Archive for February, 2010

A Discussion of Israel, Iran and Issues of our Time

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

I had the pleasure recently of attending a brilliant discussion about Israel, Iran, and America.

Although I have had my issues with Valley Beth Shalom Synagogue, it appears they are learning. The Rabbi got off to a very good start when he warned the crowd to behave, and made it clear that while some of what we would hear would be “terribly uncomfortable, hearing things that are terribly uncomfortable can lead to learning, which is good.”

The moderator of the panel was David Suissa of the Jewish Journal. he is considered politically conservative by Jewish Liberal Journal standards, which means nothing. Nevertheless, he was a fair moderator and asked valuable questions.

The title of the discussion was “Iran, Israel, and issues of our time.” It was divided into three parts. First came the discussion of Israel, followed by a conversation about America. The last part of the event was a dialogue about Iran.

What made this discussion so fascinating was that there was an extra participant.

The politically conservative perspective was offered by my friend Larry Greenfield. Larry is a fellow at the Claremont Institute and the Executive Director of the Reagan Legacy Foundation.

The liberal perspective was offered by a gentleman from the group “Peace Now.” I have to apologize to readers for being unable to remember his name. I refer to him throughout this article as “Lefty.” Again, this is not meant as a slap in the face. This event was several weeks ago, and I will fill in his name when it is brought to my attention.

(It was brought to my attention. He is David Pine. He shall remain lefty so as not to confuse anyone with the other David, the moderator.)

While Peace Now is a self-loathing Jewish group that has Islamists celebrating at night, this event was not a left vs. right debate.

A third participant gave the event a unique flavor. His name is Sam, and politically he brought the centrist perspective to the event. More importantly, he brought his Persian cultural heritage.

Too many discussions about Iran involve a Neocon on the right and a peacenik on the left, but both of the guys are usually (and in this case) white Americans. It was refreshing to hear a Persian American discussing Iran. Sam is Jewish, as were Larry and Lefty. Yet for Sam, Iran is every bit as personal as Israel and the United States.

One expression I learned from a Persian fellow awhile back was that “A Persian is a Persian is a Persian.” What these means is that whether Jewish or Muslim, in the United States Iranians have a strong bond with each other that transcends religion. They all hate the mullahs. They love America, but want their birth nation to be a source of pride. Right now, it is a source of shame due to the ruling Mullahs. This dichotomy is what Sam brought to the table.

With that, I present some of the discussion about Israel, America, and Iran by Larry, Sam, and Lefty, and again moderated by David (We are on a first name basis today). Opening remarks began the evening.

Larry: “I had the pleasure of spending the day with legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. I took him to the Reagan Library. He had never been there before. What we learn from Coach Wooden is that first principles and eternal verties still count. I offer a view not of mere hope, but of reality.”

Lefty: “At Peace Now, we have a love for Israel. We want Israel to be secure and to live the Zionist dream as a Jewish state.”

Sam: “For Iranian Jews, the Iranian flag is part of our identity. This is a startling notion to some, since Iran is a threat to Israel and the United States. Yet I am proud to be an American, proud to stand with Israel, proud to be a Zionist, and proud to be an Iranian.”

David: “Can you have an enjoyable dinner with people where there is strong political disagreement?”

Larry: “Try being a conservative in Los Angeles. I don’t let politics interfere with my friendships.”

Lefty: “I love debate and discussion. It has to be two ways though.”

Sam: “Passions are good. I get heated with apathetic or fatalistic people.”

David: “What has been the number one mistake by President Obama regarding the Arab-Israeli conflict?”

Larry: “The mistake is the entire world view of Barack Obama. He wanted engagement. He picked a fight from the get-go. Palestinians offered nothing. Israel got criticized when they built second floor apartments. There is no more policy.”

Lefty: “The Obama settlement freeze is the exact same as under George W. and the Road Map. Barack Obama did go too far in believing he could bring the two sides together. It is in Israel’s interest to stop the settlements.”

Sam: It is not every day a Persian is asked about the Arab-Israeli conflict. Persians are not a monolithic voting bloc. I personally am center-right. I did not vote for President Obama, but I hope he succeeds. One dangerous development I see is what is taking place on college campuses and editorial boards. As far as President Obama, I did not like that when he went to Cairo, he compared the Holocaust to Palestinian suffering.”

David: “So maybe we should do something different?”

Lefty: “Peace Now is a goal, not an expectation. We are pragmatic. We deal with reality. The ends must be achieved politically. They cannot be imposed. There is no military solution. Deterrence is always there. We should negotiate.”

David: “Yes but is it true that the more forward you push, the more backward you go? Is there a backlash?”

Larry: “The breech occurred after Oslo in the 1990s. Yassir Arafat said one thing in Arabic and another in English.  Israel’s position is now worse. The far left demanded peace when there is no partner for peace. All we have done is taught academics, Arabs, and leftists that Israel is disunited.”

David: “What would you do if you were President Obama?”

Larry: I don’t want to be an honest broker between our democratic allies and tyranny. Israel must have secure and defensible borders. America must be on offense in the War on Terror. Arabs will come to the table only if and when they see that I can’t be pushed. Gorbachev resopnded to Reagan’s strength. Peace through strength works.”

David: “Didn’t President Bush try that? Didn’t we see that it didn’t work?”

Larry: “It did a lot of good. We gave Israel the space to clear out the terrorist infrastructure. Meanwhile, Europeans chose leaders who are more Pro-Israel. Sunni Arab states now realize that their enemy is not Israel, but Iran.”

David: “Does Peace Now need to do any soul searching?”

Lefty: “We must always evaluate and question. Has the peace camp been naive? Should we be crushing them? I don’t see the world responding favorably. We have peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Ariel Sharon and Ehud Ohlmert both came to the understanding that compromise was necessary. The occupation has brought Jewish suffering.”

David: “Is Peace Now naive?”

Sam: “Israel made peace when a partner came to the table. The conditions are not right now for the Peace Now approach. The Goldstone Report was praised by the U.N. We at this table have common goals, but different approaches.”

David: “The West Bank economy has increased significantly in the past decade. Hasn’t Abbas fulfilled his obligations?”

Larry: “Any improvement is due to the security fence. There are still daily attempted attacks. Hate speech from Mosques continues. Tearing up the terror infrastructure works. Palestinians lie. Israeli control of the West Bank is due to Arab intransigence.”

Lefty: “There was the settler extremist letter threatening Israel’s Defense Minister. It was an anonymous letter. This is a violent conflict with no easy solutions.”

David: “Should the Israeli Prime Minister declare an impasse with the Palestinians? Should he declare a stalemate and say now is not a good time for peace talks?”

Lefty: “If he did that, I would vote him out. Israelis don’t believe this. They have hope and want solutions. They don’t want complacency. They would respect his honesty, but would still vote him out.”

Larry: “Bibi could list years of failed peace process attempts. We’ve tried and tried again. Bibi would be a hero, a Churchillian leader. It would be like Reagan after Carter.”

David: “What about Prime Minister Netanyahu taking this approach regarding Iran?”

Lefty: “Peace Now is focused on Israel. We are a U.S. organization. The Iran threat exists. Keeping them from getting arms should be our number one goal. We just need a ‘smart policy.’ Crippling sanctions are not a smart policy. Engagement has brought some success. We need to combat the rhetoric and fear.”

Larry: “Ahmadinejad’s statements are unacceptable and criminal. They are an incitement to genocide. His words violate genocide conventions. Sanctions have not worked. As Charles Krauthammer pointed out, ‘We didn’t just lose a year. We lost this year.’ The Iranian young people want to know if President Obama backs them or the regime. Sanctions are leaky. We can consider a quarantine. A quarantine is like a blockade except a blockade is an act of war. Persians get it. Persians invented chess. Like in speed chess, the clock is ticking.”

Sam: “This is about the competing momentum of two trains. There is the nuclear train and the human rights train. 70% of Iranians are under 30. How does sanctioning the country impact human rights? The Iranian Revolutionary Party Sanctions Act (IRPSA) could have a cataclysmic effect. It is stalled in the Senate by John Kerry at the request of Barack Obama. We need to target the Revolutionary Guard. Iranians are looking at Iraq and asking ‘Where is my vote?’ They are chanting ‘Death to Khatami!’ and ‘Death to China and Russia!’ They are not chanting ‘Death to America!’ Economic sanctions did get Libya to give up its weapons.”

David: “What if sanctions don’t work? What if Israel bombs the Iranian reactors?”

Lefty: “Where do we bomb? How do we even know how much they have?”

Larry: “Iran has been at war with Israel and the United States since 1979. There should be no divergence between our nations. What we have is an ideological split between the approaches of Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan.”

David: “Is there a divergence between America and Israel regarding Iran?”

Sam: “Many people have influence. Rahm Emanuel is a Zionist. Joe Biden is a friend of Israel. Dennis Ross is a  friend. We have lobbies like AIPAC and J-Street. I was concerned about Zbignew Brysienski’s remarks.”

