Monday, December 27, 2010

Video Gives the GOP a Virus

I just flipped through a copy of FreedomWorks’ Rules for Patriots. Rule 9 is devoted to explaining “strategies” for the average citizen to make an impact on the political process. Along with encouraging the use of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, Matt Kibbe, the organization’s President and CEO, explains the importance of YouTube: “Video has become the most powerful medium in the online world… You can start your own YouTube account for free… Having [various clips available] can prove invaluable.” It seems that a key strategy for American patriots is using video to their advantage. FreedomWorks, by the way, has been cited as one of the major organizing force behind the TEA Party movement.

The TEA Party has its share of critics on the right. Karl Rove, for instance, has termed the grass-roots organization “unsophisticated.” The guy who was termed “The Brain Behind Bush” seems to have a yen for criticizing the uncouth among us which is odd, considering he had no problem with the casual “middle country, middle class” drawl that he directed for 8 years. Rove has also criticized one of the TEA Party’s major spokespeople, Sarah Palin, for creating her own reality show with TLC: “With all due candour, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office’.” I guess the Republican strategist was not a big fan of Bedtime for Bonzo.

The fact that Sarah Palin has her own reality TV show freaks people out. It freaks out the left because they now have indisputable ratings that prove how likeable the former Alaskan Governor really is. It freaks out the right because they can’t imagine how anyone would take a reality TV star as a serious Presidential candidate. After all, if the CEO of the WWE can’t win Connecticut, there must be no hope!  Both sides can’t stop obsessing over the idea that Palin’s reality show is nothing more than a bid for the Presidency in 2012.

Oddly enough, right-wingers feel the same way about Chris Christie’s YouTube channel. Only, in the case of the bombastic Jersey Governor, this video stardom is a good thing. One former Governor interacting with average citizens where they work negates them from the Presidency, while another current Governor telling voters to quit their jobs translates into prime candidate material.

Republicans are fools.

The Liberals have a right to be scared of Sarah Palin’s TV presence. They know the last great conservative leader was nothing more than an actor—a registered Democrat, mind you—who encountered one man’s true story of Communism and “saw the light,” going from B-movie career to a political powerhouse that helped shape an entire American generation. Liberals may be socialists, but they are not stupid. If they did not see a formidable challenge in Palin, they would not be spending so much time trying to eviscerate her.

The right-wingers, the Republicans, the Conservatives on the other hand, from the establishment rovers to the average voters, are playing right into the Liberals’ hand. “Oh, Palin has to sit this one out,” I’ve heard. “That job has to be handled by a man,” is another familiar complaint. “She quit her job as Governor to be a TV star,” is another familiar one. Worst of all is the complaint voiced by many but worded exceptionally by Charles Krauthammer, that “the outside activities” the Governor is engaged in would not help her if she decides to go for a Presidential run.

“I told Alaskans I was going to do all that I could to promote Alaska,” Palin responded to Krauthammer’s criticism in a recent interview with Bill O’Reilly. The show, it seems, has little to do with promoting Palin and much to do with promoting our “domestic resources that can be tapped into” that would allow America to be “healthier, more secure, and more prosperous.” In other words, it is as if Sarah Palin is using video to illustrate the value of American Exceptionalism not only as an ideology, but as a strategy to improve the economy and national security.

Well, Chris Christie has used the power of video to tell a lot of teachers they could just find new jobs. I think that sounds a lot more Presidential, don’t you? It must be because he’s a man. I mean, if a female politician told the media they were “thin skinned” and followed that with,“you should really see me when I’m pissed,” she’d probably be accused of “not being ladylike.”

Oddly enough, Karl Rove was reportedly the one who put a bug in Chris Christie’s ear regarding a possible gubernatorial bid. I wonder if Rove was also the architect behind the Governor’s oh so sophisticated in-your-face strategy.

