Sunday, August 16, 2009

Orthodox Israeli Jews battle authorities in Sabbath wars

Although I am not of their persuasion at all, I have a sneaking sympathy for these guys. There is no doubt that they take the 10 Commandments seriously. There is a similar Sabbath-observance tradition in my Protestant background too, a tradition still observed in some parts of Scotland

A conflict over municipal car parks has turned into a fight for the soul of the city, writes Jason Koutsoukis in Jerusalem. Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews are expected to clash with riot police again here this evening in the latest protest against the opening of the city's municipal car parks on the Jewish Sabbath. The decision by the secular Mayor of Jerusalem, Nir Barkat, to open the car parks has enraged the city's ultra-Orthodox population and has turned into an effective battle for the soul of the city.

''If we win this fight, then Jerusalem is ours,'' says Yoelish Krausz, an ultra-Orthodox protest organiser. Known in Hebrew as Haredim, or those who fear God, Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox population numbers about 200,000, or 32 per cent of the city's Jewish population. ''Jewish people who choose to violate Jewish law in private is one thing but for the public authorities, who are Jewish and who are in control of city, to violate the Sabbath, that is a direct challenge to the word of God,'' Mr Krausz says.

Fearful that the opening of the car parks will lead to the widespread opening of shopping malls and other desecration of the Sabbath, Mr Krausz maintains that the protests will continue every Saturday until the municipality reverses its policy. Speaking to the Herald from what he says is the war room of the protest movement, a ramshackle vaulted chamber in the heart of the Mea Shearim neighbourhood, Mr Krausz says his ultimate goal is to bring about a change in the way Jerusalem is governed.

The fight over the car parks is not the only source of tension between the Haredim and the local authorities. Last month the arrest of an ultra-Orthodox mother accused of starving her son sparked riots across the city. ''We want international sovereignty for Jerusalem,'' Mr Krausz said. ''This is a city that belongs to everyone, to Jews, to Christians and to the Arabs. The worst thing is that it be governed by Jews who disobey God.''

Hanging on a coat-hanger from the ceiling is a hessian sack fashioned into a crude tunic, a symbol of mourning that Mr Krausz said he wore every year on Israel's independence day. ''We want the Zionists out,'' said Mr Krausz, whose first language is Yiddish and who speaks in Hebrew only as a means of broadcasting his message.

Mr Krausz, who is a member of the Edah Haredit sect of Haredi Jews, which strongly opposes Zionism and the state of Israel, said he spoke for 9000 families in Jerusalem - or about 90,000 people in total. At 37 and already a father of 11, his family came to Jerusalem from Hungary after the end of World War II. ''I accept nothing from the government, no financial support. I have no health insurance, I have no identification papers. When my children are born I pay the hospital 9000 shekels ($2800) so that I am not in their debt.''

But just as Mr Krausz and his followers seek to exert maximum pressure on the Jerusalem municipality, the mayor, Mr Barkat, is under enormous pressure from secular and mainstream religious Jews not to cave into the Haredim. ''I call them the Jewish Taliban,'' said Tzvi Fisher, 53, a secular protester outside the Jerusalem municipal offices this week....



Palin Wins: If she's dim and Obama is brilliant, how did he lose the argument to her?

An excerpt from TARANTO below:

The first we heard about Sarah Palin's "death panels" comment was in a conversation last Friday with an acquaintance who was appalled by it. Our interlocutor is not a Democratic partisan but a high-minded centrist who deplores extremist rhetoric whatever the source. We don't even know if he has a position on ObamaCare. From his description, it sounded to us as though Palin really had gone too far.

A week later, it is clear that she has won the debate. President Obama himself took the comments of the former governor of the 47th-largest state seriously enough to answer them directly in his so-called town-hall meeting Tuesday in Portsmouth, N.H. As we noted Wednesday, he was callous rather than reassuring, speaking glibly--to audience laughter--about "pulling the plug on grandma."

The Los Angeles Times reports that Palin has won a legislative victory as well: "A Senate panel has decided to scrap the part of its healthcare bill that in recent days has given rise to fears of government "death panels," with one lawmaker suggesting the proposal was just too confusing" ....

One can hardly deny that Palin's reference to "death panels" was inflammatory. But another way of putting that is that it was vivid and attention-getting. Level-headed liberal commentators who favor more government in health care, including Slate's Mickey Kaus and the Washington Post's Charles Lane, have argued that the end-of-life provision in the bill is problematic--acknowledging in effect (and, in Kaus's case, in so many words) that Palin had a point.

