Monday, December 21, 2009

Banning Christmas in Jerusalem

Banning Christmas in Jerusalem
©2009 David Talbot

This may sound like an unlikely topic for a Jewish guy to be writing about. Especially if he happens to be an Orthodox Zionist Jew. But this news has got me riled up. Here’s the background to this story.

Rabbi Brad Hershfeld writes in his “Windows and Doors” blog, that a group called “Lobby for Jewish Values,“ is handing out fliers condemning Christmas, pushing for a ban on all public displays of Christmas trees and other "foolish" Christian symbols and asking the public to boycott restaurants and other public institutions which do so..”

In addition to the fliers, “Lobby for Jewish Values” has been printing and distributing the name and locations of restaurants as a guide, and has enlisted the help of one of the groups who grant Kashrut licenses to restaurants and stores selling food and other products. With out those licenses, observant Jews who keep kosher, can not patronize these establishments.

“Have the abused become the abusers?” asks Rabbi Hershfeld.

The issue brings up a fundamental political dilemma for Israel. “The Jewish state wants to be two things: A Jewish state and a free democratic state.” Writes Morten Berthelsen in, on December 21st. But if all Israelis were to celebrate Christmas, can it still be called a Jewish State? Or, if all Christmas celebrations and symbols are removed, can it be called a free democratic state?

Political issues aside, “Lobby for Jewish Values” ideas seem to be in direct conflict with most Jewish values as expressed in Torah, and by our sages. In more than one section of the Torah, we are told not to “mistreat the strangers among you for you were once a stranger in Egypt.” Does the removal of objects and symbols sacred to Christians equate with “mistreatment”? I think so. Have our sages not decreed that any non-Jew who follows the Noahide commandments has a place in the world to come? And have not our Torah and our sages repeatedly stated to “treat every person the way you would wish to be treated”? Yes, on both counts.

As we just finished the celebration of Chanukah, where a small army of Jews fought for the right to worship according to their beliefs, against a society determined to strip them of their symbols and customs, can we really support such a movement to do exactly to our Christian Israelis what Antiocus tried to do unto us? I can’t.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


David Talbot

Monday, November 30, 2009

Compulsory Military Service?

Compulsory Military Service?
©2009 David Talbot

I remember when I was a teenager, back in the 60’s. The traditional rite of passage for young men was reaching their 18th birthday, marching down to the Post Office, and registering for the draft. I was proud to register, and so were all my friends.

Somewhere in the late 60’s, serving in the military went out of fashion and the draft was discontinued. We all know the reasons: Vietnam, counter-culture, sex, drugs, and rock and roll. We lost our innocence in the 60’s and never got it back. The all-volunteer Army was born.

Since the 60’s a lot has happened to America and the spirit of serving our country. We have become a country of “What’s in it for me” instead of “What you can do for your country.” Fortunately, the US Military has been able to attract enough volunteers to man the “peacetime” service. But something is missing.

What’s missing is the spirit of service that we all had, back when I was young. And the country is suffering for it. Is there anyplace on earth that still has a system of compulsory military service?

Before I answer that question, here’s a test: What country has more companies on the Nasdaq than all of Europe, India, China, Korea, and Japan, combined? What country has global venture capital 2.5 times the United States and 30 times Europe?

According to Dan Senor’s new book[1], the answer to the above is Israel, tiny Israel, with a population of 7,400,000 residents living in a country the size of New Jersey. So, what does this have to do with compulsory military service?

In Israel, every high school graduate (with very few exceptions) are obligated to join the Israeli Military: males for 3 years and females for 2 years. These 21 year old men and women return from military service and resume their college or university educations, with real world experience and a drive to become leaders in Israeli society and business.

Israel’s corporate CEO’s, Managers, and Investors have become very astute in reading military resumes, in addition to college transcripts. They’ve become experts in finding the talent for running their firms in an environment of constant threats from Israel’s neighbors, no natural resources, and no internal energy sources.

At 25 years of age, these college graduates are individuals whose management skills were tested on the battlefield. They learned decision making skills, based on incomplete and sometimes contradictory information, and will sacrifice their current creature comforts for the success of a long term project. The talents these individuals learn in their military service carries them from the battlefield to the classroom, and from the classroom to the corporate environment.

Mr. Senor interviewed CEO’s of Ebay, Intel, Google, and Cisco (Which has purchased 9 Israeli start-ups this year), requesting a comparison of recent graduates of American and Israeli Universities. With out exception, these CEO’s replied they would select an Israeli over an American, hands down. Due in large part to the Israeli military experience.

On a recent CNBC Economic presentation, Mr. Senor was asked if the Israeli success was due, in part, to the political environment in Israel. To which he replied: “The U.S. and Israel are moving in opposite directions.” Israel , especially since 1990 has moved from a more socialist environment that was stagnant for a couple of decades, to a more entrepreneurial system encouraging a higher percentage investment of their GDP in new and innovative ventures than the United States.

In conclusion, am I recommending a resumption of the Military Draft for America? No, is the short answer. But, there are a few things we must do if we are to resume our position as the world leader in start-up, innovative business applications. “Start-Up Nation” is a good place to start.

Anyway, that’s my opinion.


[1] Start-Up Nation, The story of Israel’s Economic Miracle.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Jewish Calendar

The Jewish Calendar
©2009 By David Talbot

Here’s something people ask me all the time: “Why do Jewish Holidays fall on different days each year?” There is a simple answer. But, like most things Jewish, I am going to make it more complicated.

