The Benghazi Select Committee, chaired by Rep. Trey Gowdy, has formally requested that Hillary Clinton turn over the private server she used to keep under her control all of her communications while secretary of state. That assumes that the server hasn’t been reduced to subatomic particles by now.
Yesterday, Pamela Geller was good enough to take a minute from — literally — saving the world, to cross-post Aleksandra Rebic’s open letter marking March 24th. She preceded it with the following introduction and my note to her:
Madonna has been dissed, and she is not happy. The 56-year-old proclaimed Queen of Pop, with more record sales than any woman in history, received a distinctly unroyal reception by the British radio station BBC Radio 1, which recently banished her latest single, “Living For Love,” from its playlist.
We all know that the only reason you would deliberately and premeditatedly set up a private email address and server is to have total control over your communications — to keep people away from those communications and to retain the ability to edit and delete your content.
For the past few days, the Times has been particularly consumed with the issue of income disparity and extreme inequality. First came Paul Krugman who found the presence of this disparity in Israel to be the worst in the advanced world with portentous consequences in store. On Wednesday, the lead editorial with the noxious headline “An Israeli Election Turns Ugly,” bemoaned the fact that “although the economy has grown, the country (Israel) itself has experienced widening income disparities and is now one of the most unequal societies in the advanced world.” (NYT 3/18) So it is with a proper degree of head-scratching that I call your attention to today’s review in the Food Section of Eleven Madison Park, a four-star restaurant which offers a tasting menu for $225/per each one-percenter.
Perhaps it was because Jodi Rudoren had the day off on Monday that Paul Krugman took up her usual cudgel and declared that “Israel does less to lift people out of poverty than any other advanced country - yes, even less than the U.S.” (Israel’s Gilded Cage, NYT, 3/16).
All these years later, we are still fascinated and flummoxed by the Kennedy assassination. Was there are conspiracy? Was it the act of a lone gunman? Were Lee Harvey Oswald and his killer, Jack Ruby, connected beforehand in some way? Was it the Mob? Castro? Rogue elements of the CIA?
A better title for this latest film from David Cronenberg would be “Shooting Fish in a Barrel,” as there is not one target of this tired satire of Hollywood that hasn’t been done to death too many times over. Every single character - the obnoxious addicted teen star, the middle-aged actress desperate to retain her valued perch, the fraudulent therapeutic huckster to the damaged over-privileged, the stage mother submerged in guilt and fear of losing the family’s cash cow, the schizoid arsonist who is the spawn of incest - is an over-the-top cliché that cries out for condemnation Of the writer and director, that is, not the characters themselves as they are simply exaggerations of cartoons that were stale forty years ago. Not one among them elicits any emotional reaction from us save disdainful incredulity.
Remember the kudos that Target got last month over its employees going above and beyond by teaching a teen how to tie a tie? It’s a no-brainer that the story got some of its virility from the gush we feel, especially in racially charged times, when the helpful employees are white and the teen is black (and vice versa). But think of the kvelling that ensued — by media and Target alike — when it was learned that the black teen’s name was Yasir.
Americans are a punitive bunch. We love to punish people. Nearly 3 percent of American adults are in prison, jail, probation or parole, a figure far beyond any other industrialized nation. But that’s only the beginning. We entertain ourselves with elaborate revenge fantasies on TV and in the movies, and of course arm ourselves in order to deliver swift justice to anybody who might cross us, changing the laws to better encourage each other to stand our ground. While vengeance feasts, forgiveness starves, which is part of what drew my interest to a thin new book—155 pages—by Jeanne Bishop titled Change of Heart: Justice, Mercy, and
The conventional wisdom at the moment, is that the 2016 presidential election is going to come down to Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush. On the bright side, the conventional wisdom on national elections is almost always wrong.
Of his many disgraceful blow-offs of our key allies — returning the bust of Winston Churchill to Great Britain, refusing to march in Paris after the Charlie Hebdo massacre, vetoing the Keystone XL pipeline coming from Canada — President Obama’s epic dis of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week takes the cake.
Leslie Gore died recently and to those unfamiliar with the name who bothered to glance at her obituary she must have seemed little more than a 1960’s cliché. For a brief moment when it was the best of times, and the worst of times, to be a teenager in America, Leslie Gore was the country’s most popular female singer, the embodiment of the wholesome all-American girl. But far from a one-off fleeting teenage idol, Leslie Gore was a multitalented performer and bold pioneer for feminism and gay rights.
