Friday, May 27, 2011

Anti-gay preacher settles gay abuse lawsuits

Bishop Eddie Long
, a virulently anti-gay Georgia pastor who heads one of the nation’s largest megachurches, has reached a settlement with four men who accused him of abusing his role as pastor to compel them into sexual relationships when they were teenagers.

read here: Bishop Eddie Long Settles Lawsuit Alleging Sexual Misconduct | Hatewatch | Southern Poverty Law Center and here: Eddie Long case officially dismissed |

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The danger of boilerplate answers

Ben Rhodes, President Obama's chief foreign policy speechwriter, has given a very odd answer to a question concerning the rights Jews who were forced from Arab nations after the creation of the State of Israel. To remind you, approximately 800,000 Jews left Arab and Muslim nations under duress, many leaving behind both their life savings and all their belongings. A questioner asked Rhodes for the White House position on "their rights an grievances". Seems a fair question.

The answer was wacky. Rhodes, rather than discussing restitution, acknowledgements of past wrongs, protection of heritage sites, return of sacred object and other potential, real world remedies, chose to address "the right of return". He also talked about these people as if they were still, after 50 or 60 years, "refugees". Unlike the Palestinians, whose refugee status has been enforced by the other Arab nations, none of whom, including Jordan and Egypt who occupied the West Bank and Gaza respectively from 1948-1967, has granted Palestinian refugees and their descendants citizenship even after all these years. That is not the case with Israel and it's Jews of Mizrahi and Sephardi descent. They aren't exactly pining to return to Iraq and Syria.

Here's Rhodes answer:

"Certainly the U.S., in our role, is attuned to all the concerns on both sides to include interests among Israel and others in Jewish refugees, so it is something that would come up in the context of negotiations. And certainly, we believe that ultimately the parties themselves should negotiate this. We can introduce ideas, we can introduce parameters for potential negotiation."

"We believe those types of issues that you alluded to could certainly be a part of that discussion and put on the table and it's something that we would obviously be involved in."

So was Rhodes on autopilot, or does he actually believe that these Israelis are still refugees, and that they would want to return to their or their parents' or their grandparents' nations of birth? Does he believe that negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians could somehow resolve that illusory issue or the very real issues I outlined above? I vote for autopilot.

Alana Goldman in Commentary asks whether Rhodes was signalling that Palestinian right of return should be on the table for negotiation between the two parties. I wonder about this. Rhodes' off-handed answer may reflect an underlying belief on the part of the administration that this issue is a legitimate point of negotiation not leading to the demographic end of Israel (the intention of most of those who advocate it), but as a bargaining chip to be offset by something else of benefit to the Palestinians.

Parsing ill-considered statements such as this is a little like reading tea leaves. I'd much rather have the White House clarify their positions on these matters than discern them from an incoherent remark.

Jeffrey Goldberg: Why Palestinians Have Time on Their Side

Read it here.

Goldberg's timely column argues that the risks of Israel not pushing for a comprehensive peace with the Palestinian Authority far outweigh the dangers. He points out that Netanyahu's speeches in Washington could have been given 10 years ago, and diagnoses Netanyahu as essentially living in the past and suffering from a failure of imagination. I strongly agree with Goldberg that Netanyahu's speeches in Washington were disappointing in their failure to acknowledge changing realities. I also agree with Goldberg that this outdated thinking mainly derives from a failure to see what not establishing a Palestinian state will mean for Israel.

The factor missing from Goldberg's column and from the U.S. conversation in general has been domestic Israeli politics. Even if Netanyahu had the vision to use this moment in history to push for peace, does he have the political power to do so? Netanyahu's real problem may have more to do with the intrinsic weakness of his political situation than Goldberg takes into consideration.

It seems very clear that Netanyahu latched onto the false controversy concerning "1967 borders" and "preconditions" to obscure the heart of the matter: that the peace process must restart. He also did it to play to his base, projecting an image of himself as a defender of Israel against Obama's interference. When a political leader plays to his base in this manner, it does little more that reinforce outdated conventional wisdom. This is the politics of self-fulfilling prophecy. Politics needs to be about more than echoing old ideas.

It is heartening to see Goldberg, whose connections to Israel makes him the target of harsh attacks by those who view him (and much else) through the lens of anti-Israel bias. It's seems a good time to break some pre-conceived ideas. That's an important part of building consensus for change.

What Obama offered in his State Department and AIPAC speeches, a vision of renewed peace talks, is the potential remedy to Israel's worst malady. Somehow, in the minds of the right, the cure is worse than the disease. I'm not sure, however, that this view is in the majority in Israel. I wonder if we're approaching a tipping point where Israeli public opinion will start to shift back towards pushing for making peace. The dangers of doing nothing are growing stronger.

"As a Jew" protesters heckle AIPAC

“Growing up as the son of Holocaust survivor, I learned that it is everyone’s job to stand up for others when they are persecuted..." said Jewish American protester Rick Colbath-Hess, 53 from Cambridge, Massachusetts.

As a young Jewish person it is important for me to stand up today and tell Netanyahu and AIPAC that their voices do not represent me,” said Ariel Vegosen, 30, from Valley Stream, New York...

Bruce Taub, 71, from Massachusetts and associated with American Jews for a Just Peace, was another protester. “As a Jewish man, I come from a people who have been scattered about the world without losing their identity."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Cynthia McKinney on Libyan state TV to support Qaddafi regime (VIDEO)

Yesterday, Cynthia McKinney was given air time on Jamahirya, Libya's state TV station, to give a rambling statement in support of the Qaddafi regime. Could this be the beginning of her campaign to succeed Qaddafi?

Among the odder moments in this very odd video is the point at about 22 minutes into it (!) where McKinney complains that working class young people in the U.S. sometimes have to join the military to find employment. While that might be a legitimate complaint to make in a U.S. speech, it seems an odd one to make in Libya, where some young Libyans are currently compelled to join the military to kill other young Libyans in order to keep the regime in power.

