Tuesday, June 28, 2005

POTUS to speak tonight

In a move that will mark the first anniversary of the transfer of power in Iraq, President Bush will address the nation this evening from Fort Bragg. He will present a "clear path to victory" without setting a timetable of when troops will be coming home but will also warn and prepare the nation for more casualties.

I guess the WH wants to get back on top of the issue, one that has been steadily getting away from them. First VP Cheney said that the restless natives were in their last throes which they probably are not. Every WH staffer and Adminstration official has been telling the media to check the dictionary for ambiguous definitions, insisting that's what the Veep had in mind, not that they're actually on their deathbeds etc.

A Research 2000 poll out today says that 51% of North Carolina likely voters disapprove of Pres. Bush's handling of Iraq, but 54% do not believe he "intentionally misled" Americans "about reasons to go to war." I know it's not good form to extrapolate small findings to the larger scale but I do believe that North Carolinians are not alone on this one and the President wants to show us that he's got everything under control.

But what's he going to say that hasn't been said thusfar? Why is this speech any more important than any other speech he'll give today? No timetable (not that I'm looking for one), no silver bullet (literally and figuratively) to quash the insurgents, no new defense systems to protect our troops-what's he going to say? What's the point?

My politics and media professor would probably argue that it's a ploy by the WH to distract the public's attention (more the media which affects the public) away from what's going on and toward the "event" of the president's speech and speculating about it. This will be today and tomorrow's top story no doubt so it'll give Administration officials an opportunity to repeat their talking points over and over on every media outlet that will give them a microphone (and camera). But it probably won't present any new information and I don't think I'll be watching (though I will definitely read the transcript later).

Better Quote of the Day

The more bored I am the more I find...this quote obviously trumps this one below.
"The only things that bothers them enough to keep them up are fetuses. They love that fetus. The fetus and Jesus. Sounds like a comedy team. 'Ladies and gentlemen, give a warm welcome to Fetus and Jesus ...'"
-Seinfeld creator and writer, Larry David, on the GOP.

Quote of the day

"John McCain hasn't spent five seconds in his entire life thinking about Grover Norquist"

-McCain advisor Mark Salter.

Oooooh, now there's a "dis" if I ever heard one! Though if he wants to be president one day, which he probably does, he'll end up having to think of Norquist sooner or later given the huge base of support he has within the right wing of the GOP.

Background, courtesy of yesterday's CQ Midday Update (which I meant to post yesterday 'cept I was busy...I'm now in class and thoroughly bored):
The Dallas Morning News reports that conservative lobbyist Grover Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, speaking late last week before a meeting of college Republicans, “lambasted three Republicans who broke party ranks over the issue of judicial filibusters. He referred to them as ‘the two girls from Maine and the nut-job from Arizona’ – Sens. Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and John McCain.” The Morning News adds, “the broadside by Mr. Norquist ... raised eyebrows among the students, particularly the reference to Mr. McCain.”
UPDATE: Norquist also called McCain a, "gun-grabbing, tax-increasing Bolshevik."

Does this represent jockeying for the future of the party?

Back in two

I'm currently preparing for the last final of my relatively brief undergraduate career (wow, can you feel the excitement?), studying for the LSAT I'll be taking three months and one day from now (but who's counting), and setting things up for my job in DC next year (among "other things"). On the DC job front, I can confirm that I'll be taking my LSAT here in NY (I haven't registered yet so I don't know exactly where, but definitely somewhere in NY) and will be home through the following Thursday which means I'll be home for Rosh HaShana. We'll see where I'll be for Succos once we get closer (I really hope I can make it back!!!) but LSAT registration necessitated the conversation (which went surprisingly well!).

Once my final is over on Wednesday morning and my last LSAT review class for twelve days is complete later that evening, I hope to return to the blogosphere with a real consistency that has been lacking this month.

As I ate breakfast this morning, I couldn't help but notice the front page article in the WSJ about Bill Frist...'twas (hehe) like a longer version of the article I cited in "Brooks Bashes Bill." Maybe someone sent some of that info to Brooks as it was being put together.

Also, some monumental decisions from SCOTUS earlier today, I hope to get to them later in the week. There's also a great op-ed by Richard Epstein of U. of Chicago Law School re. the eminent domain case decided last week in Monday's WSJ-I can post it if anyone's interested and doesn't subscribe.