If you believe the media, Sarah Palin is a mediocre intellect, if even that, while President Obama is brilliant. So how did she manage to best him in this debate? Part of the explanation is that disdain for Palin reflects intellectual snobbery more than actual intellect. Still, Obama's critics, in contrast with Palin's, do not deny the president's intellectual aptitude. Intelligence, however, does not make one immune from hubris.


Obama's scurrilous amputation nonsense

His invocation of the "prevention" mantra shows once again that he is a shallow thinker who does not know what he is talking about

When we caught President Obama in the act of sliming America's physicians at his dog-and-pony show in Portsmouth, he was touting the superior virtues of preventive care over treatment. Remember, this guy is smart. Why didn't we think of that?

Obama illustrated his insight with an example. If you are borderline diabetic, you need to be told to change your diet and drop a few pounds. Your primary care physician won't tell you this, according to Obama, because he doesn't get paid enough for counseling. Moreover, he seems to be in cahoots with the surgeon who is raking in the big bucks performing amputations at a rate of up to $50,000 per foot. Thus the epidemic of footless citizens all around us. Again, why didn't we think of that?

Charles Krauthammer explains the rationale underlying Obama's invocation of preventive medicine. It is the deus ex machina come down to resolve the internal contradictions of Obamacare. Obamacare will pay for itself by reducing the epidemic of costly amputations. It will save money, and also save lives. So we'll be hearing a lot more about it.

As Krauthammer notes, however, there is at least one problem with this scenario. Krauthammer quotes CBO Director Doug Elmendorf: "Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness." But has the CBO factored in the increased productivity of borderline diabetics whose feet will be saved under the regime of Obamacare?

The more salient question is whether there is anything that can be done to prevent Obama from invoking prevention as the magic solution to the internal contradictions of Obamacare. The guy is like a flim-flam man selling a patent medicine. Unfortunately, modern medicine hasn't yet devised a cure for deceit and demagoguery.



BrookesNews Update

The American economy: Japan redux? : Obama is the most interventionist president since Roosevelt and has already revealed a deep hostility to the free market. He will have been the only one since the 1930s to launch a barrage of taxes and regulations during a recession. His proposal to double the capital gains tax, for instance, amounts to a huge tax increase on investment and technical progress. These policies pose a clear danger to economic recovery
Misreading the Great Depression causes confusion about the jobless and Obama's spending binge : Evidence that government spending is not a cure for unemployment and recessions is overwhelming. Unfortunately this has led some people to believe that such spending prevents unemployment from falling. It does not. What it does is distort the structure of prices and production to the detriment of the economy
Bad monetary policy destabilised exchange rates : "The one thing - money supply - that should have been tightly regulated was not. Naturally the consequences of the central banks' reckless monetary policy was laid at the feet of the free market
Are we in America or Amerika?: Democrats, bloodied over their attempt to force health care 'reform' on Americans, are looking more unreasonable and hysterical by the day. This isn't healthy for the republic. Their increasing anxiety and fear of failure are typified in the words of Obama who wants Republicans to keep their mouths shut while he 'fixes' health care
How a carbon tax would devastate farming : The Government's The ETS (carbon tax) is really an Employment Termination Scheme that will savage living standards
The Democrats astroturf fantasies: Democrats forget that America is still a middle-class conservative country, whose citizens still admire hard work, honesty and truthfulness, ideals not common in the Democrat ranks. Democrats lie to themselves, they lie to each other and they lie to the taxpayer. They make no sense; assume we are fools, stacking one falsehood on top of another
The end of white guilt? : Is Martin Luther King's dream finally becoming a reality - are Americans now be free judge a man according to the content of his character instead of the color of his skin?



France, Germany Fend Off Recession: "Fresh signs of a nascent economic recovery came from hard-hit Europe on Thursday, with Germany and France unexpectedly becoming the first major industrialized nations to officially pull out of the global recession. Though their recoveries were modest by virtually any standard and may yet stall in the months ahead, the surprising bounce back to growth in Europe's largest economies comes on the heels of steadily rising economic optimism across the globe. In Germany, economic activity jumped 0.3 percent from April to June compared with the previous three months after a 3.5 percent quarterly contraction in the beginning of the year. France also reported growth of 0.3 percent in the quarter. With many analysts also predicting a "jobless recovery" in the United States, such as the one following the 2001 recession, a projected global turnaround later this year may be more visible in statistical calculations than in consumer pocketbooks around the world."

