Archive for April 2014

Council Nominations: April 30, 2014

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American Jews Need To Stand For Israel

As someone with less than 1% European Jewish DNA I’m wondering when American Jews are going to stop taking Israel for granted. I might not be Jewish, but I am quite familiar with their story, and it seems to me that bad things happen to them whenever they forget who they are.

If American Jews don’t stand by Israel they shouldn’t expect others to.

Shifting Political Alliances and Friendships

Since most of my Facebook friends are liberals (about 2/3rds at last count), my newsfeed on Facebook provides me with a steady stream of consciousness from the liberal perspective. Take for example a friend of mine who lives and works in Hollywood. He takes predictable positions on issues and inevitably concludes that all problems in our society are caused by the opponents of the progressive agenda. I hold my tongue. When the Occupy movement was in full-swing, his posts and the comments of his friends (he has 6x the number of friends than I do on FB) demonized the 1% and belittled anyone else who questioned the authenticity of the Occupy crowd or the intelligence of its slogans. Fast forward two years later, and the same friend who demonized the 1% supports tax breaks for millionaires in the form of subsidies encouraging liberal movie moguls like Harvey Weinstein to keep movie production in California.

I am not pointing this out to show how stupid my friend is. Quite the opposite. He’s an intelligent man who has built a very successful life for himself. There is nothing wrong with pursuing policies that are in our own self-interest as long as we don’t start believing that our motives are purely altruistic. As for supporting tax breaks for millionaires while at the same time demanding for them to “pay their fair share,” we are all prone to cognitive dissonance regardless of our ideology and more importantly we are all manipulated by our leaders, although some more than others. It is our job as social beings living in modern society to be naturally skeptical of what we are told, and to also question as objectively as possible our own deeply held beliefs. I have my blind spots just as he his, but at heart I believe he is a good person even if he does spout off like an idiot sometimes*.

After my personal beliefs have moved through the ideological spectrum I am becoming increasingly aware of the limits of our two-party system. Take for example the Republican Party, the one I am currently registered with. Within the party there are people who have chosen the party because it reflects their beliefs. I am one of these people. While I don’t subscribe to everything the party stands for, I believe that it reflects my views at this time better than the other party. But that could change.

Ralph Nader is proposing a libertarian/progressive alliance. Under such an alliance my progressive friend and I would be united under the same banner. It’s an interesting idea to consider especially since the top GOP candidate that he mentions, Rand Paul, is one of my current favorites. I noted that at a recent speech at UC-Berkeley Paul received a standing ovation from the crowd. That told me that perhaps there was an awareness among the left of the common ground the two groups shared. After all drug decriminalization, the expansion of individual freedom and an end to crony capitalism were once celebrated by the progressives of  the 1960s. Today this mantle has passed to the libertarians who now find themselves a home in the Republican Party of all places, the more accommodating of the two parties.

Such an alliance would shatter both parties but in my view they deserve such fates. The GOP leadership has shown little interest in the ideas of the libertarians or other ideologues in their party, choosing instead to sideline anyone who dares question their authority (like the grassroots Tea Party organizations). It seems to me the only thing that John Boehner and his ilk care about is taking power, and they will do anything, say anything to keep it.

The Democrats now act like the Republicans of the 1970s and 1980s. They stifle thought and expression through politically correct dogma just as the GOP did when the Moral Majority called the shots back in the Reagan-Bush era. Is selling arms to Iran to pay for guns for the Contras any worse than the NSA spying scandal under this administration? Is Watergate really worse than using the IRS to target administration enemies like Tea Party members? Is the Meese Commission any different from the anti-pornography crusade by Obama’s Department of Justice?

What’s the difference exactly between John Boehner and Harry Reid, or Reince Priebus and Debbie Wasserman-Schultz? One party wants the government to  control your life and is in power, the other wants the government to control your life and is out of power. Both parties want tax breaks for their friends and to end tax breaks for the friends of the other party. The only difference is the libertarian wing of the GOP and a small cohort of progressives who recognize the danger of government as exemplified by the IRS and NSA scandals.

