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Friday, July 12, 2002
Whose side are you on, anyway?

Years ago, I asked a fellow-hippie that question. She said simply, "Mine."
An honest, if disappointing, answer.

Last night, I saw a young woman on the subway in Washington, DC, with this sign on her T-shirt: "Free Palestine". Along with the words was a picture of a young Arab man throwing a grenade over a wall.

She was a young white woman with curly blond hair. She looked a lot like one of my friends from 35 years ago. She didn't look like a crazy person. She had a sweet serene expression on her face while she waited for the train. At first, all I saw was the word "Free" and I thought, "Yes, she seems to be. God bless her and let her celebrate it." But when I saw the rest of the message, I was troubled. Whose side was she on, anyway? She couldn't be just in it for herself.

As politely as I could, I approached her. I'm a man, in my 50's. She was a lone woman, in her 20's at most, in a big city, after 10p.m. You've got to be polite, at least.

"Excuse me. May I ask you about your T-shirt?"

She let go of a smile that showed some relief from the too ordinary fear. An intake of breath and the renewal of the smile within less than a second seemed to indicate a summoning of the courage one needs to speak one's true mind to an unknown audience. Here stands youth with all its inability to keep a poker face.

"Sure," she said.

"I'm an old leftist," I began. "But I don't understand your position. Can you explain it to me?"

At first, she naturally wanted to get my position, perhaps the better to couch her own words in order to get through to me. I resisted the impulse to overwhelm her. I wanted to tell her how stupid I thought her T-shirt was, how insensitively cruel, how insanely misdirected. I spoke haltingly for a minute before I finally made clear what I wanted. "I don't want to give you my position. I really want to know what yours is because I don't understand it," I said.

She told me about genocide. She claimed that Israel was responsible for killing "hundreds of thousands" of Palestinians. Maybe she said "hundreds and thousands". Could she really have used so large a number? Was she exaggerating?

She claimed that the Palestinian terrorists were acting out of desperation to free themselves from a horribly oppressive Israeli occupation. She claimed that the harassment of Palestinians amounted to something equal to concentration camps. She said that the Palestinians were equivalent to the Jews who fought back against Nazis in the Warsaw Ghetto.

"If that were true," I conceded, "I would have to support Palestine, as well. But I can't believe it."

"I can't believe you don't believe it," were the words that escaped her gaping mouth. "Do you believe what you read in the American media?"

So, I bought a copy of her
"Socialist Worker" newspaper. She happened to have a knapsack-full, which she had picked up in order to distribute.

The train arrived. I gave her a two-fingered v-salute. "Peace."
posted at 2:47 PM
Thursday, July 11, 2002

I don't want to say this, but let me say it again: BLOGGER SUCKS.

Since at least July 8 my internal links don't go anywhere. And links to the sites of others on the same system don't go anywhere either, or they go to the wrong place.

For example, try going to any of the "10 most recently published blogs" on the
This link is from The bitter shack of resentment, an all too appropriate name. You can get to the main site, but not the internal link to the particular item.

The URL of the competition at Radio Userland is
posted at 2:38 PM
Making News

Really making news, creating news, manufacturing news. That's what
WSJ seems to have done in the case of the DaimlerChrysler ads.

One person wrote a letter complaining that some new ads "serve to whitewash the history and criminality of the Nazi regime." The headline cites "some Jewish groups," but further on the article mentions only one rabbi. And why did this particular rabbi comment? Because WSJ sent him advance copies of the ads and asked for his comments. We get that information in paragraph 7.

I'm glad that WSJ admits, even as late as paragraph 7, that it had stirred up its own controversy. But why go through the whole exercise in the first place?
posted at 1:59 PM
Wednesday, July 10, 2002

Dick Cheney is
named in a lawsuit to recover losses from Halliburton's Enron-style overstatement of revenues. Judicial Watch filed the suit. Judicial Watch's disdain for politicos left and right seems honest enough. They still have several suits pending against Clinton cronies.
posted at 4:43 PM
Comments on Bush's Speech

Longinus believes the president's heart is in the right place.
Linking is difficult due to some server problems at BLOGGER. The item was the last one posted July 9.
NYT says talk is tough but not enough.

WP coldly claims "Measures Not Likely to End Abuses."

cut on the bias admits the rest of the right is pretty darn quiet about the Harken connection.

