Friday, June 12, 2009


Seen on a Times Square billboard today, this is apparently real:

Why do we need a National Museum of Patriotism?

To inspire all visitors to meet the challenges of our shared future through acts of patriotism.

The National Museum of Patriotism is the first ever organization to create a place where people of all backgrounds can come together to gain deeper perspective on the American spirit. Provocative examples of people who make this country great through acts of selflessness in government, science, military, business, community service, education etc, will inspire visitors to rake immediate action in everyday life to help create a better future for themselves and our country.


To restore faith in America and remind ourselves of how we got here and what it takes to create and sustain greatness.
97% of Americans think of themselves as Patriotic, yet 70% also think children today aren't as patriotic as earlier generations.*
There is a growing concern among Americans that future generations are more cynical about country, and lack historical perspective and context.
According to the US Department of Education, more than half of high school seniors lack even a basic knowledge of American History.
The Museum will serve as a national asset reaching all generations to help Americans re-connect with our original patriotic traditions. Simply put, we need a shared pride resulting in actions and aspirations for something greater than self.
* Source – Blyth and Chriss Winston in research for their book, How to Raise an American

Exhibits include 'Patriotism in Entertainment', 'Symbols' and 'In Defense of Freedom'.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

welfare WIN! 

There's a lot to bitch about in New York. Everyone who lives in or has visited knows how much the subway sucks. Dirty, loud, unpredictable and generally oppressive. The post offices too leave a lot to be desired. They vary with the neighborhood, but mine is dirty, too small, inefficient, and all around annoying. I've heard tell from friends who are public school teachers that the schools are not much better.

But social services, damn! After getting laid off I applied for unemployment, online. As soon as I was eligible they put a check in my bank account, direct deposit. No lines, no hassle. Sweet.

Then yesterday I go to my local social services branch to get some food stamps and it was...amazing. Clean, no, spotless, well staffed, well signed so it was easy to figure out where to go, computer terminals available for figuring out benefits and eligibility, a crisp digital sign that posted your number when it came up and told you where to go, and unarmed security guards every ten feet. At first I was a bit rankled by all the security, but they acted more as ushers than controllers, and they did seem to be necessary. One woman lost it completely and was yelling and screaming and they were very quiet and gentle with her, asking her to calm down and finally escorting her out politely. So they do serve a legitimate purpose. The shit is stressful and people blow up now and again.

Anyway, in my neighborhood at least, the shit was not only functional, but impressive, comfortable and efficient. So whoever is responsible for that, well done you.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

pirate WIN 

Sweden's Pirate Party has won entry to the European Parliament in Brussels in elections held Sunday.
The Pirate Party gained 7 percent of the Swedish votes and secured at least one of the 18 seats that Sweden holds in the parliament.

"Citizens have understood that it's time to pull the fist out of the pocket and that you can make a difference," Rick Falkvinge, leader and founder of the party, told the Swedish daily Svenska Dagbladet, after the result of the elections were revealed. "We don't accept to be bugged by the government. People start to understand that the government is not always good."

The Pirate Party is focused on three main goals: "to fundamentally reform copyright law, get rid of the patent system, and ensure that citizens' rights to privacy are respected."

Good to see that someone on the planet is dragging humanity into something approximating a civilized existence.

Meanwhile, back in the "new" world we get a hoary anachronistic conversation about "the West" and/or/vs./peacefully coexisting with "Islam" being treated as some sort of case study in futurology (or the reincarnation of Ghandi). Yippee.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Zionism = anti-Semitism? 

Rabbi: NY Zionists desecrate God's name, mock Judaism.

Jewish Week:

It had been at least 20 years since I was in New York for a Salute to Israel Parade. But it was a happy coincidence. I was scheduled to be in New York on Monday for a meeting of the board of Rabbis for Human Rights-North America. I came into the city a day early with my wife and 20 year old daughter to enjoy the parade. My daughter marched with a delegation from the University of Maryland Hillel. My wife and I enjoyed being part of the crowd, hearing the Israeli music and watching the floats and delegations of students from synagogues and schools from all around the area.

After the parade we heard that there was going to be an Israel-themed concert in Central Park so we decided to attend. It was a shock to the system.

