Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Morning Update

WaPo profiles HRC with a story that "includes material adapted from a new history of the Clinton presidency, "The Survivor: Bill Clinton in the White House."

NYTimes runs an article on the ever-increasingly popularity of mikvahs. Kol hakavod to the women on this one.

Iran tested a new missile using solid-fuel technology that matches the more than 2,000-kilometer range of its Shihab-3 rocket. Tehran's rapid progress on its ballistic missile program is a major cause for concern among the international community, particularly Israel, which is already alarmed over Iran's nuclear activities.

In the aftermath of French citizens rejecting the European Union Constitution, Jacques Chirac appointed a new Prime Minister:
Dominique de Villepin will replace Jean-Pierre Raffarin.

Russia, in a real shocker (note sarcasm here) has convicted Russian oil tycoon Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky to 9 years in jail (the charges carried a ten year maximum) and $613M in fines. This trial was a sham; it was a way for Putin to get a man with deep pockets who was funding his political opposition off the street and out of the way.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Philip P. Quincannon

Tuesday's edition of the New York Times includes an exhaustive article that could only have been printed after New York Times v. United States of America (1971), in which SCOTUS decided that the Nixon Administration violated the First Amendment when it attempted to prevent the NYTimes and WaPo from printing materials belonging to a classified Defense Department study regarding the history of United States activities in Vietnam.
For those unfamiliar with the case, here's a quick recap:
Nixon argued that prior restraint was necessary to protect national security, but the court held that that the government did not overcome the "heavy presumption against" prior restraint of the press in this case. Justices Black and Douglas argued that the vague word "security" should not be used "to abrogate the fundamental law embodied in the First Amendment," while Justice Brennan reasoned that since publication would not cause an inevitable, direct, and immediate event imperiling the safety of American forces, prior restraint was unjustified.
Well, in "C.I.A. Expanding Terror Battle Under Guise of Charter Flights" the Times publishes a piece (which, for the first time that I can remember, is written "By The New York Times" and only later goes on to detail who reported and wrote the article-I wonder whether this will be a new policy on major stories or just this one?) which basically blows the cover on Aero Contractors Ltd., an Agency-controlled airline used to shuttle Agency officials, troops, materiel, and suspected terrorists around the world when "national policy makers don't want 'U.S. government' written all over it." This definitely required months of research, many FOIA requests etc and promises to dominate the news on Tuesday. It reads like a good book and I even found myself thinking "Wow, I would have loved to have gone snooping around for this stuff!" But the ending is a bit arrogant; the Times seems to stick it to the Agency:

Aero's much-larger ancestor, Air America, was closed down in 1976 just as the United States Senate's Church Committee issued a mixed report on the value of the C.I.A.'s use of proprietary companies. The committee questioned whether the nation would ever again be involved in covert wars. One comment appears prescient.

When one C.I.A. official told the committee that a new air proprietary should be created only if "we have a chance at keeping it secret that it is C.I.A.," Lawrence R. Houston, then agency's general counsel, objected.

In the aviation industry, said Mr. Houston, who died in 1995, "everybody knows what everybody is doing, and something new coming along is immediately the focus of a thousand eyes and prying questions."

He concluded: "I don't think you can do a real cover operation."

See, haha, The Times found out the true story and blew your cover!

Really, really immature, don't you think?

Now, it's clear that the intent of the Times is to highlight human rights abuses i.e. renditions by the U.S. government with the help of this covert company. And while they probably wouldn't openly compare Gitmo to Soviet-era gulags like Amnesty International's State of Human Rights did last week, this is their way of getting in on the action. I'm just wondering why it's necessary to go into such detail to embarass the C.I.A. and elaborate on how the company works, where it's based, where it's gone, how many employees it has etc.

This paragraph is notable:
Flight logs show a C.I.A. plane left Dulles within 48 hours of the capture of several Al Qaeda leaders, flying to airports near the place of arrest. They included Abu Zubaida, a close aide to Osama bin Laden, captured on March 28, 2002; Ramzi bin al-Shibh, who helped plan 9/11 from Hamburg, Germany, on Sept. 10, 2002; Abd al-Rahim al-Nashri, the Qaeda operational chief in the Persian Gulf region, on Nov. 8, 2002; and Khalid Shaikh Mohammed, the architect of 9/11, on March 1, 2003.
That should put to rest all the whispers from the left that this administration captures terrorists and announces it when it's beneficial for them.

On Monday the following articles appeared above the fold of A1:
See a link there? They're anti-Iraq, pro-women, and about European politics. Basically, a good liberal newspaper. What gets relegated to the bottom you ask? Oh, nothing important. Just "2 Men, In New York And Florida, Are Charged In Qaeda Conspiracy." Last I checked this was the New York Times, wasn't it? Shouldn't an article discussing the arrest of a possible terrorist in New York be above a discussion of the first female to race in the Indy 500!?! SHE DIDN'T EVEN WIN!!!

The Times obviously has an agenda and while we don't want the press to be limited or restrained, isn't this sort of not helpful (to put it mildly) in the successful execution and prosecution of the War on Terror? What a paper for the day after Memorial Day!

For those still wondering who Philip P. Quincannon is (after whom this post is entitled): why not just go, read the article, and find out for yourself?

Sunday, May 29, 2005

Footage of the State of the Union Address

It took a while but in case you missed it, here's original footage of last year's State of the Union Address by President GWB.

Ok, not so 'original' but HYSTERICAL even for this GOP Jew.

[Hat Tip:

Assorted Items

I've had a lot of stuff I've been meaning to post but haven't had time in the last few days so I'm going to condense it all into one gigantic (ginormous?) entry. Hold on for the ride, here we go!

Check out The Town Crier's reponse to last week's fiasco at Baruch College. His post bashes Republicans (which I won't quote here) but as much as I'm a proud Republican, he actually does have a good point. Here's a snippet:
Quit your sick holocaust analogies, Sharon is not sending anyone to Majdanek!
When the tv news shows a clip of you getting up in front of hundreds of people [actually, it was 1,200-ed] and you call the Prime minister of Israel an a--hole [actually, that's what the crowd called Romanoff, not Sharon-ed], all the world sees is Jew against Jew, a picture no different than the Neturei Karta guys at the parade [or the Neturei Karta guys who were outside protesting with Arabs, alongside the orthodox and Lubavitch-ed]. While the enemy sits quietly and patiently letting you make tushies of yourselves. You think you are helping when you act like an idot, but your horrifying display of disrespect, chutzpah and Jewish disunity does us a ton more collective damage than any of the potential good you think you accomplished.
And, while TTC goes on to rail against Bush, here's a reason why I don't think I can support Bill Frist even if he makes it as his party's nominee in '08. His logic is terribly flawed, perhaps even backwards. Despite the photo-op, it is apparent that his AIPAC-sponsored visit to the region just a few weeks ago was an abysmal failure.