The simple answer is that the Jewish calendar is based on the cycles of the moon (A lunar calendar). The Gregorian calendar is based on the cycles of the Sun (A solar calendar). Now we, here and around the world that rely on the Gregorian solar calendar, know the earth revolves around the sun every 365.25 days a year. That pesky little extra causes us to add one day to February, every four years. Why February? My guess is that in Roman times, February was the last month of the year. So it was convenient to add it at the end of February.

But the lunar calendar is totally different. The lunar cycle is about 29.5 days. And the Jewish Calendar has 12 months with 12 lunar cycles resulting in a Jewish year having 355 days. Some months have 29 days and some have 30. So, every 3 years, in stead of adding a day, Jewish calendars add an entire month, the month of Adar (more or less around February).

The Muslim calendar is also based on lunar cycles. But their approach is to simply come to the end of the year and start over, not adding days or months. The result is that any particular Muslim holiday, such as Ramadan, may occur in Winter, Spring, Fall or Summer.

So, the question is, why does the Jewish calendar require periodic resetting? The answer is in the nature of the Jewish Holidays through out the year. Many Jewish holidays are linked to agricultural events, like the planting or harvesting of crops. So these festivals need to be at specific times in the agricultural cycle. As a result, unlike the Muslim calendar, the Jewish calendar must be re-set so that Passover always occurs in the Spring and Succoth in the Fall.

The fact that Jewish holidays do not always fall on the same dates on the Gregorian calendar is simply a matter of the difference in the number of solar days vs. the number of lunar days in the respective calendars.

Of course, I always answer the question (“Why do Jewish Holidays fall on different days each year?”) with the following example: Chanukah always falls on the same day every year, the 25th of Kislev, on my calendar.


Saturday, November 07, 2009

More Thoughts on the Middle East

More Thoughts on the Middle East
©2009 David Talbot

There is an old expression, “No good deed goes unpunished!” I can’t remember the last time I heard it, but I thought about it this week as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton praised Israeli PM Netanyahu’s concession on settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Her praise was not for what it lacked (a complete freeze) but for the easing of the Israeli position. In other words, it was a start.

Of course, any praise of Israel, no matter how feint, is cause for an immediate knee jerk reaction by the Arab world. The outcry was so great that Secretary Clinton had to “explain” her comments at her next stop in Morocco.

Unfortunately, any progress in the Arab world by President Obama’s apology tour and pronunciation that America is not a Christian nation has been squandered. The current perception in the Arab world, as seen on all the news channels last week, is that the USA has done a flip and is now back to it’s unilateral support of Israel.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, has signaled that he is not going to run for office because of the impasse in peace negotiations. Peace negotiations for the Palestinian leadership means: either the Israeli’s give in to all it’s demands, or we won’t come to the table.

The situation for the United states in the Middle East is not unique. We do not have a clearly formulated policy, that reflects our position on the goal of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In fact, we do not have a clearly formulated policy on North Korea, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia, or any other situation on earth. This lack of a cohesive foreign policy emboldens our enemies and confuses our friends.

We jump on Israel for defending themselves. Yet, we have not figured out how to deal with the unstable governments in Pyongyang and Tehran who are not only actively building nuclear armament facilities, but are also the main suppliers of terrorists around the world. Just this week Israel intercepted an Iranian vessel carrying tons of munitions to those “peaceful” Hezbollah terrorists.

If the Obama administration in Washington does not get it’s foreign policy act together, and soon, the next 3 years will be very dangerous for us, at home and abroad. At some point, the powder keg will be ignited by our only ally in the Middle East, Israel, for it’s own survival. Even Israel has come to understand: with friends like us, who needs enemies?

Anyway, that’s my opinion.

Next Week: Why do Jewish Holidays fall on different days every year?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009 v3.2

Home Sweet Home, Part 2
©2009 David Talbot

Last week I finished Part 1 with the following: Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule?

Part 2
In a recent Wall Street Journal Opinion piece[1], R. James Woolsey, a former director of Central Intelligence under President Clinton, posed this very question to Salam Fayyad, acting Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority. His answer was surprising and provides the framework for a complete change in focus of the Arab-Israeli conflict over Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

For the first time in the history of the conflict, an acting Palestinian Prime Minister indicated , "I'm not someone who will say that they would or should be treated differently than Israeli Arabs are treated in Israel….[2]” This idea of Jews and Arabs living together only exists today in Israel and a few countries where a very small population of Jews live in tenuous peace with their neighbors.

The shift, if it matures into law in the West Bank, would establish a new paradigm in the “settlement” negotiations. Under a Palestinian State, the West Bank would transfer from Israeli to Palestinian authority. And, Jewish Settlements would now make up about 10% of the total population in Palestine.

The fighting between Israel and the P.A. about settlements would disappear. U.S. pressure on Israel would cease, and the only question would be the security of both Palestinians and Jews living together, just as they do now in Israel.

This solution would take a lot of soul searching on both sides. Israel would give up disputed territory, but not dismantle settlements. Palestinians would amend sections of their charter providing civil rights to all citizens, including property rights, and recognize Israel’s right to exist.

This solution could also ease tensions with other neighbors in the region, namely Jordan and Egypt. These are countries have benefited from a political relationship with Israel, but face internal pressures from communities and religious groups to support the Palestinians.

My opinion… could work. But given the atmosphere all over the Middle East, it would take a miracle. But, it is the Holy Land……

[1] Opinion, Wall Street Journal Online, October 11, 2009
[2] Ibid

Friday, October 16, 2009 v3.1

Home Sweet Home (Part 1)
© 2009 David Talbot

Here’s something to think about: Jews hate Muslims and Muslims hate Jews, and therefore they live together in peace in the Bellevelle neighborhood, northwest of Paris, France.

Say whaaaat? They live in peace? Together? In Paris?

