sitting on the edge of the sandbox, biting my tongue

July 31, 2012

A Lovely Conference

Filed under: Israel, politics — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 7:15 pm

Guy Herschmann is a recent graduate of U.C. Santa Cruz.  What’s nice Jewish boy doing in a place like UC Santa Cruz?  Evidently, he was a campus coordinator for the Israel advocacy organization StandWithUs.  He recently went to a scary event held here in the Bay Area:

One might have expected the Birzeit Society’s 11th annual convention in Burlingame, with its schedule of family outings and festivities, to be a pleasant family affair. The society, established 25 years ago for Palestinians from the village of Birzeit who now live in the U.S., attracted approximately 700 people to its five-day gathering in early July.

But instead of a warm family atmosphere, I witnessed chilling anti-Israel extremism. Children were indoctrinated with anti-Israel and intolerant rhetoric. An emerging generation of activists was trained to proudly use deceit and manipulation to promote a “one-state” solution that has no room for Israel.

At the panel “Palestine: One State vs. Two State Solution,” criticism was heaped on the Palestinian Authority, not for its corruption but rather for normalizing relations with Israel. Mai al Kaila, the P.A.’s ambassador to Chile, tried to win over the crowd by commiserating about the difficulty of establishing Palestine from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, and by emphasizing that the P.A.’s goal is that “all refugees living in the diaspora have their lands in Haifa, Jaffa and everything.”

She tried to justify the P.A.’s promotion of a two-state solution as a necessary compromise. “What can we do when we don’t have a military power … or a nuclear power?” she asked. The crowd grumbled. “Our strategy now … is nonviolence.” The grumbling grew louder. The audience seemed unable to tolerate the idea of two peaceful states for two peoples. When she sat down, a man declared that “we need an intifada.”

The panel’s featured speakers were the Rev. Naim Ateek and the Rev. Don Wagner, both from Sabeel, a Jerusalem-based ecumenical Christian group known for its hostility to Israel. Panel moderator Ramiz Rafeedie called all supporters of Israel “your enemies.” He warned that advocating a one-state solution could alienate potential allies because it attacks the legitimacy of Zionism, so he advised audience members to refine their arguments to win supporters.

Ateek described a future Palestinian confederation with Jordan and Lebanon as a remedy for a two-state stalemate. “We need to have a third intifada,” he stated, adding that it should be “totally nonviolent.” Wagner contributed classic anti-Semitic canards, saying that Congress is “sewn up” by Zionists. Ateek’s closing statements summed up the tone of the convention: “We say no. We adamantly reject the two-state solution at any price.”

The audience response to these statements was the most disturbing aspect to me. The panel attracted an audience of more than 200, primarily families, including youngsters. They responded enthusiastically to calls for a third intifada, with children as young as 7 applauding with their parents.

I don’t suppose it’s very different from what’s your average Palestinian Authority meeting/public school function looks like.  But look at the persons of Jewish heritage in attendance:

A second panel, “BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) on American Campuses,” was equally extreme. Dina Omar, a Berkeley graduate and student at Columbia, joined Nora Barrows-Friedman, who writes for Electronic Intifada and al Jazeera, in laying out BDS strategies and goals.

‘Omar urged the audience to get BDS branded as “just one piece of a larger question of social justice.” She advocated outr each to any and all religious, racial and ethnic groups, economic justice groups, and environmentalists to insert BDS — thme collective punishment of Israel — into all progressive causes. Displaying Occupy Wall Street and Free Tibet flyers emblazoned with BDS slogans, Omar urged students to “use your institutions’ symbols, rhetoric, and propaganda … to turn or flip the message or to insert your message in however subversive a way you can.”

Barrows-Friedman called the message that “people just … need to get along” an Israeli plot against Palestinians.

The speakers advised against reaching out to pro-Israel students, especially if they are Jewish. When asked whether there are any Jewish groups with whom BDS activists can work, Barrows-Friedman, who is Jewish, responded, “It depends on your level of tolerance.” After a pause, Omar answered that the group Jewish Voice for Peace may be acceptable.

In fact, the BDS movement frequently uses token Jews to make its case and deflect charges of anti-Semitism. Barrows-Friedman awkwardly sidestepped an anti-Semitic comment from an audience member, making light of a canard about the “Jewish-controlled” global financial system.