David: “What about containment?”

Lefty: “Containment? There is always the concern of divergence. Zybrienski is not an Obama adviser. That is a lie. There is nuance. There is reality. There is no victory. The United States and Israel are friends. The daylight is not scary. Ahmadinejad has no power. If Israel attacks, what happens the next day? If Iran drops a bomb, isn’t that suicide? Would they?”

David: “Do harsh measures have the opposite effect?”

Larry: “There is no peace without victory. Either we clear out the enemies, or there has to be internal regime change. A protracted war resulting in many more casualties is more likely if we do not clear out our enemies.”

Sam “I just wish that the Iranian anthem and flag inspired us. Jews were in Iran for 2500 years.”

(Some in the audience failed to grasp what Sam was saying. He was not saying we celebrate Iran in its current form. He was saying that in the same way he has pride when he sees an American or Israeli flag, he looks forward to the day when Iranian flags can fly high in America and be seen as a positive sign. He totally understands why expressing pride in Iran right now is a non-starter, and looks forward to the day when the Iranian flag will be welcomed along with Italian, Irish, and Israeli flags alongside American flags. This was a very important point that needed to be emphasized.)

David: “With regards to trading land for peace, should we give Encino (in Los Angeles) to the Native Americans?”

Lefty: “The territories are not officially Israel. We should take the West Bank and Gaza, make a state out of it, and secure Israel.”

David: “What about prisoner swaps?”

Larry: “Exhaustion has set in. Israel began by compromising. The strategy seems to be wish it away, and hope they will be nice. Palestinians then do it again and kidnap more Israelis. This is the typical Obama mindset. If we release enemy combatants from the Guantanamo Bay military facility, they go back to train and hit us again from Yemen.”

David: “I would like to see something different happen. I would like to see any future prisoner swaps be a straight up one for one trade. If the Palestinians object, the Israeli Prime Minister can ask the Palestinian leader, ‘Don’t you value human life? Aren’t Arab lives just as valuable as Jewish lives? Then we wait for the response.”

Sam: “One thing Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger did is sign the Iran Divestment Act for California pensions.”

Lefty: “The incitement issue needs to be dealt with. Yet the settlements are a problem.”

I was very interested in what Sam had to say. I have heard Larry many times. He is brilliant. As for Lefty, lefties is as lefties does. The issue is not of left vs. right but of idealism vs. realism.

Yet Sam turned this from a standard debate where all the issues have been hashed and rehashed into a discussion with a perspective that was new to me.

I have always said that we should listen to people who know their communities best. This does not mean Sam is right about everything. He evens aid himself that he does not represent all Persians. Yet if we are going to have discussions about the volatile issue of Iran, we really should have Persians on the discussion panels! In fact, I would like to see and hear diverse Persian opinions from left to right.

Overall, this event was very well done, and the big winners were those in attendance.

eric

Why they hate Sarah Palin

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

On the left, Sarah Palin is Public Enemy # 1.

She is reviled. She is despised. Like Dan Quayle and George W. Bush before her, her enemies want to destroy her with a ferocity that conservatives reserve for Osama Bin Laden. Liberals may find Bin Laden less threatening to America, but that is for another time.

This went beyond politics a long time ago. This woman has had people try to rip her family to shreds. People who would never dare utter a word about Barack Obama’s children have decided that the Palin family deserves to be abused.

This is liberalism. It is ideological bigotry. Palin’s fiercest critics do not hate her for anything she SAYS. They do not hate her for anything she DOES. They hate her for the same reason they hated George W. Bush and Dan Quayle. They hate her because she IS.

She exists and breathes air. The left are verbal suicide bombers because their hostility and rage toward conservatives is rivaled only by Islamist rage toward Jews.

Every conservative has to be put into two categories. Either they are stupid or evil. Somebody like Newt Gingrich or Dick Cheney is far too intelligent to be seen as stupid. They are therefore evil, with Cheney being Darth Vader. Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin are far too decent and kind to be seen as mean. Therefore they are dolts.

The only way to avoid this group is to be given “protected status” or to bash Republicans. Charles Krauthammer is in a wheelchair, so Democrats are scared to attack him. He would never use this as an excuse, but that is how they work.

David Brooks and others who have inhaled noxious leftist fumes are admired as “true conservatives” for bashing fellow conservatives. John McCain was loved when attacking Republicans, hated when leading Barack Obama in the polls, and loved again after conceding the race. He never changed. He was loved as a loser and hated when he almost won.

Yet while this is all common knowledge, the one question I have never publicly answered is this.

WHY?

Why does this pathological hatred of conservatives exist?

It comes down to one and only one issue.

For liberals…especially liberal women…and extra especially Jewish liberal women…only one single issue defines politicians and separates good from evil.

Everything comes down to abortion.

That’s it. Nothing else matters.

Some women will protest that they care about lots of issues.

No, they don’t. Everything, everything, everything, comes down to abortion.

(Non-disclosure: I have never discussed abortion on my blog or publicly stated my position. I will only say that the secular left and religious right would both be unhappy with me. I have voted for pro-choice and pro-life candidates, and the issue has never mattered to me as much as the War on Terror. I have a deep respect for the fact that many people on both sides have it as their top issue.)

If Osama Bin Laden was captured tomorrow, liberal Jewish women would ask him his views on Roe vs. Wade.

In 1992, Dan Quayle (and Marilyn Quayle) had to be destroyed. This was the first election featuring baby boomers. The face of an entire generation had to be supportive of the freedom and liberty that the Women’s movement stood for. One prominent female reporter, after the Monica Lewinsky broke, had only praise for Bill Clinton. The reporter said that she would “get down on my knees and service him myself for keeping abortion safe and legal.”

Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy were serial abusers of women.  The feminists said nothing. It goes beyond politics. The feminists have been silent as David Letterman has sexually harassed his staff (unequal relationships cannot be consensual) and Charlie Sheen has physically beat up women for decades. These men are on the left, and therefore get a free pass.

Clarence Thomas gets vilified for unsubstantiated charges while leftists rape, pillage and plunder, get caught, and are acquitted in the court of leftist public opinion. Justice Thomas was going to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and the left knew this.

Sarah Palin is pro-life.

Some people will protest that they hate her because she is a “dummy” who says things like “you betcha.”

This is dishonest. They do not hate her because of colloquialisms. They attack the colloquialisms because they already hate her.

She is said to have tried to ban library books. No, she didn’t. She is said to want to impose a Christian theocracy on America. No, she doesn’t.

If the left wants to have an ounce of credibility (we know they don’t), they should try admitting what they are about.

She wants to overturn Roe vs Wade (many pro-choice people think it is bad law). They want to stop her and any other politician that wants to do this. These politicians will be stopped by ANY AND ALL MEANS NECESSARY.

I rarely use capital letters, but this point cannot be overstated. The ends justify the means. The end is to protect the right to legal abortion always and forever. The means are anything and everything.

Therefore, somebody standing in the way has to be a bad person. They cannot just have a disagreement.

I have friends who believe that human life begins at conception. I have other friends who believe that a woman has a fundamental right to choose to terminate what is not a human life before a certain point.

Again, I have never taken sides publicly in this debate. Yet people on both sides of the aisles are my friends. I do not refer to my pro-choice friends as baby killers or murderers. I do not refer to my pro-life friends as zealots.

My cause is not abortion. My cause is ideological bigotry.

Ideological bigotry is the hatred of people based on politics. The hatred toward conservatives is out of control. I have personally been attacked so many times for my “abortion position” even though I have never publicly stated exactly what it even is! Yet the leftist hatemongers don’t care. I am a conservative, therefore I have to be their enemy. This is nuts.

For those that disagree with my theory, I offer a challenge. Find one single Republican politician in the modern era who has ever been subjected to comparable abuse that holds a pro-choice position on abortion.

There are none.

It is not the war. It is not tax policy or economic policy.

It is not global warming.

Everything on the left comes down to abortion. It is the only issue that matters.

Now I could be sexist about this and say things  to women like:

Have 1000 abortions. Join the d@mn abortion of the month club. Now shut up and cut my taxes.

I could be even more insensitive and say something like:

I am pro-life when conservatives are the parents and pro-choice when liberals are the parents. The fewer liberals we bring into the world, the better. Most of them will grow up to be liberals, and even worse, feminists. Worst of all, they may raise my taxes.

I could be the most insensitive guy on the planet and offend both sides by saying:

Let’s just take the hottest pro-choice women and the hottest pro-life women, put them in a Jello tub and have them Jello wrestle for supremacy like in the movie “Old School.”

I will resist the urge to backdoor such comments in, and keep things high brow.

Sarah Palin as the first woman president would be every bit as threatening as Dan Quayle as the first baby boomer President, Michael Steele as a black president, or Eric Cantor as the first Jewish President. If Republicans take back Congress in 2010, Michael Steele and Eric Cantor will be vilified. Pro-life minorities are a threat. They will be spared if Republicans lose.

