Tuesday, June 30, 2009

It's Official: Senator Al Franken

News item: The Minnesota Supreme Court has certified comedian Al Franken as the winner of the state senatorial election. He now becomes the 60th Democrat in the Senate.

Question: "How many clowns can fit in a Volkswagen?"
Answer: 60

"Hey, leave one more space for Al."

The Firefighter Case-an Embarrassment for Sonia Sotomayor

Sonia Sotomayor

Monday, the Supreme Court-divided along conservative/liberal lines- issued its decision on the famous New Haven firefighter case (Ricci v DeStefano) that ruled in favor of the white and Hispanic firefighters who were denied promotions they had earned on a city exam because no African-Americans qualified. Since no black firefighters had qualified on the exam, the city of New Haven-fearing a lawsuit, acted pro-actively in throwing out the exam. Not only does the ruling signal the possible end of race-based affirmative action, it also raises another question about Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor and her legal judgment. As part of a three-judge panel in the Second Circuit, she had summarily dismissed the lawsuit by the firefighters claiming that were victims of discrimination.

Though some Republican senators on her confirmation panel will raise the issue, albeit gingerly, in her confirmation hearings, the votes are not there to derail her confirmation. Only if she stumbles badly in dealing with the questions or other issues, such as her "wise Latina" comment, is there any real possibility of her nomination sinking. This case underlies, however, the inescapable fact that we will have a race-conscious activist judge on the Supreme Court, one who has had seven of eight decisions that have gone to the Supreme Court for review overturned. Not an impressive record for one ascending to that same court.

"Welcome to the Supreme Court, Justice Sotomayor. We've read your writings."

Now let's look at the test itself. This test was highly-vented for flaws that would deem it culturally discrimnatory against African-Americans (whatever that entails). It was reviewed by minority firefighters among the supervisory ranks for flaws. It was deemed fair. Yet, no African-American scored high enough to merit promotion. So it was thrown out, and those white fire-fighters (plus two Hispanics) who qualified were denied their promotions in the name of racial equity. In that case, why not forget about promotional tests and throw them all out? Just pick your promotions along racial lines and be done with it?

And what message do we send to African-American employees when we throw out a test in which none qualified? Are we to say to our black employees that they are not good enough to pass a certain test because they are black? Just what are the factors that officials look for when determining that a test is culturally biased against a specific ethnic group?

To me, this case shows that affirmative action is an idea whose time has passed. Whatever need may have existed for it once no longer exists. It is nothing more than an insult to minorities which sends a message that they should be judged by lesser standards. Is that what they really want? Is it not a form of racism to set up an artificial system to ensure that the required number of minority employees are represented? Don't we believe that they are fully capable of achieving results on their own?

Don't you believe that, Judge Sotomayor?

Monday, June 29, 2009

Honduras-The Pajama Revolution

"Last night, I was President of Honduras. Now I'm here in Costa Rica."

Back in the early 1980s, when I was working with DEA in Los Angeles, our enforcement group had arrested a third country national for a drug extradition to Sweden. His attorney filed all the appeals with the courts as his client remained free on bond. Late one afternoon, we got word that the courts had denied his appeal and authorized the extradition to go through. Apparently, the subject and his attorney were the last to know because our agents spent the evening making reservations for three on SAS to Stockholm for early the next morning. Sure enough, two of our agents picked him up at his house and took him straight to the airport and off they went before his attorney could file an appeal.

I was reminded of that story upon hearing of the coup that removed Honduran President (now-ex president) Manuel Zelaya from power. Seems the military (acting on authorization from the Supreme Court)had gone to the presidential place and whisked Zelaya off to lovely Costa Rica-still dressed in his pajamas.

Zelaya was in the process of throwing out the Honduran constitution by setting up a sham referendum that would allow him to extend his term in office. Problem is, no such voter referendum is allowed by the Honduran constitution. Zelaya plugged ahead anyway, firing his military chief when he refused to cooperate. In the end, the constitution prevailed, at least in Honduran fashion.

Zelaya had been trying to move his country left in the mode of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela. Not surprisingly, Chavez, along with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua and Fidel Castro in Cuba, have condemned the coup. They have company. Barack Obama has also condemned the coup and called it "illegal".

Not only that, but now it is revealed that the Obama administration, having gotten an inkling of the impending coup, tried to head it off by asking the military not to intervene, but they ignored the requests from Washington.

So, how this plays out is any body's guess. Zelaya is now scheduled to come to New York and address the United Nations. Hopefully, he won't still be in his pajamas.

Joe Jackson- Now it All Seems so Clear

If you have ever wondered why Michael Jackson had so many....."issues", shall we say, his father, Joe, cleared it all up with his bizarre performance at the BET event in LA, where he was interviewed by CNN's Don Lemon. Check it out above.

Now you get it, right?

This guy acted like he had just lost 100 bucks at the craps table rather than a son. In fact, it seems Michael was the last thing on his mind-after making sure everyone knew who was in charge of all the legal issues, introducing his attorney, his record label, etc.


Sunday, June 28, 2009

Iran-When All Else Fails, Raid the Embassies

Would you invite these guys over for 4th of July?
"Where's the mustard?"

As the events in Iran continue to unfold, the barbaric government-still blaming the West for the unrest and now threatening to execute protesters (the ones who are not executed in the streets)- have resorted to the tactic in which the Islamic Republic was born; grabbing innocents out of the embassies. This time, eight Iranian employees of the British Embassy in Teheran have been arrested. The Brits and the EU are demanding their release-just as the US demanded the release of our diplomats thirty years ago. However, this regime cares little for the niceties of international diplomatic relations. They have traditionally used their own embassies as a center from which to foment terrorism around the world. The question begs as to why any civilized nation would want to have diplomatic relations with the crazed mullahs who run Iran.

But what is the status of local nationals who work in diplomatic missions? It is common practice for embassies around the globe to hire local nationals to help in their administrative tasks as well as other liaison duties. After all, they speak the language and know how to get things done in the country where the embassy is located.

When I worked overseas with DEA in Bangkok, Thailand and Milan, Italy, my office was naturally located in the embassy and consulate respectively. Both facilities were filled with local Thai and Italian nationals. DEA also utilized local investigative assistants who were valuable for liaison purposes. They had no diplomatic status nor were they able to access classified information. I don't know what duties the specific arrestees had in the British embassy, but it is highly doubtful that they were doing anything against the interests of their own nation (Iran). That, of course, matters little to the fanatics who are in charge of Iran. They have no respect for embassies whatsoever. There is no telling what fate may lie in store for those arrested. Will they be publicly hanged in a square from a construction crane? If any are women, will they be publicly stoned to death? Are they being tortured at this very moment?

In light of this latest event, it is hard to imagine why there is any serious discussion of the US restoring diplomatic relations with Iran. So the next time there is a dispute between our two countries, they can seize our diplomats again? It is the old saying, "Fool me once, shame on you......". Any talk of restoring diplomatic ties with Iran should be reserved for the day when a respectable and civilized government returns to power. What would be nice would be to see the UK and the rest of the EU obtain the freedom of the embassy employees and then close down their embassies-and, of course, send the Iranian diplomats in their countries back home.

Yes, the same Iranian diplomats that were invited to our 4th of July celebrations.

There Goes Michael-Here Come the Ambulance Chasers

It was all so predictable. No sooner than the body is cold, here come the same old tired faces. Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, LA attorney Gloria Allred. It seems everybody is jumping in on the story that won't go away for years-a la Anna Nicole Smith. Here are examples:

Jesse Jackson, the biggest non-attorney ambulance chaser in America, is appearing with the Jackson family ("to begin the healing process", presumably), but also to join in calling for a second autopsy by a private forensic examiner on behalf of the family. That segues into Drs. Cyril Wecht and Michael Baden, who are always found on TV whenever an autopsy makes the news. No doubt one of them will wind up re-carving the famous remains. If it's Wecht, he will undoubtedly proclaim that the first autopsy was botched and Jackson may have been the victim of.......

Foul Play.

Then there is the Reverend Al Sharpton, who is all over the cable network talking about his friendship with Jackson. And don't forget Gloria Allred, LA attorney who is certain to file a lawsuit on behalf of someone who knew Jackson.

Already, Geraldo Rivera is hosting specials on Fox showing replays of his interviews with everyone in the Jackson family over the years and interviewing all those hangers-on who are blasting other hangers-on for enabling Jackson's destructive behavior.

"That's why I'm speaking out, Geraldo" (fill in the name).

