Thursday, August 31, 2006

South Brooklyn state assembly race

It looks like a historic and entertaineing (depending on what you consider entertaining)Democratic primary race for the 46th district of the New York State Assembly has been taking place in Brooklyn this summer:

Brooklyn’s 46th Assembly District appears set to make history. Both candidates vying for the Democratic nomination are Russian-Jewish activists. The district is so heavily Democratic that whoever wins the September 12 party primary is expected to go on to victory in the general election in November. The race pits Alec Brook-Krasny, on leave from his position as founding executive director of the UJA-Federation of New York-funded Council of Jewish Émigré Community Organizations, against Ari Kagan, a longtime journalist for local Russian-language media outlets and community volunteer. This race may be, according to some observers, the first time that a representative of the recent waves of immigrants from the former Soviet Union is elected to a state legislature anywhere in the country.

It looks as though Mother Russia has provided plenty of campaign fodder in the race:

Brook-Krasny and Kagan fall on the same side of the partisan divide, the race has featured plenty of rancor. Brook-Krasny, noting Kagan’s past enrollment in a Soviet military school, said that being a former communist should disqualify Kagan from representing the Russian-Jewish community.

Asked to respond, Kagan lifted this reporter’s tape recorder to his mouth and shouted, “Alec, shame on you!”

Kagan said he graduated from the journalism department of a Soviet military school in 1988. He said he had been a Communist Party member for “a very short period of time during the Gorbachev era.” He explained that one needed to join the party to be a military journalist. Kagan also said that he resigned from the party in 1991 in disgust and was admitted to America as a refugee. “I am proud of my biography,” he said.

For his part, Brook-Krasny has been attacked on the Internet and on fliers posted in Brighton Beach as pro-Putin — and even pro-Hamas — following televised remarks he made about the Russian president’s controversial decision this winter to invite Hamas leaders to Moscow for talks. Brook-Krasny said that, at the time, he felt that the Russian government could help sound out “how far Hamas would go regarding talking with the Israeli government.”

That's one thing those of us who've always lived down south have missed. We've never seen a campaign waged between recently arrived immigrants. I find it fascinating that the old country can play a big role in such a race. It affirms what a diverse nation we have. I'd love to hear more about this race.

Glenn Ford RIP

While visiting with a buddy at his house yesterday evening, I saw a tape of a Glenn Ford movie sitting on top of his microwave. I pointed it out and mentioned that Ford was still alive. Little did I know. I heard Ford mentioned on the radio about a week ago and it surprised me that he was still alive. It's not like I didn't remember him though. My dad liked Ford's TV series "Cade County." It came on late Sunday night, so I couldn't stay up to watch. I remember Glenn Ford though. Maybe it's the name. Over the years I enjoyed his characters. A great actor who stuck around for a 90-year ride. I like this quote from a website dedicated to his career:

Never give up. Take what life throws at you and throw it right back. If life keeps throwing then you have a tennis match going. Learn to like tennis.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Angry crowd jeers Anan in south Beirut

UN chief Kofi Annan only got 50 yards into his walk through a Hezbollah-friendly neighborhood in south Beirut before he got back into his car. There's a good chance that he got a view of Islamofascist propaganda in the Dahiya neighborhood too:

Annan was booed by residents as he toured the devastated Dahiyeh neighborhood in the Hezbollah stronghold of south Beirut. He was greeted by giant posters with photographs of Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and one that had a caricature of Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice with vampire's teeth and blood dripping from the mouth.

The U.N. chief, accompanied by Saniora and a Hezbollah legislator, walked for about 50 yards before the protest became noisy and unfriendly. Annan got back into a car, which drove slowly through the assembled residents with security men running alongside.

Geir Pedersen, Annan's personal representative, was pushed into another car in the motorcade by a bodyguard after some in the crowd mistook him for Jeffrey Feltman, the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon.

