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For Mom: Giraffes, French and a Beautiful Life

(Cross-posted on Kos)

I.  Giraffes never hang their heads

“My favorite animal is a giraffe–it walks around with its head held high, proudly rising above the rest, never hanging its head in sadness or shame, always showing the world its smile.”

That’s what my mother told a camper at the summer camp in the Adirondacks she ran with my Dad in the 1960s and 1970s.  And that’s the way my Mom lived her life every single day until the day she died at 94, on January 27 of last year.  This diary is in honor of her first Yahrzeit.*

She was a 1915 baby, a Depression teen; a 1940 bride; a dance teacher; a camp counselor and owner; a mother to a war baby and a boomer; a jewelry maker; a proudly Jewish Ethical Culturist; and dozens of other varied and fascinating pursuits.  She brought light and inspiration to everyone she met, most of all to my Dad, to whom she was married for 67 years until he died at 91 in 2007.


   Part II: Je t’aime, je t’adore, que veux-tu encore.

   Part III: Would you want to be a King .  .  .?

Good for the Jews? Fourth Annual Upper West Jewish Christmas Essay

“You know, like a good Jew, I was probably at a Chinese restaurant.”

-Elena Kagan at her confirmation hearing, responding to Lindsay Graham’s question, “Where were you on Christmas Day?”

Justice Kagan — Definitely good for the Jews, and a perfect introduction for the Upper West Fourth Annual Jewish Christmas Eve Diary, in which each December 24, we Torah folk huddle around a handsome piece of driftwood,* rest after a tough war on Christmas and review the year for Yids.

On Kos, in 2007, we groused about right wing Jews like Bill Kristol.  In 2008, we commiserated about Bernie Madoff. And in 2009, we kvetched about Joe Lieberman and kvelled about Bernie Sanders.

(cross-posted on Kos)

And 2010?  Well, just for starters, this year I realized that Barack Obama is a Jew.  Don’t believe me? Follow me below:

The Year in Jews:

1.  Barack Obama

The Birthers and Dunkers have it all wrong.  Obama cannot be a Muslim.   First, as we know by reading certain diaries here, he is a capitalist tool who has sold out the left.  On the other hand, to the teabaggers, he is a dangerous Marxist/Communist who nefariously wants to “spread the wealth.”

Well, there’s only one group that has consistently been denounced as being both capitalists tools and communists at the same time:  Since Father Coughlin and before, and in Hollywood, Jews have been simultaneously villains of the left and right.

So by definition, Barack Obama, marxist revolutionary and capitalist tool, must be a Jew.  

2.  Eric Cantor

An open letter to Eric’s mother:

Dear Mrs. Cantor,

    Eric seems like such a nice Jewish boy.  What is he doing hanging out with such a disreputable bunch of goniffs like  Michelle Bachman, John Boehner, Darrel Issa and Andy Harris (the “I want my government health care guy”).

Please have a talk with him.  Really, it’s a shonda.

With concern,

Upper West

3.  Jew or not a Jew?

Amar’e Stoudemaire? (21st c. Willis Reed, in my view)  visited Israel, but a long shot (farther than a three pointer).

Forever Rapper Drake.  Yes!

Pink?  Yes.  So what?

Natalie and Mila.  Of course!  Best Jewish fantasy/reality cinematic ballet stars evah!

4. Abe Foxman: Schmendrick of the year:

From the Burlington Coat Mosque to Glenn Beck on Soros, Abe has been a complete disgrace.  Just cut it out, Abe.  You’re embarrassing us.


So, nu?  Who are some other newly revealed Jews?  What were your favorite Jewish events of 2010?  New Nixon and Kissinger tapes — anti-Semite and self-hating Jew?

Discuss amongst yourselves.


* My mother, a devout Jewish Ethical Culturalist, every year actually decorated a nice piece of driftwood she got from the beach from our house in Rockaway Beach when I was a kid. Last year’s diary mentioned that she was in the late stages of Pulmonary Fibrosis.  She died a month later at 94, after a life filled with dance, beauty, music and love.

Dems: Want Tax Cut Cover? Try the Small Business Exemption!

(Cross-posted on Kos.)

I don’t need to echo that the Democrats cannot cave on a vote for a middle class tax cut.  But the one charge that seems to scare them (even though it shouldn’t) is that raising taxes on incomes over 250K will hurt small businesses.  In fact, this fear was an important reason why there was no pre-election vote on the tax cut.  Over the summer, House Dems feared a vote against the over 250K extension “would endure Republicans’ charge that they had voted to raise taxes on some small businesses.”