At 25 minutes into the video, McKinney's statement is interrupted when a purportedly live video on a split screen shows smoke billowing from a recent explosion intercut with shots of a celebrating crowd of demonstrators. Oddly, the recorded audio at this point is censored. McKinney asks "is that a bomb"? The hosts explain that the Qaddafi compound has been the target of missile strikes every day or two for some time. They go on to claim that crowds spontaneously form outside the compound after such an attack in order to express their unbridled love for the dictator.

"People dancing and they don't care. ... The people of Libya standing still, they are not scared of the bombing!"

After this, McKinney is given time for a concluding statement in which she states that the NATO action against Qaddafi is a form of "collective punishment as done by the Israelis" in that it is designed to deprive the Libyan people of food and medicine, which she equates with Israel's treatment of Gaza. She goes on to call on her fellow Americans to come together to end the fighting in Libya.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

92-year old Arab: massacre Jews like we did in Hebron

(Hat tip: Elder of Ziyon: Video: 92-year old Arab fondly remembers her father massacring Jews)

McKinney endorses Winograd; An endorsement she may not want

Former Congressman and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has endorsed Marcy Winograd in today's special election in California's 36th congressional district. Before she celebrates this, Winograd may want to consider other McKinney endorsements. McKinney has previously expressed support for Muammar Qaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Robert Mugabe (more here), and Laurent Gbagbo.

In endorsing Winograd, McKinney wrote of the front-runners in the election that

Both Hahn & Bowen have clearly stated for the record that they support Israel at all costs and that they will attack Iran at the slightest provocation.

I must have missed that.

McKinney endorses Winograd; An endorsement she may not want

Former Congressman and 2008 Green Party presidential candidate Cynthia McKinney has endorsed Marcy Winograd in today's special election in California's 36th congressional district. Before she celebrates this, Winograd may want to consider other McKinney endorsements. McKinney has previously expressed support for Muammar Qaddafi, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Robert Mugabe (more here), and Laurent Gbagbo.

In endorsing Winograd, McKinney wrote of the front-runners in the election that

Both Hahn & Bowen have clearly stated for the record that they support Israel at all costs and that they will attack Iran at the slightest provocation.

I must have missed that.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Jesse Ventura pushes bizarre 9/11 secret weapon claim

Ventura backs theories of Dr. Judy Wood

It's not news that Jesse Ventura is a 9/11 truther. It comes as something of a surprise to me that he is not only a part of that lunatic fringe of people who don't believe the World Trade Center towers were destroyed by the planes that crashed into them. He now says that he believes that the towers were also not destroyed by nano-thermite, controlled demolition, nuclear weapons, or any of the other "mainstream" truther theories. He says that he believes that the towers were destroyed by a secret weapon. In an interview on the Alex Jones radio show, Ventura made this extraordinarily odd claim.

Ventura: There was something else in play there Alex. There was something in play that day, that -- I don't even know what it is, but I can equate it to being like a microwave. You know how you can take a piece of chicken and put it on a paper plate and stick it in the microwave and the chicken will burn but the paper plate won't?

Jones: Yes.

Ventura: Well, something happened that day equivalent to a microwave. And by capturing bin Laden maybe we could have found out what weapon he really has. Because I just learned there were 1400 cars that day toasted on the streets of Manhattan.

Where does he get this bizarre theory from? He tells Jones that he got it from a book Where Did the Towers Go, by Judy Wood.

YouTube - Gov. Jesse Ventura talks about Dr. Judy Wood's work on The Alex Jones Show

Check out the below-embedded video interview with Judy Wood to get a sense of what Ventura believes. (The interview starts at about 4:00 of the video.)

Wood starts off that interview by saying that she believes that the fact that others don't share her beliefs is "bizarre". She goes on to say that moon landing never happened, but "you're not supposed to question it". She then reveals her motivation in seeking an odd explanation for 9/11. She says, apparently referring to JFK assassination cosnpiracy theories, that "grassy knoll is the unofficial official story", the one you're "supposed to believe". This she equates with the standard truther theories: controlled demolition, nano-thermite, etc.  She believes that the standard conspiracy theories are products of the same disinformation campaign as the official story is.  Her fellow truthers are either part of the conspiracy or are its unwitting dupes.  That is an extremely paranoid view of an extremely paranoid movement.

Wood goes on in the interview to claim that the falling towers "emitted no sound". Her proof is that she has seen videos where the sound is not audible. Additional proof? She has seen video where the plane crashes into the tower, and people below take a second or two to react. As should be readily obvious, the fact that they react at all indicates that they heard a noise. Moreover, Dr. Wood seems unaware that the speed of light exceeds the speed of sound. Of course it took a second or two for the sound to startle people who weren't looking up. That's when the sound reached ground level. This is the level of scientific evidence Dr. Judy Wood brings to the 9/11 truth party.

Check out her lecture to a 2006 truther conference below, to get a further sense of the sheer absurdity of the stuff that Ventura and Jones are pushing now.

Who on earth could believe this stuff? I mean other than Jesse Ventura and Alex Jones? How about the people at the Ron Paul Forums? (Read here.)  They say that "Dr. Judy Wood's book is finally here!" and "it's a book of vast importance".

I wish I could say that this is merely the work of harmless cranks, but considering how many credulous souls actually believe this stuff, I really don't think these cranks are all that harmless.

Ron Paul website racism

Ron Paul website posts racist video, warns of New Black Panther "day of rage"

One of the main websites of the Ron Paul presidential campaign, the "Ron Paul Forums", has posted a racist video which claims that the New Black Panther Party planned to hold a "national day of rage" for April 23. While the demonstration warned of in the video failed to materialize, the website still has the highly offensive video posted. (Read here.)