Will such an alliance happen? It is impossible to say. Everything changes and what may seem impossible today becomes inevitable tomorrow. All I can say for sure that it’s in the best interest of my Facebook friend and myself to stay friends, to let the rants slide, and to never forget what bound us together in the first place.
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  • Note: It’s been said that conservatives think liberals are misguided while liberals think conservatives are evil. The above essay reflects this, and it would be interesting to hear what my Fb friend thought of me. Does he think I’m evil because I support the Tea Party and am a die-hard non-Jewish Zionist? In order for an alliance between Left/Right to take hold both sides must stop demonizing the other. It’s not possible if either side continues taking the low road, and so far I’ve seen similar essays as the above written by conservatives and libertarians but as yet to have seen one reaching out to the Right from the Left.

The Council Has Spoken: April 25, 2014

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


Council Nominations: April 23, 2014

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The Roots of Anti-Semitism in Egypt

Samuel Tadros writing for American Interest explains why anti-Semitism permeates Egyptian thought.

Egypt’s modern history is the story of continued failure: failure to modernize, failure to deliver the promised salvation to the masses, failure to better their miserable conditions, and above all the failure of a country to find the place it believes it deserves under the sun. Defeats, failures, and disappointments have taken their toll on the people. Only the existence of a Jewish conspiracy against Egypt, Arabs, and Islam can offer them solace. Only by believing that the Jews are responsible for their miserable conditions can they find comfort.

Read the entire thing.

The Spark in Nevada

Lenin and the early Bolsheviks believed the world had gotten to a point in its history that the proletariat would revolt. Like a forest full of dried timber baking in the hot sun all that was needed for the Communist Revolution they so desired was for a spark, iskra, to set the forest ablaze. The concept was so important to Lenin that he named his newspaper after it while he lived in exile. It was a continuation of Marx’s belief in the evolution of control over the means of production. Marx looked at the world around him at the height of the Industrial Revolution and saw the dehumanizing impact of life living in the crowded cities and working in the factories. To him this was a natural progression from the dawn of civilization that would inevitably lead to the rising up of the working class to take ownership of the factories they slaved in. Marx expected this revolution to occur in countries on the vanguard of the industrial revolution such as Prussia, France and Great Britain, but except for the brief interlude of the Paris Commune in 1848, socialist uprisings failed to materialize in these countries.

The United States has always had a small contingents of people who wanted nothing more than to be left alone. During the colonial period various groups came to America fleeing religious persecution in continental Europe. The expansion of America westward was led by individualists like Daniel Boone and religious heretics like the Mormons followed by vast waves of immigrants seeking better lives after escaping oppressive regimes in Ireland, Central Europe and Russia. Each individual of that time left a legacy that is written in our DNA as a people. Echoes of the suffering of each Russian Jew arriving penniless in New York City or illiterate Irish woman sleeping with her children on the deck of steamer paddling up the Mississippi from New Orleans can be heard as whispers in our collective unconscious. These unique experiences are why we so frustrate our allies and enemies alike. It is impossible for a Brit to truly understand why Americans instinctively abhor collectivism and celebrate the codified rights of the Constitution that protecting individual liberty. The divisiveness that comes with individual rights also encourages our enemies to see America as a “paper tiger” that will explode into confetti with the right spark, be that a sneak attack on the Pacific fleet while in port or twin skyscrapers in Manhattan.

This is also a lesson that the American left socialized on European collectivist thought has forgotten over the past generation. The American Left has always looked towards the Continent for inspiration but that had been tempered at least somewhat by the home-grown anarchism of Henry David Thoreau and at least found common cause with American libertarians. But sometime over the past forty years being a socialist or progressive has meant believing in the power of the State. This reflects an acceptance by the American Left of “Big Government” European-style Socialism which ironically is in decline in the Scandinavian countries, the UK and Germany. As a consequence anarchists and libertarians who once were considered extreme leftists are now viewed by the American Left as extremist members of the right wing.