Christie has outright denied that he will put a bid in for 2012, leaving many right wing supporters out in the cold. Palin has only commented that if she felt she were the right person, she would put her hat in the ring. Already, the alarm bells are sounding. Sarah’s list of right-wing critics is a mile long. In the meantime, Christie’s supporters are inviting him into Congressional strategy sessions. This fall, while bill S1872, the Governor’s “stepping stone to school vouchers,” sat dying in committee, Christie was out campaigning for Republican candidates across the country (perhaps expecting his new Democrat teacher-turned-Clinton lawyer-turned Education Chief to take up the cause?); Palin resigns as Governor to avoid the encroachment of her personal life onto her public office, and she's deemed simply unfit for the job.

Video is a powerful tool in today’s political dialogue, but change is still a matter of personal choice. As long as right wingers choose style over substance the only kind of sophistication they’re looking to put in the White House equates to Tony Soprano in a RINO suit.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Have Yourself a Merry Jewish Christmas

Originally published @

I am sitting here watching Glenn Beck’s “American Christmas” broadcast from Wilmington, Ohio, and I hear him say, “Everyone should have a Rabbi.”

He then expresses his desire to study the entire Tanak (Old Testament) in Hebrew with his friend, Rabbi Daniel Lapin, even if it means suffering through the blandness of eating kosher meals. (For the record, there is nothing bland about a good brisket.)

Why the growing interest in Jewishness?

Because, the gentile Mormon Glenn Beck is increasingly using Hebrew to explain the solutions to the moral problems we face as a nation. For instance, he proceeded to explain to his middle-American Christmas audience that the root of the Hebrew word for “love” (ahavah) is “to give” (ehav). Giving, Beck explains, is the root expression of love and, moreover, when giving occurs miracles happen.

As if to prove God’s linguistic point (because, as Beck said, Hebrew is the language of God) a miracle occurred: a Jew found a Christmas special that didn’t make them feel completely left out in the cold during the holiday season.

Hanukkah came early this year. Ask any American Jew and they will tell you they hate it when Hanukkah comes early, because it is even more of an excuse for the country to forget about us, the poor measly Jews, as they trample us underfoot on their way to see Santa, cut trees, and hang lights. These are the cultural traditions that make us as Jewish Americans fully aware that we are the outsiders during the one time of year when everyone is supposed to get along.

The funny thing is, without us Jews you folks would never have Christmas as you know it. Whether Garrison Keillor likes it or not, without Irving Berlin you’d have no White Christmas, without Johnny Marks you’d have no Rudolph, and without Jule Styne and Sammy Cahn you’d never be able to say ‘let it snow’. The only reason you know you “need a little Christmas” is because the Jewish Jerry Herman told you so.

At this point you’re probably asking, “Why would so many Jews invest their time and talent in writing songs about a holiday they don’t even celebrate?” Take a look at the lyrics. “White Christmas” expresses longing for missed loved ones and bucolic youth; “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” is about the picked-on outsider who earns a place in history for rescuing the Chief and saving everyone’s favorite holiday; “We Need a Little Christmas” because we need “a little snappy Happy Ever After”. Were these Jewish American songwriters channeling the cultural imprint of loneliness and longing to fit in with the crowd? Perhaps. But, one thing is for certain; these Jewish songwriters are a major reason why this is the season of “goodwill towards men.”

Practically every popular Christmas song was composed by a Jewish American, and I’m not just talking the secular ones, either. Little Drummer Boy was co-written by Harry Moses Simeone and performed by his own Chorale & Orchestra. Lest you think we secularized your holiday, Little Drummer Boy is a song about a boy with no gold, frankincense, or myrrh to bring to his Messiah. Instead, the little boy presents the gift of his own talents to his king. Yes, even at Christmas we Jews are reminding you of the true spirit of your holiday season.

While we’re talking about Jewish contributions to Christmas, if it weren’t for that little Jewish boy from Bethlehem, your “Christmas” might still be called “Saturnalia” among other pagan titles. You’d be hanging evergreens to ward away witches and evil spirits, or encourage your sun god not to die in the freezing cold. Your mistletoe would be hung to entreat Nature Sprites to join you in your festivities, and your 12 day celebration would focus around a burning Yule Log meant to symbolize and welcome pagan gods and goddesses.

