Friday, October 31, 2008

Barack Obama and the Murder of Abortion Survivors: The Carnage Continues

Does anyone remember all of the coverage of Barack Obama’s opposition to protecting babies aborted alive? He outdid even some of the more extreme abortion advocates. He denounced the questioning of his Illinois Senate record as “lies”:. If you live in Missouri and promote discussion of his positions on abortion, you probably will be told that these are “irrelevant” issues. Doesn’t it sound weird when your city’s District Attorney is telling you how to vote? It should sound downright scary, but if Obama is elected, it will sound very normal.

Does anyone remember Nixon’s paranoia? Does anyone remember the Watergate break in and how it brought him down? We have had plenty of warning with Barack Obama.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are criticised for “negative campaigning” while more aborted babies are gasping their last breaths without assistance. This medically sanctioned murder was blessed by Barack Obama as State Senator in Illinois. The footage attesting to the fact that this legally sanctioned infanticide of babies born alive after an abortion continues was shot in October after a blizzard of Obama denials.

According to this video, some babies accross Illinois can look forward to a fatal”October Surprise.” That is really what it is, being born and discarded like trash isn’t it? A baby born to term is calmed by being held. They absorb reassurance and love from those who clean, dress and hold them in their first moments of life. What are the emotions of a human being left to die on the floor? My mother once fell in her apartment. She was unable to get up. She was lonely and frightened, saddened as she lloked at her telephone, so close yet beyond reach. I have no doubt that she prayed for rescue with heartfelt eloquence.

Thank G-d we were able to rescue her. I was concerned when she was not answering my Saturday night weekly phone call. I called the super in her building. He set the wheels of rescue in motion, three time zones away from me. I will always remember the compassion of the nurse who sat in the emergency room with my mother as she was rehydrated on an IV drip. When I think of babies lying naked and shivering, waiting for a rescue that will never come, I think of my mother, who had the good fortune to have loving family that noticed her absence. I think often

Click here for complete story with videos

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Jewish Echoes in German Folk Rock

I was looking for folk rock from northern Europe and was amazed to find a German folk rock group from the 1970's. In addition to a song called "The Schlemihl, I found a song called the Blind Man and the Lame Man. There is a Midrash (Jewish Talmudic narrative) with the same name. Both tell the story of a blind and the lame man who pool their strengths to get around.

The Jewish version has them getting a job guarding a vinyard and stealing, each saying that neither could steal alone and that they were both therefore innocent. The judge (G-d) put them back together and judged them together. The story is a metaphor for the interdependence of the body and the soul. Putting the lame man back on the blind man's shoulders is a metaphor for the resurrection and final judgement.

The German version stresses the idea that individuals have strengths and weaknesses and that by pooling our strengths, we can achieve more than would be possible as individuals. It stresses that this is better than viewing each other with a begrudging eye.

The only thing I disliked about the original German was the term Gotter, which translates as "gods" I willfully mistranslated Gotter as "heaven" If I would tell my children the story I would refer to G-d given strengths. Since this was a folk tale, I suspect it was often told in this manner.

With this qualification, I must say that I find both explanations to be satisfying. There are many talmudic stories that can be seen on different levels. It is often the interpretation that is as interesting as the narrative.

The musical quality of this video is very good. The formula employed with success by English folk rock groups like Fairport Convention and Pentangle of a female lead vocalist and a band works well for Ougenweide, the group in this video.

I hope you, my readers will enjoy this music video. I apologise for my crude translation , which does some injustice to the original.

Der Blinde und der Lahme

Komposition: Olaf Casalich
Text: Christian Fürchtegott Gellert um 1800
Vor ungefähr muß einen Blinden Once upon a time a blind man
ein Lahmer auf der Straße finden, looked for a lame man on the street
und jener hofft schon freudenvoll, he eagerly hoped that
daß ihn der andre leiten soll. that the lame man would lead him

»Dir«, spricht der Lahme, »beizustehen? You ! He said to the lame man
ich armer Mann kann selbst nicht gehen, It is a pity, I can't get around myself
doch scheint's, daß du zu einer Last But it looks like you have the strength
noch sehr gesunde Schultern hast. and also strong shoulders

Entschließe dich, mich fortzutragen, Promise to carry me
so wil ich dir die Stege sagen: and I will guide you
so wird dein starker Fuß mein Bein, your strong legs will then be mine
mein helles Auge deines sein.« and my good eyes will be yours

Der Lahme hängt mit seinen Krücken The lame man with his crutches
sich auf des Blinden breiten Rücken. rode on the blind man;s strong shoulders
Vereint wirkt also dieses Paar, together they were able to do
was einzeln keinem möglich war. what each alone could not accomplish.

Du hast das nicht was andre haben, You do not have what others do
und andern mangeln deine Gaben; and others lack your gifts
aus dieser Unvollkommenheit from this defect
entspringet die Geselligkeit. comes friendship

Wenn jenem nicht die Gabe fehlte, If someone does not lack the gift
die die Natur für mich erwählte, with which nature has endowed me
so würd' er nur für sich allein then he will think only of himself
und nicht für mich bekümmert sein. and not be concerned with me.

Beschwer' die Götter nicht mit Klagen! Do not trouble heaven
Der Vorteil, den sie dir versagen the advantage that eludes you
und jenem schenken, wird gemein and be begrudging to others
wir dürfen nur gesellig sein. we only need to be good neighbours


P.S. By accident, I uploaded "Der Fuchs und der Rabe (The fox and the raven). Rather than delete it and upload Der Blinde und der Lahme, (the blind man and the lame man), I left Der Fuchs und der Rabe on this post, although without translation

Democrats To Military Veterans : SHUT UP!!!

Right now, with the Democrats in control of Congress, the Democrats have considerable leverage in controlling the parameters of permissible discussion. Letters sent by the FCC to military analysts are providing a chilling glimpse into what would await Obama’s opponents under an Obama administration.

According to Human Events , “The FCC has sent letters to some of the nation’s most prominent military analysts — some of them pro-President Bush and pro-war — suggesting they may have broken the law when they appeared on television stations to comment on and explain the war on terrorism.”

The letters from the FCC, which is reflective of Congressional concerns has sent chills through the ranks of retired military personnel, many of whom hold positions supportive of our current military policies. It can only be assumed that the current chill experienced by military analysts might evolve into a deep freeze if the Democrats solidified their control over Washington in both the legislative and executive branches of government.

Human Events continues” The FCC letters came at the behest of two House Democrats, who say the analysts parroted on air the private briefings they received at the Pentagon. This may have broken the law.”

It has been routine practice for years for military veterans to share their opinions and expertise with voters. Anyone with security clearance is trained in how to speak of military matters without compromising national security. It can be assumed that Democrats proposing cuts to the military budget would likewise bring out experts to prove that their measures would not be injurious.

“We are seeing the dawn of a new era of the current Democratic leadership trying to muzzle free speech and the First Amendment,” retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney, a Fox News analyst, told HUMAN EVENTS. “It may be the most invasive intrusion that we have seen in our history. There will be more of these tactics to follow.”

The Human Events article offers additional quotations from military veterans blasting the chill on free speech. One of them, retired Army Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, one of Fox’s first defense analysts said “It’s an affront to freedom of speech. As retired officers, we’re private citizens and can say anything we want under the First Amendment. The whole thing was to explain to the American people what was going on in war and analyzing it.”

Democrats have more plans to try to muzzle conservatives. They talk of reviving the so-called Fairness Doctrine in which the federal government monitors radio and TV programs and rule on their fairness. Conservatives believe that the real goal is to kill right-leaning talk radio.

With a Democratic majority in the House and the Senate and a Democratic President, there would be no President vetoing a bill intended to muzzle political opponents.

Talk radio provides conservatives a voice amid a sea of liberal cheerleading from the New York Times, Washington Post, Public Broadcasting, the TV networks and Hollywood. The spell cast by mainstream news outlets that make viewers believe that they are alone in their beliefs is broken by the commercially successful conservative shows, which are clearly filling a market niche. Conservatives fear and Democratic liberals hope that if the government forces Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity to present liberal points of view, ratings would slip and the shows could be taken off the air.