In addition to warning of the incipient "day of rage", the video shows a white man mocking African-American speech patterns and making a telephone call to a New Black Panther office in which claims to be a member of the original Black Panther Party.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Google blogger service all fouled up

A technical note:  It's come to my attention that Google Blogger has experienced a major disruption of its service over the past 48 hours.  At least 10 comments to my post on Ron Paul's racist newsletters have been lost, as have a couple of other blog posts in their entirety.  I'm not certain if they will be restored.  The continuity of the comments string appears to be irreparable, but commenters are encouraged to resubmit their comments if they are currently missing.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Dumb old party

More than a week after the White House unearthed President Obama's original, long-form, Hawaii birth certificate, only 48% of Republicans polled said they believe he was born in the United States.

In a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling from May 5-8 of 610 Americans who usually support Republicans in primaries, 34% said they did not believe Obama was born in the U.S. while 18% said they still aren't sure.

Gilad Atzmon Gaza fundraiser flops

Only 35 people showed up tonight to hear Gilad Atzmon speak and play sax at a fundraiser for a group called  U.S. Boat to Gaza - West which is planning to participate in a prospective Gaza flotilla.  The sparsely attended event was held in the sanctuary of the Lake Merritt Methodist Church in Oakland, California, which has a capacity of 250.

I called the church earlier today to ask why they thought it appropriate to host someone with Atzmon's extensive record of bigoted commentary.  I have not yet heard back from them.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Amnesty International, MEMO and the Palestinian writer who calls Jews 'kikes'

Michael Weiss writes in the Telegraph that Amnesty International continues to show exceedingly poor judgment in building alliances with troubling "anti-Zionist" activists.

Two weeks ago, I pointed out how Amnesty International was due on 23 May to give over its Human Rights Action Centre in London to a discussion of Zionist control of the media co-hosted by Middle East Monitor Online (MEMO), a Hamas-friendly publisher of anti-Semites. I knew then that I’d draw a colourful response. I had no idea just how colourful.

In the course of making my case for MEMO’s lack of credibility, I cited one of its regular contributors, Khalid Amaryeh, who for good measure has got the front-pagestory in Monday’s edition on Israel’s “mendacious” prime minister. In the past, Amaryeh had written in MEMO that Israelis were “pathological liars from Eastern Europe”.

Amaryeh was quite upset at me for quoting his words back to him and denounced me as a “Zionist propagandist” and so on. Par for the course. But then he grew less pleasant and slightly more uncorked in the comment thread of a blog run by Richard Millett, who raised the same questions I did about Amnesty’s lapsed standards for invited guests.

I quote from one of Amaryeh’s contributions to the thread, for which he was good enough to use his full name. He’s referring to another contributor to the thread:

At least you don’t feel confident enought to admit your Jewishness.

Anyway, I don’t give a damn whether you are a kike or not.
well, you seem to lie as often as you breathe. Fow how could you enslave, torment, savage, persecue and deny millions of people freedom while you claim to love freedom? you are simply fornicating with language. If you were a woman, you probably would be a whore.

you are obviously a burden upon youself, your family, and upon the Jews.

Haredim burn Israeli flags in Bnei Brak

Israel Independence Day observance in front of the Ponavez Yeshiva in the largely ultra-orthodox city of Bnei Brak:

More here and here.

Gilad Atzmon promotes speech on Holocaust denial website

Gilad Atzmon is using a notorious Holocaust denial website to advertise a speech and performance he is giving tonight at a Methodist church in Oakland, CA. (Read here.) The website, which is maintained by Michael Santomauro, publishes articles propounding what Santomauro euphemistically refers to as "historical revisionism" concerning Naziism and the Holocaust, as well as anti-Semitic and anti-Zionist articles, and promotional material for books with the same themes. A notice on the website indicates that Atzmon himself sent the promotional notice to the Santomauro website for publication there.

Santomauro made a small fortune by creating a service which helps New York City apartment dwellers find roommates. His clients have reported that they were surprised to receive Holocaust denial propaganda emails after using his roommate service. (Read here.) Earlier this year, Santomauro got some local press by emailing Holocaust denial material to everyone on the mailing list associated with the Upper East Side public school attended by his 9-year-old son. (Read here.) That email promoted a book entitled Debating the Holocaust, which Santomauro published at his own expense and possibly authored under the pseudonym "Timothy Dalton, PhD". (Read here.)

Santomauro has worked as an advance man for David Irving's New York appearances, sometimes under the pseudonym "Michael Singer", under which name he has booked venues for Irving to promote his books. (Read here.) Emails between Irving and Santomauro planning a speaking engagement were copied from Irving's website by hackers and leaked to Wikileaks. (I wrote about that here. The hacked emails are online here. A prior post mentioning Santomauro's link to Irving is available here.)

Santomauro is also reported to have run the Holocaust denial website VHO during the imprisonment of it's founder Germar Rudolf for violation of Germany's laws against promotion of racism. (Read here.)

In addition to the book written by him or "Dalton", Santomauro currently promotes and sells a book called The Riddle of the Jew’s Success, which was written by the German anti-Semitic ideologue of the pre-Nazi and early Nazi era, Theodor Fritsch, author of The Anti-Semitic Chatechism. Santomauro advertises the book as follows:

An amazing book, originally written in 1927, revealing how the Jews and the Jewish culture, for many centuries, have used deception, treachery and immorality in business, trade and economic life to amass WEALTH – their ONLY “god” and to destroy the honest businesses of the non-Jews.

(That advertisement can also be found on a website called Santomauro's use of his Amazon store to sell this book led to his being banned from Amazon. Santomauro was later accused of issuing threats to and releasing private contact information for the person who brought the matter to Amazon's attention. (Read here.) For a number of years, Santomauro published a long list of Holocaust denial books and papers which he sold or made available free online via another website, That website is no longer active. (Archived example here.)

Gilad Atzmon is using Santomauro's website to advertise his appearance at a fundraiser for an organization promoting a prospective convoy of boats to Gaza. The fundraiser will take place at the Lake Merritt Methodist Church in Oakland, CA , and is associated with the organization US Boat to Gaza - West. (Read here.) In addition to the promotional material, Atzmon provided Santomauro with video of a recent anti-Israel panel which Atzmon held in London, which Atzmon calls with characteristic modesty "Must watch video: Gilad Atzmon in action..."