In the meantime, I'll be back in 2 days...please don't miss too much.

(And, as always, comments are much appreciated!)

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Gov't can take your house for private development

In a case that is certainly going to have a huge impact on perhaps each state in our great union, SCOTUS ruled today that just as government has the constitutional power of eminent domain to acquire private property to clear slums or to build roads, bridges, airports and other facilities to benefit the public, it can sometimes do so for private developers if the latters' projects also serve a public good. The 5-4 decision considered the fact that New London was looking for way to jumpstart its economy and by possessing and privately developing the land, they could create office buildings, riverfront hotels, and other commercial properties. The city would be barred from taking one's property and transferring it to another private owner strictly for the latter's benefit. But in this instance, Justice Stevens wrote that the city is promoting a variety of commercial, residential and recreational land uses "with the hope that they will form a whole greater than the sum of its parts" and bring economic benefits to the general community.


Quote of the Day

"The Constitution this week is being nibbled to death by small men with press secretaries."
-Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY) when discussing the bill passed in the House yesterday to ban flag burning in America.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Too much partisan religion talk

The whole Republicans are religious, Democrats aren't is really getting out hand.

First Howard Dean said that the Republican Party is "pretty much a white, Christian party." Clearly he's wrong.

Now Rep. John N. Hostettler (R-Ind.) accused the Democratic Party of "denigrating and demonizing Christians" as part of "the long war on Christianity in America."

What was the context of that statement? A Democrat-sponsored amendment as part of the annual defense appropriations bill condemning the Air Force academy for being hostile to Jews and trying to convert them to Christianity. So, is criticizing the Air Force for being hostile toward one religion "denigrating and demonizing Christians?" I think not.

Oh, and by the way, the amendment was killed 210-198.

I don't aspire

I don't aspire to this kind of lobbying though. (Unlike what I said in this post.)

At today's hearing (which John McCain said "is about more than contempt. It is simply and sadly a tale of betrayal.") of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, more details of Abramoff's lobbying gigs were released. Apparently ee pocketed $6.5 of the $7.7 million he charged Indian tribes back in 2001. Additionally, the Capital Athletic Foundation he created (which received thousands from Indian tribes) directed 80% of its funds to Eshkol Academy (the all-boys school in Silver Spring he created), and some funds to pay a monthly stipend and the rental fees of a jeep for a friend in the West Bank.

Read even more here.

Never Again

Perhaps after everyone reads this article, there will be no more comparisons of comparatively frivilous things (like filibusters, for example) to Nazis, the Holocaust, SS soldiers, Gestapo etc.

Someone's stupid enough to say it, the other side gets all self-righteous and issues statements urging the individual to condemn it, the other side clarifies their remark without officially apologizing, the pressure builds, and finally the person apologizes.

But what's sad is that it keeps happening on both sides of the aisle. You can't condemn the other side if you're guilty of it yourself.

Just stop it already.

I aspire

A really cool article about the growth of lobbyists in DC. Everybody knows that it's impossible to make a living working in government. Instead, you take a temporary pay cut for a few years, network extensively, and get back into the private sector where you can get paid to lobby the people you used to work for. Ideally, not the best way for the country to operate, but it's reality now and there's no public will for it to change any time soon.

Quote of the day

You know know, if Houston, Texas, was held to the same standard as Iraq is held to, nobody's go to Houston."
-House Maj. Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), on local coverage of "violence, murders, robberies, deaths."

(Hat Tip)

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Q: Nature or Nurture? A: Nature

The Times cites a study in the American Political Science Review (which it calls "the profession's premier journal"-since when is poliitcal science a profession!?! Wow, what a joke) claiming that one's political affiliation is largely based on genes while the finer points (i.e. are you a Republican or Democract) is based on your upbringing.

I don't believe it, but interesting read nonetheless.

Can't get cloture

The inability of the US Senate to invoke cloture last night on debating the nomination of John Bolton to be our next ambassador to the United Nations means that the only option left for him is a recess appointment (as we reported yesterday).

Dr. Frist said today that he will not bring the motion up for a third vote and that he will now have to consult with the White House regarding the next step.