And, speaking of '08, if things keep up the next occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue will be able to lay claim to an even broader "mandate" than the current one. Here are some stats on Election Day '04:
  • Minnesota had the highest citizen-voting rate at 79 percent, and North Dakota the highest citizen-registration rate at 89 percent.
  • Citizens age 65 and older had the highest registration rate (79 percent) while those age 18 to 24 had the lowest (58 percent). The youngest group also had the lowest voting rate (47 percent), while those age 45 and older had the highest turnout (about 70 percent).
  • Among citizens, turnout was higher for women (65 percent) than for men (62 percent). The turnout rate for people with a bachelor’s degree or higher (80 percent) was greater than the rate for people whose highest level of educational attainment was a high school diploma (56 percent).
WaPo takes Tom DeLay to task for saying that supporters of the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (which passed DeLay's House of Representatives last week by a wide margin) were voting
"to fund with taxpayer dollars the dismemberment of living, distinct human beings for the purposes of medical experimentation."
and he called the research a
"scientific exploration into the potential benefits of killing human beings."
Well, he's already proven that he's qualified to discuss these issues. After all, he said last week,
"Even though I was an exterminator, my education is in biology and biochemisty, so I think I have a certain understanding of these things."
Actually, as proven above, not so much of an understanding of these things after all, huh?

This is not a way for AG Spitzer to get campaign donations from rich people on Wall Street. Then again, does he even need funds? Who's running against him anyway?

Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Key For Dems To Win Back the J-Vote

There's an article that was published today by The New Republic's Kenneth Baer about how the Democrats can win back even more of the Jewish vote i.e. to regain the 80-90% they used to get before people like some of my friends came around. I think it's a great article (I'll post it in full in the comments section since it's subscription-only and I found it, in full, on another blog) and would like to highlight the last two paragraphs:
...the Kerry campaign made the same points about Saudi Arabia and Iran that Dean, Reid, and Pelosi made at AIPAC this week, but doubts about Kerry's overall toughness and consistency on these issues kept him from making the sale. Add in Kerry's emphasis on multilateralism, and he only further alienated pro-Israel voters who see the United Nations and European Union as enemy territory. No matter how many times you said that Kerry had a perfect AIPAC voting record, it still didn't matter. The lesson is that while being "right" on individual issues may earn AIPAC's praise, it is unconvincing unless put up against a larger vision of American foreign policy that clearly and logically leads to those same positions.

Bush and the GOP provide that vision: the terrorists are evil; democracies are good; America will defeat evil and support and spread good. It's simple [oversimplified, really-ed], but extraordinarily compelling, especially to pro-Israel voters. Strategically, the Democratic answer to Bush's idealism can't be realpolitik (after all, these voters know that interests can change more easily than beliefs). Ideologically, it's not the answer either. Democrats have fought for generations to bring values into the practice of foreign policy, from Wilson trying to make the world safe for democracy to Truman's stand against Soviet expansion and Clinton's launching an air war to stop a genocide in the Balkans--and shouldn't allow Republicans to take that mantle. Democrats need to remember that for decades they have been able to speak to Americans' deep sense that we are a unique "city on a hill" and a "light unto the nations." Democrats must reclaim that heritage and make the case that Republicans have undermined America's moral standing (and, by extension, our security) both in the world and at home. If they do that, Democrats not only will win over security voters of all faiths and win elections, but they also could once again become the automatic choice of the chosen people.
Now while that sounds all fine and great, I doubt that the Democrats can, much less will, change that much. And such, I feel very confident that "GOP Jews," as we're commonly called, will be around a while and that more of us will exist with the passage of time. I'm sure there will be a lot to say about this one and I look forward to your comments.

Isn't this blackmail?

Courtesy of dictionary.com:
"Blackmail: n. extortion of money by threats"
Now see this:
The Los Angeles Times (5/26, Rubin) reports, “Averting an imminent showdown with Western powers, Iranian negotiators here indicated Wednesday that Tehran would back off threats to restart nuclear processing activities in exchange for a promise that it will receive a comprehensive aid proposal from Britain, France and Germany by the end of July.”
Given the definition above, anyone else have a problem with that?

Filibuster or veto override on stem cell bill?

There's a lot of talking and a lot of jockeying over the stem cell bill that passed the House the other day.

Here's Morning Update's coverage, emphasis added:
Roll Call (5/26, Preston) says that “opponents of the bill said they were making plans to try and prevent an up-or-down vote on the legislation, and these Senators would not rule out launching a filibuster to achieve that goal. ‘This is a use of taxpayer money to destroy...human life,’ said Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). ‘I will...use all the tools at my availability, because we shouldn’t be using taxpayer dollars to destroy human life.’ … It is unclear, though, whether opponents have the votes to sustain a filibuster.”
Meanwhile, says the New York Times (5/26, Stolberg), Specter “issued a stark challenge to President Bush on Wednesday, saying he had enough votes in the Senate to override a presidential veto of the measure. ‘I don't like veto threats, and I don't like statements about overriding veto threats,’ Mr. Specter said, speaking at a news conference where the House backers of the measure presented him the legislation, which passed the House on Tuesday, topped with a red bow. ‘But if a veto threat is going to come from the White House, then the response from the Congress is to override the veto, if we can,’ Mr. Specter added. ‘Last year we had a letter signed by some 58 senators, and we had about 20 more in the wings. I think if it really comes down to a showdown, we will have enough in the United States Senate to override a veto.’” But the House majority leader, Rep. Tom DeLay of Texas, “said the bill, which garnered a majority that fell 52 votes short of the two-thirds majority required to overturn a veto, would ‘never become law.’ And Mr. Bush, appearing at a news conference with the president of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, restated his opposition.”
So let me get this straight: we've got Senator Sam Brownback, a Republican of Kansas who was so in favor of the nuclear option just a few days, threatening a filibuster of the bill? How convenient.

Time to raise the pressure on the WH and GOP senators, let's get this one through!

Is this really a good idea?

According to this WaPo article, private planes will be allowed back to fly into Reagan National down in DC beginning this summer. Apparently,

To access National under the new rules, crews and passengers will undergo background checks, all bags will be screened, armed security guards paid for by the fliers must be on board, flights can come from only 12 designated airports, and passenger and crew lists must be submitted 24 hours in advance.

Federal officials said 48 flights would be allowed per day, fewer than half the approximately 100 general aviation flights that shuttled in and out of National each day before the terrorist attacks.

I don't know, doesn't anyone remember this:

That picture was taken just two weeks ago, when a small Cessna breached restricted airspace over DC and the Capitol was evacuated as a precautionary measure. If small planes will be allowed back, don't you think the likelihood of this happening again increases exponentially?

I know why they're doing it! The staffers put the clause into some bill so that they'd get evacuated every once in a while, resulting in longer lunch breaks for everybody every few days!

Don't buy those fake bags and shoes in Chinatown!

For those of you who enjoy going to Chinatown to buy knock-offs of luxury items at ridiculously low prices, here's something to consider (from BNN's Washington Morning Update):
Terror Groups Raising Funds By Selling Counterfeit Goods In US.
The Los Angeles Times (5/26, Meyer) reports Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. John Stedman “and other experts told the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday” that “suspected U.S.-based operatives of Hezbollah and other groups accused of terrorist activity are raising as much as $30 million a year through the sale of counterfeit merchandise and other criminal enterprises in the United States, and sending unknown but substantial sums of it back home.” The Times notes, “Involvement by alleged terrorists in the thriving counterfeit goods trade also has caught the attention of the FBI, Treasury Department and Interpol, the global police agency, according to Matthew Levitt, a former FBI counterterrorism analyst.” Levitt said that “Hezbollah receives $20 million to $30 million a year from criminal fund-raising activities in the United States.”
Matt Levitt, of course, of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy-really cool, crazy smart, and very experienced.