Click here for complete article

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

My Thoughts on Croatian Art Painting and the Torah Portion of Noach

Flood by the great Croatian painter Ivan Generalic

Despite its splendid colours of changing leaves, there is an underlying somber note to autumn. The falling leaves always seem to convey the dual message of the impermanance of life and our dependence on a greater world.

It is for this reason that my thoughts often turn in this season to Croatian naive art. Some of the finest paintings of this genre are of course landscapes. I am always awed by the details of tree branches. Denuded of leaves, there is a distinctiveness to the different types of trees that is well captured in some Croatian naive painting.

The father of Croatian naive painting is Ivan Generalic. He was born in the town of Hlebine and died in 1992. His first public art exhibition was in 1931.

The arrival of the Hebrew month of Cheshvan brings with it the reading of parshas Noach, which details the destruction of the world in the Great Flood. The entire sequence of events of the flood is a stark reminder of the role humanity has of channeling all of creation to the service of G-d. In this Torah portion, the rainbow is established as a reminder that G-d promised never again to destroy the world by flood. When it appears it is a sign of both anger and restraint, that the world is being spared despite G-d's wrath.

It is for this reason that I chose a painting by Ivan Generalic called "Flood". Although it is usually the spring thaw that brings flooding in the countryside, the horizon shares with late autumn and winter the feature of bare branches raised to heaven like arms in mute supplication.

I have also included two recordings of YU Grupa, a froup that was wildly popular before the breakup of Jugoslavia. Although my family connection is to Croatia, I have on more than one occasion discussed with people from other republics of the former Jugoslavia the music scene in that region before the breakup. Some of the groups actually outlived Jugoslavia, continuing to enjoy a unity among fans that transcends national boundaries, if only for the duration of a song.

This is an odd time of year in which my own cultural frame of reference reinforces the message and theme of the weekly Torah portion. I hope you, my readers enjoy both the music and the paintings with this posting.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Louis Farrakhan, Eminem and Some Thoughts About Politics and Music

I was collecting information on an article about Louis Farrakhan the other day and came across an odd video. It was a departure from the usual Farrakhan boilerplate that reminded me of my mother's stories about Father Coughlin. Father Coughlin was a radio preacher of the thirties whose political pronouncements sounded like America's home grown National Socialism. Like Farrakhan, he was not shy about blaming the Jews for America's social ills. And like Farrakhan, he dressed his politics in clerical garb.

The video I found was Farrakhan's answer to charges of anti Jewish prejudice on Mr. Farrakhan's part. I experienced the video on two levels. As a rebuttal to charges of Jew hatred, I found it laughable. As an artistic performance, I found it deeply moving. Farrakhan is in fact an accomplished musician. He started out in classical music and made a living for a while playing calypso. His way of answering his critics was to choose a piece by the composer Felix Mendelsohn, who was of Jewish ancestry. It seemed like a slightly more creative rendition of the "Some of my best friends" argument.

I have heard Farrakhan criticise secular Jews for their disproportionate presence in promoting decadent and violent entertatinment. Here he echoes some Jewish social critics. Until he started his speech about Jews being the backbone of the slave trade, he actually had my attention. I have heard Jews argue that even our secular contributions to popular culture should be reflective of Jewish values.

This raises some additional questions. Farrakhan has declared openly that Barack Obama is a messianic figure. He has joined a chorus of Obama supporters who include atheist communists and gay rights activists. Reverend Wright has put clerical garb on a radical political agenda and an amoral personal life .

In looking for a common denominator between Farrakhan and Wright, the only common denominator I can find is an antipathy to whites, Jews and America's role in the world that constitutes a recurring and often dominant theme in Farrakhan's preaching.

One recurring theme I find in Judaism that has universal relevance is the idea that political and economic liberation is merely a prelude to the protracted inner struggles of the individual and society. Much of the rabble rousing speeches of Farrakhan and his political allies does not even qualify as the preliminary struggle but as agitation for its own sake or in the words of Jerry Rubin "Revolution for the hell of it." It is hard for me to trust the motives of Obama's radical supporters when their common denominator is so low.

There is an additional redeeming factor in Farrakhan's violin performance. There are probably many African Americans who could make a fine contribution to the world of classical music, theatre and areas of cultural endeavour in which they are currently underrepresented. The entertainment industry has created boundaries for performers that need to be challenged. Chess clubs, Shakespearian drama troupes and recreations of music from many regions of Africa that are largely unknown in the U.S. are areas where there should be a lot more growth in minority communities.

I am presenting Louis Farrakhan's music video with one regret and that is that it is truncated. I would like to see a full length concert of his music.

I am also presenting a hip hop song by Eminem which deals in a moving way with the tragedy of divorce. I do not play it when driving because it is not safe to play music that brings me to tears when driving.

The common denominator of both pieces is the challenge to racial boundaries in the entertainment world. There is an additional lesson that hip hop and rap can be used for noble purposes as can almost any type of music. What is most troubling is the thought that the finest music can leave the wilder reaches of the human soul raging and untamed. This is a lesson that could be applied to Farrakhan and to ourselves

Monday, October 27, 2008

Ahmedinejad Ill. (Deep Down, He's a Nice Guy)

Ahmadinejad and a companion at dinner

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, President of the Islamic Republic of Iran, (the only country in the world with no homosexuals) has been feeling under the weather lately and has fallen ill. According to Associated Press, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has fallen ill due to exhaustion brought on by his heavy workload, a close associate has told the Iranian state news agency.

Ahmadinejad is normally tireless in his performance of duties, which include pushing for Iran's nuclear program and showing his enthusiasm for an Obama presidency. It has been a rough week for Mahmoud. His good friend SheikHassan Nasrallah is also been feeling under the weather and was allegedly being treated by Iranian doctors to counteract a poisoning attempt.

"Deep down, he's a nice guy". commented Melech Movess, an Israeli journalist who is an expert in Iranian affairs.

Homer Chump, an adviser to the Obama campaign on defense affairs expressed concern for Ahmadinejad's health. "This friendly president of a tiny country is a man we had looked forward to working with during an Obama presidency. We certainly wish him well."

Seymour Swishburne, Obama transition team member in charge of decorating the White House for the Obamas dismissed reports that Ahmadinejad had referred to America as "The Great Satan."

"Oh that's just plain silly." tittered Mr. Swishburne. Everybody knows that Ahmedinejad doesn't really speak English. He really means satin. Mrs. Obama loves satin. She and Mahmoud are really going to hit it off. I do hope Mahmoud comes by to say hello.."

Mullah Abdullah, office manager of the Gaza City headquarters of the Obama for President Campaign also expressed concern for Ahmadinejad's health. "A lot of my workers are really grateful for President Ahmadinejad. said Abdullah. He pays pensions to the families of suicide bombers and other freedom fighters. We want to help the Great Satan commit suicide too. Our phone bank is just our small contribution to the cause."

The fifty two year old flamboyant president is unlikely to let his illness slow him down.

"After leaving office, I have an offer to sell hairpieces for men" , Ahmadinejad said through a translator in an interview with Palestine International Militant Press (P.I.M.P). "My friends in the Revolutionary Guards just expropriated a toupee salon from some Zionist imperialist lackey. We have enough inventory to last about a year and a half. After that, they'll find another Zionist imperialist Bahai freemason, and that will keep us going with confiscated inventory for a couple of more years."

Ahmadinejad ill

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Obama, the Election and Threats of Violence

It is with reluctance that I bring up this topic at election time. There has been discussion of the prospect of unrest and even rioting if Barack Obama is not elected. I live in an area where enthusiasm for Obama is very high. I understand the excitement generated by the possibility of an African American becoming president. Every child should be able to aspire to the presidency or any other lofty position if he or she is resolute and hard working.

