an evangelical."

Somehow insinuating that joining a S&M interest group is for the purpose of having sex that they couldn't otherwise have... "You don't expect them to have to join a club, that's why i'm saying they are the biggest losers on campus, they always are".

Speaking about culture back in the day "would such people be allowed to remain on campus"

Speaking on where this cultural crudeness comes from... "somewhat university campuses, most of all the culture of children raised without two married parents... let's take a poll of the members of that club and see how many of the girls in that club grew up sleeping in the same house as their fathers."

Why she laughs when the host brings up the question of the University regulating such behavior is beyond me. I thought I would never hear the day when Ann Coulter would say that you can go into private establishments and regulate what they do (assuming they aren't committing a crime); actually what am I saying? Ann Coulter has made a living out of distorting the truth and lying to people's faces, why should anything she does surprise us?

Watch the video here:

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

conservatives hang your heads

Tomorrow morning, regardless of if the Democrats sweep the House and the Senate or just one of the two, it will be clear who screwed up: Karl Rove, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld. Since the Iraq War began, the Bush administration, and thus the loyal Republican Party, has stood on the shoulders of one issue, fighting terrorism. It is not that the war on terrorism is an unworthy cause to rally around, it was that it was the ONLY cause that they rallied around.

Karl Rove has been credited by many people on all sides of the political aisle for being a genius; a master manipulator and strategist of epic proportions. His strategy was to find in all political races, a weakness that could best be exploited to the American public. To his credit, that strategy worked; it worked for a long time and it got many Republicans into office, but again, a one strategy approach is extremely risky. This midterm election, campaign races were ugly, they were the ugliest and the dirtiest I have seen since I developed a political consciousness. I speculate, given Rove’s history of pulling strings, that a lot of the negative ads were either suggested by or inspired by him. Americans saw that the ads were nasty. Americans saw that conservative commentators like Rush Limbaugh were cruel. Americans saw that there was one issue that they were called to rally around and to be honest, I think we all were tired of being scared by the specter of terrorism.

The Bush administration has centered on the Iraq War for a long time. We must stay the course. We must spread freedom in the Middle East. We must drum up Democratic inadequacy at protecting the average American. Placing all of their eggs in one basket was successful when things seemed to be going according to plan, but as most of us know, what we expect rarely occurs according to plan. Iraq has been a disaster. Thousands of American soldiers have lost their lives, a two-digit multiple of that number of civilian Iraqis have been killed, and there is no peaceful light at the end of the tunnel. To be honest at this point, the end of the tunnel doesn't even exist yet. Part of this can be blamed on poor planning for post de-Baathification Iraq, part of it on the shoulders of Iraqis not stepping up and taking control of their country and sectarian violence, and a large part of it is a single minded Department of Defense strategy that rejected those individuals and ideas who were best suited for Iraqi reconstruction and planning for war.

Republicans by an enormous majority margin supported the Bush administration in its march into Iraq. There were few voices of dissent and even less of a substantive effort to have the administration embrace accountability for its failures. If you ask the President, Rumsfeld, or Cheney, you will be told that there have been no failures, that we are on the right track, and that they will see their plan through to the end. The American public however views Iraq as a failure. In a Republican controlled House, Senate, and Executive branch of government, Republicans had an opportunity to bring a conservative framework to America, in both legislative and social aspects; a conservative ideology which in my opinion would be more than welcome by the majority of America. The true conservative spirit of America was failed, plain and simple. Government is not smaller, spending is out of control, our borders are not secure, and the focus of government has been on job retention and not serving the public interests. In six years we have not fixed a faulty voting system, we have not addressed illegal immigration, we have outspent every past Presidential administration to date, government has in fact gotten larger, we have not prepared ourselves for the jobs of the 21st century, we have left millions of children behind, and we have sacrificed our moral foundations that for centuries have made us great.

Without any other issues to fall back upon, the Bush administration came up empty. This was an extremely unfortunate outcome for a number of Republicans who have served their states and constituents well, the failures of the Presidency and Republican majority ruined their current career. Tom Keane Jr, Lincoln Chafee, Chris Shays (who right now looks like he might win, we’ll see tomorrow), Anne Northup, etc; people who are in my opinion, good public servants, who are being run out by general mass dissatisfaction with the Bush administration. By stubbornly clinging to a failed policy and focusing so heavily on one issue and one issue alone, Bush and his party have not only angered America but also put Republican legislators’ jobs in jeopardy. The American people have spoken and they are tired of being scared shitless every time the approval rating goes down and the economy is in not doing well. Tomorrow, if we are lucky, the United States gets back on track and checks and balances means something again.

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Security straight out of the Middle Ages

The United States is pushing to build a 700 mile fence between Mexico and the United States. Israel is considering the construction of a moat by the Egypt-Gaza border. Not that they are bad ideas, per say, but I get the feeling that instead of actually solving problems we are blocking ourselves away from them. Should we catapult North Korea?

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Republican Outrage!

In the aftermath of Mark Foley's being exposed at a pedophile and a page predator, we have not heard much about how to protect congressional pages. We have not heard much about how this went silent for more than four years (the truth is coming out as Republicans are stepping up during election time) and we have not heard much about the actual issue at all. What we have heard is that somewhere, somehow, it's all the Democrats' fault.

Newt Gingrich has bellowed that Democrats are hypocrites for their condemnation of Foley, Hastert, and the Republicans. More Conservative commentators that I can count on both hands have said it is disgraceful that the Democrats chose to reveal this during election time. When exactly was a good time for this? After the election, so that the election wasn't distracted and pages could exchange nasty emails with congressmen? Months before the election so that Democrats could be accused of trying to divert the conversation about their lack of persuasive plan for America? Many months before the election so that Bill O'Reilly could tear someone apart on TV and cite a general lack of concrete and substantive evidence?

The most likely scenario is that the Democrats found out about Foley recently, much more recent than the Republicans (and by that I mean the Republicans had a couple year head start to do damage control) and they waited a little bit to do maximum damage to the GOP during November elections. What is ridiculous about this condemnation is that everyone, and I mean EVERYONE, slings the mud and digs up the dirt during election time. Why is it that when the Republicans do it, it is strategy, and when the Democrats do it it is moral depravity? Could the "swiftboat veterans" have attacked John Kerry earlier so as to not disrupt a PRESIDENTIAL election? Couldn't the GOP have waited until after the 2000 election to have called President Clinton out on his affair with Lewinsky, so as to not use moral bankruptcy and family values and Clinton as a weapon against Gore? Could Democrats have waited until... two decades from now to break out the big guns against Jack Abramoff? Democratic and Republican strategists exist to use every bit of news, scandal, and their opponents missteps or fabricated missteps to boost the chances of winning for their candidate.

That is how Washington works. I think the "OMG it's outrageous that you would expose this time bomb now" mentality is coming out of the woodwork because nobody expected the Democrats to grow a backbone, adopt Republican strategies and come out swinging.

Ideally campaigns should be about issues and not dirty laundry. That is something I will explore in my next post, right after I bake my pizza.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Trading respect for a few minutes in the sun.

Dear Chris Kulawik,

You just went on Bill O'Reilly and sold your fellow students out. When asked if you thought that the failure of communication that occurred during the Gilchrist speech was the norm, you flatly said it was. In fact you stated that you believed that Avi Zenilman was being extremely irresponsible when he said that what occurred was largely an isolated incident.

Anyone who has gone to Columbia will be able to tell you that the events that transpired during the Gilchrist event are not indicative of the larger population of Columbia. For you to even espouse that sort of nonsense is to me, offensive and irresponsible.

You brought up the racial remarks assailed at a minority student that served in the military. Once again, I seem to recall the three students were members of the ISO; even then that incident involved three students.

The homophobic/anti-Semitic graffiti; again, two students.

At worst we have a handful of bad eggs and a basket full of some of the world's most brilliant minds, yet it has become your prerogative to tarnish the reputation of the University. Yes, we all know that University administrators have had a slow response to these allegations and issues and that is regrettable, but this is completely irrelevant to the 23,000 students that are not part of a Kool-aid drinking, "fascist-liberal-anarchist" minority that is supposedly being indoctrinated by university professors. We were not the perpetrators of hate and the free flowing dialogue between disparate ideologies has in my experience been the norm. For you to make such a blanket statement to the world about Columbia University was irresponsible. Were you being disingenuous so as to not incur the wrath of FOX commentators I would understand somewhat, and if you do truly believe that disruptive protest is the norm, it is my opinion that you are by all accounts incorrect.

