My friend and colleague Dr. Michael Kram suggested to me that I join the growing list of bloggers.
Click here to read my entire Mission Statement.
McCain the private person
During the year I spent as a surgeon in Vietnam, I operated on quite a few prisoners of war.I was uniformly impressed with the treatment that they received, not only from a medical point of view, but from a humanity aspect.The enlisted men and women treated these prisoners,fairly and with compassion.Those prisoners with life threatening issues,were taken at the earliest possible time to the operating room.I recall one occasion,where we finished an operation on a prisoner on the floor,since we were under attack.
I recall those days, as I read the very moving op-ed this morning by Karl Rove in the WSJ.He recounts the quiet heroism of John McCain ,not through the mouth of McCain, but from a fellow American prisoner.The conditions and treatment of McCain and his fellow prisoners brought tears to my eyes.Perhaps this was because my only fear in Vietnam,especially when I was in Tay Ninh ( adjacent to the Ho Chi Minh Trail ) was being taken prisoner.We did have two killed physicians on our base just before I got there.
Win or lose, McCain represents that which is great about America.He is not a braggart,however after reading this article, you cannot help but agree with Rove that the American people deserve to know what wonderful and genuine qualities make up this private individual who if we are lucky will become our next Prez.
Wright / J Street
The attack today by Sen. Obama against Pastor Wright is probably 20 years too late.His previous heralded speech which was hailed by the left, now seems pale and inadequate.
Surely some will see a new Obama speaking sense,however 20 years of friendship and loyalty, cannot be undone in a spate of an election row by one rebuke.
The real questions that beg attention regard Michelle, his daughters and Barak, as to what did they absorb from years of sermons? and why did they remain sitting in their pew?
Wright has touched upon the most sensitive race-related issues of our time.
When does an attack on a black candidate represent racism? and conversely a failure to criticize for fear of being attacked as a rascist should have a "name" attached to it,but we call it political correctness. In addition does Wright speak only for himself? his Church? or all black clergy/churches?
When Wright talks about black and white kids learning from different sides of the brain,no one wants to go there.Similarly when Nobel laureate William Shockley raised questions regarding the Stanford IQ tests in different races , 30 or 40 years ago-- he was attacked as a bigot and the hot potato dropped.
Indeed ,though race relations are certainly better than 50 years ago,there is much that the black and white worlds look at differently.For example we look at the Supreme Court decision re: voter ID as a protection against fraud.Many in the black community look upon it as discriminatory.
In any case,it appears as though Wright has gone out his way to underemine Obama.
The new J Street organization, is but the latest in an attempt by the radical left to attempt to counter AIPAC.In fact, these types of groups such as-Peace Now and Israel Policy Forum have been around a while.Though encouraged by Clinton and Rabin,they have not had grass roots support.AIPAC, with 100,000 members, a huge budget and college groups will remain the pro-Israel lobby second to none.
When you see the list of supporters of this new group,especially Avraham Burg,it will always remain in my mind as the group that seeks to divide the pro-Israel concensus in America.
Who they contribute campaign funds to will be interesing. We will watch as they probably will campaign against settlements and the security fence as well as for the division of Jerusalem in the name of peace.
Hey =Saudia Arabia, Abbas and some in Hamas want that too!
Wright on Tour / No to a cease-fire
For whatever crazy reason, Pastor Wright is on a public blitz to share his wisdom with the press and with Americans in general.Sen. Obama cannot be thrilled about the talkative Rev.To paraphrase a WWII slogan, " loose lips ..sink campaigns".
What was disturbing to me is the positive reception that he received from the NAACP.All the Wright doubletalk, cannot hide his feelings toward America.
Wright asked how he could be unpatriotic to this countryif he served 6 years in the military?
In fact a naval seaman was just arrested for transmitting secrets from his naval unit to Islamic sources,while on service in the Persion Gulf.
We still hear no discussion re: the effects of Pastor Wright's sermons on the Obama children beibg exposed to years of black nationalism.
It would appear that neither candidate can reach the magic number before Florida .To call for her to withdraw somehow violates her ability to fight to the end and win a major floor fight.
The attempt to force a cease-fire in the Gaza to enable Bush's trip to look triumphant is ridiculous.Unless Hamas is prevented from using the time to re-arm, the IDF is right in opposing such an artificial halt to IDF activities.
a different kind of holiday
As Jews prepare to celebrate the Pesach seder Sat. nite,a few thoughts have been recurring in my discussions with my wife.
We live in such an affluent society,that the the concept brought forth in the Haggadah in Aramaic, let all who are in need of a meal ,join our table is not a real need in our society.Thus the doors of the home in Babylonia were open during the seder for just such a purpose.
As we prepare for the High Holidays there is a sense of awe and trepidation.Our lives are on the line.Who will be taken by fire and water,and who will live and be enrichened.