A commenter to a prior post on this blog concerning Atzmon's appearance at Lake Merritt Methodist Church has indicated that a demonstration against anti-Semitism will be there to greet him. The demonstration is being scheduled to take place this afternoon, May 10, from 4:00-5:00PM at Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, 1330 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sexually provocative image of Hillary Clinton scrubbed from White House photo by Hasidish newspaper

Der Tzitung Hillary Clinton's pic removed 5-5-11

Der Tzitung Hillary Clinton's pic removed 5-5-11 annotated

Situation Room Osama Bin Laden Hit Hillary Clinton in picture 5-5-11

Jewish Foods To Bring Back

The Forward website currently has an article listing 10 Jewish Foods To Bring Back. (My mother emailed a link to me in lieu of cooking.) As someone who no longer eats meat, but who enjoys remembering the offerings of my grandmothers' kitchens, and the kitchens of various Jewish restaurants, this article really hit the spot. Humble yet luxurious, familiar yet exotic, some of these foods were artifacts of an earlier era even in my younger days.

P'tcha, a jellied calf's foot dish that I would describe as garlic, cholesterol-laden jello with a hard boiled egg embedded within it, was weird in every way, and was lovable both for that strangeness and for its rich and assertive flavors. It was a favorite of my grandfather, a Litvak from Belarus. When he departed from this world, p'tcha departed from our table.

Similarly, eyerlach, which my Galitzianer grandmother referred to by some other name, seemed too weird to be real. Those were unhatched eggs which had been harvested from slaughtered hens. The shells were not yet hardened, and the chicks within them not yet fully formed. The Forward article describes them as a soup ingredient, although I remember them best sauteed in schmaltz with gribennes, seasoned with black pepper or paprika.

Others on the Forward top ten list, like belly lox, seemed to me to be a permanent fixture of Jewish American cuisine but have for some mysterious reason virtually vanished. When I tried to order it in Zabar's about 10 years ago, the counter man/sturgeon surgeon tried to talk me out of ordering it. "It's much too salty. Take the nova instead." Dammit, I felt like saying, I like salty food. Why should I go for that bland, smoky stuff?

Similarly, tongue seemed like it would have legs. (Okay, that's a weird sentence.) What I mean to say is that it seemed to me that it wasn't an endangered species. (Also a strange sentence.) I used to love it in various forms, especially cooked in a sweet and sour sauce with raisins (my grandmothers made it that way -- as did the Weequahic Diner in Newark), or steamed, thin cut and stacked high on yellow corn rye bread -- the deli version. I can remember coming home from school and seeing the cow's huge tongue sticking up from a cutting board on the kitchen counter. My mother was in the process of "peeling" it, a process I remember involving boiling water and a paring knife. No. That's not why I stopped eating meat.

(I wonder if there's a vegetarian version? Tofu tongue anyone? Now that I think of it, that might stop me eating tofu.)

Schav is the one vegetarian dish on the Forward's endangered list/menu. That's a sour-grass soup, as much Slavic as Jewish. A word to the wise, echoing the wisdom of the Forward: the stuff sold in supermarkets should be banned for human consumption. Make it at home, order it in a restaurant, or, please, come up with a palatable packaged version and sell me some. The real thing is so good.

Two questions for the Forward: 1) what about cholent and corn rye bread? and 2) when will you come out with the top ten lists of endangered Sephardi and Mizrahi foods? I've got some Sephardi background and that part of me gets hungry too.

P'tcha.  Looks good, but lose the lemon.

Unanswered questions; Why Ron Paul's racist newsletters still matter

I've just read an article that's brought back into focus an issue that I'd put out of my mind since the last presidential campaign: Ron Paul's troubling history of publishing racist columns. (Read here: Why Ron Paul's Racist Newsletters Matter | News One) The article outlines the content of columns written and/or published by Ron Paul in newsletters called Ron Paul's Freedom Report, the Ron Paul Political Report and the Ron Paul Survival Report, all of which listed Paul as editor and publisher. The columns in question are absolutely amazing: unashamedly racist, homophobic and paranoid. For your consideration, here are some excerpts from the writings of Dr. Ron Paul.

"Boy, it sure burns me to have a national holiday for that pro-communist philanderer, Martin Luther King. I voted against this outrage time and time again as a Congressmen [sic]. What an infamy that Ronald Reagan approved it! We can thank him for our annual Hate Whitey Day."

(jpg of source document here)

That column went on to suggest, in response to a proposal that a city be named in King's honor, that the city be called either "Welfaria", "Zooville", "Rapetown", "Dirtburg", or "Lazyopolis".

In another shocking column entitled "Blast 'Em?", Dr. Paul warns in dire terms of the dangers of black on white crime. Dr. Paul suggests that white people arm themselves with illegal, unresgistered guns, and goes on to relay the advice of a police officer that, if a gun were to be used to shoot a "youth", that the shooting be concealed and the weapon thrown away.

"(Carjacking) is the hip-hop thing to do among urban youth who play unsuspecting whites like pianos. The youth simply walk up to a car they like, pull a gun, tell the family to get out, steal their jewelry and wallets, and take the car to wreck. Such actions have ballooned in the recent months.

"In the old days, average people could avoid such youth by staying out of bad neighborhoods. Empowered by media, police, and political complicity, however, the youth now roam everywhere looking for cars to steal and people to rob.

"What can you do? More and more Americans are carrying a gun in the car. An ex-cop I know advises that if you have to use a gun on a youth, you should leave the scene immediately, disposing of the wiped off gun as soon as possible. Such a gun cannot, of course, be registered to you, but one bought privately (through the classifieds, for example).

"I frankly don't know what to make of such advice, but even in my little town of Lake Jackson, Texas, I've urged everyone in my family to know how to use a gun in self defense. For the animals are coming."

(Jpg of source document here)

You may remember that Ron Paul also published columns that stated that

"Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions, i.e. support the free market, individual liberty and the end of welfare and affirmative action."


"Given the inefficiencies of what D.C. laughingly calls the `criminal justice system,' I think we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in that city are semi-criminal or entirely criminal."