And don't forget Fox's Greta van Susteran. As always, she is already on the scene broadcasting from the street in front of the house where Jackson died. (There's nothing in there, Greta.) Remember when the bride-to-be in Georgia disappeared a few years back? Greta was camped in front of her house for a week proclaiming that, "something bad has happened." It was bad, alright. The woman had gotten cold feet and hopped a bus for Vegas, while Greta was asking, "Where is....?"

We'd better get used to it. With the investigation sure to come into the doctor who was present when Jackson died, there is the Jackson estate to carve up and fight over, the three kids to fight over, the lawsuits- I mean, we all saw the template when Anna Nicole Smith keeled over from years of drug use. The cable talk shows are set for the next two years.

And Iran? Can you say page 23?

Saturday, June 27, 2009

My New Look

"Same ol' sh--, different color."

With much work and screwing up, I have changed the design of my website. Since I am a rank amateur, I lost many of the features which I had before, but I am in the process of restoring them. My blogroll will be somewhat reduced, but for those with whom I have mutual links, I will get yours up. If I overlook it, let me know.

Where is CAIR on Iran?

Mr Awad, Mr Hooper?

I periodically check out the official website of the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) to see if they have issued a statement on the happenings in Iran. I have thus far, failed to find any mention of Iran on their site. Of course, it may be that they posted something briefly and I missed it. Or it may be that their national leaders have issued a statement which doesn't appear on the website. Maybe it's all my ineptitude, but I just can't find any mention or statement by CAIR.

Of course, any time you read their website, you will find lots of reports of anti-Muslim bigotry and Islamophobia that they report, as well as reports of all the good works they are doing to promote inter-faith understanding and articles that dispel rumors about the group.

I have found a statement on Iran on the website of the Islamic Society of North America, which calls on the Iranian government to release those arrested during the disturbances, particularly one individual. That's about as far as it goes.

But nothing from CAIR. Can anybody help me out here? Or does CAIR not want to discuss the atrocities and crimes carried out by Islamic governments against their own people? If you want to find CAIR condemnations of Israel when it fights back against terrorists, you will be rewarded. But what about an Islamic government (that's what it calls itself) murdering its own people on the streets of Iranian cities?

So if anyone can illuminate me on any statements by CAIR, it's executive director, Nihad Awad or press spokesman, Ibrahim Hooper, I will be happy to acknowledge them.

Congress Holds Moment of Silence for Jacko!!

Are you kidding me?

No, this is not a moment of silence for our fallen troops, nor Neda Soltan, nor any other victim of the Iranian government crackdown. Not even for Ed McMahon, who fought in our wars.

It's for the King of Pop.

Our tax dollars at work!

Sanford, Ensign, Conyers, Jefferson, Boxer et al: And You Want Big Government?

"We need a bigger ship."

Every time you think the latest bit of legislation or big government program is a good idea, you need to remind yourselves of people like....

Mark Sanford, John Ensign, Barney Frank, William Jefferson, Barbara Boxer, Larry Craig, Monica Conyers, Eliot Spitzer.......

I could go on forever, couldn't I?

Yet, it is astounding how so many people in this country want to see an ever-expanding government, which gives characters like these more and more control over our lives.

If you think government should run health care, read the above list of names and add your own.

Maxine Waters, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, Chris Dodd, Jon Corzine, David Vitters, Arnold Schwarzenegger, David Paterson....

If you think government should take over the banks, read the above lists and add more of your own.

Janet Napolitano, Ray Nagin, John Conyers, Antonio Villaraigosa, Joe Biden, Gavin Newsom, John Edwards...........

I really could go on forever, couldn't I?

If you think government should run the auto industry, add some more names.....

Mark Foley, David Vitter, Marion Barry, Arlen Specter, Patrick Kennedy, Roland Burris, Rod Blagoyevich......

Can't stop now. I'm on a roll.

Is this really what you want, all you liberals out there? More contriol over our lives by these people? More of your money going into the hands of these people to use as they see fit?

Kwame Kilpatrick, Fabian Nunez, Charles Rangel, Richard Daley, Jennifer Granholm, Charles Barron, John Kerry, Al Gore, Barbara Lee, Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton......

If you think government knows better than you how to spend your hard-earned money, consider.....

Cynthia McKinney, Ted Kennedy, Bill Richardson, Diane Watson, Dennis Kucinich, Robert Byrd......

Note that I have included both Democrats and Republicans, senators, congressmen and women, governors and mayors. If you are really honest about it, this is the perfect argument for a smaller, more limited government, one with term limits.

But it's your choice. Our choice.

Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Keith Ellison, Henry Waxman...........

Friday, June 26, 2009

Michael Jackson

I never was a fan of Michael Jackson. Maybe I was just a few years too old to be caught up in his music. That is not to deny his talent, which he was obviously born with. As a singer, he was OK. His extraordinary skill was his dancing and choreography. But who am I? Michael Jackson was possibly the biggest music star of all time. Still, with all the monumental problems going on in the world-especially in Iran, it seems incongruous to me that the world has come to a standstill over his death. Better it come to a standstill over the death of Neda, the young Iranian woman shot dead in the streets of Teheran by a hoodlum government.

Like it or not, however, this Michael Jackson thing is not going away any time soon. The whole episode is a mess-far beyond a 50-year-old man-child dying suddenly of cardiac arrest. No, this has all the ingredients of another Anna Nicole Smith drama complete with drugs, pain-killers, questionable conduct by a physician, alleged injections of Demerol, pending autopsy results, prominent pathologists like Cyril Wecht coming out of the woodwork to second-guess, and CPR performed by a cardiologist on a bed. Throw in the custody battle to come over his three kids and fighting over his estate. Add millions of fans lighting candles, holding vigils, crying, and what have you; it's going to be all Michael-all the time-even if the world comes to an end.

As cynical as I am, I was touched yesterday by the account of local ABC reporter Leo Stallworth, as he recounted his meeting with Jackson a few years back during the course of the infamous child-molestation trial. One day, Stallworth was walking across the parking lot of the courthouse when he encountered Jackson, who was sitting in an SUV. Jackson, recognizing him as a reporter, waved him over, introduced himself, and invited him into the vehicle for a chat. He asked Stallworth about his childhood and how he came to be a reporter. He then explained to Stallworth that he himself was a human, but one who had never had the opportunity to have a cherished childhood. There's not much more I can add to that because I can't tell the story in as moving a way as Stallworth did.

From what we all know of Jackson's life, it is a given that he did not have a normal childhood. Nor did he have the opportunity to become a normally-functioning adult. He have heard stories of possible abuse by his father, but I am no more qualified to pass judgement on that than anyone else. Nor can I pass judgement on the charges of pedophilia, of which he was acquitted. I have my own opinion, but that is all it's worth.

For all his talent, Jackson's legacy will always be clouded. There will always be the questions about chemical dependency, his eccentricities, and the eternal question of his relationships with young children. Was it simply a matter of a confused individual trying to capture a childhood he never had for altruistic reasons, or was it something more sinister? Aside from the superstar performer and the million-selling hits, what will be Jackson's legacy as a person and a citizen? It is unfortunate that we may never settle that question once and for all. Yes, he was a tragic figure-like many others who were brought down by their careers and celebrity. Jackson enjoyed many rewards in life for his talent, but it came at a price.

At the end of it all, I can't decide whether I pity him or not. I do feel, however, that there are more important people and issues in the world that we should be crying over.

John Conyers Statement on Wife's Guilty Plea

Mr and Mrs John Conyers

Now that Monica Conyers, city councilwoman of Detrtoit and wife of Rep. John Conyers has entered a plea of guilty to bribery charges, I suggest my readers click on to John Conyers' website to see his official statement.

If you don't see it on the front page, click to press releases. If it's not there, try his blog.

If it's not there, try.............

Actually, there is this from the Detroit Free Press:

"This has been a trying time for the Conyers family and with hope and prayer they will make it through as a family. Public officials must expect to be held to the highest ethical and legal standard. With this in mind, Mr. Conyers wants to work toward helping his family and city recover from this serious matter."

Perhaps some hearings, Congressman? Every time this guy tries to start more hearings to dig up dirt on this or that Republican, I am going to remind him of the dirt in his own backyard.

Hillary Must Go

Remember that pointed question President Obama was asked at this last press conference about the invitations to Iranian diplomats being invited to the 4th of July celebrations at US embassies world-wide-the one that Obama didn't want to answer? That opened up the little-known fact that per recommendation of the State Department, said invitations would go out to Iranian diplomats all over the world. In light of the recent brutal crackdown in Iran, these invitations have proved to be an embarrassment, and, as a result, they have now been rescinded.So no-harm, no foul, right?