Face it: You don’t need a billboard telling you to, “Remember the Reason for the Season,” you just need a Jew. As Glenn Beck said, “Everyone should have a Rabbi.” And when it comes to Christmas, everyone should thank the Jews, not that we’d take the credit. We know better, but we’re still happy to pass on the praise.

After all, we speak the language.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Eight Crazy Clicks

In honor of Hanukkah I give you, dear readers, my 8 greatest clicks of the week (and it is only Wednesday!):

J Street Israel-office vs. Zionism/Oppression – Rosner’s Domain @ the JPost

Rosner does a glorified re-post of Omri Ceren’s entry @ Mere Rhetoric on a discovery circling the blogosphere—the head of the Israeli J Street office, Drew Cohen, is the same “Drew C.” who published a series of anti-Israel, anti-Zionist blog entries at under the name “Last Trumpet”.

This is yet more damning evidence against the claim that J-Street, co-founded by Daniel “there is no such thing as progressive Zionism because the re-establishment of Israel was ‘wrong’” Levy, is a “pro-Israel” organization—wording already removed from their on-campus promotions “to avoid alienating students”.

What’s the Hebrew word for “sticking your foot in your mouth”? Repeat after me: J Street.

Deadly Fictions – Lee Smith @ Tablet Magazine

The usually leftist Tablet printed the most thoughtful analysis of the infamous WikiLeaks scandal of the week. Smith compared the dissemination of State Department docs to the infamous Pentagon Papers leak of the 70s, noting, “The difference is that while the Pentagon Papers substantially vindicated the American left, the WikiLeaks cable dump vindicates the right.” The conclusion: What the media is printing isn’t always the truth and America has a blind electorate as the result.

Every single conservative pundit was quick to admit that the WikiLeaks story simply echoed what the right wing has been talking about for years; the Red Crescent is nothing more than a tool to transport terrorists; China has been working to supply Iran with nukes; the Arab world wants America to do their dirty work. The big deal? Finally, at least one leftist source is acknowledging that the MSM isn’t as “main stream” as it wants you to believe and that maybe, just maybe, conservatives are right: America and Israel do have some serious enemies in the world and we’re not going to sing them away with endless choruses of Kum-Bay-Ya.

Fair press for peace – Jerusalem Post

Distrust of the MSM continues with this scathing look at what the press isn’t talking about when it comes to Israel’s Palestinian peace partners. The Fifth Fatah Revolutionary Council honored Amin al-Hindi, one of the masterminds behind the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre of 11 Israeli athletes. Nothing says “we want peace” more than honoring a guy who planned and executed the murder of your fellow citizens. During the course of its meetings, the Council rejected the definition of Israel as a “Jewish state,” rejected the concept of “land for peace,” and rejected the idea of any compromise with the Zionist entity.

To be fair, Fatah did approve of a few measures including the Palestinian “right of return” for the purpose of wiping out Israel’s Jewish majority, and the ridding of large Jewish settlement blocs that take up 5% of the West Bank, because while they don’t believe in land for peace and they do want to move back into Israel proper, they still want all of Judea and Samaria for…a really big golf course to be named in honor of the late Yassir Arafat: A-Hole in One.

All of this along with a recent survey by the Israel Project that revealed growing militancy among the Palestinian population (56% in the West Bank & Gaza believe they will have to “resort to armed struggle again”) has gone unreported in the MSM. The results of this gross lack of reporting? A skewed press means a skewed public view, in this case one that is skewed against Israel.

Jewish Americans for Sarah Palin

Former Jewish Exponent Editor Benyamin Korn has been busy since his tenure expired at the Philadelphia weekly last year. With more press coverage than you can shake a stick at, Korn has promoted this union of “academic, religious and political leaders, dedicated to promoting consideration of Gov. Sarah Palin’s political positions in the wider American Jewish community.” Perhaps the message behind Palin’s ever-present Israeli & American flags lapel pin is making its way through the Jewish community, one mystified viewer at a time.