For bonus, remember how the media declared that Romney was somehow wrong to point out the differences between the Israeli culture and that of their neighbors.  Well, shortly before it, World Bank issued a report saying that Palestinian economy can not support a state:

“The Palestinian Authority has made steady progress in many years towards establishing the institutions required by a future state, but the economy is currently not strong enough to support such a state,” economist John Nasir said in a statement accompanying the report, which was released July 25.

The P.A. says it is facing its worst financial crisis since it was founded in 1994, with debts of $1.5 billion and an immediate cash shortfall of $500 million, the French news agency AFP reported. Donor countries have propped up the Palestinian economy with billions of dollars in assistance.

In the report, the World Bank said the aid has led to 7.7 percent gross domestic product growth between 2007 and 2011, but only in government services, real estate and other nontradable sectors.

Oh.  There are two lessons for the Obama Administration in that news item.


July 30, 2012

Is Barack Obama Trying to Define a New Baseline of Support for Democrats?

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 8:48 am

After the election of Barack Obama, a book called “The Emerging Democratic majority” was the talk of the town.  Written in 2004 by John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira, the book predicted that the growth of black and “Hispanic” voting blocks as well as the leftward shift among the highly educated will give Democrats a natural permanent majority.  November 2008 seemed to be the proof, but the “emerging” majority went bust two years two years down the road with the rise of the Tea party.  Demographic shifts are not to be taken lightly, and we might yet hear from that “emerging majority” at some pint in the future.  Right now, however, it seems like Barack Obama is trying to see how well he can do while screwing up badly.

BO is weakest on all matters relating to the economy.  He probably thought that he’d ram through his agenda, and, given that he took stewardship of the country at the bottom of the recession, the economy would recover on its own.  Instead, we are talking of a double dip and the unemployment rate hovers over 8%, and no President was ever reelected with unemployment numbers that high.  This one also ran up a potentially devastating deficit.  Please visit King Shamus to see the chart that should win Republicans this election.  Voters who do not follow the news might not have heard that for the first time in history Canada surpassed the US in household wealth (as they might not know about Fast and Furious or Solyndra), but they still feel uncertain about their and their kids’ future.

Obama has a strange relationship with the Democratic base.  On the one hand, he’s pandering, and everyone knows it.  He declared that he’s “evolving” back to his earlier position of personally supporting gay marriage, only he won’t do anything about it.  Hollywood posers ate it up, but the polls didn’t move.  Gay marriage is supposed to be a hip issue with gays, young voters and miscellaneous social liberals, but maybe not at the time of economic uncertainty.

On the other hand, Jews constitute an important voter and donor base of Democratic party.  Yet he demands that Israel returns to the ’67 borders, slights Benjamin Netanyahu and gives away details of a possible Israeli strike on the Iranian nuclear facility.  Result: Jews might deliver Florida to Romney.

This administration sure has a way to ensure that the opposition will make it to the polls.  Aside from treatment of Israel, a partial list of his offenses includes ramming through Obamacare, record deficits, poor economy, complete disregard for the rule of law, enemies lists and the clandestine Fast and Furious.  It’s a very partial list, to be sure.  There is something to add to it every week, if not twice a week.  Then he goes out and insults middle of the road voters with comments like “you didn’t build that”, and lets miscellaneous little errors pile up , like getting Joe Biden to campaign or having Vogue editor Anna Wintour record a campaign video.

BO is most certainly not running your typical Presidential campaign.  When all is said and done, we’ll see how low his support can drop.  If Romney doesn’t win by a landslide, however, we should panic a little.

July 27, 2012

Somewhere Out There Mark Steyn Is Furiously Typing

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 10:52 pm

…About the London Olympics opening ceremony and the death of the West.  And he probably is not even talking about the OIC completely dissing Israel.

I just watched the opening ceremony sans most of the parade of nations.  First, the good.  There was no synchronized flag waving a la Beijing 2008.  I know the viewers loved it, but it’s hard for me to watch spectacles like that and not think “totalitarianism”.  They loved the masses marching in unison in the Soviet Union, too.  They assembled tens of thousands to perform for the Moscow Olympics in the 1980, and they had parades like that for a variety of international events.  I know how it was done.  We had relatives in Moscow where all these international functions took place, among them my uncle, the refusenik, I mentioned in my prior posts.  He lost his good job after he applied for exit visas for his family, and had to find another one.  He was over two meters tall, which was pretty unusual for his generation, so whenever there was some sort of an official event that required a parade, he was taken off work and made to march with flags because the government wanted tall men to perform this task.  Did I mention he had a PhD?