Not so fast. What were these invitations all about anyway? Obviously, part of Obama's outreach to the mullahs in Iran. Was this possibly a prelude to something bigger? Like a sit-down with Ahmadinejad, perhaps? Or maybe even a meeting with The "Supreme Leader" (the Iranian one)?

At any rate, the 4th of July invitations were the brilliant idea of the State Department. More specifically, the brilliant idea of.....

"And the bucks stops...."

This is just another example of bad advice that this State Department has given Obama since he entered office. As I have more than once suggested, perhaps it is time for a shake-up at State. I suggest cutting off the snake at its very head. That means, in the most diplomatic way I can put it....

Hillary Clinton should be fired.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Jerusalem Post Reports on George Galloway

British Member of Parliament George Galloway
(He's the one in red.)

Below is an article from the Jerusalem Post dated June 21, 2009 reporting on flaky British MP George Galloway's fund drive in the US to raise money/supplies for Gaza. The Anti-Defamation League has already formally requested US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate this fund drive as a possible violation of US laws regarding support to Hamas, a US-designated terrorist organization and ruler of Gaza. At this point, we have no information on Holder's intent to investigate or not. On May 21, I was present at the University of California at Irvine during Galloway's appearance when boxes were passed for people to drop in donations.


ADL: Probe ties between US NGO, Hamas
Jun. 21, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) urged the Justice Department Sunday to investigate whether a US-based campaign is raising funds for "the purpose of providing material support to Hamas," and voiced concern about the fund raising activities of the campaign's leader, George Galloway, a member of the British Parliament.
The campaign, Viva Palestina US, is modeled after Mr. Galloway's European initiative, which delivered a convoy of vehicles - as well as a substantial amount of cash - to representatives of Hamas in Gaza in March 2009. Mr. Galloway, who plans to lead the Viva Palestina US convoy in July, has visited the US on several occasions in recent months to promote and raise funds for the upcoming convoy.

While the campaign's organizers claim that it intends to comply with US law and will deliver the money raised to a reception committee of NGOs in Gaza, in a letter to US Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr., ADL said "it is not verifiable that this 'committee' will function independently of the Hamas leadership in Gaza, and Galloway - who plans to lead the American convoy - has already demonstrated his willingness to directly support Hamas."

"We believe that the Justice Department should investigate reports of fundraising by MP Galloway and Viva Palestina US for the purpose of providing material support to Hamas," said Michael Salberg, ADL's International Affairs Director.
Both the United States and the European Union have designated Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Mr. Galloway is currently on another speaking tour in the US, and plans to visit California, Illinois, New Jersey, New York, Texas and Washington, DC between now and the end of June.

In May 2009, ADL wrote to Attorney General Holder to raise concerns about Mr. Galloway, Viva Palestina US and their activities.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

"Where is Everyone?"

I am cross-posting an article that has appeared on the front page of Ma'ariv, a Hebrew-language newspaper in Israel. It is co-written by Ben Caspit and Ben-Dror Yemini. (I apologize for the dis-jointed lines.)
Where is Everyone?
Ma’ariv (Monday, June 22, 09) by Ben Caspit and Ben-Dror Yemini (opinion) –

"Tell us, where is everyone? Where did all the people who
demonstrated against Israel’s brutality in Operation Cast Lead, in the
Second Lebanon War, in Operation Defensive Shield, or even in The
Hague, when we were dragged there unwillingly after daring to build a separation barrier between us and the suicide bombers, disappear to? We see demonstrations here and there, but these are mainly Iranian exiles. Europe, in principle, is peaceful and calm. So is the United States. Here and there a few dozens, here and there a few hundreds. Have they evaporated because it is Tehran and not here?

All the peace-loving and justice-loving Europeans, British professors in
search of freedom and equality, the friends filling the newspapers,
magazines and various academic journals with various demands for boycotting
Israel, defaming Zionism and blaming us and it for all the ills and woes of
the world—could it be that they have taken a long summer vacation? Now
of all times, when the Basij hooligans have begun to slaughter innocent
civilians in the city squares of Tehran? Aren’t they connected to the
Internet? Don’t they have YouTube? Has a terrible virus struck down their
computer? Have their justice glands been removed in a complicated surgical
procedure (to be re-implanted successfully for the next confrontation in
Gaza)? How can it be that when a Jew kills a Muslim, the entire world
boils, and when extremist Islam slaughters its citizens, whose sole sin is
the aspiration to freedom, the world is silent?

Imagine that this were not happening now in Tehran, but rather here.
Let’s say in Nablus. Spontaneous demonstrations of Palestinians turning
into an ongoing bloodbath. Border Policemen armed with knives, on
motorcycles, butchering demonstrators. A young woman downed by a sniper in
midday, dying before the cameras. Actually, why imagine? We can just
recall what happened with the child Mohammed a-Dura. How the affair (which
was very harsh, admittedly) swept the world from one end to another. The
fact that a later independent investigative report raised tough questions as
to the identity of the weapon from which a-Dura was shot, did not make a
difference to anyone. The Zionists were to blame, and that was that.
And where are the world’s leaders? Where is the wondrous rhetorical
ability of Barack Obama? Where has his sublime vocabulary gone? Where is
the desire, that is supposed to be built into all American presidents, to
defend and act on behalf of freedom seekers around the globe? What is this

A source who is connected to the Iranian and security situation, said
yesterday that if Obama had shown on the Iranian matter a quarter of the
determination with which he assaulted the settlements in the territories,
everything would have looked different. “The demonstrators in Iran are
desperate for help,” said the man, who served in very senior positions for
many years, “they need to know that they have backing, that there is an
entire world that supports them, but instead they see indifference. And
this is happening at such a critical stage of this battle for the soul of
Iran and the freedom of the Iranian people. It’s sad.”

Or the European Union, for example. The organization that speaks of
justice and peace all year round. Why should its leaders not declare
clearly that the world wants to see a democratic and free Iran, and support
it unreservedly? Could it be20that the tongue of too many Europeans is
still connected to dark places? The pathetic excuse that such support would
give Khamenei and Ahmadinejad an excuse to call the demonstrators “Western
agents,” does not hold water. They call them “Western agents” in any case,
so what difference does it make?

To think that just six months ago, when Europe was flooded with
demonstrations against Israel, leftists and Islamists raised pictures of
Nasrallah, the protégé of the ayatollah regime. The fact that this was a
benighted regime did not trouble them. This is madness, but it is sinking
in and influencing the weary West. If there is a truly free world here, let
it appear immediately! And impose sanctions, for example, on those who
slaughter the members of their own people. Just as it imposed them on North
Korea, or on the military regime in Burma. It is only a question of will,
not of ability.

Apparently, something happens to the global adherence to justice and
equality, when it comes to Iran. The oppression is overt and known. The
Internet era broadcasts everything live, and it is all for the better.
Hooligans acting on behalf of the regime shoot and stab masses of
demonstrators, who cry out for freedom.

Is anything more needed? Apparently it is. Because it is to no avail.
The West remains indifferent. Obama is polite. Why shouldn’t he be, after
all, he aspires to a dialogue with the ayatollahs. And that is very fine
and good, the problem is that at this stage there is no dialogue, but there
is death and murder on the streets. At this stage, one must forget the
rules of etiquette for a moment. The voices being heard from Obama elicit
concern that we are actually dealing with a new version of Chamberlain.
Being conciliatory is a positive trait, particularly when it follows the
clumsy bellicosity of George Bush, but when conciliation becomes blindness,
we have a problem.

The courageous voice of Angela Merkel, who issued yesterday a firm
statement of support for the Iranian people and its right to freedom, is in
the meantime a lone voice in the Western wilderness. It is only a shame
that she has not announced an economic boycott, in light of the fact that
this is the European country that is most invested in building
infrastructure in Iran. She was joined by British Foreign Secretary
Miliband. It is little, it is late, it is not enough. Millions of freedom
seekers have taken to the streets in Iran, and the West is straddling the
fence, one leg here, the other leg there.

There is a different Islam. This is already clear today. Even in Iran.
There are millions of Muslims who support freedom, human rights,
equality for women. These millions loathe Khamenei, Chavez and Nasrallah too.
But part of the global left wing prefers the ayatollah regime over them.
The main thing is for them to raise flags against Israel and America.
The question is why the democrats, the liberals, and Obama, Blair
and Sarkozy, are continuing to sit on the fence. This is not a fence of
separation, it is a fence of shame."