I do not take lightly the threat of riots. I have lived through them before. My windows were broken and several of my friends suffered serious physical injury. Two people were killed during the Crown Heights riots. There was millions of dollars in property damage. As frightening as the Crown Heights riots were, they paled in significance next to the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, in which fifty people were killed.

I take the threat of riots seriously. I take it personally. Barack Obama raised a million dollars for a candidate in Kenya who claimed to be related to him. He had a personal liason in his Senate office to Raila Odinga, who narrowly lost. During "protests" , fifteen hundred people were killed and eight hundred churches were burned. I am sure Obama is troubled by the violence perpetrated by supporters of Raila Odinga, for whom he campaigned and raised funds. I only wish he would vigourously repudiate any talk of unrest in the event of an Obama loss . Odinga, Obama's man in Kenya urged his followers to protest the results of the Kenyan election count. Did he know where it would eventually lead? Thousands were injured and homeless, as well as hundreds killed

I could give in and vote for Obama out of fear. I will not do so . I am not motivated by any bravery but by simple calculations. I do not want to be a hostage to Barack Obama's physical safety. There has been one presidential assassination in my lifetime and two major attempts, on Presidents Ford and Reagan. Such despicable acts are an attack upon the entire American people, regardless of who they voted for. The law of the land gives recognition to this, severely punishing even the utterance of a threat against the President or a candidate for that office.

There has been talk of violence if Obama is not elected. I have little doubt that any attempt on his life, G-d forbid would trigger widespread bloodshed, as did the assassination of Martin Luther King. Even angry protests against Obama and his policies could aggravate racial tension.

Those of us who live together in big cities with many African Americans , Jews and other minorities want a peaceful day to day working relationship. We don't want our dreams to go up in smoke. Unfortunately, there are racial supremacists of all ethnicities who see something to be gained from racial violence.

I do not blame Obama himself for introducing the spectre of violence into talk of a McCain victory. After the Supreme court declared George W. Bush the victor in his first term, talk was rampant that he was not the "real president", that Al Gore was really president. The erosion of the idea of loyal opposition and distrust of America's political institutions is the first step towards a slippery slide that can easily descend into civil strife.

If Obama is defeated, there will be a brief interlude of anger and disappointment among his supporters. This is a part of every hotly contested election.
Unfortunately, talk of unrest in the event of an Obama defeat is widespread. To me it reeks of extortion. It is as disgraceful for a voter to give into fear as it is for a juror. I will not buckle. Furthermore, I do not want to be held hostage for Obama's physical safety. There is little doubt that after an Obama victory there would be four years of anxiety in our violent and polarised society and in our troubled times. I would have no problem voting for a President who happens to be African American. There have been many such figures in American politics. Unfortunately, Obama has made himself into an icon, and as such a focus for political passions. That was his decision and not mine. That is why I am voting for John McCain.

On the threat of post election violence

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Joe Biden: Ducking Tough Questions and Asking For Your Vote

Those who are afraid of the truth try to shut down their opposition. Joe Biden had a tough interview with a television news reporter in Florida named Barbara West. She asked him tough questions about the Democrat's approach to economics and to foreign policy. It is precisely the advantage of a democracy that such questioning is encouraged. Reporters should be our representatives, asking questions on our behalf.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden seem to have a completely different view of the role of the press in a free society. During the interview, Biden seemed incredulous that he was not being given the pre-coronation treatment to which he had become accustomed.

"Are you joking? and "I don't know who's writing your questions." were among the astounded responses given by Joe Biden during the interview on WFTV.

An official act of retaliation for the brazen show of lese majeste was not long in coming.

According to the Orlando Sentinel, the Obama campaign has cut off all access to the Obama campaign by WFTV. The Obama campaign immediately cancelled a WFTV interview with Jill Biden, Joe Biden's wife, explaining as follows in a letter to the television station. "This cancellation is non-negotiable, and further opportunities for your station to interview with this campaign are unlikely, at best for the duration of the remaining days until the election".

The letter was signed by Laura K. McGinnnis, Central Florida communications director for the Obama campaign.

WFTV news director Bob Jordan explained, ""When you get a shot to ask these candidates, you want to make the most of it. They usually give you five minutes."

He noted that most campaigns pick and choose their preferred news outlets, who usually reward them with powder puff questions.

"Mr. Biden didn't like the questions." noted Mr. Jordan. ""We choose not to ask softball questions."

It is important to know when reading or viewing the news whether the responsibility of the reporter is to the interviewee or to the audience. Basic duties of politeness do not preclude a tough line of questioning. Previous American presidents have dealt with hostage crises and acts of terrorism. Those who were challenging our country whether at the World Trade Center or in Teheran or Baghdad did not care about the tender feelings of the chief executive. I do not want to expose Joe Biden or Barack Obama to rude insensitive people who will try to hurt their feelings and make them look bad. That is why I am voting for McCain and Palin.

Friday, October 24, 2008

A Look at Uzbekistan

Since the early 1990's , the former Soviet Union has broken up into separate republics. Uzbekistan used to be a Republic of the Soviet Union. Its alphabet switched from Latin to Cyrillic when it was taken over by the USSR in the early 1920's. Their language is actually Turkic rather than Slavic, with Persian, Arabic and Russian contributing to its vocabulary as well. In one of its provinces , Bukhara is one of its provinces in which a dialect of Farsi is spoken.

Under Soviet rule, ethnic differences were suppressed and to some degree sublimated. Jews and Muslims collaborated to assist each other in preserving their respective faiths under communism. Since independence, the proximity and influence of Iran have been an increasing factor in the politics of the region. Some of the material support given to those wishing to return to their ancestral faith is tainted with anti democratic and chauvinistic sentiments. As a result, the quality of Jewish life has deteriorated in that country.

Many Jews who had to flee the Nazis took refuge in Uzbekistan during World War Two. The indigenous Uzbek Jews opened their hearts and homes to their Ashkenazic fellow Jews. At a dark time in our history, this extended display of comradeship should never be forgotten.

Each region of the former USSR has its own music. I am posting today a video of Uzbek rock music. I hope my readers enjoy it as much as I do. The name of the group is Sahar

Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez Shows Us the Folly of Obama’s Way

Venezuela, an OPEC member and a major producer of oil is now suffering power blackouts, some of them hitting most heavily neighbourhoods that are Hugo Chavez electoral strongholds. According to Yahoo News, “The OPEC nation has suffered three nationwide blackouts this year, and chronic power shortages have sparked protests from the western Andean highlands to San Felix, a city of mostly poor industrial workers in the sweltering south.”

Substandard electrical service is now a leading national concern in Venezuela. Although there are government projects to expand electrical production in Venezuela, they are building annually only about a third of what is required to meet Venezuela’s expanding energy needs.

For years Venezuela has neglected the maintenance, development and expansion of its electrical grid. The ascendance of anti capitalist rhetoric to the level of substantive measures under the regime of Hugo Chavez has put a chill on investor’s plans to invest in oil rich Venezuela.

The very regions targeted by Chavez for ambitious education and medical assistance programs are now finding their lives blighted by lack of electricity. The Yahoo News article cites the example of an elderly woman , blind and surviving on a pacemaker who lacks even an electric fan to help her through hot and humid nights.

In a comic episode of poetic justice, the article tells a story of a legislator who was not allowed to present the energy complaints of her constituents in the impoverished city of San Felix.

“Pastora Medina, a legislator representing San Felix and nearby cities suffering chronic power problems, this month tried to bring the issue up in the national Congress in Caracas, but the legislature’s leadership refused to let her speak.

Several hours later, as the legislature discussed a South American integration plan created by Chavez, Congress itself lost power for around 10 minutes.

Click here to read entire article

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Dwa Plus Jeden, a Polish Rock Group From the Seventies

One of my Shabbos guests, Yankel is of Polish ancestry, having spoken only Polish until he was about five years old. He is very well versed in Polish music and film. Although he is a regular Shabbos guest, I have never had a chance to play any of the Polish music of which I am so fond, since I can not of course put on CD's on Shabbos or Yom Tov

Back in 1976, I was in East Berlin. I became familiar during that visit with "The Puhdys" of East Germany and "Dwa Plus Jeden", who were very popular in Poland and to some extent in Eastern Europe.