This is an embarassment for both the White House and Dr. Frist and, given the lack of support all around, I repeat my position: it would be inappropriate for Bolton to come to the UN by means of a recess appointment. Such an appointment would expire in 2006 anyway, thus necessitating another bloody battle either at a lame duck session of the Senate in December of next year, or at the beginning of the 110th Session in 2007. Neither prospect is not all that appealing. Why not just nominate someone who can get the support of the Senate in a more respectable fashion?

New website!

Thanks to our dear friends at E-agle.com, we now have a more memorable url which should help us boost readership. You can now read The Slippery Slope from www.theslipperyslope.org! Go ahead, try it yourself and see what happens!

In related news, a Google search of "The Slippery Slope ranks this website at #29! That's a new record high (I think).

UPDATE: Make that #28!!!

Again, thank you for your continued support!

Monday, June 20, 2005

Characterizing Starbucks

Is Starbucks really a
white-collar equivalent of the tavern next to the car plant, a place where office workers, 20-somethings and teenagers can all gather in comfortable surroundings for an addictive product that doesn't kill you.
Is that really all it is?

Quote of the Day

From today's CQ Midday Update:
Towards the end, he was saying that he doesn’t hold any hard feelings and he just wanted to talk to [President] Bush, to make peace with him.
-Spc. Sean O’Shea, a Pennsylvania National Guard member who served as one of the prison guards for Saddam Hussein, in July’s edition of GQ magazine.

Recess Appointment for Bolton?

NYT (via AP) reports that John Bolton, POTUS' nominee to be our next ambassador to the UN, might be appointed during Congress' July 4 recess, thus circumventing the obstructionst Democrats in the Senate. I'm not sure that we want the man we put before the world body to take his seat through a constitutional loophole; it doesn't exactly lend credibility to an individual who probably won't fit in all that well to begin with (which is not to say that I don't support him; I just don't support the method).

Could this have happened in Gitmo, too?

From today's JTA:

A Palestinian woman jailed in Israel was caught flushing pages of the Koran down her toilet.

Sunday’s incident at Shikma Prison, which comes as the Prisons Service says Palestinian charges that guards desecrated prisoners’ Korans are fabricated, ended when a guard fished the torn pages out of the water and confiscated them. Reports of Koran abuse at U.S. prisons have been linked to deadly global protests by Muslims.


Nothing New From Cedar

Today's Staten Island Advance recaps Cedar's kickoff breakfast yesterday morning at the Agudah of Staten Island; an event that brought "more than 36 supporters" together. (So what does that mean, 37 people attended?).

He came out in favor of "upzoning" to allow people to expand their houses, a traffic light on Willowbrook road (completely unncessary in my opinion), parochial school tax breaks, surveilance cameras in front of places of worship and schools, and is opposed to the proposed racing track near the Goethals Bridge.

His opponent, Jim Oddo, got it right when he said that his platform is "narrowly tailored for a particular community." Cedar doesn't talk about things for the greater district, just for his Jewish constituents in Willowbrook. If his platform is narrowly tailored, he won't get the name recognition he so sorely needs because his platform won't appeal to other ethnicities and constituents in the district.

Upzoning is good except that the Jewish community is actually aging and there are not nearly enough young families moving in. By expanding the houses the property will be worth more. But house prices are already far too high; this is, in fact, one of the reasons people aren't moving in!

Parochial tax breaks are good, too. But Oddo's on that one already.

My guess is that Cedar is "jealous" that his synagogue, Agudath Israel, does not have the police car in front of it on Jewish holidays like the Young Israel does. That's not really something to run on or something that would get him into office though, is it?

Lastly, the raceway proposal. I, and some friends of mine, participated in a poll that was almost definitely paid for by the local GOP and conducted via telephone yesterday afternoon by a polling firm based in California. After asking about the state of the borough ("Is it headed in the right direction or the wrong direction?") and whether I thought Oddo, Bloomberg, and Molinaro deserve re-election, we spent about ten minutes on the raceway proposal (the jobs it will create, the fact that it's only three weekends a year, it will create more parks, will result in a ferry to ease traffic etc). It was full of loaded questions and when I said that I was opposed to the plan, the questioner gave me some information about it and asked if I'd change my mind based on the information she presented. Considering that the lead lobbyist for the plan (to my knowledge) is former BP Guy Molinari, I'm sure the GOP is supporting it. But I don't think it will generate as many jobs as the industrial park proposal that exists for the same site, and don't think that all the attempts to ease traffic will be very effective. And who cares about NASCAR in Staten Island, anyway?

