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Anti-Israel media bias report

One brief article. Three paragraphs. Let's read them:

Hamas militants attacked by Israel, witnesses say
Gaza City -- An Israeli aircraft fired yesterday at a group of Hamas militants preparing to attack Israeli targets in the southern Gaza Strip, Palestinian witnesses said, further straining a fragile pause in hostilities and escalating tensions in the region.

The witnesses said the militants escaped unharmed. But the incident, near the city of Khan Younis, was the latest sign of trouble in the area.

Six people were killed Tuesday in a series of clashes in the West Bank and Gaza. AP

Look at the phrases in boldface. Apparently, Israel's attempt to stop terrorists from attacking are no longer actions of any sort of defense. They are actions that strain "a fragile pause in hostilities" and escalate tensions.

Say, Kav, are you still reading this site? Because here is pure, unadulterated proof of the anti-Israel bias of the media.

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The Exception Clause

Alex Bensky, the uber-commenter, has an explanation as to why groups like Human Rights Watch are so focused on Israeli human rights violations, and rarely on violations against Israelis:

You asked if HRW had made any complaints about Hamas before they started killing non-Jews. If they have, they haven't done so very loudly. I've been thinking about this situation for some time and through logic and reason I have figured out why they and similar groups, not to mention governments, haven't done so.

Sherlock Holmes once said that when you eliminate the impossible then whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be true. I can't find any actual citations for my conclusion but it is the only one that fits the facts.

According to my analysis, some time in the early 1920's the League of Nations passed a resolution which is still an integral part of international law. This resolution provided that any statement of principle, any doctrine, any policy, or any precept by anyone, be it individual, organization, or government, tacitly contains the proviso "except for Jews."

I put it to you that no other explanation fits the facts. Why would feminists support Arabs, of all people, over Israelis? Obviously because their principles are deeply felt "except for Jews." People who oppose capital punishment support the Palestinians, who engage in that practice right and left--sometimes with a brief swipe at due process, more often not--over Israel, which does not even execute convicted mass murderers. How can they do this? Because they adamantly hold to their principles "except for Jews." Civil libertarians compare Israel, a functioning and raucously open democracy, to the brutal and repressive Arab regimes and come out on the side of the Arabs. Why? Because they are civil libertarians "except for Jews."

And so on. This has to be the case, Meryl, and if you test it I think you'll see that it works. Look at any group's statement of beliefs, add "except for Jews," and their attitude towards the Arab-Israeli conflict is easily explained. As I say, I can't find any actual record of such a resolution, but no other explanation explains the phenomena and so I submit that my conclusion must stand until someone else can come up with a better one.

I think, Alex, that Jews instinctively get that, after a while. I'd call it the Bensky Theory, but it's a collective understanding. I'm doing some research now on HRW. The results bear out the Exception Clause. Extensively.

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Friday morning news roundup

Say buh-bye to Baby Assad: The Bush Administration is opting for regime change, and building up the case for it:

The United States has received "credible information" that Syrian operatives in Lebanon plan to try to assassinate senior Lebanese political leaders and that Syrian military intelligence forces are returning to Lebanon to create "an environment of intimidation," a senior administration official said Thursday.

The official said that the information had come from "a variety of Lebanese sources" and that "we assess it as credible." The information, he said, was gathered after the recent assassinations of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February, and of Samir Kassir, a well-known journalist, a week ago.

[...] The administration official volunteered the information about what he said was a "Syrian hit list" on the condition that he not be identified by name or agency. A spokesman for the official, asked why the official would not make the assertions more openly, said it was because of the diplomatic sensitivities involved as well as the usual reluctance to discuss intelligence matters openly.

It was clear that the official's statements, which were offered to reporters from at least two news organizations, were a deliberate signal of the Bush administration's continuing displeasure with the Syrian government's role in Lebanon.

Gee, let's think why Bush would be displeased. Hm, a vassal state, climate of fear, lack of independence, open arms (and bank accounts) for terrorists (including those who murder American soldiers and civilians), hm, hm, hm. Yeah, I'm thinking those are some good reasons to be displeased.

Oh, and the Syrian intelligence agents that were withdrawn a few weeks ago? They're ba-aack.