Passover however, as more and more people elect to vacation in hundreds of exotic and not -so -exotic places( I am one of those people), it seems to me we have lost a great deal regarding the beauty and SPIRITUALITY of the Yom Yov.
Today we ask who else will be at the hotel ? how fancy are the buffets or the health club ? and so on.
Surely our young children who never witnessed the intimate family seders and the preperations at home will have missed something special-even if you have a private seder in your hotel.
For my wife and thousands of other wives,it is a blessing-no mitzvah to slave over a stove for an enlarged family.
Yet, nostalgia for the way it used to be is certainly in order.
WAITER-I'LL TAKE ANOTHER PORTION -PLEASE !
I probably will not blog until after Pesach
HAVE A ZISSEN PESACH
Jimmy Carter is Jimmy Carter.
Bret Stephens as usual has a well thought out piece in todays WSJ op-ed page.What we should focus on,is the response of Barak and Hillary to Carter hugging Maashal and proclaiming that they should be part of any peace negotiations.
It is difficult for Obama to blast Carter, because that is what he would do if he were Pres.He has said he would hold direct talks with Ahmedijian without preperations or conditions.Hamas, Obama said he would not negotiate with,as they are terrorists. It is hard to to see the difference between Hamas and Iran.
Hillary would have low level talks with Iran, while McCain would turn the screws on Iran.
As far as J.C. is concerened, as Stephens points out,he is a real hypocrite.
What has happened to the Democratic Party?
I was brought up as a Dem, and my mother to this day, still calls herself one(as she comes close to her 97th birthday).
I left the Party over domestic issues.Although as a child I recall the Republican party of Gov.Dewey and Sen Taft were considered isolationist,that changed after WWII.
Sen.Vandenberg and others helped to create a bipartisan foreign policy.
That bipartisanship was broken by the Vietnam War,but the disarray was nothing compared to what we see now.
The Dems. have a totally different perspective on terrorism the economy,trade and legislative gridlock to mention a few issues,that are in my opinion harming America.
The failure of the House to pass FISA, despite the overwhelming Senate vote from both sides of the aisle,represents a victory for the trial lawyers.We have not had a single successful terroristic attack on our soil since 9/11 ,despite the fact that there have been 10,000 such attacks world-wide.When our govt. requested the tele-communication industry to step up and volunteer to help prevent terrorism post 9/11they responded.Now Speaker Pelosi refuses to grant them immunity from civil suits.The trial lawyers are the among the largest financial supporters of the Dem Party
When Pres. Clinton pushed the Free Trade bills through the Congress, this was a net gain for our country.Yes, some manufacturing jobs were lost to other countries.However, the net gain in jobs and economic benefit to our country has been real and signicant.
Columbia, has worked hard to deserve a positive vote on Free Trade.She is a friend,and has stood up to Hugo Chavez.Passing the bill, would again be a plus for our economy as well.Yet Pelosi, has bowed to the AFL-CIO and in essence killed a vote on the bill.
In this period of economic slowdown,the Dems are talking a massive tax hike which will hurt the economy even more.Major govt. handouts to the building industry,renters and speculators is not the formula for a return to prosperity.
The failure of the Senate to consider much needed Judicial nominations,is unprecedented even for a "lame-duck" administration.The Repub. did not use such harsh methods when Clinton was in power.
One final example is the total failure of the Dems to recognize any gains in Iraq from the surge.Of course its not perfect.History teaches us to be patient -going back to the Civil War and to reconstruction in Germany and Japan.The removal of American troops in one fell swoop, would bring disaster to the ME and to the prestige of the US.
A Tragic Loss
I just heard the tragic news of the untimely deaths of Rabbi and Mrs Jacob Rubinstein in a fire in their home last nite in Scarsdale, where he served as Senior Rabbi.
During my years at the OU, I enjoyed a close working relationship with him ,especially when he was President of the Rabbinical Council of America.
Sheila and I spent some time with them during a trip to Italy,and they were a delightful couple to spend time with.
He was a dynamic spiritual leader beloved by his congregation.
I had not seen him for a while,however two weeks ago he did officiate here in Monsey at a funeral,and he looked wonderful.
They will be missed by those who knew them .
Yhi Zichrom Baruch
Just a brief thought before shabbat.
Obama promises a new approach -yet, he cannot bring himself to criticize Jimmy Carter who plans to meet with Hamas on his upcoming trip to Syria.
His reason-Carter is a private citizen.
However, he is more than a private citizen.He travels with Secret Service protection, because he represents the prestige of the U.S. As a former President, how can he lower himself to meet with terrorists,responsible for the death of so many Americans?
It is not enough for Obama to simply say Carter is wrong.For indeed if he were elected he would meet with Ahmedijan of Iran, who bankrolls Hamas and Hezbollah.