Anyone still interested in that a $5 Louis Vuitton handbag?

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Free At Last!!!

Going on less than two hours of sleep last night (one reader can call me out for lying-I was so tired I didn't do the math properly when you asked me before, I'm sorry), I handed in my senior thesis on Kashmir (it's posted somewhere on this vast blog-can you find it?....better question: do you want to?) at 12:15 this afternoon, a mere 45 minutes before the deadline (good thing there was no traffic!). Oddly enough, I was the first one to do so! Unfortunately that didn't win me any extra credit or brownie points with my professor. I then had a brief chat with her (hey, what's that loud kissing sound coming from the back of the room?) about Sharon's speech on Sunday @ Baruch which, it turns out, we both attended (naturally, I had a better seat).

I spent most of the next hour and fifteen minutes with an exceptionally helpful friend studying for my last final of the semester (likely the last in my college career but that remains to be seen), took said exam, rocked and aced said exam like nobody's business, and happily drove home.

I will now pay homage to the famous radio announcer for my second favorite New York baseball team:
Exam over, day over, week over, month over, semester over! Michael Wins! Miiiiiichaelllll WIIIIIIIINNNNNSSSSS!!!!!!

I'm going to collapse now but I promise to be back tomorrow refreshed and better than ever.

NH's Union Leader Blames Frist

In follow-up to my last post in which I ended with the following question,
With such a lack of party loyalty on display this week, are we seeing the beginning of the unraveling of the GOP Senate majority?
Manchester's (NH) Union Leader might seem to think so and takes GOP Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist to task for not effectively rallying the troops and allowing a compromise on judicial nominations. They also take a shot at his presidential aspirations by ending thusly:
Frist has again showed that he is no match for Senate Democrats. If he cannot effectively lead 55 Republican senators, how can he be trusted to lead the party and the country three years from now?
Looks like the doc's gonna have to make a house call to Manchester, maybe during the summer recess, to cool things down, build support, and start again.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Another Republican Breaks Ranks with Party Leaders

For the second time in as many days, a Republican senator has broken ranks with his president and leadership. Yesterday, seven Republican senators signed the compromise to avert a nuclear disaster in the Senate.

The NYTimes reports that Senator George R. Voinovich of Ohio did it again, sending a letter to his Republican colleagues urging them to vote against the confirmation of John Bolton to be the next US ambassador to the United Nations when his nomination comes to the floor of the Senate.
"In these dangerous times, we cannot afford to put at risk our nation's ability to successfully wage and win the war on terror with a controversial and ineffective ambassador to the United Nations," Mr. Voinovich wrote. He urged colleagues to "put aside our partisan agenda and let our consciences and our shared commitment to our nation's best interests guide us."
In addition to sending out his letter, Mr. Voinovich was also making telephone calls and meeting with other Republican senators to urge them to oppose Mr. Bolton's nomination, according to two Senate Republican officials.
With such a lack of party loyalty on display this week, are we seeing the beginning of the unraveling of the GOP Senate majority?

House Passes Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005

By a 238-194 margin, the House of Representatives passed the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 earlier this afternoon. More details are available here and here and here. (No time for commentary today, still working on my paper that's due in seventeen hours).

Sharon heckled at AIPAC Conference

A resident of Gush Katif was in the audience as Prime Minister Sharon addressed the 5,000-strong audience this morning in the Washington Convention Center at the annual gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Commitee, a.k.a. AIPAC; what every publication is calling "the second most powerful lobbying group according to the National Review." According to the article,
His address was interrupted briefly by a heckler opposed to the withdrawal. She shouted "I live in Gush Katif," a reference to the main settlement bloc in Gaza, and "it's an expulsion, an expulsion," before being hustled out by security.
In other news, I just found the following in my inbox:
From Tel Aviv to South Africa to New York to Los Angeles to many other cities, synchronized video hook-ups on Tues July 19, evening in Tel Aviv, lunch-time in EST, etc, rally to support and save Gush Katif/Gaza from thousands to tens of thousands, save the date and time with orange banners and flyers......details to follow. contact David Romanoff romanoffdavid@hotmail.com davidromanoff@gmail.com
Very cryptic and sketchy and I'm not sure what that means but "details to follow" so stay tuned.

Assorted items on this last thesis-writing day

I think that instead of spending one more day (it's due by 1pm tomorrow) slaving over my senior thesis on nukes in global ethnic conflicts, Kashmir in particular, I should just attend Donald Trump's new educational institution, appropriately called "Trump University" and try to tap into his success and vast financial resources.

Eric Cohen of National Review Online has some sharp criticism for the OU, whom he thinks represents all of orthodox Judaism, for their support of the Castle-DeGette stem cell bill that will be brought to the House floor for a vote today. I haven't had a chance to digest it but I obviously disgree. It is notable, however, that he includes the full text of the letter they sent to House members two weeks ago, meaning he either got it from a House staffer or from the OU itself..

Dana Milbank at WaPo has a cute piece on the AIPAC conference, describing how much effort they're spending to show how great and mighty they are. Meanwhile, Nathan Guttman, who will be replaced as Ha'aretz's DC correspondent in two months by Shmuel Rosner according to an email I received from the latter yesterday, writes about the strong unprecedented pro-American sentiment that is in the air at the annual AIPAC Policy Conference this year - pro-American, flag-waving patriotism with Israel being relegated to posters that say "Israel. An American Value."

Clyde Haberman of the NYT points out the stupidity and sheer ignorance of protesters outside Sharon's speech on Sunday who had the audacity and hubris to compare the Prime Minister to Hitler and the Nazis.

And, lastly, Yossi Beilin calls for the end of Israel's Chief Rabbis. Now there's a shocker.

Monday, May 23, 2005

More vitriol from the protesters

I just stumbled on a piece in Monday's New York Sun, by a reporter who was informed of details both before and after, by the protest organizers. This article actually gives more ink to four or five people than to Sharon.

As I suspected, the hecklers got in because the ZOA is a member of the Presidents Conference (and most probably Mort Klein didn't want to embarass himself like that) so they got a block of tickets and abused their privilege. But the source the reporter cites is wrong; there were not ten people expelled. Similarly, there were no "scuffles." Again, they exaggerate and misrepresent the facts. But I'd expect better from a journalist.

Chants and posters like "Death to Sharon" and "Sharon - Hitler is proud of you" were heard and seen among the protesters who demonstrated along with pro-Palestinians outside the auditorium. How discomforting.
Lock those fallout shelters, nuclear option averted

There will be no Senate shutdown by the obstructionist Democrats and no employment of the nuclear option by the Republicans. Yes, the filibuster on judicial nominees has been saved and the United States Senate (and, more importantly, its respective committees which have been shut down since the middle of last week at the parliamentary maneuvering of disgruntled Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid) will be open and fully functional tomorrow as centrist GOP's and Dems have reached a deal on the handling of SCOTUS and federal bench judge nominations. According to this AP dispatch:
Democrats would agree to oppose any attempt to filibuster -- and thus block final votes -- on the confirmation of Priscilla Owen, Janice Rogers Brown and William Pryor. There is "no commitment to vote for or against" the filibuster against two other conservative nominees, Henry Saad and William Myers.

As for future nominees, the agreement said they should "only be filibustered under extraordinary circumstances," with each Democrat senator holding the discretion to decide when those conditions had been met.

