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8/17/02

This "journalist" couldn't get elected dogcatcher

Charles Johnson was doing his usual gig, checking out the Arab News editorials. This one, which discusses the state of U.S.-Saudi relations, had a paragraph that simply floored me.

The US and Saudi Arabia are also poles apart in their political systems. The American system is based on perpetual elections at all levels; in many places even the dog-catcher is elected. The Saudi system, however, has no election. All this does not mean that the US and Saudi Arabia cannot have friendly relations without being friends. Both sides need a greater understanding of each other, warts and all.

The howlers you find in foreign newspapers, eh? "In many places, even the dog-catcher is elected."

Uh, Mr. Brilliant Saudi Editorial Writer: I suggest you take a class in American Adages 101. "He coudn't get elected dogcatcher!" is a saying that means the candidate is simply un-electable. We don't actually elect dogcatchers in this country.

(Of course I realize that now that I've posted that, someone in West Tinytown, North Dakota, is going to write me a letter telling me they elect their dogcatcher every two years, and then I'll feel foolish. But I think I'll take my chances and stand by my opinion that the vast majority of dogcatchers in America are hired or appointed.)

Not that I expected the writer to understand. Not after reading the sentence that states so simply "The Saudi system, however, has no election." It perfectly explains how the editorialist can make such a funny mistake about the American electoral system. When you have no elections at all, it's easy to get confused over American elections, which are, after all, the oldest democratic elections in the world. Perhaps we should change our motto from "In God We Trust" to "Electing Dogcatchers Since 1787." Ya think?

By the way, I did find a sorta-kinda actual race for dogcatcher. Here's the article:

Some people never learn, and Washington's political elite has nothing on Soulard. After being caught red-handed buying votes in past Soulard elections, neighborhood "pols" have done it again -- only bigger and more blatantly than ever before.

Only in Soulard do we have Safety Committee fundraising "elections" every year to raise money for the neighborhood, and elect honorary officeholders, including a Mayor of Soulard, a Sheriff, and a Dogcatcher. Each dollar raised by a candidate equals one vote. It's true, in Soulard money talks and elections can be bought. The only difference between Soulard elections and the real ones is that we admit it.

Nearly 13,000 "votes" were cast resulting in $11,250 raised for the Soulard Safety Committee "slush fund." This fund supports Neighborhood Watch, National Night Out, reward funds, security fencing, improved street lighting and the support and maintenance of our Soulard Police Sub-Station. (The Safety Committee welcomes suggestions for safety related use of these funds.)

[...] When asked about their motivations for seeking office, one said, "If you're too old for drugs and rock and roll, you go into politics."

One was running because his supporters were looking to back "someone who would do less than the incumbent is doing."

The third was running because he looked at his opposition and thought, "Hell, these are just a couple of old guys, they'll be easy pickin'."

Campaign financing came into question when the Cat's Meow sponsored a fundraiser in which 1st prize was "half of what the Mayor doesn't steal" and the drawing was to be held "whenever we want to."

I like an article with an intentional sense of humor. But I'll take idiot Saudi editorial writers for amusement, too.


Start the war without me

According to the Asia Times, the war with Iraq has already begun. (Via Bill Quick)

Since March, 12,000 US troops have been added to Kuwait (8,000) and Qatar (4,000) and 5,000 Brits to Oman, bringing the April/May total to 62,000. In late June, the Turkish foreign ministry reported heavy air traffic of US military transport planes aimed at increasing the number of US troops in southern Turkey from 7,000 to 25,000 by the end of July. Also in June, a contingent of 1,700 British Royal Marines were re-deployed from Afghanistan to Kuwait and a 250-man, highly-specialized German NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) warfare battalion equipped with "Fuchs" (fox) armored vehicles has been in Kuwait since early this year.

An additional 2,400 US troops are deployed in Jordan and, according to Jordanian news agency Petra, are being reinforced by another 4,000 arriving since August 12 at Aqaba for joint exercises with the Jordanian army. Already, 1,800 US troops (mostly Special Forces) are inside Iraq, at least since the end of March and, in fact, units there were visited two months ago by CIA director George Tenet during a side trip from Israel and Palestine. Another 2,000-3,000 US troops are in semi-permanent deployment in the Negev and Sinai deserts in accordance with old international agreements. On August 9, the Turkish daily Hurriyet reported that 5,000 Turkish troops had entered northern Iraq and taken over the Bamerni air base north of Mosul. These numbers add up to about 105,000 US and allied troops on bases surrounding and inside Iraq.

[...] But in part the actions go well beyond that. In Kurdish Iraq - according to Israeli sources - US army engineers are working around the clock to build a series of six to eight airstrips to serve fighter planes and helicopters that will provide air cover for invading ground forces. The airfields are strung along a western axis from the city of Zako southwest to the city of Sinjar; a central axis from Zako south to Arbil; and an eastern axis from Arbil to Sulimaniyeh.

Special Forces teams are involved in on-the-ground military target identification, mapping out Scud and anti-aircraft battery locations. They are also helping set up, equip and train Kurdish militias and are cooperating closely with Turkish counterparts engaged in the same activities in Turkoman regions.

US and British aircraft are probing Iraqi defenses beyond the no-fly zones close to Baghdad. On August 6, they destroyed the Iraqi air command and control center at al-Nukhaib in the desert between Iraq and Saudi Arabia. The center is wired to fiber optic networks installed last year by Chinese companies. New types of precision-guided bombs disabled the fiber optic system. The broad aim of recent bombing runs is to thoroughly disrupt Iraqi command, control and communications functions.

Interesting. The Asia Times is backing up what DEBKA reported a few days ago. And the Times is quoting "Israeli sources." Very interesting.


The next generation of murderers, continued

The Palestinian Authority absolutely wants to live in peace with Israel. Sure. That's why they send their children to death cult summer camps. Charles Johnson of Little Green Footballs has the horrifying pictures.

Palestinian children learning to slaughter Jews in their homes, at a summer camp sponsored by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah organization

Al Najah University in Nablus has a rather unique curriculum, focusing on essential Palestinian skills such as attacking Israeli buses with missiles:

This demonstration was organized by Yasser Arafat’s Fatah movement, in support of Saddam Hussein.

Follow the links. They're sickening, but true.


No More

From Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods:

No more questions
Please
No more tests
Comes the day you say, "What for?"
Please.
No more.

We'll just move right along. (And I found out it's available on DVD. First store I'm visiting when I get back to NJ is Coconuts.)