When asked about the motivation for bringing Gilchrist to Columbia you responded that you wanted to give the student body the opportunity to listen and respond to different views. Surely, you and I agree that hijacking the stage was poor decision making, but I question if you are able to understand that the content of what Gilchrist and Stewart were speaking of (or planning to speak on) was such an abominable position to the protestors that it was obvious that there was no room for debate and that very few wanted to hear what he had to say. You yourself have openly criticized the university for their choices of invited speakers saying that you are outraged by the extension of an invitation and that allowing them to speak gives such speakers more legitimacy; that has been your position for Qaddafi, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, etc. So perhaps you might identify with the outrage that protestors felt at the invitation of Gilchrist that you (and most people felt) at the invitation of the aforementioned. In those cases I think you, me, almost everyone, that their beliefs and actions are so offensive to a group of people that we would not give their point of view 2-seconds of rational discourse and would express our outrage given the opportunity. That is exactly what happened at the Gilchrist event. When presented with a speaker that is so far from what students believe as having a legitimate voice and is so intimately tied to who they are as individuals, there is no listening and only responding. The difference however is that with Gilchrist, things got out of hand and the students pursued a means of expression that is regrettable. Isolated incident that got out of hand; not a widespread assault of free speech.

I’d like to remind you of the 2003 Iraq War protests that occurred on Lowe Steps. There was a protest and a protest against the protest (in usual Columbia form). There was a exchange of passionate ideas and beliefs and there was no incident, nobody’s voice was silenced.

I’d like to remind you of the 2006 Columbia College graduation commencement protest against Senator John McCain. Again, a peaceful protest, during which a fairly successful campus and internet discussion arose. The discussion pages were RIDDLED with ad hominem attacks against protestors, I will give you examples:

Kate Mahoney,

Oh Kate, you also come from a spoiled upbringing. You also got indoctrinated in the ways of elite. And to make yourself feel good you oppress others with your intolerance of other ideas. but keep up the work, because of people like you the voice of liberals is subdued and you hate is evident.. \Shame on you... Hater
Bob Kerry (CC '06)

Laura Cordetti,

You come from wealthy family. You are pampered and have no idea what the real world is like. Ive got an idea, give up all your money and get a 60 hour a week job. But please stop preaching you spoiled BRAT who has nothing better to do...
-- Laur is spoiled rich girl (CC '06)
Kim Sue,

Please dont "enter the world". Please spare us your agenda on hate.. You hate all who disagree with you. You hate all who speak up for what they believe but you dont.... KIM SUE YOU ARE A HATER
Laura Cordetti - GET A LIFE and get a job too. You poor thing!
-- Tom (Contributor)

This is surely not the intellectual discourse that you were hoping to observe at Columbia, and it raises the point that “liberal jihadists” are not the only ones guilty of vitriol nor are non-liberals not free/afraid to speak their minds.

Chris, I believe you owe your fellow students an apology for publicly lambasting them and your university to the entire nation. While Bill O’Reilly and Sean Hannity exploded with vast generalizations and slander against the student body of Columbia, you did not speak up and defend us. You sat there, nodding your head in agreement, ignoring the high quality of education that Columbia University has provided you with. You wondered why there have been so many negative attacks against you online and behind your back; it is because you’ve failed to come to the defense of your university and your peers.

Yours truly,
Stephen Wang ’06.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Power of Misrepresenting the Truth

Last night, the Columbia University College Republicans invited Marvin Stewart and Jim Gilchrist of the Minuteman Project to speak about the state of illegal immigration. This group describes itself as a citizens organization that takes border patrol between Mexico into their own hands. Marvin Stewart was antagonizing the crowd and the crowd shouted back, Gilchrist was not even able to get through a full 10 minutes as protestors leaped on stage and held posters reading "No one is illegal". Columbia students shouted that Gilchrist and Stewart were racists, that they actively recruited white supremacist, that Stewart was an African American sellout, etc.

Stewart went on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight and claimed that the crowd called him "the N-word". I find it hard to believe that Columbia students would be so stupid to call him anything of the sort while they were protesting against racism that they believe the Minuteman Project to be associated with. Stewart went on to claim that he was "informed that the Arabic on the posters denied the Holocaust". While watching this, my jaw dropped, as it is ridiculous and outrageous to throw such an accusation on the podium of discourse. The Arabic on the poster said "no one is illegal", it was written in English, in Spanish, and in Arabic. I even bothered to go match a video capture of the poster with the Arabic translation, and it is pretty obvious that any claims about Holocaust denial is a complete fabrication. When one is in the spotlight of prime time cable TV, on a show that tips the moral high ground to Republican viewpoints, perhaps it is easy to exaggerate/misrepresent the truth just to add more fuel to the fire.

Stewart did not deserve the out of control display from the crowd, but it just adds more legitimacy to the criticisms of Stewart when he fabricates racial epithets thrown at him and imaginary posters about the Holocaust. Chris Kulawik of the College Republicans as well as the out of control crowd has tarnished Columbia University's reputation as it is pretty obvious that we are not going to hear the end of this from right wing news organizations and blogs for a long time. Stewart's claims will be taken as fact as nobody of influence is going to confront him on this issue. I blame Chris because he has taken no steps to protect the reputation of his University and peers when they are slandered by right wing media (only cares to stir up controversy and throw fuel on the fire), and the crowd because... I think that part is obvious.

edit: I've been informed by commenter RonL, who was there last night, that Stewart was called a "House N-----" and an Uncle Tom. That's unfortunate although I don't think it was meant to be so much racist but to call him a sell out to the black community. Then again I don't know what "house n-----" means. Still, as Columbia students we should have known better.

edit2: the commentor RonL is Ron Lewenberg, Vice President of New Yorkers for Immigration and Customs Enforcement and former leader of the Columbia College Conservative Club. I am informed that he, along with Marvin Stewart, were the only or of the few that heard any sort of racial epithets. Once again, the media has made it out to seem like the crowd was racist where as it was a few individuals hurling the N-bomb to point out what they saw as the hypocrisy of Stewart's participation. Columbia University is one of the best universities in the entire world and it is slanderous for journalists, news commentators, bloggers, etc. to transpose the actions of a few to the University, its faculty, and the entire student body. I think someone is mad that they didn't get admission.

edit3: for a video of a Minuteman kicking a student forcefully in the side, . I did not see any violent protestors but I did see a female student get dragged off stage, a minuteman wrestle and drop a male student to the floor, a Minuteman have a really aggressive tug of war on a banner, and another minuteman brutally kick a student in his side as he was walking past the front of the stage (not trying to jump onto it mind you). I am not an apologist for the protestors rushing the stage, however, the Minutemen's disproportionate use of force is obviously ridiculous. Students holdin

GOP is the Guilt of Persona

In 2004 there was a minor hubbub concerning the Florida Senate seat being vacated by the retiring Senator Bob Graham. Mark Foley was THE candidate for the Senate however he dropped his bid early on, the 2004 elections were over, and Mel Martinez was the victor.

The hubub was not so much over Foley's political views (which by the way are more moderate than your modern day Santorum morality slinging neo-conservative), but over his sexuality. Florida newspapers badgered him with questions, he blamed the democrats for directing this against him, but in the end he responded that the sexuality inquiries were "revolting and unforgivable". I would not go so far as to say they are revolting, but the essence of what he was trying to say was well intentioned; his sexuality should have no effect on his ability to be a public servant. If anything his sexuality may have given a more intimate, well informed view of the needs of his constituents as he had been a long time advocate of LGBT issues.

In the era of Karl Rove, your moral compass no longer matters. One of Foley's main competitors in the 2004 Senate race was Mel Martinez who would eventually be groomed by Rove and win the seat. If you followed Martinez history you would see him as the type of rags to riches story that the GOP loves to peddle off as a success of trickle down economics. Sent to America from Cuba by his parents, he rose to become the Mayor of Orlando and a prominent trial lawyer especially active against tort reform.