Fousesquawk comment:

Bravo. (or more properly "bravi" in Italiano). This article points out the total hypocrisy of the anti-Israel left that has been so loud in condemning Israel's actions-taken in true defense while standing silent on the brutalities of the Iranian government-against fellow Muslims.

Next week, our school quarter begins anew at the University of California at Irvine, where I teach. I am so anxious to see what the campus Muslim Student Union (MSU) will do to protest the atrocities taking place in Iran. Indeed, I await the reaction of Muslim Student Associations all across North America. But I will pay particular attention to UCI's MSU. Will they hold a week of events dedicated to condemning the repression in Iran? Will they bring in previous speakers such as Yvonne Ridley of the UK-who is a spokesperson for the Iranian Government. Will they bring back Addul Musa, who is also a huge supporter of the Iranian Government? Not likely-unless they want to mount a full-scale defense of the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad. Or will they bring in (again) other knuckleheads such as Norman Finklestein, Ward Churchill, George Galloway or Cynthia McKinney and what will they say now?

And what will be the actions in the coming weeks of the leftist, anti-Israel professors who infest our campuses? Will they come before the podiums to condemn Iran? Where will these people be-conducting more forums to condemn Israel for its "violations" of Palestinian human rights?

The authors of the above piece are spot on. I would expand their questions to include the leftists who speak on US campuses-sponsored by various Muslim Student Associations. What do they have to say now?

Congratulations to the Main Stream News Media

Photograph of the apartment where Maria lives. (If you look closely, you can see a MSM reporter lurking behind the tree.)

We must give credit where credit is due. The mainstream news media (MSM), often the target of my sarcastic wrath in not investigating juicy stories of personal misconduct by politicians, has been Johnny on the spot as to the Mark Sanford scandal.

Yes, the MSM is all over this one. The State, South Carolina's largest newspaper published the first name of Sanford's girlfriend in Buenos Aires, pictures of her apartment building and word for word transcripts of Sanford's juicy e-mails to the lady. It seems The State has had the e-mails since December. Were they waiting for a more opportune time to go public? At any rate, Sanford was met by State reporters Wednesday morning as he arrived on a flight from Buenos Aires. The same day, he spilled the beans.

This all goes to show that when the MSM is on your track, they always get their man.

Yessir, whether your name is Mark Sanford, Mark Foley, Larry Craig or John Ensign, no illicit assignation will slip under the radar of the mainstream media. Their ace reporters are everywhere, behind every tree as J. Edgar Hoover used to say. Just like the omnipresent FBI, the MSM stands ready to expose every public official who tries to play around on the side-even in far-off Argentina-the MSM is there.

As long as you have an (R) after your name.

The question begs; where was the MSM during the John Edwards story-which had to be dragged out and exposed by the National Enquirer? Which national MSM outlet broke the Clinton-Lewinsky story? Where were all those ace investigative reporters then?
Sure, the MSM grudgingly had to go along and cover Democratic scandals when they could no longer be ignored-stick them on page 23, do a one-time interview with John Edwards after everything was out, accept his bland denials of having any knowledge of money going to his mistress as well as his denial of paternity-and....

Move on.

In fact, wasn't that the mantra of the Clinton followers-that he had admitted his mistake, aplogized, and we must.....move on? Wasn't that the whole impetus for creating the liberal blog,

Anyway, my point is this; enjoy the story. I'm posting it too. I think that aside from the love affair, his mysterious disappearance, with his staff (presumably on his word) telling the public that he was hiking in Appalachia, indicates that he is no longer fit to serve as governor. I just wish the MSM would show the same expertise (enthusiasm, actually) for catching Democratic Lotharios.

Another Press Conference-Mark Sanford

Look familiar?

Another press conference. Another confession. Another apology to the wife and kids.

This time, it is South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford doing the mea culpa after a bizarre week in which he disappeared from public view and nobody knew where he was. Then his staff told reporters he was hiking in Appalachia.

Rather piking in Argentina.

So now Sanford tells us that he was with a mistress in Argentina, and he is apologizing to his wife and kids and hoo hoo.

So goes another "rising star" in the Republican Party who some were touting as presidential material in 2012. Good bye to all that. As anyone can tell you, only men of the highest moral character can occupy the Oval Office.

"Argentina? How come I never thought of that?"

So You Want European Style Health Care......

"Let's see. John Doe is 75 and needs chemotherapy? Cost of chemo is $20,000 divided by 75 x 5 year life expectancy x .005 per cent of success" equals 6,667 points. Minimum number of points to qualify is 7,000. Therefore, the application is denied. He's probably dead anyway. This application is 6 months old. Hey, let's break for lunch"

How many times have you heard someone say, "Why can't we have health care like those Europeans (They're so sophisticated, you know)?" Actually, that is precisely what President Obama wants to do with his health care plan. He wants to fight the high cost of health care by setting up a government committee (made up of doctors and experts) that would set guidelines for what type of medical procedures and medications would be approved for specific patients. Cost effectiveness is, of course, the major consideration. If that sounds reasonable to you so far, how does the phrase "health rationing" sound to you? That is precisely where we are headed. What it boils down to is that this "committee of doctors and experts" would utilize a formula that compares the cost of the drug or treatment with the patient's age and other variables. What comes out of the mix is a decision from Washington to grant or deny you care. If you don't like HMOs, this is HMOs on steroids.

If you want an example, you need look no further than Great Britain, which has something called the National Institute of Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). That is what they do in the UK. It's what normal people would call health care rationing. Check out their web site.

Let's say, for example, that your doctor is considering using a particular drug to treat the initial stages of Alzheimer's Disease. He/she must refer to a 67-page report issued by the nice people at NICE that uses a formula based on points which considers a whole range of factors including of course, the patient's age. It means that even if your doctor feels the drug or treatment would work on a particular patient, the final decision is made by the nice people at NICE. If it is approved, great. If not......oh well, you were too old anyway.

Remember Tom Daschle, Obama's would-be secretary of Health and Human Services? This is exactly what he was advocating.

One of the scariest ideas that Obama has proposed is the National Health Insurance Exchange, a new bureaucracy that would "help you purchase health insurance" (just what we need), but would also computerize everything related to every person's health issues. They would also work to reduce health costs-just like those nice people in the UK who work for NICE.

So we are faced with a decision. Do we want to resort to health rationing with all the implications it entails. Are we ready to deny health treatment to our elderly and infirm because it is not cost effective? Let's not forget that the overwhelming majority of our health care costs are for the elderly. Should we, as Tom Daschle suggests, be prepared to make the hard choices on health care?

As someone who just lost his 88-year-old mother after seven years of intensive health care treatment following a stroke, I say no. If we go in this direction, we are going in the same direction as we have on abortion. We are making a choice that some one's life is not cost effective. In short, we will lose our soul. Let us not forget that elderly people do have their own say on whether to continue battling for life-or hopefully, they have a loved one able to execute their wishes if they are incapacitated. We cannot let the government intrude into this arena.

But, you say, Obama's committee will be composed partly by doctors. Surely they will sign off on what the personal physician recommends.

I don't think so. Once they go to work for the government, their job description is to save the government money-and that's what they will do. And if Grandma has to wait 6 months for an operation-as in the UK-or doesn't get that operation because of her age, that's too bad. The sick and elderly often don't get certain operations because the doctor determines that they wouldn't survive the surgery due to their age and weakened condition-or the patient makes the decision him/herself. But once cost effectiveness enters the picture, we lose something as a people. What comes next-euthanasia?

But, you say, we would never go that far. We're too civilized for that.

Take a look at The Netherlands.

Are you sure we want to be like the Europeans?

Grizzly Groundswell Show Tonight

I will be a guest tonight on Chad Everson's Blog Talk Radio show, Grizzly Groundswell. The show will air 7:30-8 pm (CST). We will be discussing the three recent shootings in Kansas, Arkansas and the Holocaust Museum in Washington DC. You can join in at (646) 915-9997.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Engagement With Iran?

This is progress?

President Obama seems to be holding on to any thread of hope that he can engage with the rulers of Iran, bring about a cancellation of their nuclear weapons development and coax them into the family of nations. I think it is a fool's errand.

We should ask ourselves this question; how has the government of Iran changed since it took power 30 years ago? True, some faces have changed. The odious Ayatollah Khomeini died and has been replaced by other mullahs and Ahmadinejad. But what has changed?