TOP


8/16/02

My choice

Tony over at the Rant Factory insists on continuing the forced-pregnancy discussion. Okay, Tony, my former slumlord pissed me off bigtime this morning, so I'm looking for something to sink my teeth into.

Argument 1: Ah, no. You don't get to make a law that says I have to carry a fetus to term if I don't want to.
Well, why not? We've made laws forcing castration. Also, in Skinner v. Oklahoma (in 1941) the state Supreme Ct. stated that procreation is a basic human right available to women AND men. I don't think it's very fair to say, basically, "my uterus trumps your argument" because, as I said earlier, the fetus is in your body but it's not part of your body. Saying "you can't make me" is basically the same as saying "fathers have no right to a child unless the mother a) doesn't object, or b) needs some money. Why does having a uterus automatically give the woman the power to affirm or deny the physical and emotional connection between a man and his child? Choice has to be universal, and has to apply, for both choices, to either or both parents, regardless of the discomfort or danger. Anything else is a sham, not to mention being vulnerable to anti-choice legislation.

No, choice doesn't have to be universal, because men don't have the babies. You're seriously using as an example a law that chemically castrates child molesters—convicted criminals—as an argument why you should be able to force women (who have broken no law, by the way) to carry to term a child that they don't want? (Said castration can also be reversed; are you going to have a reversal of childbirth?) Sure, that'll happen—when the United States suddenly becomes the USSR or China. Saying "you can't make me" is saying, "My body. My decision." The thing about being able to use the uterus card—well, that's where the childbirth action takes place, Tony. When men can grow a uterus, they can then determine what happens inside it. Choice doesn't become universal because childbirth isn't universal.

And quoting a 1941 Oklahoma state Supreme Court opinion? Oh, come on. In 21st century New Jersey, for instance, there is no such decision. I'm willing to bet it's not even binding in Oklahoma. You're reaching.

Argument 2: ...childbirth is the single most traumatic natural event that can happen to a woman's body. Even in this modern era, women die in childbirth.
I'm very, very well aware of the physical trauma caused by going through labor and delivery, not to mention all the stuff that happens before. I think it's a bit of an exaggeration to say it's the single most traumatic natural event, though... simple old age is quite a bit worse over the long term (but I know that's not what you meant by "natural").

Okay, I didn't say that pregnancy is the single most traumatic physical event to happen to a woman because I think it is. Medical practitioners say that. It doesn't matter if you think it's an exaggeration. It's a medical fact. I probably never should have brought up dying in childbirth; it is irrelevant to the discussion, really. The relevant factor: My body. My decision.

Finally, argument 3:The ultimate reason a woman gets to say whether or not she's going to have that baby is because she's going to have that baby.
I don't see how that applies. I do think, though, that denying men the same choice women have, then forcing compensation based on shared responsibility, makes a mockery of the whole choice idea. Either men are never, ever responsible for children, or else men get the same legal powers of choice that women get. You can't give the woman the sole decision making power without placing the consequences solely on the woman, and I don' t think we want a society which assumes no paternal rights at all.

It's obvious that you don't see how that applies. Men don't have the same choice women have, because men don't have the baby. My body. My decision. You absolutely can give the woman that kind of decision-making power and still not place the consequences solely on the woman; that's why we're having this discussion in the first place. Nope, it's not fair, nope, it's not equal, and, well, tough. Life isn't fair, and life isn't equal. My body. My decision. Not yours, not a judge's.


Errors and emails

Okay, okay, I got my head handed to me for thinking Forbush Man was MAD Magazine and not Marvel. Yeesh. I forgot! And Steven, Willie Lumpkin is the Fantastic Four's mailman, or as he would be known today, Letter Carrier, and no, I didn't have to Google it to find out. I know what Aunt Petunia looks like, too, and it's nothing like Aunt May.

Speaking of hot women, I got a piece of spam today that I thought I'd share with you all:

[TITLE] I new to the area

No you're not. This is the Internet, sweetie, there is no area. Glad to see your grammar is as good as your brains.

Hi my name is Beth. I saw your profile on ICQ.

No you didn't. I've never been on the ICQ. Not interested. You got my email via the Pepys Project or because Dave Winer didn't hide email addresses in Radio comments when they were initiated. (Did I remember to say thanks for that Dave? I'm so thrilled.)

I am new to the area and am looking for someone to show me around.

See, now here's my problem. New to what area? Show you around where? Show you exactly what? If this is a "You show me yours and I'll show you mine" kinda thing, uh, well, we have the same things, and I'm straight, so you're totally S.O.L.

If you're interested in hanging out with a cool girl send me an email at [email protected] and we can chat on instant messenger.

There you go, boys, a present from me to you. If the email address is legit, not only can you chat on IM with Beth The Slut (who may very well be Chet the 250-lb. Star Trek fan living in his parents' basement), but she can get spammed, too, as soon as the spambots catch this page. (Calling all spambots! Dinnertime! Come and get it!)

Hope to hear from you soon!!
0 0
>
- _ _ -Beth
4556pvvh0-913zOcQ4642orIO2-373GVl30

Look! A pretend PGP key, just to make you think Beth is for real. Or is that her ICQ number? (Beats the hell out of me, I'm serious when I say I've never been. I type 100 wpm. I refuse to chat with anyone who can't type at least 60. And spell.) And awww, she's even blowing us kisses. Or are the O's hugs? I forget.

Anyway, y'all have fun with Beth, and report back to me if anything amusing happens. And remember: No glove, no love.

TOP


8/15/02

Is it funny?

Just one rule for the time being: Is it funny?

Left of Center got a surprise guest-host today, too: Forbush Man! Wow, I didn't know that MAD Magazine let him do anyone else's schtick. (Michael, you never want to open a post about the Hulk with the words, "Smash this, Green-butt!" Come to think of it, you didn't. The phrase "Smash this Green-butt" is a very different phrase without that comma. [snicker]) And they wonder why English majors are always laughing. (Update: I know, I know, scroll up, Forbush fans.)

Bigwig pointed out this article on the anti-globalization-cum-Palestinian-cum-every foul or screwy cause in the world march on Washington the week after the "We Stand for Israel" solidarity march. It's by P.J. O'Rourke, and it's utterly hilarious.

Okay, let's make it two rules: Is it non-controversial?

Matt Yglesias finally changed his blog to a readable black text on white background. That's not funny, just a sign that we have won another battle in the readability wars. And I am hereby designating Matt the InstaLefty. LeftyPundit? InstaLeftyPundit? Nah. Too much. InstaLefty. There you go. InstaLefty Matt Yglesias. Matt the InstaLefty. Pass it on.