"(W)e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational. Black men commit murders, rapes, robberies, muggings and burglaries all out of proportion to their numbers."


"We don't think a child of 13 should be held responsible as a man of 23. That's true for most people, but black males age 13 who have been raised on the streets and who have joined criminal gangs are as big, strong, tough, scary and culpable as any adult and should be treated as such."

Those statements were first revealed in a Houston Chronicle article published in May, 1996. (Read here.) According to the Chronicle, Paul's congressional campaign responded to questions about these statements by saying that they were consistent with anti-crime statements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson. The Ron Paul campaign issued another statement, published in the Austin American-Statesman, that compared his newsletters to Tolstoy. (Read here.)

"Dr. Paul is being quoted out of context. It's like picking up War and Peace and reading the fourth paragraph on Page 481 and thinking you can understand what's going on."

Paul's defenses of these and many other outrageous columns have raised more questions than they have answered. His initial reaction to this issue, when it was raised by an adversary in the 1996 congressional election, was to admit to having written the columns and to defend their content as insignificant. As Matt Welch pointed out in a column for Reason (read here), statements made at that time by both Paul and his campaign staff accepted responsibility for publishing the columns and failed in any way to indicate that he hadn't written them or even read them.  In fact, according to a contemporaneous report in the Dallas Morning News (emphasis added):

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation.

However, in 2008, Paul claimed that the columns, which he had said that he had written, which were written in the first person and which included references to his family life and other personal touches, had been ghost-written by someone of whose identity he was somehow uncertain. He claimed that it was completely plausible that he would allow people he did not know to author such columns for him, and that he would go on to publish them without prior review to his supporters in newsletters bearing his name in their titles. Such defenses by Dr. Paul insult those who legitimately want information about this troubling side of his record. Paul's answers to these legitimate question do not treat with appropriate gravity a very serious matter. They are not only inconsistent, they are self-contradictory. They are not only implausible, they are impossible.

Why do these newletters continue to matter? In publishing these newsletters, and in his handling of the resulting controversy, Dr. Paul has shown himself to be either a racist, an amnesiac, a liar, or grossly irresponsible. None of those are attributes one should look for in a prospective president.

Ron Paul's current candidacy for president once again raises the questions that he has failed to adequately address since they first came up in 1996. Who wrote the racist material that was published by him under his name in his newsletters? If the columns were ghosted, did he review them prior to publication? If not, why not? Why has he failed to take responsibility for and fully investigate the facts underlying this troubling publication of extreme racist propaganda into the political mainstream? If Ron Paul fails to answer these questions, fully investigate the matter and issue a complete and frank report of his findings, he will have failed to put the matter behind him. He can't just say that it's "old news" and leave it at that. That will only convince his true believers.

In conclusion, here's video of Ron Paul on CNN in 2008, renouncing the contents of his newletters and claiming that he can't possibly be racist because he "does not view people in collective groups". He also argues falsely and in offensive terms which immediately belie this absurd defense that the issue of the newsletters was being raised for a particular political purpose concerning a collective group. (At 2:40 of the below-embedded video.)

"(It is) part knock down Ron Paul because he's gaining grounds with the blacks. I'm getting more support right now, and more votes from the blacks because they understand what I'm talking about and they trust me."

In spite of the fact that the issue had come up in 1996, and that his campaign had at time defended them, Paul states in this interview that, prior to 2008, he was unfamiliar with any of the racist material from his newsletter. As I stated above, his defenses have raised more questions than they've answered.

[The full contents of the Ron Paul newsletters was uncovered in 2008 by the very persistent and clever research of Jamie Kirchick, then of the New Republic. (His great article on this is available behind a paywall here.) Julian Sanchez and David Weigel wrote in Reason in 2008 that they were of the opinion that longtime Ron Paul chief advisor Lew Rockwell was likely the author and almost certainly the real editor of the offensive columns. (Read here.) A fairly comprehensive compendium of links to coverage of the newletters controversy is available here.]

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Gilad Atzmon to speak at Oakland Methodist church

Anti-Jewish activist Gilad Atzmon will be speaking in Oakland, CA on Tuesday evening on behalf of the organization US Boat to Gaza - West. (Read here.) The event will raise funds for American participants in a planned convoy of boats to Gaza. It will take place at the Lake Merritt United Methodist Church, recent hosts of an ersatz seder with an anti-Israel theme. (Read here.) A leftist local paper with a reputation for disproportionate and biased coverage of Israel, the Berkeley Daily Planet, is promoting the event. (The paper essentially features local news and anti-Israel editorials.)  A front page notice in the paper describes Atzmon as "worldwide-renowned [sic] jazz saxophonist par excellence (who) holds a PhD in philosophy and is a prolific writer and speaker on Israel-Palestine".

In 2009, the Bay Area Women in Black hosted a pro-ISM speech by Atzmon at the Fellowship of Universalist Unitarians in neighboring Berkeley, provoking demonstrations respectively opposing and supporting Atzmon.

Among his supporters was Stephen Pearcy, a local activist attorney with a penchant for controversy.  (He has repeatedly hung U.S. soldiers in effigy on the front of his house, and has demonstrated in front of the California state capitol with an image of the U.S. flag being flushed down a toilet.)  Pearcy is pictured below at the demonstration wearing a Nasrallah t-shirt and carrying a Hamas banner.

Chomsky: No proof that Laden was responsible for 9/11

Noam Chomsky has written a blog post denying that there is evidence of Osama bin Laden's responsibility for 9/11. He writes:

In April 2002, the head of the FBI, Robert Mueller, informed the press that after the most intensive investigation in history, the FBI could say no more than that it “believed” that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan, though implemented in the UAE and Germany. What they only believed in April 2002, they obviously didn’t know 8 months earlier, when Washington dismissed tentative offers by the Taliban (how serious, we do not know, because they were instantly dismissed) to extradite bin Laden if they were presented with evidence—which, as we soon learned, Washington didn’t have. Thus Obama was simply lying when he said, in his White House statement, that “we quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda.”

