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The statement comes from their website, and it pretty much reflects my views.

December 28, 2008

Jewish Voice for Peace joins millions around the world, including the 1,000 Israelis who protested in the streets of Tel Aviv this weekend, in condemning ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza. We call for an immediate end to attacks on all civilians, whether Palestinian or Israeli.

Israel’s slow strangulation of Gaza through blockade has caused widespread suffering to the 1.5 million people of Gaza due to lack of food, electricity, water treatment supplies and medical equipment. It is a violation of humanitarian law and has been widely condemned around the world.

In resisting this strangulation, Hamas resumed launching rockets and mortars from Gaza into southern Israel, directly targeting civilians, which is also a war crime. Over the years, these poorly made rockets have been responsible for the deaths of 15 Israelis since 2004.

Every country, Israel included, has the right and obligation to protect its citizens. The recent ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in Gaza shows that diplomatic agreements are the best protection for civilian life.

Moreover, massive Israeli air strikes have proven an indiscriminate and brutal weapon. In just two days, the known death toll is close to 300, and the attacks are continuing. By targeting the infrastructure of a poor and densely populated area, Israel has ensured widespread civilian casualties among this already suffering and vulnerable population.

This massive destruction of Palestinian life will not protect the citizens of Israel. It is illegal and immoral and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. And it threatens to ignite the West Bank and add flames to the other fires burning in the Middle East and beyond for years to come.

The timing of this attack, during the waning days of a US administration that has undertaken a catastrophic policy toward the Middle East and during the run-up to an Israeli election, suggests an opportunistic agenda for short-term political gain at an immense cost in Palestinian lives. In the long run this policy will benefit no-one except those who always profit from war and exploitation. Only a just and lasting peace, achieved through a negotiated agreement, can provide both Palestinians and Israelis the security they want and deserve.

Addendum:  Somebody linked me to this video entitled If the IDF made Hamas-style videos.  It comes with the following explanation.

Here is how I imagine an IDF video would look like if it was made like those cheesy Hamas jihadist videos that glorify terror, with bad music, poor sound effects and repetitive explosions.

I haven’t seen any Hamas videos so I can’t judge, but I guess the real point is to prove that the IDF was targeting paramilitary operations.  I don’t think there’s any serious doubt about that.  But it also misleads, much like the first Gulf War footage, to suggest that these are “surgical strikes” and not an the overkill being suggested by a number experts.

Here is a comment on the Youtube page (you can get there by clicking twice on the video).

Good vid…& to extend the metaphor, imagine what would happen if the Palestinians had a wing of F-18 fighters. Would they just use them responsibly like the Israeli’s do and just protect their own land or limit their incursions to 40 miles into Israel like they are doing with their rockets? No, they would try to wipe out Israel as fast as they could.
Who knows what they would do?  They wouldn’t be fighting asymmetrical warfare, so they might actually act a bit differently.  Then again, they might act like Franco with Guernica.  Who knows?  I’m not an expert.

I hope I’m spelling his last name right.  (edit – thanks to Violet for the correct spelling)

This really saddens me.  He had his share of personal struggles, but he also had a very big heart and always put all of himself into the moment, whether he was producing a jazz show at KMUD, or manning the phone banking in an election campaign.  I will miss his calls to my radio show.

I have no details, and there are no obituaries in the papers just yet.

He had a large community presence, the absence of which we will all notice.

I couldn’t find any photos at KMUD.  If anybody has any, I will be happy to post them.

With search engine help, I found the photo on this Asis KMUD page.

I just learned (from the Independent) that Tom Dimmick made a payment of $256,400.00 to the Mateel last week, just before Christmas.  The payment includes pincipal, interest, and legal fees.  Very good news for everybody involved.  Tom even apologized for the tardiness, citing economic problems.

Hopefully, the remainder of the settlement balance will be paid on time, the Mateel will keep its doors open, and a wounded community can move on whether everyone on either side of the conflict feels that justice was done.

A guy can dream.