But getting back to the main point here, Cedar's event did not seem very successful. Indeed, as one person commented, it was probably just an easy way to get Weiner into a Jewish crowd in Staten Island.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Ah, Alliteration

I just saw the title of my last post and noticed that it contains a nifty (c'mon, when was the last time you heard/read that word!?!) instance of alliteration. So not only am I suffering through this poetry class for 2.5 hours four days a week but it's invading the blog I write during my personal time, too! I think I should get some extra credit or something, don't you?

Meanwhile, if anyone has ever read or has any insights on Wordsworth's I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud, please let me know!

...don't worry, just another ten days (that's seven classes, including the final exam) and this mess will be over.

Brooks Bashes Bill

Anyone who's spent any time in DC knows the old joke:
I once walked into the Senate cloakroom before an important vote and said, "Mr. President."

100 people turned my way and answered, "Yes?"
Well, Senate Majority Leader Dr. Bill Frist is running for president. But NYT's David Brooks says he likes the old, more authentic, Frist better than the one traveling the country today. It's not the deepest of pieces, but I completely agree and here's why:

Last August, the day before the Republican National Convention kicked off in Madison Square Garden here in New York City, AIPAC, RJC, and UJC held a joint party at Chelsea Piers. The food was spectacular, the band was huge, and the political wattage was very high (Frist, Rudy, Cantor, Bloomberg, Mekel, Smith). Largely in part to the work I'd done for the campaign to that point, I had the opportunity to take a picture with Frist without throngs of people around. The picture features a graying Bill Frist standing next to me.

When the State of the Union address came around in early February, I noticed that Frist's hair was a youthful shade of brown, much different than the do he was sporting in the late summer.

I'm not sure his positions are as fake as his hair color but, like last month, I'm still not his biggest fan.

Low Battery

Without citing any ways to get around it, WaPo published an article describing the ways we keep our gizmos fully charged and ready for use. From making sure to sit in the back of a room near an outlet (the reason I normally sit in the back of all my classes these days), to sitting on the floor in airports, to having chargers all over your house to accomodate all the gadgets that need charging, we are in need of some innovative technology that will increase battery life and free us from our dependency on wires.

This eMachines laptop can run wireless card-free on the lowest screen setting for just over three hours; with the wireless card inserted but on lowest screen setting it runs for just over an hour. My PocketPC (which, due to poor battery longevity and with the fairly new laptop, is not used much these days) needs to be recharged every two or three days even if it's not turned on and doesn't even last three hours. My Motorola V180 can go on about 2-3 hours of talktime and just under 48 hours on standby before dying (very impressive though it's going down gradually). Either way, it's time for some major improvements in battery life IMHO.

SCOTUS to get new Chief Justice?

WaPo reports many in and around the Beltway believe that SCOTUS Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist will retire next week, at the end of the Court's term, creating a Chief Justice vacancy for for the first time in nineteen years. Among those in the running to replace him on the nation's highest bench are AG Gonzales (who would become the first Hispanic Justice), and federal appeals Judges John G. Roberts and J. Michael Luttig.

This could just be speculation, a pasttime in D.C., but such ideas have been widely reported ever since November so I'm more inclined to believe that he will resign sooner rather than later.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

All Politics Are Local

As I walked to shul last night (the Agudah), I saw a sign that announced that The Committee to Elect David Cedar as our next New York City Councilman will be kicking off the campaign this Sunday morning at the Agudath Israel of Staten Island (46 Birchard Ave.) at 10AM. In attendance will be local community leaders, "rabbi's" [sic], and mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner.

Obviously Cedar, father of three boys, is running on the Democratic ticket. But in case you weren't sure, he's running against the entrenched and warmly supported Minority Leader in the Council, Jim Oddo. Now, if that weren't enough to convince you that he ain't got a shot in the world, he's running as a Democract in the only Republican borough in the city in a district that, three years ago, was not very kind to Libby Hikind's candidacy for the same position.