If people want to disagree with Sarah Palin on abortion, be honest and say so.

Don’t go after her family and savage all of them with attacks that have nothing to do with a single political issue.

Dianne Feinstein wrote notes on her hand. Joe Biden says oafish things every other day. Barack Obama failed to pronounce the word “corpsman” correctly. Barack Obama also thought we had 57 states. Al Gore said “a leopard never changes his stripes.” Al Gore also failed to know the difference between Michael Jordan and Michael Jackson. Bill Clinton made boneheaded comments about Remus and Romulus, not knowing they were fictional.

This does not make any of them bad people or imbeciles. It makes them human beings. Human beings make mistakes. It is what makes us human.

Dan Quayle misspelling potato or Sarah Palin saying “you betcha” does not make either of them morons.

They are people.

The reason this matters to me so much is because I have had a short fuse lately. I took a leftist woman and reduced her to tears. I didn’t want to, but she made nasty comments about conservatives and I just unloaded.

I do not want to make people emotionally bleed. Yet liberals are reaping what they are sowing. I and other conservatives have just had enough. The abuse directed at us has to stop.

Conservatives are human beings. Sarah Palin is a conservative.

Sarah Palin is a human being. She deserves to be treated with the same human dignity that every creature of God deserves.

Treating political opponents with human dignity…now that is being pro-life.

No wonder the left refuses to do it. They are pro-choice first and foremost, and they choose viciousness.

eric

Bye Bye Bayh…But Why?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

The Tygrrrr Express is Las Vegas Bound for several events. As I head out to sin city, a political tsunami has rocked the heartland.

A political bombshell was dropped when popular Indiana Senator Evan Bayh decided not to run for reelection.

http://voices.washingtonpost.com/postpartisan/2010/02/evan_bayh.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

Senator Bayh has long had a reputation as a reasonable, moderate, centrist Democrat who was not afraid to work across the aisle. He spoke in a calm voice, preferring thoughtful discussion to obnoxious bombast.

So as we say bye bye Bayh, the question is…why?

First let’s dispense with the nonsensical speculation.

Evan Bayh is not running for President in 2012. He is not going to challenge President Obama as a Democrat or as an independent. Only one person would be ruthless and cutthroat enough to destroy an entire political party for her own selfish gain, and Evan Bayh is no Hillary Clinton.

Despite almost being Vice President, Barack Obama is not going to dump Joe Biden. Biden may be the Barney Fife of the current administration, but he is also the best life insurance policy Mr. Obama could want. Joe Biden knows that nobody cares about anything he says or does, which allows him to be completely loyal to the president. Mr. Bayh will not be replacing Mr. Biden.

I have always found Evan Bayh to be likable, intelligent…and overrated. His keynote speech for Bill Clinton was boring. He is always touted as top tier, but even by midwestern caucasian governor standards, he is very bland. Boring is not a crime. It just means that being governor might be a political ceiling in the age of presidential charisma.

Were there other reasons he retired?

Does Evan Bayh have a personal scandal coming, such as a sex or financial scandal?

To go down this road would be cynical and unfair to the man. Yes, America has been rocked by the recklessness and selfishness of everybody from Mark Sanford to Eliot Spitzer. John Edwards set the bar so low that nothing would surprise me. Yet unless any evidence surfaces, Evan Bayh deserves to be seen as a respected family man, loving husband, and attentive father.

His speech reminded me of the time when Bill Bradley said that “politics is broken.” When Bradley said it, it sounded whiny. Bradley had almost lost his last race, and seemed to be getting out while his star was still high and his aura had yet to fade. Bayh sounded more sincere.

Mr. Bayh did say one thing that really caught my ear. He said that at his heart, “I am an executive.” He used to be Governor of Indiana. I have always said that governors are like senators, except governors actually do things.

Executives can accomplish things. They have real power. A good governor can make a state, and a bad one can break a state. Even a mayor can rise to national prominence if they run a city successfully.

Senators are set up to get nothing done. We just celebrated President’s Day. George Washington created the senate to keep many bills from becoming law. Gridlock is the system working.

Evan Bayh came across as a man who wanted to get things done. He was surrounded by people who benefited from failing to get things done. Does anybody think that a guy who ran an entire state wants to have to deal with Barbara Boxer?

There is only one cynical school of thought that deserves any credence. Perhaps Bayh thought he would have lost his reelection.

The polls showed that he was up by 20 points. Under normal circumstances, he would have coasted to reelection. Yet 2010 is not shaping up to be a normal election year. Bayh would have been formidable, but I think he was beatable for two reasons.

2010 has the potential to be another 1994. 1994 saw some “unbeatable” politicians go down in flames. Texas Governor Ann RIchards had 70% popularity. She lost to George W. Bush, although that was a tough matchup for her. New York Governor Mario Cuomo lost to an obscure assemblyman that nobody had ever heard of, George Pataki. Only a toxic climate for Democrats like 1994 could allow that to happen.

The voters in those races were not voting for Bush and Pataki, nor were they voting against Richards and Cuomo. They were voting against Clinton. Indiana is a fairly conservative state. Mr. Obama lost the vote there in the primary and the general election. Mr. Bayh could get swept up in an anti-Obama midterm tidal wave. It is possible.

The other thing that hurt Mr. Bayh is that he was expecting to run against a non-descript Republican that he would quickly trounce. Then former Senator Dan Coats decided to come out of retirement and run for his old seat.

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2009/05/my-interview-with-senator-dan-coats/

I am a believer that retired politicians should stay retired. I did not like it when Frank Lautenberg came back for his old seat in New Jersey. Yet like Mr. Lautenberg, Mr. Coats wants to come back, and nothing prevents this. Several years ago very respected Senator William Roth of Delaware looked unbeatable until successful Governor Tom Carper took him on. The same was the case in Massachusetts when Governor Bill Weld took on John Kerry. Bayh would have been formidable, but Coats would have been just as tough. LBJ refused to run for reelection right after Bobby Kennedy entered the race. Bayh was no longer safe.

(This column was written before word spread of Mr. Lautenberg being taken to the hospital. I wish him a speedy recovery, and the timing of his going there hours after I wrote about him is eerie.)

While there will be many theories, I am going to do something that most people refuse to do in our cynical times.

I am going to take Evan Bayh at his word. I owe him that.

Maybe he truly is fed up with being one of 100 people who accomplish virtually nothing. Maybe the guy would rather be an executive. I know I would. Maybe he wants to spend more time with his family. He seems to be relatively young and healthy, and waiting until one is sick and frail to spend time with loved ones seems pointless.

I did not agree with Evan Bayh on many issues, but I absolutely respected the decent and thoughtful manner in which he dealt with issues and people.

From a strategy standpoint, I am glad he is leaving. This will help the Republicans retake the Senate immensely.

From a civility standpoint, he will be missed.

Dan Coats, like Dan Quayle, Dick Lugar and Evan Bayh, is a quiet and respected individual in his home state.

Evan Bayh had very kind words for Dick Lugar. Dan Coats will continue the tradition of decency.

As for Evan Bayh, he was right when he said that, “If Washington was more like Indiana, Washington would work better.”

I wish Mr. Bayh well in his future endeavors. 2016 is a long way off, but Barack Obama will not be suspending the constitution and running for a third term. What should Democrats do? Support Joe Biden? Hillary Clinton? Barbara Boxer? Of course not.

Mr. Bayh has a bright future ahead of him, whatever he does.

eric

Presidents, not kings

Monday, February 15th, 2010

As we celebrate Presidents’ Day, remember why we have this holiday. America no longer wanted to give workers separate days off for the birthdays of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

The Manchester Union Leader wrote an excellent article about George Washington today.

http://www.unionleader.com/article.aspx?headline=Mighty+Washington%3a+The+greatest+President&articleId=87abfdc4-2d8f-4fa2-96c7-f912ea06a93f

While many people like to spend time rating presidents, I find it to be a pointless activity.

Nevertheless, today is a day to relax and ponder things, as serious politics returns tomorrow.

George Washington was universally respected in his time, and still is today. Yet that is not the norm. Opinions change over time, as people get nostalgic while forgetting why they held their original opinions.

Abraham Lincoln was once considered a loser, and a physically ugly individual with his gangly frame and beard. He was married to a shrew who used to hurl vases at him, leaving a mark on his forehead.

Harry Truman was considered a bumbler and incompetent. He is now praised as an honest man.

Dwight Eisenhower was initially seen as lazy. In the 1950s “nothing really happened,” and that people liked Ike because he “didn’t do any harm.” Yet now historians are reviving Ike, admitting that he actually “did things.”

I still maintain that John F. Kennedy might be our most overrated president. He is treated like a god in this country, which is silly. He made great speeches, but so what? Style is not substance. Even Republicans romanticize Kennedy for his supply side tax cuts.