If you want to win, you have to sell your soul, your message becomes a message pre-concocted in a formula that is nearly guaranteed to win as long as you follow the play book. It is a strategy sans morality and all about getting the prize. Martinez was chosen for his background and his story, after which everything was abandoned and Mel became a mouth-piece for a no-fail strategy. Martinez called his competition out, his campaigned rallied against Bill McCollum, labeling him "the new darling of the homosexual extremists." for supporting a bill against hate crimes.

When you wake up in the morning and you have said these things or sanctioned them, how do you look yourself in the mirror and live with yourself? In the end the St. Petersburg times newspaper withdrew their support for him, Bill McCollum looked like he was going to strangle someone during their debate, and Jeb Bush had to shake his head in disgust and tell Martinez to stop. Martinez blamed the anti-homosexual flyers on his staff, and one chief staffer blamed it on a junior staffer. As you would expect, nobody knows who was fired and nobody was willing to be held accountable. What is surprising... but also not very surprising at the same time, is that two prominent members of Martinez's staff at the time were gay. As with everything, the gay bashing was a one man operation that everyone can claim to be unaware of, no one took a stand, not even those that it affected the most and in the closest proximity.

Perhaps times change and so do people. As we return to Mark Foley, the once pro-gay rights congressman, we notice that Foley voted for (and passed) legislation allowing faith-based groups to throw anti-discrimination laws out the window. Foley was lucky at the time that Katherine Harris (who proudly states our constitution is directly based on the 10 Commandments) and Rick Santorum (who equated that homosexual acts between consenting adults is on par with bestiality, bigamy, adultery, and incest) are not in control of the US Government as they would most likely label it as a faith-based group and outlaw homosexuals from it.

That brings us to the Mark Foley of October 2006. The Mark Foley who is about to be under investigation for pedophilia, wrote lewd emails to congressional pages and had cyber sex with them at times before congressional votes; the Mark Foley who is the shame of his party and of his peers. I honestly feel bad for former congressman Foley. Here was a man that liked young boys, while ironically being a champion for the drive against child pornography and child exploitation. His whole world has fallen apart. While in typical fashion the apology given was not for his misdeeds but other things. His lawyer lets us know that he has checked himself into rehabilitation, was abused by a clergyman, and is a gay man.

While Foley was right when he said that his sexual orientation should not affect his ability to serve our nation, he is very much in the wrong in moving the conversation from what is wrong with him to what is wrong with the world around him. He is doing a disservice to the gay population at large by outing himself alongside a string of apologies. We are left with the impression, not that he was a pedophile, but that regardless of politics, gays are a danger to our impressionable children. This was not the message that should have been sent to the world, he's done everyone a disservice.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Joementum Sputters

The voters of Connecticut chose Ned Lamont to represent them in the Senate race of 2006. Despite years of service to the state, voters felt that the cozy relationship between Lieberman and the Bush administration was not what they were looking for. Again, like his Presidential candidacy, he came up short, tied for last place. All he really needs is some Joementum, right? Now he feels that his fellow politicians spited him by supporting Lamont after Lamont won the nomination.

"I'm talking specifically about Chris Dodd, Al Gore, Ted Kennedy, people like that, none of whom are supporting your campaign," Simon asked. "How do you feel about that? And will you be able to forgive them?

"Oh, I'll forgive them. I probably won't forget, to tell you the truth," Lieberman replied. "And, you know, this is politics. And it's been disappointing."

I don't quite understand why Lieberman says he won't forget, as if he was screwed by Dodd, Gore, Kennedy, the Democratic party. He lost, people don't support a loser. It is curious why Lieberman didn't petition to remain the democratic candidate for president when Kerry won after coming in a unrespectable tie for fourth place. Let it go Joe, let democracy continue without impediment.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Wasting Time

For your typical off the shelf political conservative, there are a number of issues that really get their heart rate up and make them red in the face. Some of them are obvious, abortion, the “vast left wing media conspiracy”, national defense; others are not as prominent but continue to have a vocal backing that will make your head spin if you even begin to argue to the contrary. We have such an issue in global warming.

Why are members of the conservative movement so adamant that global warming does not exist? When I have written about global warming in the past, amongst the negative replies there is a common theme, the costs we would incur pursuing an imaginary specter are wasteful. Such environmental causes are said to be political scare tactics to drum up support for the base during election years and the factual basis of events like global warming are proclaimed by these online experts as being non-existent. As there are a number of issues that we can safely say are conservatives’ bread and butter issues, similarly there are groups of people and their causes that result in a knee jerk reaction. Conservative claims that global warming warnings are counter-factual seems to me to be a result of not an analysis of fact, but a reaction to environmentalism. No doubt there are many conservatives that are interested in the preservation of the environment, but there is no doubt that the large part of American legislation that is decidedly not pro-environment has been a product of the Bush administration. Perhaps when I pigeon hole global warming as a conservative hot button topic, I should clarify it as a conservative, Bush administration supporter topic. It is telling that even magazines like Field and Stream, have published an increasing number of editorials critical of the Bush administration’s environmental policy. It is difficult to avoid cringing at the environmental record, especially when the President attempts to end the Clean Water Act and touts a net wetland loss of zero (a 523,000 acre loss of natural wetland is offset by golf course water hazards).

“Rod and gun in hand, and backing the Second Amendment right to own firearms, President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney have won the hearts of America’s sportsmen. Yet the two men have failed to protect outdoor sports on the nation’s public lands.”- October 2003

College Republican leaders such as Columbia University’s Chris Kulawik note that global warming is “a great debate for our generation”; a debate that once it finally begins may be too late. My sort of thinking is often dismissed as “alarmist”, but when one is confronted by fact it is hard to react like former Vice-President Gore and demand immediate change. Fact however is a funny thing; while fact exists, it can be interpreted to serve either side of the argument. Since the 19th century, the earth has experienced a 0.6º C increase (a little over 1º F). This amount may seem inconsequential, but as you can observe in the environment around you, there have been profound effects including an exponential decrease in glacial thickness, increased droughts in Africa, and increases in natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. Critics are quick to point out that our current temperature increase is part of a natural cycle of heating and cooling. However the point that they fail to miss is that, although they are correct in saying that historically earth has experienced a cyclical hundred thousand year period of rising and falling temperature, that data was based on a static amount of CO2 that varied between 200 and 270 ppmv during the low and high temperature variation periods, respectively.

We are not living in a time when we can use prehistoric carbon dioxide levels to predict climate change for we are not living in the same conditions. Since the Industrial Revolution we have been steadily increasing our CO2 output to the point where we stand at ~ 370 ppmv which is a 137% increase. Do we have data that we can rely on that will predict climate change with such an increase in CO2? Unfortunately we do not.

Earth’s orbit is not circular but elliptical. The eccentricity of orbit causes a variation of the sunlight that reaches earth; this event known as Milankovitch Cycles has a period of about 100,000 years. This seems to match up very well with the earth’s heating and cooling cycles. As we will undoubtedly encounter another cold period, where presumably the glaciers will begin to reform, the burning questions exist in the immediacy of now. Glacial observations have shown us that every year our glaciers are melting and breaking off at a rate far greater than we had predicted; large chunks of Greenland have disappeared and Antarctica is showing similar behavior. It is indisputable that glacial melting will create an increase in the amount of water in our oceans as well as a change in the composition of it (fresh water vs. salt water). The effects of increased freshwater is hypothetical as of now, but the predicted effects are not for the best.

Human beings are quite obviously the cause of carbon dioxide increases and we are quite obviously experiencing increases in temperature. It is irrelevant that temperature change and climate are affected by Milankovitch Cycles, as the earth will operate on its own scale of time. Earth will eventually cool itself as its orbit pushes it farther from the sun, but that cooling period is hundreds if not thousands of years in the distance. However earth is currently heating up and our topography is being radically altered. If Hurricane Katrina showed us anything, it was that we need to be prepared for the worst. Without a global effort, one that includes the United States, advancements in technology and society will continue to drive the demand for fossil fuels; CO2 output will continue to increase, temperatures will continue to increase. While one degree Fahrenheit seems insignificant, one degree could dictate whether a glacier stays frozen or melts into the ocean.

Refusal to take action now jeopardizes the human race. There is no reason why we should not take preventative measures to ensure that global warming does not become the reality that Al Gore’s Inconvenient Truth foresees. In another ten thousand years the earth will return to normalcy, who will be the one accountable for allowing the human population to be engulfed by a statistical deviation in temperature?

