Thursday, December 28, 2006

Book Argues for Retaking the 'Conservative Soul'

Friday, June 09, 2006

War Porn

Black Islamists

Somalia has been taken over by black Islamists. Which is sort of like the NBA being conquered by Croatians; it's not really shocking just not what I expected. Even before 9/11 I thought of Islamists as Arabs, though I did notice Usama Bin Laden looks a lot like former NBA star Scotty Pippin. Lately I've been aware of Persian Islamists like Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who's a dead ringer for late Gilligan's Island star Bob Denver. I know Islam is a multi-racial religion nonetheless it is surprising to see that the leader of Somalia's Islamic Courts Union, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, could easily be mistaken for my cousin Willie Albert. And the young Islamic Court fighters walking around Mogadishu with their rifles remind me of the black panthers party members who patrolled my old Chicago neighborhood in the 1960's.

The big concern, of course, is that Somalia's Islamists might have "links to al Qaeda" which no one wants. Then again, that claim comes from the Bush administration. Truth be told, if the Bush guys say somebody is al Qaeda it makes me wonder if they are really Presbyterians.

From what I read the Islamic Courts Union enjoys a good amount of popular support and a reputation for honesty. I hope they are able to bring some security and order to Somalia and keep al Qaeda out. But, if he wants to visit, I hope Somalia will still welcome former NBA star, Scotty Pippin.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Monday, May 08, 2006

Ahmadinejad's Letter

Dear President Carter,

Just kidding Mr. Bush, I know you're the President now, or should I say, You are "The Decider."

But seriously, the Middle East is in deep camel doo and we need to mount our tallest two-humpers to help get it out. The question is, how can we improve understanding and relations between our two countries?

Over the weekend, Mrs. Ahmadinejad and I were watching satellite TV and saw this program, "Wife Swap," and it hit me, of course! Let's you and me trade countries for a week. Call it, "President Swap." You can come over here, inspect our nuclear facilities, and I could go there and do the same. By the way, does Homer Simpson really work for a nuclear reactor company? Do you think I could meet him? I could even try to pass some laws for you, through your Congress. From what I read, I doubt I'd be any less effective. Since both our countries are already bombing and shelling Iraqis, we wouldn't even have to switch generals.
I'm sure you'd enjoy discussing the scriptures with our supreme religious leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, just as I cannot wait to dialogue with your Ayatollah, Pat Robertson. We are all reasonable men of G-d, that is, we all believe, "Thou shall not kill," is more of a suggestion.

Mr. President, I really think this could be big and I hope you'll consider it. Maybe we should see if Fox would film it as a reality show. I know you're in with them.

Allah O Akbar,

Your pal,


PS - Just to show there are no hard feelings, please find, enclosed with this letter, a box of Iran's finest salted pretzels.

Gen. Michael Hayden

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Monday, April 17, 2006

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Thursday, March 02, 2006

The First Suicide Terrorist

The first suicide terrorist was Samson. In the book of Judges, chapters 13 – 16, the Jews were oppressed by the Palestinians - I mean Philistines. For 20 years, Samson resisted that oppression like a one-man Al Qaeda. He killed random Philistinian civilians, and burned their crops and their stored grain. Then, fearing their wrath, he hid out in a cave. But like the USA after 9/11, the Philistines massed their armies and demanded that the Jews turn over the terrorist. Unlike the Taliban, the Jews complied. They went to Samson's cave, since of course they knew where he was, and demanded his surrender. Samson agreed but then was seized by the spirit of G-d and killed another thousand Philistine husbands, fathers and sons. He was finally captured due only to his weakness for Philistine women.

Samson's suicide attack came at a huge party in honor of the Philistinian god of grain, Dagon. Maybe because Samson had destroyed so much grain, the revelers brought him in as part of the celebration. Leaning against a set of pillars that he knew would kill scores of innocent people, Samson's last prayer was that G-d would let him die along with his enemy. His prayer was answered and Samson, along with over three thousand people, more than died on 9/11, perished in a single act of violence.

We, just like the Islamists, celebrate our favorite martyr - suicide terrorist - Samson. He is the poster boy for manly strength. We name luggage, weightlifting competitions and hair restoration products after him. We name our largest sons, dogs and most powerful machines Samson. And of course, Hollywood made a blockbuster movie staring the most studly he-man star of his day, Victor "I have bigger boobs than Anna Nicole Smith" Mature.

We all admire strength, self-sacrifice and the triumph of the underdog. We all agree that some folks deserve a big bowl of whop-ass and we celebrate the men who dish it out. And we all remember that one nation's terrorist is another nation's media idol.

Black Chicago's Hamas

The Chicago City Council is considering renaming a one-block section of an inner city street for murdered Black Panther Party leader Fred Hampton. The move is wildly controversial and the Chicago Police union is outraged that the city would honor a man who encouraged his followers to "Off the Pigs."

Remembering the Black Panthers, I understand why Palestinians voted for Hamas. First of all the headgear. The Panthers wore these tres cool berets just as Hamas leaders sport totally fashionable Islamic resistance baseball caps. But more importantly and even more fun, both the Panthers and Hamas behave like men. Like Palestinians on the West Bank, we on the west side of Chicago in the 1960's understood how violent and well-armed are our opponents, in our case the Chicago Police Department. Hardly a young man among us had not been harassed by cops for the sometimes capital offense of "driving while black." All of us who protested against segregation had been photographed by people we took to be cops and FBI agents out to intimidate us. But the Panthers behaved as if they were not afraid. They had their little shot guns and their little pistols. The Panthers were way into their second amendment rights. They were fools. Fred Hampton and Mark Clark were ultimately gunned down in their sleep by the axis of evil government agencies. But for a hot minute there, the Black Panther Party - they stood up to the bad guys. They were not trying to get along with injustice but shove it out of the way. They did not ask for acceptance. They demanded respect.