Actually, the Belleville section of Paris has been home to North African Muslims, Jews, and Berbers for around 50 years, more or less. In a recent article in JTA, Ilan Moss describes the neighbors of this community as, “…being fiercely proud of the climate of tolerance in their neighborhood¹” And, they complain that the press is only interested in the sensationalism of anti-Semitism.

How do they do it? Real simple, they all came from similar cultures in Tunisia, where they lived, worked, and raised families, in peace for centuries. But more than similar cultures, in North Africa and in France; these families were then, and are now, fully integrated in the community. They work together, play together, and break bread together: no separate schools, no separate governing bodies, and no separate social activities.

And in Israel, all citizens have equal rights, including the right to pray as they choose: Jews, Muslims, and Christians. But are all citizens fully integrated in mainstream Israeli society. Well, no. It is true there are isolated communities where Jews and Muslims live together in peace. But it is the exception, not the rule. Most communities in Israel are segregated with Arabs and Jews living close to each other, but not together.

However, there is hope things are changing. “In 1997, Hand in Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education is Israel was founded to build peace between Jews and Arabs in Israel through development of bilingual and multi-cultural schools2.” Since 1997 schools have been built in Jerusalem, Galilee, Wadi Ara, and Beersheva. For a complete report and update of how this organization is building communities check out their web site at:

There is a second part to this story. The West Bank and East Jerusalem, where Israeli’s have built settlements following the 1967 war, is the focal point of The Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and the Obama Administration. They want no Jewish settlements, indeed, they want no Jews at all in these territories.

Can somebody explain why 20% of Israel’s citizens (Arabs) can live in peace in Israel, and less than 10% of the West Bank and East Jerusalem citizens can’t do the same under Palestinian rule? See Part 2, next week.

¹ JTA, September 22, 2009

Monday, October 12, 2009 v2.0

©2009 David Talbot

I was having a chat with my sister-in-law, 6 months ago, about the holiday season. For us it was about Chanukah, the festival of lights. We spoke of the traditional holiday dishes like latkes (potato pancakes) and lighting the Chanukah Menorah, the traditional candelabra that Jews use to remember the miracle that occurred about 2,200 years ago. Susan told me that lighting the Chanukah Menorah, was what she missed most.

In December 2000, my brother was stricken with a terrible ailment that left him totally disabled and dependant on various medications. Because of his disability, the family cannot have an open flame in his room, so it’s Chanukah without the Menorah. If you are a Christian, think of Christmas trees with out any ornaments or lights. It just wouldn’t be the same. Thus Susan’s lament.

My solution: in addition to our collection of traditional menorahs, we have an Electric Menorah. It isn’t really a substitute for candles, but at least you will have a representation of the traditional menorah--we’ll send you ours. From this conversation a project was born, the Electric Menorah Project.

The goal of the Project is to give, free of any charge, an Electric Menorah to Jews in Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Hospice facilities, or Disabled at home, where an open flame is not possible. Silvia and I took care of all expenses (not that many.) We asked our Rabbi to supervise us.

We composed an email list of about 500 old Army and National Guard buddies, relatives, friends, and friends of friends, and asked for their help. To date, we have received sufficient donated funds to provide about 20 Menorahs this Chanukah, to Arizona families. In addition, two electric Menorahs were sent to us for placement.

Here’s what I learned from the past six months. We learned that our friends were more generous that we had imagined---shame on us. We learned that very few folks resented the monthly solicitations and updates--only 2 people asked us to stop the contact. And, we learned that Christians do support “Jewish” causes as 90% of the donations came from our non-Jewish friends.

On our BLOG we encourage others to copy our project in their home towns. Two of our friends have inquired about starting projects, one in Florida, and one in Washington.

If you’d like more information about the Electric Menorah Project, you can find us at: or email the project at:

Monday, October 05, 2009

The Talbot Plan for National Healthcare

Ya know folks, we already have mandated Health Insurance for all employers with common law employees. All employees are covered and the policy covers Health Insurance, Disability Income Insurance, and Life Insurance. And in most states there is a Government Option which competes with private insurers. Owner-employees can participate if they wish. What is this plan called? Workers Compensation. It is not federally mandated, is slightly different from state to state, and rates are based on the nature of the business risk and experience of the group. And, for the most part, employers are not liable for most work related accidents, injuries, or deaths.

Here's my suggestion for health care: Superimpose non-occupational Health, disability and Life insurance on existing Work Comp. Mandate each state to develop, with its State Department of Industrial Compensation, a formula to integrate all non-working, legal residents, within their jurisdictions, for Health, Life, and Disability Insurance. Then, invite bids from the carriers doing business in each state, with the Federal Government providing catastrophic stop-loss coverage at some predetermined level (Like $250,000). State Compensation Funds will compete with Private Insurance companies---as they do now. Employees would pay the premium for the superimposed coverage, and non-employed legal residents would pay the premium stated by the company, or the State Fund, which ever they choose, for 24 hour coverage. Insurance Companies, which are supervised by the states, are free, within reason, to set rates and still earn a profit. Individuals are free to select the Doc/Hospital of their choice. Treatment options would be determined by the insurance company, but an insured is free to shop companies. As in W/C, all are covered on day 1 and pre-existing ailments must be covered. Tort Liability would be the same as industrial compensation, as regulated by the state.

I know this may sound convoluted, but I think its workable, would provide for regional differences in risks, occupational hazards, and income levels.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009 v1.0

This is my first attempt at writing a piece for an online magazine. I wish all the folks at all the best in getting an informative, useful, news source online.