...one speaker launched into a tirade about how every American president since Jimmy Carter had betrayed Israel by courting the favor of Arab nations. Applause. Another speaker announced that Hillary Clinton cared more about Palestinian national aspirations than about Israel’s survival. Applause. Candidate for Congress, Elizabeth Berney, slammed Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-NY), chairman of the House Sub-committee on the Middle East for his characterization of Israeli settlement activity in the territories as part of a “destructive dynamic” in the region. More applause.

Then a band launched into a rousing rendition of "Am Yisrael Chai." [This phrase is also my middle name -- s.c.] I spent more than 25 years as an activist for Soviet Jewry. This was our theme song signaling solidarity both with the history of our people and with all those oppressed Jews in the world whose cause we championed. A group of young men in their 20’s with kippot and tziztzit were right in front of me dancing in a frenzy. But they alternated the verse that meant “the people of Israel lives” with “all the Arabs must die.” It rhymed with the Hebrew. Given the way all joined in, it was clear that this was not the first time it was sung.

I leaned over to a young man who was next to me, also wearing a kippah and tzitzit. I nodded at the dancers and asked: “Does this song bother you?” He looked at me with a suspicious look and replied: “This is Zionism.”

...The joy of the earlier part of the day changed to outrage and then to deep sadness. I have devoted my entire life to Zionism, Israel and the Jewish people. I ran a Zionist think tank for academics in both Philadelphia and Washington D.C. I brought public officials to Israel as the executive director of the JCRC of Washington D.C. I led Solidarity Missions to Israel during Intifadah II under the auspices of UJC. All three of my children spent a gap year in Israel with Young Judaea Year Course. My organization trains thousands of young people to be proud of their Jewish identity and to be effective advocates for Israel in the public square.

But the Zionism that compels me includes the proposition that a Jewish state will honor the rights of all of its citizens and be true to the prophetic ideals of peace and justice that are elaborated on in the Torah...

Jewish leaders are quick to demand that Muslim clergy condemn the extremism that has hijacked Islam into a religion of terrorism and death. We need to make the same demands of the rabbis of institutions whose students make a "chillul hashem" (a desecration of God’s name) by singing “all the Arabs must die”.

Colbert in Iraq 

New York Times:

CAMP VICTORY, Iraq — It was Sunday night in Baghdad, and President Obama was ordering Gen. Ray Odierno, the commander of the American troops here, to shave Stephen Colbert’s head...

...He is taping four episodes of “The Colbert Report,” the Comedy Central show featuring his egotistical, fake-macho, nationalist blowhard alter ego, in Baghdad this week. It’s the first time in the history of the U.S.O. that a full-length nonnews show has been filmed, edited and broadcast from a combat zone.

The week of shows, taped a day or two before they are broadcast, is called “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando,” and it has a pretty fancy guest list (in addition to General Odierno, and the president, whose appearance was taped ahead) that includes Iraq’s deputy prime minister. But there is also something kind of meta about the whole thing. Mr. Colbert’s entire career is based on being gleefully insincere, a man who literally wraps himself in the flag to the screaming of majestic computer-generated eagles.

On the other hand he is unquestionably a real supporter of the troops, raising money through donorschoose.org for school supplies for children of soldiers, through his WristStrong bracelets for the Yellow Ribbon Fund, which helps injured veterans, and by donating to the U.S.O. proceeds from iTunes downloads of this week’s episodes.

So it was easy to wonder if, given the setting, he would be a little less mock Bill O’Reilly and a bit more risk-free Rich Little.

Any doubt was dispersed the minute Mr. Colbert ran out onstage wearing a business suit made of Army camouflage and, shortly afterward, declared himself the only person man enough finally to declare victory in Iraq. (General Odierno, whom Mr. Colbert compared to Shrek, diplomatically talked that declaration down.)

Mr. Colbert himself does not seem to be fazed by this seemingly tricky balancing act. Neither he nor his character knows what it’s like to be a soldier, he said in an interview here Saturday night. Only, his character thinks he knows.

“Think of certain reporters who lose themselves in their own self-importance and accidentally give away troop movements and get kicked out of the country,” he said in a not particularly oblique reference to Geraldo Rivera.

“The best way I can show gratitude is to do my show the best I can and make them laugh,” he said. “If I tried to tailor my material to people in the Army, there’d be two things. A, that’d be patronizing. And B, I’d be wrong.” ...


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?