Maryland Blogger Alliance

Alliance FAQs

Latest MBA Posts

May 31, 2007

The friend of my friend is my enemy

American Jews who care about Israel constantly face certain unpleasant realities.

For one thing, Jews are at most 2% of the American population, probably less -- a situation that (contrary to the delusions of the "Israel Lobby" conspiratorialists) gives them only a modest influence on American policy. For another, large sectors of the Jews' traditional alliance of liberal to leftist groups are harshly anti-Israel.

This situation leaves Jews with a question: When politically conservative, religious Christians offer their support for Israel, should Jews accept it?

Right now, you're probably thinking "Duh!" because that's the clear answer. Of course Jews should accept it. We don't have a lot of friends, and there's little doubt that conservative Christians truly support Israel. Menachem Begin understood this and was more than happy to greet Christian support with open arms.

But some Jews are morons.

Let me put this a little less provocatively: Some Jews think their left-wing political views are far more important than support for Israel.

In the current Washington Jewish Week, Rabbi Amy Schwartzman of Temple Rodef Shalom in Falls Church, makes precisely such an argument against accepting conservative Christian support for Israel.

You've heard the saying, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend?" Well, Rabbi Schwartzman flips that saying around and argues, "The friend of my friend is my enemy."

She writes: "I was deeply disturbed to learn that my rabbinic colleagues recently joined the Rev. Jim Hutchens, regional director of Christians United for Israel, at their gala event." Calling these folks "extreme right-wing Christians" and "extremist fundamentalists," she says that by working with them to support Israel, we are legitimating them somehow:

When we work with these people, we legitimize them as political players, strengthening their impact on agendas we find anathema -- from their opposition to First Amendment's guarantees of religious freedom to their callous opposition to programs most critically needed by the poorest among us.

The only issue on which we agree with CUFI's extremist fundamentalists is our shared support of Israel. They spend most of their time working hard to oppose the priorities and interests of the majority of American Jews.
Let me restate her argument. Although conservative Christians support Israel, that support pales in comparison with their opposition -- their "callous" opposition -- to poverty programs that have been tried for decades and failed. (Well, at least she didn't mention abortion rights, which is usually the top "Jewish" issue for the Left.)

Quickly, her three other arguments. One, Christians proselytize. "Teenagers regularly share with me the pain they experience when their peers from the youth-arm of the extreme religious right question their religious legitimacy and challenge their beliefs." Is she serious? Anyone who's religious constantly has his beliefs challenged by atheists. Why not by Christians? Instead of encouraging these kids to whine, she should be teaching them to defend their religious beliefs, assuming they have any. At a minimum, they should learn to say "No" politely to any attempt at proselytizing.

Two, conservative pro-Israel Christians are hostile to Muslims. I guess it's OK to call Christians extremists but not Muslims.

Three, my personal favorite:
Most mainstream Christians, our neighbors and colleagues whose support for Israel we are striving to secure, reject the leaders of CUFI. They see their ministers as charlatans. We risk our relationship with those potential religious partners when we associate with Rev. Hutchens and his ilk.
"Mainstream Christians" are decidedly anti-Israel. Rabbi Schwartzman is saying that we should forsake people who support us in order to try to gain support from people who hate us. The perfect response to this insanity comes from Rabbi Jack Moline of Congregation Agudas Achim in Alexandria (with whom I often disagree). In counterpoint, Rabbi Moline writes:
Politically, I find the most in common with mainline Protestants. But they are unreliable advocates for a safe and secure Israel. And for me, Israel is a bottom line issue.
He tells this story:
For many years, I have been positively engaged with the Episcopal Church in both Virginia and D.C. I was asked to sit on a panel at the Washington National Cathedral with then Middle East Bishop Riah H Abu El-Assal. His assertion, as I called for cooperation, that "Jesus hung on the cross for only three days; the Palestinians have hung there for 40 years" was about as anti-Semitic a remark as I had ever heard. It was greeted by applause from the crowd and silence from my hosts.
In contrast with these left-wing Christians, Rabbi Moline has found unshakable support on the right:
I am grateful for the unflinching support that many in the evangelical community have offered the state of Israel. And I am humbled to discover that many of my prejudices about these devoted Christians are wrong.
That is exactly how Jews should feel in these circumstances. It's mind-boggling that we're even having this debate.

(Included in Haveil Havalim #119.)

Click here to read more . . .

May 30, 2007

Blurring history

This has been bugging me for the past three days.