If you give the article only a quick skim you might miss this bit of information because it doesn't appear until the AP article's eighth paragraph. The lead information is newsworthy, but I don't think it's nearly significant as the chief of the UN having to retreat to his vehicle as he tours a side of town in Beirut that certainly doesn't appreciate his efforts at achieving long-lasting Middle East peace.

Another interesting item buried near the end of the story concerns a glitch in Turkey's participation in the UN's Lebanon force. Turkey is ready to go. Earlier, Israel indicated it would not accept a predominantly Muslim country in the force if it did not recognize the Jewish state's right to exist. Turkey is an exception in that it recognizes Israel and both countries have had historically friendly realtions with each other. The objections to the Turks comes from Lebanon's Armenian minority, which wants Turkey to admit to committing genocide against its ancestors in the early 20th century.

BTW: I'm not totally sold on the term Islamofascist, but anybody who displays a poster of arguably the world's most powerful black woman portraying her as a vampire is carrying the tradition of Nazi/Fascist propaganda to a new level. Just look at some these from the Nazi-era German publication Die Brennessel. Especially this and this.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Colorado school furls its flags

Amy Oaks, princiapl of Goddard Middle School in Littleton CO, decided to remove thirty foreign flags flying in her school's gym. Her action, or overreaction, came in the wake of the suspension of geography teacher in another school whose principal suspended him after he refused to remove foreign flags on display in his seventh-grade geography classroom.

Oaks seemed uneasy that the Goddard display falls under an exemption allowing the educational flying of foreign flags:

"Perhaps I have a much more cautious interpretation of the law than other people," Oaks said. "I have no idea. I just know that we certainly wouldn't want to be in violation of the state law.
"We don't want it to be anything that anybody would say, 'Do you realize you're violating the law on the wall of your gym?' We don't want that," Oaks said.

Colorado law allows foreign flags in state buildings as part of a temporary display for educational purposes, provided they are not permanently affixed to the building.

The Goddard flags have been up since the 2003-04 school year.

"It kind of feels permanent to me," Oaks said.

Meanwhile, Eric Hamlin, the teacher suspended earlier for his flag display, says he does not want to return to his school even though his school district ruled his display fell under the exemption.

Who knows what happened here? First, it sounds like an unnecessary law. As the Hamlin incident indicates, its enforcement makes the law not worth the trouble. Second, I would question whether there's more at the heart of the dispute between Hamlin and his principal. It seems a rather drastic action for a school to suspend a geography teacher over a flag display. I would think the leader of a school would find a better way to resolve this dispute. Finally, Oaks needs to loosen up and let the flags continue to fly. After all, they are there for the kids not the politicians or media. At least that's the way it should be.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Wondering about that Panther's O

I've been watching the Carolina/Miami game. I don't want my first Panthers post to solely start on a note of concern so I'll start with the positives. The defense looks even better this year. Kris Jenkins makes a big difference in the middle and the Panthers added some bulk to go along with him. The D has shown big play ability this preseason, scoring two touchdowns. The special teams looked very good tonight, forcing a fumbled punt that led to a field goal and D'Angelo Williams returned a kickoff 98-yards for a TD. As usual, John Kasey looks like Mr. Reliable.

Now for the offense. The D and special teams have combined for more TDs than the O. Granted, the Panthers haven't had Steve Smith all preseason. He'll make a difference when he steps on the field. That's what worries me though. Without Smith, the Panthers had a chance to develop more offensive options. While the receiving corps looks stronger, the running game still looks stilted. Is it the backs or is it the line? It's probably a little of both. The first team offense has only scored two TDs this preseason and the back ups have generated zero points. I'll give Miami some credit too. If they're not in the playoff hunt, it'll be disappointing.

Fortunately the season is long and the defense is rock solid, giving the offense some time to refine its game. Still can't wait for the season to begin. Go Panthers.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Cary water cutoff hurts the cash register

The tap water is flowing in Cary again, but it kept the cash drawers empty at the city's resturants. Cary ordered all resturants closed Friday night due to the detection of bacteria in its water supply. Eateries remained closed through the weekend, getting the ok to reopen late Sunday. A Wake County revenue official estimated Cary's food service industry lost $5 to $6 million in business, which means a loss of just under a half-million dollars in county and state tax coffers.