After a brief lull in Syrian interference in Lebanon, senior Syrian intelligence personnel have been seen back in Lebanon, particularly over the past week, the official added.

Is anyone else tired of the word "lull" in news articles about the Middle East?

What cease-fire? The IDF caught some more rats heading to murder civilians, and the rats are still shelling civilians. And planting bombs. And shelling more civilians. But when the IDF goes into a town to capture a terrorist planning a bombing attack on Israelis, Israel is the one who is "threatening the fragile truce."


Check the sky for pigs: Human Rights Watch says Hamas must stop shelling civilians.

(Jerusalem, June 9, 2005) -- Hamas must cease immediately “Qassam” rocket and mortar attacks against civilian areas, Human Rights Watch said today.

Hamas mortar shells and Qassam rockets killed three civilian workers (two Palestinian and one Chinese) and injured an Israeli woman and her two children in an attack that struck a packing plant in the Israeli settlement of Ganei Tal in Gaza and the Israeli town of Sderot yesterday. Both Israeli and Palestinian analysts suspect that Hamas’s continued use of mortar and Qassam attacks against civilians is an expression of the group’s displeasure at the cancellation of local election results in localities that favored Hamas and the recent postponement of the Palestinian Legislative Council elections.

“Hamas has repeatedly failed to respect a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law by attacking civilians and civilian objects,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch. “It is unacceptable for Hamas to express its unhappiness with the political situation by firing on civilians.”

Except I have a question: Did they issue any statements before non-Israelis were killed? I've got to get to work; if you have an answer, please link it in the comments.

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Bug me not

It is not bad enough that I suffered through the Ant Wars last year.

It is not bad enough that I capture and release (on a regular basis) crickets that look like spiders and crickets that look like cockroaches.

It is not bad enough that moths flock at both doors and try to come into my apartment with me nightly.

I just found a queen ant and some of her subjects—on my kitchen floor, next to the patio door. I'm pretty sure she came in via the door and was, I dunno, recuperating or something on the doorstep. She was surrounded by a bunch of ants so tiny that you could barely see them.

She and her servants are now dead. Kekt. Gone. Her throne room has been moved into the dumpster.

She was the biggest effing ant I have ever seen. Two inches long, winged, and she was still moving when I thought she was dead.

Ew. Ew. Ew. Ewewewewewewewew.

I hate bugs.

I really hate bugs.

Well, except for dragonflys and butterflies. I like them. Just not up close. because up close, they're fugly.

Imagine me using a Yosemite Sam voice for this one: Oooooh, I hates insects!

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Thursday morning shorts

Yeah, but we have the jets: The IAF sent six jets buzzing over Hezbollah rocket lines in Lebanon the other day.

The day after an electoral success for Hizbullah in southern Lebanon elections, six Israeli Air Force jets flew over the south and east of Lebanon Tuesday in what some observers said was a message to Hizbullah and Lebanon's citizens.

According to both an Associated Press report and a statement from the Lebanese Army reported by Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA), the planes flew over southern and eastern parts of Lebanon from 10:05 until 11:45 a.m., drawing anti-aircraft fire from the Lebanese army.

Needless to say, they missed.

Gerald Steinberg, a conflicts analyst at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, said that such a long flyover was "unusual" for the Israeli air force.

[...] The NNA reported that in certain areas the jets flew at a low altitude "conducting mock raids."

[...] According to a Western Beirut-based analyst, the number and the altitude are also unusual. "Six jets is a big number. It's an unusual number," he said. "And usually they don't fly low in order not to make themselves vulnerable to an attack."

The Beirut-based analyst said that Tuesday's flyovers were most likely a political statement. "Most of the times one gets the idea that these [flyovers] are political messages," he said. "They are trying to say: We are here. Don't think of anything. Don't start something."

I'm thinking yeah, it was a message, but see, my analysis is a bit more pithy. I think it was a two word message to the terrorists, and the last word is "you."

By the way, watch for the UN condemnation of the flyovers. There will be no such condemnation of the continuing rocket attacks.

What calm? Islamic Jihad is threatening all-out war. Again.