The Poorman is on hiatus, but he leaves us with these words of wisdom: "Badly acted, not directed or edited in any noticable way, Halloween III is an astonishing acheivement in the field of celluloid shit." That's my boy.

Hey, Vegard, I got another Nigerian spam email today. Should I pass it along for fisking by you? (Mine is from BARRISTER ALI KOLOMA,which sounds sort of like colonic, which brings you to the region where you will get it if you're dumb enough to send these folks your bank account number. I may very well have Fun With Fools again and present my letter for your amusement. "I came to know of you in my private search for a reliable and reputable person to handle this confidential transaction, which involves the transfer of a huge sum of money." Yeah, that's why the letter is addressed to "sir." He's being so confidential he's not even divulging my gender.

And Laurence Simon is doing the same-old, same-old, except he's winning the Most Tasteless Blogger competition (it's strictly a two-man race, I'm the judge, and no, I won't take bribes.) What, you want links? Nuh-uh. Too tasteless for me to link to with a clear conscience.


HULK SMASH!!!

Hulk take over for Meryl today. Meryl not want to write 'bout contro--contro--tough things. Meryl say she relaxing today and you all leave her alone. Hulk will SMASH anyone who not leave Meryl alone! Why you still send her letters about things she not want to write about? Hulk smash Michelle if he could find her! Well, maybe not smash. Maybe just crush. Okay, Hulk never smash woman, but maybe Hulk smash woman's house. Meryl say no. Car? No. Boy, Meryl not let Hulk have any fun. Oh! Meryl say if Michelle has yip dog, Hulk can smash dog. But Hulk like dogs! Even little tiny ones that bite Hulk's toes.

Meryl say go here to read more on tough things she not write about. (Who this Ampersand guy? Why he like sand? Hulk not like sand, it get in Hulk's pants and make him itch.) And here. (That right, Ronnie, Meryl very polite. You be polite too or Hulk smash you.) Nice guy Dave have more to say on God. Hulk know Thunder God, he nice most of time. Sometimes we fight. Hulk win. Hulk always win.

Hulk tired of this. Hulk leave now.


No more effing controversy

I bought ice cube trays today. Who effing cares? some of you may be thinking. Uh—what's that got to do with anything? the more polite of you may be thinking. This one's going to be really boring, is what some of you are thinking, and don't think I don't know that you're thinking that. You may all leave the room now; when you come back I'm sending you home with a note for your parents.

It's all about the comfort level.

There weren't any ice cube trays in my new apartment's freezer. The previous tenants, or the ones before them, made off with them. This happens to be the second apartment in a row where they've done that, and it's effing annoying me. (You can thank Diane E. for the effing effings; she's the one that sent me an email titled "effing Scorpio" after she called information and discovered that my phone number is effing unlisted. And I like using "effing," it seems less vulgar than the word for which it stands, one nation, indivisible, oh, wait a minute. Got carried away there. Effing rhythms.)

Okay, so I'll stop for a bit.

Anyway, the ice cube trays are vital to having a cocktail. You can't have a cocktail without ice, or it winds up all warm and watery instead of cold and watery, and there is a huge difference between a cold watery cocktail and a warm one. Warm ones are just, well, gross. (Thought I was going to say "effing gross," didn't you? Ha!) And for one reason or another, the habit I picked up from Heidi of having cocktails at ten p.m. every night went by the wayside during my packing frenzy before the move, my disorientation after the move, a stomach bug that hit me on and off over the past few weeks, and, well, the fact that I have had no effing ice cube trays since I moved here. So today, having realized there was a Target on the way home from spending the afternoon with Heidi, I was determined that I would not go home without ice cube trays. Which I did not.

And tonight, I poured myself my first official cocktail of my Richmond residency, determined that I was not going to write another post about all the effing controversial subjects that I've been writing about these past few days. I am going to sit here, relaxing, sipping my vodka and Coke (which my pal Terry has assured me is a very Irish drink, and she is my authority on things Irish, so I believe her), and posting about—making a relaxing cocktail.

My particular brand of drink grew out of two things: One, vodka is one of the few liquors whose taste I can stand. Two, when I worked night shift, I used to be exhausted on Saturday nights because I generally got no more than four hours' sleep on Saturday afternoons (I wanted to live normal daytime hours on my days off). So I'd wander into the Saturday night get-togethers sleepy-eyed and needing caffeine. I hate coffee, so I'd drink Coke. After a while, I decided it was just as easy to put some vodka in my glass of Coke, as everyone else was drinking, anyway, and so my personal favorite drink was born. My current favorite brand is Rain; it's so good I can actually drink it straight (though I usually don't). Heidi owes me a bottle of Grey Goose as a housewarming present; I have to remind her of that. I'm told it's even better. VodkaDude would probably be able to clue me in on that.

My drink seems to have become more widespread, as I rarely get the strange looks from bartenders when I order a vodka and Coke now. Either that, or they only give strange looks like that to twentysomething girls, and not to cough-coughsomething women. Hm. (The answer to the question from the guy in the back is, "Because rum sucks, that's why. And pay attention, I already said why I liked vodka.")

So there you have it. Ice cube trays = cocktails = relaxing. Effing controversy go away. In fact, go read Vegard Valberg's very funny takedown of a Nigerian spam letter. We all need a break around here, and I don't have enough vodka to share with everyone.

TOP


8/14/02

One last bit of seriousness

Dave Trowbridge, who is not Jewish, has joined in the discussion on Mark Shea, Abe Zelmanowitz, and Catholicism. About the only thing I have to add to this topic is to the commenters over on Mark's weblog: You people need to read up on your history. A lot. A whole lot. (And I'm thinking this may be the last word on that subject.)

Dave's opinion on the matter at hand:

Of course, Mark and Christians of a similar persuasion may still argue that, even though faith in Jesus is not needed, it is still his power working through people like Abe Zelmanowitz's that produces the holiness he exhibited. And certainly, at the heart of both faiths is the certainty of God's sovereignty over the universe, so that nothing can be accomplished without Him. But, as I understand it, the Jewish understanding of this dependence is far more like a partnership with God than a "channeling" of His intentions as it is in Christianity. That perception is at the heart of the Covenant they observe, which, as the bishops rightly insist, is valid for all time, for God does not break promises.