Call it a result of growth. Hope some lessons were learned.

That other guy in the Connecticut senate race

I just caught a Chris Matthew's Harball interview with Connectitcut GOP US Senate nominee Alan Schlesinger. Matthews kept goading him to chunk a barb at the Repub establishment for its backing of Joe Lieberman against Ned Lamont. Schlesinger actually offered up a solid argument on the thinking of the mainstream of his party. While claiming he's a sacrifical lamb, Schlesinger said he doesn't take the snubbing personally. He believes that Republican hopes lie in a Lieberman victory as a sign that the "looney liberal" Democrats will not play well at all with the general population. He says the rub is that they want to do the job with a candidate who is only "half a step away" from Ned Lamont politically.

That's the second Matthews/Schlesinger interview I've heard. During the first one, Matthews continued needling the candidate about his gambling habit. Schlesinger handled it good naturedly. I guess that's a gambler's trait.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Burke Davis RIP

Greensboro writer and historian Burke Davis died this weekend. He wrote numerous histories and biographies of the American Civil War and many other topics of American history. A journalist, he wrote in an authoritive, but entertaining style. Writing like his stirs more interest in history than scholarly tomes, if you ask me.

I left the Greensboro Public Library yesterday with five copies of biographies and histories of the Civil War Davis had written. I have no way of knowing how to pick out a classic Davis paragraph so I'll just quote one that stood out as I skimmed "JEB Stuart: The Last Cavalier." Davis is describing the arrival of Colonel Robert E. Lee and his aide Lt. JEB Stuart as they disembark from the train at Harper's Ferry to end John Brown's raid:

Lieutenant (Israel) Green met Lee and Stuart as they dismounted from the engine. He remembered few details of their appearance. Of Lee: "He was in civilian dress...He wore no beard, except a dark mustache and his hair was slightly gray.

Of Stuart he noticed only the rakish rolled brim of a big brown hat. The young cavalryman was broad in the shoulders, standing about five feet ten inches. The two might have been a pair of merchants on a holiday, for all the concern Lieutenant Green could read in their manner.

That whole chapter is fascinating. It's non-judgmental and gives a great deal of dignity to Brown. That's the kind of writing that got me interested in history.

Don't be ashamed to show off your muscles

Mark Steyn delivers his usual dose of Sunday clarity, encouraging the US to not be afraid to throw its weight around. He points out that in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 GW Bush didn't mind letting countries such as Pakistan and Russia know what needed to be done and that this country expected them to do their part:

What's the difference between September 2001 and now? It's not that anyone "liked" America or that, as the Democrats like to suggest, the country had the world's "sympathy.'' Pakistani generals and the Kremlin don't cave to your demands because they "sympathize.'' They go along because you've succeeded in impressing upon them that they've no choice. Musharraf and Co. weren't scared by America's power but by the fact that America, in the rubble of 9/11, had belatedly found the will to use that power. It is notionally at least as powerful today, but in terms of will we're back to Sept. 10: Nobody thinks America is prepared to use its power. And so Nasrallah and Ahmadinejad and wannabe "strong horses" like Baby Assad cock their snooks with impunity.

He mentions the high stakes in Iraq as well, concluding that supporters of the war should not hesitate to question the Democrat position:

That's not just good politics, but it's actually the heart of the question. Of course, if Bush sneered that John Kerry and Ted Kennedy and Howard Dean and Nancy Pelosi's constant companion is the white flag, they'd huff about how dare he question their patriotism. But, if you can't question their patriotism when they want to lose a war, when can you?....Nitwit Democrats think anything that can be passed off as a failure in Iraq will somehow diminish only Bush and the neocons. In reality -- a concept with which Democrats seem only dimly acquainted -- it would diminish the nation, and all but certainly end the American moment. In late September 2001 the administration succeeded in teaching a critical lesson to tough hombres like Musharraf and Putin: In a scary world, America can be scarier. But it's all a long time ago now.