The period of calm is over and the Palestinians should be prepared to resume their attacks on Israel, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip declared on Tuesday.

"We maintain the right to respond to the crimes of (Prime Minister Ariel) Sharon," said Khaled al-Batsh, responding to Israel's killing of a top Islamic Jihad activist near Jenin.

Terrorist. He's an effing terrorist. Activists are morons who do things like put themselves at risk of suffocation in giant make-believe meat packages. A JPost editor is not on the ball on this one.

European anti-Semitism, the update: (There is no such thing as a sequel when something has never ended.)

A plurality of Europeans believes Jews are not loyal to their country and that they have too much power in business and finance, a new poll released by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Tuesday showed.

According to the poll, 43 percent believe Jews are more loyal to Israel than to their own country, with a majority of respondents in Italy, Germany, Poland and Spain saying they believe that this statement is “probably true.”

Alarmingly high levels of those surveyed across Europe still believe in the traditional anti-Jewish canard that “Jews have too much power in the business world.” Overall, nearly 30 percent of all respondents believe this stereotype to be true.

Similarly, European respondents still adhere to the notion that “Jews have too much power in international financial markets.” Overall, 32 percent of those surveyed cling to the traditional stereotype.

But it's just our overactive imagination. It's not anti-Semitism, it's anti-Zionism. Right? Right?

Wrong. I've been calling it anti-Semitism for four years. I think this poll is more proof that Europe hates Israel because it is a nation of Jews. It's not even guilt over the Holocaust. Most of them don't give a rat's ass about the six million dead.

Every time I read something like this, I thank God my grandparents and great-grandparents moved to America. I think my ancestors, too. (Thanks, zaydas and bubbes. )

A major turnaround: Show me the equivalent of a palestinian scholar who will do and say things like this. A leading Sephardic rabbi and opponent of the Gaza pullout is telling his followers to stop protesting, stop resisting, and go along with it. And to study the Torah.

Showing a rarely seen moderate side, the former Sephardic chief rabbi repeated his opinion that the disengagement program is illegitimate, but also said that while his followers should voice their objections to the program, they should not break the law or fight other Jews in the process.

"Several residents have asked me what they should do if this decree actually comes to pass, God forbid. I told them they mustn't raise a hand against anyone, not to fight with police," he said.

"(I told them to) sit at home, pour out your hearts to God and pray that He has mercy on his children and ask him to reverse this evil decree. Don't help soldiers who come to take you away, but don't fight them, either. We must prevent verbal or physical attacks on all Jews, whoever they may be," he said.

[...] Eliyahu added a message for young people who reject the mitzvah of Torah study in favor of fighting with police or sitting in jail.

"I say to these young people, 'fight (the disengagement) with the best weapon the Jewish people has ever had: Torah, Torah, and more Torah,'" he said.

And that is why we survive.

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I forgot to put Jonathan Last's weblog on my links page. He is now in the Long Overdue Additions section, because he managed to guilt me right back after I sent him a Jewish mother guilt email. Wow. Not a bad guilt-getter for a goy, Jonathan. By the way, Jonathan recommends Fox's new series, The Inside, written and produced by some of the greats who worked on Buffy and Angel. It's on at 9 p.m. tonight. I'm there. (Sorry, Jonathan, I always thought the Brigantine Castle ads were stupid, but I'm a bit older than you. Just a touch, mind you. A year or two at most. Okay, maybe three, but that's it. Tops.) ((By the way, the reason NZ Bear has two links is because a) I've known him since he was a teenager and b) He has a blackmail photo of me at a party with a person who is now a CIA agent, and although the activity involved was fairly innocent, the photo doesn't make it look that way. Come to think of it, maybe I don't have to worry so much, what with the guy being CIA and all, but hey, the guy was a geek in college, and he went for a CIA geek job, not the kind where they send you over to Iraq, so maybe I do have to worry. In any case, that photo cannot be released.)) Ahem. Where was I? Oh, the hell with it.

I was going to link to Mark's new blog, but he just sent me an email telling me to wait a day or two, so instead, I think I'll link to Dave Treppenwitz's Jerusalem Day Post.