So even though I am a Christian, I cannot, and must not attempt to, understand that relationship in Christian terms, but only in the terms God chose to define His relationship with His chosen people. Instead, I must say—for so God said almost 5000 years ago and has said ever since—that it is Abe's observance and understanding of, and devotion to, the Covenant made with Abraham and his descendants that lay behind that holy act of sacrifice and demonstration of the love of God.

Amen, Brother Dave.


Still more paternity posts

Richard Bennett gets back to me over on his site. (I'll be back later with studies shoring up my end of the discussion.) Tony of The Rant Factory had me agreeing with a lot of what he said. Until I read this part:

If 3: This is where it gets wierd... but that fetus had its genesis in the union of two people, and the fact is that while it's INSIDE the woman's body, it doesn't equal her body. In fact, the woman's body has to constantly produce hormones which suppress the body's natural reaction to a foreign organism... kill it, reject it, get it out. Decrease in this hormone is what triggers labor. It's a woman's body, but the fetus is a seperate thing... it's not like a toe or an ear.

If the father wants this child, the mother should not be able to abort it. Instead, the mother should abdicate her responsibility legally. No child support, no rights of visitation, no contact. The father should have to pay (and I mean PAY) a hefty sum to compensate the woman for what is an extremely unpleasant and possibly dangerous process. Once again, the idea that you ould be compelled to carry to term a baby you don't want might cut down some on accidental pregnancy.

Finally, with a framework like this in place, well known and well written, people can make intelligent decisions with some idea of what the outcome might be. With some predictability and a bit of equal justice, it gets a lot easier to say "you should've thought of that before you got yourself into this."

Ah, no. You don't get to make a law that says I have to carry a fetus to term if I don't want to. Perhaps you might want to re-read Diane E.'s post, where she pointed out that childbirth is the single most traumatic natural event that can happen to a woman's body. Even in this modern era, women die in childbirth. I know of two women who died in childbirth. You're right when you said above that it's not like it's a toe or an ear. The ultimate reason a woman gets to say whether or not she's going to have that baby is because she's going to have that baby.

And now, more reader mail. I simply have to print this one, it's from Eve (okay, Summers), who takes issue to my writing this:

That's why the woman gets to decide whether or not she wants to have the baby, and why the man has to pay even though he has no legal say in the matter. Because of the age-old story: Men leave. Women stay and take care of the children.

She responds:

While that's undeniably true in a general and historical sense, it's not a fair assessment of each situation, as you yourself noted. However, there's a more solid rationale on which to assert the primacy of the woman's decision, and it has the advantage of being universally applicable: Women bear the biological burden of pregnancy and childbirth exclusively. It's not fair, but biological facts don't know from fair; they just are. So I say that as long as women bear that biological burden, their desires regarding unintentional pregnancy should be honored, not because of stereotypical male-female behavior.

To test our premises in the time-honored Philosophy 101 fashion, let's imagine a case in which the biological burden is removed from the woman and the desire to nurture resides in the man. Suppose medical science makes it possible to remove a fetus to an artificial womb through an operation that carriers no more risk than an abortion or a term pregnancy. If that day ever comes, I would hope a man would have the option to do so if he wanted the child that resulted from an unintentional pregnancy and his partner did not. And under that circumstance, I would support his right to compel the woman to pay child support, even if she didn't want the child. That seems fair to me, but under the rationale you proposed, the woman in this hypothetical case would still have the upper hand merely because men have historically been less devoted parents than women.

And while I am tempted to end this argument on a high note, I would much rather end it on a funny one. From reader Lauren Coats, on why there isn't a male version of the birth control pill:

Actually, there was considerable work in the 60's and 70's on a male pill. They were all effective, too. They made him impotent.

Ba-dum-bump.


Good Lord, isn't it over yet?

I think the new motto for this weblog will be: Damn the controversy, full speed ahead!

Diane E. has now chimed in on the paternal responsibility discussion, damn her! (I want it to be over.) It made me realize that I'm quite tired of the discussion, but not too tired to print a few more letters. Well, tomorrow, anyway.

Jeff Cooper has joined in the discussion on Abe Zelmanowitz.

This is all rather heady stuff, and as a Jew struggling to overcome an entirely secular upbringing (and married to a Christian) I'm probably out of my depth in trying to comment on this. But it seems to me that Mark is trying to have it both ways, and that it won't work. I have no doubt that Mark meant well by what he wrote. His deep admiration of Abe Zelmanowitz's supreme sacrifice is apparent. But Mark does suggest that, although Abe Zelmanowitz was a pious Jew, his holiness was not, and could not be, the product of his Judaism but rather was the result of intervention by the Holy Spirit, a notion that Zelmanowitz himself surely would have rejected. Strictly speaking, this may not demand of Jews that they abandon anything, but it most certainly does seek to appropriate the holy act for a faith foreign to the actor and to deny any force to the actor's own deeply-held beliefs. It should be no surprise that Jews, who for centuries have been subject to Christian proselytizing, would find this offensive.

Not bad for a secular, intermarried Jew, Jeff. Not bad at all. (Of course, his adherence to my Terms of Use at the end of his post rather broke the mood, but it was a pleasant surprise.)

Mark Shea responded as well. He gets rather pissy at my and Lynn's remarks, and downright mad at Judith Weiss', but hey, Mark—when you go around Catholicizing a Jewish man's actions, then saying you're not, then saying you are, but not really—it does tend to offend Jews.

At least one of Joe's readers has made the mistake of thinking I was suggesting Abe was a "Christian". I wasn't. Abe lived and died a pious Jew. I was rather, saying that people who don't identify themselves as Christian are not thereby necessarily uninfluenced by the Spirit of Christ. Since my tradition teaches that it is only through Christ that we have salvation (since he is God incarnate) then I have to conclude that the obvious holiness of Abe's life is the fruit of some mysterious influence by the Holy Spirit that is outside the normal means of grace with which most Catholics are familiar. There is room for this in Catholic tradition.

Yeah, but there's no room for this in the Jewish tradition, and that's what's offending us, Mark. When you take your traditions and apply them to a Jew and declare him to be under the influence of Christ, whether or not he knows it, we tend to think of that as your saying he was a Christian. There just isn't any other way to interpret that. And, well—it annoys us. It may seem like a good deed to you, judging by the title of your posts, but it doesn't to us.

Ronnie Schrieber has a new blog and has added his two cents to the discussion, including an opinion on my link to what I described as an example of interfaith understanding:

As for Meryl's example of "real interfaith understanding", I'm more than a little uncomfortable with these joint tenancies (there's a building shared in Ann Arbor by a temple and a church) because in an attempt to "understand" while avoiding conflict important differences between the two faiths are glossed over. Furthermore, I have no doubt that part of the motivation of the church in offering their sanctuary was to give witness to their beliefs and try to draw Jews to Jesus. They would be denying their faith if they said differently.

