Thursday, December 11, 2014

Torture, the devil, and the law

The problem with torture is not that "it is ... inconsistent with our values as a nation".

The problem with torture is not that the justification of torture -- that it is needed to ensure security-- is at best factually weak, and more likely false.

The problem is  that torture endangers us.

The character of Thomas Moore, in A Man for All Seasons, defends the law against zeal for even justice by saying:
And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned around on you--where would you hide ... the laws all being flat? ... I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake.
To parapharase MacArthur to Roosevelt: When some CIA operative drowning, some Marine is being rectally fed, when some Airman is held without sleep for days*, there last words can be a curse on Cheyney, Hayden, and Bush.

*See Stalag 17.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Democrats and ALEC

In the well duh category, the Huffington Post recently posted an article entitled Democrats Create An ALEC-Killer.

Gee, often I have heard the cries about these dark, underhanded, suspicious tactics of this group.

And what are these tactics, why  the Republicans have organized a right-wing group to push for its policies at the state level, providing political discipline, they create draft statutes, coordinate activities,  and support people who agree with them across the spectrum.  And all this has worked for them very well over the last decade.

You know, this is called activism.  I once tried to point this out at a MoveOn meeting I was stupid enough to attend.  The reception to that comment wasn't good.

Sure it's financed by the right's most fanatical and finanically interested participants, and you expected diffierent?

At last someone said, Hey they are killing us by being organized and forceful.  Maybe we should do something too.

Someday, what passed for the American left will actually realize that the game is called politics, and it involves getting things done.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

A Rant, before it become irrelevant

There will be lots of discussion about why the Democrats lost, and I wanted to get my licks in.

My observation is that there is a common thread when the Democrats have lost significant elections,such as 1980,1994, 2010, or today: the inability to govern, or to put in another way, weakness.

Eisenhower said, "When you appeal to force, there's one thing you must never do - lose."
If you believe in the power of collective action through elected government, then the one thing you cannot do it fail to govern.

Carter was seen (correctly I believe, though people will dispute this) as a weak ditherer.

Democrats under Clinton in 1994, and under Obama in 2010 were hammered because they could not marshal the strength to quickly propose and bring up policies -- most specifically the health plans.

And in the last year, Obama we have had failure to perform governance over, and over again.  There is not justification for:
  • The ACA web site roll out failure
  • That Obama's promise -- however stupid -- not to change existing plans was not honored
  • That the administration was surprised by the VA
  • That the administration was surprised by the board problems
  • That there was not a better Ebola communications plan
  • That there was not better planning about ISIL (screw the CIA missing it, the Economist knew it).
Please note that all of these issues are completely within the purview of an active executive.

The American left (if that is not a null set in any meaningful sense) is big on policies, but has never grasped that implementation -- the sinews of the state -- is an absolute necessity first.

One cannot make a case for government as a useful tool, if its performance is so poor.

Why the current president seems so passively gormless is a question not worth addressing here.

What is worthwhile is the simplest lesson that can be gleaned from this: fill the damned pothots.

Monday, October 27, 2014

"For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, Before we go to Paradise"*

"For there is good news yet to hear and fine things to be seen, Before we go to Paradise"*

Not everything I post is about doom, to whit:

 To Improve a Memory, Consider Chocolate -

*G K Chesterton The Rolling English Road

Saturday, October 25, 2014

I wish I could be as saguine.

Small article, or report of a talk I suppose, In his own words: Ben Bradlee on liars,

about truth telling.

As I said in the subject, I am not sanguine about ultimate truth telling

    "In a democracy, the truth emerges — sometimes it takes years —

that is how the system is supposed to work and eventually


     I take great strength from that now, knowing that in my

     the truth does emerge. It takes forever sometimes, but it
does emerge.

I think that what Buchwald said is truer: You Can Fool All the People All the Time.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Kasserine Pass

Anyone remember the Battle of Kasserine Pass?  It was the first real confrontation between US and Nazi armies, the latter under Rommel's command.  We did not acquit ourselves well.

There is a point.  It was the first battle (and followed the first seaborn landing, which was also sub par).  But it was the first, and was followed by reorganization, retraining, and forward movement.  (Cue the appropriate music.)

Nothing works from the start, and no plan survives contact with reality.  Handling Ebola is no different.  (I doubt anyone thought of the issue of a staffer going off on a cruise.)

So this is to be expected. 