Celestial Blue needs you: To buy more Am Yisrael Chai bracelets. Send emails out to your synagogue mailing lists, folks! It's for a worthy cause: She's going to Israel for five months. Wow. Five months. Lucky girl.

Lynn has a lot of posts I should have linked to lately: On setting the Torah apart. On the palestinians lying about Koran desecration. (I'm shocked, shocked I say.) On Yom Yerushalayem. Oh, go read it all.

By the way, if you have a link of interest on your own (or another) blog, put it in the comments or trackback to this post.

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Wednesday morning boxers

I get so tired of using the same title. "Briefs" is getting old.

Baby Assad is in deep doo-doo: The WaPo has a damning article on how Syria is behind the worst of the "insurgency" in Iraq. (If it's a truckload of foreign fighters fighting against Americans to establish the caliphate and killing Iraqis, someone explain to me how the word "terrorist" does not fit.)

The stream of fighters -- most of them Syrians, but lately many of them Saudis, favored for the cash they bring -- has sustained and replenished the hardest core of the Iraq insurgency, and supplied many of its suicide bombers. Drawn from a number of Arab countries and nurtured by a militant interpretation of Islam, they insist they are fighting for their vision of their faith. This may put them beyond the reach of political efforts to make Iraq's Sunni Arabs stakeholders in the country's nascent government.

Abu Ibrahim recalled: "Our brothers in Iraq worked in small groups. In each area, men would come together, organized by religious leaders or tribal sheiks, and would attack the Americans. It was often us who brought them all together, when we met them in Syria or Iraq. We would tell them, 'But there is another brother who is doing the same thing. Why don't you coordinate together?' Syria became the hub."

Syria's role in sustaining and organizing the insurgency has shifted over time. In the first days of the war, fighters swarmed into Iraq aboard buses that Syrian border guards waved through open gates, witnesses recalled. But late in 2004, after intense pressure on Damascus from the Bush administration, Syrian domestic intelligence services swept up scores of insurgent facilitators. Many, including Abu Ibrahim, were quietly released a few days later.

There is much, much more. Read it all.

Oh, that'll happen: Jack Straw says they may be talking to the Hamas members who were elected mayors of various palestinian towns, but they won't deal with the leadership until they give up terror.

"We are not dealing with Hamas leadership and won't deal with them until they have done two fundamental things, which is dropped their charter committing themselves to the destruction of Israel and given up violence as a legitimate tool," he said. Both Britain and the European Union have declared Hamas a terrorist group and rejected contacts with its leadership -- but have admitted having contacts with Hamas members who were elected in recent Palestinian municipal elections.

Israel's reaction:

"We see Hamas as part of the problem not as part of the solution," a foreign ministry spokesman said. "We hope that the international effort will be to strengthen the moderates and to isolate the extremists".

Hamas' reaction:

"Hamas will never abandon its arms at any time and its legetimate resistance in defending the Palestinian people will never stop as long as occupation exists on the land of Palestine," said spokesman Mushir al-Masri.

Take a look at the Hamas charter. Israel is "on the land of palestine." Yeah, they'll give up terrorism. When they're all dead.

Another day, another anti-Israel media bias: Check out this headline:

Deadly Israeli raid, Gaza violence hit truce

It is a "deadly" raid by Israelis, yet only "violence" in Gaza. Let's see what happened.

GANEI TAL, Gaza Strip (Reuters) - Israel's killing of a Palestinian militant commander drew a deadly rocket barrage on a Jewish settlement in Gaza on Tuesday, the latest in a string of flare-ups since a ceasefire was declared in February.

Here's what everyone but Reuters is saying about what the terrorists are claiming is their warped reasoning behind the attack (like they need a reason at all):

Hamas claimed responsibility for firing six mortar shells at the settlements in southern Gaza on Tuesday afternoon, although it was unclear if those included the attack on Ganei Tal.

The militant group said the attacks were in retaliation for a scuffle at a Jerusalem holy site on Monday and the separate killings of the Islamic Jihad militant and a person who jumped the border fence between Egypt and Gaza on Tuesday.

Reuters again:

In the West Bank, Israeli forces shot dead an Islamic Jihad commander, Maraweh Ikmil, who the army said had planned to send suicide bombers into the Jewish state.