Nothing serious has been provided since. There is much talk of bin Laden’s “confession,” but that is rather like my confession that I won the Boston Marathon. He boasted of what he regarded as a great achievement.

(Source: Guernica / Noam Chomsky: My Reaction to Osama bin Laden’s Death)

Friday, May 6, 2011

GOP Pre-Debate Rally Sponsored By Extremists: John Birch Society And The Oath Keepers

CUNY can't honor Tony Kushner? Really?

A member of CUNY's board of trustees, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, has blocked Tony Kushner from receiving that university's honors.  In what is usually a pro-forma vote, the rubber stamp was stolen by a trustee with an ideological agenda and an inflated sense of his own importance.  That trustee clearly misunderstands both his own role and that of the university in such matters.

The trustee who blocked Kushner's  honorary degree did so because he disagrees with Kushner's anti-Israel activism.  While he may have an argument to make against Kushner's views, that argument hardly negates Kushner's considerable achievements.  More importantly, as every other trustee in the history of CUNY has understood, this is not the appropriate forum to make such arguments.  By making agreement about politics a litmus test for receiving the university's honors, the trustee has created a terrible precedent for CUNY.  If this is allowed to stand, the university's trustees will not only be free to dictate that recipients of the university's honors agree with each trustee's political views, they can blackball any honoree who offends their sensibilities in any manner.

When a university confers an honor upon a worthy recipient, it also confers honor upon itself.  Conversely, by first offering then refusing to confer such an honor, the university dishonors itself.   Wiesenfeld, whose knowledge of Kushner's work appears to derive from out of context quotes he found via Google on an anti-Israel website, has usurped the authority of a committee of professors with real expertise about Kushner's work.  The fact that he has so misunderstood his role as a trustee says a great deal about Wiesenfeld's poor judgement and inflated ego.

I have both great respect for Tony Kushner as a playwright, and great disagreements with his politics and his own sense of the appropriate forum to promote them.  I heard Kushner speak at a 1999 forum on the contemporary role of Yiddish language, literature and culture which happened to have been held at what was then the CUNY Graduate Center on 42nd Street.  Kushner was on a panel with Cynthia Ozick and a scholar of Yiddish linguistics (possibly Paul Wexler).  Departing from the event's subject matter, Kushner devoted his presentation to his opposition to the creation of the State of Israel, which he depicted as the death knell of Yiddish language and culture.  Personally, I found Kushner's actions at that event to be  an unwelcome diversion from a neglected subject.  Whereas the audience and other panelists found the subject of Yiddish to be truly important, Kushner's statement treated Yiddish merely as a symbol of Jewish identity in order to propound a particular political agenda.  He yearned for a mythical golden age of non-Zionist Jewish culture, and argued that the living culture of Jews was somehow in opposition to this ideal.  Interestingly, Kushner's contribution to this discussion of Yiddish failed to actually engage the subject in any way except to characterize it as victim of Zionism, on the one hand, and American assimilationism on the other.  While those are issues that are worthy of discussion, they hardly merit being the sole focus of the rare conference devoted to looking at the thing itself.  Moreover, Kushner also used his presentation to lecture the audience that Israel was unnecessary for Jewish survival, arguing that, by helping to undo traditional Yiddish culture, Israel actually worked against Jewish survival.  One was left to wonder how it would survive if no Jews were left alive to speak it. I wondered whether the audience, which included survivors both of the Holocaust and of Soviet oppression found Kushner's assertions on this matter convincing.  (An  inaccurate depiction of Kushner's statement at this event and Cynthia Ozick's response to it appears in the book From the Lower East Side to Hollywood; Jews in American Popular Culture by Paul Buhle.    Read here.  Contrary to Buhle's depiction, Ozick, while strongly disagreeing with Kushner, spoke supportively of Kushner's right to express his views and praised his engagement with Jewish issues.)

In another instance where Tony Kushner used an inappropriate forum to promote anti-Zionism, the statement by Louis, the protagonist of Kushner's masterpiece "Angels in America", which occurs in that play's concluding scene at Bethesda Fountain, seems to me to be unconvincing and oddly out of place.  The fact that that statement stands out like stray nail in a finely crafted cabinet says a great deal about Kushner's conflicts about the subject.  In a way, that was his intention.  He has problems with Zionism and confusions about Jewishness that he is trying to resolve through Louis.  So that weirdly out of place declaration of anti-Zionism by Louis, wedged into that play's concluding moments, says a lot about Kushner's own difficulties with Zionism.  It also says what his statement at the CUNY Graduate Center said, that it is sometimes difficult for him to find an appropriate forum to work out these problems.

Now, strangely enough, an inappropriate forum for such a conversation has found him.  Even the most ardent Zionist must completely support Kushner, not in his anti-Zionism, but in his right to not only express his opinions, but to work out his issues with Israel.  One may disagree with him, but one must completely support his intellectual engagement with Israel and Jewish culture, both in his work as a playwright and in his political writings.  This engagement with ideas stands in stark contrast to the anti-intellectual CUNY trustee who would silence Kushner's ideas.  (Wiesenfeld has now stooped so low as to slander Kushner as a Nazi collaborator.  Read here.)  If Wiesenfeld  wishes to engage Kushner in a debate, let him do so by debating.  If  Wiesenfeld is incapable of debate, then let him be quiet and let Kushner and CUNY receive their honors.

George Galloway fails to win seat in Scottish Parliament

I guess he'll just have to keep shilling for dictators for a living.

Read here:
The former Respect MP George Galloway failed to win a seat at Holyrood after attracting only 3.5% of the regional list votes in Glasgow, confounding predictions he would be elected.

It' s difficult to take Max Blumenthal seriously on Israel

Max Blumenthal is claiming on his blog that Benjamin Netanyahu supported the 9/11 attacks. His headline reads: Top Republicans to welcome Netanyahu, who called 9-11 attacks “very good,” said anti-US terror helps Israel. This headline deliberately distorts the facts to which it refers, i.e. it lies. While Netanyahu, in response to a question about the effect of 9/11 on U.S. - Israeli relations, said that it would improve them, he of course never said that the attacks themselves were good.