The left worships him for civil rights, but he had nothing to do with advancing them. That was Lyndon Johnson. Kennedy caved on civil rights so he could make foreign policy advances, with successes like the Cuban Missile Crisis and failures like the Bay of Pigs. Kennedy is worshiped for dying young, and is treated like a celebrity in the mold of Elvis, Marilyn Monroe, Jimi Hendrix, and Kurt Cobain. Had he lived he could have done good things, but that is not the same as actually doing them. He is rewarded for inspiring people, but he was not in office long enough to have an actual record of accomplishment.

Barack Obama is very similar to JFK in the sense that he is rewarded for what people want him to be rather than anything he has actually done. Obama is beloved compared to George W. Bush in the same way JFK was young, hip, and sexy after the boring father-figure that was Eisenhower.”

LBJ might be one of the most underrated presidents. He is considered toxic because of Vietnam, but he did advance civil rights.His domestic agenda was a failure, but at least he took bold steps his predecessor never did. JFK spoke boldly, but treaded lightly with congress. LBJ had no such fears.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt was a constitutional dictator. His policies did not get us out of the great depression. World War II did. He was a good speaker who gave people confidence. The Democrats have a long tradition of good speakers. Unemployment did not come down under FDR.

Ronald Reagan is romanticized, but every accolade and praise is deserving. Freeing millions from captivity should earn one a Nobel peace prize, but those are not given to conservatives. Liberals love to say that he does not deserve so much credit, but Eastern Europeans know it was Reagan who delivered. In the same way Abraham Lincoln gave the Emancipation Proclamation and freed the slaves, Reagan won the Cold War without a shot being fired.

It is way to soon to evaluate George W. Bush, although the left would love to close the door and claim the matter closed as they do with every issue where the data might disagree with them. From global warming to presidential grading, they cannot be taken seriously. If Iraq and Afghanistan succeed, Dubya will be vindicated.

As for Barack Obama, he was being given hero worship status not for doing anything, but for saying things. This is like a draft pick being put in the Hall of Fame before they play a single game. He seems to lack substance, but let the man complete his time in office before declaring him a success or failure.

Calvin Coolidge and Bill Clinton are seen by many as irrelevant, in the same way Eisenhower was. Coolidge left the stage, unconcerned with his standing. Clinton spends every day obsessing over his standing, angry that the voters do not see his greatness. Luckily nobody is listening, which advances the irrelevant argument.

Jimmy Carter is widely regarded as a universal failure, although hyper-partisans continue to insist that everything he suffered was due to his predecessor. This is similar to what is happening today.

The problem with politics today is that politicians crave power at all costs. What made George Washington so great was that he refused enhanced powers.

He understood that America would be better with presidents, not kings.

As long as America survives, it will be because of his foresight. He was the Father of our country, a man who put the nation above his own ambitions.

We could sure use him or an Honest Abe today.

eric

Cupid, Shut her up so I can enjoy the Daytona 500

Sunday, February 14th, 2010

February 7th, 2010 was the Super Bowl.

February 14th is a day for love.

Yet if the Pro Bowl was on January 31st, what else is there to love today?

Oh, that’s right. NASCAR!

Out with the gladiators and in with the carburetors.

Time for the Daytona 500.

Look, I may be balling the current sexual administration tonight. If I do I will be pleasant and if I don’t I will be grumpy. That is all this holiday is about anyway.

It is not a celebration. It is an obligation.

Here are my thoughts from Cupid’s previous birthday.

http://tygrrrrexpress.com/2008/02/happy-force-men-to-spend-money-so-your-gender-will-leave-us-alone-day/

Now to enjoy ESPN Daytona 500 highlights and Danica Patrick commercials on Go Daddy.

eric

Snookie Saturday

Saturday, February 13th, 2010

Today is Snookie Saturday.

For those of you who have no idea what I am talking about, don’t worry. I am not sure I have any idea what I am talking about either.

I was watching what I thought was a news program when an entire segment was dedicated to “Snookie.”

I had no idea what, who or why a Snookie was.

Perhaps they meant Snooker. In England they call this game with balls and a felt table snooker. In the former colonies, they call it billiards, or “shooting pool” for slang.

Yet shooting Snookie would be a crime, because she is a person.

I was hoping with Valentine’s Day around the corner that the news was advocating nookie. That I can support. I like nookie with a sweet young cookie any day of the week. Apparently nookie has nothing to do with snookie, although maybe snookie has had nookie. I cannot say.

I know that on television there are constant commercials for the Snuggie. My life was doing just fine before the creation of the Snookie and the invention of the Snuggie. In my day we did not need Snuggies. We had blankets.

(If you are buying Snuggies for your cats and dogs while people worldwide starve, you need a royal @sskicking.)

I was informed that this Snookie person was punched in the face at a bar. I have no idea if she was an innocent victim, or if she mouthed off to the wrong person. Did Snookie get snarky? I know not and care even less.

A guy I went to college with wakes up in the morning, enjoys his own company, and starts the day with a morning prayer reminding him not to do that. His prayer is “Wakey Wakey, hands off Snakey.”

I don’t know if anyone has ever had their hands on Snookie. I had a cookie the other day, but not a Snookie.

At this point some of you are wondering, “why the hell is he talking about this?”

What should I talk about? The Olympics?

This is the first weekend without football, and I am ready to lose my ever loving football mind.

As for this Snookie, I checked Wiki. It only took one clickie, although the bartender made mine a double clickie.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snookie

Apparently there is a television show on MTV. MTV stands for Music Television, and when I was a kid, they actually played music. Apparently the videos I like are now on VH1.

The show is called “Jersey Shore,” which is relocating away from the Jersey Shore. As a New Yorker, I am not sure Jersey is even a state. It is more like a province.

Snookie is a “Guidette” who desires to meet a “Guido.” Italian-Americans are protesting the show, saying that it projects negative stereotypes against Italians. I think they are right, but am not an expert.

I will ask conservative comedian Nick Dipaolo for advice on this one. When some Italians complained about the Sopranos, his response was, “If you want to stop negative stereotypes of Italians, get rid of those Olive Garden commercials. I would rather me known as a mob boss who dates strippers and cheats on his wife then a guy who has a business associate 3000 miles for a meeting and takes him to dinner at the Olive Garden.”

I would rather live in a world where the news is more interested in the War on Terror, so that I do not have to lead the war on nonsense.

Then again, maybe I am part of the problem by mentioning it today.

I am declaring “Snookie” to be the new “Smurf.” It can mean whatever they say it means at any given moment. The Smurfs should not be confused with the Snorks, another cartoon show from the 1980s.

If you disagree with me, go Snookie yourself.

eric

My Interview With Mattie Fein

Friday, February 12th, 2010

I had the pleasure recently of meeting and interviewing congressional candidate Mattie Fein.

http://www.mattiefein.com

Mattie is running in the 36th district in California in the Los Angeles area against Jane Harman.

Mattie is a mother, successful businesswoman, and longtime politico.

(Disclosure: She is a Republican Jewish brunette, and perhaps the hottest woman in politics. Yes, that absolutely caught my attention because I have a pulse. Her stunning beauty notwithstanding, her substance is just as impressive.)

With that, I present the incredibly impressive Mattie Fein.

1) What is the Mattie Fein story? What made you decide to enter the political arena and Congress?

Our family has always been transfixed at our political history:  a revolution in favor of “We the People,” a struggle to break down caste-like discrimination, and profiles of courage during both war and peace. The nightly table discussions involved domestic and international politics, economy, defense, etc. It was always assumed that I would enter the political arena. As for currently deciding to run for Congress, the political culture of the United States has degenerated into drivel or blather expounded by egomaniacs who would have been evicted from the Constitutional Convention of 1787 for ignorance and arrogance.  Only a collection of mental midgets could assert that the way to job creation and prosperity is to celebrate trillion dollar government budget deficits and hundreds of billions for profligate banks or insurance companies that starve private enterprise of credit needed to start or expand operations. These government extravagances are job, business, and labor killers.  If there are better ways to drive the United States to ruination, they do not readily come to mind.

2) What 3 political issues are you most passionate about?

Less government is better government. The individual is the center of society and the Constitution’s universe.  Upholding and defending the Constitution as envisioned by the Founding Fathers and as required of every government official.
The rule of law is King, the King is not the law.  That creed is what has made the United States a beacon to all who cherish unalienable natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Ensuring the United States is absolutely invulnerable to attack with strengthened missile-defense and upgraded human intelligence and analysis while upholding the Constitution.  There is no conflict between toughness on terror, civil liberties and the rule of law.  Indeed, the rule of law encourages the people to confer muscular powers on government by safeguarding against their abuse.

3) What can ordinary citizens do, besides donating money and voting for you to help win the War on Terror? What obligations do we have, and how can we help?