I will be writing periodic articles on religion and current events from a Jewish perspective, something you probably lt won’t see in the mainstream press. While I’m not affiliated with any particular Jewish organization or movement, I plan to be as accurate as possible, and to provide you, the reader, with current interest topics from a Jewish point of view.

However, as the old saying goes, if you want three opinions on any topic, ask two Jews one question. So, I will tell you now, and probably at the end of every article, all opinions expressed here are my own. They will not, necessarily, represent the opinions of It is very possible, on any given topic, they may conflict with one Jewish Group or another.

Now, having given you all the disclaimers, let me tell you a little about me. I am 65, been married for 46 years to my highschool sweetheart, and was born into an Orthodox Jewish Family. After my Bar Mitzvah at age 13, I basically stopped believing in organized religion and simply coasted through life, until 3 years ago when I felt called to return to my roots. It has been an interesting journey, which at times has seemed impossible to regain 49 lost spiritual years….but I am catching up.

Last, for now, I’d like to know what may be on your mind. Sort of, “What you always wanted to know about Jews, Judiasm, or Israel, but didn’t know whom to ask..” No question asked will be off limits. Just be respectful and I’ll make every effort to answer you in the same way. Send your questions to me at Please mention that you saw my article in, and if you wish an email response. Unless you specifically state, in writing, that you want your name mentioned in an article, I will not publish or reveal it to anyone.


David Talbot

Saturday, May 30, 2009

No Change: Obama Appoints Big Donors as Ambassadors
Friday, May 29, 2009 8:20 AM

WASHINGTON – Despite his promises of change, President Barack Obama has kept tradition by naming top donors to plum ambassador posts, drawing fire from career US diplomats and causing dismay among some US allies.

Obama has been criticized for naming fund raisers with no diplomatic experience - and who together drummed up well over a million dollars for his record-shattering campaign - to be ambassadors to Britain, France and Japan.

"It's an 18th-century practice we are continuing which no other major democratic country does," said Ronald Neumann, a veteran ambassador and head of the American Academy of Diplomacy, a lobby of former senior diplomats. "It's not 'change you can believe in,' but it's not terribly surprising," said Neumann, referring to Obama's campaign slogan.

Obama named Louis Susman, a former Citigroup banker in Chicago once dubbed the "vacuum cleaner" for his prowess sucking up money, as ambassador to London. Obama also tapped two major California fund raisers - naming Charles Rivkin, the former producer of "The Muppets" children show, to Paris and Silicon Valley lawyer John Roos to Tokyo.

White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Thursday defended the picks, noting that Obama also
appointed respected figures such as former congressman Timothy Roemer as ambassador to India.

"It would be disingenuous for me to suggest that there are not going to be some excellent public
servants ... who haven't come through the ranks of civil service," Gibbs said.

British newspapers described Obama's appointment to London as "cronyism." Some dailies had
speculated hopefully that the US president would pick one of his more glamorous friends - Oprah Winfrey.

While US ambassador residences in London and Paris have long been retreats for presidents' wealthy friends, Tokyo has been used to heavy hitters including former vice president Walter Mondale, former Senate majority leaders Mike Mansfield and Howard Baker and ex-House speaker Tom Foley. Many Japanese are nervous that the United States will ignore its longstanding Asian ally as it builds ties with a rapidly growing China.

While Tokyo publicly welcomed Roos' appointment, one Japanese magazine worried that Obama was "Japan-passing" - opposed to US "Japan-bashing" during the 1980s trade wars.

Tokyo-based analyst Robert Dujarric said Japanese worry that Roos is "lightweight" compared with Obama's pick for Beijing, Utah Governor Jon Huntsman - a Mandarin speaker who some eye as a future president himself.

"It's a symptom of Japan's anxiety over its future, its ties with America and being overshadowed by China," said Dujarric, director of Temple University's Institute of Contemporary Japanese Studies.

"Hence the trauma of a senior politician going to Beijing compared with a guy in Tokyo who no one has ever heard of with no political or Asian expertise -- although to be fair, I assume as a Silicon Valley player he knows a thing or two about Japanese high-tech," Dujarric said.

But Dujarric said Japan put too much emphasis on the US ambassador, who has far less influence than US cabinet members who meet regularly with Japanese counterparts through the Group of Seven and other forums.

Obama worked early to show his commitment to the Japan relationship by inviting Prime Minister Taro Aso as his first foreign guest at the White House. Morton Abramowitz, a senior fellow at the Century Foundation who has served as ambassador to Thailand and Turkey, said that while it was deplorable to give positions based on money, some Obama fund raisers could make solid diplomats.

"Despite the rhetoric, this administration is no different than previous administrations, expect it looks like their appointments might be better," Abramowitz said. "Diplomacy has to be much more creative and much more dynamic these days as we're not the big power we once were. It's important to have people as good as we can get," he said.

© 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

Bush Calls Bill Clinton 'Brother'
Friday, May 29, 2009 7:55 PM

Former President George W. Bush has defended former President Bill Clinton and called him his
"brother" in their first ever appearance together on stage.

Bush said in their Friday appearance at a Toronto forum that he never liked it when previous
administration officials criticized his government but says Clinton was respectful and never did.

Bush declined to criticize the Obama administration. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has been a very vocal critic of Obama.

Bush says his mother, Barbara Bush "said president Clinton and Father (former President George W. Bush) share the stage so much, he's like a son to her." He says, "So, brother, it's good to see you."

They faced questions from moderator Frank McKenna, Canada's former ambassador to the United States.

© 2009 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

Republican Donors Hit by Chrysler Closings
Wednesday, May 27, 2009 5:04 PM

By: Kenneth R. Timmerman

Increasing numbers of Chrysler dealers are disputing the bankrupt automaker’s claim that it selected dealerships for closure on purely economic grounds, and they have filed a suit against the automaker in U.S. bankruptcy court.