Islamic Jihad then fired rockets at the Ganei Tal settlement in Gaza, killing a Palestinian farmer and a Chinese worker.

Now let's look at the JPost:

In the most violent 24 hours since the cease-fire was declared in February, three agricultural workers – two Palestinians and a foreign worker from China – were killed, and five Palestinian workers wounded, when a Kassam rocket hit a storeroom located in the hothouse area in Ganei Tal in Gush Katif.

In Sderot, a mother and her two daughters were treated for shock after their home suffered a direct hit when three Kassam rockets were fired at the western Negev town. In the afternoon, four Kassam rockets were fired into the western Negev, all landing in open areas near Kibbutz Or-Haner and Kibbutz Kissufim.

Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Battalions, claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was carried out to avenge the killing earlier in the day of a senior member of the organization near Jenin, Marouah Kmeil, 27.

n the raid near Jenin, security forces killed Kmeil, a senior Islamic Jihad commander and Nasser Zakarneh, 23, also a member of the group who, they said, were planning suicide bomb attacks in Israel.

Visiting Sderot in the evening, Halutz warned that Israel's patience would not last forever.

It shouldn't have lasted this long. There are pictures of the damage done by the kassam rockets with the above article. Way to go, palis. You killed two of your own and a Chinese national in your attempt to murder Jews.

Hm. This post wanders off the point, but I don't have time to fix it. I have to get to work. Well, I was trying to point out that in most of the articles, Israelis always kill "militants," but when Israelis die, the palestinians are never named as the killers. It's always "a mortar attack" or something else passive. Who's launching the effing mortars? The rocket fairies?

No, it's the murdering, terrorist, sonofabitch palestinians. Who are getting their own state, next to Israel. Lovely.

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Don't believe the wire services: The stories that the Bush Administration will be dealing with Hamas are just that: Stories.

WASHINGTON - The Bush administration, rebuffing the suggestions of some European officials, will continue to refuse to have contact with the militant group Hamas and its leaders even if some of those leaders win elections in Palestinian areas, a senior administration official said Monday.

The official said that a ban on contacts with Hamas was required because the group was listed by the United States as a terrorist organization, and that the United States would not follow a practice of some European countries of engaging with the group's political wing even if it also had an armed wing carrying out attacks on civilians.

"The president has said that Hamas is on the terrorism list, and it's there for a reason," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity. "We don't recognize that you have changed your behavior just because a group is running candidates as well as suicide bombers."

And let us all say: Amen.

The Brits, however, have no problems dealing with murderers. (Must be their practice with those nice guys at the IRA who still kill whomever gets in their way.) Jack Straw says:

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there had been 'low-level' contact with elected mayors and councillors not implicated in violence.

He said: "We are faced with the dilemma following the decision by Hamas's non-military wing to participate in the elections in the Palestinian Authority. The result is that Hamas or people associated with Hamas have been elected in a number of areas.

"We have a diplomatic job to do and our diplomats in the occupied territories see part of their job as being to have contact with elected representatives.

"In all occupied territories it is de rigueur, it is required, that if a diplomat of whatever level goes into a town they go and talk to the mayor. What happened on two occasions, just two occasions, was that such discussions have taken place.

"But on each of those occasions our staff have spelt out to the elected officials our position in respect of no dealings with Hamas as an organisation as long as it continues to support violence and the destruction of Israel."

What does Israel think?

A spokesman for the Israeli foreign ministry said today: "Hamas is part of the problem, not part of the solution. They are committed to Jihad, they do not believe Israel should exist.

"When we have a period of relative quiet we know that Hamas is stockpiling weapons, training suicide bombers and is getting ready for a third wave where they will launch suicide bombers against Israelis."


What cease-fire? Hamas shelled Sderot. Again. Yeah, that Hamas. The ones the Brits say they have to negotiate with.

SDEROT - Hamas claimed responsibility for a Qassam rocket attack on the southern town of Sderot Tuesday, calling it a response to confrontations between Israeli police and Palestinians at the al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount during yesterday's Jerusalem Day celebrations.