The nasty government that was founded on taking of diplomats as hostages, subsequently sent millions of young boys against the machine guns of Iraq mainly to clear the mine fields for their regular troops. They then were implicated in acts of terror and kidnapping of our diplomats and CIA personnel in Lebanon. In subsequent years, this government has fomented terror and violence throughout the region. They have funded-and still fund Hizbollah and Hamas. And all the while, they have operated a police state at home. Dissenters wound up in the notorious Evin prison to be tortured or murdered. Gays have been hanged in Iran leading Ahmadinejad to declare that the county literally had no homosexuals. Speaking of hangings, we're talking about public hangings from construction cranes. Women accused of adultery? Stoned to death. Members of the Baha'i faith, which is not recognized in Iran, are routinely persecuted. When I say persecuted, I mean arrested, tortured, raped and murdered by this regime. Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and calls for Israel to be wiped off the face of the map. The country ignores every call from the international community to act like a civilized member of the family of nations. And ever since they humiliated the hapless Jimmy Carter, they have played subsequent presidents like violins-or ignored them altogether. Now that their nuclear program has become an issue, everybody says that Iran must not be allowed to have nuclear weapons (just like North Korea), but no one knows how to do anything about it. All we do is sit back, take encouragement from this or that "moderate" mullah who rises to power or influence and continue to read the tea leaves-as the Iranian government laughs at the West for our weakness.

Clearly, this current demonstration of wanton brutality should convince world leaders that this is an outlaw regime that cannot be dealt with as a normal nation. This is a government that sends out armed Basig militiamen, who are nothing more than goons, onto the streets to beat and shoot its citizens.

So now, what does Mr Obama intend to accomplish by talking to people like Ahmadinejad or "The Supreme Leader" of The Islamic Republic of Iran, as he so respectfully puts it? Will he use his famous charisma and charm to get the mullahs to end their nuclear weapons program? Will he convince them to renounce terror and support of Hizbollah and Hamas? Will he get them to stop sending weapons and fighters to kill our troops in Iraq? Will he get them to respect the human rights of its own citizens? Will he get them to forget about destroying Israel. Will he get them to forget about achieving hedgemony in the Middle East?


What needs to be done, not only by the US, but by the entire international community is to isolate Iran completely. That means no diplomatic recognition, no Iranian embassies in other countries, no assistance with oil refineries (they have oil, but they don't refine it.), no nothing. Let that place simmer until overturning the government becomes a matter of national urgency. And as for those nuclear facilities? Let the US and Israel flip a coin as to who takes them out.

Of course, except for possibly the latter, none of this is likely. The rest of the world is too feckless and selfish over its own interests, namely Iranian oil and assurances that they won't foment terror in other countries, say in Europe. The UN is....well, the UN. They will be too busy arranging next year's Palestinian oppression week exhibits in the UN foyer.

Neville Chamberlain, Jimmy Carter, Barack Obama...when will they ever learn? It's really no different from the schoolyard bully, the kid who makes you fork over your lunch money, the gang-banger, the guy who robs the liquor store, the Hitlers, the ayatollahs, the terrorists, the pirates, etc. The civilized majority need to band together and make these bad guys disappear. Then we can have that wonderful thing called PEACE.

Obama's Press Conference on Iran

"We have plenty of seats up front."

Just having watched the Obama press conference, in which he spoke on Iran, energy and health care, I'd like to forgo the latter two (with one small exception) and concentrate on his words regarding the crisis in Iran because I think it was most telling. My impression is that the President has been changing his tune on Iran day by day as events unfold and in response to the domestic criticism on his measured responses.

Notice that the President read from a prepared text-as perhaps he should have- given that every word he says on Iran is being measured world wide. Suffice to say that he more forcefully criticized the Iranian Government than in past days. I think it's fair to say that what he said today he could have said a few days ago. That tells me he is reacting to the critics who have accused him of not saying enough.

As I said previously, Obama clearly wants to prevent the Iranian regime from making the US the issue by charging US/CIA interference in its domestic affairs. However, as he himself noted, they are doing that already, a charge he forcefully denied. If the Mullahs and Ahmadinejad can convince the Iranians that the protests are all inspired and orchestrated by the Americans, they will win. Having said that, I think it's a stretch to think that verbal condemnation of the Iranian governmental actions does not constitute interference-especially when entities like the French and German governments have been much more outspoken.

It is also becoming clear that when it comes to foreign affairs, Obama is not nearly the smooth, comfortable technocrat that he is on domestic issues. He is clearly feeling his way in the international arena.

It was also noteworthy that even though Fox News correspondent Major Garrett asked the toughest question (on Iran), other reporters from other outlets also asked some pointed questions and pressed for follow-up questions-often to Obama's annoyance. Fox's Britt Hume has now opined that the much-criticized "honeymoon" period with the press (which was threatening to turn into a successful marriage) may now be coming to an end. We'll see.

The exception I wanted to note was when a lady reporter queried him about black unemployment and what he would do to curb the rising unemployment rate. His answer was that the best he could do for the black (and Latino) unemployment situation was to press through his economic reforms, which would raise everyone's situation. Isn't that the same answer that Republican presidents have been giving for decades-and for which they have been criticized by Democrats?

President Obama, in my view, has been moving boldly on his domestic agenda (I just don't agree on it.) It seems to me, however, that when it comes to Iran, he is waking up every day to see which way the wind is blowing-over there-and over here.

Speaking of waking up, has anybody woken up Helen Thomas yet?

Monday, June 22, 2009

Email from President Obama

Is this coming to America?

Either technology has reached frightening new heights or I am becoming a very important figure. Recently, I have received emails from Michelle Obama for Father's Day and David Axelrod linking me to President Obama's speech in Cairo. Now, today, I get an email from President Obama himself, apparently taking a break from the rigours of trying to figure out what to say or not say about Iran from one day to the next.

This email is about this new service corps he calls United We Serve (catchy name, I say), which he is starting up, in which he wants everyone-inluding me- to engage in volunteer service for my community. Here it is.

"Dear Friend,

Last week, I announced United We Serve – a nationwide call to service challenging you and all Americans to volunteer this summer and be part of building a new foundation for America.

And when I say “all,” I mean everyone – young and old, from every background, all across the country. We need individuals, community organizations, corporations, foundations, and our government to be part of this effort.

Today, for the official kick off of United We Serve, members of my administration have fanned out across America to participate in service events and encourage all Americans to join them.

The First Lady is rolling up her sleeves and getting to work too. But before she headed out today, she asked me to share this message with you.

"Oh, one more thing, Barack. Be sure you send this video to Gary in California."

Our nation faces some of the greatest challenges it has in generations and we know it’s going to take a lot of hard work to get us back on track.

While Michelle and I are calling on every American to participate in United We Serve, the call to service doesn’t end this fall. We need to stay involved in our towns and communities for a long time to come. After all, America’s new foundation will be built one neighborhood at a time – and that starts with you.

Thank you,
President Barack Obama"

Please do not reply to this email. Contact the White House

The White House · 1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW · Washington, DC 20500 · 202-456-1111

In spite of the instructions not to reply to the email, I did anyway. I said,

"Are you kidding me? What's next, ACORN knocking at my door?"

I could have added that the neighborhood where I live is doing just fine, and we don't need any volunteers. I could have also added that I've done my bit. Served in the Armed Forces, US Customs, DEA and yes, some volunteer work on the side from time to time. And I'll do more before I'm through, just as I'll continue to contribute to charitable causes I want to support-without the government directing me to do it. The American people have proved time and time again that they are willing to chip in and help others when needs arise.

Finally, I think it is somewhat troublesome that technology has reached the point where the White House wastes time sending emails to anybody with an email account.

Get back to work, Mr President, and next time tell your toadies in the basement of the White House to send emails to people like Chris Matthews or Keith Olbermann instead of me.

PS to the readers:

Volunteer for something you feel strongly about. You'll be glad you did.



Viewer discretion advised

Above is the graphic video of the shooting of Neda, a 26-year-old Iranian girl who was protesting the government in Teheran. This is the nature of the Iranian government and their thugs who stamp out dissent on the streets. What act could she have been engaged in that endangered the lives of the government forces?

This is why this government should never be allowed to get its hands on nuclear weapons. This is why Israel has reason to be alarmed about Iran and its nuclear program.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

What's Happening to My Talk Radio?

They're coming!

Dr Paul Craig Roberts

Alex Jones

I confess that I am a big talk radio fan. Whenever I'm in my car, I am tuned to voices like Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Michael Medved, ect. And, yes, I agree with just about everything they say. Imagine my surprise when I turned on KRLA (870am) driving home from Los Angeles this evening and found myself listening to something called the Alex Jones Show (nationally syndicated out of Texas).