It would help, if leaders wouldn't say 'it's all OK', but instead said something like 'There is a plan, Here are its broad outlines.  It will no doubt have faults.  We intend to adjust.'

Unfortunately, we don't.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meanwhile in Europe...

A street scene in Schilderswijk, the neighborhood in The Hague where a Jewish resident’s efforts to erect a sukkah have sparked controversy.

I found the content of this article from, Sukkah Sparks Controversy in Mostly Muslim Dutch Neighborhood – not unexpected, which makes it more depressing.

The Jew involved was told
...he could build his sukkah only on condition that he dismantle it by 9 o’clock each night. According to Schomberg [the builder of the Sukkah] , the police had advised the city against allowing a sukkah at all, since it might invite Muslim vandalism*. (Emphasis added.)
I am old enough to recall that during the civil right movement, the excuse of potential violence was used to try and deny pro-civil right protesters parade permits.*

However it was decided, by courts in this country, that the civil authority had a positive responsibility to protect legitimate public displays of opinion, which would include religion. 

That does not appear to be the opinion of the Dutch state.  One wonders, if this issue were to come before  the European Court of Human Rights, whether it would rule that state's have a positive responsibility to protect such rights, like Google's positive responsibility to allow the past to be forgotten.

It does appear to be an attitude that divides the Muslim population from the rest of society and infantilizes it -- that you aren't really fully human, so we can't require you behave in a civil way. 

The behavior of the local Jewish leadership is not uplifting: "his [the Sukkah builder's] behavior puts the entire Jewish community in the Hague (and the Netherlands) at risk."  -- 'Who will be for me', indeed (, Pirke Avot I.15).

As a Jew, this tends to reinforce the view that Europe can never be a home for us.

As a member of 'western civilization' ("It would be a good idea" -- Ghandi), if this is as typical of Europe as it sometimes appears, I despair.

*For the record, I supported the right of Nazis to march in Skokie, so I suppose I am a fundamentalist on this issue.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

I can feel safe now, the Constitution protects me...

The New Yorker's Andy Borowitz written to reassure us that we don't have to worry -- because change is impossible.

Integrity Disqualifies Sanders for White House - The New Yorker

The effective Unites States Constitution maintains that, in addition to being native born and 35, one must be  part of a "network of cronyism and backroom deals [which is] required under our system to be elected."

This is a triumph of social engineering: "Our political system has been refined over the years specifically to keep [certain types of people]  out of the White House...The system works.”

And to think, I was just writing about feeling glum about Scottland.

Liberty and Union...

I have looked, rather glumly, at the Scottish move to secession, and one comment encapsulated my problem with it.

On Weekend Edition Sunday, there was an interview with Val McDermid, in which she said:
And so I looked at the kind of decisions that have been coming out of the Scottish Parliament since we had some power over our own affairs. And it seemed much more in tune with my own ideas than what comes out of the Westminster Parliament.
The Scotts represent a region which votes with differently (and with greater uniformity) from the (much) of the rest of Britain.  I am hard pressed to see much difference between this and the petitions to secede following Obama's reelection, or those who want to create new states out of old ones.

In the early part of the 19th century, one of the issues that caused conservative in Europe to doubt the staying power of the American 'Republican Experiment', was the belief that a system which derived its legitimacy from some popular consent could avoid be torn apart by faction and secession.

Though we do not hear it with our ears of today, this was what Lincoln was referring in the Gettysburg address, particularly in the closing sections -- people had predicted that a Civil War and dissolution was the natural end of 'government by the people.'

The appetite for secession, not only in Scotland, is fundamentally a challenge to a notion of nation and representative and constitutional democracy (I would use the work republicanism, but that is not apropos when there is a monarch).  That if we lose we leave.  Never mind that the prior PM was a Scott, or that the union allowed Scottland to have a higher standard of living than most the the rest of the UK, at least up through the first several decades of the 20th century.

The mirror of this was the majoritarianism of Thatcher, who savaged the industrial economy of the UK -- which hit the Scotts particularly hard -- on the basis of "We won the election, we don't have to listen."  I know some who argue that these actions and the finanicalization of the British economy justify Scottish secession.

In either case, 'my' triumphs over 'ours'.  'My ideology' is ascendent (for now) so I don't have to listen to you, 'my ideas' have not convinced the rest, so I will not stay with you.

Neither of these acknowledge to temporary nature of the present or that there is anything permanently of value in a larger community.

What this means for the EU (which the Scotts wish to join) is open to question.

