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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Thank You To Those Who Gave Their Lives To Protect Us

 Let us not forget that today is much more than Hot Dogs and Parades:

The Original Order Creating the Memorial Day Holiday:
The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way, arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

We are here to play, Comrades, as our regulations tell us, for the purpose among other things, "of preserving and strengthening those kind and fraternal feelings which have bound together the soldiers sailors and Marines, who united to suppress the late rebellion." What can aid more to assure this result than by cherishing tenderly the memory of our heroic dead? We should guard their graves with sacred vigilance. All that the consecrated wealth and taste of the nation can add to their adornment and security, is but a fitting tribute to the memory of her slain defenders. Let pleasant paths invite the coming and going of reverent visitors and fond mourners. Let no neglect, no ravages of time, testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.

If other eyes grow dull and other hands slack, and other hearts cold in the solemn trust, ours shall keep it well as long as the light and warmth of life remain in us.

Let us, then, at the time appointed, gather around their sacred remains, and garland the passionless mounds above them with choicest flowers of springtime; let us raise above them the dear old flag they saved; let us in this solemn presence renew our pledge to aid and assist those whom they have left among us a sacred charge upon the Nation's gratitude—the soldiers and sailors widow and orphan.

It is the purpose of the Commander in Chief to inaugurate this observance with the hope that it will be kept up from year to year, while a survivor of the war remains to honor the memory of his departed comrades. He earnestly desires the public press to call attention to this Order, and lend its friendly aid in bringing it to the notice of comrades in all parts of the country in time for simultaneous compliance therewith.

A Prayer For the United States On Memorial Day

Lord who grants salvation to kings and dominion to rulers, Whose kingdom is a kingdom spanning all eternities; Who places a road in the sea and a path in the mighty waters - may you bless the President, the Vice President, and all the constituted officers of government of this land. May they execute their responsibilities with intelligence, honor and compassion. May they be instilled with the wisdom to stop the suffering of our veterans, the heroes who volunteered to protect us. And may these United States continue to be the land of the free and the home of the brave

To those of you who have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend our liberty, to anyone who has defended us from harm we humbly say...Thank You

Friday, May 22, 2015

At DC Synagogue President Obama Delivered Nothing But Empty Words

President Obama visited the friendly confines of liberal Adas Israel Synagogue in Washington, D.C. on Friday and delivered a speech meant to reach out to the Jewish Community and other supporters of Israel. His two themes were that Israel should support the deal with Iran, and that he criticizes Israel harshly in public because he loves it so much.

The speech began with friendly platitudes about the history of Judaism in the U.S., how they supported the civil rights movement, and pointed out some friendly member of the congregation including Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic. It continued with laying out his administrations support of Israel's military and his oft repeated claim that "no administration has done more to ensure that Israel can protect itself than this one."

The president transitioned to the deal with Iran:
The deal that we already reached with Iran has already halted or rolled back parts of Iran’s nuclear program. Now we’re seeking a comprehensive solution. I will not accept a bad deal. As I pointed out in my most recent article with Jeff Goldberg, this deal will have my name on it, so nobody has a bigger personal stake in making sure that it delivers on its promise. I want a good deal.

I'm interested in a deal that blocks every single one of Iran’s pathways to a nuclear weapon -- every single path. A deal that imposes unprecedented inspections on all elements of Iran’s nuclear program, so that they can’t cheat; and if they try to cheat, we will immediately know about it and sanctions snap back on. A deal that endures beyond a decade; that addresses this challenge for the long term. In other words, a deal that makes the world and the region -- including Israel -- more secure. That’s how I define a good deal.
Forgetting for a moment that his stake could not be bigger than the people living in Israel who would be the first target of a nuclear Iran, the president ignores the fact that many observers believe that the Iran deal does nothing to stop Iran's nuclear program, and that the elements of the deal as he described has been disputed by America's partners the P+5 negotiations (Including Russia, China and France), as well as Iran.

