Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Anti-Zionism Accelerant for anti-Semitism . . .

Zionism is not just a cover for anti-Semitism, to the degree that it is, and has been accused of being, but in its own right an accelerant. Especially on the left. Just "unfriended" someone  on guess which social medium who I know would not in person be anti-Semitic, nor tolerate it.

He'd be anti-Coughlin, anti-Lindberg, for instance. Maybe, though I'm far from sure, even anti-Farrakhan, so far as Jews go.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Temple Mount, Temple Mount

Temple Mount, Temple Mount or if you prefer, Noble Sanctuary: once again I pray — well, since I don't pray, I must mean joke — that extra-terrestrials would come and take it, the whole of it.

Think of how much blood that would spare our species, blood having been shed, already being shed and with more to come.

That area is the pupik — belly button — of three great and awful Abrahamic religions, seemingly revving up their awfulness content all the time.

If it all disappeared Jews could not blame Palestinians or the opposite. There would be a wonderful moment of total confusion.

A sweet: "HUH!?:

There's no lack of confusion now, but nowhere near enough.

As for today's confusion: Jews and other non-Muslims are permitted up there. (I, in my trip to Jerusalem, was permitted to mount the Mount). Thing of it is, Jews are permitted up there, unless, God forbid, they pray.

Not kidding.

("The Palestinians have accused Israel of plotting to change a decades-old arrangement under which non-Muslims are allowed to visit the site, but not to pray there."

Isabel Kershner, "Palestinians Burn Jewish Holy Site in West Bank as Clashes Kill 4" NY Times 10/17/15)

How do you know if they pray/daven?

Well, devout Jews tend to shimmy when they pray, gather in groups of ten and then there is the kowtow to Hashem during certain prayers.

There are watchers, certified by both Israeli and Jordanian authorities, to pick out the davenners.

Plus, new technology allows for long distance — functional MRI — real time brain scans detection.

You can always tell when someone is praying. Why? I'm no neuroscientist. But some neuroscientists have pointed out that the same neurons involved in prayer are galvanized by pornography.

Only God knows why.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015


Some of the usual suspects remain sane, New Yorker editor David Remnick high among them. I like him, in this piece, comparing Donald Trump to Charles Lindbergh. As he points out, learning about Lindberg gave Philip Roth inspiration for "The Plot Against America", a superb late-Roth novel.

Wonder if anyone — now or ever — will find a way to pulp Trump for anything in the way of a half-decent book.

Let me stay with this: Roth emphasizes that FDR was old school, in his well-known passion for philately — stamps, how quaint; mail, how traditional, how previous century — whereas Lindberg was hi-tech, campaigning cross-country in a plane.

Lindberg was awful — pro-German as in pro-Nazi — but coherent.

What about Trump? Anything remotely coherent about Trump/ Trumpism?

Reality TV, Trump Towers, chest thumping wealth: reminds me some of Silvio Berlusconi.

But the coherence test is dated: shoot from the hip incoherence is much more American and so very now.

Violent incoherence is Trump's selling point.

Friday, October 16, 2015


From Michiko Kakutani's (10/16/15) NY Times review of Bob Woodward's "The Last of the President’s Men":

Mr. Woodward writes that on a secret document dated Jan. 3, 1972 (the day after Nixon gave an interview to Dan Rather, declaring that the bombing of North Vietnam had been “very, very effective”), the president scrawled a note to Mr. Kissinger: “K. We have had 10 years of total control of the air in Laos and V.Nam. The result=Zilch. There is something wrong with the strategy or the Air Force.”

Obama is no Nixon, mostly, yet he plays golf with GW Bush, who played golf with Dick Cheney, who played golf with Kissinger (assuming "K." played) who played golf with Nixon, so how many partners, strokes, links is Obama away from Nixon?

I ask because Obama's newly announced policy re Afghanistan strikes me as positively Nixonian. Why keep troops there? Horrible as the Taliban is, Obama knows 5,500 boots on the ground can't matter, can't change things, not after over a decade and up to 100,000 America troops didn't.

So Obama says to Joe Biden, or Michelle, or somebody: Nothing we can do about the Taliban that we shouldn't have done already instead of invading Iraq. Truth is, I just don't want to be known as the president who lost Afghanistan.

Nixon would surely understand.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Stupid Things . . .

My friend Fred Owen noted, re Russian air strikes in Syria, that things are getting complicated.

To be sure.

- What with Turkey in full-scale war against the Kurds (again)

- Turkey v. Assad and/or Turkey v. ISIS (hard to know)

- Dreadful signs of a 3rd Intifada in Israel

- Putin straight-up allying with and fortifying Assad

- Iran dicking around with/testing the no nukes deal

- Afghanistan reverting back to complete Taliban control, despite years of expensive, ill-conceived and utterly futile American effort

- Obama still trying hard not to do stupid things, a great idea, given the nature  of the stupid things that preceded him, but maybe yet another, more muted and subtle, sort of stupid thing. . .