We are in a "Thyestean Feast," in the west, with the break down of any notion of an organic union in our communities. I think because it is so useful for the powerful deny a common good -- and so the lowly believe it too.  We thus become unwilling to sacrifice, and worse yet are never even asked.

So, I am glum about the Scotts, because this is a sign that I am a fool to want to still be able to think big, be bounded to a community of real value and scope, and secure liberty.  I fear that it is a symptom of lights going off.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The gay marriage case that should matter

A gay man,  married in Massachusetts and living in Alabama, (see
Gay Widower Shares Heartbreaking Story Of Why He's Suing Alabama) to have the state of Alabama recognize his marriage.  This is the case I think should attract the most attention and support from Gay Marriage advocates.

Most of the other  court cases about gay marriage bans in various states are working through the federal judiciary  require an extension of logic of Loving v. Virginia (the ruling that invalidated anti-miscegenation statutes) -- that:
Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival -- Earl Warren
I have always been uncomfortable with that logic, preferring Potter Stewart concurring opinion (repeating an argument in another case McLaughlin v. Florida) that
it is simply not possible for a state law to be valid under our Constitution which makes the criminality of an act depend upon the race of the actor.
I don't see marriage as a 'right.'  As I said before,  I see marriage anthropologically: that it is a useful contract by which the state manages various property, inheritance and other economic issues, (see Two cheers for gay marriage).

That is why I am not wild about the current court cases -- I think they are high risk, and that the court may well decide that the decision would involve it in a "political thicket", and use that as an excuse to rule the issue non-justiciable.  Given this court, they could well write a decision would have an extensive effects (I wouldn't put it past this court to use it as an excuse to over turn Baker v. Carr).

The case in Alabama has more power, and I think simpler Constitutional basis -- relying solely on the text:

From the Constitution  of the United States
Article. IV.Section. 1.Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

Section. 2.

The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities of Citizens in the several States.
There used to be something called a "Reno divorce", where people married in states with restrictive divorce laws went to Nevada and got divorced.  The Supreme Court eventually rule -- so long as no obvious fraud was involved -- that states had to respect these divorces.

Though cumbersome, applying this would effectively gut the anti-gay marriage laws  -- a state would not be required to provide the service, but would be required to recognize it. 

This is not as 'nice' as having every state required to provide gay marriage as an option -- but it would protect gay marriage once it had been performed.

I like this, because no new rights would be required to be read into the Constitution, it has precedent, and a pleasant in your face quality.  And I have hope that it could get through this court.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

No end of fun can be had with this...

Certainly beats taking your AR15 to the restaurant.

The agency that brought you the Internet has created a self-guided bullet
government's military research agency, DARPA, says it has demonstrated a
bullet capable of locking onto a moving target from up to a mile away.

Friday, July 11, 2014

An interesting position to consider

The Daily Beast article Why Progressives Shouldn’t Support Public Workers Unions - The Daily Beast


Monday, July 7, 2014

Not a great idea

This article on the Forward website,Jewish Wedding Symbolizes Revival in Poland City of Wroclaw –, is supposed to be a feel good article.

I am sorry that I will not feel that way. I see them as glorifying a mistake. 

It is a fantasy that we can restore something of Jewish life to Eastern Europe.  Understanding the Holocaust as an aberration, is not supported by history.  (Communism is an aberration, the anti-semitism there was part of a calibrated policy, not a popular sport.)

We have been the other a long time in Europe, and still are: just look at the polling (Attitudes Toward Jews in Ten European Countries).  This even in countries (like Spain, Poland, and Greece) with negligible Jewish population: a new invention anti-semitism without Jews.

Anti-semitism without Jews, that I can live with. I cannot be happy by creating new hostages.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Teach your children better

I amused my daughter this Saturday by talking to some LDS Missionaries -- whom she had to deal with by herself earlier when I was out.

She shooed them off earlier by pointing out the Magen David affiches on the windows and saying good by.

Next time, there were three, and at least one tried with me to be somewhat more diplomatic, noting the previously mentioned decorations and the mezuzot on our doors -- asking me to explain them (I wonder if they were hoping I would stumble).

The conversation had some interesting dialog I would like to mention.