The president also forgot to mention that it is not only Israel objecting to the deal but some of our Arab allies were so upset at the framework deal and the direction of the talks that their leaders refused to join President Obama for the recent conference at Camp David.

Interestingly the president continued by saying he welcomed debate about the Iran deal: 

Because the stakes are sufficiently high that anything that's proposed has to be subjected to scrutiny -- and I welcome that scrutiny.
Funny how he welcome scrutiny when the Prime Minister of Israel was invited to speak about the deal to congress this past March.

After talking about how much he loves Israel, Obama spoke to his reputation of not supporting Israel and that the reason for his constant bashing of the Jewish State was his deep feeling of friendship:
So when I hear some people say that disagreements over policy belief a general lack of support of Israel, I must object, and I object forcefully. For us to paper over difficult questions, particularly about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or about settlement policy, that’s not a true measure of friendship.
When Obama became president he unilaterally broke an agreement between the U.S. and Israel which said that the U.S. would not object to additional housing units in existing settlements outside of Jerusalem and would not object to any settlements in Jerusalem. When Obama broke that agreement the Palestinians made settlements a precondition for negotiations.

When Obama talks about the settlements he ignores that Netanyahu made a very simple offer to the Palestinian President Abbas. If he were to recognize Israel as the Jewish State, Israel will enact a indefinite building freeze. As reported by Al Jazeera the answer from the Palestinians was a resounding no. But still Obama blames Israel.

When he objects to the perception that he is not pro-Israel, President Obama ignores that during the 2012 convention his campaign stripped four pro-Israel planks from the campaign platform and only added back the one about Jerusalem. Not added back were the items about not dealing with Hamas, any deal would re-settle Palestinian refugees outside of Israel in Palestinian territory, and that "it is unrealistic to expect the outcome of final status negotiations to be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949."

When President Obama talks about his love of Israel and Judaism he ignores that the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem is a basic tenet of Judaism (Psalm 137 "I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning, Let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth, if I remember thee not.") He also ignores that his administration refuses to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel ​a big change from his predecessor President Bush (#43).

In 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act endorsing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and requiring the US Embassy to move to Jerusalem. But Congress gave the executive branch an out, every six months the State Department/President can request and receive an automatic waiver. A waiver that President Bill Clinton issued to congress every six months as required.

President Bush continued the policy every six months, but in Bush’s case he inserted into the legal jargon a sentence stating, “My Administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem.” The phrase appeared in all 16 Bush waiver notifications. The Obama administration removed that phrase from their waiver requests.

Obama wrapped up by orating against the scourge of Anti-Semitism. Ignoring the fact that during his first year as president he awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom to two Jew-haters, former Irish President Mary Robinson, who ran the 1991 UN Conference on Racism, which turned out to be a conference for every type of Anti-Semitism in the world and Bishop Desmond Tutu a man who not only claims the Jews run the US government but “the Jews thought they had a monopoly on God."

The president's words about Anti-Semitism also ignore that he counts Al Sharpton as an adviser. Sharpton led two Anti-Semitic pogroms in New York City, the Crown Heights riot, and the firebombing of Freddy's Fashion Mart.

Using beautiful words President Obama gave a speech at an historic D.C. synagogue in an attempt to reach out to American Jews who have grown weary of his Anti-Israel policies. Beautiful words however, are meaningless unless he changes his policies toward the Jewish State.

Note: In the first paragraph, Adas Israel was described as "friendly confines" for the president, the following paragraph provides the rationale for that description.

Adas Israel represents a very friendly liberal audience. Amongst its members are Martin Indyk who served as Obama's U.S. negotiator for the Israel/Palestinian peace talks despite the fact that he was on the payroll of Qatar, and who gave a sermon on Yom Kippur at Adas Israel where he trashed the Jewish State. Another famous member of the Synagogue is Jeff Goldberg of The Atlantic who is the president's "go to" Jew when he wants to say bad things about Israel either through interviews, or leaks (remember when Netanyahu was called chickenshit?). The Synagogue is part of the Conservative movement of Judaism. which all but endorsed Obama in the 2012 election and after the most recent Israeli election, backed up President Obama by slamming Prime Minister Netanyahu for comments he didn't really make and which they admitted they didn't read.