I don’t expect dehumanizing displays of obedience like that in a free civilized country like the GB.  What I wanted to see is a clever, moving spectacle that talks about the country and it’s place in the world.  Chinese, as I recall, did patriotism really well, retelling history of China from The Stone Age on.  Danny Boyle, the Oscar-winning director of Slumdog Millionaire put in charge of the opening ceremony, did no such thing.

Magna Carta

Magna Carta

The little prelude to the ceremony included the Sex Pistol rendition of God Save the Queen.  Was it really necessary?  Boyle started the presentation of the history of his country with the Industrial Revolution, which, of course, was an ordeal.  There was a nod to Shakespeare and Churchill, but the suffragettes and  Sergeant Pepper received more attention.  Not a world about Magna Carta.  Although the NBC anchors assured us that the theme is diversity of the Isles, not a word about Scottish Enlightenment either.

Hume and Smith statues

Statues of David Hume and Adam Smith, two of the Scottish Enlightenment figures, in Edinburgh

All these great accomplishments missing, yet they did a long ode to NHS.  How pathetic!  Here in the US we know about their death panels.  Boyle had kids lying in hospital beds, and my 5-year-old asked: “Are they sick, for real?”  All of this morphed into a Goth tribute to English children’s lit culminating with a giant baby, which even the NBC people were forced to admit was kind of creepy.  America, this is a warning.

And then, of course, come the long pop culture segment with a mash up of the last 40 years or so of pop songs.  When they played Sweet Dreams by Eurythmics they had to bleep out the part where Annie Lennox sang “some of them want to abuse you/some of them want to be abused”.  I can see how that line is too much, after all they omitted “for the  fascist regime” in Sex Pistol’s “God Save The Queen” too.  This whole part was nothing short of bizarre.  Yes, we all know about your little British bands, get over yourselves.

Credit is due to NBC for mentioning the PLO/Black September murder of Israeli Olympic team in 1972.  NBC even chastised the IOC (albeit mildly) for refusing to recognize the victims on the 40th anniversary at the opening ceremony.


Credit for the title goes to DH. XO

UPDATE: NBC had unambiguously good words for Mitt for saving the Salt Lake City games.

Item! Meghan McCain Owns a Library

Filed under: politics — Tags: — edge of the sandbox @ 6:05 pm

At least according to New York Post, she does. (Via The Camp of The Saints).  The publication interviewed her library, and she can think of 4 (four) books right off the top of her “head”:

The Old Man and the Sea

by Ernest Hemingway

My dad read it to me when I was about 13, while we were on vacation, and I remember his voice going up and down in its cadence. I loved the story of the marlin and the man, who was unlucky but had an apprentice who believed in him. It’s a beautiful, quick read.

OK, so she didn’t read that one, it was read to her.  I can see her father liking this kind of manly writing, and she probably remembered it because it was, like, a book.

The Martian Chronicles

by Ray Bradbury

I’m obsessed with science fiction. I wanted to be an astronaut when I was little and went to space camp — twice! This was my first Ray Bradbury book. I loved the concept that we’ve destroyed our planet and had to colonize Mars, where the Martians aren’t so welcoming. There’s one story about a Martian woman falling in love with an astronaut, and her husband kills him. It was so creepy!

I don’t get “creepy” from Meg’s retelling, but nevermind.  I’m not “obsessed” with science fiction, and this regurgitation of plot details combined with factoids of the Meghan’s childhood do not make me want to pick up the book.

Great Expectations

by Charles Dickens

I’m not a big romance girl, but I just loved reading about Pip pining after Estella — this unrequited love. I think everyone knows some older, wealthy woman like the eccentric Miss Havisham. The first time I read it, a guy had messed with my heart, and I thought, I know why women wouldn’t love again.

A great thing about the classics is that people from all walks of life can relate to them.  Even the young, wealthy daughters of powerful men who evidently get rejected from time to time, perhaps due to lack of substance.  But no, not “everyone” knows “some older, wealthy […] eccentric woman”.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

by Hunter S. Thompson

I’m obviously not an acid taker, but I love this book. There are a ton of great quotes in it, and one of them is on my Twitter handle: Buy the ticket, take the ride. People have said Thompson would be embarrassed by me, but there’s a video of him shooting guns and drinking whisky [sic], and I love doing that, too, so I’m sure we have some common ground.