Missionary: Have you ever met missionaries before?
Jew: More than you can possibly imagine.
Missionary: Have you read the book of Mormon
Jew: Yes, and the Koran, what you call the New Testament, and the Bhagavad Gita
Missionary: What did you think of it
Jew: Honestly?  A poorly written fraud. [Would you want me
          to lie?]
and then the subject monotheism* and the origin of evil came up 
Missionary:  God is the source of truth
Jew: ...and lies.  Jews are fairly thorough monotheists, we don't have a
         trinity or a devil, so all has to come from God.
Younger Missionary: But Lucifier is written about in Genesis.
               [This is the reason for the title of this blog]
Jew: [Long slow look]
         You really should read the book before you talk
         about it.
         Lucifer isn't mentioned until Isaish. 
         Satan isn't mentioned in Genesis -- just a snake.
         The first mention of 'a' satan I can recall is in the
          story of Balaam's Ass.
              [A lecture on satan as a word and the meaning
              of the character followed]
and finally:
Missionary: Well is there anything we could do for you?
Jew: Yes let me enjoy the rest of my sabbath in peace.

I don't often get gifts like this.

*For the record, and seriously the concepts of the trinity and the Devil inherent in the creed really do lead me to think of Christianity as a polytheism.

Missing the point

As with many gun safety advocates, this article How Lax Gun Laws In The U.S. Let Domestic Abusers Buy Guns| Huffingtonpost, misses the point. Just as the Spitting, Stalking, Rape Threats: How Gun Extremists Target Women | Mother Jones article did.

Intimidation is a gun rights advocacy goal, not a side effect. 

Monday, June 16, 2014

A sling without out a prayer.

The first Queen Elizabeth occasionally used the  motto 'video et taceo', 'I see, but say nothing'.

This generally meaning that she knew much -- she had a superb intelligence service -- but that knowing did not require her to act.

And while I could use this quote as the basis of a screed on the NSA, I have a more personal set of plaints.

For the past month, I have been wandering about with a sling on my left arm (as you may recall bears dropping off six foot high ladders do not bounce -- they suffer dislocated shoulders).

This has not seemed to cause strangers to offer to hold doors open for me, nor avoid running into my left side, or suggest helping with packages.

The sling has -- it seems -- given people the belief they have the right to invade my privacy -- a phenomenon which it seems to share with a pregnant woman's abdomen.

On Saturday, while walking, my wife Margaret got an earful about how different injuries could indicate psychic stress -- specifically shoulder injuries indicated that a man was under too much pressure -- and how there was a great book on it.  Saying that the injury was due to a fall didn't phase the speaker at all.  (I later suggested asking if discomfort in the fundament was due to dealing with a pain in the ass.).

People have walked up saying 'What happened to you', or just 'Rotator Cuff, huh?', and of course offer to tell me all about their own experience.

The reaction when I respond briefly -- and neutrally -- is one of injured offense.

Maintaining a private space seems to have become bad manners, and a limitation on the right to curiosity.

I should note, that I do not object to people saying, 'Excuse me, I know its none of my business, but could I ask what happened to your arm?' That is a request and an acknowledgement that the information is mine.

However, there appears, in the mind of many, that one has an obligation of 'letting others help', to provide a venue for 'sharing', to build community. I do not for a minute believe that such interactions is any form of altruism, as it show no concern for another person's 'otherness' -- the boundaries which make each of us free individuals.

So, two cheers for formality and manners -- the bane of freedom and the mark of civilization.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Penrose's Law Dilemna for Moderate Reactionaries

Boies Penrose (1860-1921),  a Republican boss in Pennsylvania, proposed the Political Law*: "Politics is a profession. Better to lose an election than lose control of the party."**

How the 'establishment Republicans' will react to the head line Eric Cantor succumbs to tea party challenger - The Washington Post, should be interesting.

In the old days, when party's meant something, leaders might follow this sensible, though long term, advice.

I think, in the end, the political leaders of the Republicans will buckle down, and accept.  After all they want power, and believe (with good evidence) in co-option by money.

The moneyed interests behind the party seem to believe they can turn the extreme reactionaries to their will in the end (they being moderate reactionaries).

Anyone choosing to draw and analogy between these forces and the Rhur industrialists are welcome to.

However, I think those moneyed interests may be right.  You see there is another Pernrose insight worth considering -- "I believe in the division of labor. You [moneyed interest] send us to Congress; we pass
laws under which you make money...and out of your profits, you further
contribute to our campaign funds to send us back again to pass more laws
to enable you to make more money."


* There is another Penrose's law, attributed to  Lionell Penrose, which posits an inverse relationship between the number of psychiatric beds and prison population.

**This is often ascribed to "Tammany Hall."  This is incorrect.

Canada's loss.... not the United States' gain.