Bush needs to trust his fighting instincts.

Read it all.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Reds can't overtake Cards

Just wanted to get the word out to Sam Hieb to keep his chin up as the Cincinnati Reds dropped a tough 2-1 decision to St. Louis. A Redlegs victory would have pushed them a half-game ahead of the Cards in the NL Central. Instead, they sit a game-and-a-half back. Albert Pujols's glove and Scott Rolen's bat overcame an intense and noteworthy Ken Griffey Jr. at bat that produced a homer:

Ken Griffey Jr. put Cincinnati ahead in the seventh against Jeff Weaver with his 25th homer of the season. It was also the 561st of his career, which moved him within two of Reggie Jackson for 10th place on the career list.

The drive came after Griffey fouled off six straight pitches on a full count. It was his 1,042nd extra-base hit, breaking a tie with Pete Rose for 20th place.

I know Sam doesn't want to settle for the wild card. There's still hope. It looks like the Reds have some staying power.

Is it Giuliani y'all?

Via Instapundit, Ryan Sager followed around Rudy Giuliani in SC and may have found a Yank warrior who is willing to lay it on the line south of the Mason-Dixon. While many doubt Giuliani's ability to overcome a liberal social outlook among the GOP's rock-ribbed conservatives (for all I know these doubts may well turn to facts), I think he has a great opportunity to win the Repub South. It's national security and foreign policy that fuels my enthusiasm. According to Sager's article, it doesn't look like Rudy's an elephant who'll worry if peanut butter is bad for his heart when it comes to promoting the GOP vision of the war we currently fight:

"I think it's going to happen … we can't keep this country 100% safe," Mr. Giuliani said about the prospect of another terrorist attack on American soil, adding that he's "surprised" we haven't been hit again thus far. What's more, he said, Republicans shouldn't shy away from "politicizing" the War on Terror in fighting the Democrats. "You don't have to politicize a war," he said. "Wars are political … It's our right as Republicans to argue our case … There's a big difference between our party and theirs."

Concerning Giuliani's ability to sweep Southerners off their feet, the Palmetto State is usually a good bellwether. Any Republican who runs strong there is likely to have a better than average shot at winning the nomination. While Fred Butler is just one man, it will take a lot of convincing to make me believe he lurks on the fringe of Sandlapper Repubs:

The crowd responded warmly. As Mr. Giuliani finished taking questions from the audience, Fred Butler, 87 years old, of Greenville, piped up and said he hoped greatly that the former mayor would get into the 2008 GOP contest. "How much do I owe you?" Mr. Giuliani cracked as he wrapped things up.

Mr. Butler, speaking to me after the fundraiser, said that Mr. Giuliani is currently his top choice for the 2008 primary. "I know he did a good job in New York City, and I think he's just a good man," Mr. Butler said. He added, "I think he would garner a lot more votes than anyone I could think of right now."

A retired plant manager, Mr. Butler told me he was prepared to support Senator McCain after his win in New Hampshire in 2000, "but after he made his pitch down here, I voted for Bush." As for Mr. McCain's chances this time around, Mr. Butler doesn't seem particularly ready to give the senator another chance: "He's not as popular as a lot of people think, not as popular now as he was then … I don't think he'll get the nomination."

It would be foolish to pencil in Rudy for residency at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave as it would to do so for any potential candidate at this point. However, unless a wide, gaping fault opens up somewhere along the Turkish-Syrian border eastward to the Pakistani-Indian border and swallows up Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Ayatollah Khameini, Hasan Nasralah, whoever is heading Hamas, Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab Zarqawi (oops, forgot to mark him off the list), Mooqi and the Mahdi, Mullah Omar (almost forgot about him).....as you can see, it's going to have to be a right deep hole, national security will be the issue of the '08 campaign. On second thought, a gargantuan tectonic shift won't be enough. It'll have to be combined with some sort of alien-karmic shifting ray aimed from some planet that was unseen by the Hubbel at Europe that'll make the Old Country reconnect with its long-lost sense of humor to stuff national security in the trunk.