"In light of the spirit and continuing commitments made in this agreement," Republicans said they would oppose any attempt to make changes in the application of filibuster rules.

Orthomom can go to sleep happy tonight knowing that the uninformed American public can continue not worrying about who fills those judicial vacancies, establishes judicial precedents in our great nation, and decides what is deemed legal and illegal in a court of law. After all, the price of gasoline is clearly more important, right?
I don't mean to be snippy (and this is less at Orthomom than the people who participated in the poll she highlighted) but it often depresses me how little people care about what goes on in government and only care about their own personal lives. What goes on in DC and your state and your municipality does affect you and who is confirmed as a judge in a federal court on any circuit and level can affect you, especially if you ever end up in one of those courts. Sometimes arguing about seemingly arcane and 214 year old parliamentary rules looks like the actors are "acting like 'spoiled children'" but the little things matter. A wise sage once said that it's not just the aesthetics that matter; we care about the details, too. It's time consuming, it's difficult to keep up, and it takes dedication but it's high time people start paying attention to what their elected officials do, it's time to hold them accountable, and it's time for you and your friends to get more involved.
Jerusalem Post tells ZOA to stop protesting and start supporting

In a scathingly written piece, the editors of the Jerusalem Post tell the ZOA and AFSI, in particular and others in general, to stop protesting Israel's policies and start supporting them. This comes down to the age old debate of whether staying negative (as the ZOA's track record proves they are) is more or less effective than staying positive. I agree, as does a former ZOA staffer with whom I spoke about this yesterday, as do many others. It's worth reading in full (I've provided the link above), but here's part of it:

Spearheaded by the Zionist Organization of America, Americans for a Safe Israel and certain Orthodox leaders, the Jewish Right promised to rally against "Sharon's deportation plan." Disengagement, say its American opponents, is a continuation of Oslo, the result of delusional thinking by Israelis under siege.

That is where the US Jewish Right is most mistaken.

Disengagement is not Oslo redux. The plan, though abysmally articulated by Sharon, doesn't promise a New Middle East, or even an end to hostilities.
Indeed, disengagement is a reaction to post-Oslo realities.


Our advice to the American Jewish Right and its Christian allies is: Accept the changed realities. Rather than opposing disengagement, strengthen the government's hand in securing Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and the other "consensus" settlements.

And while your anger is focused on Ariel Sharon, Thursday's planned visit to Washington by Mahmoud Abbas may have escaped your notice. On May 15, "Nakba Day," Abbas reiterated the old, maximalist PLO demand for a Palestinian "right of return." While pro-Israel energies are being dissipated in an effort to block disengagement, that old mantra for the destruction of Israel by flooding it with millions of "refugees" is being peddled right under your noses.

Disengagement was explicitly proposed as a package deal: leaving areas that almost no Israeli believes we will ultimately hold, while solidifying control over the settlement blocs. Despite his letter to Sharon in April, Bush has far from explicitly signed on to the second half of the bargain, and also has not rejected the "right of return" as forthrightly as he could, in that the US is still treating it as a negotiable issue.

The US Jewish Right and its evangelical supporters need to stop undermining Ariel Sharon and invest their energies in holding Abbas to account and encouraging Bush to go beyond his April letter in bolstering Israel's position. We could use the help, but tilting at windmills will not contribute.


[Update: Because not everyone is subscribed to JPost, I've posted the full and unedited article in the comments section below.]

Sunday, May 22, 2005

ZOA is proud of its accomplishments

I had the merit of hearing Rabbi Dr. Abraham J. Twersky tonight speak in commemoration of a community member's first yertzeit (the opposite of a birthday for lack of a better definition). As I sat there and listened to his pearls of wisdom and his call to arms for the community to improve and embark on specific missions, the rage I felt against those who infiltrated the auditorium earlier today turned to disgust and despair.

While I love politics dearly and have enjoyed the experiences and opportunities I've enjoyed over the past few years, there is nothing that bothers me more than Jewish politics because it is the nastiest of all. This is because the animosity it creates perpetuates our galus and increases the sin'as chinam within our already (as Mort Zuckerman so proudly exclaimed today) fractious community.

And yet, I felt my blood pressure rising as I read the following email written by one of the ZOA cowards who interrupted Sharon and I became further disappointed and depressed about what happened earlier today. There does not seem to be a way to bring us back together as a community, as a people, or as a nation until this is all over and done with. Can we get through this without bloodshed? Can we get through this without any more hatred? I realized the precariousness of the situation to an extent when I was in Israel in January and heard and read and saw first-hand what was going on as the first round of protests (which, I believe, lasted three weeks outside the Knesset) began. But as my mother so often told me, I needed to learn the hard way.

I will go through it point by point just to clarify the facts for the public:
  • First, they are distorting the truth. There absolutely was not, by any account that I heard including police officers and participants, 2,500 people present at the demonstration outside Baruch College today. Perhaps they like the number because it's one hundred more than double the number of people inside. You'll have to ask them. But when you do, tell them they're making it up.
  • Those inside are lambasted as "uncritical Jews." Good to know.
  • He fails to mention the presence of Yeshiva University President Richard Joel who went on to extoll his institution's achievements as a pro-Zionist university. Then again, I'm not surprised; after today I'm not sure that those people would recognize a true Zionist if it crashed into their bumper-sticker covered cars while they were in the driver's seat.
  • "This was a very selected left liberal audience..." Yeah, I'll bet. I'm a registered Republican, a member of the Republican Jewish Coalition, campaigned on behalf of the Republican party for four days last fall in Phildalphia and consider myself on the right of Israeli politics and could go on but will stop there. The individual on my left, and the two next to her, was a registered Republican and proud member of the Republican Jewish Coalition. As I mentioned in my previous post, the founder of the RJC and the current NY director of the RJC were also in attendance. On my left was the new president of the Brooklyn College Hillel, herself in agreement with the ZOA but utterly ashamed at what they did. To her left was an individual who works for the Jewish Agency and encourages Americans to make aliyah and while she, too, was against the plan, she felt it's important to support the government while here in America. And, by the way, anyone who's ever heard Malcolm Hoenlein speak for himself knows that he, too, is certainly not a liberal. But, yeah, clearly a "very selected left liberal audience."
  • "...many on the payroll or receiving funds from the UJA and Federation projects." Hey, Sherlock, guess what!?! The reason there were so many UJA employees there was because the UJA SPONSORED the event and had the right to give some of the seats to its employees. Are you saying that the UJA as an organization is pro-disengagement and that all employees are left liberals? Oh, that's right, my meter indicates we just picked up another overgeneralization!
  • Yes, you're proud that you were taken away right in front of the cameras and pool of reporters. You know, sincere people who want to get things done specifically don't run to the media for attention. They're humble and do things behind the scenes (it's almost always more efficient and effective to work this way, at least in my experiences in politics thusfar). Skilled professionals know not to get to close to the media because one day the media won't be interested in you or might be interested in something against you (see the current media coverage of the AIPAC conference). Skilled politicians don't run to the media for photo-ops all the time and don't make monkeys out of themselves in public or embarass foreign leaders like that. Shame on you for pandering to the media. Yes, the same media you so often call anti-Israel and the same media you say leans towards the left. Well, how will this help make them less "anti-Israel" when JEWS interrupt the Israeli Prime Minister? So you got your coverage on national television. Now what? How will you help heal the division you've just created?
  • For the record, that was a great feeling, getting admonished by hundreds of fellow Jews by the words "Shame on You!" as I left the auditorium. We should have used it against the cowards inside! Actually, no, it was one of the worst feelings I've ever felt and it brought me to tears as I walked down East 23rd street back to my car.
  • It pains me to know that the end of the Israel Day Parade will be marred by more of this hatred. The parade exists to celebrate Israel not to create and deepen divisions within the very community that is supposed to embrace and support it wholeheartedly. I don't like the way you dishonor and disrespect foreign leaders and Israeli Prime Ministers and I'm fearful that you'll hijack the gathering and distort the message of millions of supporters of Israel for your own twisted political objectives.
I'll post the letter in the comments section so as not to make this post too long. Interested readers can follow the link to the comments section to see how they gloat. It sickens me.
Chairman of Zionist Organization of America Heckles Israeli PM Ariel Sharon