Ted Cruz officially gives up his Canadian citizenship

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The origins of a killing.

In a article, Occaisionally, our local newspaper, the Seattle Times, stops fronting for developers and does part of its job.

In the article, Oso neighborhood never should have been built | Local News | The Seattle Times, we are told that neighborhood wiped out in the recent landslide should never have been built.

That over 50 years ago, unenforced lasw, underfunded agencies, dishonest developers, and unwarranted deference to supposed land rights perpared to kill people this year. 

It would be good to recall, that things have not gotten better.  In the early 1960s, agencies were better funded and there was actual respect for people in government agencies trying to do their jobs.

Expect more disasters to come.

Friday, May 30, 2014

A Fatal Flaw

If I remember my Artistotle, a tragedy requires a  fatal flaw, a wrong decision that engenders disaster.

For that reason, I hate the use of tragedy for unavoidable natural disasters, truly random accidents, and sad oddities -- acts of God as it were.

On the other hand, the landside at Oso might be considered a tragedy, with the fatal flaw being a combination of cowardice, greed, and most of all a failure to govern.

This is shown in a story covered by KUOW, our local all NPR all news station: Oso Highlights A Policy Challenge: Development Pressure Vs. Landslide Risk | KUOW News and Information.*

In short Barbara Dykes, the county hearing examiner whose brief covered review of land slide risks, was not renewed in her position by the board, after intense lobbying by the Master Builders Association of Snohomish and King Counties.

They claimed "[Dykes] was more likely to rule against development interests than in favor ... even while Dykes held the position, more than 80 percent of development projects".

In an initial burst of character, a six-month moratorium on all building permits within a certain
distance of known slide areas was proposed by a member of the Snohomish County Concil.  Since then, at the behest of the Master builders, voting on the issues has postponed.

There will, of course, be no significant change in that county's land use policy. 


* This was a gratifying  'dog walking on its hinder legs' moment, for this mediocre news service.

Have the Jews Lost Europe? –

Have the Jews Lost Europe? –

This is an 'on one hand, but on the other hand' article, but at least raises the question -- why do Jews bother to live in Europe.

In the new World, Jews share with most other people's the immigrant experience, and the issues of ethinic identity in a new land.

Here, as a consequence, we are, particularly in the United States, a free people, annoyingly pushing our own issues; or as it is called in Europe (not only on the right) Jews having too much control of US policy.

This position appears to incomprehensible In Europe, where it seems we should be happy to a tolerated, but unliked, minority.

Should any one of us make permanent home anywhere from the Ural Mountaints to the point of Dingle?

Friday, April 18, 2014

When Jesus Died at Auschwitz

From the Forward, an article  When Jesus Died at Auschwitz  about a video from, a Jews For Jesus group.

I suppose the reason it was thought that Jesus depicted at the gates to Auschwitz will get Jews to convert
to Christianity, is a suscription to the historic Church teaching that persecution of Jews is the fault of the Jews.

Given my low expectations, I am not as surprised by the video as the author of the article.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Haunting Photos Bring The Great War Back To Life

Worthwhile looking at (, as this was probably the defining event of the last century.

Haunting Photos Bring The Great War Back To Life

The Huffington Post

 | by 

Eline Gordts

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the start of World
War I, the 4-year conflict that cost the lives of millions of soldiers
and civilians from all parts of the world.

Starting in 1914, The
Great War plunged Europe into darkness, turning parts of the continent
into a swamp of death, destruction and misery. Soldiers died by the
hundreds of thousands in kilometers-long trenches, bombardments leveled
entire cities and towns and thousands were forced to flee their homes or
battle hunger and poverty if they remained behind.

One hundred
years after the beginning of the war, photographer Peter Macdiarmid
revisited some of the key locations of the conflict. He overlaid his
pictures with shots taken during the war years, bringing the haunting
conflict of 1914 to 1918 back to life.

  • The Print Collector / Getty Images
    In the first picture, a man stands near the town hall of
    Vareddes, France, on March 12, 2014. In the second photo, German troops
    are taking a rest on the steps of the same building during the first
    battle of the Marne in 1914. (First photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty
    Images. Second photo by The Print Collector/Print Collector/Getty

  • Roger Viollet / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    The colored photograph shows people walking near the Place des
    Heros in Arras, France, on March 14, 2014. The black and white picture
    shows the town hall and the belfry on the square in ruins. (Color print
    by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Black and white print by Roger
    Viollet/Getty Images.)

