Saturday, May 17, 2008


Eeek...look out, it's a gay cheeseburger!

Yes, it must be true, based on this Action Alert from the Family Research Council:

Action Alert: McDonald's is funding homosexual activism - and I'm NOT lovin' it!

That's right, it's right there on the opening page of the FRC website: Apparently, serving McFlurries and Big Macs to the public is no longer enough to satisfy the hunger of McDonald's to make a cultural impact on the United States. Sadly, McDonald's is now financing attacks on marriage and the family as a new Corporate Partner of the National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC).

Well, I would only say to the FRC what the hamburger would say: "BITE ME!"

The banner headline on the FRC site today is, of course: CA Supreme Court Imposes Same Sex Marriage. How dare the California Supreme Court majority (mostly Republicans, by the way) attack the holy sanctity of marriage, which is and can only be between one man and one woman? How dare they say that denying marriage to any couple is a violation of the California Constitution? They must all be gay (or maybe Communists, or something)!

The California Supreme Court ruling is a landmark decision that will help turn the legal tide in favor of constitutional rights for all Americans. To those people who find same sex marriage an attack on marriage, I can only say that they need to find something important to focus on, like world poverty, or war, or hunger, or something that is actually harming people. I don't have a problem with a churches declaring that only heterosexual couple can be married in the church - that's up to the members of the congregation. But when it comes to public services, provided by local or state government, the prohibition of same sex couples marriage is a violation of the constitution. Period.


This year marks the 60th anniversary of the independence of the State of Israel. It is also the 60th year of prolonged struggle and war for the people of Israel; sadly, there is no end of conflict in sight. Sherry and I have been to Israel several times; to visit friends and relatives, to develop business for my company (unsuccessfully), and as part of an interfaith journey of peace. Israel is an exciting and fascinating country filled with beauty, history, and archaeological wonders. It is a land of contrasts; the Old City of Jerusalem and the modern Tel Aviv; the lush green of the coastal plain and the dry austere interior deserts; the ultra-religious and the secular Jews; those who assume that god gave all of Israel to the Jewish people and those who push for peace and coexistence; the Jewish Israelis and the Arab Israelis.

The story and existence of Israel are complex; many of the "facts" of the history of this land are muddled by those who recorded and recite them. Multiple realities seem to abound and intertwine. What is real, what is not?

Unfortunately, there is no one truth upon which everyone can or ever will agree. And, unfortunately, it appears that this conflict of "what is true, what is real" will continue to keep people apart.

As a Jew, I am happy that the State of Israel exists, and I congratulate the people of Israel on this anniversary. The history of persecution of Jews throughout the world is real, and continues today. The Holocaust seared images of hate and bigotry into the minds of the world, and created the "never again" will of those who founded and live in Israel. There are many countries that are dominated by Christian or Muslim religion and teachings (including the United States), including some that are governed on the bases of religion. There is only one country where Jews are the dominant culture and religion, and where Jews can feel secure, or at least be in control of their own security - and that is Israel.

Having said the above, I also have to say that this is not the only operative narrative in Israel; there is also the narrative of the Palestinian people. To Palestinians, this is also a 60th anniversary, of the Nakba - the Catastrophe - during which many Arab people lost their homes and lands. This narrative also has to be recognized because it is part of the story. Arab people and their families displaced by the war of 1948 have legitimate grievances that need to be recognized and addressed. In the U.S.A. we now recognize that our country was build on top of the lands and lives of native people who were killed or displaced by waves of European immigration to North America.

There are many obstacles to peace in Israel/Palestine, and only one way to break through - compromise. The fiery anti-Zionist/Jewish rhetoric of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, Osama bin Laden and other extremists is designed to promote bigotry and hatred against Jews, and to keep world opinion on the side of the Palestinians. Will Israel ever go away or be "wiped off the map?" No - it will never happen. There are only two choices: 1) continue the endless cycle of violence, hatred, attacks and counter-attacks, with each side digging a deeper and deeper pit of hate and misery; or 2) find a way for reasonable people on both sides to agree on compromises that both sides can live with, and learn to live side-by-side in ways that result in tolerance, partnerships and peace. The Palestinian people need to repudiate the acts of violence and war that are hurled daily at Israel in the form of missiles, rockets, and suicide bombers. The Israeli people need to make solid commitments to resolve the issues of settlements and borders, Jerusalem, and reconciliation concerning Arabs displaced from their lands and homes during and since the war of 1948.

This 60th anniversary of Israel is bittersweet, with positives and negatives landmarking it's brief history. Think about what the Middle East would be like without the constant of Israeli-Palestinian conflict; a place where people work together to solve the global issues of our time.

Sunday, May 04, 2008


In the early days/weeks/months of this primary season, I often said that either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama would be good presidents, and I would vote for whichever one won the nomination. While this is still true, my opinion of Mrs. Clinton has gone way downhill as a result of the campaign she has waged. In her zeal to be the nominee (and ultimately, the President) Mrs. Clinton has increasingly waged a dirty campaign against Mr. Obama, most recently painting him as an elitist and no friend of the fabled white, blue-collar working class of America. Big Dog Bill has shown on the campaign trail what a jerk he really is, and Hillary's use of innuendo to malign and undermine Mr. Obama and his wife is striking in its nastiness. How ironic that these now upper-class multi-millionaires can get by as working class posers.