Nonetheless, as you may now know, I believe national security will deprive other issues of much needed oxygen in '08. Right now I'm with Fred Butler. I don't see a candidate in either party who approaches the strengths of Giuliani on national security and ability to gain votes. My Rudy vibe may well be ill-conceived. He's facing two years of hard work if he hopes to succeed and a lot changes over two years, but I'm willing to take the bet to Vegas. You've got to have some fun with politics.

Read a reallly swell article.

Update: Guarino has post on the Sager article too. He's not ready to join Fred and me on the Strip.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Stick to a rabbit's foot

A Peruvian man died after drinking a potion to ward off his family's run of bad luck. Just a look at the picture accompanying the story satisfies my curiousity. I'll take my chances with bad luck.

Would a leftist adminstration be ambidextrous?

John Hinderaker at Power Line sizes up a potential Left-wing Democratic administration. He doesn't think the result will lead to the Europeanization of American foreign policy:

Lest there be any misunderstanding, I am not saying that there would be no important foreign policy differences between, say, a Feingold administration and a McCain, Allen or Giuliani administration. There would be. But I think the practical reality is that events in Iraq have constrained what a conservative administration can do, while the overriding need to forestall terrorist attacks constrains what a liberal administration can do. As a result, the gap in practice between the two alternatives would be, I think, much narrower than one might expect from the rhetorical gulf that separates the parties.

Read it all.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Cossacks and Israel

Via Opinion Journal, Cossack leaders in Ukraine have pledged support to Israel in its fight against terrorism. This is quite a reversal. During the 17th century, Cossacks led a brutal campaign against Ukraine's Jewish population, killing an estimated 100,000. Time takes care of many things. This news is certainly welcome.

Also via OJ, a brief history of Judaism in Ukraine.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Baaaaaaa

I missed Andrew Sullivan's first post on Shia Islam, sex and cloven-hoofed animals, but I'm glad I caught his follow up today. Call them Islamofascists or get concerned if GW Bush calls them such, but I'll paraphrase Don Knotts's portrayal of Barney Fife's assessment of Ernest T. Bass's mental health to say it, "They're nuts." Imagine that. With these guys not only is Playboy out, so are naked goats.

BTW: Who knows if Andrew Sullivan is right in making his comparison on the sexual views of fundamentalist Christian and Muslim men, but I find his arguments trying to equate Christian fundamentalism with Islamic zealotry tiresome.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Dont' wake me, I'm dreaming

Victor Davis Hanson and Martin Sherman attempt to rally a West that's too groggy from an overextended siesta.

Hanson pours warm water in the collective hand of the West by proposing six "surreal rules" of war. Few of us escape a place in this satirical dream world. I got the biggest kick out out of rule 5:

To fight in the Middle East, the United States and Israel must enlist China, Russia, Europe, or any nation in the Arab world to fight its wars. China has killed tens of thousands in Tibet in a ruthless war leading to occupation and annexation. Russia leveled Grozny and obliterated Chechnyans. Europeans helped to bomb Belgrade, where hundreds of civilians were lost to “collateral damage.” Egyptians gassed Yemenis; Iraqis gassed Kurds; Iraqis gassed Iranians; Syrians murdered thousands of men, women, and children in Hama; Jordanians slaughtered thousands of Palestinians. None received much lasting, if any, global condemnation. In the sick moral calculus of the world’s attention span, a terrorist who commits suicide in Guantanamo Bay always merits at least 500 dead Kurds, 1,000 Chechnyans, or 10,000 Tibetans. To win these wars, we need to outsource the job to those who can fight them with impunity.