And I think that's about all the controversy I can take for one day. I think tomorrow, I'm just going to stick to writing a new Cattales, which hasn't been updated in ages. Well, okay, not really. I found a knock-your-socks off news article to parse for us all.


Oh, but before I forget: Shelley, Heidi, my friend whose in-laws live in Arkansas, tells me that just about any drugstore in Missouri has something called Chigger Rid. Best of luck with that, eh?

TOP


8/13/02

Readers reply on fathers' rights

Win Fitzpatrick reminds me that the principal reason men don't have a say in abortion is that ultimately, it's the woman's body. Not that men don't take care of the children and women do. He's right, and I didn't mean to imply otherwise. I was adding to my reasons from the first post. And now onto the mail. (Note: the letters were long and some had to be edited for brevity. I tried to keep the flavor of the author's points intact.) Michelle Dulak writes:

First, you are not presenting the woman's full range of options here. A woman who gets pregnant can, of course, abort; and if she does not want to abort or to raise the child, she can relinquish her parental rights at birth.

You're quite wrong that the "keep it in your pants" line never comes up in these discussions. Ten years ago I used to read a Usenet discussion group on abortion regularly, and "Don't wanna have to pay child support? Then keep it in your pants" was constantly used there. (Sometimes he is told to get himself permanently sterilized instead; I can't tell you how many men in that forum were off-handedly advised to "get snipped.") It was generally countered from the anti-abortion side by "Well, don't wanna have a baby? Then don't spread your legs."

What you actually say is "If the man doesn't want to risk paying for a child, don't have unprotected sex." But "protection" can fail, of course. Condoms can break, or fall off. Or be retrieved from the trash and used for self-insemination. This is rare, to be sure, but it has actually happened, and child support has been upheld. There was even a quite astonishing case in which a man wearing a condom got a b***j** from a woman (there was no vaginal intercourse at all), she later used the condom's contents to inseminate herself, and child support was upheld against him. (I thought this had to be a joke, but I tracked it down online some time back and it seemed to be a genuine case. Not sure if it was subsequently overturned though. It damn well should have been.)

And there have certainly been a good number of cases in which men have been lied to by women who claim they are on the Pill, or have an IUD, or are sterile. Your response to this fraud is evidently "tough luck; should've worn a condom anyway." But we are talking about payments that routinely run into the six figures. Calculate, say, $500/month over 18 years, which I'm guessing would be a smallish judgment.

Child support should be pegged to the legitimate costs of raising a child, not to the size of the father's bank account (as it often is); it should be promptly adjusted if the man's financial situation changes, as if he is laid off or imprisoned (as it often is not).

The fact is that while we use the apparently gender-neutral term "reproductive rights," almost all of them are in practice rights of women and not of men. Think about it. If a woman wants a child, barring infertility, she can get herself pregnant (naturally or artificially) and have one. Single women and lesbian couples can raise families. Single men and gay male couples generally can't; they find it difficult to adopt, and surrogate motherhood is a terrible legal and ethical tangle. So women, but not men, get to start families outside of a long-term heterosexual relationship.

If, on the other hand, they choose not to have children, women also have the edge. Their birth control options (as you said) are much broader; they can abort if they find themselves pregnant anyway; and they can unilaterally relinquish their parental responsibilities at birth if they so desire. They have a right to a slice of the biological father's income under almost all circumstances, whether he has consented or not, whether his relationship to them was solemnized or not. If the relationship dissolves, they win custody of the children pretty much whenever they ask for it. Nothing (usually) then prevents them from moving to the other end of the country and thereby forcing the father to see his children only rarely and at great expense.

I can't think of a single area in which men have greater reproductive freedom than women do, unless it be that a vasectomy is a less complicated operation than a tubal ligation.

Birth control and abortion are attempts to relieve women of the huge burden that pregnancy and motherhood place on us by nature; but by leaving women all the advantages of being able to give birth or not, while not trying to give any compensating rights to men, the current regime leaves the playing field hopelessly slanted in favor of women. I'm not sure what can be done about it, but coming up with some form of male relinquishment of parental rights and responsibilities would be a start.

As for presenting the woman's full range of options, it wasn't the topic at hand, and everybody reading these posts already knows the options available. I didn't see the need to discuss them.

The reason women get to have all the advantages in this particular area, Michelle, is that they're the ones who give birth. Until there are artificial wombs, the playing field by necessity must be slanted toward women. As for fraudulent births leading to parental support—that bothers me, as well, but I wasn't talking about deceptive practices. Just simple pregnancy resulting from lack of birth control on either side. I have no figures for women who get pregnant through deception, have you? I have no idea how prevalent it is, do you? The same goes for accidental pregnancy: Yes, the system isn't perfect, but that's the risk a couple takes when they have sex. As for the child support possibly running into the six figures: Yeah, it sucks, doesn't it? So if a man gets the judge to make child support a laughingly low amount, the mother's still stuck paying for the upkeep of the kids. The need doesn't magically go away. Then there are all those studies about women's incomes going down after divorce, while a man's goes up. Interesting, that. The one who has to take care of the kids winds up with less money. But I digress.

Michelle, we don't have to come up with some form of male relinquishment of parental rights and responsibilities. That's the problem that needs to be solved here. That's what I started writing about in the first place.


Richard Bennett writes:

What a sad pair of articles you've written on men, women, and children. I hardly know where to begin. Oh, well, gotta start somewhere.

"Keep your knees together" was the old timey argument against abortion, birth control, and sex education. We've come a long way since that was considered an intelligent riposte, which you should recognize when using it's masculine form, "keep it in your pants."

You clearly know nothing about child support, and would be better off not trying to comment on it until you've learned the basics. For starters, it's paid monthly, not weekly.

Finally, the idea that men leave and women stay is contradicted by at least two significant pieces of research:

1) Women file for divorce twice as often as men. In these cases, the man loses out on custody, but it wasn't really his doing, was it?

2) Studies of childcare practices among the American middle class show that mothers and fathers of school-aged children who both work (that would be the majority of married parents) spend equal amounts of time on child care.

In the cases where you have an old-timey stay-at-home mom, who exactly do you suppose it is that makes this situation possible from a financial point of view? And if a situation like this breaks up, do you suppose it's easier for the wage-earning parent to acquire childcare skills or for the childcare parent to acquire wage-earning skills? I'd vote for the former.