On Sunday, the Book Review section of the New York Times gave its cover to Frank Rich's review of a novel by Don DeLillo called "Falling Man." The reference, of course, is to the iconic photo of a man falling from one of the World Trade Center towers on September 11.

The backstory is in an article in Esquire by Tom Junod, called "The Falling Man," which was published two years after the events. The editorial intro to the Junod article starts this way:

Do you remember this photograph? In the United States, people have taken pains to banish it from the record of September 11, 2001.
How interesting, then, that the NY Times book review has this altered photo on its cover:

I don't even want to start analyzing the Times's motives for turning this human being, living his final seconds, into nothing but a black spot. It just makes me too ill.

Click here to read more . . .


And as long as we're in photoshop mode, here's my take on a photo, the authenticity of has been debated over the past few days. Background is here. Charles Johnson says the photo is real but has his own spoof, anyway.

Click here to read more . . .

Memorial Day without Google

Google spices up its logos on nearly every imaginable holiday. But not Memorial Day.

Zombietime explains and invites reader submissions.

Mine was fairly obvious, I guess. The first submitter had a similar idea and was better with the technique. Which made me glad I didn't submit this. But for the record, anyway, here it is.

Click here to read more . . .

May 29, 2007

Republican fist fight?

I don't know all that much about Turkish politics, except for incidents involving live turkeys.

But I'm rather partial to fistfights on the floor of the legislature. Because I've always wondered what would happen if they called a session of the legislature and a hockey game broke out.

So I was fascinated by this tale from Turkey: "Turkish MPs fight during election reform debate."

Turkish lawmakers traded blows Monday during a stormy parliamentary debate on constitutional changes that would see the president elected by popular vote in a bid to resolve recent political turmoil.

President Ahmet Necdet Sezer last week rejected one attempt to introduce the amendments pushed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist-rooted Justice and Development Party (AKP).

Trouble started in the assembly after independent deputy Ummet Kandogan accused Sezer of harbouring "hatred" against Erdogan as he brandished a newspaper photo of the two sitting next to each other at military games last week, reportedly without exchanging a word.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) protested that the president was insulted and the row soon grew into an exchange of punches and kicks between several CHP and AKP deputies, prompting a break in the debate.
I'm pleased to report that the Associated Press has photos of this epic battle.

The kicker is where I got these photos. Yahoo has a page of "politics photos and slideshows" and since this fight involved the Turkish Republican People's Party, naturally Yahoo grouped these photos under the heading "Republican Debate" along with photos of, well, check it out:

In case you think I'm making this up, here's a screencap:

I think Yahoo may have to recycle these photos in about six months. Right around Thanksgiving.

Click here to read more . . .

May 27, 2007

Frontiers of plastic surgery

Another installment of "frontiers of plastic surgery." Previous installments here, here, here, and here. Special Egyptian edition here.

This week's top headline is definitely: "Top medical journal blasts 'designer vagina' craze"

And, from that article, this week's top quotation:

"Men, however, do not usually want the size of their genitals reduced for such reasons. Furthermore, they find alternative solutions for any discomfort arising from rubbing or chaffing of the genitals."
I got this from Ace, who seemed to be having a great time with it, topped only by his amusement with Hummelgate.

Click here to read more . . .

May 24, 2007

Hillary requests your vote

Original Hillary video here, update here.

For links to other photo comics, click here and check the sidebar.

Or start with these:

Bill Clinton grabs some contributions for Hillary

Hillary responds to Kate Michelman

Hillary begins a conversation

When Harry dissed Nancy

Click here to read more . . .

May 22, 2007

Brief question

"Isabodywear underwear fends off cellphone radiation" (engadget)

But if the concern with cellphone radiation is brain cancer, shouldn't you wear this underwear on your head?

(hat tip: fee simple)

Click here to read more . . .

Code Pink wacks out -- again -- at the Justice Department

Another set of photos of a Code Pink protest at the Justice Department came in over the transom today from the same anonymous reader who supplied the first set.

I can't figure out whether this is a real protest or not. Look how sparsely it's attended -- by the protesters. Is this a splinter group? Does Code Pink not really take this seriously?

Why do they want Alberto Gonzales to re-sign for another term? Oh, you mean "resign"?

If impeachment is off the table, is this fellow off his rocker?

My reader says that things were surprisingly quiet on Pennsylvania Avenue.

Orange Jump Suit Lady wasn't there, but the Gonzales mask was. And I was wrong when I guessed it said "Pure Liar." It says "Fire Liar."