Though there is much to dislike about communist rule, not all of the music was bad. The government actually tried to promote local music to compete with Western pop music. Some was actually quite good. "The Puhdys in fact count the members of "Rammstein" amond their fans. Poland was credited with some very good jazz music.

I do not speak any Polish, but there is a certain soft sound to the language that differs markedly from other Slavic languages. Looking at the different languages in Eastern Europe is a bit like looking at a family portrait. The similarity of words in different regional languages such as the numbers and words for yes and no is unlike English which is sort of like an island standing alone.

I have because of my ancestry and experiences maintained a curiousity about Eastern Europe and Slavic cultures in general. This is of course tempered with a pained ambivalence in surveying Jewish history in many countries that hold a fascination for me. It has not translated itself into any deep familiarity with any particular country. In a sense it is sort of like having "a foot outside every door."

I promised that I would put some "Dwa Plus Jeden" on my web site. There is a lot of material I could put up about Poland that fascinates me , such as non Polish minorities and Polish films, but this will have to do for now. So Yankel can listen to Polish rock music in his apartment, as can all my other listeners


The title of the first song has to do with filling the world with light. I don't know any more than that. How many Polish people don't speak English but like American music? I'm just returning the courtesy.

The second song I don't understand at all. I do like the mood of the photography in the accompanying video

Monday, October 20, 2008

Comments on Election Fraud and other Election Issues

Up until now, the term voter fraud has evoked images of homeless people getting beer money and cigarettes. It has evoked images of the down and out making a few dollars off the system. If you want to engage in emotional and intellectual gymnastics, you could almost pity the bit players, even as your anger mounts at their handlers working as “irregulars on behalf of Obama.

The New York Post, one of the only New York Newspapers not campaigning for Obama, has come up with some interesting news. Voter fraud is for yuppies too.

According to the New York Post’s exclusive article , ‘Four well-heeled New York Democrats are under investigation by an Ohio prosecutor for setting up a temporary home in the swing state - where two have already cast their ballots - just so that their votes will be counted there.”

The four are part of a group that allegedly moved to Ohio for thirty days to establish residency in a swing state.Two have already cast absentee ballots and six others have requested absentee ballots. They are a part of a group of thirteen out of state residents of Ohio who allegedly live in a small three bedroom house.

Among the targets of the probe are the son and daughter of a New York real estate magnate. The Post lists some of the targets of the investigation by Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brian as follows.

* Joel Speyer, 39, a New York CPA who lives in Brooklyn and works for Mellon bank here. He owns the Brownlee Avenue house and rented it to Vote From Home in June for an undisclosed period for $2,500, Federal Election Commission papers show. Speyer is a registered New York voter and cast a ballot in February’s primary. He re-registered in Ohio Sept. 1, and last week voted absentee.

* Halstead, 34, and Gustafson, 31, both longtime New York voters. Halstead last cast a ballot in the state’s February primary. Gustafson voted in Manhattan in 2007. Both requested Ohio absentee ballots.

* Daniel Hemel, 23, a Harvard grad and former Sun reporter from Scarsdale, Westchester County. He registered to vote in Ohio Oct. 1, casting a ballot the same day. Hemel later returned to Oxford University in England, where he and other Vote From Home workers attend as Marshall Scholars.

* Also under investigation are three daughters - Jennifer, 20, Tania, 21, and Michael Anne, 24 - of Brooklyn resident David R. Kyle. He is CEO of a firm that raises money for schools in India and is one of two major financial backers of the PAC. The three women, whom records show most recently lived in the Washington, DC, area and Connecticut, have requested absentee ballots.

The Brownlee 13 also includes a Cornell University grad from Los Angeles and a Marshall Scholar from Arizona who have both cast their ballots.

O’Brian was alerted to the possibility of fraud by student reporters from, a Fox News affiliate . The suspicious patterns and concentration of residents in such a small dwelling sparked suspicion and constituted probable cause for investigation.

Ohio State law permits voter registration only for those intending to establish permanent residency in Ohio. Registration by temporary residents is not allowed. Although the prosecutor is lloking for grounds to extend the benefit of the doubt, the circumstances of the suspicious registration make this a difficult proposition. Supporting evidence such as jobs and vehicle registration could possibly validate the integrity of the registrations. If they are working in New York or elsewhere out of Ohio, this would raise red flags.

Voter fraud is a felony in Ohio, punishable by up to a year in prison. Predictably , the group denies any wrongdoing.

According to the Post,”The targets of the probe - including the daughter and son-in-law of a New York City real-estate titan, a former New York Sun reporter and a Bank of New York Mellon executive - are connected to Vote From Home, a Manhattan-based political action committee set up to get voters to the polls in Ohio, where residents are allowed to cast ballots 29 days before Election Day”

The Upscale Face of Electoral Fraud

Absentee ballots are usually cast by shutins or people who have frequent business out of their place of usual residence. Unfortunately, the practice frequently opens a window of opportunity for voter fraud. Across the nation, this election has raised passions. Contrasting ideologies and the hopes of those who want an African American President have sparked energy and creativity. Unfortunately, this creativity has gone past the art of winning hearts and minds and spilled over into raising the dead and creating fictitious identities. Although the bulk of voters of whatever persuasion are real people, fraud can swing close races. This story from the New York Post is a true measure of the Obama campaign’s desperation as the Presidential campaign enters its final weeks. The involvement of limosine liberals and yuppie trash in the latest instances of voter fraud put a new and interesting face on the criminal underbelly of the Obama campaign. Keeping this election clean is a battle to be fought on many fronts. It is fortunate that the Post, and Fox News have uncovered this latest attempt to undermine democracy in a battleground state.


I am putting up the link to a slide show of the world’s most worthless money. It is sad to note that one of the panels in the slide show is an Iranian bill with a picture of Ayatollah Khomeini. It was Barack Obama’s role model and supporter who was instrumental in trashing the economy of that once staunch American ally. How many more American allies would go down the tubes with Obama as President? Do You want to take a chance? How much would a hundred dollars buy after four years of Obama? Would you be free to complain about it?

Click Here for entire story

Sunday, October 19, 2008

My Comments on the Powell Endorsement / My Comments on Persecution of Christians

To the surprise of few, Colin Powell has endorsed Barack Hussein Obama for president, passing over his contemporary, John McCain,who is only a few months older than he. Although it is politely said that Powell was a voice of moderation in the Bush administration, he was not very discreet about concealing his disagreements with his boss. His unhappiness in the Bush White House was a very poorly kept secret.

It was publicly announced before George Bush’s second nomination that Powell would not be attending. Powell made no secret of his support for affirmative action and for abortion. An argument could be made for creativity on the part of the Bush administration in choosing Powell on the basis of his military and foreign policy credentials alone.

Colin Powell evokes memories of Douglas MacArthur, who in 1951 was fired by President Truman for publicly disagreeing with him on matters of military policy. It is hard to believe that the “leaks of his disagreements with the Bush administration were accidental. Letting it be known that he is pro choice and pro affirmative action may not have been good for the Bush administration, but it was certainly good for Powell’s political credentials.

Click Here For Rest of Story

Persecution of Christians Today

There is an issue that will be with us for some time, regardless of who is elected president in November. This issue is the physical safety of Christians in many parts of the world. In India, Christian missionaries have been murdered. In Pakistan, criticism of Islam in a religious discussion can carry capital charges of “defaming Islam”. Across the Islamic world, Christian girls have been abducted, raped and forcibly converted to Islam.

Africa’s religious demographics have been shaped by the west’s battle for the souls of its people. Both Islam and Christianity have sponsored conversion outreach efforts in Sub Saharan Africa.In some countries, the tension between Muslims and Christians is palpable. A tragic outgrowth of post election violence in Kenya was the destruction of over 800 churches and the death of over 1500 people.