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


I parked my car in our dusty unpaved school parking lot and walked through the field to pre-calculus. After I stepped into the door of my first period class and sat down, none of us moved for the rest of the day. I sat on the floor for the next three, it seemed like forever, hours; unable to look away from the television. Nobody could have imagined planes colliding with the World Trade Center towers, the horror of desperate men and women hurling themselves out of windows hoping for a miracle or a quicker means to an inevitable finale. Even then it hadn't sunk in that that day would be a day I would remember forever.

Earlier in my highschool career we were tasked with writing a history essay employing only primary sources. I had interviewed one of my mom's co-workers who recounted to me living through World War II and the fear they had felt as his family had gathered around the tv watching and waiting as President Kennedy navigated the Bay of Pigs invasion. I didn't occur to me until a few years ago that those were defining moments in history, events that shaped modern society, events that a generation had the tragic privilege of living through. At this point, I think there are very few people who do not have a story about where they were on September 11th, 2001. It is not because the Bush administration repeats that that was the date where his outlook on the presidency changed, admonishes those who haven't "adjusted to a new paradigm of the world", but simply because it was a national tragedy that reached everyone's heart from the left coast to the Atlantic.

That following year I made the decision to accept my enrollment to Columbia University in New York City. At our commencement address only four months ago, President Bollinger said of our enrollment decision as being, "difficult not just because picking a college is a big decision, but for a far more momentous reason: you were among the first group of college students to arrive in New York after September 11. Your choice, in the aftermath of the attacks, must have seemed risky. But in choosing this city, at a time of such upheaval, you sent a very clear message. You said, in effect, "I want my education to be in and of the world."

In a way it was terrifying to be away from home in the most important city in the world. It was a city that was known for indifference to its inhabitants, a city where everyone could be somebody and everyone could be nobody; it was a city in which I knew no one (I do believe now that New Yorkers are amongst the best people I have ever met in my life, in no way deserving the cold reputation that they are attributed with). At the end of my stay at Columbia, I left with a sense that there is much to be done in the world and many injustices to be fought against. I had my eyes opened to the best that the world had to offer and the very worst that is at times present in the best. September 11, 2001 did not fundamentally change me as a person, I had no shining light moment telling me to live each day like my last or to dedicate myself to humanitarian causes, or even that the Apocalypse was approaching. It did hasten my realization that we as inhabitants of this planet can do much better and that accountability always comes full circle.

"When we look at the modern man we have to face the fact that the modern man suffers from a kind of poverty of the spirit, which stands in glaring contrast to his scientific and technological abundance, we have learned to fly the air like birds, we have learned to swim the seas like fish, and yet we have not learned to walk the earth as brothers and sisters." - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Path to 9/11

Tonight ABC began it's 2-part mini series looking back at 9/11, bringing viewers "behind closed doors at the CIA, the FBI and the White House and into the world of Richard Clarke, Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Sandy Berger and CIA Director Richard Tenet". This is however not a documentary and has been filed under "docu-drama". "Docu-drama" apparently is another termed used to describe a historically based film where the writer and producers were able to take liberties fabricating history.

Now "The Path to 9/11" is advertised as having Governor Thomas Kean, Chairman of the 9/11 Commission, as the senior consultant. One would expect that such a film would be honest and try to represent the facts as clearly and undistorted as possible; writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, even said that he was trying to preserve the tone of the 9/11 Commission's report. What then do Governor Kean and Nowrasteh know that the rest of us do not? ABC's series frames the path to 9/11 as centering around the failings on the Clinton administration, claiming that the administration and intelligence agencies had numerous opportunities to capture/kill Osama Bin Laden but failed to do so for reasons of politics and logistics.

The Clinton administration did not have superior intelligence agencies to that which was on hand for President George W. Bush, the problems existing with inter-agency communication was then as much of a problem as it is now, but to frame the blame on President Clinton, Madeleine Albright, and Sandy Berger is ridiculous. By not labeling the series as a documentary, they are able to get away with a lot while still delivering a powerful message to the American public. There is and never has been any evidence that our military, covert agents, etc. were ever in a position to get Bin Laden. "CIA agents weren't on the ground, they weren't with Massoud, nobody had bin Laden in their grasp, and Berger never refused to give the order to get the guy."

The outrage over this film is extremely vocal. Inaccuracies from this film are tantamount to libel, it is outrageous how much blame is placed upon Berger and Albright. It is one thing if it was historically accurate, it is another to fabricate it for dramatic effect; however this is not just for dramatic effect as hesitation on Clinton's national security team's part is the crux of the plot.

Many have spoken out, including Albright and Berger, 9/11 Commissioner Richard Ben Veniste (Chief of Watergate Task Force), a slew of top university historians, friends of agent John O'Neill, the FBI agents who left their advisory positions on the series citing gross inaccuracies and unwillingness of the producers to alter the script, a lot of conservative pundits including (suprisingly) Chris Wallace and Bill O'Reilly. What do Keane and Nowrasteh know that everyone else does not?

This film is particularly outrageous because of the position that 9/11 holds in the American psyche. Many events are still unclear and many widows, friends and family are still seeking closure and for ABC to air a "docu-drama" that is riddled with inaccuracy is hurtful to everyone. It is entirely possible that this film be taken as a factual reference point that serves as the majority of America's recollection of the September 11, 2001. For that reason it should have been important to the producers, writer, and ABC that historical accuracy be well maintained and that fictional dramatic liberty be held to areas of the inconsequential. However, it is not surprising that this has occurred as writer, Cyrus Nowrasteh, was a member of the panel: "How Conservatives Can Lead Hollywood'’s Next Paradigm Shift". I hope America pays attention and does not let the wool cover their eyes to what is the truth and what is not.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

uh oh!

That's just great, hurricane heading right for me. Duck and cover!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

rethinking the paradigm?,,1854305,00.html company Steorn claims they have developed a method of using the interaction between magnets to produce energy. This energy is "free and unlimited", a statement that flies in the face of accepted modern physics. Could it be that we are violating conservation of energy or are we using a fundamentally flawed paradigm about energy creation? Perhaps we aren't creating energy out of thin air but rather converting energy from one form to another by means of a perfectly efficient transfer method.

Steorn has challenged academics to verify their findings and well... if no flaw is found we could be living in a drastically different world. This is beyond an energy dependence problem where the US and China are consuming increasingly huge amounts of energy, this could change the balance of international wealth. I can see the countries that stand to lose from a discovery like this is those middle eastern economies that are entirely oil dependent. Middle eastern nations like Saudi Arabia have long been warned that their dependence on oil exports was a flawed policy, one that would doom them when their oil reserves ran dry. Oil reserves running out is a outcome that can be prepared for, a change in sources of energy could render their presence obsolete. Can you imagine the social unrest caused by rapid economic change? Terrifying.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Israel Overkill

WWII suicide bombers and modern day Arab suicide bombers are worlds apart. What sets them apart is that Arab terrorists have been successful and they have a community that believes they are making a noble sacrifice. I don't think you're going to see any extremist Muslim deciding that his/her suicide bombing is ineffective; every life they take is supposed to be some sort of statement to the world that they will attempt to win at any cost.

While I'm sure members of the IDF and Israel are not proud of killing civilians and mourn to some degree, I have to think that most take the stance that you do (edit: this was a blog comment response to Matt Rutta), that it is an accident when civilians are killed but that is a by-product of war.

What troubles me is that it really isn't an accident. Israel knows full well that the areas that they bomb are heavily populated and that the civilian death toll will be high. Yes, Hezbollah does use "human shields" if you mean attacking from public spaces and they are endangering their own people. However, Israel being the obviously stronger party in the mix might take care to notice that their campaign against Hezbollah has resulted in the deaths of about 50 Hezbollah guerrillas, ~ 20 Lebanese soldiers, and 700+ and growing civilian deaths.

At this point calling this an accident is becoming a joke, regardless of how Hezbollah chooses to wage war; Israel is supposed to be better than this. Carpet bombings leveling entire towns and the use of white phosphorous is overkill. At this point if you can justify the staggering accidental deaths of civilians as a unfortunate product of war and the leveling of cities because guerrillas are launching rockets from the centers of towns, you might as well completely destroy Lebanon if that is your mentality. From their justification, what is sparing anyone in Lebanon? Guilty by geographic proximity.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

i was used!

My job has been great, keeps me mentally stimulated, exciting to work on new products, and best of all the people are really friendly.