The real photos of Martin Luther King, Jr. during the march on Selma show rabbis at either elbow, but for some reason, these have been replaced by Catholics — a nun and a priest — in the recent film.
Why is that?
Rarely does it come up at Black History Month events or even in conversation that Jews figured prominently in the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. For some reason, the media is airbrushing the Jews out of the history of the U.S. Civil Rights movement and I’d be surprised if this isn’t also true of the fight for farm worker’s rights lead by Cesar Chavez, which was also heavily populated with Jews.
Does it matter?
Yes, I think it does; especially now.
With the Middle East on fire and contending with an ever-expanding band of mass-murdering Islamo-Fascist thugs and Europe awash with Islamo-Fascist-inspired anti-Semitism and U.S. college campuses buzzing with anti-Semitism masquerading as anti-Zionism, the intentional manipulation of historical fact is making matters worse.
Though the makers of films like Selma caution that they are not documentaries, they are likely the only encounter many viewers have ever had with the issues depicted, and who will absorb what they see as fact.
It requires only a rudimentary glance back at human history and a comparison with what’s on the nightly news today, to come to the inescapable conclusion that mankind is either on the precipice or already over the edge of another worldwide anti-Semitic episode that is potentially so profound it could make the last one look like the Salem Witch Trials by comparison.
Of course, there are two major differences in play today that were absent the last time mankind lost its way and began murdering Jews.
One – It is not the governments of most of these countries trying to kill the Jews, and two – there is Israel, and therefore someplace for the Jews to go.
The importance of Israel’s continued existence in this light, cannot be overstated, but that’s another discussion.
By way of illustration, in case you haven’t been paying attention to what’s been going on, the other day the Associated Press published a story about a bunch of European rabbis gathering in Prague “for training in self-defense and first aid in response to a wave of attacks against Jews and a rise of anti-Semitism on the continent.”
This is being done in response to “the deadly terror attack against a kosher grocery in Paris in January and the murder of a Jewish security guard outside a synagogue in Copenhagen earlier this month,” AP reports. But these are only the latest in an increasing number of deadly attacks against Jews in Europe, including the 2006 torture and murder of 23-year-old Ilan Halimi in France, the shooting deaths of a 30-year-old rabbi, his two young sons and a little girl, also in France, in 2012.
“When we see the level of anti-Semitism in Europe, when we see the level of hate in Europe, when we see the lack of leadership of European governments to fight against anti-Semitism and terror, we’re not surprised, unfortunately (by the attacks),” Rabbi Menachem Margolin was quoted saying.
It is at the point in Europe that Jews and Jewish institutions need 24-hour protection, he said. What happens if these guards keep getting attacked by those trying to get to the Jews (which has already happened at least once)? Will the majority of the populace eventually decide it’s just too dangerous to have the Jews around? Will the idea spread that the Jews’ very existence is the reason for the violence?
On U.S. college campuses, it is no longer comfortable and often, not even safe, to be Jewish or to support the right of the world’s only Jewish country to exist. A recent study ranks San Francisco State University the seventh most anti-Semitic college in the country, with Columbia ranked first.
Many of the students in these colleges and universities are buying a skewed bill of goods about the history of the Middle East and the facts on the ground there now, mostly from Pro-Palestinian students and teachers, which is causing too many of them to misunderstand the situation and misidentify who the good guys and bad buys are over there. They have somehow concluded that a billion Arab Muslims are being bullied by about 6 million Jews (including women, children and old people). They are convinced that “the Jews” are “committing a genocide” against Palestinian Arabs. But, since the population of Palestinian Arabs (1.3 million in 1960 and more than 5 million in 2014) has only grown in the past 50 years, either the Jews are really, really bad at genocide, or THAT’S NOT WHAT’S HAPPENING.
With this Goebbels-like, through-the-looking glass world view as the backdrop, keeping from these students the truth about the part Jews played in the American Civil Rights movement can only make matters worse.
And, one day in the not too distant future, these students will be let loose on the worlds of business, economics, politics, parenthood and everything else, poisoned with this loathsome anti-Semiticly slanted world view.