WSJ has very complete coverage, including the Harken problem. They even get the award for quote of the day: "As if investors weren't frightened enough, the politicians are now offering to help."

posted at 10:28 AM
Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Bush's Speech
didn't mention his own record as a CEO, but he did call upon others to do a better job than he did.

Particularly poignant was his decrying abuses like these:
"We've learned of CEOs earning tens of millions of dollars in bonuses just before their companies go bankrupt, leaving employees and retirees and investors to suffer."
Yes, in fact 12 years ago, Bush himself pulled off a nifty little trick (with the help of accountant Arthur Andersen), which created a $10 million phantom profit and allowed him to sell his holdings and escape from Harken Energy just before it went bankrupt, leaving employees and retirees and investors to suffer.
See Balance below.

posted at 5:02 PM
Classic IRS

First, let me say that I am not in favor of more Bush tax cuts.

Now, what about my personal tax problems? They're not very interesting, but I have to straighten them out. IRS has a really cool website at

But I need to talk to someone. So, I'm on the phone — right now, even as I write this. The number for questions is 1-800-829-8815. The automated gatekeeper is not too hard to navigate. The people, once you get to speak with them, are polite and informative.

But I'm on hold at the moment. That's ok. It's even ok that the expected time I will have to wait is 10 minutes. I'm glad the robot told me that in the beginning. I just don't know whether to be amused or angry that the music they're playing to entertain me while I wait is Tchaikovsky's "Nutcracker Suite."
posted at 3:53 PM
Washington, D.C., Registers Domestic Partners

Congress Blocked Law for 10 Years

Basic human rights and common decency are coming to citizens of the nation's last colony after a 10-year battle to implement a local law over the opposition of the U.S. Congress.

Wash. Post reports that the Health Care Benefits Expansion Act of 1992 was finally implemented yesterday. The first couple to register, Thom Metzger, 32, and Vince Micone, 35, had been waiting since the law was first passed.

Political questions surrounding this issue include states' rights, "special rights," civil rights, hospital visitation rights, voting rights, and the right to self determination.

If Washington, D.C., were a state rather than a federal district, it could enact and enforce its own laws instead of being supervised by the paternalists in Congress.

Of course, that might mean that gays, who enjoy some respect here, and blacks, who are in the majority here, might someday gain the freedom that other United States citizens have.

posted at 2:15 PM
Israel to sell El Al

Air Cargo World reports:
Israel will sell its national airline, El Al, to private investors, Israel's Cabinet secretary said in a statement Monday, reversing an earlier decision to keep 51 percent of the company in the hands of the government.

. . . El Al has been losing money for years, and the recent Palestinian-Israeli violence has hit tourism to Israel, cutting into the airline's earnings.

At my synagogue recently we read, "Woe to him who hears the news and thinks only of business."

posted at 10:05 AM
Monday, July 08, 2002
Where's the balance?

Ok, I'm looking for a balanced view on Bush's delicate situation regarding corporate scandals. All the leftists (including
Dana Milbank and Mike Allen in the Wash.Post, Paul Krugman in the NYT, Eric Alterman at MSNBC, and of course Bush Watch) have posted snide, or at least smug, assessments of the hot water Dubya will soon find himself in.

Howard Kurtz has dismissed the controversy, but no one else on the right has even mentioned it. WSJ doesn't mention Bush in any context at all on its front page. Is the right ignoring the problem in hopes that it will go away? Or is everyone being responsible little journalists and waiting until Bush opens his mouth on Tuesday?

Personally, it will neither gratify my anti-Bush feelings nor amaze me to find that there have been financial shenanigans at the highest levels of government. Clinton excited both left and right with his amorous affairs. Bush will no doubt get some people upset about his financial affairs. Affairs of state will suffer as a consequence.

N.B.: you read it here first: Bush is involved in politics, which Ambrose Bierce defines as, "A strife of interests masquerading as a contest of principles. The conduct of public affairs for private advantage." There will be neither shock nor outrage registered here when he is found to be no less self-serving than anyone else in his line of work.

posted at 5:04 PM


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Tom Gallagher is
the web editor at He has been Webweaver for Bet Mishpachah Synagogue and headed web related operations at ELS Language Centers in Washington, DC.