I don't know why you were so snippy about this issue, so I'm inclined to write it off to ignorance.

Ah, Richard—is the bloom off the rose so quickly? And to think, you used to agree with me... But to your points.

I do know something about child support; merely because some of it is paid in monthly installments doesn't mean it is only paid monthly, and that was, well, kind of a dumb thing to fixate on.

1) The statistic that women file for divorce is completely different from the statistic that women initiate the divorce. What are the stats on the latter, please?

2) Name those studies, please, because I've read the complete opposite on that.

My brother is currently staying at home due to a variety of circumstances, and taking care of his eleven-year-old son while his wife works. He's compiling a list of expenses that they've saved by having him home for childcare, as well as taking care of all the domestic chores plus the yardwork, the pool, and keeping the household finances. It works out to quite a large amount of money, more than most people can afford to pay someone to do all those things. And guess what? Stay-at-home moms do most, if not all, of what my brother the stay-at-home dad is doing. (As an aside, nearly everyone he comes into contact with thinks he stays home doing nothing all day—the typical canard stay-at-home moms have had to deal with for decades.) So although the stay-at-home parent isn't receiving a paycheck, let's not pretend s/he isn't working. And let's not pretend that the paycheck-bearing spouse is the sole reason the other can stay at home. There are several factors involved.

Snippiness: Right back atcha, bubelah. (Actually, I left that paragraph in because your style cracks me up. I know it pisses off a lot of people, but somehow, I'm not one of them.)

Okay folks, there are a few more letters (some of which even agreed with me), but I'll publish them later. This post got a little long.


What's in a name?

Every so often, a metablogging trend hits that I actually care enough about to venture an opinion. (We are an insular, egotistical lot, we bloggers, and we simply love to talk about ourselves.)

This one is the practice of blogging anonymously or with a pseudonym. Steven den Beste started the furor with some licks at Demosthenes, who responded with about as much verbosity as was thrown at him.

Without really meaning to insult everyone who has taken part in this debate, I'm simply amused by it. I've seen this argument over and over again in the online community, having been online since 1986. The way I figure it, it's your choice. I bought the domain of yourish.com back in the days when you could still buy your internet name domain (not that I was particularly worried another Yourish would snap it up; there are perhaps 50 of us in the country). The domain name sort of makes it incumbent on me to use my real name here. Plus, I've always hated being anonymous. It drives me crazy pretending to be something that I'm not. I've always sucked at game-playing in social situations for that very reason; if I can't just be me, and be rather direct, I just can't—well, whatever I'm supposed to be doing. My close friends have caught on to all of the code-words I employ when I'm trying not to give away my opinion. If I say something is "neat," one says, "Oh, you don't like it." I don't play poker, because only a blind person can't read my expressions and tell my mood from them. Subtle is a word rarely used to describe me.

Under those circumstances, I'd last about three days as an anonymous blogger.

But still, the current debate strikes me as, well, a waste of bandwidth. Name yourself or don't name yourself, I don't care. If I like your writing, I'll read you. If I don't, I won't. No one's online opinion is ever going to have as much weight as my offline friends' do, unless it's a blog written by an offline friend. It's like reading a newspaper column. I don't know anything about Tom Friedman beyond his name and what I read by him, nor do I really care to.

But I've got to say this: I've been dying to use this story ever since I first saw any blogger get into a debate with Demosthenes. In Harpo Marx's autobiography, he describes a few bon mots that he heard during the Algonquin Round Table years (he was a silent member). Alexander Woollcott asked the Round Table folks if they'd like to hear him make up a sentence with the word "Demosthenes" in it. Of course they all said yes.

"Demosthenes can do is bend, and hold the legs together."

My kinda guy, Mr. Woollcott.


A real example of interfaith understanding

Mac Thomason linked to this article in the Birmingham News (yes, that Birmingham). It's about a Southern Baptist church making a home for the congregation from Temple Emanu-El, a Reform Synagogue that underwent 14 months of renovation and refurbishing.

Temple Emanu-El members hugged, kissed and touched their sacred Scriptures as they were passed along through the crowd, watched closely by law enforcement officials.

Since June 9, 2001, Birmingham's Reform Jewish congregation had worshipped at Southside Baptist Church, which had welcomed the members and covered its gold-colored cross during Jewish services to avoid offending anyone. On Saturday, Temple Emanu-El held its final Sabbath service at Southside Baptist and gave a standing ovation to thank church members for their hospitality. The cross was not covered during the service.

The Rev. Steve Jones, pastor of Southside Baptist, said that during the 14 months of sharing worship space, the Jewish congregation may have shed some of its associations of the Christian cross with the persecution of Jews. "I think it came to represent something new, not something oppressive," Jones said.

"It was an indication of a growing comfort level," Rabbi Jonathan Miller, spiritual leader of Temple Emanu-El since 1991, said of the cross' being left uncovered.

Miller said the Jewish congregation developed a deepened relationship with the church. "For us, it was a necessary place to meet," Miller said. "But it helped us grow spiritually and helped us look at the Christian world not as an adversary but as a spiritual partner."

Members of both congregations took part in the procession and in services at the church and the synagogue.

"It's given us a greater depth in our own faith," said Jesse Bates, a member of Southside Baptist Church.

"We have shown that people of different faiths can worship together in love and fellowship," said Jack Aland Jr., a member of Temple Emanu-El. "We discovered some friends we didn't know we had."

Now that is a "shining example of interfaith understanding," Joe. Without intruding on either worship.

The Jews and Baptists are looking forward to more joint programs, such as a Scripture study on Wednesday nights this fall that will look at the Hebrew Bible and its influence on the New Testament, Jones and Miller said.

The relationship between the church and temple has changed both congregations for the better, they said.

"So much goodwill has come from this," Jones said.

"It has helped people grow and see beyond their horizons," Miller said.

Vimru: Amen. (Let us all say: Amen.)

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8/12/02

Having a look around

There's an article in Ha'aretz by Terje Roed-Larsen, he who said in April that Jenin was "horrific beyond belief" and insinuated that the bodies were piled as high as an elephant's eye in Jenin, on the road to a two-state solution and peace. Tell me—who put the pod under his bed? What, suddenly he's the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and he's talking about both sides' responsibilities? I say we commence a special UN investigative committe into who kidnapped Larsen and replaced him with this guy.