Oh, I dunno.  Some people claim to attain enlightenment through LSD.  If all else fails, perhaps Meg should try it (kidding).  I’m curious to know who told Meghan McCain that Hunter S. Thompson would be embarrassed by her.  I admit, I’m a bit amazed that Meghan McCain finds it so easy to acknowledge that she’s an embarrassment.

Meghan McCain in a keffiyah, c. 2008. Click through to Debbie Schlussel to see more photos of Meg wearing the hip, jihadi accessory.

The interview was preceded by the following write up:
As titles go, “America, You Sexy Bitch” caused a ripple in at least one American household: “My dad hated it!” says Meghan McCain of Sen. John McCain’s reaction to her book, co-written with comedian (and Democrat) Michael Ian Black. She says her father gradually came around after her mother intervened — and after the book, subtitled “A Love Letter to Freedom,” got a good review in Publishers Weekly. Still, she sighs, “He’s so old school!”Not so Meghan, a single 27-year-old who lives in the West Village and says she’s proud to be a Republican, albeit one who’s in favor of gay marriage. “I don’t like telling people what to do with their lives,” she says. “That’s what’s great about America.”

I feel sad for the John “Old School” McCain.  After many years in a Viet Cong cell, after the defeat of his ’08 Presidential bid at the hands of some shadowy wet between the ears Chicago politico, he has to suffer the humiliation of having this daughter of his popping up on cable news talk shows and what not.  To be sure, no 27 year-old has any business writing books, or almost no 27-year-old, anyway.  But Meghan is particularly ill-suited for the task.

And wouldn’t you want to know that yesterday I got a referral from the search term “how long should i hold acid on my tongue”?  I hope my blog didn’t send a progressive bohemian off on a bad trip.

Just Because I’m Not in A Good Mood This Afternoon

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — edge of the sandbox @ 4:29 pm

Here is a link to Rush talking about the possibility of O and associates inflating another housing bubble, requiring the bank to hand out loans to borrowers unable to pay, this time on exclusively racial terms.  What’s not to love about our third black and first post-racial President?  Combine this possibility with QE3, and well… don’t try to buy a house.

July 25, 2012

Iranian Metalheads

Filed under: blogging, Israel, Middle East, music, politics — Tags: , , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 5:51 pm

Yesterday the Internet was abuzz with stories of hackers spamming Iranian computers serving their nuclear site with Thunderstruck by AC/DC.  The thing is, the Persian masses would probably enjoy the song.  Metal is big there, and Iranian Black/Death metal is big in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Actually, Black Metal from all of the Middle East is popular here, and they make it everywhere in the region, including such unlikely places as Saudi Arabia.  (Disclaimer: I only know about such things second hand.  It’s not like I have time to go to metal shows in my old age.)

Since Folk Metal (well, all rock-n-roll) draws on pagan music and is very agro, it can get pretty creepy, depending on who is playing it.  Neo-Nazis do metal, for instance, because they like pagan marshal stuff.  And what am I supposed to make of some band that sings in Arabic and has the word Jihad in a song title?  Needless to say, locals eat it up without translation.

Iranian bands are known to express opposition to the ayatollahs, draw inspiration from pre-Islamic antiquity and wave Middle eastern melodies into their riffs and roars.  Here is Arsames with Cyrus the Great:

And here is a translation for accuracy of which I can’t vouch, obviously, but judging from the video Arsames can be expected to be forward-thinking individuals:

Unsuccessful guys in capturing our land
unsuccessful guys in capturing our blood
coming with fear and hesitation
carrying hill of presents on their shoulders

they’re staring with protruded eyes
looking at the sun but they see nothing

unsuccessful folks in capturing our bravery
unsuccessful folks in capturing our glory
coming with fear and hesitation
carrying hill of presents on their shoulders

their souls have shrunk in their corpses
their minds have been torn in pieces
defeating all their aces
we had on our feet their kisses

our Cyrus gave them culture
no pain no sigh no torture
to live in peace is our nature
not killing like a vulture

this is the first kingdom of the world (Persian empire)
the state on the earth as wide as the sun

unsuccessful guys in capturing our land
unsuccessful guys in capturing our blood
coming with fear and hesitation
carrying hill of presents on their shoulders

they’re staring with protruded eyes
looking at the sun but they see nothing.