"Any harm that befalls al Aqsa mosque will mean an open, fierce war in all of our land of Palestine, and by all means," Hamas' military wing said in a statement.

At least two Qassam rockets landed in the southern town, causing damage to a residential apartment building. A woman and her two children were taken to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and treated for shock.

Looks like it's an all-Hamas news brief post. Gee, and all they really want to do is get elected to office and be nice guys, right?


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Better than you, cont'd: I was going to write about this, but now I don't have to. "We thank you for your persecution, stupid." Via Lair. By the way, scroll around Joel's blog. It's good. It's really good.

Speaking of Lair: he did just what I thought he'd do about the new "apolitical" line of palestinian wear.

A vasectomy tale: Well, partly. Gerard Van Der Leun and the tale of Carl the hapless romantic. Were I you, I would put down my drink while reading this.

Someone doesn't want him to talk: The Los Alamos whistleblower was assaulted and badly hurt over the weekend. DefenseTech has the details.

I can't help it, it's funny: I know some people are going to be offended, but I found this article hilarious.

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Darth Vader: The Exclusive Interview

We caught up with the Dark Lord of the Sith, who took a few minutes out from his busy publicity schedule to talk with

MY: Well, the story is now complete, and your legion of fans knows how and why you stepped into the black suit.
DV: Ha. Ha. Ha. Very funny. I'll bet you make bunny ears on blind people for laughs.
MY: Lord Vader, we're curious to know what you think of the movies, and how your story has been told.
DV: You know the saying "History is written by the winners?"
MY: Yes.
DV: Hello, I didn't win, y'know? That Lucas got almost nothing right, not even my name. I mean, Anakin? Annie? Annie? What kind of man calls himself Annie? First they get two of the worst actors in the universe to play my younger self, then they ruin my name and call me Annie! It's enough to make you want to use your Sith powers to make sure that Lucas will never write another decent script so long as he lives.
MY: So what is your real name?
DV: It's Leonard. Lennie! A nice manly name. None of this Annie crap.
MY: So what else did Lucas get wrong?
DV: I have never in my entire life-until now-ever uttered the word, "Yippee." When Qui-Gon bought me out of slavery, I believe my words to Watto were more on the order of "[bleep] you, you stinking sack of [bleep] [bleep] [bleep]!"
MY: Whoa, family blog here!
DV: Edit it out, you [bleep].
MY: Lord Vader, how did you come to the dark side of the Force? What was it that really turned you bad? Was it truly your inability to find a good anger management class?
DV: Oh, don't be ridiculous. The Sith Lords are no darker than your average Republicans. The Emperor wasn't an Emperor, the Rebellion wasn't a Rebellion. It was all politics. Palpatine won a closely contested election, and the Jedi got ticked. The Sith may have controlled the Chancellorship and the Senate, but the Jedi had the damned media behind them. And the academics, and they're the ones who write the history books. The truth is, I started out with the Jedi, and Palpatine ultimately converted me to the Sith. The Sith political party, not some scary cult that went around lopping off people's hands.