The west has shaped Africa’s political map, roping together disparate tribes and ethnic groups for reasons of economic convenience. From Nigeria with its Biafran secession movement in the late sixties to Rwanda with its genocide of the Tutsi minority, the continent has known all too little peace.

Westerners have come to Africa for oil, for gold and for diamonds. Even today, human beings are bought and sold like cattle as the spoils of war. Even though we do not own slaves in America, the products of slave labour do reach America’s shores.

Click here for rest of article

Friday, October 17, 2008

Election 2008 My Comments

Obama Campaign Wins Valuable Endorsement

The Obama campaign is encouraged by the recent Supreme Court decision barring the investigation of questionable voter registrations in Ohio. A new organisation has joined in their effort to enroll previously voiceless constituencies.

FAVOR, which stands for Fictitious American Voters Opposed to Republicans has now stepped up its campaign on multiple fronts. A few examples of their campaign are listed here.

1) FAVOR has started a get out the vote drive in the “dead community” . Obama volunteers have been seen knocking on tombstones in cemetaries around the country. Their campaign song is “Knockin on Heaven’s Door.”

2) The animal rights campaign has stepped up their campaign at animal shelters across the nation, filing suits so that pawprints can be recognised as marks on ballots. Militant fish activists have condemned this disenfranchisement of gilled creatures. Their campaign song is “Tou ain’t Nuthin But a Hound Dog.” (But You Can Still Vote.)

3) LAMP or Legal Action For Multiple Personalities has demanded voting rights for each multiple personality forced to share a single body. Even those with anger management problems have been registered twice.

“If you’re beside yourself, that means you must be two people. As such you should be able to vote twice.” a LAMP spokesperson explained.

Efforts to register one celled organisms have been stymied by the fact that their life span is well below the minimum voting age. That has not however stopped efforts to lower the voting age.

“Pediatric Americans, or “children” as they are so disparagingly called include millions of Obama supporters who are currently disenfranchised.” read a recent letter signed by a T. Antrum of an organisation called PACT or “Pediatric American Committee for Tots. Efforts to reach Mr. Antrum were unsuccessful due to a “time out ” session declared by his mommy.

“The whole world supports Obama. It’s mid autumn, and half the leaves have fallen from the trees.” noted Ariel Stoner, an Obama activist. So many of those leaves were raked up and discarded when they could have been registered to vote. What a waste.”

There is no telling how many new constituencies might be empowered by the Obama campaign. Pet rocks, for instance that were sold back in the eighties are now in their early thirties have never voted. Ariel Stoner considers this a tragedy.

“The only time people notice rocks is when they are tossed through plate glass windows. We are giving them a peaceful alternative. We are empowering rocks as never before.”

Fortunately , adoption certificates from the seventies for pet rocks have served as proof of age and residency for “rocky” voters. Efforts to involve the Rolling Stones in this effort have not yet borne fruit.

This of course brings us to the subject of registering fruits and vegetables to vote.

“They say that the apple never falls far from the tree.” chuckled Mr. Stoner at the end of our interview. “That may be true. But they can still vote.”

Obama's Carteresque Tendencies

Barack Hussein Obama’s pro Israel credentials should receive more scrutiny from Jewish voters. One of his senior advisers on religious affairs is a proponent of “liberation theology”. His name is Shaun Casey, and he has signed a letter circulated by Ron Sider, a proponent of a movement to divorce evangelical Christianity from its support for Israel and from political conservatism in general. This is a clear warning sign that Obama is really a Jimmy Carter retread

Liberation theology seeks of course to harmonise Marxism and other strains of leftism with Christianity. Reverend Wright is one of the louder manifestations of this ideological strain.

According to the Sultan Knish blog , “Several dozen evangelical leaders have released a letter to President Bush in an effort to distinguish themselves from ardent pro-Israel evangelicals and to urge evenhandedness between Israel and the Palestinians.

The letter’s authors got the idea while visiting the U.S.-Islamic World Forum in Doha, Qatar, where, according to the New York Times, they “met Muslim and American diplomats who were shocked to discover the existence of American evangelicals who favored a Palestinian state.” The organizers plan to translate their letter into Arabic and distribute it internationally.

The letter repeated a common media-grabbing formula for liberal evangelicals. Demand action on climate change, denounce U.S. policies on “torture,” or insist on a less pro-Israel stance. The ostensibly surprising revelation that not all evangelicals are reflexively Republican is an almost guaranteed headline maker.

The signers insist that they share the evangelical perspective that God will bless all who bless the descendants of Abraham, a common biblical theme among pro-Israel evangelicals. But they assert that both Israel and the Palestinians have ”legitimate rights stretching back for millennia to the lands of Israel/Palestine,” and that a Palestinian state must include the “the vast majority of the West Bank.”

Ron Sider insisted that he and his fellow letter signers want “security” for Israel. But it’s difficult to know what he, as a professed pacifist, means by security. Many of the signers are skeptical about the U.S. war against terrorism and place greater hope in international mediation than do typical evangelicals. The letters signers assume that Middle East peace depends on pressuring Israel into more accommodations. Most evangelicals are more skeptical.

The movement to separate evangelicals from Israel is a cause that Jimmy Carter has championed in the past. The closeness of this movement to the Obama campaign certainly seems to presage a foreign policy in the Middle East that will resemble that of Jimmy Carter. John McCain’s statement that Obama is “Measuring the drapes” in the Oval Office as well as his flaunting of questionable friends such as Shaun Casey bespeaks a cockiness that will strike many as premature in the heated finale to the Presidential campaign that still lies ahead of us.

Those who want to take Obama at his word and vote Democrat have ample reason to hesitate when looking at Obama’s inner circle

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Post Debate Comments and Observations

Obama spent so much time snickering during the debate, I couldn't remember any thing he said. All I could remember was his snickers. Then I thought of Snickers... Snickers!!! Then I had ... THE MUNCHIES !!!! OH NO !!!! What rhymes with hope ??? I dunno.. Got any change?

I was looking for a video of Barack Obama’s near constant snickering during the debate. It was so bad, I developed a craving for Snickers bars. The power of suggestion is unbelievable. Every time McCain spoke, he bowed his head and snickered. I was wondering what the joke was. I felt left out. I wasn’t in the in crowd. I mean, even the camera man was in on it.

Things got so bad, I asked my wife what she baked into the brownies, cause I sure didn’t inhale anything. She swore up and down, it was just cocoa, flour and Splenda.

It was then that I realised, Obama really does have power of persuasion. He’s a born salesman. there’s only one problem. He’s selling slogans with no substance. It’s like the food that they photograph for advertisements. If you break into the advertising studio and try to grab a bite, it’s usually rubber or wax. There’s no food, no nutrition. You stalk out of the studio feeling cheated.

And that’s how it is with Obama. He’s like a Rolls royce without the engine. He talked about hope and change. I ordered some Bob Hope movies and bought new socks. I even went to the flea market and bought a couple of old Buffalo nickels, so I’d have the other type of change. The man is a born salesman. I always buy something after Obama speaks.

Click Here for complete article

John McCain had one “zinger” moment during the debate. The rest of the time he ably advocated his campaign positions. The “zinger” moment was when he shot back at Obama “If you want to run against George Bush, you should have done so four years ago.” In doing so, he challenged Obama and the American people to match the soundness of the men and the soundness of their ideas.

A recurring and grating image throughout the debate was that of Obama looking down and snickering. It was a projection of a contemptuous attitude, the sort of facial expression worn by members of the “in crowd” in junior high school. I was waiting throughout the entire debate for Obama to let us all in on the joke, but he never did. Someone should have told Obama that he was not at one of Bill Ayer’s wine, cheese and brownie parties where everyone is in the same mindset.

John McCain by contrast looked straight at Obama. It seemed as though he were mentally noting holes in Obama’s logic and errors in his factual presentation. When he gave Obama backhanded compliments on his gift of gab, he expressed the thoughts of many that Obama was great with packaging but spotty on substance.