  • Gamma-Keystone / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    The first photo shows a parked car near the former Episcopal
    Palace in Verdun, France, on March 11, 2014. The second photo shows a
    French soldier in what's left of Verdun after a German bombing in 1916.
    (First photo by Peter Macdiarmid. Second photo by
    Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images.)

  • Topical Press Agency / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    In the first image, people stand at Trafalgar Square, London, on
    March 17, 2014. In the second image, London street urchins dressed as
    soldiers with paper hats and canes as guns stand in Trafalgar Square in
    1919. Behind them is a notice declaring "The Need for Fighting Men is
    Urgent." (First photo by Peter Macdiarmid. Second photo by Topical Press
    Agency/Getty Images)

  • Culture Club / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    In the colored image, cars are parked at the former railway
    station building in Roye, France, on March 12, 2014. In the black and
    white image, soldiers stand outside the ruins of the railway station in
    1917. (Colored photo by by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Black and
    white photo by Culture Club/Getty Images)

  • Apic / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    In the first image, traffic runs from the Basilica of Notre-Dame
    de Brebieres in Albert, France, on March 13, 2014. The second image
    presents a view of the basilica with the tilted statue of the Virgin
    after a shell hit the tower in 1915. (First photo by Peter
    Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Second photo by Apic/Getty Images)

  • Photo12 / UIG / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    The first image shows people walking near the Cathedral in Reims,
    France, on March 11, 2014. The second image shows the cathedral of
    Reims during a bombardment in April 1917. (First photo by Peter
    Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Second photo by Photo12/UIG/Getty Images.)

  • Lt. J W Brooke / IWM / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    In the colored photo, trees surround the Somme canal on March 12,
    2014 in Frise, France. In the black and white photo, British solders of
    the Royal Garrison Artillery working party carry duck-boards across the
    frozen Somme canal at Frise in March 1917. (Colored photo by Peter
    Macdiarmid. Black and White photo by Lt. J W Brooke/ IWM via Getty

  • Maurice-Louis Branger / Roger Viollet / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    In the first image, cars are parked near the Place de la
    Concorde, Paris, on March 12, 2014. In the second photo, German
    airplanes wrecked by celebrating crowds on the day of the restoration of
    Alsace-Lorraine are left on the square, Nov. 18, 1918. (First photo by
    Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Second photo by Maurice-Louis
    Branger/Roger Viollet/Getty Images)

  • Paul Thompson / FPG / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    The first image shows a gated barrier that runs near Scotland
    Yard on March 17, 2014 in London, England. The second image shows a
    large crowd of men responding to a call by the War Office for married
    men aged between 36 and 40 to become munition workers. They gathered
    outside the Inquiry Office at Scotland Yard in 1917. (First photo by
    Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Second photo by Paul Thompson/FPG/Getty

  • Hulton Archive / Peter Macdiarmid / Getty Images
    The first photos shows parked cars near Les Halles on the Grote
    Markt in Ypres on March 10, 2014. The second photo shows Les Halles
    almost completely devastated by bombing in 1915. (First photo by Peter
    Macdiarmid/Getty Images. Second photo by Hulton ARCHIVE/Getty Images)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Another Anna Russel* moment

I learned about the first Vegan Stripper Club in the World is in Portland (of course), thanks to a DailyBeast (Vegan Strippers Let It All Hang Out - The Daily Beast)

Please Shoot me now.

*"I'm not making this up, you know!"

Saturday, March 22, 2014

A Claude Rains moment....

As the man said in Casablanca I'm shocked:

Revealed: Apple and Google’s wage-fixing cartel involved dozens more companies, over one million employees | PandoDaily

Apparently there is some legal action on going about this issue, which may have some effect on this behavior.  However, I doubt that anything will stop this.

For those who believe that the "knowledge" economy is a different economy, Surprise!  Over the last ten years of "a shortage of tech workers", I have not seen an escalation in pay.

Actually, there is one difference.  Because of their status and prestige issues, it will be hard for these workers to form institutions for protection (e.g. unions).

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Jewish Press Fires Web Editor Over Haredi "Slur" -

This is an interesting post Jewish Press Fires Web Editor Over Haredi "Slur" -

also covered (perhaps more temperately) by The Foward.

The author, according to Failed Messiah, has a checkered background, but one line I like, simply for it's invective is

But it took a headline that is true – but impolitic for the dishonest Klass family that owns the Jewish Press – for the Jewish Press to finally fire him
The article text appears is hard to find on the web -- I only found it quoted on the Tent of Abraham website, which I reproduce below.