"My business is being stolen from me under the guise of the bankruptcy laws [and] given to another dealer down the street," Jim Anderer, owner of Island Jeep in Lindenhurst, N.Y., told Reuters.

Like many of the 789 Chrysler dealerships slated for closure, Anderer claims his retail outlet was
profitable. Many of the closed dealers were also major donors to Republican candidates and political action committees, a review of campaign finance data from the Federal Election Commission shows.

This has led to accusations, which Rush Limbaugh aired last week, that President Obama's auto task force has been playing political favorites, first by forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy, and then by targeting dealerships for closure that funded the president’s political enemies.

An attorney representing some of the dealers, Leonard Bellavia, came close to supporting those
allegations himself after deposing Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday. “It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers," Bellavia said. "It really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous pressure from the president's automotive task force."

Among the most prominent Republicans who stands to lose his business as a result of the Chrysler bankruptcy is Vernon G. Buchanan, owner of Venice Dodge in Venice, Fla.
Buchanan gave $2,300 to John McCain in last year’s election, and has given a whopping $5.3 million to Republicans since the 2000 election cycle, according to FEC records Newsmax examined. He spent nearly $4.5 million of that amount to get himself elected to Congress in 2006 in the 13th District of Florida, where incumbent Republican Katherine Harris resigned that year to run unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate.

Buchanan won the 2006 election with just 50 percent of the vote but came back in 2008 and won a more comfortable victory with 56 percent of the vote, and voted against Obama’s budget this year. But he has crossed aisles occasionally, notably voting in favor of an expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program that President Bush vetoed in 2007.

Other prominent Republican donors whose successful Chrysler dealerships will be shut down include Russ Darrow, owner of Darrow Chrysler Jeep of Menomenee Falls, Wis. Darrow spent $2.7 million of his own money to finance an unsuccessful challenge to incumbent Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold of Wisconsin in 2004.

Many dealers, however, gave to both political parties; some, such as Alan Spitzer, owner of Spitzer Dodge in Elyria, Ohio, gave only to Democrats.

Blogger Doug Ross ( has begun posting lists of Republican donors whose Chrysler dealerships have been targeted for closure. The most complete list of Republican victims of the Chrysler bankruptcy was compiled by an anonymous blogger at, which identified 165 Republican donors out of 595 examined, or just over 27.7 percent.

One blogger, who claimed to work for one of the soon-to-be closed dealerships, reported on the blog that his dealership was “in the top 125 out of the 3,500 dealerships nationwide . . . yet we are on the list. We are not small nor are we rural. We are in a large major metropolitan area. Our new vehicle inventory alone is well over $4 million.”

In addition, “Chrysler is already 'shopping' for dealers to take over the open 'points' (another name for franchise) left by closed dealership,” he added. “This is so much more than 'just business.' This is about control and power by our present administration in Washington.”

Auto-dealers as an industry tend to give more to Republican causes than to Democrats, according to an analysis done by Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that compiles FEC data and operates the Open Secrets Web site.

During the 2008 election cycle, the center found that auto dealers and their associated political action committees made a total of $9 million in campaign contributions, giving by a 3-to-1 margin to Republicans. The automobile industry as a whole made $18.5 million in donations in 2008, also breaking roughly 3-to-1 in favor of Republican candidates and causes. But it ranked way behind lawyers, civil servants, hedge fund managers, teacher’s unions, and the entertainment industry, which were large Democrat donors.

One company that stands to benefit in a major way from the Chrysler restructuring is called RLJMcLarty-Landers, a start-up owned by Democratic Party insiders that operates six Chrysler dealerships throughout the South. Co-owners Robert L. Johnson, founder of Black Entertainment Television, and Mack McLarty, chief of staff to president Bill Clinton, provided capital and political clout to the partnership, which they formed in September 2007.

Johnson is a major donor to Democrat party causes but sharply criticized Obama during the primaries for his admitted drug use as a young man. He later apologized to Obama for the personal attack.

According to another blog, RLJ-McCarty-Landers will retain all of its six dealerships, while “eight competing dealerships [will be] totally eliminated from three of their markets.”

© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Nader: McAuliffe Offered Me Money to Pull Out in 04

Thursday, May 28, 2009 10:26 PM

Consumer activist Ralph Nader accused Virginia gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe Thursday of trying to buy him off from running in the 2004 election.

Nader said McAuliffe, who was then chairman of the Democratic National Committee, orchestrated an elaborate effort to keep him off the ballot. McAuliffe offered him an unspecified amount of money to campaign in 31 states if Nader would agree to pull his campaign in 19 battleground states, Nader said.

"When you get a call like that, first of all it's inappropriate,'' Nader said in an interview. "The other thing is if you don't immediately say no, it's like taffy, you get stuck with it."

McAuliffe, in a hotly-contested three-way Democratic primary for governor, is facing several charges about his colorful past as a political fixer. And he isn’t denying this latest charge, according to The Washington Post.

His spokeswoman Elisabeth Smith said in a statement McAuliffe "was concerned that Ralph Nader would cost John Kerry the election as he did Al Gore in 2000 and give us another four years of George W. Bush," according to the Post.

"It looks like Ralph Nader misses seeing his name in the press,'' Smith said. "Terry's focused on talking with Virginians about jobs, not feeding Ralph Nader's ego."

The accusations are outlined in a new book, Grand Illusion, The Myth of Voter Choice in a Two-Party Tyranny, by Theresa Amato, Nader's national campaign manager in 2000 and 2004, who writes about the barriers to third-party candidates.