New Emails Show Hillary Was Warned About A Benghazi Attack Year Before 9/11/12

Included in the batch of State Department emails released on Friday was a short four-sentence email from 6/10/11 a year before the Benghazi attack which should have warned Secretary of State Clinton that U.S. personnel in Benghazi were in danger.
“There is credible threat info against the hotel that our team is using – and the rest of the Intl community is using, for that matter. DS [Diplomatic Security] going to evacuate our people to alt locations. Info suggested attack in next 24-48 hours. Will keep you posted.”
Now granted this was more than a year before the attack on the Benghazi mission and was supposed to have taken place in a day or two after that 2011 warning.

But once a "credible threat" is made toward a diplomatic location isn't it reasonable to expect additional security will be provided at that location?  It has already been established that Ambassador Stevens wanted more security in Benghazi but was refused---a major blunder by a woman who wants to be commander-in-chief.

Hillary Was Pushing For Tax Breaks To Benefit Clinton Library Donors

The AP revealed a new conflict of interest story regarding the Clintons. During the last year of the Bubba Clinton presidency, Hillary endorsed and tried to sell through an Administration plan to give tax breaks to private foundations and wealthy charity donors at the same time the Clinton Foundation was soliciting those same donations for her husband's presidential library released Clinton-era documents show.
An interagency task force set up by Bill Clinton's executive order proposed those breaks along with deductions to middle-class taxpayers who did not itemize their returns. Federal officials estimated the plan would cost the U.S. government $14 billion in lost tax payments over a decade.

In a January 2000 memo to Hillary Clinton from senior aides, plans for a "philanthropy tax initiative roll-out" showed her scrawled approval, "HRC" and "OK."

The document, marked with the archive stamp "HRC handwriting," indicated her endorsement of the tax package, which included provisions to reduce and simplify an excise tax on private foundations' investments and allow more deductions for charitable donations of appreciated property. The Clinton White House included the tax proposal in its final budget in February 2000, but it did not survive the Republican-led Congress.
The soliciting of money was perfectly legal even though Bubba was still in the oval office. And I am sure that the fact that Bill was soliciting money for his foundation had nothing to do with their support of the tax break, just like the memo from Sid Blumenthal had nothing to do with the fake "Benghazi attack was incited by a video story," or the destruction Hillary's emails and the email server had nothing to do with the Benghazi investigation.
But in directly pushing the legislation while the Clinton Library was aggressively seeking donations, Hillary and Bill Clinton's altruistic support for philanthropy overlapped with their interests promoting their White House years and knitting ties with philanthropic leaders.

Hundreds of pages of documents contain no evidence that anyone in the Clinton administration raised warnings about potential ethics concerns or sought to minimize the White House's active role in the legislation.

"The theme here for the Clintons is a characteristic ambiguity of doing good and at the same time doing well by themselves," said Lawrence Jacobs, director of the Center for the Study of Politics and Governance at the Hubert H. Humphrey School at the University of Minnesota. Jacobs said the Clinton administration could have relied on a federal commission to decide tax plans or publicly supported changes but not specific legislation.
Isn't amazing though how coincidences which appear like conflict of interests, such as the above or any of the coincidences in Peter Schweizer's book "Clinton Cash," only happen to the Clintons? They are just about the unluckiest multi-gazillionaires in America.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

A Gentile's Guide To Shavuot, My Favorite Jewish Holiday (Begins Saturday Night)

Beginning with the sunset on Saturday, Jews throughout the world will begin to observe Shavuot, the most meaningful (to me) and favorite of Jewish holidays. It commemorates, that incredible day when God gave us the Ten Commandments and the Torah.

People living in the US, might think that Chanukah is the major Jewish holiday, actually it is a very minor holiday. Shavuot is one of the three major festivals (the other two are Passover and Sukkot). In biblical days, Jews would travel from all over the Holy Land to Jerusalem to make a sacrifice at the Holy Temple on those three festivals.