That’s partly because Republicans like Rep. Neuberger (Liar, TX) make wild charges like that 94% of small businesses will face tax increases if the taxes expire.  In fact, it’s more like 3% at most.

If Dems still feel this vulnerability, why not add a small business exemption to the expiration of the over 250K cuts?

Since no more than 3% of actual small businesses would be exempt, the revenue effect would be minimal. And Democrats would have some political cover on the one issue that seems to scare them most about letting the cuts expire for over 250K.

Of course, the Republicans will continue to lie about what actually is a small business, a lie rated “Pants on Fire” by Politifact:

Neugebauer said that “94 percent of small businesses will face higher taxes under the Democrats plan.” The statement is problematic in several ways. First, it implicitly assumes that the Democratic plan is to let all of the tax cuts lapse, when, in fact, Democratic officials have consistently said that they intend to raise taxes only for the wealthiest individuals. Second, two independent studies that looked at the impact of the Democratic proposal on small businesses found that only between 2 to 3 percent of tax filers who report having what can be thought of as small business income will be affected. One of those studies came from the very source that Neugebauer incorrectly cited. Finally, reporting business income doesn’t equal owning a small business, and data from the Tax Policy Center confirm that in the top tax bracket, only about a third of the tax filers report having at least 50 percent of their income from a business. We looked and looked for a shred of truth and couldn’t find one, so we rate this Pants on Fire.

Like anything else these days, this would be a test of whether Right Wing propaganda can convince people of anything (500B in Medicare cuts, Death Panels, Obama raised middle class taxes and triled the deficit).

But at least it would make the lies a little bit harder to pull off.

The Foreign Donor Issue: Remember Dubai Ports World? Xenophobia you can believe in.

(Cross posted on kos.)

As we all know, the concern trolls are out in force, having the vapors that Democrats dare make an issue of the foreign donor Chamber of Commerce controversy. I have three words for them:

                                                    Dubai Ports World

The Dubai Ports World (“DPW”) controversy erupted in 2006, after revelations that the Dubai entity would manage facilities in 16 major U.S. ports.

The opposition was bipartisan — Sen. Schumer brought it to national attention, but also opposed were parties as disparate as The New York Times, Michael Savage, The John Birch Society and Senators Clinton and Obama. (David Broder must have been orgiastic.)

Well, TP reports that TAIB Bank of Dubai is apparently a $20,000 member of a CoC business council.  Those and other foreign funds contribute to attack ads all over the U.S.  

Dubai should not have control of either our ports or our elections.

The right uses xenophobia constantly, whether it’s immigration, terror or even birtherism.  While it’s not xenophobic to rail against foreign corporate donors trying to steal our elections, it draws on similar powerful sentiments. It also ties into intense anger about outsourcing.

The lead Recommended Diary now says this issue is our October Surprise.  Excellent point (though I thought it would be capturing Osama).  Maybe that, or a peace treaty in Afghanistan or Israel (sure) might still happen.

But the CoC/Foreign Donations issue is a great surprise.

So I urge any Dems reticent about using this issue to

                                                 Remember Dubai Ports World


Dear Sarah Silverman — Time for another Schlep.

An open letter to Sarah Silverman:

(Cross-posted on kos.)

Dear Sarah,

You were a progressive hero in 2008, urging children and grandchildren to Schlep or call Bubbie in Fla. and urge her to vote for Obama.  And of course, you and the Schleppers succeeded, as you wrote:

Thank you, Schleppers! You called Nana, You wrote to Bubbie. And you schlepped on down and sat with Zadie. And because of you hundreds of thousands of Jews voted for Obama in Florida, more than making the difference in that state.

Well, we’re now at crunch time again.  We need everyone — not just Nana and Bubbie, but Gram, Popsie, Abuelito and Pater (i.e., not just Jews) to turn out (and not just in Florida) to stop the O’Donnell’s, Angles, Rubios, Bucks et al. from unleashing their lunacy as a majority in Congress.

Do we really want hearings on whether Obama is actually a cactus?  Shouldn’t teabagging be returned exclusively to its original beautiful meaning?

Wingnuts Lose it Over Teddy’s 9/11 “Day of Service”

(cross-posted on Kos)

First the “War on Christmas,” now the dastardly “War on 9/11.”  Will the hard left never cease its evil crusades?

In April, President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which includes federal authorization “to establish September 11 as an annually recognized National Day of Service and Remembrance.”  This is an effort led by 9/11 family members and others to encourage volunteerism, such as assistance at food banks.