No protest would be complete without a couple of his-and-hers aging hippies riding a pink cart. The pony tail on him is a nice touch.

Like, groovy, man!

UPDATE (6/12): I forgot to note that the Post recently did a real puff piece on Code Pink in the Style section. A real lips-to-the-tuchis kind of piece. Mmmwwahhhh!!

Click here to read more . . .

May 21, 2007

Practicing with privates in public

Have you ever gone in to see the doctor and -- I'm directing this question mostly to the men, because the answer for the women is obvious -- the doctor examines your personal regions? And by "personal regions," I mean somewhere south of the equator?

Well, during those moments in which you're not thinking "Why me?" does it ever cross your mind to wonder how doctors learn to do examinations of personal regions? Or do you assume that medical schools are still using those old Mr. Penis and Ms. Vagina hand puppets that we had in our "health" classes in high school?

Ha, ha! You are so behind the times.

Out at the medical school at Northwestern, they're going to pr0n shops to buy anatomically correct body parts for students to practice on. As Dave Barry, whose blog was my source for this article, would say, I'm not making this up.

[Dr. Carla] Pugh, 41, has patented technology that combines portions of fully formed anatomical mannequins with computers to teach medical students to do exams on the body’s most private and sensitive areas — genitalia, breasts and rectums.

These are the exams, she said, that students are often most afraid of and that many medical school instructors, themselves often long-time practicing physicians, still find to be a source of embarrassment.
I know you guys have trouble even speaking a coherent sentence to women who have breasts. Can you imagine what it's like for a doctor to have to speak to women who also have genitalia? Much less to men who have penii.

As Dr. Pugh says: "These guys have to be able to do it and act professional, so that adds a lot of pressure."

So good old Dr. Pugh invented simulators, and I'd bet my bottom (heh!) dollar that the med students call them "stimulators."
Simulators are arranged at various stations according to exam type. At the prostate station, for example, several models of the male posterior are arranged on a table in various positions.

Inside each plastic model — yes, they have a fully formed anus and rectum — are paper-thin sensors that measure a student’s touch and send individual readings to an attached computer monitor.
You remember the board game "Operation," right? Well, these simulators are basically real-life versions of "Operation." If you touch the simulator's anus the wrong way, a human voice shouts, "Get your hands off me!" and you get a nasty shock. Oops, sorry, wrong "Operation" game. Here's actually what happens:
Students show up at the station for a brief overview from an instructing physician and then moments later, fingers are inserted, line readings from sensors go up and down on the computer screen, questions are asked and answered.
Sounds pretty boring, eh?

Well, not to worry. You can spend your time as a med student making scatalogical jokes: "An instructor assures a student that, yes, you can tell a patient it’s OK to pass wind if necessary during the exam and ask for a warning first."

This is why we love the medical profession so much. Almost as much as lawyers.

Click here to read more . . .

May 20, 2007

One day in Rockville...

Click here to read more . . .

Carnival of Maryland -- 7th edition

The seventh edition of the Carnival of Maryland is up at monoblogue.

It's got something of an Eastern Shore focus, so go on and check it out.

Also, check out our page at Blog Carnival in a couple of days to find out who is our host for the 8th edition, scheduled for June 3.

Click here to read more . . .

Code Pink wacks out at the Justice Department

A reader wrote to tell me that on Friday he was walking by the Justice Department in Washington and was lucky to be carrying his digital camera, because Code Pink was holding an anti-Alberto Gonzales rally out in front of the building. Credit for all of the photos below goes to that reader. (He declined my offer to identify him in order to give him credit -- people in Washington are so touchy about being revealed -- and that's really too bad.)

My reader tells me that while one woman had a bullhorn and was making a racket, the rally was actually very small, and there was no press at all.

His first photo gets the general idea pretty well.

Here we have a couple of Code Pinkos.

In this next photo, Lady Justice is doing yoga or something.

But here, she's preening for the camera.

Orange Jump Suit Lady puzzles me. She appears to have a camera and to be wearing a mask on the back of her head. Yes, that's it! It's a mask of Alberto Gonzales, and it says (as far as I can tell from blowing up the photo) "Pure Liar."

Uh huh. That's a camera.

Now, Orange Jump Suit Lady is joined by a woman with a sign. My reader didn't send me any photos where the sign could be seen, but it appears to have had something to do with "Hear No Evil, See No Evil, etc."

Lady Justice, now truly camera-smitten, poses for my reader in front of a sign showing her location.