Someone should have told Obama that jotting on a notepad would have been far more effective than grinning and snickering. It would have conveyed the impression of a man thinking on his feet and attentive to his opponent.

I am waiting for a video to show up on You Tube of all of Obama’s snickers and smirks spliced together. It would make a nice sequel to the” Umm” videos.

The Kennedy Nixon debate was, it is generally agreed lost by Nixon on the basis of appearance and presentation. Kennedy was more versatile in his adaptation to the then novel medium of television. Nixon looked sweaty and nervous. Had the debate been on the radio, it would have been perceived far differently.

Click here for complete article

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thoughts Before Sukkos 5769

Sukkot starts shortly before sunset tonight. There are two aspects of Sukkot that impress me every year. One is the theme of vulnerability. Any other time of year, we can sit at our tables and securely look at raindrops coursing down our window panes. If rain blows in, we close the windows. We look at the stove and timers for the air conditioning to determine our comfort.

On Sukkot, we have no protection against rain. We hope and pray that we won't get washed out of the Sukkah. We have no choice. At the same time, we are aware that rain occupies an important place in the natural balance, however it may inconvenience us. To properly observe the mitzva of Sukkah, we must leave the possibility of even a slight rain penetrating the roof of the Sukkah If we cover the roof, then the Sukkah is no longer fit for the performance of a mitzvah.

The Sukkah is often visible from the street. People who pass by often ask what they are. It is at times like that that one has the opportunity to explain how we were in the desert for forty years, provided for by G-d. Sukkot tends to be more of an open holiday, where people visit each other's Sukkahs. Pesakh by contrast is a holiday in which various strictnesses make visiting our neighbours more complex for some people.

On Pesach, the children of the household ask questions about the seder. On Sukkos, passers by ask questions about the Sukkah. Additionally, in the times of the Bet HaMikdash (the temple), sacrifices were offered on behalf of the nations of the world. During Pesach, the goal of perfecting ourselves is a dominant theme. On Sukkos, the theme of bringing light to the world seems much more revealed.

Between the three festivals, you have Pesach, which involves self improvement. This paves the way directly for revelation on Shavuos, which is the festival seven weeks after Pesach when the Torah was given. Both preparation and revelation leave us the ability and duty to bring light into the world.

One of the other distinguishing features of Sukkot is the blessings said on the four species. The lulav, (palm branch), esrog (citron), hadassim(myrtle),and arovos (willow) represent between them the entire spectrum of Jews, from those with good deeds and Torah knowledge to those with neither learning nor good deeds. All four species representing all types of Jews are necessary for the blessing on the four species. If one of the four is missing, then the mitzvah can not be performed.

On Sukkot, we are reminded of the interconnectedness of the holidays. Just as the organs of the body have separate functions that are interconnected and interdependent, so too does our calendar of holidays function, and within it the Jewish people represented by the four species.

There is a saying that if you don't know how to explain something, that you really don't understand it. The questions of our children at our tables and the questions of passers by who note the presence of a" shack" a "hut" or a "tent" in our front yard focus us. The effort needed to explain to others gives us a clarity within ourselves. Our interdependence on this good ship earth is very much revealed during this long holiday. We are all connected, all interdependent. And it is all very clear during Khag HaSukkot, the Festival of Booths.

Khag Someakh. May the Jewish people and the world be blessed

Sunday, October 12, 2008

McCain's Unheeded Warnings and Pelosi Payola

Back in 2006, John McCain wrote an eerily prophetic letter on Senate stationery. It is signed by 19 other U.S. Senators. Barack Obama absent from the ranks of the signers. The only signatories to the letter are Republicans. At a time when Barney Frank was assuring the public of Fannie and Freddie’s robust solvency, John McCain was asking probing questions that no one on the Democratic side of the aisle wanted to heed warnings.

By contrast, a chorus of Administration figures from Bush on down repeatedly warned the nation as early as April 2001. Who reassured us that all was well? Barney Frank, Charles Schumer and other Democrats. How did they use their influence? They blocked any effective regulations proposed by the Republicans.

Who will take effective remedial action if Obama is presiding over a Democratic Congress? ACORN is pushing night and day to get Barack Obama elected by any means, fair or foul. Acorn also pushed for some of the riskiest home mortgages, many of which are now in default.

We are being hypnotised with a mantra of change……change…… change……. against a backdrop of Obama’s rising poll numbers.

Click here for complete article and McCain's letter

Pelosi Payola

Nancy Pelosi, the woman who turned the lights out in Congress, is getting ready to call Congress into emergency session after the election in November to pass food stamp increases, unemployment extensions and possibly a tax rebate if Obama is elected, according to an article in My Way News.

According to the article “After consulting with Barack Obama, Democratic leaders are likely to call Congress back to work after the election in hopes of passing legislation that would include extended jobless benefits, money for food stamps and possibly a tax rebate, officials said Saturday.

The bill’s total cost could reach $150 billion.”

According to the article, Democrats are increasingly bullish on their election chances, even as pessimism gains traction with the public about the economy. The promise to convene after the election is predicated on massive Democratic victories. No word is given of what would happen if McCain wins. The $150 billion will come from a far less healthy tax base than existed even a few months ago. In the world of government, expenditures are solid, even though tax receipts are far less certain.

click here for complete article

Friday, October 10, 2008

Thoughts About Our Troubled Times

As the figures come in, it appears that this is the biggest financial crisis in the little over half a century that I have been on this earth. In all the difficulties are opportunities for redirection.

We are finding out how much wealth can be created on paper through bluff . People buy and sell property and pump the price up. Then they borrow on the value they have created. When the market "corrects", investors are left with their financial boats docked on sand at high tide.

It is certain that this failure of the financial system to will be studied in order to avoid a repetition in the future.

For years , modest homes that were built for working people were within their means. The mushrooming prices of real estate have left millions treading water with no hope of home ownership. Will a correction in the real estate market ultimately benefit people left behind in the boom years? Just like food is meant to be eaten and not stored forever, so too are dwellings ultimately for human use, rather than simply as investments. We need to rediscover our sense of proportion. Families were becoming enslaved to the roof over their heads and spending less time under that roof with their children. This modern day serfdom needs to be reexamined.

There will be a recovery. Perhaps there will be a reexamination of the practice of building castles on clouds, of building wealth on perceptions instead of substance. The vastness of our current difficulties that has spilled across borders reminds us of the storms we can create with the choices we make as investors. Now we all face that storm together. Whether we are business owners, workers or financiers, we are all sailors on the good ship earth. We need each other and G-d's help

Thoughts of Francesco Guccini, Italy's Bob Dylan

Francesco Guccini was born in 1940 in the village of Modena. He was displaced with his family for a few months during the war. From the late sixties until even the present, Guccini has loomed large on the Italian musical scene. He is compared to Bob Dylan in America. Both have songs of literary as well as musical value. Both also have influenced other musicians. The Modena City Ramblers as well as I Nomadi were spinoffs of Guccini, and performed some of his songs.

Although Guccini's lyrics seem left of centre in their orientation, they have a soulful quality that escapes dogmatism.

I fell in love with the song in this posting without knowing what it was about. The song is about a railroad worker in the nineteenth century who revolted unsuccessfully against the railroad in which he was employed. I was able to get a sense of the song from a somewhat surrealistic computer generated translation of its lyrics.

The impression I got from the translation was of a worker who felt angry and threatened by the novel invention of the railroads and the turbulence they inflicted upon the order in his daily struggle for sustenance. I feel much the same about some of the inventions that have revolutionised our century.

Listening to music in Italian is for me like going to Prospect Park and gazing into the pond there, attempting to penetrate the reflections from the water with a steady gaze. Sometimes I get a flicker of colour. Sometimes I can even see an entire fish or a submerged turtle or frog. But most of what goes on beneath the water is beyond me. So too is music in Italian for me. I catch fleeting glimpses of its musical and linguistic beauty. But much of its full range of emotion and meaning is beyond me.