KRLA has a stable of good conservative voices from Dennis Prager to Michael Medved to Mike Gallagher, all of whom I listen to and respect. I had never heard of Alex Jones, however. By the time we got home, I was laughing and my wife thought I had lost my mind listening to this guy.

This evening, Jones was interviewing a guy named Dr Paul Craig Roberts, who actually was an under-secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. I had never heard of him either. The topic of discussion was the uprising in Iran. Since I was driving, I couldn't take notes, so this is my recollection of what this guy was saying.

1 The youthful people who are protesting in the streets of Iran's major cities are "idiots". Why?

Because they are paving the way for Obama to launch a "shock and awe" on Iran (a beautiful and modern country according to Roberts). Yes, this is all leading to a pretense for the US and Israel to invade Iran. He also made a confusing reference to Twitter in connection with Israel's advances in cell phone technology, but to be fair, I'm not sure if he was quoting conspiracy charges by the Iranian mullahs or advancing his own conspiracy theory.

Doing a little googling on this guy, I found that he cannot be pigeon-holed so neatly as a right-winger. He apparently has attacked both political parties. According to Wikipedia...

"In an interview on August 27, 2008, on a broadcast of "The Alex Jones Show," Roberts stated that he believed that influential neoconservatives affiliated with the Bush administration were leading the United States into a nuclear confrontation with Russia over the situation in Georgia and South Ossetia. Roberts gave the conflict “almost total certainty if John McCain gets in office" and stated that the conflict would being in a time frame of about two or three years."

September 11, 2001 attacks

"Of the 9/11 Commission Report he wrote in 2006, "One would think that if the report could stand analysis, there would not be a taboo against calling attention to the inadequacy of its explanations." (see Criticisms of the 9/11 Commission Report). He has reported what he says are findings by experts that conclude there is a large energy deficit in the official account of the collapse of the three WTC buildings, and says that this deficit remains unexplained.

Roberts comments on the "scientific impossibility" of the official explanation for the events on 9/11 and says those engineers and physicists who accept this theory are wrong. On August 18, 2006, he wrote:

I will begin by stating what we know to be a solid incontrovertible scientific fact. We know that it is strictly impossible for any building, much less steel columned buildings, to “pancake” at free fall speed. Therefore, it is a non-controversial fact that the official explanation of the collapse of the WTC buildings is false... Since the damning incontrovertible fact has not been investigated, speculation and “conspiracy theories” have filled the void.

On the (back) cover of Debunking 9/11 Debunking (2007) he is quoted:Professor Griffin is the nemesis of the 9/11 cover-up. This new book destroys the credibility of the NIST and Popular Mechanics reports and annihilates his critics.Book Cover Quote

Roberts adding that the so-called neoconservatives intended to use a renewal of the fight against terrorism to rally the American people around the fading Republican Party. "The administration figures themselves and prominent Republican propagandists ... are preparing us for another 9/11 event or series of events," he said. "You have to count on the fact that if al Qaeda is not going to do it, it is going to be orchestrated."

National media

"Anyone who depends on print, TV, or right-wing talk radio media is totally misinformed. The Bush administration has achieved a de facto Ministry of Propaganda."

"The uniformity of the US media has become much more complete since the days of the cold war. During the 1990s, the US government permitted an unconscionable concentration of print and broadcast media that terminated the independence of the media. Today the US media is owned by 5 giant companies in which pro-Zionist Jews have disproportionate influence. More importantly, the values of the conglomerates reside in the broadcast licenses, which are granted by the government, and the corporations are run by corporate executives—not by journalists—whose eyes are on advertising revenues and the avoidance of controversy that might produce boycotts or upset advertisers and subscribers. Americans who rely on the totally corrupt corporate media have no idea what is happening anywhere on earth, much less at home."

So there it is, folks. Neo-cons leading the US into a nuclear confrontation against Russia over Georgia and South Ossetia, 9-11 inside job, and those Jews controlling the media.

Folks, if you meet this guy on the street, call 9-11. Don't attempt to apprehend by yourself.

Then, after Jones finished his phone conversation with Roberts, he went into a monologue which convinced me that he is an even bigger nut. Here are some of his more "salient" points.

The CIA is behind the protests in Iran.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?- CIA operative.

Not that they didn't torture him-they did. But it was only after they tortured his kid in front of him that he started confessing.

CIA torturers who have been thrown in prison....(keep reading)....have been silenced by the government from spilling the frijoles by being threatened with prosecution for some violation of a secrecy law.

(Has anybody out there heard about CIA officers being thrown in jail for torturing terrorist prisoners? That's strange, me neither.)

Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld? "Sickos".

He also added that while he won't leave the US himself, he is close to sending his family out of the country (while he defends the Alamo I presume).

Even though KRLA brands itself, "conservative talk radio", they need to do better than this. These guys are not real conservatives. They're just nuts.

Anti-Israel De-shelving Operation at Trader Joe's Fizzles

I am happy to post this article from the Jewish Journal on the attempt by a San Jose activist group to organize a de-shelving operation at Trader Joe's stores selling Israeli products. Kudos to Trader Joes for standing up to these yahoos. According to the article below, the whole operation was a big dud.

Kudos also to those readers who picked up on the issue and spread the word. The power of the blogosphere should not be underestimated.I am also attaching a reader comment on my original thread from a Trader Joes worker.

Finally, I deleted a comment from a woman believed to be part of the de-shelving movement not because I disagreed with it, rather because it was little more than talking points propaganda. She did acknowledge her disappointment and stated that the next step would be to boycott Trader Joes. If that ever gets off the ground, I will be happy to let my readers know so that Trader Joes can experience another surge in sales.

Anti-Israel Group Boycotts Trader Joe’s
By Lilly Fowler and Tom Tugend
Jewish Journal

By Lilly Fowler and Tom Tugend

Although “World Refugee Day,” the boycott of Trader Joe’s planned by the anti-Israel group “Don’t Buy into Apartheid,” came and went on Saturday, June 20, with no apparent incidents in Los Angeles, other cities in California did witness protesters invade the popular supermarket chain.

Kate Raphael, one of the organizers of the event, said she joined approximately 20 others as they marched into a Trader Joe’s store in Oakland, Calif., passing out hundreds of leaflets, which condemned Israel’s actions, while taking Israeli products off the shelves. Similar demonstrations happened in San Francisco and Sacramento.

In Los Angeles however, the only unusual activity reported was that of local patrons walking into the national food chain to ask to buy Israeli products in specific.

E-mails calling for a response to the boycott had circulated virally in the week prior throughout the Jewish community, as well as on Facebook, asking people to patronize the store in defiance of the boycott and in support of the Jewish State. Roz Rothstein, CEO of StandWithUs, said that her pro-Israel organization had also urged supporters across the United States and elsewhere to go into Trader Joe’s and other markets to purchase Israeli goods.

Despite the Jewish backlash, Raphael declared the “Don’t Buy into Apartheid” demonstrations a success.

“I think overall the response by customers was quite positive,” Raphael said, when describing the reaction to her group and their effort to alert customers to what they see as Trader Joe’s unfair policy: stocking Israeli products, while carrying no Palestinian goods.

She said while some customers argued with her and other demonstrators, others simply thanked them for the information. The response on the part of Trader Joe’s staff was equally wide-ranging.

The manager of the Oakland store informed the group that they would not stop carrying Israeli products until a majority of their customers stopped buying them.

But Alison Mochizuki, a spokesperson for Trader Joe’s more than 300 stores, reiterated the privately owned chain’s stance.

“Trader Joe’s will not be used as a political tool, and we will not remove any products under pressure from any group. We believe our customers are smart and capable enough to make their own choices,” she said.

Raphael said her organization will be releasing a press release and pictures of the boycott on Monday, June 22.

“Don’t Buy into Apartheid,” is part of the “Global BDS Movement,” or “Boycott Divestment Sanctions Campaign,” and aims to “oppose Israeli occupation, apartheid, violence, and land theft and to support equality and justice for all, including the Palestinian people.”

StandWithUs has called the campaign “one-sided” and has accused the organization of undermining the Middle East peace process.

At June 21, 2009 7:31 PM , Anonymous said...


Saturday, June 20, 2009

Remembrances of a Lithuanian Jew

Memorial in Israel to a Lithuanian shtetl (Anikst)

Back in the 1990s, I was researching my first book on the languages of the former Soviet republics, which included a chapter on the Soviet Jews. In Rockville, Maryland, I met the acquaintance of a remarkable woman named Basya Shadevichene, a Lithuanian Jew who had survived German occupation during World War II. Her story is so moving that I would like to repeat it here.