Yes, in response to my last post, I did attend Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's speech at Baruch College this afternoon. This was Sharon's first visit to New York in four years and was, arguably, the Conference of Presidents' biggest event since the rally in Washington three years ago. The program was slated to begin at 1:30 but non-VIP attendees were to arrive around 11:30-12. The bottom tier of the 1,200 seat auditorium was filled to capacity at the UJC/Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations/UJA-sponsored event.

Sitting on the dais were (left-right) Jeff Weisenfeld (filling in for City University of New York president Matthew Goldstein), Harold Reiger, Morton Plant, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dan Gillerman, Immediate Past President of the Conference of Presidents and media mogul Mortimer Zuckerman, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Danny Ayalon, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, C of P Chairman James Tisch, Israeli Consul General in NY Aryeh Mekel, UJA President Morris Offit, UJA Chairman John Ruskay, and C of P Executive Vice Chairman Malcolm Hoenline.

Kol Zimra is developing quite a name, having sung in the White House for President Bush at his most recent Chanuka party and, today, singing Hatikvah (which, curiously, preceeded the Star Spangled Banner) and the national anthem for the audience with Gershon Veroba.

Also in attendence (not everyone, but some of the faces I recognized) was NY Jewish Community Relations Council President Michael Miller, Rabbi Simcha Kraus of the Young Israel of Hillcrest and former President of the Religious Zionists of America, Rabbi Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University/RZA, founder of the Republican Jewish Coalition George Klein, NY RJC director Greg Menkin, Yeshiva University President Richard Joel, Hebrew Union College President Rabbi Ellinson, and Chancellor of the Conservative Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbi Ismar Schorsch. Conspicuously absent were any elected officials on any level.

Under a banner with photos of an Israeli and American flag with the phrase "We Stand With Israel Now and Forever, "Weisenfeld spoke first, as a trustee of CUNY and mentioned that two Baruch students were selected as Rhodes Scholars. Additionally, the presidents of the three Jewish seminaries in NYC - YU, JTS, and HUC - were present and all spoke. Rabbi Ellinson of HUC said "the overwhelming majority of American Jewry stands with you in disengaging from Gaza." Joel focused on his institution's support of Israel, noting the parties that were held in honor of Yom Ha'atzmaut last week, the 3,000 alumni that have made aliyah, and that his campus of 3,000 students is the biggest pro-Zionist campus outside of Israel. Zuckerman said that while Jews are a fractious people and it is impossible to get unanimity, the overwhelming Jewish majority does support Sharon's plan. Tisch said that the C of P will support Sharon with a dedicated website, op-eds and one other thing that I missed in my notes. This is notable because up to this point the C of P has had too much internal turmoil to actually advocate the plan at all.

Finally, at 2:55pm, Sharon was introduced by Tisch. He said that he came from Jerusalem, "the eternal and undivided capital." This was greeted by his first round of applause. He said that "never again will we be defenseless and never again will we be held at the mercy of a hostile world." He focused mainly on the big issues (not the disengagement) that are confronting the global Jewish community, notably anti-Semitism, intermarriage, and assimilation, which he termed "a greater danger than ever." But, he said, the most serious responsibility we have is to protect the Jewish people. While a Diaspora Jew, individually, is not at risk, his/her community is and it's important to protect those communities as well as we protect the individuals. He continued, saying that "even if you choose to support Israel from abroad - don't wait too long." He said that we can be protected only if we strengthen aliyah and strengthen the education Jewish children receive both in Judaism and affiliating themselves with it and Zionism and affiliation with the State of Israel. He encouraged the leaders in the room to urge America's Jewish youth to take advantage of "birthright israel", Nefesh B'Nefesh, and a new program with the Jewish Agency called "Masa" in which students can spend up to one year studying in Israel (I've never heard of it but I'm sure more details will be available soon). He focused on aliyah and said that it is the committment of his government to bring one million more Jews to Israel within the next fifteen years.

He said that the disengagement plan will help provide for the security of the Jews in Israel. As a farmer he appreciates the progress they've made agriculturally, and as a soldier he appreciates the sacrifices they've made over the years. But the move is one that will improve Israel's security and will help him go towards the first step of starting a dialogue with the Palestinians towards peace.

At this point Dr. Alan Mazurek, Chairman of the Board of the Zionist Organization of America who resides in Great Neck, NY and Dr. Marvin Belsky, President of the ZOA's NY chapter who resides in Manhattan, stood up, removed their outer shirts to reveal their orange anti-Disengagement t-shirts, and shouted "Jews don't expel Jews" among other things. They were quickly shouted out and removed by one of the many security services there (NYPD, Secret Service, Israeli Secret Service etc).

It was as they got up that Sharon said that he'll never return to the 1967 borders or allow for the return of Palestinian refugees. I could not hear what else he said because Mazurek was two rows behind me and Belsky was at the end of my row (9th row, center!) making fools of themselves as Sharon kept talking, the latter clearly used to it from his speeches in the Knesset and obviously unphased by any of it.

Sharon continued, saying that the Road Map is the only way to peace and that he will never ever compromise on Israel's security. Here, he seemed to speak extemporaneously, and said that he even told this to the "friendly leadership of this nation, maybe the most friendly leadership we've ever had."

He said that "the coming period will be one of the most difficult we've known since its estbalishment but we will emerge strong and united." As he said this, he was interrupted by another two hecklers. The latter got expletives hurled at them for which Sharon said "thank you, I usually handle these things by myself." The hecklers were outcheered by those in the audience and almost violently removed in front of the news media that seemed to be salivating for a good photo.

Tisch, speaking after Sharon, apologized saying that, "The noisy minority does not reflect the view of the vast majority." This, too, was greeted with a standing ovation. Sharon was so moved that he came back to the lectern (Tisch said "I've never been interrupted by a Prime Minister before") and said that this was just another example of the fact that "one cannot defeat Jews. You can maneuver, you can try your best, but you cannot defeat Jews."

Most of the people inside were disgusted and embarassed by the hecklers who got inside and felt that even if one does support that position, there is a time and a place for everything. The protesters had their time, 1:00pm, and a place, right across the street, for their voices to be heard and their signs and bodies to be seen. Unfortunately the ZOA, a member of the Presidents Conference and a sponsor of the rally, felt the rally wasn't enough and shamelessly decided to embarass the visiting Prime Minister. You may not agree with the policies and you may not support the disengagment, but he's still the Prime Minister and he still deserves a modicum of respect.