I hope you, my readers enjoy this music as much as I have. Francesco Guccini has made great contributions to Italian music. It is fitting that he should come to the attention of Anglophone listeners

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yom Kippur Thoughts

I bought a watch from an Argentinian friend for my wife's birthday. As we concluded the purchase, we wished each other and the country well.

The current financial crisis evoked for him memories of Argentina's difficulties a few years ago, when bank after bank closed their doors. Wealthy people were reduced to poverty. Thank G-d they have mostly recovered.

How much did banks measure their wealth by perceptions.?A bank could hold the deed to a million dollar mortgage. But it was only good as long as the borrower could pay. And what happens when a house loses value? What makes a house lose value? The Hebrew term for a home owner is a baal habayis. This translates as "master of the house". How many of us are really slaves to the roof over our head? Banks find ways to raise interest on our assorted loans like a tread mill that goes faster and faster. And when we fail, they ultimately fail. An adversarial relationship helps no one whether we like it or not.

How many countries have fabulous wealth in the ground that evaporates because it is mishandled? The Congo has gold and diamonds as well as mineral wealth. Argentina could have been as wealthy as any country in Europe. What derailed them from greatness was the political culture. It was people who enriched themselves at the expense of the country.

America and Europe are up against the same obstacles. Human nature and human goodness can produce wealth. Selfishness ultimately leads to collective poverty. Employers can choose to exploit their employees. Banks can bleed their borrowers without mercy. And employees can bleed their companies into insolvency. They are all drilling holes in the boat they share.

Working together we can create abundance. Our planet has an operating manual. G-d did not set us adrift without a map. Every G-d given law is for the common good.

The expression "smart money" is unwittingly profound. It points to the truth that wealth has no intelligence of its own. It is an extension of what we make it. And what we make of wealth depends on what we make of ourselves. The wealth within ourselves and the goodness in human relationships does not exist separately from money in the bank.

On Yom Kippur, rich and poor wear the same white garment. It is one of the garments in which a man is buried. The choice of attire is an opportunity to focus on matters other than material wealth, to focus on the endless riches of an imortal soul and the power of everyone to coin good deeds.

We can, we should, we must carry this awareness into the year ahead

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Gaelic Lives!!

h Sting and the Chieftains Mo Ghile Mear (With Some English

I grew up around many people of Irish ancestry. Some of my friends had grandparents who fought the British for Irish independence. The Irish suffered a lot of discrimination when they came to America. Their traditions and faith were mocked by those who had been in America longer. When my mother told me stories of discrimination endured by Slavic immigrants, she sounded a note very similar to the stories told by nuns of Irish ancestry who taught me and a student body that was in large part Irish American.

It is odd that Irish Gaelic is struggling for survival in its homeland.Irish writers used the language of their conquerors with skill. The English left the predominance of their language as a legacy of the British occupation. Force of will and ethnic pride is however bringing back a resurgence of Irish Gaelic. Not only is it being taught in schools. Some rural areas where Gaelic is spoken in a pure form are being maintained as language preserves.

I do not know a word of Gaelic except for a phrase taught to me by an Irish bartender that would not endear me to anyone who would understand it. But I love the sound of the language.Whenever I listen to Irish music, I try to find it in Gaelic. The death of a language leaves me with an indescribable sadness. A tongue that joins even two people has a soul. There is a melancholy to the thought of the last speaker of a dying tongue singing a song no longer understood by the living. From Coptic to Cornish, the march of human progress is littered with languages left by the wayside.

I am including with this posting two songs that showcase the beauty of Gaelic. I hope this posting inspires in some of my readers an interest in Irish music and in others the desire to preserve their ancestral language and traditions, whatever they may be

Monday, October 6, 2008

Obama's Dubious "Outreach" Efforts and Thoughts of East Germany

Angela Merkel, German Chancellor and American Ally

The spreading news of an “Obama Jugend” (Obama Youth) movement budding in the midst of the presidential campaign troubles me. The idea of party youth groups has a historical resonance that is very troubling.

With the prominence of women in this political race, I find myself thinking of Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany . Merkel was born in the former East Germany to a father who was a Lutheran pastor widely viewed as sympathetic to the communist regime then in power. Although she was at one time a member of FDJ (Free German Youth), she refused to participate in its “Jugendweihe” (youth consecration) ceremony, a common experience to East German youth at the age of 14. Instead, she chose to be confirmed in the Lutheran church. Merkel graduated from the University of Leipzig and has a degree in physics. She is fluent in Russian.

Merkel became active in the democratisation movement “Democratic Awakening” in the late eighties that culminated in the fall of the Berlin wall and the reunification of Germany. She was elected to the Bundestag after reunification. Her political party later merged with the Christian Democratic Party.

Click Here for complete article and music videos

Obama Campaign Reaches Out For Felon Vote

The Obama campaign is trying to get any vote it can in closely contested states. The strategy of appealing to various constituencies has been extended to convicted felons.

According to an MSNBC article,“Obama has co-sponsored a Senate measure that would allow all ex-felons to vote, but his campaign isn’t directly targeting ex-felons for registration. His campaign does include relevant info on its Web site and educates volunteers so they can explain state laws to those who may not realize they have the right to vote, according to campaign spokesman Kevin Griffis

“All we’re trying to do is make sure that, if someone is eligible, that they know their rights and that if they want to vote, they can take part,” Griffis said Tuesday. “I think there’s a lot of misinformation out there. Even people who may have been guilty of a misdemeanor feel like the felony laws apply to them and say they can’t vote.”

It is interesting that the Obama campaign assumes that the loyalty of ex-felons is a given. African American communities are afflicted with violent crime rates far higher than those found in white areas. The Obama campaign could give a voice to the weary and traumatised majority of African Americans who are sick of violent crime. He could even articulate a distinction between

Click here for entire article

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Thank You Chiune Sugihara

A true test of character is when someone does the right thing with no hope of reward and a strong likelihood of punishment. Chiune Sugihara of blessed memory passed this test when he was the Japanese consul in Kovno, Lithuania in 1941 at the outbreak of war between the USSR and Germany.

Japanese foreign ministry rules were very strict about issuing residence or transit visas for Japan. A transit visa could only be issued when the applicant had a destination visa for a country willing to accept him. The Dutch colony of Curacao required no visa and issued letters to that effect to those who requested it. This was an extremely dubious loophole for visa applicants. Sugihara's superiors specifically prohibited this as a grounds for issuing a transit visa.

Chiune Sugihara disobeyed his superiors flagrantly and repeatedly in a society and work environment that frowned on disobedience. He did nothing but issue visas from morning to night for days on end. Some desperate applicants came without passports. He would not turn them away. The task was physically demanding. He had to sometimes write out visas by hand one after the other until hundreds of grateful recipients thronged past counting. When his consulate closed, he issued visas from his hotel room. When he was leaving Lithuania, he issued visas from the train station. Only the departure of the train stopped his untiring hands from their work of mercy.

Sugihara's wife supported his work with all her heart. Her eyes filled with tears even decades later as she described the desperation of the refugees.

After the war, Sugihara lost his foreign ministry position. The official story is that it was simply a post war shake up. According to his wife, there was displeasure with his actions in Kovno.

Sugihara did not have an easy life. He spent sixteen years working away from his family in the USSR to make a living.

In 1968, a grateful beneficiary of Sugihara's efforts, Yehoshua Nishri located Sugihara and articulated his thanks to the Sugiharas. He was given official recognition as a Righteous Gentile. His family was awarded Israeli citizenship in perpetuity.

When asked why he did what he did, he said as follows. "You want to know about my motivation, don't you? Well. It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He cannot just help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people's lives....The spirit of humanity, philanthropy...neighborly friendship...with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation---and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage. "

In explaining his actions he quoted an old Samurai saying. "Even a hunter cannot kill a bird which flies to him for refuge."