The right has gone apeshit over this, labeling it as a “desecration” of 9/11.  As brilliantly analyzed by Sadly No, Ted Kennedy’s Serve America Act is yet another “hard left” “war” on a national holiday, making it.

.  .  . Obama’s vilest plot yet, his plot against September 11, the day on which no other subject is to be discussed and on which all Americans are supposed to be dressed in the blackest of crepe bathed in the bitterest of tears.

An excellent example of this lunacy is Obama’s Plan to Desecrate 9/11, a column by Matthew Vadum in the American Spectator.

Sadly, No captures the sinister essence of this evil War on Rudy G.’s favorite day of the year:  

According to Matthew, if Obama has his way, September 11 would be renamed “tarehe kumi na moja mwezi wa tisa,” which is Swahili for September 11 and which no ordinary American can ever remember, much less pronounce. School children will no longer be allowed to sing 9-11 songs at their 9-11 pageants, but will instead be forced to sing socialist stuff like “This Land is My Land,” “L’Internationale” (in French!!! ) and “Big Yellow Taxi.”

Yes, God Forbid that 9/11 should be remembered as 9/11 families wish, by helping those less fortunate and other public service.  

The Spectator’s Vadum makes a wonderful (Freudian?) slip, however, when he writes:

The plan is to turn a “day of fear” that helps Republicans into a day of activism called the National Day of Service that helps the left. In other words, nihilistic liberals are planning to drain 9/11 of all meaning.

Nice to see a winger admit that 9/11 is a “day of fear” that helps Republicans!

Of course, the Spectator commenters are a bit less subtle than Matthew, including one who wittily contributes the following:

So, basically, he’s turning Sept. 11 in to National Radical Negro Day.

Hail Nero! Hail Caligula! Heil Hitler!

This guy is gonna make REAL AMERICANS – (You heard me) – REAL AMERICANS, Americans who LOVE this country, rise up. You thought that there could never be another Revolution? This THING in the White House is TRYING to destroy this country. This is gonna get ugly. Mark My Words.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.  To completely round it out, add something about death panels, OK?    

The Great Healthcare Schlep

So I’m reading the indefatigable NYCeve’s Diary The August Plan to Secure the Public Option yesterday morning and click the link to the FDL “Whipcount Tool.”  Now, as you might be able to tell from my nom de Kos, I live in the most azure, indigo part of the bluest borough of the bluest city in the country — the People’s Single Payer, Socialist, Zabarist Republic of the Upper West Side.

My own Rep., the estimable Jerry Nadler, is obviously with the program, having taken the FDL Pledge to vote against any bill that doesn’t have the Public Option.  What to do?

Well, my mom, 93-year old (bless her heart) “Grandma West” (as my kids call her) lives in NY-18 in Westchester – which was not listed on the FDL tool.

cross-posting on Kos

Rep. Lowey is having a healthcare conference call at 5:00 pm (est) today.  Call her office for phone in information.

My Sessions/Sotomayor/Annie Hall Kos Diary mentioned by KO

After reading Steve Benen about Sonia Sotomayor’s humiliation of Jeff Sessions today involving Judge Çedarbaum, I immediately thought of “Annie Hall” the Movie– McLuhan Scene, so I quickly wrote a brief diary on Kos linking to that legendary scene.

I was honored to be rec’d and then saw that Olbermann mentioned it and my nom de blog on Countdown.

I have achieved my Warholian 15 minutes of pseudonymous fame.  (If only it meant I could retire.)

Here’s the link to the diary.

Lincoln: Necessity Does Not Admit Of Cruelty

(Thanks for the promotion NPK!)

(Now cross-posted on Kos)

We all know that in January 1863, Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, transforming the Civil War by adding the abolition of slavery to the goal of preserving the Union.

But just a few months later, on April 24, 1863, Lincoln issued another, lesser-known proclamation, putting into effect a Code of Military Conduct for the Union Armies, known as General Orders No. 100.  The author of the Code was Francis Lieber, a German immigrant who had been wounded at the Battle of Waterloo.

Article 16 of the General Orders leaps out as dramatically relevant today.   It states in part:

Military necessity does not admit of cruelty – that is, the infliction of suffering for the sake of suffering or for revenge, nor of maiming or wounding except in fight, nor of torture to extort confessions.

“Necessity does not admit of cruelty.”  Think about that for a moment.  No matter how serious the circumstances, no matter how dangerous the threat, there is no justification for cruelty, and its savage partner, torture.