As we exited the building we were greeted by light rain and loud chants of "Shame on You!" from several hundred protesters who were still assembled. According to police officers I asked, there weren't more than 1,000 people at any one time and, thank G-d, there were no arrests. That means that the protest organizers were wrong; they were not more people outside than inside. The crowd actually looked pretty pathetic though it looked as though at least half of Crown Heights was there; the Lubavitch are clearly against it.

The orthodox community was expected to come out in droves to register their disapproval of the plan. Many of my friends claimed they were going and I heard that there were large contingents of people from the 5 Tows/Far Rockaway area that were going to attend. It seems obvious that this did not happen. One reason might have been the poor weather. But a more likely answer was that while many in the community did know about it and planned on going, many such people were advised not to attend by their rabbis in sermons given in synagogue yesterday. Rabbis all over the NY-metro area, while against Sharon's plan, felt that the world community looking at such a protest would not grasp the nuances of the protest. It was not a protest against the State of Israel as most Niturei Karta demonstrations are; rather, it was a protest against a policy of the legitimate State of Israel. In an ideal world we wouldn't be concerned about this but we do not live in an ideal world and such things must be taken into consideration. However, this begs the question of how else can people register their disapproval to the plan?

Footage of Mazurek interrupting Sharon was aired on NBC's local affiliate here in New York City (WNBC) as well as NBC Nightly News. Perhaps now they're happy and they feel content that they acted on behalf of their friends in Gush Katif. Maybe they'll even post the footage of their Chairman embarassing the Israeli Prime Minister on their website for all to see. I fail to see how the chairman of a pro-Israel organization interrupting the Israeli Prime Minister on his first visit to New York in four years is beneficial to their cause or "pro-Israel."

Perhaps I'll have more later today or tomorrow but that's all for now.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

I can hear Ariel Sharon speak live in the flesh!

I just got an email from one of the people I worked for last summer (dedicated readers know which office I'm talking about) informing me that my name has been added to the guest list when Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon speaks at Baruch College at 1pm this Sunday. Under normal circumstances I'd be ecstatic and excited, especially considering the event is invitation-only and officially "sold out." Today, however, my dilemma is twofold:
  1. Do I want to be inside hearing Sharon or would I rather be outside protesting the Gaza disengagement plan? and, more importantly,
  2. Do I have a good five hours to waste on extra-curriculars instead of working on my thesis paper (Whether the introduction of nuclear weapons to the conflict in Kashmir made it more or less stable and, if possible, can I draw any conclusions on other global ethnic conflicts)?
Comments anyone?

Update: It's been over six hours since I posted the above entry and while the hit counter has gone up steadily, no one has left a note of any kind! "What's up with that?"
Jonathan Pollard's Status Has Not Changed

The Washington Times reports that spokesmen for both the White House and National Security Council said yesterday that incarcerated Israeli spy, Jonathan Pollard's, "legal status has not changed." This, despite efforts by the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and the Israeli Ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, to raise awareness of his plight to senior government officials, including Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The quote attributed to WH Press Secretary Scott McClellan does not appear in transcripts of the past two days' press conferences; it must have been from an interview. AIPAC, AJC and B'nai Brith had no comment.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Putting the Lawrence school board elections in context

Not much free time to post today (and I haven't had time to find interesting stuff though nothing I've come across so far is post-worthy) but I saw that on Long Island alone (meaning, Nassau and Suffolk County) forty five, yes that's FORTY FIVE, school board budgets were rejected yesterday. Lawrence, in District 15, was just one of those and I'm sure (more hopeful than certain, really) that the other districts did not have the ethnic tension that enveloped the D15 election. There's something brewing in school boards across this state and the tumult has only just begun.
Full School Lawrence School Board Results

Special thanks to Orthomom for posting the results of the Lawrence School Board election held yesterday, which I will copy and paste for your convenience. Unfortunately, the bigot won but we don't know the vote totals for that pivotal race yet (I'll try to get them later today).

For Trustee:

Seat 1 - Murray Forman vs. Rose Harris (incumbent)
Harris 3,900
Forman 3,970

Seat 2 - Stanley Kopilow (a.k.a. Mr. Shotgun) vs. Shlomo Huttler
Kopilow 4,047
Huttler N/A (no exact number available but he lost)

Budget vote:

PASS 3,429
FAIL 3,826

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

*** Lawrence, NY School Board Election Results ***

According to a friend and government official in Lawrence, NY the proposed budget went down today but, unfortunately, Stanley Kopilow did not.

I'm sure there will be more on this in the coming days, especially from Orthomom.
Doctors are perverts, too!

[Important note: if you read this too long after the time I actually post this entry you might not get the joke. I'm sorry but I will not even credit the newspaper with a link, they're not worthy.]

I threw a pen at my sister (a really smart "available" third year medical resident who will be moving to Philadelphia next year to participate in Penn's nephrology program) tonight when she told me that she's offered a monetary reward to any of her colleagues who bring up the current #1 most-emailed article on nytimes.com during rounds in her hospital tomorrow morning. As a patient of her "chief" in the CCU these few weeks, I can almost guarantee that he won't be amused....nor was I.
NYTimes announces the introduction of TimesSelect

Yesterday, the Times announced that beginning in September they'll charge online readers to read some of their articles, notably those from their op-ed columnists, International Herald Tribune dispatches, and select other pieces. For $49.99 per year, though, you can still read it all in addition to access to their archives, too. (Home delivery subscribers will have complimentary access at no additional cost.) It is my hope that for an addition $10 they'll remove all articles by Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd.
Ginormous and Lingweenie

This post is in honor of two friends. :)

'Ginormous' Tops Non-Dictionary Word List

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - The response from the "vocabularians" was so "ginormous" that the lexicographers let out a "whoot."

"Confuzzled?" You must be a "lingweenie."

The editors of Merriam-Webster dictionaries got more than 3,000 entries when, in a lighthearted moment, they asked visitors to their Web site to submit their favorite words that aren't in the dictionary.

"It was a lot of fun," Arthur Bicknell, a spokesman for the Springfield-based dictionary publisher, said Monday. "We weren't expecting so many. They only had two weeks."

Some of the proposed words even gained multiple submissions so the editors came up with an unofficial Top 10 list.

First place went to "ginormous" - bigger than gigantic and bigger than enormous- followed by "confuzzled" for confused and puzzled simultaneously, and "whoot," an exclamation of joy. A "lingweenie," a person incapable of making up new words, placed 10th.

Besides the Top Ten, some loyal Mary Poppins fans submitted "supercalifragilisticexpialidocious," which is in the Oxford English Dictionary, Bicknell said. He also spotted "a number of Harry Potterisms" among the entries.

"We will have to see about those," he said.

I'm an avid user of ginormous, am intruiged by 'confuzzled,' despise 'whoot' because of the one person I know that uses no matter how fun they might be, and have been a huge fan of lingweenie for almost the past three years...hehehe.
Vote Early and Vote Often

The day, dear readers, has finally arrived. Yes, it is school board election day across the great State of New York. Since I don't have a vote in Lawrence, NY I'd like to urge anyone that does to please vote against the Lawrence budget, against Stanley Kopilow, and for Shlomo Huttler.

May the non-bigot win.