Here's another Code Pinko with a scale of justice but without the costume. She's pretty happy to have her photo taken by some guy with a camera. After all, it's the best she can do with no press around anywhere. Her shirt has Arabic and Hebrew writing on it. The Hebrew says something like, "We won't shut up." Which, I must say, is hard to disagree with.

Finally, Orange Jump Suit Lady returns, and now we can see that she has not only a camera but also handcuffs. This is all getting a little too kinky for this blog, so I'm going to have to quit.

Thanks again to my publicity-shy reader for the photos.

UPDATE (5/21): My reader emailed me that an even smaller group was back in front of the Justice Department today, including one man with a bullhorn. No more photos, unfortunately.

UPDATE (5/22): This time, my reader sent photos.

Click here to read more . . .

May 17, 2007

Another "Bolty" award

When John Bolton was originally nominated to serve as our UN ambassador, I gave out what I called the "Bolty awards," a series of awards for some highly amusing and pungent comments by or about him.

If you have ten minutes to spare, you will have one of the most enjoyable ten minutes of your week if you listen to this interview with Bolton. (via HotAir) The interviewer is an unctuous, left-wing, snot-nosed member of the BBC crew, named Jon Humphrys. And boy, does Bolton have a good time with him!

My personal favorite exchange is described by EU Referendum. Humphrys, the interviewer, invokes George Soros to refute something Bolton has said. Courtesy of EU Referendum:

"Are you kidding me!", responded Bolton. "This is a man of the extreme left. I am sure you will find a great deal in common with him, as would many others on the continent."

A sniffy Humphrys was not going to take that lying down though. On the attack, he demanded: "Do you make the assumption then that because one asks questions – perfectly valid questions about the conduct of American policy - one is on the extreme left?"

Bolton was unfazed: "I can see it from the content of your questions and the perspective from which you're coming and from the direction that your questions are taking. If you tell me you're a conservative, I would be happy to accept it."

That really got Humphrys going: "I would tell you that I'm neither conservative, nor left wing not right wing, nor middle wing, because…"

A laughing Bolton took that in his stride: "You have no views at all. Your brain is empty, you have no views at all…"
This interview has already caused a Bolton-for-President boomlet in the comments section at HotAir.

Click here to read more . . .

"I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to make you laugh"

If someone came up to you and said, "I'm from the federal government, and I'm here to make you laugh," you'd probably run quickly in the other direction. Because there's only one funny federal government joke I'm aware of. It's this:

"A man from out of town takes a cab up to the front entrance to a huge government building in Washington, D.C. He looks out the window in amazement at the sheer size of the building, and he says to the cab driver, 'How many people work in this building?' The cab driver thinks for a second and says, 'Oh, about half.'"
If you can believe it, federal government employees are competing to be crowned "D.C.'s Funniest Fed" by participating in a series of stand-up routines. Having read this article, though, my advice to them is: "Don't quit your day jobs." Here's one of the jokes that people thought was funny: "What do you expect? I'm a GS-12, but I'm a GS-12 at the Census Bureau. In Census years that's nothing!"

I'll tell you what's really funny. Seriously. It's subversive federal government humor. My Justice Department source reports that, in a glass case with a display about DOJ's new National Security Division, he saw stuffed dolls of Boris Badenov, Natasha, and Fearless Leader. He refused to send me a photo or to try to find out who was responsible. I think he was afraid that if he did, he'd be testifying before Congress next week.

UPDATE (6/18): One of the strange things about running a blog -- even a low-traffic blog like mine -- is that life sometimes catches up to you. I got an email last week from Shahryar Rizvi, the Census Bureau comic who made the joke I gently mocked above. Shahryar insisted that the joke fell flat in the Post's article and needed context, so he gave me links to videos of his routine. Having watched all of them now, I still don't think much of the joke, but I give him a lot of credit for putting himself on the line, without using a fake name like mine. (I assume Shahryar Rizvi isn't a fake name, anyway.) So to be fair to him, I'm going to let you judge for yourself at these three links: Here (go back to Week 1), here, and here (you'll need Quicktime version 7).

Click here to read more . . .

May 16, 2007

Fred! replies to Michael Moore

Background here. Click image to watch.

Click here to read more . . .

Welcome back!

After a two-month hiatus, Maryland Conservatarian is back, once again pulling apart Washington Post idiocy. And he's even moved to the Rockville area. Welcome back!

Click here to read more . . .

Visitor of the day -- 5/16

No jokes, please.

Click here to read more . . .