The best part: Korn refers to his page (and his radio show on Philly’s WNTP) as “Independent”. Kudos to Korn for standing on conservative principals without playing into party politics.

Chelm-On-The-Med – Daniella Ashkenazy

For some brain candy, check out these translations of human interest and even some fluff from the pages of the Israeli press. The goal of translator Daniella Ashkenazy: To show the lighter side of Israeli life to Diaspora readers overwhelmed with endless stories of terror attacks and… not much else.

I found the link through Ashkenazy’s recent article in ZEEK that asks, What’s Wrong With Israel Education in the Diaspora? She remarks, “American Jewry needs to be weaned away from its addiction to Israeli victimology.” And she’s right. Israel needs a return to the victory ideology of ’67 as badly as America needs to revisit the patriotism of ’76. Our best bet in both cases: On the ground education from people who’ve lived and know the difference. And websites like Ashkenazy’s do their part to bring that much-needed perspective to the table.

Latma TV

According to its Wikipedia entry, “Latma is an Israeli group that produces political satire in Hebrew and occasionally in English for Internet broadcast. Latma was created to mock what the members view as Israel's leftist media. Caroline Glick, who is one of the web site's editors, told the Jerusalem Post that the group was founded with the intention of using comedy to critique the ‘egregious leftist slant of news coverage in this country.’ According to the New York Times, Latma ‘is an initiative of the Center for Security Policy, a Washington think tank’.”

Although it is funded by American sources, Latma’s satire is 99% Hebrew (subtitled in English) so my recommendation to American audiences is to check out their clips via the excellent Caroline Glick’s personal web site. While you’re there, avail yourself of her commentary on the latest in Israeli politics and Israeli-American relations, also published in The Jerusalem Post.

Smithsonian to Remove Ant-Covered Jesus on Cross Video From Exhibit – Fox News

A 4-minute video depicting a bloody Jesus on a crucifix covered with ants, A Fire in my Belly is a part of the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s exhibit titled, Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture -- or, at least it was until yesterday. The exhibit, intended to showcase gay and lesbian art, was so offensive that the museum actually-shock-took it down. Perhaps that’s because Republican lawmakers in Congress have now decided to look into the Smithsonian’s funding. After all, money talks.

So, why include this report in a Hanukkah post? Simply put, I wouldn’t appreciate a Torah scroll, Star of David, or Hanukkiah being immersed in ants, fecal matter, or any other substance in the name of art. Moreover, a Danish cartoonist does one sketch of Mohammed and the Muslim world explodes (all puns intended) – it is about time Christians learn to stand up for themselves and their beliefs. Finally we have a Congress who, in some regard, is willing to hit back at the system where it hurts—their pockets. Hopefully they’ll continue that trend over the next two years. In the meantime, the many religions and cultures of this nation need to stop hiding behind perversions of “Freedom of Speech” and start standing firm on the principle of mutual respect. Where better to start than through taxpayer funded art?

The Great Princeton Hummus Debate will decide the Future of Israel, More or Less (Probably Less) - Jeff Edelstein @ The Trentonian

The Global BDS (Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions) Movement strikes again, this time on the campus of Princeton University. The Princeton Committee for Palestine, led by Jewish Israel-hater Yoel Bitran, has demanded a University-wide referendum on the inclusion of alternative brands of hummus, claiming that The Strauss Group, the company that produces Sabra hummus, supports the IDF’s elite Golani brigade and, therefore, human rights violations against the Palestinians.

One could easily argue against buying any products produced by the Arab world, citing the human rights violations against women and non-Muslims in general, but that wouldn’t help to further the PCP’s true objective to “… start a conversation on Israeli human rights violations.”

Here’s a thought: Every supporter of Israel, from political conservatives to the members of CUFI, should friend Sabra on Facebook and be sure to include some Sabra hummus on their table this holiday season. The chickpea-tahini combo goes great as part of any hors-d’oeurves spread and by buying Sabra, you’d be doing your part to support the hardworking men and women of the Israeli military who were drafted by law to protect the last bastion of true democracy in the middle east and America’s only hope of a true ally in the region.