Today’s American Left wing now sees the State as its salvation and protector. Unions in the private sector have almost disappeared yet the public sector unions are thriving. In 2011 the Economist reported, “government unionisation has risen from 23% in 1973 to 36% today, while private-sector unionisation has declined from 24% in 1973 to 7% today.” Challenges to state power are no longer coming from the Left as they did in the 1960, but from the Right as exemplified today by the Bundy Ranch standoff in Nevada.

In this dispute the Left stands with the federal government while the Right including the libertarians side with the Bundy family. Progressive groups have gone on the attack including calling for the silencing of Tea Partiers and other supporters of the Bundy family. In It’s Time to be Honest: The Tea Party Has Become a Terrorist Group, Allen Clifton writes,

But the longer these people are given a voice, the more they’ve moved from a political movement to a domestic terrorist organization.  In politics, they’re doing everything possible to sabotage our country for political gain while outside of politics they’re becoming even more brazenly radical than ever before.

And much like traditional terrorists, these domestic tea party terrorists have a main goal of demonizing and destroying the United States government.


Burning Man founder and liberal activist Sean Shealy plans to hold “Bundyfest” promising 30 days of anarchy across from the Bundy Ranch. In a Facebook post Shealy pokes fun at Bundy then ends, “Get a grip, folks. It’s about some cranky old dude and some cows in the middle of a barren desert. And the rule of law.” Rule of law? Coming from the organizer of the largest LSD and Ecstasy bash in the country it’s nice to know Shealy has some boundaries. It would be nice if he turned himself in for promoting illicit drug use at his bashes, but I’m not holding my breath. The Left has come a long way from getting their heads bashed in Chicago in 1968 by the police force of Mayor Richard “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder,” Daly.

The Bundy standoff has shown the true face of the American Left. Transport the hippies of 1967 through Time to today and it’s unlikely they’d find the federal government all that groovy. The anti-establishment of that era has become the Establishment.

So now it’s up to the right wing and its individualist supporters to take up the idea of “iskra.” The right wing and old-school libertarians have always had a paranoid fringe, but Edward Snowden’s  revelations of domestic spying along with the IRS persecution of conservative groups exacerbated by the government takeover of health care proves the wisdom of Henry Kissinger’s quote that even paranoids have enemies. Could Bundy be that spark that ignites the conservative base into open revolt?

Cliven Bundy is not a natural leader for everyone who distrusts the government, nor is his issue with the federal government a clear-cut case of abuse of the individual by the State. It would be nice if there was a more appealing leader than a Mormon rancher, and a more obvious case of government persecution, but the mere fact that the Bundy Ranch dispute continues making headlines on both sides of the political divide shows the there is plenty of tinder in the forest. Only time will tell if the Bundy standoff will set it ablaze.

The Council Has Spoken: April 18, 2014

Council Winners


Non-Council Winners


Council Nominations: April 16, 2014

Council Submissions


Honorable Mentions


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One of the Pope’s Inspirations…

Every pope wants to be as cool as Father Guido Sarducci.

The Real Reason Behind the BLM Attack on the Bundy Ranch

War Is Not The Answer at the Bundy Ranch

I haven’t written much about the Bundy situation in Nevada because when I started delving into the 20 year old issue it quickly became complicated; I’m not that familiar with grazing rights and didn’t feel qualified to judge based on what I’d learned. I’m also active in wildlife conservation and actually do care about animals like turtles.

But what I can comment upon is the way the federal government has responded to the situation. I’m a firm believer in gun safety. I believe you should only point a gun at something you want to destroy. If you don’t want to harm that thing you don’t point your gun at it. Seeing pictures of federal agents pointing guns at protesters and more ominously laying in the dirt with sniper rifles pointing at the Bundy family members bothers me.