I am always a great judge of character, I should have known there was something wrong when I first met one of my co-workers. I had originally gone out to lunch with him back when I was "the new guy". He had all sorts of life advice for me; own your own business, make residual income, maybe use my Columbia education to write a book about how I've been "successful" through my life, and he leveraged it with his worry about his own job. It is true that Motorola has laid-off a number of people in the past few years and job security is not what it used to be. I completely felt bad for him, late 40s, wife, kids, what do you do if you lose your job? Can you uproot them to find a new one?

Yesterday he had arranged a lunch meeting with me for this afternoon, I should have noticed when he was trying to be secretive about it, but I thought he just wanted to impart more life advice on me. I went home and I was worried that he was trying to steal company secrets and I would have to report him and I was even paranoid that he was desperate enough to kidnap me. My other co-worker brought up a good point today, who would kidnap me? I couldn't even be sold as some sort of exotic sex worker. You don't kidnap asian males to be sex workers, let's be honest.

So today I was worried. I pushed it out of my head and figured he just wanted to sit down and have lunch and talk about life. That's when all the cards fell. Lunch location: Denny's. The second I stepped in, I met another employee that was recruited for the same purpose as me and I was faced with our recruiter and his business partner. No conflict on interest, it was nonetheless stupid. He had brought me there to have him and his partner give me a presentation on "distributed networking" or you may know it as "multi-level marketing" for a vitamin company. Apparently Forbes named them the #3 small business last year and have been rather successful. However successful, it was obvious that it was just a corporate-ized pyramid scheme.

I'm no idiot and honestly, I felt my intelligence was insulted. I know when people are setting up a story and dropping words and details they want me to hear.

"Hi, good to see you, I just got back from a resort vacation with my kids".

"Be ambitious, do you want to continue working in a traditional linear system where you get paid little for your work or do you want to want to make money on your effort and the effort of your peers"

"This 3rd party analyst who wrote this book so and so said that this industry is poised to make trillions by 2010"

"What are you passionate about? I'm passionate about world health, curing AIDS, affordable healthcare, but i'm also passionate about Maybachs, Cartier, and money".

"You can make $50,000 every week, I'm 42 and retired".

I'm sure, that lucky 2% of people, and those people who got in early are making a lot of money. I'm not so jaded to think that I can come in, with the little time that I do have after work and make a fortune on the side. I told them, "do you see how long it's been and I am unconvinced about your business model, your product, your approach to marketing and your pitch, how exactly do you expect me to make this pitch to my friends?; the money is getting people to believe you."

Usana vitamins and skincare products, not worth my time. I am just angry because not only did he waste my time when I could have been eating lunch (I didn't eat lunch today!@!&^&^%!) when he had told me I was there for a different reason, he tried to get me in on his sob story of life unfulfilled to give him an in to recruiting me for this. To top it off, I told my friends at work what happened and apparently he had done it before, albeit with a different approach. Completely innapropriate for the work environment. Desperation makes people dicks.

Friday, August 04, 2006

back and forth with zionism part 3

anonymous @ Yeshiva:

In any case, with all due respect, I think you need to check your facts. Nearly a million Sephardic Jews were kicked out of Arab lands in 1948 -- their assets, worth billions of dollars were stolen from them by these Arab countries. This was not "10,000 per year" immigrating to Israel on their own volition -- it was mass expulsion of Jews from Arab countries. The reason you don't hear about this so much today is that Israel almost immediately absorbed all of these people into the country (though they were treated very poorly by the Ashkenazi Jews in Israel at the time). In contrast, about 600,000 Arabs left or fled Israel in 1948. The reason I say left or fled is that while some were in fact kicked out of their homes, many of them left on their own volition, prompted by their leaders who told them they would return in triumphant victory once the Jews were annihilated (Azzam Pasham, head of the Arab League at the time, compared what the Arabs intended to do to the Jews to the the Mongol massacres.) All of this is documented so you don't have to take my word for it.

Also in contrast to the Sephardic Jews, the Palestinian Arabs were not absorbed into any of the Arabs' 22 countries and have been kept as "refugees" by these countries, with the help of UNRWA of course, for all these years. These people are being used as pawns in the Arabs' struggle to destroy the Jewish state. It is a political and PR tactic that thus far has been working quite effectively. This is unfortunate both for Israel and for these Palestinian Arabs.

"Palestine" was recognized as the Jewish homeland for thousands of years by the entire world, even when the Jews did not control it. Except for the short-lived Crusader kingdoms, only the Jews had a nation in Palestine (on both sides of the Jordan River). These areas were conquered by others, but always they were part of larger empires. For example, under the Ottoman Turkish Empire (from 1517 to 1917), Samaria and Gaza were Districts and Judea was a Sub-District of the Empire.

In any case, the Palestinian Arabs were not an indigenous nation. They have no legal claim to the land. On the other hand, the Jewish people's historical claim to the land was recognized and affirmed by international law in the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. In short, it was never "their(the Arabs'_ country," as you claimed in your argument. International law provided for the reestablishment of the "Jewish national home" in Palestine (all of Palestine, on both sides of the Jordan River). However, the British in 1922 "suspended or withheld" the Jewish right to settle and set up their national home in Eastern Palestine -- 78% of the land that was supposed to be the Jewish national home. In 1946, the British flat out lied to the UN, claiming this land was under a separate mandate (which it was not), and thereby established the Kingdom of Jordan -- which is a Palestinian Arab state. The Jewish people were left with only 22% of Palestine, and even that the Arabs want to shrink further (Israel is roughly the size of the state of New Jersey, just to put things into perspective. The Arab countries are over 500 times Israel's size and they want Israel to cede more territory which legally belongs to it).

The claims that this is a conflict about Palestinian Arab statehood are completely bogus. The Palestinian Arabs were offered another state in 1937, in 1947, in 1999, in 2000, etc. Each time they turned it down and renewed their attacks on Israel because they simply want the Jewish state wiped out (Hamas and the PLO says this outright in their charters btw). The attacks against Jews did not start in 1948 -- Arabs massacred Jews throughout the 1920s and 1930s in Palestine (e.g. the Hebron massacre in 1929). I guess it must have been because of the "occupied territories" that Israel liberated in 1967. And the war of annihilation in 1948 and the creation of the PLO (dedicated to armed struggle to liquidate the Jews) in 1964 -- all that was because of the lands Israel won in 1967 right? The fact of the matter is, if the Arabs had not started the wars to annihilate Israel, no Arabs would have been kicked out of the land.

As for Zionism harming the livelihood of the Palestinian Arabs, in fact the exact opposite is true. With increased Jewish immigration, the land which was previously a barren, desolate wasteland, began to thrive. Living standards of Arabs living in these areas rose substantially with Jewish immigration, and in fact, many of these Arabs actually only moved there for this very reason in the decades immediately preceding the establishment of the Jewish state.

I'm not really sure what point you were trying to make with the Golda Meir quote -- I believe the quote you gave just reiterates what I said before. The Palestinian Arabs were part of the Arab nation, or part of Syria (at least according to all their leaders from the early 1900's until about 1967), not a distinct nation. Golda Meir was merely stating a fact. There was no such people. Most of the Arabs living in Western Palestine when Israel was created left on their own accord, as I said before. Some were displaced, as happens in pretty much every war. Others chose to stay and when Israel was established, they were offered full citizenship in the country. Those who accepted it did in fact become full citizens with full voting rights in the new democratic state that was established. Today, Arabs serve in high position in the Israeli judiciary and government. Ten Arabs currently serve in the Israeli Knesset (Parliament).

I have not even touched upon the religious claims the Jewish people have to the Land of Israel -- I am an Orthodox Jew and believe in them fully. Needless to say they are well-known and do not need to be restated here. If you do not believe in the Bible or Torah, then my other arguments based on history and international law should suffice to establish the Jewish claim to the land. But yes, if you are so bold as to presume to know what Judaism has to say on something, you damn well better have studied Judaism. Hence my question which yeshiva you studied at. Judging by your non-response, I take it the answer is that you have not studied in a yeshiva at all-- it therefore demonstrates profound chutzpah on your part to tell us all what Judaism says. I for one have been studying Judaism my whole life (since it is such an integral part of my life), so when I venture to speak in the name of Judaism, I am prepared to back up my claims. It is a free country and you can comment on whatever you like, but my advice is stick to commenting on issues you know something about.