There are some inside-baseball type comments, and an interesting (but not entirely unfair) take on Chabad (who I think of as the best of a bad lot)  I think the sections I have highlighted are sadly dead on.

50 Thousand Haredim March So Only Other Jews Die in War

By: Yori Yanover Published: March 10th, 2014  

Former editor of the Jewish Press, Yori Yanover
Former editor of the Jewish Press, Yori Yanover
They flooded downtown
Manhattan with the anti-draft for Haredim message: everybody else is
welcome to get themselves killed. What was even more astonishing was
their honesty regarding the bankruptcy of their entire school of faith
and study. 

For the record, I
believe the new Shaked-Lapid-Bennett draft law is by far worse than the
one it came to replace, the Tal Law. Most importantly, because the Tal
Law was getting results, without the idiotic, needless, divisive rancor
generated by the new legislation. Killing the Tal Law, or, rather,
issuing an edict that it had to be replaced by something that worked
faster, was the parting poisonous gift of Chief Justice Dorit Beinisch,
protégé of that beacon of light unto the nations, Chief Justice Aharon
(evil genius) Barak.

Since then we’ve seen
one demonstration of a few hundred thousand Haredim against the new law
in Jerusalem (but not a single day’s work was lost!), and yesterday, in
downtown Manhattan, another 50 thousand Haredim marched to condemn the
evil decree.

I went on the website to check out the rally, because I expected them
to bring the authentic stuff. I wasn’t disappointed, even though they
just lifted the AP story without attribution:

“We’re all united
against military service for religious men in Israel because it doesn’t
allow for religious learning,” said Peggy Blier, an interior designer
from Brooklyn. “The Israeli government is looking to destroy religious
society and make the country into a secular melting pot.”

Every single point
made by Peggy Blier is a blatant lie. Of course the law allows for
religious learning, it merely suggests that at some point—way past the
age non-Haredim serve, and for half the time that normal Israelis give
freely of their lives—”religious Jews in Israel” should participate in
caring for the security of their country, or, if that’s too much, serve
the equivalent time in vital organizations inside their own communities
for their own neighbors.

That, according to Peggy Blier, is a conspiracy on the part of the Israeli government to destroy religious society.

Shmuel Gruis, 18, a
rabbinical student from Phoenix studying at a Long Island yeshiva, said,
“These kids, a lot of them don’t know how to hold a gun. They don’t
know what physical warfare is.”

Are you kidding me?
Have you ever been to a Shabbes demonstration? Those kids can throw a
rock at police like born Palestinians.

“Their whole world and their whole lifestyle is peace and love and in doing mitzvahs,” he said.

OK, who can argue with that description of Haredi behavior? I’m
sure non-Haredi women walking the streets of Beit Shemesh or boarding
the bus in B’nei B’rak would attest to that pure goodness.

Some of the Hebrew
prayers were led by Rabbi Aaron Teitelbaum, a spiritual head of the
Satmars living in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood. If the IDF only
enlisted the Satmar folks who ever participated in the clashes with the
Satmar followers of the other spiritual head of Satmar, they could forge
a most brutal and violent commando unit that would put to shame even
the late Lee Marvin’s Dirty Dozen (and those included Telly Savalas and
Trini Lopez).

Next Verena Dobnik,
the AP reporter giving news content for free to Vosizneias, interviewed
Yitz Farkas, a member of the Brooklyn-based True Torah Jews organization
(step aside, all you False Torah Jews), who informed her that “The
problem is, anyone who goes into the Israeli military becomes secular,
and that would erase our whole tradition.”

I always enjoy that
one. See, you and I are pretty sure the Haredi costume is just that – a
costume, underneath which hides a regular Joe, with desires, even lusts,
like you and me. The only thing that keeps Joe Haredi from going
apecrackers is not the Torah he has learned and integrated into his
personality as a shield against evil—it’s the long bekkesh, the velvet
yarmulke and the shterimel. Take those away, and Joe Haredi will become a
beast overnight.

That, essentially, is
the main argument being advanced by the deans of Haredi yeshivas: We
have no trust in the Torah we’ve taught our students.
we know better.
This is why the only means we have of keeping them in line are extreme
social pressure and intimidation. You take those away and Joe will
spring the trap and become a normal man, availing himself freely of the
gifts of a modern society. We can’t afford that. If we do, as Yitz
Farkas put it so eloquently, “that would erase our whole tradition.”

word Haredim is based on Isaiah 66:5: “Hear the word of God, you that
tremble at His word.” The “you that tremble” part in Hebrew is
“Haharedim el dvaro.” Meaning that there’s urgency on your part to
fulfill His word impeccably. It’s not about fear but about devotion.