Obama Joins Nelly for “Tip Drill” Performance

(Cross-posted on Kos — with links)

Last night Barack Obama joined Hip Hop star Nelly in a performance of Tip Drill before 50,000 screaming fans at “Ho-Fest 2008” at Detroit’s Ford Field.

The high point of the night was when Obama invited his wife Michelle onstage and re-enacted the famous Tip Drill video.  The crowd went crazy as Michelle and Barack performed the hilarious credit card move.

The performance was immediately condemned by:

NBC, ABC, CBS the NY Times, the Washington Post, MSNBC, CNN, FOX, Lifetime, Oxygen, Emily’s List, NOW, NARAL, PUMA, the Family Research Council,  the White Citizens Council, Focus on the Family, Family Circus, Planned Parenthood, NARAL and the United League of Purity Balls.



(Right Wing) Fauxrage: An Infantile Disorder

The Urban Dictionary has accepted my definition for Fauxrage.

Cross-posted at Kos

Fauxrage: n. fo-rage., fô r?j?

Frenzy created by media or blogs to inflate a usually minor, perceived offense into a major scandal or continuing political event.

Congress, in a fit of fauxrage, passed a resolution condemning a newspaper ad about a General. The fauxrage was stoked primarily by Faux News.

We now observe fauxrage almost daily.  The endless loops of the good Rev. Wright provided the uber fauxrage of the campaign so far, but just recently, we had Republican and media fauxrage at:

Obama [compassionately] saying he wouldn’t punish his daughters by forcing them to have a baby.

Ed Schultz [accurately] calling McCain a “warmonger.”

A 16-year-old who [justifiably] asked McCain a question and was called a “heckler.”

Obama [sociologically] saying that bitter people cling to guns or religion.

Join me below for a Brief History of Fauxrage

Open source Obama Speech — Bring in Hagee and Parsley

Cross posted on Kos

I don’t think Obama’s Olbermann appearance is enough to stem the Wright tide.  The best argument is the much worse connection between McCain and the crazy right preachers. Because the traditional media never will do it, Obama may have to be the one to reveal the outrageous double standard of excoriating him for Wright, while not touching McCain for embracing Hagee and Parsley.  

I’ve put together a draft Obama speech that tries to weave together his message with an attack on the double standard.

In the comments or a diary, let’s try to put together an “open source” speech for Obama (or a surrogate who will have a platform).  Here’s my try:

The past few days my campaign has been engulfed in nearly constant, furious attacks of guilt by association.  The words of Pastor Wright, which I have repeatedly denounced, have been broadcast non-stop on radio, television and the internet.  Despite my rejection of these statements, so-called pundits have seen fit to tie me irrevocably to them, and impugn my patriotism and tolerance.

And yet, my campaign is based on patriotism, as exemplified by tolerance, unity and hope.  We have been trying to appeal to the best in people, not the worst.  For too long, our discourse and our elections have been dominated by the forces of fear, demagogy and, yes, hate.  We have been trying to change that, and to bring hope to this country after years of fear, war and economic insecurity.  But there are many who will do anything to fight against hope, to continue the fear-infused politics of the past eight years.

Unfortunately, John McCain, the probable Republican candidate, has openly welcomed the support of those who would divide our country by religion, race or ethnic group.  Rather than distancing himself as we did, he has sought out and embraced the Rev. James Hagee, whose shameful statements have not been nearly as widely disseminated as those of Pastor Wright.

Senator McCain has said he was “very honored” by the endorsement of someone who has said:

—  Catholicism is “‘The Great Whore,’ an ‘apostate church,’ the ‘anti-Christ,’ and a ‘false cult system.'”

— Hurricane Katrina was inflicted upon New Orleans by God because of the city’s supposed “immorality.”

— Those who live by the Koran have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews.

—  Just before us is a nuclear countdown with Iran, followed by the final battle, the battle of Armageddon.

—  Jews brought the Holocaust on themselves by rebelling against God

Senator McCain has said his “spiritual advisor” is Rod Parsley, someone who has said:

— “Americans must be ‘Christocrats’ — citizens of both their country and the Kingdom of God”; “And that is not a democracy; that is a theocracy”; “That means God is in control, and you are not.”

I have specifically repudiated the noxious statements of Reverend Wright.  John McCain has sought and welcomed the support of those who espouse these noxious and unpatriotic ideas, with only the vague and mildest of “disagreements”.

I call on John McCain to specifically address each one of the statements by these preachers.

Let us make this a campaign about hope, about the future, and about policies that will protect and sustain our children.


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