Just a few items.  The only fight left before certification is the one over the absentee ballots which may have been wrongfully rejected.  As discussed earlier, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued an odd order mandating that both campaigns must agree on the ballots to be recounted.  There are 1,346 absentee ballots which local officials have determined were improperly rejected.  Franken wants all of them counted.  Coleman, well, I’m not clear on what Coleman wants exactly, except that he doesn’t want certain of the identified ballots opened, and he has introduced more ballots from districts which favor him.  It’s all explained, sort of, here.  Since it’s unlikely that the campaigns will reach any agreement, further court action seems inevitable even before the certification.

An item of rich irony – among the absentee ballots Coleman opposes is one cast by an elections judge.  The basis is that the date next to her signature and the date next to her witness do not match.  She insists that they do and that she and her witness were well aware of the law when they signed the envelope.  The irony?  She says her vote was for Coleman.  Will he withdraw his challenge?  Probably not, as it would undermine the remainder of his challenges.

Coleman is now accusing election officials of bias.

The Republicans are threatening to fight the seating of Franken should he be certified the winner.  Not sure what they can do with at most 41 votes even if they have a legal basis.

Coleman’s hope is to keep close enough after the rejected absentee count in order to get a reversal on the court’s rejection of his duplicate vote argument and hope that makes the difference.  It’s a slim hope, but he’s pulling out the stops.

Larry Glass was a hero a few days ago.  There’s been a lengthy discussion over the extent of his heroism over at Heraldo’s, opinions which are unfortunately caught up in politics.  I’ve scoured youtube in desperate search for the opening scene of The Contender, but alas, nobody saw fit to plagiarize it for public benefit.  If you’ve seen the movie, you know why it’s kind of funny under the circumstances.


New York Times Columnist, Frank Rich with John Matthews on KSLG 94.1 FM

On Wednesday, December 31, 2008 at 9:15 AM, KSLG morning host, John Matthews will speak with New York Times columnist Frank Rich about Barack Obama’s decision to have Reverend Rick Warren perform the invocation at his inauguration. Reverend Warren is a California-based megachurch preacher who has likened committed gay relationships to incest, polygamy and “an older guy marrying a child.”

In addition to Mr Rich’s work at The New York Times, he has written about politics and culture for many other publications. His latest book, “The Greatest Story Ever Sold: The Decline and Fall of Truth From 9/11 to Katrina,” was published by Penguin Press in 2006.

Listeners can tune in on the dial at 94.1 KSLG FM or on the web stream at

He did it.  Blago appointed someone to fill Obama’s seat.  The would-be appointee is Roland Burris, and African-American forner Illinois state Attorney General.  They just held a remarkable press conference in which Bobby Rush came on to warn any Senators who might want to block the appointment that they’re a bunch of racists if they do.

Adding to the theater, the Secretar of State Jesse White will refuse any paperwork from Blagojevich.  And the Senate Democrats have already said that they will refuse to seat any Blago appointment.  However, there are legal questions about whether the Senate has the power to do so.  All eyes are on the Congressional Black Caucus.

It may well be that Burris is a fine pick, but he’s showing some bad judgment in the horse he’s backing.  Even if he manages to pull off the appointment, his career will be forever tainted whether he deserves it.  I imagine the Senate Democrats have been on the phone with him all day.

Addendum: Now Obama has chimed in.  So far as I can see, the Republicans are hanging back, but I haven’t really had the time to surf the media.  Maybe they’re too busy trying to rationalize Barack the Magic Negro.

And Fivethirtyeight has a more detailed explanation of the Senate options.

Second addendum: Here’s the press conference.

Because somebody’s going to steal it!  From the Times Standard:

A number of unsolved construction equipment thefts have taken place around the Fortuna area, and authorities believe it is likely that equipment will be used to cultivate marijuana.

The stolen equipment includes diesel generators, compact loaders and fertilizers, which Fortuna Police Chief Kris Kitna said have little value on the black market other than their use in marijuana cultivation.

”I think there’s a nexus here to marijuana growing,” Kitna said. “We take (reports of) generator thefts once in a while, but we’ve had a rash in the last two weeks.”

Early Monday morning detectives received a report that a high-end generator had been stolen from a construction site along Hilltop Drive.