First, I should supply a little background. When the Soviet Union annexed the Baltic states of Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia after a brief period of independence, many viewed their Jewish populations, rightfully or wrongfully, as Soviet supporters. Thus, when the Germans occupied those states during World War II, Jewish residents were subject to acts of murder by Baltic nationalists-even before the Germans instigated their own "solution to the Jewish problem". It is a complicated and dark chapter in the history of the Baltic states.

The reader will also note a lot of reference to language(s) in the text since this was the focus of the book.

"I was born in 1921 in the Ukraine. My mother was Ukrainian, and my father Lithuanian. Within a couple of months of my birth, my family moved to Lithuania, where I grew up. The language that we spoke at home was Yiddish, which my mother spoke with a Ukrainian accent.

At the age of 6, I began attending a Jewish public school in which the language of instruction was Yiddish. At this school, we also studied in Lithuanian and Hebrew. Subsequently, I attended gymnasium.

At the age of 13, my parents took me to Kaunas, the temporary capital of Lithuania since Vilnius was occupied by Poland. In Kaunas, I attended a Hebrew gymnasium. All of the subjects were taught in Hebrew except Lithuanian and German classes. later, I had to switch to a less expensive gymnasium because my family's economic situation was very bad. Both of my parents were tailors, and in those days, people would sew one suit, wear it for twenty years and pass it on to their sons. So, as you can see, business was not very good.

In 1937 I graduated from the gymnasium but couldn't receive the diploma due to some unpaid tuition. I was able to begin at Kaunas University on a provisional basis where I studied philology (German, Latin and Greek).

After the Soviets occupied eastern Poland in 1939, they returned Vilnius to Lithuania. Therefore, many of the faculty and students at Kaunas University moved to the University of Vilnius. In Vilnius, I was able to get a job teaching Lithuanian to Polish-speaking children. At the same time, I was attending a Hebrew teachers academy from which I graduated. My dream was to be a teacher in a Hebrew school.

When the USSR took over Lithuania in 1940, all Jewish institutions were closed. Schools, yeshivas, gymnasiums, teachers' academies, libraries and synagogues. Everything.

When the Germans invaded Lithuania as part of the USSR, we were living in a shtetl (village occupied principally by Jews). When we heard the news, I was with my sister on a trip to a lake. The Germans overran Lithuania so fast that we couldn't return to our shtetl, and all we could do was join the thousands of people fleeing. The roads were choked with people in their wagons, on foot or bicycle, and the German planes were bombing us and shooting at us from very low in the sky. My sister and I were the only members of our family to survive. I lost my parents and brother during the German occupation.

My sister and I were able to get out of Lithuania and ended up in Russia. Eventually, I heard about a Lithuanian division being formed in Russia to fight with the Soviet Army against the Nazis. At that time, I was teaching in a middle school, but I left my job and walked three days in the bitter cold to Morshansk, from where I was taken to Gorky. This trip took almost a day. I rode on an open train car until I reached the division which I joined as an interpreter. By then, I knew Yiddish, Lithuanian, Hebrew, German and Russian. In June 1944, I arrived back in Lithuania with my division. I received many medals from the Soviet Government for my wartime service. I was released from the army at the end of 1946.

When I returned to my shtetl in 1944, I couldn't find a single Jew. I lost my mother, father, brother, two uncles and an aunt, along with their families. Twelve of them in all had been killed. A Polish woman, who was a former neighbor in my shtetl, had kept a few photographs, one of which was of my mother. I loved my mother very much, and today, this photograph is hanging in my bedroom across from my bed. I talk to her every day when I get up and before I go to bed.

All of the Jewish people in my shtetl and throughout Lithuania were killed, a total of about 200,000 according to the Lithuanian newspapers. Between my shtetl and that of my husband, I saw two large pits where Jews had been pushed in alive and executed. One pit had contained 2,000 women, the other 4,000 men. Eventually, Jewish survivors built a fence around the pits and erected two large stone monuments on which was written: 'Here lie 2,000 Jewish women and 4,000 Jewish men who were killed by the German fascists and Lithuanian nationalists' We wanted to inscribe the same text in Yiddish but could not get permission from the local authorities.

After the war, the Soviets refused to allow Yiddish or Hebrew schools. People who wanted to study either language were considered 'Zionists' and subject to deportation. There was an informal Jewish theatre in Vilnius, but it had to operate in a discreet manner. The Yiddish-speaking population has grown older, and many have died. The younger generation of Jewish people have grown up speaking mostly Lithuanian and Russian.

The Yiddish language is still an international language for Jews around the world. In Israel, there are many elderly Yiddish-speaking people. In answer to your question, Yiddish will not die as long as the Jewish nation survives. It will continue to be an international language for Jews."

Ms Basya Shadevichene
Rockville, Md
July 26, 1996

from: The Languages of the Former Soviet Republics-Their History and Development
by Gary Fouse
University Press of America, 2000
pp 379-381

Friday, June 19, 2009

Let's Play, "Name That Novice!"

Latest model

Who made the following statement?

"I don't know anything about cars."

a Henry Ford
b Edsel Ford
c David Buick
d Walter Chrysler
e Chevy Chase
f Edward Whitacre Jr.

If you guessed "f", you're a winner!

And who is Edward Whitacre Jr, you ask?

He is the (government-appointed) chairman of the board of directors at GM.

California State Head of Education Wants to Raise Taxes

Jack O'Connell says:

"Don't let this happen to your kids this summer. Support summer school. Support more property taxes. Do it for the children."

It's the same old story in California. Jack O'Connell, the political hack who is in charge of education in California, is bemoaning the lack of funds that may force the cancellation of summer school, thus forcing kids to be on the street or in hot apartments unattended by their parents and exposed to gangs, drugs, rape, the Boogey Man and other forms of violence. (Don't take my word for it. Check out the below site from the California Dept of Education.)

Today, O'Connell is targeting property taxes, which he thinks should be raised in order to provide more money to the faltering schools. The problem is Proposition 13, which the voters passed in 1978 to stop the outrageous property taxes that were forcing thousands of residents out of their homes. The liberals and politicians absolutely hate Prop 13 because it stands between them and billions in tax-payers' money.

Of course, O'Connell can't explain why throwing more money at a failing school system will solve the problem. If LA Unified for example, is seeing a drop-out rate of over 50%, how does O'Connell think money is going to fix that? How is money going to fix a school system that is overrun with gangs, drugs, guns and students who can't speak English because they and their families are not even in the country legally?

Why don't O'Connell and other politicians demand that illegal immigration be stopped and our borders secured? That would go miles toward improving the California school system, especially in places like Los Angeles. But you won't hear them calling for that. Nor will you hear them calling for stricter drug laws or anti-gang legislation like Jamiel's Law, which would free up the LAPD in dealing with known illegal alien gang members, who turn the schools and surrounding streets into war zones. No, what is needed is more tax-payer money to pour into the cesspool that is education in our state. More money for teachers (ably represented by their powerful teachers union)and more money for after-school programs, self-esteem programs, diversity training, busing and summer school.

I myself am a product of the LA Unified School District when it was a quality program in the 1960s. No more. The high school I attended (University High School) was the number 2 rated school in the country in the 1960s. Today, that is a distant memory as the once-beautiful campus is now run down and surrounded by iron fencing as if it were a minimum security prison. I would also remind Mr O'Connell that I did not always go to summer school. When I did, it was purely for academic reasons. When I didn't, I wasn't getting arrested, beat up, raped, left at home alone, chased by the Boogey Man or suffering from heat exhaustion in a cramped apartment.

The day is rapidly approaching when California will have to officially admit that it is broke and the spigot has run dry. I can't wait for that day to arrive. Hopefully, there won't even be enough money to pay Jack O'Connell's salary.

Senate Arrogance on Parade-Barbara Boxer

(Viewer warning: Keep a barf bag handy while viewing.)

Our California embarrassment, Sen. Barbara Boxer, is at it again, this time on June 16, while asking questions of Brigadier General Michael Walsh, who, in line with military custom, calls her "Ma'am. Not good enough for Boxer, who asks that the general address her as "Senator". "Yes, Senator," replies the suitably chastened general.

Just another example of the arrogance of our elected leaders in Washington, who apparently, are oblivious to the fact that their approval ratings are somewhere in the teens-and for good reason.

Barbara Boxer (excuse me, Senator Boxer) has been an embarrassment to California ever since she entered public office. Why is she not voted out?

She is from San Francisco. Enough said.

I don't know beans about General Walsh, but just the fact that he is a General in the US Military tells me one thing:

Ten Barbara Boxers couldn't make one General Walsh. Thus, she should be paying attention to how she addresses a member of an institution that ranks head and shoulders above her own.