Plus, the Jedi were starting to talk about raising taxes and getting all touchy-feely on me. And then there was that insufferable Yoda. The creature never learned how to speak Galactic properly; always mangling his sentences. You have no idea how boring it was to sit in a Jedi council meeting and listen to him drone on and on. And Mace Windu? Listen, the man had fourteen mirrors in his home. Conceited? Hey, one of his padawans once pronounced his name Windoo instead of Windu, and Windu had him exiled to Tatooine to go undercover in Jabba the Hutt's organization.
MY: Wait a minute, wait a minute—are you saying that the Sith and Jedi are only political parties? That there's no Force behind either of them?
DV: Sorry to burst your bubble, bubelah, but I did tell you that Lucas got nearly everything wrong. And, ah, Palpatine and I didn't kill the Jedi. The party died out of its own volition. There we are at war, and the Jedi are advocating diplomacy over force. Idiots. If someone's shooting at you, saying, "Please stop shooting at me" has a proven one hundred percent failure rate. Come to think of it, the Sith and Jedi disagreements are not unlike the current battling going on between Republicans and Democrats, only our Jedi weren't stupid enough to put a Howard Dean in charge. That snot-nosed son of mine—
MY: You mean Luke Skywalker really was your son? And he really defeated you in battle?
DV: I lost the election to him. You try and try to bring your kids up in your traditions, and the damned tree-huggers in the Jedi school system totally ruin them for you. He broke with me and ran on the Jedi ticket.
MY: You were elected?
DV: Of course. I was Palpatine's Vice-Chancellor. We beat the Jedi twice, a fact that Lucas—who, I might point out, is a Democrat—seems to have overlooked in his films. But we didn't win big, so Windu kept crying about a recount, then the lack of a mandate, and then the Jedi party used their influence in the media to beat up on us and make us look like the bad guys. They even tried to say we started the tariff war with the Trade Federation. So not our fault. We were all for free trade! It's the Jedi that wanted to impose tariffs on everyone. So of course the Federation started taxing our goods. Everything started costing more, then my kids teamed up against me, and, well, you try to win an election when the cost of living is rising and your own kids are calling you Dark Father. After a while, people only heard "Darth Vader," and that was that.
MY: I'm still trying to process this election stuff.
DV: Yeah, so are the Democrats. Get over it already.
MY: Okay, current Earth stuff: Bush or Kerry?
DV: Please. Bush.
MY: Favorite TV show?
DV: Lost. Oh, and Desperate Housewives. I'm a sucker for a nighttime soap.
MY: Who do you think will run for president in '08?
DV: Hillary. Definitely Hillary. Though she may find some surprises waiting for her.
MY: Meaning?
DV: Let's just say that Luke and Leia weren't my only kids. Padme may have dumped me, but she's not the only fish in the sea. My second wife and I retired here after I lost the election, and, well, that's all I'm saying for now. Except that he was born in the USA. And he's a Republican.
MY: Thank you, Lord Vader, and, uh, may the—
DV: Oh, shut up.

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The Tony Awards in more than one word

I have loved Broadway and movie musicals ever since I can remember. I watch the Tony Awards every year. This year was The. Worst. Ever. Bar none.

Mind you, I adore Hugh Jackman, and he was wonderful last year, but this year I was looking for the proverbial hook. He was a lousy MC. It probably wasn't his fault. The show was about as bad as a middle school production of, well, anything. When Aretha Franklin and Hugh Jackman's duet of Sondheim and Bernstein's exquisite song, Somewhere, was bettered by a commercial for TIAA CREF shown just a minute before their duet, you know there's something really, really wrong.

But rather than bitch about how incredibly boring, insipid, unfunny and yawn-inducing the awards are, I'll present my ideas to make the awards worth watching.

Cut the awards even more. Most viewers only care about the actors and the plays. Sorry, John and Susan Public don't give a damn who directed or produced what. Drop the boring "This is the people who bring you the awards" segment. Cut the witless banter by the hosts, and cut the stupid jokes by the presenters. Instead, use the time to show us excerpts not only from the nominated programs, but from current Broadway shows that were not nominated. The idea of the Tony Awards at one point may have been to reward excellence in the American theatre; today, it's supposed to be the show that brings bodies to the seats of Broadway.

Every year, the Tony Awards show gives a boost to the nominated plays (assuming they haven't already closed). People don't necessarily care that a show has won an award. They want to see something they'll enjoy, and what better way to advertise Broadway than by actually having a showcase for, gee, I don't know—the plays on Broadway?

Maybe then they could bring the ticket prices down and get even more bodies in the seats. At over $100 a seat for the top shows, Broadway has become a pastime of the wealthy. It used to be affordable. The last thing the American Theater Wing needs to do is turn off even more people from the Tony Awards. And yet, they've managed to do just that over the past few years.


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The Tony Awards in one word


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The V-word on soaps

I'm currently watching All My Children (so disappointed Eden Riegel left, but watch out for her; she's a rising superstar, I think). One of the characters, who comes from an abusive background, has come to the conclusion that his genes are tainted. He is newly married. Without discussing this with, or even informing, his wife, he had a vasectomy.