Max Blumenthal knows this. Any of his readers with a bit of sense knows this. By stooping to such an obvious distortion in order to paint Israeli leaders as cynical and unfeeling, doesn't Blumenthal do his own readership a disservice? Does he really have so little respect for them?

Blumenthal seems to make a habit of ironically distorting the truth in this manner, as evidenced by the following photograph he posted on his Facebook account. It depicts Blumenthal posing as an Orthodox Jew praying to an image of a demonic Netanyahu. 

The sad thing about such feeble attempts at humor is that Blumenthal actually believes that they reflect the truth: that Netanyahu is a demonic figure who felt that 9/11 was "very good", and that religious Jews worship him. That Blumenthal believes such things to be true indicates that, when it comes to Israel, he cannot be taken seriously. If he had a reasonable argument to make on the subject, he simply wouldn't have to resort to deliberate distortions and offensive stunts.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Ron Paul: deather?

Ron Paul has given an interview in which he questioned whether Osama bin Laden was actually killed on Sunday, or if it was a deception produced by a government conspiracy designed to promote the war effort. The interview took place on Tuesday, and was conducted by Diane Rehm of WAMU. (View here.)

Congressman Paul actually chuckled while his interviewer asked him:

What would you say to those who are doubtful that this assassination actually took place, that Osama bin Laden was buried at sea, that we do have photographs, and so on? What would you say about that?

To that he answered:

The question I have is why does our government invite conspiracy theories all the time? Why don't they show a picture? I mean, nobody questions Saddam Hussein's death. They showed pictures, and pictures of his son [sic], and I don't hear any conspiracy theories about that. I mean there was a teeny bit at the beginning. But, why does our government do that?

And I have a medical question -- trying to confirm the timing. I understand he was killed Sunday afternoon, and Sunday, like, 9 o'clock, it was announced that the president would speak and that they had DNA proof of the individual. To my knowledge, I didn't know that they could do DNA proof that quickly. Then they came back and they said, well, we have facial features and we'll get the results of the DNA in later. It's that confusion. And I just sorta talk about it in detail until we get the information. You know, every day you get more information.

When Rehm asked as a follow-up question:

So would you consider yourself among the doubters?

Paul answered:

Well, I wouldn't want to say -- you say "doubter" and all the sudden you're in the conspiracies. I would say that I'm looking for a lot more information, you know. Governments tend to fib. Some people call it "lying" when it comes to war. Sometimes we got to war, in Vietnam or Iraq, with a gross distortion of the reality. So the war propagandists are very much into distorting information to get a consensus with the people. So I'd like to see all the information come in. And look how long it took us to sort out the real cause of Vietnam -- the Pentagon Papers -- that didn't happen. And I was in the service at that time. I didn't know about the Pentagon Papers. So, it was only later on, history has come back to show what really happened in Vietnam.

So Paul is unwilling to directly answer the question as to whether he doubts that bin Laden was killed, but he's more than willing to enumerate his doubts and raise the specter of the entire event being disinformation designed to promote war. That sort of answer is one reason why Ron Paul has such a wide following among the lunatic fringe of conspiracy theorists. He not only won't tell them that their ideas are loony, he frequently holds those ideas himself.

The exchange takes place at 5:30 of the below-embedded video.

Steve Clemons supports Sarah Palin foreign policy changes; strongly opposes Libya intervention

On his blog The Washington Note, Steve Clemons has praised Sarah Palin's recent change of foreign policy advisors, writing that she has turned away from "neocons" who support "interventionist crusading" against Libya, toward "realists" and Libya intervention skeptics. (Read here: Palin Getting out of Neocon Business? - The Washington Note)

He writes that this move has alienated the affections of key Palin backer Bill Kristol, who says that Palin is moving towards an "Obama-Lite" foreign policy. Clemons writes:

This wedge between pugnacious nationalists who disdain international deal-making, and more realistic, national-interest driven assessments of power and costs is a key one. If Sarah Palin is about to become a realist, well, I may have to put some of my problems with her aside ("some" of my problems).

More soon.

Lord knows that Bill Kristol's views on foreign policy are worthy of criticism, but isn't it sad that a commentator with Clemons' reputation has lowered himself to characterizing the NATO action in Libya as an interventionist crusade? He should have to explain that view to the innocent Libyans who Qaddafi had massacred for staging peaceful protests for reform. Qaddafi's crimes against his own citizens are what precipitated NATO's intervention, not, as Clemons would have it, a desire by "neocons" to "crusade".

I can see why now professes a newfound respect for Sarah Palin. Both seem to be searching for easy answers to complex problems.

Bin Laden didn't use human shield

Correcting their earlier reports, the White House has said that Osama bin Laden did not use his wife as a human shield during the Navy Seal attack on his compound.

White House changes Osama bin Laden account - Josh Gerstein and Matt Negrin -

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Cindy Sheehan: "I think 9/11 was an inside job"

Within the past 24 hours, Cindy Sheehan has revealed herself to be a "deather", someone who believes the killing of Osama bin Laden to have been faked as part of a government conspiracy aimed at reelecting Barack Obama. (Read here and here.) I wasn't aware that she is also a truther. (See video below.)

At about 1:45 of the above-embedded video, Sheehan says:

I think that 9/11 was an inside job, I just don't know how far inside it went.

Hamas leader mourns bin Laden

(Hat-tip: ModernityBlog)

Cindy Sheehan: Obama faked bin Laden death to get reelected

Following up on several Facebook postings that she made yesterday alleging that the U.S. government faked Osama bin Laden's death (read here), Cindy Sheehan has written a rambling blog post further detailing her conspiracy theory. (Read here: Cindy Sheehan's Soapbox: I'm not the Deather )

In the post, Sheehan asks why the U.S. would dispose of bin Laden's body at sea, arguing that this indicates concealment of a conspiracy. In fact, the more likely explanation is that the United States simply did not want to create a bin Laden shrine, so instead found a convenient way to dispose of the body within acceptable, if somewhat unusual, Muslim practice.