But the
post-Holocaust Haredi world is all about fear. Fear of new things. Fear
of books. Fear of voices. And above all, fear that the education a young
man receives during his 20 years in a Haredi yeshiva is worthless,
because as soon as he encounters the outside world, those 20 years would
vanish, melt away like Cholov Yisroel butter on a skillet.

What an astonishing degree of honesty regarding the bankruptcy of an entire school of faith and study.

You know, the
Lubavitcher Rebbe was once asked how come he’s not afraid that his
Shluchim, the emissaries he was sending out into the farthest and
darkest corners of the Earth wouldn’t be tainted by the unholy stuff
that surely awaits them there. He responded by citing the laws of
kashering-cleansing a vessel in preparation for Passover: k’bol’o ken
polto—the way the vessel absorbed the substance so it would let go of
it. Meaning that, had the emissary remained clean in body and spirit
during his training years, he has nothing to fear “out there.”

I miss him very much.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of his passing, and his absence
today is felt more than ever before. He would have devoted a segment of a
Shabbat farbrengen to the draft bill, and it would have set the whole
thing straight: these guys are right on this and wrong on that and vice
versa. now go and behave like dignified yidden and stop attacking one

What a strange,
low-key ending to a piece that began as an exhilarated attack on Haredi
IDF bashing. I guess I got tired of it. We’re not going to change the
Haredi leadership’s position, we just have to rejoice in a merciful God
who made them, like the rest of us, biodegradable.

Here is the apology:


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Two cheers for technology and regulartory restraint.

Free the Beer Drones...

Lakemaid beer drone

an old Emo Philips joke about trusting advice from the government: “I
pleaded guilty on advice of counsel. Which is the last time I listen to a
prosecuting attorney.” Amazon, Lakemaid Brewery, and should listen to his warning....

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Just when you thought....

...that there was not more parental guilt to be had...

Older Dads More Likely to Have Kids with Mental Illnesses.

Monday, February 24, 2014

You have to laugh...

when you read about someone with no sense of irony.

From Huffington Post

Even Burkman concedes that conservatives like himself are supposed to
find it abhorrent when the government tells a private business how to
conduct its affairs.

"However," he added, "there are times when
that is trumped for reason of great urgency or necessity. And I think
this is it, because I see the society sliding in the wrong direction."

felt that if the NFL doesn't have any morals, and people like
[Commissioner] Roger Goodell, who are just go-along-get-along guys, just
want to appease advertisers, appease corporate America and all that
stuff," he said, "I figured, well, it is time for conservatives in
Congress to step in and define morality for them."
I don't suppose looking at the health and safety of football players would constitute a moral issue.

But as RonCo would say, there's more:

He is also not necessarily the best person to wage a fight over decency and morality. A few years back, his name was reportedly found on the D.C. madam's list of clients of high-end prostitutes.

"The story simply was false," he said. "I'll say what I said on the air at the time. It is simply a false story. The numbers listed were never mine. It was planted by somebody in the liberal blog world."

"My life has been far from perfect. I am hardly any type of embodiment of moral perfection," he added. "But I have never let that stop me from doing what I think is right for the nation."
Good to know he will protect me.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bias Bash: Why the media fixates on Hillary Clinton's past | Fox News Video

Bias Bash: Why the media fixates on Hillary Clinton's past | Fox News Video

This is a fascinating example of indirect attack.  The question asked is why the information was public. 

That's right, it is terribly suspicious that the information was public.  To follow this out, Fox will only trust Clinton if she keeps secret. And the media failed its job by not asking, why isn't this secret.

To be fair and balanced, this is a gem of its type.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Let's not miss the point: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit

 Here is a revelation: Snowden Docs: U.S. Spied on Negotiators At 2009 Climate Summit.

This means we spied on other countries delegates, outside of the United States, during an international conference to gain a negotiating advantage.

There is a real issue about NSA overreach in tracking American citizens in the United States.  It is a serious threat to our liberty, it violates the US constitution, and a thousand years of Anglo-Saxon jurisprudence.

Can we not be distracted by being informed that the United States is behaved like a sovereign nation towards other sovereign nations?