Forget about the plot twist and all that, here's the thing that is both amusing and puzzling me: The word "vasectomy" was said exactly once, if I'm not mistaken, when Ryan called the doctor to inquire about it. After that, it was called "the procedure," "surgery," or "the appointment," and is now being referred to as having made sure that he will never have children, or having made sure that Greenlee (hey, I don't name 'em, I just report 'em) will never be able to have Ryan's baby, or even "stolen my future."

The overwhelming majority of soap opera fans are women. "Vasectomy" is not a word that strikes fear into our nether regions. It is, in fact, a word we like, because it means we don't have to fool around with various birth control methods that are inconvenient, annoying, slightly gross, or even dangerous. So what is up with the writers on All My Children being unable to allow their actors to utter the word "vasectomy"? Hey, they're perfectly comfortable with using "skank," "slut," and "whore" when referring to female characters they don't like (that is a subject for another day, don't even get me started on that one), and yet, they can't refer to a vasectomy as a vasectomy?

Hey, Ryan: You had a vasectomy. Say it loud, say it proud: Little Ryan is only shooting blanks from now on.

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It's the Temple Mount. Deal with it. A fascinating (and fairly unbiased) interview in Al-Jazeera (yes, Al-Jazeera), with the chairman of the organization fighting to regain Jewish control of the Temple Mount.

Same story, different headlines: Check out the way these different media outlets spin this story.

Israel plans to seek UNSC seat
Daily Times, Pakistan - 6 hours ago

Israel claims right to sit on UN Security Council
IranMania News, Iran - Jun 4, 2005

Israel calls for right to UN Security Council seat
Globe and Mail, Canada - Jun 4, 2005

Shalom requests Security Council spot
Ynetnews, Israel - Jun 4, 2005

Shalom broaches possibility of Israeli seat on UN Sec. Council
Ha'aretz, Israel - Jun 3, 2005

Shalom, Annan discuss Israeli Sec. Council status
Jerusalem Post, Israel - Jun 3, 2005

Israel plans to seek UN Security Council seat
Deepika, India - Jun 3, 2005

Damn those Jews, anyway, asking for the right to sit on the UN Security Council. Israel, by the way, is the only nation in the world that is not allowed to take her turn at the rotating, non-voting position. Why? Gee, let's think. The UN is Israel's best friend, right? Can't imagine why Israel alone cannot sit in that seat.

Update: In the comments, Andrew wonders why Israel never got the chance. Here's why:

Regional groups decide who fills the 10 rotating seats on the UN's most powerful body and other key UN committee assignments. Until recently, Israel was the only UN member that was not part of a regional group, because Arab nations have repeatedly blocked its admission to the Asian Group where it belongs geographically.

In 2000, after intense pressure from the United States, the UN regional group of European, North American and other countries invited Israel to become a temporary member, giving the country its first chance to be represented on key UN bodies in New York.

In the last five years, the group that Israel is in—not her region, of course—has not offered Israel up for the Security Council seat. Once again, gee, I wonder why.

If I forget thee, O Jerusalem: June 6th is Jerusalem Day, the day Israel celebrates the reunification of her once and future capital. Some facts: Jerusalem is the fastest-growing Israeli city (mazel tov!), more than 10% of Israel's population lives in Jerusalem,

David ben-Gurion said in 1949: "For the State of Israel there has always been and always will be one capital only - Jerusalem the Eternal. Thus it was 3,000 years ago - and thus it will be, we believe, until the end of time."

And let me point out that under Jordanian rule, Jews were not allowed to worship at the Western Wall, and descrated Jewish holy places. No such thing has been done under Israeli rule, not that the world seems to care or notice.

Go here to read accounts of the first Israeli soldiers to reach the Wall.

Rahel adds this link to the "The Paratroopers Cry," a poem written about the liberation of the Kotel.

Last, but not least, Ariel Sharon's speech to AIPAC began with these sentences:

I came here from Jerusalem, the eternal, united and undivided capital of the State of Israel and the Jewish people forever and ever. And I would like to use the term "netzach netzachim" - more than forever and ever.

And let us all say: Amen.

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Last week's blogs are archived. Looking for the Buffy Blogburst Index? Here's Israel vs. the world. 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 is also a good bet if you've never been here before.