Bottoms up

Purim mesiba, mesivta, New JerseyToday is the Jewish holiday of Purim. (Unlike the biblically-based Jewish holidays, this is one, like Chanuka, on which I’m allowed to blog!)

As well explained in the Book of Esther, it’s the holiday of turnabout, surprises, false identities, intrigue, perhaps some emotional legerdemain, and not a little spiritual confusion. The outcome isn’t always funny, or even fun, except perhaps in the sense of the divine comedy.

It all comes around in the end, though!

Guide to haters

About a month ago I published a lengthy discourse, doomed to obscurity, in which in my somewhat pedantic way I tried to tutor my Dean’s World buddy, the often open-minded Aziz Poonawala, on what he should and should not be sensitive to–in his role as Islam’s ambassador to the rest of us, I suppose–in terms of what we Juice Jews consider a “blood libel.”  It came up in the context of Charles Johnson, Aziz himself and a tale he later regretted passing on that the Israelis were preparing biological weapons:

My point is this: Antisemitism is an important element of gentile anti-Zionism. They are not the same, but those who claim that they are unrelated are, well, antisemites, actually. And when Israel is accused of committing war crimes, or preparing to; and these war crimes are redolent of medieval accusations of well-poisoning as well as the classic blood libel, you can see a certain similarity: The Jews are claimed to be agents of not only mayhem but bearers of malefaction, poision, offal into the otherwise pure nature of things. This, then, is not such a nutty analogy.

You’ve got to understand these things.  In fact, the real dedicated anti-Semites do come in all sorts of sizes and varieties, much like a can of mixed nuts left out in the August sun for a couple of weeks.  And now, thanks to Meryl Yourish, they bloggy kind have been thoroughly categorized in a new taxonomy of online little Hitlers:

Eight years ago this spring, at the height of the suicide bombings of Yasser Arafat’s terror war known as the second intifada, I started blogging about Jewish and Israeli issues. This, of course, brought out the anti-Israel crazies. I came up with a corollary to Godwin’s Law to describe these trolls: “In any internet discussion area concerning Israel, politics, or religion, the probability of anti-Semitic comments approaches one.” (In fact, I’ve seen comments threads that have absolutely nothing to do with Israel, politics, or religion still devolve into anti-Semitism and Israel-bashing, but that’s a post for another time.)

And so, based on the thousands of comments and emails I’ve read over the years, both here and on other blogs and media sites, I present The Blogger’s Guide to Anti-Semitic Comments Trolls. Below are the some of the types of anti-Israel commenters I’ve identified over the years, but the list is by no means complete.

Bloggers:  Consider yourself guided!

Well, at least we know the stimulus worked!

My friend Aziz Poonawalla, via Insty who, interestingly, links to the story guilelessly (I can’t buy a link these days–should I get a turban?), lays it right out:

Today is the one-year anniversary of the landmark stimulus bill which most economists agree has staved off a second Great Depression. The evidence that the stimulus has worked is overwhelming – the New York Times has an in-depth article looking at its actual impact on jobs, and an indispensable graphic showing a timeline of key economic indicators before and after its passage. There’s another beautiful chart based on job loss data from Dec 2007 to Jan 2010 which also makes the impact of the stimulus crystal clear. The recognition of the stimulus’ success isn’t just data-driven – Republican lawmakers who have publicly denounced it for political gain have been quietly and hypocritically scrambling for stimulus money for their districts – as documented by the Wall Street Journal and by the Washington Times.

The only real flaw in the stimulus bill was that it wasn’t big enough . . .

Aziz, Aziz, Aziz.  Where do we start with this?

  • How about the leap from “most economists agree” to the sole source of his authority for this breathtaking proposition–“the New York Times has an in-depth article . . .”  That’s it.  I don’t even have to find economists who don’t agree and with this and try to figure out whether they are or aren’t “most”–Aziz thinks the New York Times is actually a trustworthy source for this preposterous statement.  That actually tells me, in contrast, that the entire remainder of his article is not worthy of reading, because Aziz, who is not an economist, is not making  a serious attempt to objectively see if his central premise is correct.
  • Then there’s the fact that “most economists” didn’t agree what ended the first Great Depression until about 20 years ago (it wasn’t the New Deal, by the way).  The idea that “most economists” would agree “the landmark stimulus bill . . .  has staved off a second Great Depression” –and that they would have nothing to say about a trillion dollar deficit that has resulted–is, to any serious student of economics, truly laughable.
  • And what exactly do “all economists” say?  

    Read the rest of this entry »

It’s a wonderful life

In light of all the Thanksgiving blogging and tweeting, I am reposting this piece, originally posted a year ago — or was it two? — on the eve of Rosh Hashana. It was not being the first time I’ve raised the same point on Thanksgiving. Both days are fundamentally about thankfulness — and the introspection that it demands — so I’m bumping it up here again today, with minor tweaks, and with apologies for the seemingly clichéd title, which I really meant in the sense that, yup, it’s the season for inspirational reruns again!



It has been an extraordinarily eventful year for me on many, many planes, overwhelmingly in ways for which I am very grateful to God. Gratitude is the alpha of service of God, and of self-fulfillment, too — two endeavors that, to the thoughtless, appear to be opposite, but which are in fact one. From my point of view, neither is achieved fully without the other.