For starters, I don't think he has strong name recognition within the orthodox Jewish community let alone the district. Maybe that's why he's starting his campaign so early. But most people that don't daven (pray) at the Agudah (i.e. members of the Young Israel of Staten Island) were completely unaware of the event which is unfortunate for Cedar (his campaign manager, if he has one, should be fired for not doing a good job on p.r.) because the Young Israel has a considerably larger membership (several hundred families, compared to maybe 150) that is also considerably wealthier and fairly politically connected. After all, when Vito Fossella is up for re-election he doesn't speak at the Agudah on Succos, he speaks at the Young Israel.

Several people I spoke to today (who had been previously unaware of his campaign) were disturbed that sorely needed funds would be siphoned away from local tzedakos (Jewish charities) into a political campaign doomed for failure.

I'll keep you posted.

Well, good luck with that, Mr. Cedar.

Friday, June 17, 2005


Now I seem to be in a posting frenzy, how 'odd.'

Here are a few questions I feel like posting as my last post of the day (and week):
How come Pizza Professor on Central Ave doesn't stay open late anymore?

Why did they rip up the pathways in Cedarhurst Park if they were perfectly fine before? (When I asked the question, the friend I was with (a 5T native) said that since the taxes are so high and they have nothing better to do with taxpayer dollars, they just rip things up and put them back together again even when the items don't need to be repaired. (See sidewalk on Central Ave and area around trees for more support of this argument.)

If there's no one on the train, why do they run LIRR trains so frequently so late at night?

Why can't NYC parks (which, to my knowledge from signs posted all close at dusk) be more like Cedarhurst Park which is well-lit and beautiful on a clear night when the moon and the stars are shining brightly after a strong storm?

Sefer Torah dropped on Shavuos at Ohr Torah?

Has anyone heard about a sefer torah being dropped on Shavuos (how sadly ironic) in Ohr Torah in North Woodmere? I heard the rabbi broke down in tears and was screaming at the kehilah, noting how horrible it is for them to have dropped it on "Z'man matan torahseinu," telling them that they're all guilty, and imploring them to do teshuva and fast this coming Monday.

However, shortly thereafter (according to my source who was present) he said that he'll be fasting for all of them (we don't believe in Christianity though, what's up with that line?) on this Monday and since veryone's into losing weight these days anyway they should fast, too (see Rambam Hilchos Teshuva about why we fast...not to lose weight!).

Strange story...anyone heard about it?


It frustrates me that I can't find anything worth posting about with my very tight schedule these days. Between a dreadful intro to poetry class (my last class as an undergrad), my boring but credit-worthy internship (which, thankfully provides me with an office, computer, phone, and a door to close when necesssary), studying for the LSAT (let's just say the diagnostic test didn't go so well), and other assorted things, it has become exceedingly difficult to find content that inspires posting and commenting on.

I was hoping that would change today so I spent some time searching my inbox and the web today but it just doesn't feel the same as it did when I procrastinated extensively when writing my senior thesis on Kashmir about a month ago (on which I, somehow, got an A). I guess that sometimes other things in life become more important and blogging, unfortunately, has taken a back seat, at least for now. Who knows, maybe if I get some free time to myself during which I'm not studying, working etc (not happening till mid-July according to my calendar) I'll be able to do a better job here. Sorry to disappoint my readership (the hit counter is still ticking up nicely and I appreciate the continued interest and support) but for now this will have to suffice. I still plan on trying again next week. It's never good to give up, but it's futile to attempt to do things when it's just not working out.

Above all, it's my birthday so instead of focusing on my inability to write a coherent paper on a poem and my inability to post on my blog where I should be free to do what I want, I'll cut it here and revel in the fact that if I wanted to, I can now buy myself a drink.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Jews Harass Arabs & Arabs Harass Jews

Well, happy Yom Yerushalayim to one and all. On this day in 1967, Jerusalem, including Har HaBayit (the holiest place on earth, where all Jewish prayers are directed on their way to G-d in Heaven) and the Kotel (its western retaining wall), was reclaimed by the Israel Defense Force. As I drove in my car this morning, I heard the tapes of "Har HaBayit B'yadeinu!/The Temple Mount Is Ours!" and couldn't help but be emotionally and spiritually moved even if my car remained still. It truly is a great day and it was a great victory because Israel is not quite Israel without Jerusalem. As Prime Minister Sharon said fifteen days ago, Jerusalem is "the eternal and undivided capital" of the State of Israel. Let's hope he, and any other future Prime Minister, never forgets that.

