Friday, December 26, 2008

The other pardon

On Tuesday, President Bush granted a posthumous pardeon to 19 more people, among them Charles Winters.

Winters, who died in the 1980s in Florida, was in the airplane business after World War II. He bought up former military cargo planes and used them to transport fruit and other products. He later started helping his Jewish friends who were shipping arms to Jews trying to found their own state in the Middle East.

Winters, a Protestant from Boston, could fly his planes in and out of the region without interference from authorities. In 1948, three of his planes left Miami, picked up weapons in Azores and Czechoslovakia and then left the planes and arms in Palestine.

Winters was convicted of violating the Neutrality Act, fined $5,000 and sentenced to serve 18 months in prison. The act is designed to ensure that financial assistance and arms are not provided to parties in foreign conflicts where the US has not taken sides.

Two others, Herman Greenspun and Al Schwimmer, also were convicted of violating the act, but they did not serve time. President Kennedy pardoned Greenspun in 1961. President Clinton pardoned Schwimmer in 2000.

Kudos to the President for this move. It sends exactly the right message to the enemies of Israel who are also the enemies of the United States. The U.S. had not taken sides in Israel's battle to be born and in the struggle of the Jewish inhabitants of the Mandate to avoid being pushed into the sea. But the U.S. has taken a side now. Or at least up to now. Bush's trust in Abbas, pressure on Israel to capitulate to terror and encouragement of palestinian statehood may be misguided, but in the war for Israel's survival, he's left no doubt as to where the United States of America stands. This pardon rights a wrong and underscores that point. And it will generate much seething on the part of Israel haters and moonbats. Cool.

Of course, the pardon of Winters won't assuage those who are demanding that other pardon. I've made my position on that question crystal clear many times in the past and it hasn't changed. I trust that, notwithstanding this sort of nonsense, the President will leave it alone.

Shabbat Shalom and Happy Hanukkah.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Coal for Channel 4

What could be more inappropriate than a Christmas message from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad?

Thanks. I'll pass.

To all who are celebrating today, I wish you a very merry and Ahmadinejad-free Christmas.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Out of darkness


It's one of the things Hanukkah is all about.

The father of Rivkah Holtzberg, who was killed along with her husband Gavriel during the terror attack on the Chabad house in Mumbai, India last month, held a menorah-lighting ceremony at his Afula home Sunday evening.

Moshe Holtzberg, the murdered couple's 2-year-old son, lit the first Hanukkah candle.

Rabbi Shimon Rosenberg spoke to Ynet about the emotional event: "We conducted the ceremony along with friends and members of my congregation, and Moishe lit the first candle, an honor that was usually reserved for his father.

"We recited the prayer 'He who performed miracles for our ancestors in those days at this time', which has a special meaning now in light of our own Hanukkah miracle – that Moishe is here with us today," he said.

Rabbi Rosenberg said Moshe played with a dreidel while those on hand ate Sufganiot (Hannukah doughnuts); a Chabad flag retrieved from the house in Mumbai hung in the background.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Friday, December 19, 2008

No news in Minnesota

I thought the Franken/Coleman Senate race was supposed to be decided by now but, alas, 'tis not. The jackass has now pulled into the lead, although there's no particular reason to think he'll stay there. Nor is there any particular reason to think he won't (unless there is a merciful God ...).

On Caroline Kennedy's political aspirations, Charles Krauthammer makes an unoriginal but important point.

The problem is Kennedy's sense of entitlement. Given her rather modest achievements, she is trading entirely on pedigree.

I hate to be a good government scold, but wasn't the American experiment a rather firm renunciation of government by pedigree?

Yes, the Founders were not democrats. They believed in aristocracy. But their idea was government by natural -- not inherited -- aristocracy, an aristocracy of "virtue and talents," as Jefferson put it.

[ ... ]

No lords or ladies here. If Princess Caroline wants a seat in the Senate, let her do it by election. There's one in 2010. To do it now by appointment on the basis of bloodline is an offense to the most minimal republicanism. Every state in the union is entitled to representation in the Senate. Camelot is not a state.

In the real world, Anne Bayefsky has a chilling piece in Ha'aretz this week about the travesty that is to be Durban II and the mounting pressure to get the Obama administration to give it a go. This will be an interesting test. My bet is that he capitulates. My bet is that he wants to capitulate. And not due to the outside pressure so much as due to the pressure of his own ego telling him he can "fix" it, make it better, bring everyone together in a global group hug. I hope I'm wrong. Please let me be wrong.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Greed and corruption

Some days it seems like there's not an honest man or woman left in a position of power anywhere on the planet. The news this week has been shocking. Not that anyone was surprised by the Blagojevich indictment. It's been a long time coming. But the breadth and depth of it, the sheer sliminess of the allegations, go way beyond what most people were prepared for. It might get worse.

Then there's Bernie Madoff. This one's a stinker, for so many reasons. A lot of people are going to get hurt. People who never had anything to do with his Ponzi scheme are going to get hurt. He probably didn't mean to hurt anyone. These guys almost never do. They never think it's going to catch up with them and once it starts to go bad the efforts to patch it, hide it, fix it until things get better (but they never do) just snowballs out of control. I've seen this before. Everyone loses.

Relevant cliché of the day: if it looks too good to be true, it is. Take a deep breath and walk away.

Then again, sometimes even a really bad deal is actually worse than it looks.

Shabbat Shalom.

Friday, December 5, 2008


To end the week on a peaceful note, here's one of my favorite spots on earth.


Shabbat Shalom.