Thursday, December 29, 2005

With Liberty and Tolerance for All

The Sydney Morning Herald ran an article this morning entitled, "Spielberg outrages terrorist." According to the article, "The Palestinian mastermind, [Mohammed Daoud], of the Munich Olympics terrorist attack, which killed 11 Israeli athletes, says he is outraged at not being consulted for the Steven Spielberg thriller Munich." Daoud went on to say that Spielberg "should have listened to both sides of the story and reflected reality, rather than serving the Zionist side alone." That Spielberg is mighty outrageous! I don't know for sure, but my guess is that the Nazis were pretty offended by Schindlers List. The movie was not balanced at all, but showed a definite bias toward Jews and hardly gave the Nazis any chance to tell their side of the story.

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

According to the Jerusalem Post, former Shin Bet chief Avi Dichter "says pullout proved itself, Kassams [are] now terrorists' only means to attack Israel." Gee, now I feel much safer!

Monday, December 26, 2005

Finally, Some Policy from Peretz

Peretz has done what one might think impossible. In a land battered by kassams, suicide bombs, terrorist stabbings, and shootings, Peretz is managing to run on an economic policy ticket. Let us not forget the continued existential threats from Iran, Libya, Syria, and Lebanon. One might think that minimum wage would not be the foremost issue in Israeli politics. Yet it is the issue on which Peretz is focusing. Comparing Israel's minimum wage to that of the US and Britain, Peretz claims, "our minimum wage is a fraction of theirs" (Jerusalem Post). That is certainly true numerically, as Israel's minimum wage is $3.70, while US and Britain both have over $5.50. But I would imagine that cost of living is considerably lower in Israel. Nevertheless, he has announced something of a foreign policy/ military policy recently, claiming, "We need to immediately . . . dismantle the illegal outposts," said Peretz. "I would also stop all funding to expanding communities there, and only continue with the minimum aid needed to maintain the communities," added Peretz. "Instead, we should put those funds into developing the Negev and Galilee, where we can expand opportunities for our youth" (Ibid.). While I am all for developing the Negev and Galilee, I am still curious as to what he plans to do about terrorism. I am not an economist, but my guess is that constant threat of serious attacks is not very good for anybody's wages.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Is Sharon a True Bush-Imitator?

In the past couple of years, I have noticed that Sharon's image has begun to look more and more like Bush's image. Sharon also began to wear the pin with the flag on his left lapel (only Sharon's pin is of Israel's flag). Sharon speaks in simple language to the media. He even has a "ranch" in the Negev, to which he periodically goes to refresh himself. His recent recovery from a small stroke has, however, led Bush himself to suggest to Sharon a way to become even more "Bush-like." In the words of Haaretz: "U.S. President George W. Bush told Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to eat less, work less and exercise more. . . . The president also reportedly told Sharon that he needs him healthy, and said he hoped to see results of physical exercise and weight loss when the two meet in a couple of months." The results of this change in lifestyle, Bush went on to say, could be crucial to the war on terror.

On Restraint

I am opposed to the Patriot Act, in part. While I don't like the Patriot Act, I recognize that many of the issues that upset me are not contained therein. However, the Patriot Act reauthorization has acted to raise public opinion and awareness about issues of privacy and security.

As Pres. Bush was so kind to specifically honor senators from NY, CA and NV as members who oppose the current formulation of the bill. As such we have received many calls in the past few days in support of the Patriot Act. A conversation might go like this:
Zev: Hello, senators office, how can I help you?

Constituent: I want to tell the senator that he should stop protecting the terrorists and start protecting the citizens of this country. How could he vote against the citizens of the country? Maybe he should be deported.

Z: Thank you very much for your opinion, may I please have your name, address and telephone number so I can pass your comment along to the senator.

C: My name is Robert Macarthur. I live at 78 North Terrace Rd Buffalo NY 14202 716-828-4590.