Sherman pinpoints a stream of ice-cold water on two decades of sleepwalking Israeli elites. He aims the biggest chunk of ice on the forehead of the political elite, especially the Ehud Olmert- led government and its conduct of the current war with Hezbollah:

As the government dithered, its weakness and hesitancy began to take heavy toll on a range of vital national interests – degrading Israel's deterrent posture in the Arab world, eroding the Arab fear of the consequences of attack on Israel's civilian population centers and infrastructure; accumulating diplomatic damage via continual bombing of Lebanon which did little to quell the deluge of rockets on Israeli civilians, but much to stir up international condemnation; fomenting growing anger across the Moslem world – and hence pressure - on regimes that tacitly endorsed a swift crushing of Hizbullah; and perhaps most disturbingly, undermining the US perception of Israel's military prowess and hence of its value as an ally.

On Sherman's last point, I appreciate his concern about America, but I believe we've let Israel down as well.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Lighten up and let him light up

An actor in Scotland did not follow through on his plan to light his cigar in a play where he portrayed Winston Churchill. Mel Smith said he would light the cigar in defiance of a threat by Scottish officials to shut down the theater running the play if he did, claiming the lit cigar would defy Scotland's tough anti-smoking ordinance. Smith backed off not wanting to see the theater closed.

Sportsmen oppose drilling in Wyoming; the Triple Crown angle

Some Wyoming hunting outfitters are opposing a plan for energy development on the state's range land. Outfitters such as Justin Child depend on the land for their livelihoods and have joined in an unlikely alliance with environmentalists on this issue:

Child doesn't look like an environmentalist. He doesn't wear Birkenstocks, tie-dye shirts or a peace sign tied around his neck with a length of hemp rope. He looks and talks more like a rancher, with a cowboy hat and a weathered face. Child doesn't really act like an environmentalist either. Instead of ambushing mink coats with cans of spray paint, Child makes a living leading hunters into the woods to kill elk, deer, moose, antelope and mountain lions.

It is an interesting story, but I'll to admit the lead describing the horse the reporter rode while covering the story is what sucked me in:

At nearly 10,000 feet in the Wyoming Range, I'm riding Secretariat's love child -- or rather, love descendant -- Boots. The amorous Triple Crown winner apparently hopped a fence to pursue Boots' grandmother or great-grandmother, who despite her unremarkable breeding still swayed the oversized heart of the world's most famous racehorse.

Dixie Chicks cancel, postpone and add show dates

The Dixie Chicks announced today that the band has dropped 14 dates on its current tour. Lackluster sales at sites, mostly in the South and Midwest, led to the decision. Memphis, Houston, St. Louis and Knoxville are among the canceled dates. Shows in Nashville, Denver and Phoenix were postponed to later dates. A spokeswoman for the group said new dates have been added in Canada. The group also plans to spend some time promoting its film, "The Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing," which will debut at the Toronto International Film Festival next month.

At this point, no dramatic quotes attributed to the Chicks or their detractors.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

RIP WFMX

I learned of this a little late, but country station WFMX, 105.7, is no more. After becoming wholly-owned by Clear Channel, the station no longer broadcasts from Statesville. Instead, it is now part of Clear Channel's Greensboro group of stations.

A twinge of loss came at hearing the news. I grew up in Statesville on Carolina Avenue North, just down the street from the WFMX studio and tower on Radio Road. As a child of the seventies, I never admitted to listening to FMX. Back then not only was it country, it was your granddaddy's country. Flatt and Scruggs, Homer and Jethro and Jim and Jesse held spots on the regular playlist. You could hear obits several times a day. They were among the first FM stations to regularly broadcast NASCAR. While I never admitted to listening, sometimes I didn't have any choice. My dad ruled the radio on family rides. Even though it wasn't his only station, when he wanted to listen to it that's where the dial stayed. Also, being so close to the tower, we could pick it up on at least half a dozen spots on the dials of our radios at home.