She also asks (in a somewhat confusing paragraph) whether it was technically possible to conduct conclusive DNA testing so quickly.

The only proof we were offered was Obama telling us that there was a DNA match between the man killed by the Navy SEALS and OBL. I didn’t realize it was possible to get DNA done so quickly, and I can’t imagine where they got a sample to compare with. Did OBL go into the nearest clinic in the past to get his cheek swabbed and then send it to the FBI on Terrorist ID Day? Here’s some more food for thought—one doesn’t have to be dead to have a DNA test done. They don’t kill deadbeat dads to prove paternity, yet.

The logic of that paragraph is a bit shaky, but the real questions behind it -- could DNA testing be done so quickly, and were comparison samples from bin Laden relatives available -- have been answered in the affirmative by those who know.  (Read here and here.)

Sheehan then asks about the motivation for the purported conspiracy:

"Why would the president who can pronounce “nuclear” boldly lie to the world (again) about the US’s convenient enemy? Because the distraction of the Royal Wedding is over and Obama’s policies were beginning to reek? Even people who chastised me for being against the humanitarian bombing of civilians were starting to come around.

The economy is in the toilet and partially due to the new US misadventure in the oil producing world, we are paying four-dollars plus per gallon for fuel. The ongoing Fukushima disaster is too scary for us to think about so we needed something to be jingoistic over and to buy Chinese made American flags so we could dance in the streets?

Many wagging tongues have exulted over the fact that this “triumph” assures Obama’s reelection in 2012—I guess that means that A) He won’t need to raise the one billion dollars his campaign is seeking, and B) The new re-killing of OBL was his campaign kick-off."

Sheehan goes on to say that the U.S. government didn't fake bin Laden's death during the Bush administration because President Bush's credibility was so low that the public would not accept his administration's word about the death. In conclusion, she writes that widespread criticism of her conspiracy theory is a right-wing attempt to abet the conspiracy to deceive the world:

Is the US war of terror against the Arab world now over? All I do know is that this Empire is the Empire of Death—and to call someone who questions the fables, a “Deather” is just blatant demonization and a reactionary response to fortify the fraud.

That is one explanation. A simpler one is that the public, upon hearing a public figure make an outrageous and completely unsubstantiated accusation, looks for points of comparison to put it into perspective. The uncomfortable truth is that bin Laden death skepticism has a great deal in common with Obama birth skepticism. Both birthers and deathers are skeptical of obvious, easily verifiable, truths, yet are credulous of the existence of the most implausible conspiracies. The sad fact is that, when skepticism gets that selective, it verges on paranoia.  It raises concerns that the skeptic has lost touch with the reality of the events about which she has such strong opinions.   To observe this is neither demonizing, reactionary nor indicative of being part of a conspiracy.

Illustration from Cindy Sheehan's blog:

Monday, May 2, 2011

Neo-Nazi activist shot to death by 12-yr-old son, police say

Jeff Russell Hall, 32, was southwestern regional director of the National Socialist Movement, a neo-Nazi group based in Detroit. Police were called to his home at 4:04 a.m. Sunday and found a badly injured Hall lying on a couch, said Lt. Ed Blevins.

Paramedics attempted to revive Hall, but he died at the scene, Blevins said. After interviewing Hall's wife and five children, police booked a minor son on a homicide charge, he said.

Read here: Neo-Nazi father shot to death by young son, police say | L.A. NOW | Los Angeles Times


He died a coward

White House: Osama Bin Laden Used Wife As Human Shield | TPMDC:

"Brennan also identified bin Laden as the combatant who had used a woman as a human shield. She was the only woman who died in the operation, which also killed a courier for bin Laden, the courier's brother, and one of bin Laden's sons, Brennan said. Brennan later said it was his understanding that the woman was one of bin Laden's wives.

'She served as a shield -- this is my understanding -- when she fought back -- when there was an opportunity to get to bin Laden -- she was positioned in a way that she was used as a shield. My understanding was she was one of bin laden's wives,' Brennan told reporters."

Hamas expresses support for bin Laden; calls his killing a crime.

The MP for Change and Reform, Ismail Ashqar, said that the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden is a crime and state terrorism practiced by the United States of America. He argued that he was killed outside the law, and that the U.S. alone is responsible for this crime.

He said in a press statement: "The killing of Osama bin Laden is state terrorism practiced by Americans against Muslims. They could have arrested him and presented him to a fair trial. His killing is a crime in itself and a provocation against Islam and Muslims."


He also said that Hamas agree with bin Laden on some issues and differ with him on other issues.


Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas has denounced the assassination of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.

Haniyeh said during a meeting with reporters in Gaza: "If the news of the death of bin Laden is true, we say that this matter is a continuation of the U.S. policy of murder and oppression and we deplore the assassination of a Mujahid, a Muslim and an Arab man and call upon God to bestow His mercy."

Neturei Karta Try To Burn Israeli Flag On Holocaust Remembrance Day

read here

Drudge Report: bin Laden killing was part of anti-Trump conspiracy


Cindy Sheehan: bin Laden death was faked

Cindy Sheehan has posted on Facebook that she believes Osama bin Laden's death to have been faked by the U.S. government. She writes:

I am sorry, but if you believe the newest death of OBL, you're stupid. Just think to yourself--they paraded Saddam's dead sons around to prove they were dead--why do you suppose they hastily buried this version of OBL at sea? This lying, murderous Empire can only exist with your brainwashed consent--just put your flags away and THINK!


Update (5/2/11 2:45 pm):

As if the tastelessness of her initial post wasn't bad enough, Sheehan has added the following comment to it:

 Cindy Sheehan It's also easier just to swallow the lies of the Empire like Monica Lewinsky swallowed Clinton's sperm. It works for me.
about an hour ago ·  ·  2 people

Update (5/3/11 4:00 AM):

Sheehan has elaborated her views in a rambling blog post. More here.


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