The best defense against terror is the unflagging loyalty of the American people to their government and way of life.  That’s how Reid and Abdulmutallab were foiled; brave men and women who refused to allow a terrorist attack to weaken their strength of love and loyalty to America and innocent people, and to protect and defend it.  United States Chief Prosecutor at Nuremberg, Robert Jackson, elaborated:  “The privilege of opening the first trial in history for crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave responsibility. The wrongs which we seek to condemn and punish have been so calculated, so malignant, and so devastating, that civilization cannot tolerate their being ignored, because it cannot survive their being repeated.”  There has to be a realization that we are fighting an ideological war.  This is a war against western civilization and freedom of inquiry fought by sub-human, savage tactics evocative of the Third Reich.  We should follow the exhortation of courageous Todd Beamer on hijacked United Flight 93 on a day of abominations, “Lets’ roll!”

4) It is one thing to ask people to have faith in God. It is much tougher to ask people to have faith in Government. What does our government do right? What does it need to do better so people can start believing in their government again?

Free public education is what the government does right, even if the task is often ineptly executed.  No civilized democracy can be preserved in a state of ignorance.  To awaken public confidence, the government needs to uphold the Constitution, including its stipulation for limited government; impose a flat income tax; slash spending to a ceiling of 10 percent of GNP; demand on a balanced budget and, refuse big bank bail-outs that rip-off the American taxpayer. In addition, the government should reward civil servants based solely on performance, not on political affiliation or longevity.   The Government also needs to gain the public’s confidence by honoring law by evenhanded, not flukish enforcement.

5) With regards to foreign policy, what have we done right, and what have we gotten wrong, in the last 8 years, and what steps need to be taken to improve the situations that require improvement?

What we have done right is to strengthen defenses through anti-missile systems, spy satellites, and strengthening border security. We strengthened our ties to India through exchange of civilian nuclear technology and market-opening measures, and put a wedge in their relationship with Russia, particularly with regard to military ties and equipment.  India has supported us at the IAEA (Atomic Energy agency) against Iran, where Russia has balked.

The United States has stumbled by failing to upgrade the standards and rewards for intelligence agents and analysts at the Central Intelligence Agency to improve human intelligence and National Intelligence Estimates. Career agents are retiring and we have failed to recruit the best and the brightest to replace them. New agents have stayed for shorter periods in the agency to leave and lobby on K Street for other countries.  The U.S. also miscalculated the Iran situation and the sophistication and tyranny of the regime to develop technology and brutalize its people.

6) The American dollar seems to be in free fall, and homeowners are seeking bailouts at taxpayer expense. Should government get involved, and is this even a problem at all? If so, what needs to be done?

These are concocted problems.  Government is as clueless about how to promote economic growth as it is about manufacturing a perpetual motion machine.  A plunging dollar makes exports more attractive and boosts employment among exporters, for example, Boeing or Lockheed. Homeowners are not seeking bailouts at taxpayer expenses.  They are simply seeking the same status as other debtors in bankruptcy—including owners of business property or vacation homes—who may ask bankruptcy judges to modify their mortgages based on the totality of the equities.  It ill behooves banks who have preyed on the American taxpayer with hundreds of billions in bail-out money to cry about the sanctity of contracts and the fairness of the operations of the free market.

Adam Smith writing in Wealth of Nations in 1776 has proven infallible:  “Little else is required to carry a state to the highest degree of affluence from the lowest barbarism but peace, easy taxes, and a tolerable administration of justice; all the rest being brought about by the natural course of things. All governments which thwart this natural course, which force things into another channel, or which endeavor to arrest the progress of society at a particular point, are unnatural, and, to support themselves, are obliged to be oppressive and tyrannical.“

7) What would be the main qualities and criteria you would look for with regards to potential Supreme Court justices? Could they disagree with you on major issues, and still be qualified? How do you feel about how they ruled on the DC second amendment case?

A Supreme Court Justice should conceive their task as interpreting the Constitution according to its original meaning intended by the Constitution’s makers, not as a homonym of its text in 1787 or as an opportunity to issue the equivalent of papal encyclicals in accord with evolving standards of decency.  Thomas Jefferson put it this way:  “The Constitution on which our Union rests, shall be administered by me [as President] according to the safe and honest meaning contemplated by the plain understanding of the people of the United States at the time of its adoption–a meaning to be found in the explanations of those who advocated, not those who opposed it, and who opposed it merely lest the construction should be applied which they denounced as possible.”  Justice Antonin Scalia correctly held in District of Columbia v. Heller (June 26, 2008) that the Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms protected an individual right to possess handguns in the home for self-protection against encroachments by the federal government.  It seems to me implausible, however, that the Second Amendment was intended to handcuff gun regulation by the States via the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

8) Do you support the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive action? Do you feel that it may be necessary to take pre-emptive action against Iran? What is the Fein Doctrine?

The Fein Doctrine is to construct invulnerable defenses against foreign aggression coupled with a promise to incinerate any aggressor into pre-Stone Age subsistence.  I would say The Fein Doctrine is a combination of The Reagan Doctrine regarding technology and security defenses including Reagan’s reaction after the disco-bombing in Lebanon, with The Golda Meir Doctrine post-Munich Olympics of 1972.  One has to remember that after Munich, war wasn’t waged with thousands of Israeli troops in foreign countries pursing Al Fatah. Israel employed a “search and destroy” mission featuring Mossad-IDF collaboration that eschewed troop deployments in the thousands. Nor were troops needed against Argentina to apprehend, prosecute, and convict, and execute Adolph Eichmann.  This is not to say that we should not or would not engage our troops when deemed necessary as prescribed to the theory of Jus ad bellum or criteria for war.

The Fein Doctrine also adheres to the intent of the Constitution’s makers, who unambiguously fastened on Congress’ exclusive responsibility for deciding on war or peace.  In contrast to the Presidency, Congress does not enhance its own powers in wartime, and has no reason to artificially inflate danger.  Under the Constitution, war is justified only in response to an actual or imminent attack corroborated by ocular evidence. Obviously 9/11 was an extraordinary event and an actual attack on U.S. soil, like Pearl Harbor.

Pre-emptive action against Iran short of war should consist of covert actions to assist the resistance to the regime by providing money, communications equipment, and political skills in the same way the CIA supported Lech Walesa’s Solidarity against the Polish Communist Party and Serbia’s student movement Otpor against Slobodan Milosevic. Where we failed was to not have human intelligence starting 30 years ago to sabotage uranium enrichment programs for non-civilian use in Iran.  I don’t care how many drones we have in the Middle-east, there is no replacement for the human-intelligence network.  We must remember that putting aside the nuclear issue, Iran is still the number one state sponsor of terrorism in the world.  However, we are running out of time concerning the advancement of their missile program.  As their testing becomes more advanced and more frequent, I believe we are crossing the Rubicon with regard to taking a more assertive action against their nuclear sites.  This does not suggest waging war on Iran or against its people. This is about the regime breaking international laws and their nuclear program.
I know people refer to The Bush Doctrine but this to me is still a kaleidoscope of strategies without a clear definition of victory beyond, “I”ll know it when I see it.”  Clauswitz advised that, “War is the continuation of politics by other means.”  War without a sharply defined and tangible political objective is brainless. If democratic regime change is part of the Bush Doctrine then why did we endorse Iraqi and Afghan regime’s constitutions that enshrined Sharia as the highest law in the land?

9) What Americans call 9/11, Israel refers to as every day life. Israel is then asked to show restraint. What is your view on Israel taking preemptive action, including a strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities if necessary? What about with regards to the disputed territories such as Gaza? What about against Damascus, who funds Hezbollah?

Israel’s right to self-preservation authorizes bombing or even a ground invasion of Iran if the Supreme Leader threatened to destroy Israel with nuclear weapons which Iran is on the verge of acquiring.  Ditto, for military action against Gaza if the government there is unable or unwilling to prevent use of its territory to launch strikes against Israel.  The United States invaded Mexico in 1916 for over 12 months because of Pancho Villa’s cross-border raids and banditry.  If Hezbollah declares or initiates war against Israel and Syria joins as a de jure or de facto ally, then Israel would be entitled to make, borrowing from Churchill, “ the rubble dance” in Damascus.

10) Attempts to partially privatize social security and fix the ticking time bomb of Medicare have been met with hysteria about throwing old people on the street and leaving them to die. The issue was demagogue by the demagogic party in 1995. Do you favor any privatization of social security? If not, why not? If so, how can it be framed in terms that do not frighten seniors?

The American people should have a choice as to whether they contribute to Social Security in the future.  Those who opt out would pay no social security taxes and receive no benefits.  Those who opt in will pay social security taxes and receive benefits. The idea that some Americans are too stupid to save or insure against old age is insulting on its face and betrays a paternalism that would have nauseated the Founding Fathers.  I believe in less government not more.  I also believe that Americans should have a right to chart their own financial course.  As for the existing plan, current social security recipients would continue to receive their promised benefits, but for others still in the work-force the choice should be their own.

11) If you had 5 minutes alone with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney, what would you say to them or ask them?