I’m also bothered by a government bureaucracy that is tone deaf to any criticism. They’ve let this situation go on for 20 years, and now seem determined to end it regardless of what happens. There are clearly some hot-heads in the BLM who seem determined to spill blood over what is a civil matter that should be resolved in the courts.

One must not forget that such acts breed extremism. For example some on both sides of the political spectrum believe that US interventions overseas breed terrorism, so it’s not a stretch to apply that logic to domestic intervention. Timothy McVeigh justified the Oklahoma City Bombing in 1995 on the ATF siege of the Branch Davidian complex in Waco Texas in 1993. We’re left to wonder what would have happened had Waco been resolved without violence.

The BLM may have thought following the standard playbook of a massive display of force would work; it hasn’t. Instead it has inflamed the situation and brought armed militia members to “protect” the Bundy family from an apparently uncontrollable federal bureaucracy. The people surrounding the Bundy ranch are Americans just as those they are pointing their guns at. They have families just as the Bundy’s do. There is no reason why this cannot be settled peacefully but it’s going to require cooler heads to prevail.

The Bundy ranch is a quagmire for the federal government. It needs to resolve the stand-off diplomatically without resorting to shooting Americans. It may not get 100% of what it wants, but a military victory over the family is impossible.

Update: Dead Americans for Chinese solar panels? Looks like Sen. Reid is saving the desert tortoise only to displace them for a Chinese solar panel company. Nothing surprises me anymore.

Update: Looks like cooler heads have prevailed after all. This time.

Update: More on Dirty Harry

 

There Should Be A Word…

I think there should be a word for people who call others names unfairly. Years ago I was publicly shouted down as a “Nazi” for daring to speak out at a town hall meeting to oppose the expansion of a Chabad Lubavitch prayer center in a residential neighborhood. I found the experience ironic since I was probably a bigger Zionist than some of the leftist Jews in the auditorium. Just this week Mozilla’s CEO Brendan Eich was forced to step down for his donation to a group fighting gay marriage in California 8 years ago. Ian McCullogh, writing for Forbes, has publicly called Eich a “homophobe” and deserving of losing his job, even though no one has explained how opposing gay marriage makes one homophobic. Either the people throwing around the term don’t understand its weight, or the term itself means nothing. Similarly one of my childhood heroes Hank Aaron has come out and called me and others  “racist” for opposing Obama.

As my friend Adam told me at the time, there is plenty of real anti-Semitism around so making it up isn’t necessary, and the same is true about racism and homophobia. I live among African-Americans, and I also happen to know there are more than a few white supremacists around these parts. Ask me which ones I’d rather hang out with or have my son marry. Similarly I have more gay friends than the average Southerner, and it pisses me off to no end when I hear about the hassles they still have to put up with at the hands of true homophobes. Yet while I support gay marriage, I deplore the attacks on Mozilla’s Eich that led to his resignation. As for racism, I still think Barack Obama is the worst president this country has had since Nixon. Hammerin’ Hank thinks I’m a klansman for believing that. Hank, you disappoint me.

The people who resort to name calling for anyone who disagrees with them deserve their own special derogatory name. They need to be called out and shamed for their behavior just as the true bigots need to be for their action. Anyone who is truly a racist would be proud to be called one. True Nazis aren’t upset about being called Nazi after all. But those who are slandered by your name calling deserve to fight back with their own special word that shames people who attack them unfairly.

I’ll let you know if I come up with something beyond “flaming asshat.”

The Council Has Spoken: April 11, 2014

Council Winners


  • Sixth place t with 1/3 vote – The Glittering Eye -The Distraction

  • Sixth place t with 1/3 vote –The RazorObamacare Tax Is Here for Individuals Too
  • Non-Council Winners


  • Third place with 1 2/3 votes -Victor Davis Hanson-America’s New Anti-Strategy submitted by Bookworm Room

  • Inside Barack Obama’s Mind