And here is Aliaj with Mah-e kaghazi, whatever that means:

I don’t know what they sing about, but I approve of the claymation.

Whoever decides to hack Iranians with metal next, should consider this video of the Israeli band Black Landscapes performing Hatikva, the Israeli national anthem:

In keeping with the Israeli Balck Metal theme, here is Salem with Coming End of Reason.  It doesn’t look like the official video, but I have a feeling the band doesn’t disapprove.  It’s nice to see unapologetic Zionists doing something arty:

In a related news, I got a troll today.  I don’t get very many of them around here, so I take each and every one of them as a reminder that I must be doing something right.  This one is from around the Norther Italian city of Genoa, and possibly found my blog googling “National Bolshevism”.  Funny he should use Google, since the founders are Jewish and all.  Anyhow, the troll goes by Suleiman Kahani, doesn’t like Wall Street bankers and appears to be a fan of Hitler, Stalin *and* A’jad.  I hope he stayed here long enough to enjoy this post.

UPDATE 7/26/2012: The fan of Stalin, Hitler and A’jad in the paragraph above might actually be from Serbia.  What do you know?

UPDATE 7/29/2012: Temple of Mut links and posts a cool Persian music video plus summary of Mitt’s visit to Israel.

July 23, 2012

Was The South Always Different?

Filed under: relationships — Tags: , , , — edge of the sandbox @ 2:17 pm

A sophomore from Athens Amber Estes wrote an advice piece on how to find husband in college (via Instapundit).  The college years seem be a good time to pair up, especially when the men are conveniently pre-selected to meet certain minimum requirements, but some parents disagree.  In her cover story for The Atlantic, for instance, Katie Bolick recalled that her mother suggested that her college boyfriend break up with her daughter (many years down the road, her dad lamented that she’s unlucky in love).  A while ago, Penelope Trunk broke the mold recommending to start the husband hunt “early”, by 24.  I commented back then that’s what’s shocking about this statement is that 24 is considered early, and I think Estes might concur.

In the mid-90s, when I transferred to Berkeley in my junior year, I started out under the assumption that everyone would be looking for a spouse.  After all, this is what I knew in the Soviet Union where by the time they received their diplomas most women were married, likely had children, and possibly had already divorced.

It’s not just that I personally didn’t exactly follow Amber’s advice — I shopped for some outrageous get ups at Mars Mercantile and wasn’t too shy to parade them around campus, for instance — or that I didn’t do the Greek scene, which seems to be her thing.  I struggle to think of a single Berkeley alumni my age who married her college sweetheart — not sorority girls, not Russians, not anyone.

I found that few students were interested in romance, and that the relationships that did form on campus were often of the transient kind — one night stands, “open” relationships, or the ones that simple didn’t last long.  We were busy: the curriculum was fairly demanding, and we were on the studious side.  It’s worth noting that the atmosphere was cliquish and students didn’t talk much to each other.  Perhaps feminism played a role, and young men were unsure of themselves.  More importantly, there was the prevailing assumption that the 20s are not for childbearing.  Many of us were graduate degree-bound, and even the ones who weren’t didn’t want to be bound to a single individual at that stage.  If I mentioned wanting to have two children by the time I’m 30, other students thought it was crazytalk.  Most of them didn’t worry about such things.

They also, if you find this information relevant, didn’t think I was a motherly type.  My retort was that nearly everyone is a motherly type.  I eventually lost touch with my college friends, but I do know that at 33 I was among the first to get married, and at 34 I was among the first to give birth.  Personally, I found it very difficult to start a family in my 20s.  Perhaps I was doing it all wrong; I didn’t bake cookies for bf’s buddies as Estes suggests.  To the contrary, DH’s old bandmate called me a Zionist bitch, and I am still damn proud of it.  But I suspect that the less confrontational women fared worse than me when it comes to love, mainly because they didn’t plan for it.

I do see quite a few professional Bay Area mothers who started having kids in their late 20s.  But even within this “young mom” demo, I’m yet to meet a single woman who married a college sweetheart.  It could be sample bias, of course, but it might just be that around here we are not wired to meet our men on campus.  So either there is some kind of emerging trend for earlier marriage or the South is just different.

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