The Palestinian Arabs are people, though the majority of them support terrorist animals like Hamas and the PLO, (who are, incidentally, the ones who dehumanize and embrace the death of their "opposition."). They are not however, entitled to a state in Western Palestine in any way -- historically or legally. Furthermore, at this point in time, giving them a state next to Israel would only create another existential threat to the Jewish state (as evidenced by their election of Hamas, their mass smuggling of weapons, their inciteful media propaganda, etc.) by creating a terrorist state on Israel's border. So the point would be moot even if you were to claim that since 1967 a new nation was suddenly created.

My response:

You are right, I did not study at a yeshiva. Suprise suprise. I ask you though, being an Orthodox Jew, does the Talmud not say that a Jewish state may not exist through human means until the coming of the Moshiach? Did Israel not gain recognition through much blood shed and terrorism and has the Moshiach arrived? Feel free to enlighten me.

History is meaningless without any context, so it is best that we frame it in what was happening at the time. The 1900s and even earlier had strong sentiments of anti-semitism and the jews were forced by the Spanish, Portuguese, French, etc. from their countries and Arab nations took in many refugees. Let's not pretend like Jews were treated fairly in the Arab countries, they lived in ghettos, but at the time, at least they had a place to live. Towards 1948 Jewish immigration had increased following the end of the war and the Jews were pushed out of the countries for 2 reasons.

1. Some Arab nationalist leaders were pro-Nazi and carried anti-semitic sentiment and wanted to get rid of the jews.

2. Increasing immigration into the Arab countries after the Jews were forced by anti-semitism in Europe caused increasing social instability between the Jews and the Arabs. This is not exactly unexpected, huge immigration is never met with open arms.

Palestinian Arabs were not hostile to initial Jewish immigration, BUT the Jews having no other recourse due to anti-semitism all fled to Palestine. Rapid immigration.

The Jewish expulsion was about 900,000 and is an aggregate of all Arab countries with jews residing with them. The number you gave of 600,000 is the Israeli gov't figure on Palestinians leaving the area that would become Israel. The UN marks that number at 700,000 and the Palestinians mark it at 900,000. Compensating that both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are trying to evoke sympathy for their cause, the numbers are not disimilar. Let's keep in mind that it was 900,000 Jews from Arab countries, and almost the same amount of Palestinians were forced from Israel (ONLY ISRAEL).

Your argument that Israel had a NATION and when Arabs controlled the land the disputed land was only a territory/district is a bit of semantics. The issue is not the governmental structure, it is the people who inhabited the land. I think you would find it hard to argue that during Ottoman rule, there was a large majority of Arabs residing in Palestine. It doesn't matter that there was no grand concept of nationhood by those residing in Arab Palestine, the Arabs lived there and layed their roots there. Such is my argument that Israel's claim to the land is no different from that of the Palestinians... historically that is.

I find it hard to believe your claim that while there was a civil war in Palestine in 1948 between the Jews and Arabs that the overwhelming majority (at least in the earlier years of Jewish immigration) just decided to get up and leave. It makes no logical sense why they would leave on their own accord. You simplify it to the point where it seems like people happily left, it is of record that most left Palestine because of forced expulsion or fear of further violence upon their families. Your argument is like saying that the Jews that fled Germany during the Nazi regime, left of their own accord under no threat. And what is emphasized in the Golda Meir quote is her advocacy of "throwing them out and taking their country", them being the Palestinians; this is Golda Meir describing the Jews entering Palestine and kicking the Palestinians out. What is difficult to understand about that quote? Others stayed in Israel, bc part of the Palestinian leadership urged them to stay. Other Palestinian leaders took credit for the leaving of Palestine as a way of saving face and pride from being forced out of a country that they had for years been the majority.

In another instance of your misreading my post or misunderstanding, I did not ask you if Zionism hurt the livelihood of Palestinian Arabs. Zionism led to mass immigration into Palestine, in fact just as you stated about the Palestinians, most Jews in the early 20th century did not want an Jewish state as they believed that that was not the path that Judaism had called for them. This is before the spread and popularism of Zionism. What I asked you was, since you legitimitely deny that there is a Palestinian state, if the popularism of a Palestinian national identity is a direct product of zionism and its pushing out of Arabs from the country they resided in. Did Zionism (Jewish national identity) not rise out of anti-semitism and their being pushed out of their homes? Do we not see the parallels?

From all of your study of Judaism and Israel, you still are able to paint a rosy picture of Israel and its fine moral grounding and label the British as liars and Israel as being cheated. Let us not forget that Israel's creation is grounded in the Zionist led immigration into Palestine leading to social unrest and the Arabs to start a war. Zionsim turned a majority's land into one that did not represent its culture, religion, and all disruption that a short period of radical social transformation leads to (100,000 Jews immigrated to Palestine in the 1920s ALONE). Israel with its larger numbers from immigration overwhelmed the Palestinian Arabs and despite whatever sunshiny emnigration you think happened, caused the Palestinians to lead en masse in fear of their lives and that of their families.

What was their to fear? Israel was won through force, military force and that of terrorism that it now screams foul at the Palestinians for. Zionist violence and terrorism of Irgun and Lehi are no historical mystery or unknown. They attacked the UN, they attacked the British, they attacked the Palestinians. Hundreds of Palestinian women and children were killed in their village by Irgun at the Deir Yassin massacre. To say that the British was unfair in their distribution of land is ironic.

No Israel is not entirely or in the majority at fault, but the untainted image of Israel that you try and present is not indicative of historical context and paints the Palestinians as wild inhumane misguided zealots. It is suprising as, at least for me, the examination of history increasingly leads to parallels between recent Palestinian nationalism and the Jews' 20th century pursuit of legitimacy and statehood. The Jews should understand the Palestinian dilemma better than anyone else, though most on this board continue to preach a one sided explanation of the middle east crisis.

I do not question the legitimacy of Israel, but I do point to Israel as the catalyst for the existence of Hamas and Hizbullah, however misguided those two organizations are in their tactics.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

back and forth with zionism part 2

my words from facebook thread w/ an undergraduate (who has asked me to remove his identity from this post) at Yeshiva's replies. Interesting conversation, but can you tell who is entirely one sided? I'll give you a guess, I don't think it's me.

Stephen Wang:
I support Israel's current campaign against Hezbollah, in so much as if Hezbollah (and Hamas for that matter) want to promote themselves as worthy governments that are supportive of their peoples they should not be participating in kidnapping and indiscriminant missile firing. Israel has no choice but to fight back and target Hezbollah, lest this struggle continue tit for tat.

However. I am disgusted by many of the views in this thread regarding the Palestinian people. Palestine and Israel, in their desires for legitimacy are not much different, it is wrong to lump all Palestinians into the same box and to label them as the problem. It doesn't seem like anybody wants to actually debate as witnessed by Ahmed's posted email. By the way, it is wrong to post a private message without the other parties explicity permission, I don't understand how you can rant about respect and such things while expressing none yourself.

Pro-Israel advocates like Jaclyn seem to forget... or not know Israeli history. Jaclyn equates the Palestinians as a group that enters your dorm, takes advantage of your hospitality and tries to take your room from you. This is clearly a over simplication and misleading metaphor. Ahmed tried to clarify to you, however you did not respond, probably because you did not care to.

Ahmed's reasoning concerned Israel's legitimacy and Palestinian's losing their land. To Jaclyn, this matters not because Israel's legitimacy is taken as a given. It is a shame when people do not know or care about actual facts and then touts their going to Oxford when they are 16 (who cares?).

The fact is this. Israel exists because of a chain of favorable events, nothing to do with Biblical prophecy or land ownership. Come to think of it, if you read the Bible, you will see that the Israelis were cast from Israel and there has been no signal that they are entitled to Israel at this time. The Ottoman's lost WWI and the Jewish immigration into the area increased (the Ottoman's allowed small numbers of settlers into the land known now as Palestine). After WWII the land was again divided by the British to the Jewish people after the Jewish terrorist groups attacked them and occupied the area. There was a resolution to give the land to the Jewish people and establish the state of Israel. Public sentiment after WWII was extremely favorable to the Jewish people (as it should have been) and bolstered their case for the creation of a Jewish state.