First, Congress by statute could have amended or repealed any law thought to handcuff the United States in defeating international terrorism. Why did they believe that being tough on terror meant not going through the proper channels in Congress?  One can uphold the Constitution and congressional prerogatives and be tough on terror.  The two ideas are not in conflict.  Congressional oversight also does not conflict with this. Second, I would ask about the truthfulness of the suggestion that Iran, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, promised to abandon its nuclear weapons program to be confirmed by international inspectors, but was told by the U.S. to go to hell.
Third, the President is under the law, not the law himself.  Transparency and oversight in government is the coin of the realm.   I would remind them and Congress that a nation of sheep will beget a government of wolves.

12) Who are your 3 political heroes, American or worldwide?

George Washington, Benjamin Disraeli, and Golda Meir.  They understood that it is nice for a nation to be loved, but indispensable that a nation be feared.

13) Many people associate Judaism with liberalism, but you are an unabashed Jewish Republican. How does your Judaism synthesize with your conservatism?

Moses was no liberal.  He did not emancipate Jews from the Pharaoh by friendly persuasion.  I would also say that as a Jewish Conservative, there still exists, among some in the Republican Party and the Christian-right in the party, a malodor of anti-Semitism. This may be shocking or will be met with disbelief, but I know that to be true.  I am truly impressed by many Christians for their support of Jewish causes derived from the Bible.  But in other arenas Christians occasionally turn hostile.  I shudder whenever I hear that the United States is a “Christian” nation, and that crosses in government veterans’ cemeteries speak equally for fallen Jewish and Christian soldiers.  In the eyes of the Constitution, there is only one race or religion.  It is American!

14) Many on the left preach compassion but you as a conservative actually live it. How do you balance the rough and tumble world of politics with raising your children?

My children provide the balance with their love and support. As kids from a political family, they understand the rough and tumble aspect and are protective of me.  I allow a separation between family and politics which includes the internet social networking groups involved with my campaign. The children deserve their privacy and I keep my children out of the political arena unless they decide otherwise.  My son will be more involved as things progress with the campaign.  I work very hard not to have my political life spill-over to their personal lives.

15) Without delving too deeply into your personal life, what would you want Americans to know about Mattie Fein the person? 100 years from now, what would you want people to remember about you, and what would you hope the history books say about you?

Only a mausoleum-like personality frets over how they will be remembered a century after their epitaph is written.  However, if I had to select one it would be “She lived her life in primary-colors, never pastels.”

16) Do you get bored with the marriage proposals that you get inundated with on a daily basis, and does your share of the 18-40 year old male vote decrease when they find out you are unavailable?

My focuses in my life presently are my children, my parents, and my campaign. I would hope the 18-40 year old demographic you speak of won’t hold that against me!

I will not hold that against her, but I will hold it against the people of the district if they fail to rise to the occasion and give them real leadership in congress for the first time in a generation. Mattie Fein is the real deal.

Now being smart, savvy, and gorgeous is a good start, but it is not enough in politics. Send her lots of money and give her your vote.

eric

KRLA Townhall 2009 Part II

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

At the KRLA Townhall 2009 event, Michael Medved moderated a panel featuring Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, and Dennis Miller. Kevin James was the emcee. This is Part II of the fabulous event that combined political conservatism with humor in liberal doses.

(MM = Medved, DM = Miller, DP = Prager, LE = Elder)

MM: “Dede Scozzafava dropped out of the NY 23rd race and ended up endorsing the Democrat. Is this good news overall?”

LE: “I am reluctant to take a local race and extrapolate it for a national trend. It is way too soon to draw a conclusion.”

DM: “I went trick or treating as Scozzafava. We have the New Jersey race coming up. Jersey makes Jonestown look open-minded.”

DP: “It is good news when Republicans win. Close doesn’t matter. Robert Gibbs’s position is redundant. The press is his press secretary. Scozzafava feeds the definition of RINO. Obama will get the credit.”

DM: “Scozzafava looks like a rhino.”

MM: “Obama carried the 23rd district.”

DM: “How do you know this stuff? I should read.”

MM: “Shifting to foreign policy, are Israeli settlements the problem?”

DP: “If I’m an Israeli, which president would I trust? Would I trust the one who honored the Dali Llama, or the one who refused him to appease China? Popular does not mean cares. He doesn’t care. Israelis know this. Obama has 6% approval in Israel. There were 0 settlements before 1967. Did Arabs recognize Israel? No. I am pro-truth. The lie of our time is settlements. The picketers have an upside down moral barometer. Picket China or the Congo.”

LE: “Prager is right. Pre-1967, there were no settlements and no peace. Jesse Jackson reflected how Obama feels. The Palestinians said that Hillary made things worse. Finally she is right.”

DM: “Hillary has been cheated on more than a blind woman playing Scrabble with gypsies. Bibi knows that the other side are animals. Give radical Islamists casinos. It cooled off the Indians. In their case the Sand Dunes is already pre-named. If they don’t get Baccarat, they’ll be even crazier.”

MM: “Who is the most important columnist today?”

DP: “Charles Krauthammer.”

DM: “I was going to say Cindy Adams. I love Page 6. I’ll go with Mark Steyn.”

LE: “The greatest current living philosopher, columnist Thomas Sowell.”

MM: “Some espouse that GOP failures in 2008 were due to social issues. Is this valid?”

LE: “No. Either espouse principles, or don’t walk the walk. People didn’t vote for George W. Bush in 2000 because of his support for a prescription drug benefit program. Besides, Obama is anti-gay marriage.”

DM: “It was time. President Bush made the hard decisions. It’s like a parent stopping the car to discipline the kids. It’s a tough sell. John McCain spent 6 years in a rat hole. That’s enough for me. Be center-right, not flip-off Daily Kos. Prager, are those new socks? They have 12-pack written all over them.”

DP: “You can’t beat believers unless you believe in things. The GOP hierarchy is a mystery, like mosquitoes. I look at both of them, and think, ‘Why God?’ Right now there are two political parties, the destructive and the stupid. I tried to run against Barbara Boxer. I met with a GOP leader. He asked me what I did for a living. GOP leaders believe that politics is a hobby. The left believes in the left. We should believe in conservatism.”

MM: Obama said he supported attacks on pirates. When the matter was clarified, he thought that he was supporting a tax on pirates. What rating would you give Obama, and what rating for George W. Bush?

DP: “I give a Obama a D. I wish I could give him an A but I can’t. He did shoot a Somali pirate. I give President Bush a B.”

DM: “Obama killed the pirates simultaneously. With Obama you can’t grade him because everything is an essay question. I give President Bush an A. He was a real commander in Chief like George Washington.”

LE: “With Obama, on economics and foreign policy, I give him an F. With President Bush, on foreign policy I give him an A his first term and an F his second term. On the economy he gets a B both terms. I loved the tax cuts but hated the borrowing.”

MM: “It is difficult to change course. I give President Bush a B+ and Obama a gracious D.”

LE: “The surge was courageous.”

DM: I would give Obama an A in gym class but he does not play well with others.”

MM: “What was Obama thinking with the war on Fox News?”

DP: “The left lives in a bubble. They ask if there is one human in New York City who voted for President Bush, not ‘will it work?’ The White House was stunned that other networks didn’t play ball. Had they gone along, they could never again claim that they were not on the left. They are very bright and insular, like college campuses and the left. They talk to each other from kindergarten through death.”

LE: “They have been stunned by Glenn Beck reporting on Van Jones, and Fox News overall on ACORN. They attack Fox News so that other stations dismiss Fox News stories.”

DM: “The other networks are not noble. This is Rahm Emanuel’s play. You hire a Chicago thug, let him play ball, and whack the bat. Yet Roger Ailes has a spine made of titanium. Emanuel is like an Amish Lamaze instructor. It’s on. Similes come to me like…”

MM: “Why would Obama want to increase the ratings for them. Obama’s people are not dumb. What do they mean by ‘speaking truth to power?’ Ailes does not have his finger on the nuclear button.”

DM: “Maybe they are just dumb.”

DM: “Look, a 787 billion dollar stimulus bill is being given out in $20 handouts in 2010 to buy votes. The tsunami is half full. If you say it now, you’re called racist. If we become France, I’ll just live there. They have nice stuff. If Democrats retain the house, socialism has landed like Parliament Funkadelic.”

MM: “I am less concerned about the czars than I am about what is wide open. The Brookings Institute favors imposing a value added tax, increasing income taxes. We have a higher tax rate than Israel, and we have higher spending on defense than Israel as a percentage of spending.”

DM: “Obama supports a bill for a setting the clock back tax.”

MM: “Are the majority of military personnel happy with Obama?”

DP: “Unhappy.”

MM: “It is their job to salute. Look at the military votes when counted.”

LE: “They are unhappy but doing the job.”

DM: “Unhappy. Are we really going to end on this? It’s kind of anti-climactic. We can do better.”

MM: “I think we should help Miller run from office.”