Historically, Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and is also known as Hag Matan Torateinu (the Festival of the Giving of Our Torah). Notice it says Giving of the Torah not receiving of the Torah. We believe that Jews are always receiving the Torah, learning its meanings, understanding the mitzvot, so receiving doesn't work because every "time" is the time of receiving the Torah.

Interesting Facts about Shavuot:
    • Mount Sinai: We are taught that Mount Sinai was chosen because it was a "modest sized mountain" Not only because Moses was an old man when he had to climb the mountain (up and down 4 times), but because God wanted to show that man did not have to be large in stature to meet his potential. Another reason Sinai was chosen was because it was outside of the Holy Land. The laws given at Sinai are basic laws and should apply to all people. If the law was given outside of the Holy Land could God legitimately say that these basic rules of how people should approach their lives, apply to everyone?
    • What Moses looked like: How the heck would I know. But I can definitely tell you he didn't look like the Charlton Heston-like, traditional way the lawgiver has been portrayed in movies and art. Think about it, here was the child of Hebrew slaves raised in the court of Pharaoh--why would he look like a tall westerner? Sorry to burst your bubbles but Moses was probably short by today's standards and had dark skin like Middle Easterners today (BTW we know his wife was black).
          • The Revelation at Sinai. Think about it for a second, the Torah says there were 603,000 people at Sinai, to hear Gods words in God's voice.The first two of the Ten Commandments were also heard directly from God speaking to the Jewish people, and not through Moses as an intermediary. Jewish tradition explains that the experience was so powerful, that the Jews "died" from the impact -- their souls left their bodies from the force of the interaction, and God had to "revive" them. After this happened twice, the Jewish people said, "Enough! We're convinced - you tell Moses and he can tell us the rest of them to us!" There is no other religious event in the history of mankind where the presence of God was seen and heard by an entire nation.
              • In the Torah, the first word of the Ten Commandments Anochi (I am) is not in Hebrew it's in Egyptian. Seven before ago those Israelites were slaves in Egypt, the Lord wanted them to feel comfortable, so he started with an Egyptian Word, bringing up the question--if the revelation at Sinai happened today, would the first words be 'Dudes, I'm the Alpha Dog here?"
                • They're not really called the Ten Commandments, at least in Judaism. In Biblical Hebrew, the commandments are called עשרת הדברים (transliterated Aseret ha-Dvarîm) and in Rabbinical Hebrew עשרת הדברות (transliterated Aseret ha-Dibrot), both translatable as "the ten words" or "the ten things. While many Rabbis believe that all of the rest of the Commandments stem from these Ten, they also teach that all 613 commandments in the  Torah are equal (except for giving to charity and honoring your parents). Pirkei Avot, a book of the Mishnah, teaches "Be as meticulous in performing a 'minor' mitzvah as you are with a 'major' one, because you don't know what kind of reward you'll get for various mitzvot."
                  • The Commandments have no "Thou Shalts."Jews believe that our maker is a "bottom line" type. So there were no "thou shalts" nor were there any "thou shalt nots" in the the Commandments, so for instance it's not "thou shalt not steal but "Don't Steal."
                    • There is no commandment that says, "Don't Kill." The Hebrew לֹא תִרְצָח translates to "Don't murder." What's the difference? If it said don't kill then self-defense, death penalty, war etc. would be banned, they're not...only intentional murder.
                      • Moses' Father-in-Law Gets Top Billing? The name of the Parsha (weekly Torah reading) in which the revelation occurs is not named after the Ten Commandments, it is called Yitro, after Moses' father-in-law who was not Jewish. There are only two Parshot in the Torah named after a non Jew so this is a big deal. At the beginning of this Parsha, Yitro sits Moses down and explains to him how to delegate so he can spend more time with family. This teaches us two things, to God Shalom Ha-Bayit (peace in the House) is more important than anything, spending time with family is also God's work. It also teaches us that father-in-laws are not only allowed to, but are supposed to butt in.
                        • All Night Study Sessions: Just before God gives us the Commandments, the Torah says, It came to pass on the third day when it was morning, that there were thunder claps and lightning flashes, and a thick cloud was upon the mountain, and a very powerful blast of a shofar, and the entire nation that was in the camp shuddered. The Rabbis interpret this as God was already on the top of the Mountain waiting for us, but we had overslept so the Lord had to make a heck of racket and wake us up. So on the first evening of the holiday (Saturday night this year) we have a Tikkun Leil Shavuot (repairing the Evening of Shavout). We spend all night studying Torah, to remember that we screwed up and overslept. We are showing God that we appreciate the Torah he gave us, and we are not going to oversleep again. And to make sure we stay awake--we eat while we study.