They appealed to our idealism. The party platform quoted the declaration of independence. They were the strong right arm of our ideals. Betcha anything that's how Palestinians feel about Hamas. Like us about the Panthers they say, "Call 'em terrorists, call 'em whatever you want but you can't call them late for the revolution. They're here, they're on our side and standing up for us. And besides, they got great headgear.”

The city of Chicago is naming but a single block for the Black Panther martyr Fred Hampton. But when it's official I can't wait to drive on it... then turn around and drive back.. then turn around and drive back...

Monday, February 20, 2006

Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest

The Israeli Anti-Semitic Cartoon Contest makes me prouder than ever to be a Jew. Responding to the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, the Iranian newspaper, Hamshahri, has announced a Holocaust cartoon contest. In response to that call an Israeli publisher, Dimona Comix, has challenged Jews to create anti-Semitic cartoons to show that a) A confident people are not threatened by cartoons and b) when it comes to offending Jews, we will not be beaten on our home turf!

This how to fight a war. With deadly humor! Plus, for Jews this contest is like a vaccine. Its very existence both shows our strength and makes us stronger. I'm working on my entries now 'cause I want the promised first prize, a piece of that delicious matzah made from the blood of Christian children!

Monday, February 06, 2006


Publishing offensive cartoons of the prophet Muhommed was the foolish and thus right thing to do. We need fools, unwise people who behave as if there is nothing to fear. Look at the prophet Muhammed himself. He lived in Mecca, a polytheistic city. Common sense told you that rain and the fire were controlled by different gods. But here's Muhammed and his little band preaching this monotheism foolishness. Muhommed and his followers gang out of town. The same unwise abandonment of caution was true John the Baptist, Galileo, Bucky Fuller, Amelia Earhart and Chris Rock.

But without fools who go too far we'd never know how's far was enough.

It's why we pay fools to rush in where angels fear to tread.

And once a fool says the unspeakable thing it becomes fit for politie conversation. The foolish Danish publishers are the only reason the world is discussing Islam and art and humor and appropriate reactions. Other fools consecrate other discussions "Did you hear what that fool in Iran said about the holocaust?" or "Pat Robertson said something really foolish about Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez."

Fools know we risk our lives and livelihoods. Everybody saw comedian Bill Maher lose his network series because of a foolish comment about 9/11. Yet we still say what we say and draw what we draw. We don't do it because we're brave or even trying to make the world a better place. We persist in foolishness just to see what happens, because we're fools.

We laugh at fools and that is the fools' greatest gift. Wise folks say comedy is a way of looking at life that makes happy endings seem inevitable. Only a fool would argue with that.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Hamas and I

As an observant Jew I understand why so many muslims vote to live under religious law. Hamas, the Christian Coallition and I agree that secular American life is vulgar, permissive and materialistic. We agree that it is tolerant of homosexuality and atheism. I think that's a good thing. Given a choice I prefer heresy to boredom but I understand why others would not.

Like men everywhere I respond with Pavlovian salivation to scantilly-clad female bodies but like many of my obserevant Christian and Muslim siblings I prefer the presence of modestly dressed women, particularly when those women are young and related to me.

I too use religious observance as a buffer againt the exesses of what I consider a morally dangerous world. But, Yankee that I am, I'd rather immorality remain a physically safe option for eveyone, even me and my kids.

I also identify with the wish to live in a community that shares my values and habits.

When I go into the observant Jewish section of Chicago, and neighborhood called West Rogers Park, aka the "Chood." Though I know few of them it feels to me like home. I understand their ways, I know why the men have beards and the women have skirts that are long. I even know what they're all reading on any given week. Like everything that's familiar the fellowship of my tribe comforts me.

I am beginning to see the Arab world's embace of political Islam as less a rejection of western modernity than a search for something more wholesome than Madison Avenue or Washington currently offer. In that search I am their ally.

However given our different attitudes about tolerace I'm sure my fundamentalist Christian and Muslims brothers will understand if I join their search for righteousness from a righteously safe distance.

Thursday, January 26, 2006


"Maybe they do some bad things but I trust them and believe that, fundamentally they are on my side." That's how Bush supporters feel about his administration, how Hamas supporters feel about the new Palestinian government and how I feel about Google. Of course the scales of the bad things are different. Google and Hamas have killed far fewer people, but the willingness to give ones champions the benefit of a doubt is the same.

I am, like so many millions, a Googlephile. I see them the way Bush and Hamas supporters see their heroes; as principled champions of what I cherish and more importantly, warriors willing to do righteous battle against my enemies. Bush fights Al Qaeda, Hamas goes after Israel and Google takes on Microsoft. I was disappointed to hear that they would censor their Chinese language searches. Given the height of their rhetoric about not being evil taking China's side against the Dali Lama seemed is a real let down. Just like I assume Bush fans are sad he that terror attacks are up and Palestinians deeply regret the Israeli bombs and missiles that rain upon them in retaliation for Hamas attacks.

All our heroes have principled detractors. It's reasonable to fear the ubiquitous tentacles of an unchecked, ravenous Googlezilla. The foes of Bush and Hamas are far too numerous to list. And like the other fans I acknowledge the reasonableness of the criticism but am just willing to give my team a pass mostly because they're my team.

I understand Hamas and Bush supporters better now that Googles' actions too require my patient understanding and faith. because of what I must forgive I am more sympathetic to what last week, seemed baffling fidelity to the evil. Bush and Hamas supporters are not merely a bunch of deluded simpletons brainwashed by clever marketing. I see them now as, like me, merely people willing to give wide berth to a characters they believe are pursuing ultimate good.

And as such they are, like me, dangerous.