The Palestinians DID occupy those lands that are now Israel. Borders change in times of war and it is understandable. However the Palestinians were displaced following the creation of Israel and it is not difficult to see how they believe the land is/was theirs and should be taken back. Israelis should recognize this struggle as there was a time when there was no land for the Jewish people and they were people without a home.

It is sad that people like Jaclyn in her support for Israel must hate and identify anything other than her views as propaganda and lies. Hate was not something I learned at school.

anonymous @ Yeshiva:

Blah blah blah. Are you done yet? Allow me to sum up your little "mind-numbing" argument: Israel has no right to exist. Terrorism is justified.

That about it?

Now here's a key difference between Israel and the so-called "Palestinians" -- the majority of Israelis voted in left-wing parties (Labor, Kadimah) dedicated to giving away more land (and kicking more Jews out of their homes) for the prospect of peace. The so-called "Palestinians" voted in Hamas, the majority of them support kidnapping Israeli soldiers and firing missiles at Israel. I think that's a pretty huge difference.

Israel's right to exist is not up for debate. It exists and is not going anywhere. The Jews have returned to their homeland -- we not only have the historical and religious claim to the land, but we the legal right to western Palestine -- Israel -- as well (please see the Mandate for Palestine).

As for the so-called "Palestinian people," there is no such thing. It's about time we started calling a spade a spade here. They are Arabs, part of the Arab nation, living in what was once the geographical region called Palestine. Every Jordanian is a Palestinian Arab just as every Jewish Israeli is a Palestinian Jew. Until about 1967, there was no mention of any "Palestinian nation" -- most Palestinian Arabs rejected this idea, claiming it was an invention of the "Zionists" and that they were part of either Syria or the Arab nation. In fact, the Jews were known as "Palestinians" before that -- hence the Jerusalem Post was once called the "Palestine Post," and the Palestine Philharmonic Orchestra was created by the Zionist Jews.

There is no such thing as Palestine, inasmuch as it denotes a distinct nation or a sovereign state (which never existed). Palestine was the name given to the Jewish state by Roman Emperor Hadrian in 135 CE (after he crushed the Bar Kochva Revolt) in order to humiliate the Jews (he named it after the biblical enemies of the Jewish people -- the Plishtim, or Philistines). Just imagine, if Hadrian had not decided to rename Judea to Palestina, and on every map throughout the ages and throughout the various empires it said "Judea." Would we now be fighting the Judean terrorists?

To quote Golda Meir: "There is no such thing as a Palestinian Arab nation . . . Palestine is a name the Romans gave to Eretz Yisrael with the express purpose of infuriating the Jews . . . . Why should we use the spiteful name meant to humiliate us?

"The British chose to call the land they mandated Palestine, and the Arabs picked it up as their nation's supposed ancient name, though they couldn't even pronounce it correctly and turned it into Falastin a fictional entity."

So why the myth of a Palestinian people?

"The Palestinian people does not exist. The creation of a Palestinian state is only a means for continuing our struggle against the state of Israel for our Arab unity. In reality today there is no difference between Jordanians, Palestinians, Syrians and Lebanese. Only for political and tactical reasons do we speak today about the existence of a Palestinian people, since Arab national interests demand that we posit the existence of a distinct 'Palestinian people' to oppose Zionism."
--Zahir Muhsein, PLO executive committee member, in an interview with the Dutch newspaper Trouw, March 31, 1977 and Pakistan Today.


Stephen Wang <---- that's me!

You are absolutely ridiculous. It really bugs me when people formulate a summary in their heads about what they are reading without actually reading. I was not questioning Israel's legitimacy as a nation nor was I justifying terrorism. However you took it upon yourself to quote the zionist 'why palestine sucks' guidebook word for word and lump me into the anti-Israel crowd, that was big of you.

My point was that the land that everyone wants to be theres has changed hands repeatedly throughout history. As anglos were not the first to inhabit America, the jewish peoples were not the first to inhabit the area known as Palestine; it was the Philistines.

Let's not use the Old Testament as a proof of legitimacy; yes God said that he promised the land to the Israelites but it also said God himself would bring the Israelites out of their exile. What do you know, that hasn't happened yet. The religious foundations are best left alone. Zionism is an invention void of religious context, in fact it is founded in Theodore Herzl, who began Zionism as a path to escape anti-semitism.

Historical foundations are not much better. The land went from the Philistines to the Israelites to the Romans to the Muslims and Ottomans. Each group had boundaries established as well as a functioning ruler and governmental system. You are saying that Palestine has no right to exist because there is no such thing as a Palestinian in the way that there are Israelis. This is a game of semantics that you are playing though. Reduce the names to Arabs and the Israelites. Both historically had claim to the geographic region of Palestine and both lost it. It is only natural for both groups to take what they lost back. Israelites won the land from the Philistines the same way that the Arabs won the land from the Romans.

If there are no Palestinians there are no Israelis. We can refer to them as Arabs if you like, encompassing the Syrians, etc., just in the same way the Jewish people were scattered throughout the middle east and eastern europe. The Israelites did not originate in "palestine" any differently from Arabs that originated there. Do not mistaken biblical reference to "children of Israel" as that is a reference to Jacob. Jewish culture grew from its roots in Israel, is it no different that Arab culture reached its pinnacle of greatness from the same location.

Terrorism is terrible and woe unto those that use it, let's not forget though that at its root this is a struggle for reconquest of a land that was lost. Yes Hamas and Hezbollah engage in terrorist activities and they are wrong to do so. But because they engage in those activities does not subscribe their entire population to the same beliefs just because they were democratically elected. Those groups are the only ones that have demonstrated action on the humanitarian front for their people. And also let us not forget that it was the Muslims and the Arabs which allowed the Jewish peoples into their lands to take refuge as they were being persecuted by the Christians and the Romans.

anonymous @ Yeshiva:
I don't know what to correct first -- your gross distortion of history or of Judaism. I love it how you presume to tell us all what Judaism has to say on the issue of Eretz Yisrael. I was wondering, which yeshiva did you study at?

The "Zionist 'Why Palestine sucks' guidebook" huh? Where can I find me one of those? :)

The Philistines were not the original inhabitants of Israel. The Jews conquered the land from the Canaanites. The Philistines occupied 5 cities on the coast of the Jewish state. They have no connection to any Palestinian Arab, save for a similar name (thanks to the Romans and some clever PR by the Arab world after 1967)

In any case, the Jewish people's religious claims to the Land of Israel are very strong, and they do not need to be left out of any discussion. Zionism did not begin with Theodore Herzl. For over 2,000 years Jews have prayed thrice daily for the return to Zion. Since the destruction of our Temple we have yearned for its reconstruction. At every Passover Seder we say a small prayer "Next year in Jerusalem." Needless to say, if you think our claims to Eretz Yisrael started with the secular Zionist movement, you are sorely mistaken.

That said, many people are not religious, and will not accept the Jews' religious claims to the land. We of course have historical claims also -- our presence there predates any opposing claim, and the land of Palestine was always associated with the Jews throughout history, regardless of who controlled it. Other than a couple short-live kingdoms Crusader kingdoms, only the Jews had a nation in Palestine.

Furthermore, if you're not satisfied with the religious and historical claims, the Jews have a legal claim on the land. The League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, adopted in 1922, states that the Jewish people are to reconstitute their national home in Palestine.

There was never such thing as a "Palestinian nation," and the Palestinian Arabs are not entitled to another state in any way. The Arabs already have 22 states, including a Palestinian Arab one. Jordan is on 78% of the land which rightfully should have been part of the "Jewish national home." Jordan was created in 1946 because the British, perfidious Albion, outright lied to the UN to serve their own self-interests.

So I'm sorry if you or the Arabs don't like the fact that the Jewish people have returned after thousands of years in exile to reconstitute their homeland on the remaining 22% of Palestine, but frankly, tough. Israel's not going anywhere.

As for your last paragraph, the majority of the Palestinian Arabs voted in Hamas -- a well-known terrorist organization that openly states its aims of destroying Israel and exterminating the Jews. And this is supposed to be ok because they "demonstrated action on the humanitarian front for their people?" Let us not forget that a certain German dictator and his party also provided "action on the humanitarian front for their people." The Nazis were voted into power with a plurality of the vote (not even a majority like Hamas had). They also wanted to exterminate the Jews (assisted by Palestinian Arabs like the Mufti Haj Amin al-Husseini of course).