The station went corporate in the late '80s or early '90s and was pretty much indistinguishable from the pat country formats. However, they continued to play a great bluegrass show hosted by Hoyt Herbert, considered one of the country's best bluegrass DJs. I kept it programmed into my truck's radio for Herbert's show and a little hometown nostalgia.

Now we have KISS-FM at 105.7, I can't recall the new call letters, but WFMX does hold a place in radio history. It is believed to be the first all country formatted FM station in the US. It also had one of the strongest FM signals in the state, reaching into the mountains and eastward to the edge of the Triangle. Now it's gone. I guess they'll say the same for the rest of us one these days too. Hope the memories are as fond.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Kathleen Parker on the Christianists

As I wrote in my last post, the interest in the tight bond between many American evangelicals and Israel is evident on the web. Kathleen Parker takes her turn and dismisses, among other things, the notion that Armageddon-waiting End Timers have significant influence on US Mideast policy.

She rejects the arguments of those who tred on the mushy soil of moral relativism by comparing evangelicals to radical Islamists:

Although both groups may be "true believers,'' those who try to connect the dots of Christian belief, specifically evangelical Christianity, to Islamism seem willing to overlook the fact that Islamists praise Allah and fly airplanes into buildings while Christianists praise Jesus and pass the mustard.

And though both groups of people may use scripture to shape their approach to the public square, Islamist interpretation of doctrine permits religious expression through suicide-murder, beheadings, public stonings (preferably of women) and Jew-hating, while Christianist doctrine deals in such wimpy notions as forgiveness, tolerance, redemption and cheek-turning. Weirdos.

She believes those, such as the Rev. John Hagee, who believe the current Mideast struggles are playing into the End Times scenario carry little clout with the Bush administration and other Christians:

Doubtless Hagee holds his audiences in thrall, but that audience does not happen to include George W. Bush or even (cue thunderclouds) Karl Rove. Nor millions of other Christians. Despite what the anti-Christianists seem to believe, the evangelical movement is not monolithic on such issues and Hagee doesn't have an office in the State Department.

In fact, at one White House meeting with about 35 evangelical leaders, one participant told me Hagee said nary a word. Even if he had, no one in the Bush administration is listening.

I like her conclusion too:

In other words, pro-Israel policy decisions are based on our long-standing support of America's democratic ally in the Middle East, not some theological imperative as divined through an eschatological grid. Or even an "8'' ball.

Nevertheless, Republicans are happy to get votes where they can. Which is to say: If Hagee were urging his congregation to tithe money to fight global warming based on some apocalyptic interpretation of Scripture, does anyone really think that Al Gore would decline the check?

Here's the whole thing.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Christian-Zionism; is it really all about the end times?

The topic of the so-called Christian-Zionist movement got a thorough look at Ed Cone's last week, but it's a topic still generatng interest on the web. (Just google jews christians israel). Today Bill Berkowitz, a skeptic of the movement, looks at Andrew Brog, a Jew and former chief of staff for Sen. Arlen Specter, who was recently named executive director of Christians United for Israel, an evangelical Christian organization founded by the Rev. John Hagee.

In addition to putting the spotlight on Brog, Berkowitz is taken aback by the fact that many in Christian-Zionist movement believe in the end times prophecy found in the book of Revelation, a concern shared by Cone. I can understand how this would lead many to take pause. Hearing the stories of Armageddon and the end scared me to death. I was relieved when I heard Richard Pryor's take on the whole thing. However, I don't believe this is what lies at the heart of the tightening bond between evangelicals and Israel.

I think the alliance is rooted in the belief that both groups realize how vital the pillar of spiritual belief is in creating the energetic societies in which they live. While not the sole reason for the dynamism of Israel and the US, it's hard to imagine either country without the vibrancy of Judaism and Christianity. I think it is this belief that has more influence on US foreign policy toward Israel and the Mideast rather than prepping the ground for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

Tomatoes love that heat: mid to late summer reflections in the backyard

While many may lament the current heat wave, the four tomato plants in my backyard are flourishing. The leaves are taking a beating, but the fruit ripens rapidly. After an evening inspection, green tomaotes that I expect to take a few more days to ripen are hanging red or yellow the next morning.