Senator Boxer!!!???!!

Senator John Ensign

Look familiar?

I regularly get emails from Michael Steele, the RNC Chairman, at least from his website. Addressing me as "Dear Gary", they alert me to the latest Democratic skulduggery or outrage. Of course, the message always ends with an appeal for money.

I don't know how I got on the mailing list since I am not a Republican. At any rate, I never send money.

I am reminded why every time a scandal comes along like Larry Craig, Mark Foley and now, Senator John Ensign (R-NV). This is partly why the Republican Party fell out of power-because of people like Ensign, who have used their positions of power to feather their own nests- in Ensign's case, perhaps not financially, but certainly to spice up his sex life.

Does this mean that senators are more prone to play around than the rest of us normal folks? I don't know, but certainly, their power leads to increased opportunities. At any rate, once again, those who have placed their hopes in a Republican Party that would stand for certain principles and policies, have to witness another hypocrite who poses in front of the cameras with his family and poses with the troops, etc. etc, who was just using his office for his own benefit-not to mention helping the husband of his mistress get jobs.

So, Mr Steele, as much as I respect you, I must say that I will not be joining the Republican Party or donating any money until this kind of mess is cleaned up. (You can start by calling for Ensign's resignation.) I continue to believe that the Democratic Party is much worse-and yes, much more corrupt, but the likes of John Ensign need to disappear-even at the cost of another Republican seat in the Senate.

Meanwhile in "Palestine".....

This video was shown at a Fatah event demonstrating the brutality of Hamas toward a member of Fatah (Viewer discretion advised).

I would heartily recommend this video to folks like;

Jimmy Carter
Norman Finklestein
George Galloway
Anna Baltzer
Cynthia McKinney
Amir Abdel Malik Ali
Mohammed al-Asi

And, oh yes, President Obama since he plans to send a few hundred million dollars of our tax money to Gaza and bring a several thousand of these characters to the US where they can foment more hatred on our soil.


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Here's a Scandal for John Conyers to Investigate

Monica Conyers (in grey) leaving her radio show where she asked her listeners to pray for her.


Congressman John Conyers (D-MI)has for years been trying to dig up any possible scandal that pertains to Republicans. The 80-year-old head of the House Judiciary Committee never ceases to be outraged by the skulduggery committed by Republicans that he sees going all around him in Washington. Now it seems that he has a golden opportunity to find a scandal in his own backyard of Detroit-or more specifically in his own bedroom. That's right. His own wife, Monica (44) a Detroit City Councilwoman is implicated in a major bribery scandal.

The Detroit Free Press and others are reporting that Mrs Conyers has been identified as the infamous "City Council Member A," in court documents, who received thousands of dollars in bribes to vote "yes" on a city waste contract with a company called Synagro worth over a billion dollars. She is now reportedly engaged in plea negotiations with federal authorities before they indict her.

Yes, it's serious. People are pleading guilty and cooperating with prosecutors. And they are naming Mrs Conyers. Consider the following:

"In former Synagro consultant Rayford Jackson's plea this week, Jackson's brother, Lennie (who's cooperating with authorities) is alleged to have carried thousands in bribes to Conyers and her former aide, Sam Riddle."

-Detroit Free Press

and this:

"In January, James Rosendall, the former Michigan vice president for Synagro, pleaded guilty to engineering the scheme to get City Council votes on a $1.2-billion sludge-hauling contract. Conyers was one of the alleged targets of that scheme."

-Detroit Free Press

Mrs. Conyers won't comment on the charges or the plea negotiations, but on her weekly television show this week, she told her listeners this:

"If you're not praying for me, you're just adding to the problem." Indeed.

What about Mr Conyers? No comment coming from him either. Of course, he's too busy getting to the bottom of Bush, Rove, water boarding and all that other stuff.

Or praying.

While no one has pointed any accusations at John Conyers in this matter, he can't escape suspicion since normally, husbands and wives tend to share assets, so to speak. So if Mrs Conyers is indicted or pleas to accepting bribes, does this call for an investigation by Congress (and the FBI) into what role or benefit was involved with Congressman Conyers? Surely those watchdogs who are always calling for this or that Republican to be investigated will call for an inquiry here. I'm talking about Democrats like Charles Schumer, Henry Waxman, Pat Leahy and, oh yes, Arlen Specter.

What do you think the odds are of a Congressional inquiry by the Ethics Panel into John Conyers?

Just wondering.

The Iranians and Their Government

The Iranian "election" -and the winner is.......
(Tip of the hat to the great Don Martin)

I must confess I have very mixed reactions to the happenings in Iran over the "re-election" of Ahmadinejad. That's because I vividly remember the hostage crisis thirty years ago, when our diplomats were held under threat of trial and execution while a feckless president named Jimmy Carter wrung his hands in helplessness. Like most Americans, I was outraged. I could not understand why we did not go to war and crush Iran. Yes, it would have probably meant the deaths of most if not all of the hostages, but America would not have been humiliated by a third-rate country run by fanatical mullahs.

I also remember the behavior of some Iranians living in the US at the time, especially the so-called Iranian students, many of whom supported the revolution. I was stationed with DEA in Los Angeles at the time and recall that we had a rash of heroin and hashish smuggling cases involving young Iranians whose funding for their stay in America had been cut off. In one case, we arrested several Iranians connected with the seizure of hash concealed in framed pictures of the Ayatollah Khomeini. I remember the satisfaction I felt as I tore apart the portraits to remove the drugs in front of the prisoners, who gritted their teeth in silent rage.

I also remember the day shortly after our diplomats had been taken hostage that hundreds of Iranians decided to march through the streets of Los Angeles in support of the Ayatollah. They had been denied a permit but chose to march anyway. We knew there was going to be violence, and I have to admit, a couple of my colleagues and I were tempted to take the day off and go "kick some ass". Fortunately, we decided not to put our jobs on the line and we stayed put. As it was, hundreds of counter-demonstrators, outraged Americans, lined the streets and jeered the marchers. The police were out in force, but could not prevent the melee that ensued as the Iranians were spit upon and attacked by the counter-protesters. A lot of Iranians were beaten up that day including women. Many others were arrested along with members of the Jewish Defense League and their leader, Irv Rubin, who were right in the thick of it. (I was not an admirer of Irv Rubin.)

How did I feel about what happened? I was giddy with joy.

Suffice to say, I did not care much for Iranians in those days, and that is putting it mildly.

I also cheered when Iraq, under Saddam Hussein launched a war against Iran. I knew Iraq under Saddam was no ideal nation, but they were fighting our enemy, and so I thought it was right that the US gave support to Saddam in that instance.

Was I wrong to feel those sentiments? I honestly don't know. I do know, however, that I don't feel those sentiments now. As I have told my Iranian friends (Yes, I have a few), eventually, one needs to let go of those kinds of feelings. (Of course, I am much more aware now of the numbers of Iranians I meet who are refugees from the present regime.) So, was it racism on my part? No-it was wounded national pride. I am a nationalist, and I don't like to see my country humiliated.

But how am I supposed to feel now as we witness a mass wave of rejection on the part of so many thousands of young Iranians toward their despicable government? Again, I have mixed feelings. For many years now, I have refused to feel bad for the Iranian people living under such a backward government. After all, they chose that government, didn't they? They threw out the Shah, brought in the Islamic Republic and shouted, "Death to America", so it was my feeling that they had the government they deserved. I was more concerned with the dangers that government posed (and poses) to the West and Israel.

However, I have to take into account that Iran is a young country in demographics. Most of its people were either very young or not yet born in 1979. They see the freedoms that the West enjoys and they want to join in. Maybe they have been swept up in the world-wide Obamamania and they want to join in that as well, who knows?

At any rate, it is no longer 1979; it is 2009, and things are stirring in Iran. What should be the response of the Obama administration? The President is choosing his words carefully-as he should. Obviously, while he supports the idea of more freedom in Iran, the US doesn't want to be seen as propping up the opposition. That would be counter-productive. Are we working behind the scenes to undermine the Iranian government? Hard to say with this administration, but I hope we are. If this government can fall without us or Israel having to go to war, the whole world will be better off.

I have to confess, I still am cynical when I hear American politicians pander about the "Iranian people having the democracy they so richly deserve", but hopefully, there will be another Iranian revolution- as peaceful as possible. If the Iranian people can somehow remove this odious regime and restore Iran to a positive position in that volatile part of the world, I will tip my hat to them.

So there is my confession. The statute of limitations is in effect.