There has always been something about Hillary that has bothered me (no, it's not latent sexism on my part), which has been difficult for me to put a finger on. I think it is her political ambition which, based on the campaign she's waged, seems to have no bounds and appears to be more important than the good of the country. Clinton and Obama are both politicians, of course, and each is driven by ambition. But in a recent column, Joe Conason made a statement that had me enthusiastically nodding my head in agreement: "The historic prize [a black president] is almost within the grasp of one of the most talented politicians America has ever seen." I tend to see Hillary Clinton as an old-style politician, and I dread another Clinton administration - yes, including having Bill in the White House again as First Husband and Meddler-in-Chief.

Barack Obama is from a younger generation, and I believe he has a very different political and world view than Hillary Clinton. Is he a miracle worker? No. Anyone who gets the job can only do as much as the system will allow him or her to do. But I'm willing to give Obama a chance, and hope that he will be able to move this country forward. I'm convinced that another Clinton presidency will only be more of the same old business-as-usual.

Obama's speech on racism, by the way, was for me one of the most important political speeches in our nation's history. If you've only heard the sound bytes, you're doing yourself a great disservice, and you should find the speech in its entirity on You Tube and watch it. Obama wrote the speech, and felt that it was important enough to say, no matter what his "handlers" urged. This is the kind of person I want as president. Obama is a person who does not run away from and try to cover up controversy; he has repeatedly addressed it head-on and honestly.

The New York Times columnist Frank Rich has a very important must-read column about race in politics this season. He clearly points out the free pass given to John McCain by the press by which the men of faith tied to the presumptive Republican nominee get no air time, while the Rev. Jeremiah Wright is the focus of a media blitz. The Revs. Hagee, Falwell and Robertson, all with ties to McCain, have made outrageous public pronouncements about such things as the reasons for 9/11 (to punish abortionists, feminists, gays and A.C.L.U. lawyers) and Hurricane Katrina (god punishing New Orleans for its sins, specifically a planned gay rights parade), and bashing the Roman Church as "the Great Whore" that drinks Jewish blood. But this double standard, Rich points out, goes beyond the media to the Republican Party itself that has not a single African-American among its 247 elected senators and representatives.

Rich points out that the U.S. Census Bureau data shows that white people will be a minority in the U.S.A. within three or four decades, the result of a surging Latino population. I think that this is the subliminal fear within the white working class that the Clintons are trying to tap in to, using "elitism" as a code word for racism.

Barack Obama, in my opinion, is our best hope, if there is any, for rescuing America. The eight years of Cheney-Bush have wrought tremendous harm to America internally and world-wide (read the excellent column by Tom Friedman in todays NY Times about the decline of America). By taking on racism openly and bluntly, Obama has demonstrated what kind of leader he will be - and we in the U.S.A. are in desperate need of leadership in a very different world than the political world view of the Clintons.

It's unfortunate, in a way, that the Democratic Party nomination process has gone on so long with no apparent winner. The real battle has not yet begun - McCain vs. Whoever - which is a proxy for regression vs. progress. The United States is a post-industrial nation in a world becoming increasing dominated by new powers (China, India, Brazil, Venezuela - to name a few) that we have too long ignored. Barack Obama is the only candidate left standing who has the world view, balanced thinking, intellect and understanding of reality to change the course of this country in an attempt to keep us relevant in a new world.

[note to readers: unfortunately, my links to New York Times columns won't open for you unless you have an account with the Times - sorry about that]

Saturday, May 03, 2008


I use a web tracker (StatCounter) to monitor the traffic on my blog. This is a lot of fun, particularly since they added a Google Map feature that shows the location of the internet service provider from which each hit originates, along with a whole bunch of statistics and information about each hit.

Here's the map showing the origins of recent traffic. Wow - even India! I've had hits from Europe, South America, and Asia (including China, so I must not be too out there for the Chinese internet censors). I even had one that appeared on the map as a point in the ocean off the west coast of Africa, near the equator, and there was very little information about this particular hit - hmmm, maybe a U.S. spy ship checking up on me?

The stats include the duration of each hit - and unfortunately, some of the more exotic ones had a duration of 0 seconds, which means they didn't stop long enough to read anything. I did have a recent hit, however, with a duration of over 14 hours! Must have either read everything I've ever written, or just left the computer on my blog all night.

Anyway, I can delude myself into thinking that I have a world-wide audience for this blog.


The Manchurian Candidate movie, originally released in 1962, was about a former Korean War POW who was brainwashed by Communists (Chinese) into becoming a political assassin. (If you haven't seen this film, with an all-star cast, it's worth renting.)

The more I watch John McCain on the campaign trail, the more puzzled I am by his behaviors and ideas. There's something strange about this guy, from the way he calls everyone "my friends," to his often trance-like affect, to the truly bizarre things he says that have little or no relation to reality (example: his comments while in Iraq recently about the relationship between Iran and Iraq - Joe Lieberman (Joe Lieberman!!) had to correct him).

I'm not trying to impugn McCain's reputation as a war hero, but he was a POW, and he was subjected to torture. Might his tormentors have implanted subliminal codes into his brain that would lead to his becoming an assassin of politics in America? Certainly G.W. Bush has done significant damage already to American politics, not to mention our Constitution and many laws and treaties. But now we see "the presumptive Republican Party nominee" cozying up to Dubya, embracing the Bush invasion and occupation of Iraq, the Bush doctrine of foreign policy, supply-side economics, and etc. In other words, we ain't done yet, if this Candidate gets elected.

Keep an eye on this guy as the campaign clicks into high gear following the Republican and Democratic conventions. Watch for that glazed look, the robot-like speech, the strange pronouncements. Is his "handler" nearby? Is Mrs. McC a Stepford Wife, or a secret agent carrying the magic code word that will set him off?

Stay tuned.