But in this era of unimaginable attacks that rip through the bodies of innocents, the fabric of communities and the tattered remains of a peace process, I feel we must reiterate it. At the same time, we must stress that there is a way out of this madness, one that also follows a long standing UN position - a negotiated agreement that creates two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security.

When it comes to the bloodshed that stretched from the campus on Mount Scopus to the hills of the Galilee, let me be clear - terrorism has absolutely no justification on any level. Only one word describes indiscriminate attacks against men, women and children - murder. Terrorism has wreaked havoc on Israel and must be stopped.

The Israeli people need to know that when they board a bus, visit a cafe, mark a religious holiday or, yes, even go to school, they will not be victims of heinous acts of violence. Moreover, terror attacks have also been extremely counterproductive for the Palestinian people. They have deepened the occupation of their land, which remains the core of this conflict.

Oh. Phew. He's still there. Terror attacks have been counterproductive for the Palestinians. Yeah, it really sucks, the way that terror attacks can set back your plans to conquer all of Israel.


Joe Katzman responds to Lynn and me.


Scott Koenig, whose site the Indepundit is the repository of all things McKinney, has sent out a letter to Dr. Mohamed S. Omeish, the Vice President of the American Muslim Foundation. It should be interesting to see the reply to questions like these:

Do you believe that Hamas and Hezbollah are sponsors of terrorism?

Do you support Hamas?

Do you support Hezbollah?

Do you believe it can ever be justified for a military action to intentionally target innocent civilians? If so, under what conditions?

I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for answers, Scott.


Diane E. takes on the the warblogger-watch crowd, morally blind leftists, the complicity of American Muslim groups, Atrios, and, well, even the people who post in comments threads. In doing so, she coins a new term:

One left-wing blogger emailed me: "I am thoroughly enjoying the whacking that Atrios/Eschaton was giving you. You deserve every word of it."

Amen, anonymous bro.

For the record, I don't think I've been taking a whacking. But that's the way radical leftists talk: there's always the threat of the truncheon about them. On the contrary, I believe I am offering the possibility of moral self-reckoning. Atrios has responded to my questions by staggering forth, sinking his sword into his own midsection and committing blogger-kiri. I mean no disrespect to hara-kiri which is, after all, an ritual of honor.

There is nothing honorable about moral blindness.

Bogger-kiri: I'm going to define it as something you would rather do than mess with Diane.


Gary Farber read the Saudi response to "What are We Fighting For," and found the reply signed by 153 Saudi intellectuals to be, well, about what you could expect.

We see secularism as inapplicable to Muslim society, because it denies the members of that society the right to apply the general laws that shape their lives and it violates their will on the pretext of protecting minorities. It does not stand to reason that protecting the rights of the minority should be accomplished by violating the rights of the majority.

The rights of the majority to suppress minorities, that is. Ya folla? Thus, the rights of the minority to, say, practice Christianity or Judaism in Saudi Arabia are protected by protecting the rights of the majority to forbid the rights of the minorities.

I had no idea Kafka was actually Arabian, but it's a richer culture than many imagine.

I won't bother pointing out the rest of the endlessly self-serving illogical, outright threatening, bullshit, in this "How We Can Co-Exist," but I will say that reading it is again educational. This is the "liberal," "moderate" Saudi response. It threatens more terrorism, in numerous ways, if they are not agreed with.

Plus, he says I'm kewl. (He'd better watch our or he'll owe me a million billion jillion gazillion dollars.) Dude—did you read the part where I get male escorts? You want male escorts? I wouldn't borrow it word-for-word if I were you.)


Terms of Use

It got far too serious around here lately. So I made it even more serious. I added an official Terms of Use page. I stole it directly from Bill Quick and jiggered it around a little. I think mine is much more interesting than his. (Bill's is really boring.) I think mine is much more interesting than anyone's, actually. See if you agree.


Blogging from Israel

For some reason, I don't think I've ever posted about these three Israeli bloggers, a mistake I am now rectifying. (And I'm adding an "Israeli bloggers" section to my links page.)

Imshin has a biting wit that makes me laugh out loud more often than not, and I love her directness and sense of irony. It reminds me of someone... Here's an example:

You know, I wonder about these people. They seem to be living in a time warp. Maybe they’re right to “disagree with the notion that Zionist emigration to Israel is any kind of 'solution' for Diaspora Jews, anti-Semitism, or racism.” After all, Jews were doing just great beforehand, especially in the wonderfully enlightened Western Europe. But that’s all water under the bridge.

Right now there are over five million Jewish “victims” of that mistaken notion, living in Israel, seeing it as their home, many of them third and fourth generation Israelis, many of them speaking no other language but Hebrew. A large percentage of these “victims” of that mistaken notion were forced to escape their homes in Arab countries. Together these “victims” of that mistaken notion, no matter which country they were forced out of (call me strange but I also see Holocaust survivors as having been forced out), have built a home and a life, without having to apologize for being different, for the first time in two thousand years (and you know, whatever they say, Jews in Arab countries had to keep their heads down too).

So what next? Oops, sorry! Mistaken notion! It’s back to Libya, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Poland (Poland??? Motti, what did you do with that Polish dictionary, your Great-Great-Uncle Yankel gave your father?) and so on, for you lot. Oh, and girls, make sure to exchange that belly-button ring for a nice big piece of black material, covering everything but your eyes (it could prove helpful if you’re lucky enough to miss the massacre at Teheran Airport).

Gil Shterzer gives compelling play-by-plays of what happens during major terrorist attacks. It brings the attacks home when you read items like this:

A short time ago there was an explosion in the Hebrew University at Har Hatzofim Jerusalem. At least 7 people killed, 65 injured 15 of them in serious condition. The explosion happened in a cafeteria.

I’m a bit worried because I have friends that study in that university.

It seems someone planted a bomb and it wasn’t a suicide bomber this time. There a lot of Arab-Israeli students in the university and the police is checking whether one of them sneaked the bomb pass the security guards.

I’ll update later.

Of course, Gil writes about many things, and he can be hilarious (his post on a Palestinian terrorist was accompanied by a picture and the description, "He's really ugly!").

Tal G. was the "first" Israeli blogger; he got a quick leg up from Yahoo and his website address quickly entered the blogosphere because of posts like this:

There are roadblocks up in Jerusalem. Today they're serious: my very innocent-looking wife T. was pulled over.

Don't know if this is true, but a strange poster on the street says that Knesset Member Michael Kleiner is going to visit the Temple Mount today or tomorrow.

Tal also has commentary on the daily life in Israel, the worth of various Israeli newspapers, and the political situation.