"This seemed to be a very undemocratic kind of thing to do,'' Amato said. "The head of the Democratic party was telling Ralph where he could or not could run."
© 2009 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Failed 2-State Solution

Israel: Yaalon: Israel Must Free Itself from Failed '2-State' Paradigm by Maayana Miskin

Minister of Strategic Affairs Moshe (Boogie) Yaalon believes that the time has come for Israel to “free itself from the failed paradigm” of the “two-state solution.”

Yaalon spoke Tuesday at a meeting of MKs dedicated to finding an alternative to the creation of a Palestinian Authority-led Arab state.

While the creation of a PA-led state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is perceived as a necessity both in Israel and worldwide, such a state would not solve the Israel-PA conflict, said Yaalon. In fact, he said, it is doubtful that the possibility of creating such a state exists, due to Arab and Muslim reluctance to take any step that would imply recognition of Israel or compromise on Arab claims to the entire Land of Israel.

Israel's Mistakes Israel's mistake lies in accepting a-symmetrical talks with the PA, Yaalon said. From the beginning of talks, he explained, Israel has accepted the idea of a Palestinian national movement with the PA as its representative, while the PA has resolutely refused to accept the Jewish national movement of Zionism or the idea of a Jewish homeland in the land of Israel.

Furthermore, while the PA demands that Arabs and Muslims be allowed to live in Israel, Israel accepts that a PA state would not have Jewish citizens, he said. And while Israel gives in on crucial issues such as the status of Jerusalem or the borders of a PA state, the PA refuses to bend in the slightest.

Israel has also been mistaken in assuming that the Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza is the cause of Israel-Arab tension, he said. Arab attacks on Israel began well before the 1967 Six Day War in which Israel gained control of those areas, he said, and the Arab world's real goal is not a state in those areas, but rather, on the ruins of the State of Israel.

For this reason, he said, the PA is actually uninterested in a “two-state solution.” Former PA Chairman Yasser Arafat waged war on Israel in order to avoid the creation of a PA state, he argued.

"There are those who will argue that the PA wanted to establish a state in the 1967 borders but was unable to do so,” he said. “I say the problem was not one of ability, but of desire.”

If the PA does not desire an independent state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, and will not accept such a state as the fulfillment of its national goals, the “two-state solution” has no chance to bring peace, he concluded.

The Solution Israel must give up on seeking to fully solve its conflict with the PA and the Arab world as a whole, Yaalon said. “I believe we should not approach the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with the phrase 'solution' in the foreseeable future,” he told his audience. “Instead, we should seek 'crisis management' or long-term coping strategies.”

Israel should still seek a solution in the long term, he added. However, the process of seeking a solution should be “bottom-up,” and not “top-down.” Instead of hoping that a diplomatic agreement with the PA will lead to peace and security, the PA should prove that it is capable of self-rule prior to the signing of a diplomatic agreement, he argued.

Yaalon presented five crucial elements of the “bottom-up” process:

Educational Reform: The PA currently teaches Arab children that the entirety of Israel is an illegal colonialist entity, Yaalon said, and denies any historic Jewish connection to the Land of Israel. In addition, the PA teaches Jihad (holy war) against Israel and honors suicide bombers.

Changing the PA school system to teach the value of life, not of death, and to accurately portray Jewish history is crucial, he said.

Economic Reform: In order to create a viable economy, the PA must strengthen small businesses and create a stable middle class, Yaalon said. Attempts to create a PA economy through international aid have failed due to a corrupt PA leadership that misappropriates funds, and terrorist groups that attempt to keep PA Arabs living in poverty, he said. To avoid the problems posed by corrupt leadership, the world should focus on PA businessmen and support their initiatives.

Political Reform: Beyond creating a political entity, the PA must allow for freedom of expression, freedom of the press and protect human rights. Yaalon referred to “the American mistake” of supporting strong dictators over true democratic activists. Activists who seek true democracy and freedom should win encouragement from the West, he said.

Legal Reform: The goal should be “One authority, one law, one weapon,” Yaalon said, referring to the disarming of rogue terrorist groups and the enforcement of law throughout the PA territories.

Security Reform: The PA must begin to truly fight terrorism, Yaalon said. Among other things, the PA must rid itself of the “revolving door” by which terrorists serve only light sentences, and the sentencing of terrorists who murdered Israelis for “harming the public interest” instead of “murder.” These things encourage terrorism, he said.

The PA must be able to fight terrorism properly on multiple levels, he said, from gathering intelligence information to putting terrorists on trial.

No Guarantees: There is no guarantee that the “bottom-up” proposal can be put into effect, Yaalon said, because it relies on the Palestinian Authority to take the necessary action. In order to increase the chances that the PA will do what is necessary, Israel must make it clear that the PA has no chance of defeating Israel, he said, or of forcing further Israeli concessions and withdrawals without making concessions of its own.

"The Palestinians' extreme violence does not stem from despair over their situation, as the West tends to assume, but rather from hope – hope that the State of Israel will disappear,” he said. “Destroying the hope of defeating Israel will encourage new ideas.”

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The High Ground

By Robert Clark
*The High Ground*
P.O. Box 457 Neillsville, WI 54456

A couple of years ago someone asked me if I still thought about Vietnam. I nearly laughed in their face. How do you stop thinking about it?

Every day for the last twenty-four years, I wake up with it, and go to bed with it. But this is what I said. "Yea, I think about it. I can't quit thinking about it. I never will. But, I've also learned to live with it.

I'm comfortable with the memories. I've learned to stop trying to forget and learned instead to embrace it. It just doesn't scare me anymore."