You do not see Obama standing up for principle ie Pastor Wright or Tony Rezko
Indeed, Barak is a typical Cook County politician, and not the "Savior" of the American political system.
The OU prepares for the next decade '/ Food Poisoning / My College Trip
I had the pleasure yesterday of participating in an Executive Board meeting of the Orthodox Union.IT WAS A HISTORIC EVENT ON 2 COUNTS.
The bylaws have just been changed, so that the Exec. V.P. ,will in essense be the most senior member of the leadership.Up until now,it was the lay President that had that role.The goal of those who brought about that change, was for a more professional leadership.THIS WILL NOT NEGATE THE ROLE OF THE PRES,STEERING COMM AND EXECUTIVE BOARD THAT WILL SET POLICY.
These rules will come to pass, as the Union prepares for a new Exec. V.P. in 2009.
That individual will be Rabbi Steven Weil of L.A.
After an exhaustive and thorough search, Rabbi Weil, was the Search Committees unanimous choice.A graduate of Yeshiva College,with an MBA,he has distinguished himself in youth work as well as kiruv and adult outreach.
I know him well, from my days as OU Pres.His previous positions in Livingston NJ, Detroit,and now Beverly Hills have seen him mature into a dynamic leader with great vision.He is a powerful orator,and has the proven ability to reach out beyond the OU family to the Right and Left as well as the secular non-affiliated.His main strength is his warm personality and his ability to interact with the young and old.
I could go on,as I have been a fan of his for a dozen years.However,his youth and energy will attract a new corps of Rabbis and lay leadership to this flagship of American Orthodoxy.
I wish him, Yael and their seven children much success as they prepare over the next half a year to make the transition back to the East Coast.
From my personal point of view, I have a sense of excitement about the Union's future that I have not felt since I left my Presidency.
On the very day that the Shin Bet announces the arrest of two illegal Palestinians, sent by Hizbollah to poison the food in a Tel Aviv eatery where they work, Def. Misister Barak is granting 5000 more permits for Palestinians to enter Israel-a la Condi Rice.
Again I may be gullible-so bear with me.
Barak Obama,now says a college trip tp Pakistan should count for as much foreign policy experience as McCain or Hillary.
To me it seems like he is running for President of his high school student council.
If America truly believes such nonsense about "real-life experience" then they deserve the President they will get.Inexperienced, glib and ready to surrender.
Condi Rice for V.P. ?
The last day or two have sen reports that Condi Rice is interested in the No. 2 slot on the Repub. ticket.
From a purely subjective point of view-I pray it is not her. She has not been a true friend to Israel.Rather she has played the State Dept."heavy", placing undue pressure on Olmert and the Govt.
Her role in N. Korea has been criticized by John Bolton as being ineffectual.
However from a political point of view, other than the fact that she is a black woman she :
1. has no political experience
2.has no political base or organization
3.We know nothing of her views on the Supreme Court, affirmative action, taxes or anything else
4.She is on academic leave-her interest is Russia
5.will allow the Dems to keep bringing up the argument that McCain is Bush-III
6.She has no record on economics or business.Above all else that is the McCain weakness
7.She is single-which may also be a negative for Charlie Crist
8.There is no State that is blue ,that she could carry (such as Crist could in Fla)
9. Black America does not look upon her as a true hero-thus against Obama she would add little.Adding a hispanic like Sen Martinez on the other hand (was he born in the US ?) would help, unless the Dems pick Richardson
10.She has no campaigning experience.The VP should be the "attack dog"
11.Never having been a candidate, she has no history of political fund raising.McCain needs a partner who can help him catch up to the Dem. money machine.
12.Finally -the newness of the idea would quickly wear off, and she would have to resign as Sec.of State the minute she became an active candidate-and abandon the Pres and his ME plans.She would be in the thick of Bush politics which is not what McCain wants.
Nope, let her finish her term, go back to academia,and allow us to await the next Sec. of State to put fresh screws on Israel.
Hametz on Passover / John Hagee
When Ben-Gurion looked at the future of Israel, he saw a vision that Orthodox Jews would become secular-since Israel would be a nation like all others.
Chief Rabbi Kook of blessed memory,saw it differently ,namely Israelis would return to the Torah way of life.His reasoning was that living in the promised land would surely bring about a sea-change.
Both were wrong.
However,when secular or anti-religious Israelis attempt to destroy Jewish values,one must rebel, and refuse to accept their prejudices.
Thus when the Jerusalem Court ruled that the Govt could not prohibit the sale of Hametz on Passover,there was an uproar.This may turn into a coalition crisis, unless the Govt. appeals.