                          • Pizza, Blintzes and Ice Cream, Why Shavuot is my Favorite Jewish Holiday. When God was done with giving us the Torah on Shavuot, we were told the Israelite people realized that their plates were not "Kosher." While they were making their plates and utensils Kosher, they ate only dairy. So....We DO TOO. So Shavuot is 48 hours of Pizza, Blitzes and Cookies and Cream Ice Cream (any flavor is OK, that's Just my favorite). That's why Shavuot is my Favorite Jewish Holiday. The two days of Shavuot, are the only two day of the year you can tell your wife "Yes Honey, I am a diabetic and the doctor did tell me to lose weight, but this is not splurging, I am only eating this pint of Hagan-Daz because I am following God's Law" How Cool is that!
                          There is an Old Story about a religious school Gan (kindergarten) teacher talking to her students about Shavuot. "OK Class, who knows why we celebrate Shavout?" "OOOH, OOOH I know," said little Karen, "Shavout is when we light candles and celebrate the Maccabees." "No Karen,that's Chanukah good try." Said the teacher. "Anybody else?" Shmully raised his hand. "Shavout is when we wear costumes and play with noise makers" "Sorry Shmully, that is Purim." the teacher said. Just then a little boy in the back of the room raised his hand. "Yes Johnny?"

                          "I know Shavout," Johnny said tentatively," You see, Moses went up the mountain and stayed for 40 days and 40 nights." "That's right Johnny," the teacher encouraged. "After 40 days Moses came down the mountain carrying two stone tablets that had the Ten Commandments on them," He continued. "Keep going" said the teacher. "And if he sees his shadow we have six more weeks of winter."

                          Have a wonderful holiday and whether you are Jew or Gentile, eat lots of your favorite flavor of ice cream (remember its God's will).  And as for what was written on those two tablets, those "Ten Words" they are below (H/T God)

                          Then God said all these words: "I am ADONAI your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of slavery.
                          1)You are to have no other gods before me.
                          2)You are not to make for yourselves a carved image or any kind of representation of anything in heaven above, on the earth beneath or in the water below the shoreline. You are not to bow down to them or serve them; for I, ADONAI your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sins of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but displaying grace to the thousandth generation of those who love me and obey my mitzvot.
                          3) You are not to use lightly the name of ADONAI your God, because ADONAI will not leave unpunished someone who uses his name lightly.
                          4) Remember the day, Shabbat, to set it apart for God. You have six days to labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Shabbat for ADONAI your God. On it, you are not to do any kind of work -not you, your son or your daughter, not your male or female slave, not your livestock, and not the for eigner staying with you inside the gates to your property. For in six days, ADONAI made heaven and earth, the sea and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. This is why ADONAI blessed the day, Shabbat, and separated it for himself.
                          5) Honor your father and mother, so that you may live long in the land which ADONAI your God is giving you.
                          6) Don't murder. 
                          7) Don't commit adultery. 
                          8) Don't steal.
                          9) Don't give false evidence against your neighbor." Note: this is Al Sharpton's least favorite of the ten.
                          10) Do not covet your neighbor's house; do not covet your neighbor's wife, his male or female slave, his ox, his donkey or anything that belongs to your neighbor."