A psychologist once told me that NOT being affected by the experience over there would be abnormal. When he told me that, it was like he'd just given me a pardon. It was as if he said, "Go ahead and feel something about the place, Bob. It ain't going nowhere. You're gonna wear it for the rest of your life. Might as well get to know it."A lot of my "brothers" haven't been so lucky. For them the memories are too painful, their sense of loss too great. My sister told me of a friend she has whose husband was in the Nam She asks this guy when he was there. Here's what he said, "Just last night." It took my sister a while to figure out what he was talking about. JUST LAST NIGHT.

Yeah I was in the Nam. When? JUST LAST NIGHT. During sex with my wife. And on my way to work this morning. Over my lunch hour. Yeah, I was there.

My sister says I'm not the same brother that went to Vietnam. My wife says I won't let people get close to me, not even her. They are probably both right.

Ask a vet about making friends in Nam. It was risky. Why? Because we were in the business of death, and death was with us all the time. It wasn't the death of, "If I die before I wake." This was the real thing. The kind where boys scream for their mothers. The kind that lingers in your mind and becomes more real each time you cheat it. You don't want to make a lot of friends when the possibility of dying is that real, that close. When you do, friends become a liability.

A guy named Bob Flanigan was my friend. Bob Flanigan is dead. I put him in a body bag one sunny day, April 29, 1969. We'd been talking, only a few minutes before he was shot, about what we were going to do when we got back in the world. Now, this was a guy who had come in country the same time as myself. A guy who was loveable and generous. He had blue eyes and sandy blond hair. When he talked, it was with a soft drawl. Flanigan was a hick and he knew it. That was part of his charm. He didn't care. Man, I loved this guy like the brother I never had. But, I screwed up. I got too close to him. Maybe I didn't know any better. But I broke one of the unwritten rules of war. DON'T GET CLOSE TO PEOPLE WHO ARE GOING TO DIE. Sometimes youcan't help it.

You hear vets use the term "buddy" when they refer to a guy they spent the war with. Me and this buddy a mine . . ""Friend" sounds too intimate, doesn't it. "Friend" calls up images of being close. If he's a friend, then you are going to be hurt if he dies, and war hurts enough without adding to the pain. Get close; get hurt. It's as simple as that.In war you learn to keep people at that distance my wife talks about. You become so good at it, that twenty years after the war, you still do it without thinking. You won't allow yourself to be vulnerable again.

My wife knows two people who can get into the soft spots inside me. My daughters I know it probably bothers her that they can do this. It's not that I don't love my wife, I do. She's put up with a lot from me. She'll tell you that when she signed on for better or worse she had no idea there was going to be so much of the latter. But with my daughters it's different.

My girls are mine. They'll always be my kids. Not marriage, not distance, not even death can change that. They are something on this earth that can never be taken away from me. I belong to them. Nothing can change that. I can have an ex-wife; but my girls can never have an ex-father. There's the difference.I can still see the faces, though they all seem to have the same eyes. When I think of us I always see a line of "dirty grunts" sitting on a paddy dike. We're caught in the first gray silver between darkness and light. That first moment when we know we've survived another night, and the business of staying alive for one more day is about to begin.

There was so much hope in that brief space of time. It's what we used to pray for. "One more day, God. One more day."And I can hear our conversatioins as if they'd only just been spoken I still hear the way we sounded, the hard cynical jokes, our morbid senses of humor. We were scared to death of dying, and trying our best not to show it.

I recall the smells, too. Like the way cordite hangs on the air after a fire-fight. Or the pungent odor of rice paddy mud. So different from the black dirt of Iowa. The mud of Nam smells ancient, somehow. Like it's always been there.

And I'll never forget the way blood smells, stick and drying on my hands. I spent a long night that way once. That memory isn't going anywhere.I remember how the night jungle appears almost dream like as the pilot of a Cessna buzzes overhead, dropping parachute flares until morning. That artifical sun would flicker and make shadows run through the jungle. It was worse than not being able to see what was out there sometimes.

I remember once looking at the man next to me as a flare floated overhead. The shadows around his eyes were so deep that it looked like his eyes were gone. I reached over and touched him on the arm; without looking at me he touched my hand. "I know man. I know." That's what he said. It was a human moment. Two guys a long way from home and scared sh"tless. “I know man" And at that moment he did.

God I loved those guys. I hurt every time one of them died. We all did. Despite our posturing. Despite our desire to stay disconnected, we couldn't help ourselves. I know why Tim O'Brien writes his stories. I know what gives Bruce Weigle the words to create poems so honest I cry at their horrible beauty. It's love. Love for those guys we shared the experience with.

We did our jobs like good soldiers, and we tried our best not to become as hard as our surroundings. We touched each other and said, "I know." Like a mother holding a child in the middle of a nightmare, "It's going to be all right." We tried not to lose touch with our humanity. We tried to walk that line. To be the good boys our parents had raised and not to give into that unnamed thing we knew was inside us all.

You want to know what frightening is? It's a nineteen-year-old-boy who's had a sip of that power over life and death that war gives you. It's a boy who, despite all the things he's been taught, knows that he likes it.

It's a nineteen-year-old who's just lost a friend, and is angry and scared and, determined that, "Some *@#*s gonna pay" To this day, the thought of that boy can wake me from a sound sleep and leave me staring at the ceiling.

As I write this, I have a picture in from of me. It's of two young men. On their laps are tablets. One is smoking a cigarette. Both stare without expression at the camera. They're writing letters. Staying in touch with places they would rather be. Places and eople they hope to see again.

The picture shares space in a frame with one of my wife. She doesn't mind. She knows she's been included in special company. She knows I'll always love those guys who shared thatr part of my life, a part she never can. And she understands how I feel about the ones I know are out there yet. The ones who still answer the question, "When were you in Vietnam?"