Z: Thank you very much for your call. We will just put your name through a central database of known enemies of the United States to ensure that no subversives unduly impact the American legislative process. Just for securities sake we will also give your name to the IRS to guarantee that you have no financial links to terror. If you get audited this year, that will be why.
But I show restraint, and cut myself off before that last part.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Public Service Announcement

The senate is deliberating on the Patriot Act today. Call your senator to voice your opinion. I will suggest calling local offices, as the DC office is probably swamped. Offices are currently monitoring the issue.
Shmuli's Legacy Jig Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Broken Walls at Hillel

After 8 years, it looks like Rachel, Shmuli & co. are ending their tenure in Hyde Park. They leave with quite the legacy, and I wish them well up in their new neighborhood. With Shmuli gone, who will be around Hillel to break the walls?

Friday, December 09, 2005

Go shorty, it's your bat mitzva, we gonna party, like it's your bat mitzvah

A bas-mitzveh that cost over 10 million dollars! It included such "artists" as Tom Petty, Aerosmith, and 50 cent and had goody bags that included ipods and digital cameras. The goody bags were so successful that one 14-year old guest said that they were the "coolest" part of the part-ay. According to the Jerusalem Post, "The guest asked that her name not be used because she didn't want her friends to think that she had only attended the party for the bags." She added that she also liked the music.

One need not think that such an expensive bar or bas mitzve is necessary, however, and the Jerusalem Post lists a couple of tips on how to keep it affordable:
  1. Plan the event yourself. This can save thousands of dollars you would otherwise spend on an event planner.

  2. Make the tables' center-pieces yourself, this will save a $200/table fee for renting them for a night.

  3. Don't have famous musicians. This could save millions.
No matter what you do to keep down the costs, "at the end of the day there will always be the pressure to compete with other bat and bar mitzvas."

Even though my bar mitzveh had none of these gimmicks and cost somewhat less than the recommended minimum of $20,000, I still think I had the best bar mitzveh in town. I am also completely certain that those who came for the goody bags were sorely disappointed.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

The Islamic Scare

These allegations of gross infractions on human rights and international sovereignty are cause for immediate real concern. The justification for these acts sounds something like Sen. McCarthy on an irate diatribe. Whither Edward Murrow?

Update: Thank you one and all. As I was running out of the office on Thursday I wrote this post noticing that I ought to link to a different article. By that time it was too late, so I changed the link now. I still think "renditions" are a big deal though.


Modern donuts look like little cakes and soft donuts filled with inferior quality strawberry jam are almost a thing of the past.
So true, but so yummy.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Liberalism = -(Conservatism)

In my continuing struggle against fickleness, I am sorely bothered by the reversal of the liberal agenda in the course of the decade. In David O. Russell's 1999 film "Three Kings" he lays out the inadequacy of the American response to the first gulf War. A band of three rogue US soldiers led by Maj. Archie Gates (George Clooney) set out to abscond with Iraqi gold in the fog surrounding the American invasion. The soldiers set out to steal the gold, ignore the insurgent's (told to rise against Saddam by Bush I) and return without incident. After witnessing the wasteful slaughter of innocent Iraqis the soldiers are impelled to aid their cause and move this village of insurgent's across the boarder to Iran.

The message of the movie is clear, America let Saddam's opponents down in the wake of the first invasion. The US promised to topple Saddam, but instead left these poor people to be butchered by the state.

It seems to me that, irrespective of the false pretenses for war, the US had a moral obligation not only to topple Saddam's evil regime, but to aid in the reconstruction effort in Iraq. How the US could morally justify leaving these people in the midst of violent political turmoil is beyond me. The analogy to Vietnam is not fair. We are not trying to protect one nation from another in Iraq, rather here we are attempting to revitalize a failed state*. I don't understand why my fellow liberals don't agree, besides for a loathing to be the the same side of any issue with Bush II.

* Whether Iraq should be split into two or three separate nations is a good question, which I do not boast to have an answer to.

Aeon Flux on Style

I blog too much about movies and too little about books. So it goes.

I saw Aeon Flux motza"sh with my brother. It is a very cool movie. The really notable part about the movie is the design. The vision of the future is only minimally technologically futuristic; there is very little technology in the movie which indicates scientific advance. Rather, it is the lines and shapes which communicate to the audience that the time is no where near the present. The style, cut, fabric and lines of all the people imparts a deep feeling of temporal distance. I really liked that.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

$10 to anyone

who can understand this paper whose initials are not ML.

Thanks to Sam for pointing this out.

[offer void as of 12/1/05 2:12pm EST]