It was also the Muslims who treated the Jews as second-class citizens under their dhimmi laws and the Arabs who expelled over a million Jews from their lands (confiscating billions of dollars in assets) since 1948. What exactly was your point again?

and drum rollllll, my latest response:

Stephen Wang <--- me.

Do I need to study at a yeshiva to participate in this conversation? I wonder how many people in this thread have any talmudic study. i didn't realize there was a restriction on who can comment.

First of all I do not believe I said that the Philistines had any connection to Palestinian Arabs. I did however say that the Philistines existed in Canaan prior to Jewish arrival in the area. My point was, and i'll repeat myself, that the land of Palestine changed hands many times, and it is not accurate to historically attribute it to "belonging" to a particular group any more than another. From the Canaans, to the Jews, to the Arabs, to the Romans, to the Ottomans, Assyrians, Persians, Byzantines, etc etc etc.many people have laid claim to the land and established rule over it. Israel may have been the first large scale monarchy the region had experienced, but monarchy does not equate to indefinite and infinite property rights across time.

Contrary to your claim, there have been many nations erected in Palestine; namely the Babylonians and Assyrians.. and the Romans. Are spans of ownership 200-300 years+ count as "short lived"?

One could say that any number of cultures could name Palestine as their national home. Whose claim is stronger, your statements don't present the Jews as having a claim any more compelling than anybody else's.

The meat of the argument is that there were large populations of Jews and Arabs that existed in Palestine which gradually pushed the Palestinian Arabs out at the conclusions of 1948 and 1967. The Jews repopulated in the area due to gradual immigration towards the tail end of the Ottoman empire; the land was just as much these Jews' home as it was their Arab neighbors that they cohabitated with. However consider the fact that in the 1920s there were 800,000 Palestinians compared to 80,000 Jews in Palestine. To me it was a mistake but an eventual occurence in history that war broke out and one side had to leave.

I will not defend Hamas, you and I both know that they have done more harm than help. However, although you will keep trying to put holes in this, the Muslims were the only ones that offered land and assistance to the Jews in the intial periods of anti-semitism. Your claim of a million expelled Jews, is that an aggregate from the last 100 years? 200 years? It is pretty well known that it was the large influx of jewish immigrants after the mandate of palestine that prompted the Arabs to incite the Arab-Israeli War of 1948. Expelling a million Jews? I do believe it was the immigration of at least 10,000 Jews a year as zionism became a rallying call against anti-semitism.

It was interesting that you plucked a choice quote by Golda Meir, when she said there was no such thing as Palestinians she also said...

"There was no such thing as Palestinians. It was not as though there was a Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people and we came and threw them out and took their country from them. They did not exist."

Did you ever think the Palestinian national identity was a product of the Zionism that threatened the livelihood and property of Palestinian Arabs living in Palestine before being thrown out and having their country taken away as Ms. Meir warmly acknowledges? If you ignore the rest of this post, at least answer that question. I don't know how most people on this board are willing to take a perspective where their "opposition" becomes less than human and are so willing to embrace the death of their neighbors.

back and forth with zionism

The conversation began like this, a stand off between pro-Israel (who decided it was appropriate to publicly post a private conversation with her opposition) and pro-Palestine: (none of these posts are mine)

"my orig message (Jaclyn from Indiana Univ)

ahmed, When was the last time Egypt or any Middle Eastern country ever cared two sh*ts about the Palestinians? Now you are probably thinking about the time when Egypt promised a "safe haven" to Palestinians and promised to treat them as regular citizens. This was all true until a radical Palestinian group in 1978 assassinated the Egyptian cultural minister, Youssef al-Sibai in Cyprus. All bets were off, and Egyptians were quite angry. Ever since, the Palestinians have been treated like second-rate serfs in your home land and aren't even granted the same rights as its other citizens. Actually they aren’t considered true citizens. Wow, Egypt doesn’t want these people- shocking. Well, if they are being used as human weapons- then I guess the other surrounding countries deem them “useful”.

Why don't you move some refugees into your dorm room that have bombs strapped to them and claim that they are entitled to the A+ term paper you did all the work on? At least Israel was willing to (multiple times). The only problem is, the Palestinians didn’t just want the “paper” they wanted all of your stuff and they also wanted you dead. That’s kind of what its like for Israel- only its their country, that they built and now have to fight for.

Lets say there are aprox- 500 million Arabs in the Middle East and 5 million Jews (roughly)- do you really care all that much about Jerusalem that you have to fight with us on Facebook about it? You ask “have you ever been to Palestine?”. Well have you ever been to the Dome of the Rock, or the Arab quarter in Jerusalem? It was sure nice of the Jews to preserve it. Too bad the “Palestinians” couldn’t do the same with site of the last super for the Christians. It’s a little messy – and I should know, I’ve been to Israel.

Now, you go to school in Pennsylvania. When terrorist attacked the U.S on September 11, 2001 and a plane headed towards the White House crashed in Pennsylvania. Do you know what Palestinians did? They danced in the streets. So who are you trying to defend here, people that your home land hates or people that hate your new home?
ahmeds responce
Subject: Wow
Message: Jaclyn,
Your reply was nice and long. So is this one. let me tell you something, that video about palestinians dancing in the streets was FAKE and discredited a week later, and the people that showed it, i don't really know what happend to them. The tape was actually of a religiuos celebration. Notice in the Video not one American flag wa sbeing carried anf all the poster where in arabic and english talking about a relgiuos celebration. So there goes your whole video thing. Now Egyptians must really hate palestinians to have 1 million people protests in Cairo for palestine. Why don't you take the Isralies that moved in two palestinian homes and took over their land into your dorm, except they won't let you eat any food and they won't let anybody give you a job. Thats what they are doing to palestinians with all their economic sanctions, all because palestine elected hamas to be their leaders. I am sure Jeruslem is nice now with all the israelis in it, but what does that have to do with anything, I am sure if some one moved in to your home they could make it alot nicer, but that doesnt mean you dont have the right to live there, jeruslem is their home not a tourist attraction. Israel is really making a holy place on earth look very holy, especially when it was featured on entertainments "Wild on" you know the show for all the crazy parties and drunken sex. I am sure the Jews, muslims and christians in the world would approve of israel being a hot spot for horny college students. Cancun WATCH OUT!,

Now lets go back to the political aspect, the governements of the arab countries(not the people) are a bit afraid of Israel, they have an ally called America and if your a good politician you know you dont mess with good old U.S.A. Now these palestinians are oppressed and they are mad, if a person's child just got killed by an Isralie soldier, and nobody will help you, chance are you will go crazy and strap a bomb to yourself and try to kill a few Isralie soldiers. Israel started as a peacful country, but they are pushing their powers to the limits every year, and you know it. 350 civilians don't deserve death because two Israeli soldiers were kidnapped, thats a cruel and unusual reply by Israel, no?
You need to stop going back so far, you can say what you want, because most Arabs will tell you that they support Palestine and think they should have a country, the rest will tell you that palestine should be a country and Israel should not be a country anymore. Israel could very well start world war three, and for what two kidnapped soldiers?
my responce back:
side note- i apologize for a lack or spelling, grammer and. f*ck it, this is facebook- so who cares.

dude that was nice and long. listen, you stick to your propoganda and i'll stick to the New York Times. By the way- the palestinians did shit with Israel. It wasnt till the Jews moved in that you had irrigation and normal pluming. thats why Israel doesnt smell like Oil and Diareah when you step off the plane. Ii support israel because its democratic and is a safe haven for all. they have muslims and christians in their elected government. i cant say that about anywhere else in the region (Egypt is not a democracy, don't fool your self) . so you ask me two soldiers? yep- they can do what ever the hell they want becasue America would too. The Israelis pull out of the west bank and for what? nothing. they got no peace. some people dont want israel. but the thing is they do. they want an israel with out the jews. and that just wont work since the jews built the country. i'm sorry ahmed but its their blood, sweat and tears that got you aim and motorola. bill clinton said he would die for israel, and george bush- well we know how he feels. so i guess if its good enough for them thne its good enough for me. israel isnt pushing anything. You say Israel started off peaceful. Nope, THE DAY Israel became a state- good ol' Egypt attacked it (classy). so its really never had a chance to breath. next time you go back to egypt and admire those pyramids remember one thing- MY ancestors built them and they built Israel too.