"Hey, man. I was there just last night."

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Moral Clarity in Gaza

Moral Clarity in Gaza
by Charles Krauthammer

Hamas has only one grievance: Israel's very existence.

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the
Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons. --
Associated Press, Dec. 27

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a
moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures
civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis
have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that
inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large
numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of
Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV
children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to
death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to
continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).

At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and
suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible
-- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese
villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing
it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.

That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity
regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm,
open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done
by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the
Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.

What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is
supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at
all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and

Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which
to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.

The grievance? It cannot be occupation, military control or settlers. They were all removed in
September 2005. There's only one grievance and Hamas is open about it. Israel's very

Nor does Hamas conceal its strategy. Provoke conflict. Wait for the inevitable civilian
casualties. Bring down the world's opprobrium on Israel. Force it into an untenable cease-fire --
exactly as happened in Lebanon. Then, as in Lebanon, rearm, rebuild and mobilize for the next
round. Perpetual war. Since its raison d'etre is the eradication of Israel, there are only two
possible outcomes: the defeat of Hamas or the extinction of Israel.

Israel's only response is to try to do what it failed to do after the Gaza withdrawal. The
unpardonable strategic error of its architect, Ariel Sharon, was not the withdrawal itself but the
failure to immediately establish a deterrence regime under which no violence would be
tolerated after the removal of any and all Israeli presence -- the ostensible justification for
previous Palestinian attacks. Instead, Israel allowed unceasing rocket fire, implicitly
acquiescing to a state of active war and indiscriminate terror.

Hamas's rejection of an extension of its often-violated six-month cease-fire (during which the
rockets never stopped, just were less frequent) gave Israel a rare opportunity to establish the
norm it should have insisted upon three years ago: no rockets, no mortar fire, no kidnapping,
no acts of war. As the U.S. government has officially stated: a sustainable and enduring ceasefire.
If this fighting ends with anything less than that, Israel will have lost yet another war. The
question is whether Israel still retains the nerve -- and the moral self-assurance -- to win.

This article originally appeared in the Washington Post.

This article can also be read at:
Copyright © 1995 - 2009 -
Lakewood, NJ 08701

"Crash Course on the Arab Israeli Conflict."

BRIEF FACTS ON THE ISRAELI CONFLICT TODAY.... ( It takes just 1.5 minutes to speed read!!!! ) It makes sense and it's not slanted. Jew and non-Jew -- it doesn't matter.

1. Nationhood and Jerusalem. Israel became a nation in 1312 BC, Two thousand years before the rise of Islam.

2. Arab refugees in Israel began identifying themselves as part of a Palestinian people in 1967, two decades after the establishment of the modern State of Israel.

3. Since the Jewish conquest in 1272 BC, the Jews have had dominion over the land for one thousand years with a continuous presence in the land forthe past 3,300 years.

4. The only Arab dominion since the conquest in 635 AD lasted no more than 22 years.

5. For over 3,300 years, Jerusalem has been the Jewish capital. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any Arab or Muslim entity. Even when the Jordanians occupied Jerusalem, they never sought to make it their capital, and Arab leaders did not come to visit.

6. Jerusalem is mentioned over 700 times in Tanach, the Jewish Holy Scriptures. Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran.

7. King David founded the city of Jerusalem. Mohammed never came toJerusalem.

8. Jews pray facing Jerusalem. Muslims pray with their backs toward Jerusalem.

9. Arab and Jewish Refugees: in 1948 the Arab refugees were encouraged to leave Israel by Arab leaders promising to purge the land of Jews. Sixty-eight percent left without ever seeing an Israeli soldier.

10 The Jewish refugees were forced to flee from Arab lands due to Arab brutality, persecution and pogroms.

11. The number of Arab refugees who left Israel in 1948 is estimated to bearound 630,000. The number of Jewish refugees from Arab lands is estimated to be the same.

12. Arab refugees were INTENTIONALLY not absorbed or integrated into the Arab lands to which they fled, despite the vast Arab territory. Out of the 100,000,000 refugees since World War II, theirs is the only refugee group in the world that has never been absorbed or integrated into their own people's lands. Jewish refugees were completely absorbed into Israel, a country no larger than the state of New Jersey.

13. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: the Arabs are represented by eight separate nations, not including the Palestinians. There is only one Jewish nation. The Arab nations initiated all five wars and lost. Israel defended itself each time and won.

14. The PLO's Charter still calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. Israel has given the Palestinians most of the West Bank land, autonomy under the Palestinian Authority, and has supplied them.

15. Under Jordanian rule, Jewish holy sites were desecrated and the Jews were denied access to places of worship. Under Israeli rule, all Muslim and Christian sites have been preserved and made accessible to people of all faiths.

16. The UN Record on Israel and the Arabs: of the 175 Security Council resolutions passed before 1990, 97 were directed against Israel.

17. Of the 690 General Assembly resolutions voted on before 1990, 429 were directed against Israel.

18. The UN was silent while 58 Jerusalem Synagogues were destroyed by the Jordanians.

19. The UN was silent while the Jordanians systematically desecrated the ancient Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives.

20. The UN was silent while the Jordanians enforced an apartheid-like policy of preventing Jews from visiting the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

These are incredible times. We have to ask what our role should be. What will we tell our grandchildren about we did when there was a turning point in Jewish destiny, an opportunity to make a difference?

Saturday, January 03, 2009

QUOTE OF THE WEEK: 2009-01-03

If you can't be a good example then you'll just have to be a terrible warning.

Catherine Aird