...early and often :)

Monday, May 16, 2005

Stem Cell Enhancement Act of 2005 to be brought up for a vote soon

Apparently the OU's letter to House reps. I wrote of yesterday is just on time, according to an article in the current issue of Time Magazine. Due to my extreme fatigue as a result of my very tiring weekend and having to study for finals and work on papers/presentations that are due within the next few days, I totally didn't realize that a bill co-sponsored by 199 representatives (and counting) is about half of the membership of the House and that 58 senators means it's just two short of being filibuster-proof. Well, at least as long as we still have filibusters in the world's greatest deliberative body. Anyway, Time says that Speaker Hastert has promised to bring it up for a vote, possibly as early as next week, and it seems likely that it will pass with ease. Further, with 58 co-sponsors to the Republican-sponsored bill means that it almost definitely will end up on the desk of the Oval Office. The only question is whether President Bush will use his first veto of his presidency on the bill or acquiesce to the voice of the legislative branch and finally revise his position on the matter to one that's more in line with the opinion of the American people that voted him into a second term in the White House.

What is most unsurprising yet somewhat disturbing is the second sentence of the second-to-last paragraph of the article. However, just before I clicked the "publish post" icon, I read in Congressional Quarterly that The Hammer has reportedly promised to bring the bill up for a vote before the August recess.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Orthodox Union endorses Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005.

According to reports published on Friday from various J-news sources, the Orthodox Union's Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb (Executive Vice President) and Nathan J. Diament (Director, Institute for Public Affairs) sent a letter on Thursday to members of the U.S. House of Representatives (I wonder which ones) urging them to support the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005 (H.R. 810); a bill introduced by Rep. Michael N. Castle (D-DE) that currently has 199 co-sponsors (mostly Democrats). There is a similar bill (S. 471) in the Senate that was introduced by Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA) and has 28 co-sponsors (again, mostly Democrats).

Having had the merit of spending the weekend with one of the signatories of the letter, I was able to do a bit of "follow-up" of my own. I was extremely surprised that they'd come out with such a letter at this particular point in time because, on this issue at the very least, the OU/IPA is positioning itself opposite their usual allies on pro-Israel and religious/moral issues. For example, Senator Sam Brownback (R-KS), a devout and religious Christian as well as a staunch supporter of the State of Israel (he's spoken in the Knesset and was the receipient of the ZOA's "Defender of Zion" award this year) has introduced a bill in the Senate to ban all stem cell research (yes, all of it). When I asked him about this, he didn't seem all that worried about the political fallout from the letter, saying, "we always try to do what's right."

There's so much promise associated with this research, I think that once we have the fertilized eggs available, we might as well use them for something instead of just throwing them away. And, as the RCA stated some years back, it is not considered murder in Jewish law. Therefore, as the letter says, "stem-cell research may be consistent with and serve those moral and noble goals." (Which "moral and noble goals" it's referring to, I don't know-that's what I found from the news article.)

As I was quoted as saying in the interview I did with Ha'aretz last November, this is one of those issues on which I respectfully disagree with my party and would vote with those across the aisle in a heartbeat. I strongly applaud the OU/IPA for drafting and sending the letter and wish them much success in gaining support for the bills.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Confirmed: Sharon speaking at Baruch College on May 22

According to this week's NY Jewish Week, the Conference of Presidents is
focused on what it hopes will be a massive show of support for Sharon on May 22 at a venue yet to be decided. A first location, the Brooklyn Marriott, was scrapped early this week for logistical and security reasons.
However, as I reported last night, I can absolutely confirm that Sharon will be speaking at Baruch College on May 22. What remains unclear (only because my sources have not gotten back to me on this) is whether he's speaking at 1:30pm or 2:00pm and whether it will be open to the public or not. I'd be surprised if it were, in fact, open to the public simply because I'd assume organizers would like to try to prevent the attendance of hecklers would try interrupt Sharon in the middle of his speech (you know, sort of like what happens whenever he speaks in the Knesset). Nonetheless, I hope it is open to the public and will post more as it becomes available to me.

Additionally, NY elected officials have been invited to attend but it remains to be seen who (if any) will show up. While it is a mayoral election year in NYC and each candidate is trying to garner the J-vote, this is a very divisive issue and might be too hot to handle for the politicians. Well, aside from Assemblyman Dov Hikind, that is.
My car's odometer passes 75,000

The week before I began Queens College in August 2002 (after my summer in DC) I was given the keys to my mother's green 1995 Ford Contour so that I could commute to and from Queens College each day. When I first got into the driver's seat that sunny August afternoon, the odometer read somewhere around 33,500 miles. Yes, after seven years of use my mother (who, admittedly, works in a public school here on Staten Island) had only driven 33,500 miles.

Well, as I drove back to Staten Island via the traffic-free (only because I left Queens after 7pm) Belt Parkway this evening (between the Pennsylvania Avenue and Rockaway Parkway exits going westbound, to be exact) my odometer crossed the "75000" mark. That means that in less than three years I've driven 41,500 miles and expect to put on another few thousand (I'd bet that I pass 45,000) by the time August 2005 is complete (some trips down to DC might be in the cards...stay tuned for more on that).

Just to have a bit of fun with this:
-I generally average between 27 t0 28 miles per gallon. Using 27.5 as my average m.p.g., that means that I've used 1,509 gallons of gas in under three years.

-If gas prices were at the levels they're at now ($2.34 as of my last fill up) I would have spent $3,531.06 on gasoline in less than three years.

-I usually buy 12 gallons of gas a time. That means that I've been to the pump approximately 126 times in less than three years.

-I change my motor oil approximately every 3,500 miles. That means I've had approximately 12 oil changes since assuming ownership of the vehicle less than three years ago (yesterday being the most recent one).
If you can think of any other fun facts, feel free to post in the comments section!

May my car continue to take me from place to place and back without incident, comfortably, and speedily for many years and tens of thousands of miles to come!
More on Lawrence School Board kerfuffle

In response to OrthoMom's posting that Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, of Temple Israel in Lawrence, sent out a letter that was printed on synagogue stationary endorsing his Vice President, Stanley Kopilow, in the upcoming Lawrence school board elections and that the letter would seem to violate federal regulations on political campaign activity by non-profit organizations with tax-exempt status, here is a recent (April 28, 2004) IRS advisory (IR-2004-59) on the matter entitled "Charities May Not Engage in Political Campaign Activities":
Charities should be careful that their efforts to educate voters comply with the Internal Revenue Code requirements concerning political campaign activities, the tax agency said Monday in a presidential election-year advisory. Organizations described in section 501(c)(3) of the Code that are exempt from federal income tax are prohibited from participating or intervening in any political campaign on behalf of, or in opposition to, any candidate forpublic office. Charities, educational institutions and religious organizations, including churches, are among those that are tax-exempt under this code section.These organizations cannot endorse any candidates, make donations to their campaigns, engage in fund raising, distribute statements, or become involved in any other activities that may be beneficial or detrimental to any candidate. Even activities that encourage people to vote for or against aparticular candidate on the basis of nonpartisan criteria violate the political campaign prohibition of section 501(c)(3).Whether an organization is engaging in prohibited political campaign activity depends upon all the facts and circumstances in each case. For example, organizations may sponsor debates or forums to educate voters. If the debate or forum shows a preference for or against a certain candidate, however, it becomes a prohibited activity.The federal courts have upheld this prohibition on political campaign activity, most recently in Branch Ministries v. Rossotti, 211 F.3d 137(D.C.Cir. 2000). The courts have held that it is not unconstitutional for the tax law to impose conditions, such as the political campaign prohibition, upon exemption from federal income tax.(For the court's opinion in that case, see/fedctapp/branch-ministries.txt. -- Ed.)If the IRS finds a section 501(c)(3) organization engaged in prohibited campaign activity, the organization could lose its tax-exempt status and it could be subject to an excise tax on the amount of money spent on that activity. In cases of flagrant violation of the law, the IRS has specific statutory authority to make an immediate determination and assessment of tax. Also,the IRS can ask a federal district court to enjoin the organization from making further political expenditures.In addition, contributions to organizations that lose their section501(c)(3) status because of political activities are not deductible by the donors for federal income tax purposes. The political campaign prohibition as it applies to churches is discussed in Publication 1828, Tax Guide for Churches and Religious Organizations. The IRS issued similar election-year advisories to charities in 1992, 1996 and 2000.
*** Sharon to speak at Baruch College at 2pm on Sunday, May 22 ***