I say “from my point of view” even though my cousin Debbie, the writer, taught me many years ago that when you write something you need not say such a thing, because of course it is your point of view. You wrote it. But I say it so as not to offend my many friends who read here and who disagree and are, by habit, less offended if a proposition is put forth in a manner that sounds less absolute. It is a form of apology, and of course we know just how apologetic your blogger is at any time!

More of my point of view is my reiteration that when speaking of “gratitude,” God is the Whom to which gratitude must be directed, which is not to say that gratitude toward other individuals for their specific kindnesses is not also appropriate. But “I’m grateful” without an object — this makes no sense.

In fact I have never understood people expressing free-floating generic “gratitude” directed at … nothing. I do not consider it to be any more logical to say, “It is directed at the Universe,” which is essentially the same exact thing. I believe that people who express “gratitude” without acknowledging the source of the benefit to which they claim to be grateful, are saying words, but not, really, expressing gratitude.  Gratitude must have an object because it is an acknowledgment of need, or lack, fulfilled by the other. Failing to recognize the other nullifies gratitude, and makes it merely a statement of fact, not an expression of thanks, that the empty stomach is now full; the infirm is now cured; the benighted, enlightened.

But I am not here to fight, not today. Forgive the digression — there, apologies again! Well, regret may be part of the introspection born of gratitude, too.

Round and round

Round and round

And I for one am grateful, grateful to God, for a year that has been very good to me, and to many of the people I care about the most. Much progress, some of it incremental, but progress all the same.

I am grateful to have reached a point where I can perceive and appreciate incremental progress, too.

I am grateful to be able to interact with so many fine, deep, multifaceted people whose intentions are good.

I am grateful for middle age. I was born to be middle aged and now I am home. I hope I get to stay here for a long time!

I am grateful for life, for perspective, for wisdom, judgment, the ability to give, the powers that I have, for the judges who are starting to listen and the clients who do their best to pay.

I am grateful for the things that ought not be written, but should be said.

Grateful… step one. It is the first step, and while we must go beyond it, gratitude is the step that is never completed.

Thank you.

And, if it was Islam?

I asked, in a comment to a post on Dean’s World once again debating whether or not “Islam” is what does all this killing, or is it merely Muslims, or maybe none of the above, the following question:    But what’s the point of all this?  What if we all agree, even our friend Aziz Poonawalla — yeah, Islam, or something that calls itself Islam with some meaningful level of authority, has a tendency, and a bad one, to give potential killers an internal moral, psychological and social green light to follow through on their rage and pull the trigger, in a way that no other “major religion” has?

Now what?  Where does that get us?

This guy’s ravings were lunatic enough that he should have been put on ice a long time ago, and the Army completely dropped the ball.  Is our point that it did so because it treats Muslims with kid gloves (even as the military most assuredly does not do regarding certain other religious minorities)?  If so, then let’s focus on that point — because we aren’t about to outlaw Islam or do anything that is either constitutionally or politically impossible about it.

Dave Price, always insightful, answered as follows — and I think he’s right:

“Now what? Where does that get us?”

The first step in dealing with any problem is an honest assessment of the problem. In fact, it is often the most important step.

The acknowledgement of a uniquely Islamic problem with religious violence should lead to increased efforts to moderate Islam — shunning violent radicals, embracing moderate imams, separation of mosque and state, as well as an increase in efforts to reconcile Islam with women’s rights and gay rights.

If the problem was Christian extremists, we would not be having this discussion; they would be openly mocked and derided. There is a cult of political correctness in the West: “Ooh look how tolerant and inclusive I am! I am above tribalism! (except of course my tribe of PC moral relativists which is actually the best tribe!11!1!).”  It shuts down debate by refusing to acknowledge any reality that might involve anything resembling xenophobia.

Well, as I alluded to in the link to the David Tenenbaum story above (here’s another), which unfortunately is not unique — it’s not as if the military is scared of anything resembling xenophobia.  But, you know, it is usually different with the Jews, right?  Anyway, Dave’s point is an important one.

Rights in the abstract

What could make the director of a Planned Parenthood Clinic quit her job and join an anti-abortion group?

Oh, just abortion:

“I had never seen an abortion happen on an ultrasound,” she said. “My job during the procedure was to hold the probe on the woman’s abdomen. I could see the whole profile of the baby 13 weeks head to foot. I could see the whole side profile. I could see the probe. I could see the baby try to move away from the probe.” . . .

Although she had seen ultrasounds before, including during her own pregnancy, Johnson said she had never seen an ultrasound image during an abortion. She is unclear why, as the director of the clinic, she was asked to be in the procedure room on that day, because it was not a normal part of her duties. Still, Johnson said, the experience changed her forever.

“I just thought, ‘What am I doing?'” she said. “And then I thought, ‘Never again.'”

The controversy years ago over The Silent Screen (careful) was never based on accusation that the depiction of an eleven-week-term abortion was anything but misleading.  It was based on the concept that “a woman’s right’s to choose” — which, today, is the official name of abortion in Democratic politics — should never be connected in the public mind, or in any moral way, to what is actually being chosen, and who, or if you like “what” else, it affects.

Because that would be some sort of cheating, I guess.  Making people feel bad and all about what happens when they want to exercise “a right” is so wrong.

UPDATE:  This seems to be the some of the most active blog coverage I’ve seen.  Otherwise, not much compared even to the MSM, much less the religious blogs — because, guess what:  The so-called right wing blogosphere is mainly libertarian, and this is an issue that doesn’t, er, skew so great for it.

Attorney Ronald D. Coleman