- and lots of candidates for president of the United States rabidly champing at the bit to renew our country's right to do all the stupid things we (some, hopefully not a majority) feel like doing.

Yeah, Fred: things are getting complicated.

I don't remember who it was who recently and to my mind sagely commented that these complications reminded him of the gnarly complexities and rivalries that issued into World War I. Another way of putting it: World War I has been said, by contesting historians, to have derived from this or that cause only because there were was all that gnarly complexity setting it off to it, as if inevitably.

This writer I mentioned was sure we would learn from that history.

Today was a perfect fall day in these parts. Sunny, dry, couldn't ask for better. Going to stay that way through much of the week. . .

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Signs & Portents

The bombing in Ankara is dreadful, and will lead to dreadful consequences. The way the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is playing out is dreadful, per usual, and will lead — per usual — to dreadful consequences. Putin buttressing Assad is pretty bad and will lead among other things to ISIS expanding. (Nobody likes ISIS, which doesn't stop it from expanding. ISIS thrives on being hated; some people are drawn to that kind of shit).

The American government — the oldest continuous government I know of — can't seem to scratch its Constitutional itches the way it used to. It's not disintegrating but rattling like an old car with a really bad cough.

Every single Republican candidate for president is either intellectually impaired or convincingly pretending to be. The leading democratic candidate doesn't seem to know where she stands from one day to the next. (She reminds me of the citizens of Nineveh, described in the Book of Jonah as not "knowing their right hands from their left". Forget Benghazi. Is Hillary from Nineveh? When is that going to come out?)

Violence begets violence, as in every day some high school kid thinks nothing could be better than to take out frustrations or get even with the aid of automatic weapons.

The signs and portents suck, most all of 'em.

Anybody got a really good joke?

I used to get good ones from my primary care physician during yearly checkups. He saves his best for distracting you while you're getting your prostate palpated (though lately he's said some people like it and want more fingers. Can you imagine?)

In any case, I fear he's now retired. No more good ones from him.

Here's an old one:

This guy is going for his checkup and wants to know if he has a shot at living until he's 85.

The doctor says first I need to ask some questions.

— Do you smoke?
— No.

— Eat a lot of red meat?
— No.

— Drink a lot?
— Nope.

— Have a lot of unprotected sex?
— I should be so lucky.

OK One more question: Why do you want to live until you're 85?

Now then, the bombing in Istanbul is dreadful, and will lead to dreadful consequences. . .

Friday, October 9, 2015

Point of Information: Speaker of the House

Did just a tad of research about Speaker of the House. Turns out the office isn't merely a political plum but is ordained by the Constitution (Article I, Section 2, as per the Wikipedia).

Someone has to fill that office lest all sorts of chaos ensue, as all sorts of chaos is now ensuing.

The Speaker doesn't have to be of the majority party in the House, though, over the course of history, has usually been.

Doesn't even have to devolve on any one seated in the House. Could be me, could be you, could even, as some have suggested, be Mitt Romney.

Anyone, I gather, upon whom the House decides.

Of course that someone is next in line, should catastrophe befall President and Vice-President, for highest office. . .

I doubt the Founders ever contemplated such a bug in their program.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Let Us Not Forget Fascism: The Trump Phenomenon

Were it most anyone else, I wouldn't take it as seriously; it wouldn't jolt me. But Rick Perlstein is an accomplished, justifiably well-regarded student of recent American history*.

When he warns, in a well-argued piece, that Donald Trump is not like Barry Goldwater, Ronald Reagan or even G.W. Bush, I want to know why. Likewise, when he says that by dropping the word "fascist," often used after World War II, from contemporary political parlance, we may be blinding ourselves to key aspects of the  Trump phenomenon.

Pearlstein wants to avoid — undue — alarmism, noting that, "it is hard to imagine a President Trump turning America into a one-party state. (Isn’t it?)"

But his conclusion is far from comforting:

"We want to think about Trump using our familiar categories, according to familiar norms, judging him by familiar rules. But what Donald Trump is all about is incinerating the existing rules––which are revealed as all too easy to incinerate. He breaks the system just by his manner of being. It’s humbling, because the system he breaks is the only one we know how to understand.

But with Trump, everything requires revision––for me as much as anyone else.

Rick Perlstein, "Donald Trump, American hustler: The frightening fascist tendencies of his GOP rise"

* His books are: "The Invisible Bridge," "Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America" and "Before the Storm: Barry Goldwater and the Unmaking of the American Consensus."