DM: “Excuse me from worrying about the Earth using 1906 temperature figures. Back then we were sh*tting outside in the woods. Hey Ezekiel, put the candle wick down the hole, then let’s go churn butter.”

I had the pleasure of meeting all of these men afterward. Except for Miller, I had met them all previously. This is ironic given that Miller has had me as a radio guest on his show. When I told him who I was, he exclaimed, “Eric, Baby, of course I know who you are. Get over here.”

I like Miller, but he is truly certifiable.

I would like to again thank these men for putting together a stimulating program. I already look forward to Townhall 2010.

eric

KRLA Townhall 2009 Part I

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I had the pleasure of attending the 2009 KRLA Townhall discussion with my friend Larry Greenfield. Larry and I watched Dennis Prager, Larry Elder, and Dennis Miller field questions from moderator Michael Medved. Kevin James was the emcee.

This event was so good that hype is unnecessary. Let’s get down to brass conservative tacks.

(For blind liberals enjoying my column in audio form, the word I used was “tacks,” not tax. Also, I never authorized audio columns so you blind liberals are also criminals.)

With that, below are some snippets from the 2009 KRLA Townhall discussion.

(MM = Medved, DP = Prager, DM = Miller, LE = Elder)

MM: “I am going to be ruthless about timing. This is not going to run on Jewish Standard Time. I am operating this on German Standard Time. The lightning rounds will require 2-3 word answers.”

MM: “Halloween is approaching. In politics today, with liberals running everything, what frightens you most?”

DM: “I’m not that frightened. Sometimes Republicans sound like the whiny old guy in ‘Footloose.’ Put liberals in power, they screw it up. At least this way everything is out in the open.”

LE: “I’m not as optimistic as Miller. I’ve never been more frightened. Obama is well intentioned and naive. We are closer to a military confrontation with Iran. The bailouts are dangerous. You can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”

DM: “Nobody is more acquainted with the 2 minute rule than Larry.”

DP: “People spend more money on Halloween than Christmas. More adults are celebrating a vapid holiday than a serious one. Christmas has been replaced with voodoo. I worry about civilization. When the left gains something it is not retracted.”

DM: “I’m scared that at the 2009 Townhall, we are 8 feet away from each other and can’t hear each other. In the 21st century we need better microphones.”

MM: “What are oyur 2012 projections?”

DP: “Mitt Romney.”  DM: “Romney. I also like Mike Pence.”  LE: “Romney, although it’s too early to tell.”

MM: “Love is fleeting, but entitlements are forever. How do we tackle the recession?”

LE: “We cut taxes, restrain government growth, and do what Reagan did.”

DP: “I agree. Like that Hollywood actress said, I don’t want to be Sweden, neutral between Hitler and Churchill. Sweden, Switzerland…this shows the power of college.”

DM: “We need our face to slip off the curb and into the gutter. Just like drunks bottoming out.”

MM: “What do you all think of NAFTA?”

LE: “It’s been a net positive. Obama wants to unilaterally renegotiate the treaty. We hear about lost jobs, but people gaining jobs are not credited to NAFTA because it is not traceable.”

DM: “On the 134 Freeway, they now have an illegal alien lane. Does an assault on liberty mean an assault on happiness? What do we do? There are no easy answers.”

DP: “You can’t be happy if conditions determined that. This is the human lot. If you are unhappy in the USA in 2009, then you will never be happy. There is no Nazism. There are no gulags.”

MM: “What do you think about Jimmy Carter?”

DM: “I don’t know about you guys, but I had a pretty good summer of ’78. Larry, when are you going to run for office?”

LE: “I went to DC and met with the Senators. I told my story. They had decided before I even left for DC. 30-40 million dollars is just too much money to have to raise. Barbara Boxer is beatable. go to http://www.wevegotacountrytosave.com for more information.”

DM: “I have not beena sked to run against Barbara Boxer. How did we get here from illegals and amnesty?”

MM: “After 2010, the Democratic Party wants to lock up the Latino vote forever.”

LE: “There has been no comprehensive immigration reform.”

MM: “If Obama fails, he still wins.”

DM: “7 of 9 Yankees starters are illegals. I’m glad we haven’t surrendered to Mexico.”

DP: “The GOP should speak to minorities as often as possible. We don’t know how to communicate our values. Americans don’t know what American values are. We can’t make the arguments. Democrats see Hispanics as election pawns. Why come to the USA just to make it like the country you left? At least Cash for Clunkers took most of the Obama stickers off of the road. That might hurt Hillary Clinton.”

MM: “The GOP is not the party of the rich. The Democrats are. The GOP is the party of the middle class. Democrats run the 10 richest districts and the 10 poorest ones. 100% of them. The GOP is the party of those wanting to get rich. They didn’t have a pile of investments left over from Joe Kennedy. As for Cash for Clunkers, of all 10 brands, Ford is the only American brand.”

MM: “Why does the left believe in climate change?”

DP: “Premise of the cataclysm is not true. There is no inherent reason. The left believes more in fears. The right worries about terror. The right is not walking around petrified. The left allows political correctness to trump science. Despite what doctors told us, the media got it wrong. There was no heterosexual AIDS pandemic. Those who said there was had nothing to do with science. Science was corrupted by the left to drop the stigma of a gay male disease. When a political agenda corrupts natural science, there is a doomsday scenario.”

MM: “There is a believer/non-believer divide. This has more power than the Council on Foreign Relations. Believers are less hysterical. We don’t focus on catastrophic sci-fi, such as the movie 2012. The Mayan Calendar is not what to base our current life on. Deniers of a creator and order are more likely to believe in the apocalypse.”

MM: “What caused the delay regarding sending more troops to Afghanistan?”

LE: The Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO agree with General McChrystal, who Obama handpicked. The delay was political. He was stuck. Opinion turned, and he didn’t know what to do.”

DM: “You need to take radical Islamists and destroy them. If you’re not going to give the Generals what they need and go Roman, then get them all out. This is a violation of everything Barack Obama doesn’t stand for.”

MM: “Prager, you’re Jewish. Elder, you’re black. Miller, you’re a Hollywood comedian. Republicans are less popular than all of you. What do you do to fix this?”

LE: “Richard Riordan asked me this same question. I told him to say stuff you can’t say. I told him to stop kissing butt and talk about principles. Riordan looked at me and said, ‘You’re right you can’t say that.’ Martin Luther King Jr’s dad was a Republican. Everett Dirksen won an award from the NAACP.”

DM: “We have more credibility speaking for blacks than Hollywood. Hollywood is a self-parody. Sean Penn idolizes Castro. I don’t ibid that. In Cuba a category 5 hurricane causes $34,000 in damages and totally destroys the place. Republicans are marked like Hester Prynne. We’re popular with the troops at Walter Reed but not at cocktail parties. Prager understands this. He is at Hef’s parties every night. We live in a world where Aquavelvajad gets access while McChrystal gets stuck in the green room. I’m just sick of everybody hating people. If the GOP doesn’t take back the Congress in 2010, then I will be scared.”

DP: “As Jews become more religious, they become more conservative. The Torah is conservative. It unites Christians and Jews. The Torah is a divine document. Most Jews worship liberalism, feminism, and environmentalism. They think the New York Times is prophetic reading. They need to return to believing in Judaism.”

MM: “What is right figure for the top income tax bracket?”

LE: “0.”  DP: “0, with a sales tax.”

DM: “I want to help the helpless. I could care less about the clueless. I don’t know, 30%. Hey, 90% is ok with me if like Harry Truman we use it to kill SOBs with a big bomb.”

DP: “The income tax is immoral and foolish.”

LE: “There is no income tax in the original draft of the U.S. Constitution.”

As the crowd enjoyed these men, Medved had more questions to ask. Prager had more enjoyable bluster in him. Elder had more history to offer. As for Miller, he had not even begun to wander far off the reservation. He eventually would.

To the benefit of the audience, these men we re just getting warmed up.

eric

Meeting Alan Veingrad

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I had the pleasure of meeting Alan Veingrad.

Many people worldwide read my blog today and asked, “Who the heck is Alan Veingrad?”

Alan Veingrad played offensive tackle for the Green Bay Packers from 1986 to 1990. He then played with the Dallas Cowboys in 1991 and 1992.

He is the only Orthodox Jew with a Super Bowl ring. After the 1992 Cowboys won it all, he retired.

http://www.alanveingrad.com/

He spoke the other day at USC Chabad. USC Chabad Rabbi Dov Wagner put the event together. Part of Mr. Veingrad’s talk was about football. The rest dealt with his balancing sports and religion.

He now goes by the name Shlomo.

With a deep sense of pride, I present the words of Super Bowl Champion Alan Shlomo Veingrad.

“I played my college ball at East Texas State University. I was the only Jew within a 65 mile radius.”

“As a kid my family moved from Brooklyn to Miami. I got to witness perfection at age nine when the 1972 Dolphins became the only team to have a perfect season. I was a huge Dolphins fan and wanted to play football.”