GOP thinks the unthinkable: Victory in 2010: "It's a possibility many Republicans speak of only in whispers and Democrats are just now beginning to face. After passionate and contentious fights over health care, the environment, and taxes, could Democrats lose big -- really big -- in next year's elections? Ask them about it, and many Democrats will point to the continued personal popularity of Barack Obama. But that's not the story. "I think what's going to happen is Obama's going to be fine, and the Democrats in Congress are going to get their asses kicked in 2010," says one Democratic strategist who prefers not to be named. "This is following a curve like the Clinton years: take on really controversial things early, fail, or succeed partially, ask Democrats to take really tough votes, and then lose. A lot of guys are going to get beat, but the president has time to recover." Most Republican hope focuses on the House of Representatives, but even there they have a huge job ahead. Democrats control 256 seats, and Republicans 178. Forty seats would have to change hands for Republicans to take charge. On the other hand, 52 seats turned over when the GOP won the House in 1994."

The Airborne Laser scores a hit, even as its budget is being cut: "Never has Ronald Reagan's dream of layered missile defenses—Star Wars, for short—been as politically out of favor as in the Age of Obama. Nor as close, at least technologically, to becoming realized. The latest encouraging news came Thursday courtesy of the Misssile Defense Agency. The Airborne Laser prototype aircraft this week found, tracked, engaged and simulated an intercept with a missile seconds after liftoff. It was the first time the Agency used an "instrumented" missile to confirm the laser works as expected. Next up this fall will be the first live attempt to bring down a ballistic missile, but this test confirms how far along this innovative effort has come. Along with space-based weapons, the Airborne Laser is the next defense frontier. The modified Boeing 747 is supposed to send an intense beam of light over hundreds of miles to destroy missiles in the "boost phase," before they can release decoys and at a point in their trajectory when they would fall back down on enemy territory. It's a pioneering use of directed energy in defense. The laser complements the sea- and ground-based missile defenses that keep proving themselves in tests."

Obama disowning attacks on insurers: "President Obama said at a town-hall meeting here that he does not intend to vilify insurance companies as he tours the West this weekend to persuade Americans to back his proposed overhaul to the nation's health care system. Marc Montgomery, a 52-year-old insurance broker from Helena and one of nine people the president called on for questions, chided Mr. Obama for his recent decision to focus his bid for a health care overhaul on the failings of the insurance industry. Why, Mr. Montgomery asked, was the president "vilifying" insurance brokers? "That's a fair question," Mr. Obama conceded. "My intent is not to vilify insurance companies ... What we do have to make sure of is that certain practices that are very tough on people, that those practices change." The president said that some insurance companies are working with him to shape the legislation, but, he complained, others are standing in the way. And for no good reason, he added, arguing that the only way to make an overhaul work in the best interest of the insurance industry is to put the tens of millions of uninsured Americans under their umbrella".

Hamas as moderates! " Islamic radicals from an al Qaeda-inspired group battled Hamas security in the Gaza Strip on Friday in shootouts that killed at least 13 people. The fighting began when Hamas forces surrounded a mosque in the southern Gaza town of Rafah where about 100 members of Jund Ansar Allah, or the Soldiers of the Companions of God, were holed up, including some armed with suicide belts and rifles, according to residents of the area. Jund Ansar Allah and a number of other small, shadowy radical groups seek to enforce an even stricter version of Islamic law in Gaza and have criticized Hamas for not doing so. They are also upset that the Hamas regime has honored a cease-fire with Israel for the past seven months. Hamas has said it seeks to set an example and does not impose its views on others. It also says its violent struggle is against Israel, not the Western world. The more radical groups' calls for global Jihad undermines Hamas' attempt to appear more moderate to Western eyes."

Is fear of our government irrational? : “Too often now when some people voice fear of the American government, whether it is its policy involving Homeland Security or health care reform, one is accused of being irrational or paranoid. It is that familiar ‘It can’t happen here’ syndrome at work. But there are good reasons not to dismiss such concerns under current circumstances. When society is considered a collective — akin to a team, only not voluntarily established like most sport teams are — those who see themselves as its leaders and charged with selecting the goals everyone must pursue, can quite easily slip into a mode of thinking that construes all opposition a form of betrayal.”

A fork in the road is coming: “Over the past couple of days, we’ve seen arguments about national health care erupt into incidents of local violence. Yes, we yelled at each other bit back in 2005 or so, when Social Security reform was on the table. But now we’re seeing thugs in SEIU T-shirts showing up and throwing punches at people who are gathered to demonstrate against the current version of health care reform. We’ve seen a local Democratic Party apparatchik shove a demonstrator in the face. Billy Beck has often said it, and now he’s saying it again: ‘You have always heard it here first: All politics in this country now is just dress rehearsal for civil war.’ At this rate, I’m afraid that it’s going to become painfully obvious that a large number of people in this country are not going to politely doff their caps to the local SEIU grandees, once they’ve learned their lessons like good Germans. Quite the reverse, in fact I’ve also said before — and every time I do, people like Oliver Willis call me crazy for saying it — we’re preparing this country to split apart.”


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


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