At one time, I had better knowledge of tomato varieties. After taking off a few years from tomato raising, my index has become muddled. This year I know for sure where my Big Boy and Rutgers plants are. The Big Boy is one of the more prodigious varieties and can produce one pound whoppers. The Rutgers, invented at Rutgers University for the Campbell's Soup company, produces a hearty orangish-red tomato that withstands most diseases and cracking.

I also have a yellow tomato, but I can't recall which variety. Besides adding color, most yellow tomatoes are not as acidic as red or pink ones. The acid sometimes gives the fruit a pungent taste, making many tomato-averse. I recommend a yellow tomato as a way to entice the tomato hater into the summer bliss of tomato sandwiches. I'd also start them out with a BLT rather than a straight 'mater.

I thought my fourth plant was either a Mountain Pride or Mountain Delight. However, these two are more red than pink and are considered among the most crack-resistant tomatoes. These are pink and every one I've picked so far has had some cracking, a sign of too much water intake. It has to be a drainage or a shade thing because I haven't watered in more than a month. This plant is more shaded than the other three if that has anything do with it. Nonetheless, I just cut out the cracked areas and the fruit tastes fine.

Other than the cracking, tomato health has been fine, but this morning I saw a slime trail on a bottom branch of the Big Boy. Slugs helped themselves to a midnight snack of one ripe and one green boy. I'm going to set out the beer. I'll have to position it so the dog doesn't lap it up. I'll welcome other suggestions either on slug resistance or canine beer lapping.

The mayonaise is going fast and my bread intake has increased greatly, but I've grown more partial to cooked fresh tomatoes. I've gotten my best tasting salsa this year by sauteeing the tomatoes with onion and slicing in a couple of cloves of garlic. Keep the pepper raw, throw in a few leaves of basil and give it a thirty-second ride in the blender. When you pull off the top, (make sure you've turned off the blender), you're greeted with a quite pleasant spicy steam of summer freshness. I think I'll do the same for pasta sauce, but will replace the hot pepper with sweet.

At the current yield, I'm sure I'll reach my fill as summer winds down though I'll miss them much when they're gone.

If only

I watched a portion of Washington Journal on C-SPAN this morning featuring Israeli General Moshe Yaalon. A caller from Ohio attempted to set it all straight. After spending most of her call denouncing all things Israeli, she came up with a solution. Remove all Jewish-American officeholders from power and bar any future office holding among Jewish Americans. This will unwed the country from Israel and solve our Mideast problems. Even without the Jew-bashing, this type of thinking about Israel and the US is not isolated, but it seems too shallow to be taken seriously.

Technical situation better

While my Roadrunner is still not moving at high-speed speed, I'm at least not getting knocked off line every five minutes. There may be help on the way.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

If a tree falls in the forest and nobody's there to hear it....

Maybe the question has already been answered and I missed it, but I think I can now at least speak somewhat authoritatively on the subject of trees falling in the forest. Yesterday as I hiked along the Moore's Wall trail at Hanging Rock, I stopped to take in the scenery. Almost as soon as I stopped, I heard terrific rustling in a tree. I prepared to see some big bird fly out of a tree. Instead, I see a swaying tree top and the next thing I know, the tree comes crashing down a safe distance away. Apparently a storm had already battered the tree and its time to go had come. I now say that a tree makes a sound even if no one is around.

Living in the age of high tech

My blogging hiatus has been a little longer than expected. After getting back to town, I hoped to get back to blogging. However, I'm having problems with my internet connection. I called Time Warner today and a modem check revealed a weak signal. They're supposed to come tomorrow, that is, if I'm able to answer my cell phone when they call to say they're thirty minutes away. My cell phone rings most of the time, but sometimes it doesn't. It's a new phone and I haven't quite figured it all out yet. I'm not counting on figuring out this high tech lifestyle any time soon.