“I was an average high school football player. I ran a 5.3 40 yard dash, which is slow. I needed to run a 4.9 to have people look at me. My mother took my resume, took some white-out, and wrote 4.9 on my resume and mailed it out.”

“I was not big enough, so I wore boots with two inch heels to my college interview.”

“As a Jewish person, it was nice to at least be playing in the bible belt, even if it is not our bible.”

“I got a head start when I ran my 40 yard dash. I ran a  4.9 39 yard dash.”

“When I arrived in Texas I was only 180 pounds. I bulked up over a few years to 270 pounds. A lot of it was due to biscuits and gravy. I also lifted a lot of weights.”

“After college, I was undrafted. I played in the preseason for the Buccaneers and the Oilers. They both cut me.”

“In five years playing college football in Texas, I never heard one negative Jewish comment. In fact, my Christian teammates were fascinated by my being Jewish.”

“The problem is I did not know the answers to many of their questions. I would say to them, ‘Let me go check on that.’ Then I would call my mom.”

“A year after failing to make it in the NFL, I kept trying. From May through mid-July, I worked out with the Green Bay Packers. Then it happened. The starting offensive tackle was holding out for more money. The backup had retired. I was given a real chance to make the team.”

“During a blocking drill in practice, a defender told me to ‘Come on Jew-Boy.’ I was stunned. This was the first time I had ever heard such a thing. I tossed him aside and had a great blocking drill.”

“Later on he told me that he had no idea that what he said was wrong. He told me that he liked and respected Jewish people. He said that ‘My agent is Jewish. My CPA is Jewish. My money manager is Jewish. Jewish people have been good to me.'”

“In the NFL, I had no Jewish teammates, but they knew Jewish stuff. I was the only Jew on the Packers in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Yet there would be candy in my locker on Hanukkah.”

“My very first game in the NFL came against the Oilers, the team that had cut me.”

“My first time playing on Monday Night Football was against the defending champion Chicago Bears, who had one of the greatest defenses of all time. Bears Coach Mike Ditka was intense. Packers Coach Forrest Gregg learned from Vince Lombardi. Gregg was always extra intense when playing Ditka and the Bears. Of course, they beat us badly. Being a rookie offensive lineman against Richard Dent is a challenge.”

“No matter how much you work out, some guys are going to throw you around. Cortez Kennedy, Reggie White and Jerome Brown just manhandled our offensive line.”

“The day before my first pro game, I was given a message from a team employee that a guy named Lou Weinstein had called me. I had never heard of him. My life was about to change.”

“I called Lou Weinstein back. He said that he had read about me, and wanted to meet me for lunch at his country club. I had no idea what he wanted to meet with me about. I met him at the club, and he offered to help me find a place to live. He even offered his home to me. I could not accept that, but he helped me find an apartment. He was simply a Jewish person reaching out to a new Jew in town. He changed my life.”

I was never that religious, but Lou one day asked me to visit him on a Tuesday. He knew that Tuesday was the day off for NFL players. He wanted me to join him and his family for Rosh Hashanah.”

“After the 1990 season, my agent spoke about me moving from the Green Bay Packers to the Dallas Cowboys. I could not understand why. I was happy in Green bay. I had a good life. It was cold, but I was happy. Dallas was very hot in the summer, and Jimmy Johnson was a taskmaster. Why would I want to move to Dallas?”

“My agent brought up life after football. He asked me, ‘Alan, how many dates have you been on in Green Bay?’ I told him that ‘I went on a date with a girl a couple of years ago.’ He told me that if I wanted to settle down, get married, and have a family, I had a better chance in Dallas, which had a much larger Jewish population than Green Bay. So I moved to Dallas and played for the Cowboys.”

“I moved to Dallas, met the Jewish community, went on some dates, won a Super Bowl ring with the Cowboys in 1992, and retired. I moved to Fort Lauderdale, dropped 65 pounds, and raised a family.”

“One day I got a call from my cousin, who is a doctor. Having a doctor as a cousin is good because as a retired football player, free medical advice is nice. He invited me over to his home for Shabbos. When he asked me wash my hands before dinner (the ritual), I told him that I had already washed before I came. I had no idea what he meant.”

“One day one of the Rabbis called me up and invited me to a Torah study. For 59 1/2 minutes I tuned out. Then in the last 30 seconds, I paid attention long enough to hear him say that life was not about material accomplishments. It was about finding meaning in this world. I am so glad I briefly heard that. I wanted to learn more. I had a nice house, a fancy car, and material possessions. I wanted more meaning.”

“The Torah is a playbook. It is a playbook for how to live life. It is an inspirational message.”

“One day the Rabbi called me up and asked me to come down to the Synagogue to make telephone calls to raise money for the Synagogue. I told him no. I told him that I would do anything else, but don’t ask me to make phone calls. Then I sat back and reflected about everything the community had done for me. I called the Rabbi back, told him I would be on my way, and that he should give me a telephone and let me start dialing.”

“For those who want my football card, it is available for $3 on Ebay.”

“I tried to get my father involved with Judaism, and he refused for so long. He did not want to have to eat on certain plates, or deal with other inconvenient restrictions. He told me how much fun he had attending all those cool NFL parties in Green Bay and Dallas. He was proud of me for being an NFL player. I told him I loved all of that, but now I loved Judaism and wanted to share that with him.”

“After a year and a half, he showed up one Wednesday to synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. He told me ‘I am so proud of you with that Yarmulke on your head.’ That meant more to me than anything.”

“Judaism has made me better in everything. I am a better husband, better father, better boss, and better employee.”

The questions were insightful, and Shlomo’s answers were thoughtful. He was asked if he thought another Orthodox Jew would win a Super Bowl ring, perhaps even one that is Orthodox while playing.”

“Unfortunately it is not likely to happen. Playing football requires years and years of practice. You can’t just start out in the NFL. First you have to play in high school. Those games are played on Friday nights, which is the sabbath. That is where we get the expression ‘Friday Night Lights.’ Then there is college, where the games are played on Saturdays. That is also Shabbos (it runs from Friday evening at sundown to Saturday evening at Sundown). In the NFL the games are played on Sundays, but there are practice workouts the day before. From a practice standpoint it is impossible to play football and conform to Jewish law.”

(Also, NFL Playoff games are on Saturdays and Sundays.)

Another person wanted to know if his sons played football.

“My sons both play in a baseball league. The games are on Sundays. We all keep the Sabbath. Plus, football is such a brutal game. It is a violent game. I am glad they don’t play football.”

As for his Super Bowl prediction, he says that he normally does not watch the Super Bowl, but this year he is making an exception. “I am pulling for the Saints. I am an NFC guy, and plus, it is a great story.”

One person wanted to know why he retired right after winning a Super Bowl when he could have come back and won another one. The Cowboys did win another one after the 1993 season, came one game short in 1994, and won their third championship in four years after the 1995 season.

“My body told me it was time to retire. You have to listen to your body. Some days I still ache. It occasionally hurts to get out of bed.  My kids can see me ache from time to time. I loved playing football. Now I love my life after football.”

I wanted to know if Shlomo was doing any outreach to any current Jewish NFL players. After all, there is a huge Christian outreach program in the NFL.

“Shlomo, I read somewhere that Minnesota Vikings backup quarterback Sage Rosenfels is Jewish. He gets tons of invitations to speak at Synagogues, but he turns them all down. He says he does not know anything, and does not want to feel like a fraud. Have you thought about reaching out to him and other Jewish players.”

His answer was disappointing and honest.

“I have tried, but it has not worked. These guys are busy. I am an old guy. They don’t have time to talk to me. I called one Jewish player and invited him out for lunch to talk. He said he was busy and hung the phone up. Things are easier after retirement. There is more free time to learn. Football is a full time demanding job.”

With regards to Tony Dungy and other devoutly religious men publicly expressing their faith in interviews, Mr. Veingrad was fine with that. As a religious man himself, he was comfortable with such expressions.

The last thing Shlomo let us know was that on April 18th, 2010, in Suffolk County, New York, he was being inducted into the National Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. We have Red Auerbach in Basketball and Sandy Koufax in baseball. Now we have Alan Veingrad of the National Football League.

As for me, one fabulous experience was before his speech even began. He let a couple of us try on his Super Bowl ring. I had never seen such a beautiful stone before. Like a holy grail, I could not bring myself to try it on. I held it in my hands for 30 seconds and just stared at it. It said “Cowboys, 52-17,” which was the score of the game. Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones had them personally designed.

What Shlomo never mentioned was that despite playing alongside NFL Hall of Famers Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin, and Emmitt Smith, Shlomo himself won the “game ball” on five separate occasions during his career.

Life is about meeting people and having experiences and developing memories. Alan Veingrad was helped along by Lou Weinstein.

It was a true joy to meet Alan Shlomo Veingrad, the only man to experience two of my favorite passions.

Jewish people in New York should make their way to the Jewish Sports Hall of Fame on April 18, 2010. They will be glad they did.

eric