My sense of excitement was, therefore, devastated when I opened up Ha'aretz this afternoon and saw that Arabs threw stones at Jews who went up, escorted of course, to Har HaBayit this afternoon. Even though it's ours, it's not really ours.

But within seconds of finishing the article I received a phone call from a friend who was sitting in "The Rova" even more despondent than I was. Apparently, the residents of the Arab Quarter of Jerusalem were put under house arrest today to allow for Jews to celebrate in all of the Old City unimpeded and undisturbed. So, of course, lots of people took part in dancing through the streets to celebrate the land which is ours. But along the way, whenever the crowd my friend was with saw a poster that Arabic on it, they ripped it down. And whenever they saw an Arab sitting on their second- or third-story porch above, they'd start shouting and screaming and banging on anything in sight. At one point, an Arab man shouted back, sick of the noise and defacement of his property. This only incited the Jewish group (which I'd venture to call a "mob" but considering I try to be as precise as possible and was not there in person, I'll hold off), which started shouting louder and banging louder-no doubt "disturbing the peace." At some point, a Jewish yeshiva boy spat at the Arab above, hitting him on the arm. The man was defenseless and did nothing to respond as Israeli policemen rushed in almost immediately, helping to keep things from escalating further.

The question is (and it's not just Jerusalem but other towns and cities such as Chevron on Yom Tov, Shechem when people want to daven at Kever Yosef etc): When is it appropriate to force Arab residents to stay in their houses so that Jews can play outside? And should this practice be allowed to continue when those who are permitted to play take it a step further and destroy your property, destroy your peace at home for a day, and destroy your dignity?

I think that people should be allowed in (at least occassionally) and we should be allowed to celebrate the victory in the land we captured, but this kind of stuff is entirely out of place. After all, the man who was spat on today could very well be the next projectile-launcher tomorrow. Do we really need more of those?

Sunday, June 05, 2005

I'm back

It certainly has been a while but now that my computer is clean again, after being plagued by the Netsky virus, and after "officially" graduating (but not really) and many other exciting things in my personal life, I'm back at TSS with lots to post on.
First, today's Salute to Israel Day Parade and the concert that followed it.
Then, tonight's national OU dinner at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square (yes, the same place that the Tony Awards were held) at which the United States Attorney General, Alberto Gonzales, spoke excellently...but I'm going on three hours of sleep and need to be up early tomorrow so I will post in more detail tomorrow.
Just some housekeeping: A very special shout out to K.P. who was kind enough to praise my blog in front of some VIP's at the OU dinner tonight-thanks!!!
But quickly, especially for people who were at the dinner tonight:
  • Could the fact that NCSY and Yachad (both under the OU umbrella and marching behind Rabbi Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, Executive Vice President of the OU) were wearing orange t-shirts today be construed as sending the message that the OU is (despite pledges of neutrality) anti-disengagement?
  • Where was everyone!?! There were so few people along the parade route!
  • How awesome was Gonzales tonight!?!?!
  • Was it just me, or did it seem like Malcolm was trying to steal the show or (re?)assert his significance (or something else entirely?) tonight by talking about an issue no one else discussed at a length only Gonzales matched, while yelling many times? Was he trying to make up for the fiasco two weeks ago just twenty blocks away?
  • Why, if he was sweating bullets and looked beyond gross and disgusting, did Malcolm feel compelled to keep his suit jacket on during the parade in 87 degree heat and humidity?
  • Did Democratic mayoral hopefuls march, too? I only saw tons of Mike Bloomberg '05 posters in Hebrew (that, and Gifford never showed up to the dinner tonight...uh oh!)
  • Why didn't Rav Schachter have a chance to speak!?!
  • "Arvit Chagigit" in honor of Yom Yerushalayim was downstairs, away from the main ballroom...not that that means anything, of course. ;)