To make matters even worse, the weird, childish, pissing match between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu is likely to result in the Obama Administration announcing to the country and the world that the U.S. has decided to sever ties with its best and most consistent ally in the Middle East — the only democracy in that insane and dangerous neck of the woods.
Such a development could easily result in the atmosphere in the U.S. and worldwide vis-à-vis the Jews, deteriorating to the point that Jews’ patriotism could be called into question.
If American Jews are forced to somehow choose sides, between the U.S. and Israel, what would you do?
Last September, President Obama told us that his strategy for taking down the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria would be similar to the one his administration had “successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years.”
The dogs in show (and also in field) took front stage in New York City this past week. Miss P, the Beagle who won Best in Show at Westminster Kennel Club and Patti Hearst’s Shitzuh, “Rocket,” who won Top Toy, weren’t the only winners. Bonhams Barkfest Brunch last Sunday, benefitting the American Kennel Club Humane Fund, offered dog and art lovers alike a preview of their annual auction of dog art.
Do you remember back in the day when you could not go to the airport or a city park without seeing and hearing a gaggle of Hare Krishnas, singing chanting, jumping around and generally scaring the townsfolk?
It’s August of 2015 and for six months since Brian Williams was suspended, the ratings of the NBC Nightly News have been plummeting. Figuring he is their best hope, NBC execs ask Williams to return as anchorman. Excited at the prospect of regaining his position, Williams sits down in his study to craft a first draft of what he will say on his first broadcast back.
Sandra Bargman is not a name trending on Facebook, but her cabaret performance at The Duplex in New York City’s West Village is not only dynamic but powerfully spiritual. An ordained Interfaith minister she explores her edges through music and theater in “The Edge of Everyday.”
When a film director makes a movie, how much are they permitted to alter history? This recurring question came up recently in the movie Selma, about the early 1960’s Civil Rights movement and specifically the famous 1965 march led by Dr. Martin Luther King from Selma to Montgomery. The film, recently shown in a private White House screening by President Obama, has been criticized for portraying President Johnson as an obstructionist to voting rights, an account challenged by some historians and one of President’s Johnson’s close advisors.
Even in its nearly universally shared grief and outrage over the IS terror gang’s unspeakably barbaric murder of the downed Jordanian pilot, attempts by Arab leaders to frame the problem in other than Islamic robes has served mostly to highlight that faith’s seeming schizophrenia.
Associated Press reports that in the wake of the 26-year-old pilot’s intentional torching, before a cheering crowd of all ages, “a wave of grief and rage” was unleashed across the Middle East.
“Political and religious leaders united in outrage and condemnation, saying the slaying of the airman goes against Islam’s teachings,” the A.P. story said. “The gruesome militant video of the last moments in the (pilot’s) life, ‘crossed a line’ beyond the beheadings of Western hostages at the hands of Islamic State extremists.””
Okay, so, what I get from that statement is that beheading Western hostages is kind of acceptable in Islam, while burning Muslims alive goes a little too far. This is clearly the case, since the beheadings of a whole slew of innocent Westerners — drew no condemnation whatsoever from the Muslim world. It is not made clear if it’s the burning, per se, that’s the problem, or if it’s the fact that the victim was an Arab Muslim.
The story goes on to say that Imams from the highest levels of Sunni Islam say that burning that pilot to death “violated Islam’s prohibition on immolation or mutilation of bodies, even during wartime.”
Call me crazy, but lopping off a living person’s head strikes me as a fairly serious form of mutilation. Not to mention that nauseating Muslim practice affectionately known as female circumcision.
This Imam goes on to say that in punishment for their crossing that line, IS barbarians “deserve the Quranic punishment of death, Crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms,” because “Islam prohibits the taking of an innocent life.”
That line, my friends, the ‘innocent life’ line, is clearly where the barbarians find their loophole, since “innocent” is obviously in the eye of the beholder.
But, what a schizophrenic belief system it is that can say a criminal must be mutilated because he broke Islam’s ban on mutilation.
It is in keeping, however, with the oft-repeated Islamic threat, issued whenever anyone anywhere says, writes or draws something they find offensive, along the lines of, “how dare you call me violent — I’ll kill you!”