According to sources, who cite confirmation from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations (and the president of one Pres Conf member org), Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon will be speaking at Baruch College at 2pm on Sunday, May 22nd; a day before heading down to D.C. to speak at the annual AIPAC conference. He will attempt to drum up support for his disengagement plan etc.

Anti-disengagement plan groups (National Council of Young Israel, Americans For a Safe Israel, Zionist Organization of America etc) will be holding a prayer vigil outside. Confirmed speakers include Rabbi Moshe Tendler, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky, Heshy Reichman, Helen Friedman, ZOA President Mort Klein, and New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind.

More details to follow as they become available.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Yesterday I posted about the (what's become an annual) mess in Lawrence, NY surrounding their school board election debate last week. Well, today the petition I posted and linked to was taken down because the original author neglected to post his/her full name, in violation of petitiononline.com's rules, which prohibit anonymous petitions. Perhaps the author will be wise enough to comply with the rules so that more people can sign the petition.
On Feb. 11 I cited Howard Kurtz's new phrase, "The Permanent Campaign." Today, his colleague, Terry M. O'Neal, follows-up and provides an early handicap of the mid-term elections based on research he did by speaking to each respective party's campaign committees and three well-known talking heads: Charlie Cook, Stuart Rothenberg, and Larry Sabato.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Anyone and everyone who lives in Lawrence, NY should sign this petition and forward it to their friends! There are currently 53 signatures on it, but many more are needed.

Sign here

To: Residents of Lawrence School District

At the Meet the Candidates event which took place on May 2, 2005 in the Lawrence Middle School, and was moderated by the League of Women Voters (and sponsored by the Lawrence Central Council PTA), Stanley Kopilow, who is running for a seat on the District 15 School Board, was asked by the moderator, "What would you do in the event that the budget was voted down." Kopilow's immediate response was, "YOU MEAN AFTER I TOOK A SHOTGUN TO A CERTAIN GROUP?" - obviously referring to the Orthodox Jewish community in the Five Towns, which has been successful at defeating the school budget in previous years.

Stanley Kopilow has indicated that he will stop at nothing to supress any voters or groups oppposed to his election, and he has resorted to making virulently offensive and divisive comments to achieve this goal. Stanley Kopilow's poor character and hateful statements have indicated without a doubt that he is unfit for public office.



The Undersigned

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

The Republican Jewish Coalition has passed along a message by Senate Majority Leader (R-TN) Bill Frist who is currently on a fact-finding mission in Israel. The above picture does not look particularly warm, and the message is far too politically correct for my liking (especially considering that it's probably exclusively for the RJC). Yes, I know, everything is public in the end but it seems like this statement bent over backwards to appease even the right-wing Muslims. He's clearly on the campaign trail three years early but this is not likely to excite the right-wing Christian base, the right-wing Jewish base, or many others.

Here's the text of his letter in full:

I've been in Jerusalem for the last two days participating in a series of meetings and have had the opportunity to see some of the rich history of this remarkable city. This is my second time to Israel, I was here in 1997, so I'm getting a chance to see the dramatic changes underway in the country.

I started my visit by exploring the Old City. As I'm sure you all know, this is truly the heart of Jerusalem - where the holiest sites for three of the world's great religions converge. We stopped at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, then visited the Temple Mount and later the Western Wall. I've been overwhelmed by the Old City's holiness and history. While difficult to express, from a distance the city seemingly gives off a golden glow. I am coming to appreciate the literalness of the lyrics in the song "Jerusalem of Gold."

I've already toured the Hadassah Hospital which is a Women's and Children's hospital supported by many in the U.S. Over the last 3 years they have treated victims from 32 suicide attacks. America can learn a great deal from them about preparing for and responding to the use of biological and chemical weapons.

I also had the opportunity to meet up with Kory Bardash, chairman of Republicans Abroad for Israel. Israel has the 4th largest expatriate community - 250,000 U.S. citizens. And of those that voted in 2004 - 70% supported President Bush.

Since arriving, I've also been privileged to meet with several Israeli political leaders. Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres and I discussed regional politics and the Roadmap. I also talked with Knesset Speaker of Parliament Rivlin and Foreign Affairs/Defense Committee Minister Steinetz. They spoke of their views in opposition to disengagement from Gaza - and their concerns about the militarization of the Sinai.

Prior to meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, I was given a helicopter tour of the security fence. We took off from the grounds of the Knesset which are covered in what appeared to be hundreds of rose bushes - a beautiful site. The tour was lead by the architect of the fence and our route traced much of the fence line. In the end it will be over 400 miles long and have an estimated cost of $1.3 billion.

I was joined in my meeting with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon by Senator Lieberman (D-CT). The Prime Minister discussed his plans to disengage from Gaza he also shared his concerns about Iran's nuclear ambitions, arguing that they are a threat to Israel, the region, Europe, and consequently must be stopped.

I also spent time with Minister Natan Sharansky who also happened to announce his resignation on the same day of my visit. He's a very interesting individual with a unique history having spent years in a Soviet prison. He's also a gifted writer who has also written an influential book on the transformative power of democracy.

Our final meeting that day was with Benjamin Netanyahu who is the current Finance Minister. He spoke of his efforts to cut taxes to get his county's economy growing again. As a result, he said that Israel has had over 4 percent growth in GDP. He also praised President Bush's leadership in promoting democracy around the world.

Today I had opportunity to meet with Palestinian Authority President Abbas in Ramallah. It was a constructive meeting, and all parties appeared to appreciate the importance of establishing a long- lasting and meaningful dialogue on how to bring peace to the region. In particular, we discussed smuggling concerns from Egypt into Gaza, the need to improve economic and social services to prevent future violence and the need for a strong commitment to stop violence, dismantle terrorist organizations and follow the road map. I believe that a democratic Jewish state can live side by side a democratic Palestinian state.

Jerusalem is a beautiful city with a rich and complex history. I am humbled to be here in this holy land. The trip so far has combined political affairs with the affairs of the spirit - this land uniquely minds the delicate balance between both. In particular, I am deeply impressed by Israel's commitment to stable and sustainable democratic government - it is a beacon of hope in a region that is undergoing rapid transformation.

It's after midnight, and tomorrow is another busy day with meetings. All my best, and if you may forgive my modest and most basic Hebrew, laila tov.

Bill Frist