The descendants of those saved by Sugihara number now in the thousands. The Jewish people owe him a debt of unending thanks. His example is a perfect example of how the best in people can be brought out by the worst circumstances.


The video with this posting is a short presentation of the Sugihara story.

Friday, October 3, 2008

1)Nazi Style Christianity Makes Its Way To American Schools (2)Obama’s Contract on Free Speech In America

One of the distinguishing features of Christianity in Nazi Germany was its revisionist Approach to the ancestry of Jesus. While traditional texts point to the Jewish ancestry of his mother, Nazi theologians rewrote biblical history so Jesus would have a Roman father and a Syrian mother.

Now , American textbooks with a leftist rather than socialist imprimatur have adopted the Nazi tactic of falsifying Christianity’s early history for political purposes.

According to World Net Daily there are now a host of textbooks that have adopted attitudes to Jews that run the gamut from dismissive to hostile. Even Scott Foresman , a major text book publisher has apparently put its presses at the disposal of individuals with a hidden agenda.

In a particularly outrageous example of biased history, a Scott Foresman textbookcalled “The World,” includes the following passage. ”

“Christianity was started by a young Palestinian named Jesus.”

There is a disturbing tendency among textbook producers to take adherents of Islam at their word, producing texts which glorify their faith without a critical counterpoint.

By contrast, Christianity and Judaism are treated with a megadose of skepticism that crosses the border into contempt. It seems as though radical Islam has supplanted revolutionary Christianity as the newest religious fad among the radical chic set. Its infiltration into textbook production is particularly disturbing. Instead of promoting critical and discerning thinking, clear patterns of preference and bias are emerging with disturbing frequency in school textbooks across the nation.

Click Here for Full Story


Obama’s Contract on Free Speech In America

The Obama campaign has shown a disturbing lack of commitment to freedom of political speech. Letters on law firm stationery calling for McCain ads to be pulled , law enforcement in Missouri contacting political opponents of Obama and Obama’s notorious “truth squads”are egregious examples of the Obama campaign’s willingness to abuse the legal system to stifle political dissent.

The cancellation of Sarah Palin’s appearance at an anti Ahmadinejad rally was presented as a craven cave in to political pressure. According to political blogger Sultan Knish the truth is considerably more sinister.

Organisers of the rally were contacted by a law firm that advised them that a Palin appearance would jeopardise their tax exempt status. Such letters are rarely intended as friendly pro bono legal advice. This letter was no exception. Sultan Knish quotes the Jewish Telegraphic agency as follows.

“A former top IRS official warned Jewish groups that they would likely face a financial penalty and expensive audit process if they went through with plans to have the Republican vice-presidential candidate speak at an anti-Iran rally.

The warning came from Marcus Owens, a 25-year veteran of the Internal Revenue Service and the former director of its tax-exempt unit. According to the general counsel of the UJA-Federation of New York, it echoed the advice of several other lawyers.

Zimmerman’s version of events, confirmed by Owens, would appear to poke a major hole in the claim by right-wing critics that organizers of the rally were motivated primarily by partisan politics in deciding to disinvite Palin and other American elected officials.”

There is a problem with the JTA spin on the warning from Marcus Owens. It comes up in an examination of Owen’s resume. Owens is very concerned with the separation of non profit organisations from the political process. Unfortunately, his concern is tendentious and selective. According to Sultan Knish, he regularly protects liberal religious organisations on their political forays while selectively hamstringing conservatives of whom he disapproves with threats against their tax exempt political status.

According to Sultan Knish and Insight Magazine “The problem with this little charade by the Federation and the JTA is that the only named lawyer consulted here, Marcus Owens is very much a partisan source.

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Thursday, October 2, 2008

On Hunting and Our Fitness To Eat Meat

Before Rosh HaShanah I was busy posting articles on my sites. Just before candle lighting, I glanced at an article about female hunters. It was on Lemon Lime Moon and contrasted the admiration of the hunters for the beauty of an elk with the gloating that followed their subsequent killing of such a splendid animal.
"One woman was in a hunting blind ooowing and ahhing to her gal pal over a big Elk," Lemon Lime Moon recalled of a documentary on female hunters. "She was amazed by its size and majesty and beauty. She praised how alive and wonderful and full of spirit it was. Then she shot it."

I have had many discussions with vegetarians and hunters. While neither group has won me to their ranks, both have moved me to question my own practices.

I grew up in a home with dogs. I have had rodents of various sorts as pets. One summer, we watched a nest full of robin's eggs hatch under the loving care of their parents. In my world view, the animating life force is refracted through the prism of myriad species. As a husband and father, I sometimes feel a sense of commonality with other life forms whose emotions and issues seem to resemble my own.

Because I am a city dweller, I am able to compartmentalise my view of meat so that it is almost unrelated to barnyard creatures. When looking looking at cows and sheep in a petting zoo with my children, I distanced myself from the awareness that these were species that provided meat. During kapporos, I try to confront this boundary , to feel a commonality with the rooster that is dying at the beginning of what I hope will be another full year.

The rationale for eating meat is that an animal achieves a higher level existence through the person who eats it. Eating meat on Rosh HaShanah is a time that is particularly appropriate to such reflections. The closest I can come to a philosophical embrace of vegetarianism is the thought that much human conduct affords the slaughtered beast a descent from its prior level of existence. What sort of cosmic lottery directs a steak to the table of a gangster or a prophet?

Most of humanity banishes the image of a sheep or cow from the mind's eye as part of the preparation for consuming its flesh. Hunters seem to cultivate an awareness of a living creature even as they kill and consume it. They seem to have a different process of separation from animals than those of us who buy meat packaged in styrofoam and shrink wrap.

The image of a woman as a hunter jars one's sense of women as the nurturing half of the human species. Whatever negative feelings one might have towards a male hunter are greatly magnified if the hunter is a woman.

There is a time to kill. We read Koheles at Sukkos time . Its words seem particularly relevant to this question.


To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace. (Koheles Ch 3)

When it is a time to kill, one must of necessity deaden oneself to certain feelings. Soldiers and police officers are necessary to the peace we take for granted. In order to do their job properly, they cannot meditate upon the common humanity they share with a criminal or an enemy soldier. To a certain extent, they identify the enemy as a threat and then think of them as a target.

Those of us who eat meat delegate the task of psychological separation to a professional who slaughters the beast we use for food.

The disturbing question that occurs to me in seeing a hunter standing over an animal they have shot is what effect it has on their emotions and on their psyche.
I wonder if those who collect rare books or Indian Head pennies are taking their hunting instinct in a different and more benign direction.

We are supposed to be the pinnacle of creation, the top of all living creatures. When I look at an automobile or a laptop computer, I have no trouble believing that. Reading an article about war crimes trials in the Hague and Florida leaves me with the sickening knowledge that humans can sink far below the level of animals.

Lemon Lime Moon expresses some strong emotions towards the female hunters, cursing them out with an adeptness that I envy.

"I don't think she would ever see my blog, Lemon Lime Moon says in her article" but on the very off chance she ever does, this is for her:
Lady, and I use the term loosely you lard encrusted bimbo,... you're a jerk, a moron and an empty headed spittoon. From now on may all your hunting be for Kodiak bear with an unloaded gun and may the ever regurgitating sewers of Rangoon back up into your breakfast". Amen."

If the hunters left the carcass to rot, I would have no trouble saying" amen" to such a blessing. If, however they took the meat home, they are only showing me the fate of homelier but no less sentient creatures than the elk.

I do not take the welfare of animals lightly. One of the Seven Universal Noahide Laws deals with the welfare of animals.

The same sensibilities that move me to question human worthiness to consume the meat of animals moves me to seething anger at humans who hunt humans such as the Liberian man on trial for war crimes in Miami including cannibalism, torture and disfigurement. If he is convicted, such an artful curse as quoted above would not suffice as even a down payment on his portion of eternal misery in hell's lowest reaches.

Alleged Liberian War Crimal on trial in Miami