The A.P. reporter goes on to describe the various forms capital punishment tends to take in the Arab/Muslim world, underplaying the instances and reasons for mostly hangings, but also stonings (the reporter says for adultery, proved or suspected, but, I happen to know, also for homosexuality and other random offenses) in Iran and Pakistan, beheadings in Saudi Arabia “and Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers have on occasion publicly shot to death Palestinians suspected of spying for Israel.” They have also hanged and burned them publicly, dragged them through the streets behind cars, literally torn men limb from limb, murdered sleeping babies and a whole bunch of other stuff the reporter chose not to mention for whatever reason.
But in the “contemporary Middle East,” burning people to death as a punishment is frowned upon, the story says.
There was evidently some battling of the Imams around the Muslim world about whether some story or other may exist in the Quran to sanction burning people alive, but the consensus of opinion, the story says, is that “the killing showed total disregard for the rights of prisoners under Islam, as well as what (one Imam) called the moral standards for war.”
These condemnations came from all over the Muslim world, including counties like Turkey, which has been known to send heavily armed “peace demonstrators” to try to kill Israelis, and Iran, which continues to chant its determination to murder all the world’s Jews, starting with Israel’s.
The one possible bright spot in the IS savages’ increasingly horrific behavior, is that in their arrogance and blind barbarity, they have now managed to piss off some countries not usually involved in opposing Radical Islam — like Japan and most of the Arab world. With any luck, more of the world will be convinced of the urgent necessity to devise and carry out a plan to eradicate this menace — and by that I mean the IS monsters in particular and Radical Islam generally — entirely from the planet.
The Arab world especially, is crucial to this effort, since they spawned this menace, and have a better chance of discerning between the barbarian and the non-barbarian or at least, less barbaric.
Jordan reacted to this latest atrocity by executing a failed female Iraqi suicide bomber and another nameless terrorist thug it had in custody, and the king there says the barbarians haven’t seen the end of this episode.
One Jordanian politician, moved to tears by the sight of the captured pilot burned to death inside a cage, started yelling during a TV interview, the story says.
“Let’s use the same methods as them!” he shouted. “Let’s kill their children! Let’s kill their women!”
Boko Haram has announced its establishment of a caliphate and continues in its slaughter of thousands of Nigerians and its kidnapping of young women for use as sex slaves. Not a word of protest from American campuses.
In an editorial titled “Reckless Rejection of the Measles Vaccine,” the Times argues that it is “shockingly irresponsible” for “misguided parents to put other children and adults at risk of catching measles from their unvaccinated children. Public officials and pediatricians need to restrict where unvaccinated children are allowed to go if the parents refuse to do so.” (NYT 2/3/15) The total number of people infected this year is 102 in the 14 states that have reported outbreaks.
Many people have already written about the semblance of blaming the victim when we extol the bravery and determination of cancer survivors, thereby implying that those who don’t survive somehow haven’t fought as hard or had the right positive attitude. A recent article about the medical understanding of the quality of random-ness in the formation of most cancers - with the exception of those forms caused or exacerbated by external toxic agents (cigarettes) - is another indicator that individual efforts to stay healthy or recover from an illness may have less to do with sterling character traits than we give ourselves credit for. This thought came to mind while watching Wolf Blitzer’s one hour program focusing on four “Heroes of Auschwitz,” survivors who managed to get to America and create new lives after the war. Though there have been studies showing a correlation between survival and religious belief as well as a purpose in life , it surely is the ultimate chutzpah and dishonor to the millions of victims who were felled to pretend that survival was largely a factor of strong will and therefore within their control.
In watching “Night Will Fall,” the documentary made frm the British and American footage of the liberation of the concentration camps at the close of WWII, what struck me first was the irrationality of Nazis starving a slave population that was intended to work. How inefficient that was as people diminished to skeletal weight and racked by dysentery and typhus could not have performed tasks with even the semblance of purposeful activity. This only adds to the mystery of why the Germans went to the expense and bother of constructing and staffing camps and transporting victims to them, often from great distances, instead of killing people in situ as they frequently did in mass ditches dug by the victims at the outskirts of towns and villages. According to Daniel Goldhagen (How Auschwitz is Misunderstood NYT 1/25), it was to distance the killers from their victims. Though this was true for prisoners brought from all over Europe, it certainly wasn’t true for German Jews who were brought to camps in Germany which were in close proximity to their former neighbors. A look at the map that Alfred Hitchcock created for the original documentary shows camps dotting Germany, often within a mile of cities and villages.