How interesting that Foreign Minister Tzpi Livni said that although she herself is a non-practicing Jew, she opposes the decision.She adds however,"When the Religious Parties took a monopoly on Jewish issues in a way that expresses only their aspects (religion)..they created anger and tension,and damaged Jewish identity."
Question -Why would a non-self hating Jew petition the Court to allow Hametz on Passover?
Again,we are our worst own enemies!
Who else should get involved,if Kadimah and Labor as well as Meretz and Likud couldn't give a damn?
Their (the Govt) lack of respect for the Temple Mount as our holiest site,is but a small example of their negative feelingd toward our traditions and heritage.The Peres approach, is that there is a difference between "JEWS" and "ISRAELIS".The settlers are part of the former group and the academic elite of the Universities, Tel Aviv and the Courts are the latter.
Evangelist John Hagee brought a gtoup to Israel,and donated 6 million dollars.Half went to a Center in Ariel and half to Magen David Adom.At an event that featured Bibi Netanyahu, Hagee urged Israel not to divide Jerusalem.
Giving over parts of Jerusalem to the Arabs,he correctly pointed out is like giving it to the Taliban.
We have all seen the housing meltdown before our very own eyes.I remember 2 years ago as Sheila and I walked along Collins Ave in Miami Beach ,we ofter stopped to inspect new apartments being constructed along the beach. Each one was more expensive than the next.
I often asked, "Who is going to buy all of these apartments"?
I was told,"Europeans and S. Americans".
In fact about 18% of the apartments that were sold went to speculators.Either with no money down or simple letters of credit, they bet on a continuing housing bubble that woulkd allow them to buy-hold until actually built, and then sell for a huge profit.
In addition,a whole generation of in dividuals who could not afford large mortgages,simply fudged their income and bought big homes with a low interest rate on a mortgage that in a brief period of time would convert to a high fixed rate. Again they were planning on flipping these homes and making a profit.
I have no problem, with Government trying to resolve our credit/housing mess.Allowing a small tax credit for those who purchase a repossessed home is fine.
The govt.,should not rescue those who cheated on their applications,or those who were involved in speculation.Those who made poor business decisions, whether in large corporations or small business people, should not be rescued by govt.
When we have a true bailout,property values go down, and hard working individuals who compromise 95% of homeowners,who struggle to pay their mortgages and bills on time,are penalized.Nor should we rescue the mortgage brokers, who cheated homeowners, by removing all standards in home sales, thus ensuring a meltdown.
Political Consultants / Olmert and the mini-speech
I am an addict of cable news shows when I have free time.I really don't find too much else redeeming on TV.
Thus I am amazed at the stable of "political consultants"(nee strategists)of all parties,shapes and colors who possess the gift of gab.
WHAT THEY ALL HAVE IN COMMON IS A LACK OF FRANKNESS ,ORIGINALITY OR INSIGHT.
When the moderator asks a question,you can be sure to hear the party line.Sometimes I try to play-act as the consultant for each party and anticipate their answersm>. I am 80% right.
Question: Aside from acting as talking heads, why do the parties need so many paid consultants?
I am available and work for cheap!
The opposition forced PM Olmert to come to the Knesset to discuss the various problems Israel faces.
With great chutzpah, he gave a mini-talk.
The JPost times it at 2 minutes. Haaretz at 1 minute.The PM's action only confirms the low level of importance that the Knesset plays in Israeli Democracy,once the ruling Party is confirmed and installed.
As everyone knows, I am a conservative Republican,therefore I will attempt to maintain some extra-semblence of objectivity.
The entire primary season has been a lesson in silliness.The primaries present an opportunity for party members to choose their nominees.
Thererfore,the concept of crossover voting makes a mockery of the process.Yes, people can change their affiliation,however it should be done months before the voting.It is unfair for Dems to help choose the "weakest" Repub., and visa versa.
Secondly caucuses should be disallowed.It robs voters of "one -man- one vote" access.It favors yuppies with no children at home,and makes it difficult for people to participate since they often have to stay for many hours.The beauty of primaries,is that one can vote on the way to work,after work or in many states a few days early(or by absentee ballot) In addition the entire process ,as in Texas where there is a primary and at night a caucus,is a Rube Goldberg-Mickey
Mouse approach to confuse the public.One man-One vote!
Thirdly each candidate should pick a slate to represent them.If they choose famous people,or office-holders fine.However the concept of giving big-shots close to 40% of the vote in essence robs voters of having their ballots counted to the same extent.
If these officeholders simply want to attend the convention without committing themselves,fine -let them be non-voting machers.To have them convene 2 months before
the convention and trade voes behind closed doors denigrates the process.
Finally,no State should be deprived of its seats and votes.If in the case of Michigan and Florida they cannot agree,a re-do is a must.How can the Party hope to win in those 2 States after disenfranchising a few million primary voters?