It was the second such theft of a generator — which cost more than $10,000 — this month.

Okay, now I realize that generators are used for growing.  But they also have a number of other applications, and I don’t think you need any special motive to steal an item worth $10,000.00.  That’s not to say it won’t be used for marijuana growing.  But many other items are useful as well, including vehicles, pretty much any tool, and money itself.  Shouldn’t we just assume that every theft is marijuana related?  Do you really think the generator would be safe in the middle of a major city?  My initial reaction to the first few paragraphs of the article reminded me of the military admonitions to soldiers during the Vietnam war to destroy anything which could possibly be used to make weapons, including items such as pens and paper.

Well, alone the marijuana speculation might be unjustified.  But the theft of the hydroponics store fertilizer theft as well as the tractor theft point to marijuana production – probably a single operation.  I have to wonder about the common sense of individuals already engaged in a serious criminal venture using high-end hot items which can probably be identified from the air.  I’ll be very surprised if these people don’t get caught, and when they do the marijuana itself may be the least of their legal problems.

Setting all that aside, it is a shame that people can’t construct a building without having to worry about someone stealing their generator.  As a younger man I helped my father construct homes in the Bay Area.  We would make deals with neighbors for power, usually just offering to pay their whole power bill until we received clearance from an inspector to set up power, but we would leave a compressor on site in places like Pacifica and Half Moon Bay and it would go unmolested because, as the one guy in the article said about the generator, it was heavy, awkward, and not a hot black market item.  Maybe it would still be safe in Pacifica, but I wouldn’t take the chance.

As with any theft, the real mystery is the perpetrators’ sense of entitlement.  These thefts aren’t attributable to a drug addiction or economic desperation.  This is just plain “it’s there and I want it” greed.  I really hope these people are caught.

I’m preparing a post on Christianity which touches on Christian left politics, and while looking for something else I came across this very recent interview with Father Daniel Berrigan.  For those too young to remember, Berrigan and his brother Philip broke ranks with their Church on a number of issues including their direct action against the Vietnam War which earned them prison sentences and by some accounts promoted and preserved the vitality of Vatican Two, which redefined Catholicism in social terms as well as theological.  Phillip, a Josephite priest (Daniel is a Jesuit) died recently.  I wasn’t sure if Daniel was still alive, but he is and looks good.

I strongly recommend his autobiography Apologies Good Friends, probably out of print.

I’ve never seen either of them speak, although Philip Berrigan’s wife Elizabeth McAlister spoke at UC Santa Cruz one time.  She had been a nun.  Their relationship got Philip defrocked, not specifically his politics.

As you can see from their Wikipedia entries, they are progressive leftists, maybe even radical leftists.  What the entries leave out is that they both oppos(ed) abortion.  When Elizabeth McAlister spoke in Santa Cruz, the talk got bogged down in an argument about abortion.  McAlister and her husband have spent years in jail each in defense of their convictions, yet a few young activists would view them as “reactionary” based on her opposition to choice, or in her terms, support for the “protection of the most vulnerable.” Quite frankly, there are those who oppose choice whom I can respect for their convictions.  And in my opinion, the country owes this family in particular a great deal of lattitude, and gratitude.

More on that in the near future.  In the meantime, I couldn’t make out much of what Father Berrigan was reading in the video clip.  But it’s good to see him breathing and enjoying life.

The map seems to contradict the SF Bay Guardian story a little bit, which reports that only three states (West Virginia, South Dakota, and Texas) have “enjoyed” increases in their home prices over the past year.  But if I read the map correctly, New York and some of the rectangular states also increased in home values.

Anyway, the real story is California, which has had the largest home value drop.  It probably means we had the largest bubble.  We’ve lost home values at 28.3 percent over the past year.  Only the states marked red have endured drops greater than 10 percent.  Great news if you’re a speculator with some change in your pocket.  Bad news if you have a mortgage and you’re hoping you have enough equity to refinance.

Did Wyoming have a bubble??  Or is VP Dick Cheney moving back home?  Budda boom.

According to the article, the valley’s been hit the worst.  But it’s only a matter of time before it spreads.


December 2008