Reading all three blogs gives you quite a picture of what day-to-day life is like in a constant state of undeclared war. Each of the bloggers discusses whether or not to go out for simple things that Americans and frankly, the people of nearly every other nation take for granted. I was thinking last Thursday night, as I sat in the open-air amphitheatre in Dogwood Dell in Richmond, waiting for a Sondheim show to start, that in Israel, they couldn't. They simply couldn't have a play in the midst of a park. Too open. Too insecure. Too easy to bring a bomb in a bag to a place where everyone had coolers and tote bags and picnic baskets. Too dangerous. Too deadly.

It made me realize that I needed to introduce the Israeli bloggers to more people. Here they are.

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8/11/02

Readers speaking out on responsibility

Folks are sending in some emails about the recent posts regarding fathers' rights vs. women's choice. I'll be publishing them later today or tomorrow, so if you're sending one, it will be helpful if you put a line in your email indicating if you'd like your letter published, and if so, how you would like your name referenced (first and last, first only, etc.).

And may I say that I'm very pleased at the civil tone of all the responses? I have great readers. I've known that a long time, but you keep on showing me over and over again.


Abe Avremel Zelmanowitz: A thoroughly Jewish hero

Lynn B. and I are having some serious problems with a post by Mark Shea, wherein he decided that Abe Zelmanowitz was not only a hero, but indeed, managed to "save" himself in the Christian way by staying with his paraplegic friend and ultimately dying with him on the 27th floor of the World Trade Center.

Although I'm sure Mark had no intention of offending, his words are deeply offensive to many, many Jews. I'm certain he's going to be shocked to read my reaction to his, as Lynn said, well-intentioned post. But good intentions do not absolve him from being told how wrong he is on Abe Zelmanowitz. Mark wrote:

And yes, I think it extremely likely this man is in heaven. For some Christians, this is problematic since there is a common notion afoot that the only way to be saved is to make a verbal profession of faith in Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. I think there are other ways in which a human person can open himself (often without realizing it) to the grace of Christ (mostly since I experienced it myself). This man appears to me to have lived "greater love hath no man" in a way that most of us just chatter about.

[...] No, I'm saying that there is no satisfactory answer for the ability of a fallen human to sacrifice himself for love as Abe did except the grace of God. Since my Tradition teaches that all such grace comes to us through Christ, I can only conclude that that Abe's soul was under the influence of Christ, whether he realized it consciously or not. Like Emeth in The Last Battle, he might have, for all I know, had all sorts of innocent, wrong and misinformed notions about a name called "Jesus" that had no more relation to the real Jesus than a bad cartoon of a person has to the person. Such notions are not culpable. But what was happening at his core looks very much like a man who was trying to listen to the Spirit. My hope is that when Abe got to heaven, he looked our Lord in the face, laughed his head off in surprised recognition and then set to at the heavenly banquet with all the other saints. I deeply believe heaven will be both a huge surprise and like coming home to what we've always most deeply believed and loved.

Lynn's response:

Mark is clearly struggling with the notion of a person who is not a Christian making a truly selfless sacrifice and also with the idea of such a person being allowed into heaven. And he resolves this dilemma by concluding that Avremel Zelmanowitz, a devout Orthodox Jew, somehow, without knowing it, must have been, at least in some small part, a Christian.

Now, I never knew Abe Zelmanowitz. But I do know a few Jews, Orthodox and otherwise, and I’ve spent more than a small part of my life studying Judaism. And I can assure Mark that he will have to find a different way to resolve his dilemma if he’s going to be truly honest with himself or with the spirit of the man whose hereafter he’s taken it upon himself to contemplate. Joe called Mark’s ruminations “a shining example of interfaith understanding, without denying or glossing over the conflicting principles of either faith.” I have to disagree. Mark’s comments reflect an appalling but all-too-common lack of “interfaith understanding” and totally ignore one of the most basic conflicts between Judaism and Catholic theology.

She is referring to Joe Katzman's post that says

Of course, this also raises issues.

[...] Mark, a Catholic, doesn't have a problem with that. Indeed, it becomes the bridge and resolution for a Christian problem - if Abe didn't accept Jesus, how can he be saved? What follows is a shining example of interfaith understanding, without denying or glossing over the conflicting principles of either faith.

No, it's not. It's a shining example of the cluelessness some Christians have about the Jewish faith. By insisting that Abe was under the influence of Christ without even knowing it, Mark manages to effectively say that Abe's entire life as an Orthodox Jew—which is an extremely difficult life to lead, by the way; I'm Conservative and that's tough enough—up to that time was a complete and utter waste of time, since he could only be saved by accepting Christ. It didn't matter that Abe's actions were the results of a lifetime of studying Jewish law, commentary, and philosophy, and it didn't matter that as an Orthodox Jew one of the defining pillars of his faith was that the Messiah has not yet arrived—it must have been Christ that influenced him to stay with his friend and ultimately sacrifice his life for him. This is the subtext of Mark's words, though he may not have meant them as such. And this is the key to what offends.

I have heard words like those many times before, and let me tell you, I am not flattered to be told that a Jew is acting in a Christian fashion. (Although it is more than a little ironic, when hearing that, to reflect exactly how Jewish most Christian traditions are.)

Abe was a Jew, Mark. He lived a Jew, he died a Jew, and if there's an afterlife for him, my guess is it's the Jewish afterlife. He chose to be buried in Jerusalem—not Bethlehem. He asked his rabbi this:

"A few days before the terrorist attack," Yankel Zelmanowitz related Monday, "Avremel attended a Sabbath shiur [lesson]. The rabbi spoke about sacrificing oneself for the love of God. Avremel told the rabbi: 'You speak of the great historical heroes, like Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Shimon Bar-Yochai, but how can a simple Jew like myself show his love of God?' The rabbi made some suggestions, but Avremel was not satisfied, so he asked the same question once again. The second reply didn't satisfy him either, nor did the third. But a few days later, he got the reply."

"How can a simple Jew like myself show his love of God?" Abe asked. A simple Jew. He was a hero. A Jewish hero. Kindly don't nominate any more Jews for sainthood; we're happy enough just being told we're good Jews. And Abe was one of the best of us.

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Last week's blogs are archived. Here's the Blogathon. The Superhero Dating Ratings are here. If you're looking for something funny, try the Hulk's solution to the Middle East conflict, or Yasser Arafat Secret Phone Transcripts. Iseema bin Laden's diary and The Fudd Doctrine are also good bets if you've never been here before.

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