Thursday, December 15, 2005

Home for the Holidays

I am home for the holidays. Sorry for the lack of an update this evening.

For those of you who were unware, I scored a lot of traffic today with hits coming from Daily Kos and MyDD mainly because I posted the subscriber-only article from Roll Call.

Some people have asked me as to why I haven't posted an endorsement for Col. Horne yet. Well, the reason I have yet to do so is because there are at least two other people that are taking a long, hard look at the race: Dan Borsch and David Hale. If Dan runs, he has my support.

Just when you think that things are getting better in the Middle East, it gets worse. I support Israel. I have been a long-time supporter of moving the United States Embassy to the capital of Jerusalem. Six more months in Tel Aviv. It took an act of Congress to get it moved to Jerusalem and the President has not moved it. Both Presidents.
President Bush extended for another six months an act of Congress that would move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Bush promised during his 2000 campaign to move the embassy immediately, but he has used a national security exemption every six months to delay the move. The concern is that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would upset the Arab world.

"My administration remains committed to beginning the process of moving our embassy to Jerusalem," Bush said Wednesday in issuing the order.

President Clinton also used the national security exemption to delay implementing the act, which has been in place since 1995.
And you wonder why I am critical? I don't like liars at all. I don't like broken promises, especially campaign promises.

Speaking of Israel, here is an excerpt of the President's speech yesterday:
"One of the blessings of our free society is that we can debate these issues openly, even in a time of war," Bush said Wednesday in an address to the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington. "Most of the debate has been a credit to our democracy, but some have launched irresponsible charges. They say that we act because of oil, that we act in Iraq because of Israel, or because we misled the American people."
My Israeli cousins didn't want the war. I didn't want the war. Most of the Jews I know didn't want the war.

Matthew Berger, a writer for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA), pens a brilliant column dealing with the war. Not the one in Iraq, but the one that Bill O'Reilly escalates day in and day out.
The sound of angry Christians railing against the marginalization of Christmas has become the new tune of this holiday season.

Across the country, from department stores to town halls, battle lines have been drawn over how to mark the winter holidays.

Led by evangelical groups, who say the holiday’s religious significance is being ignored, some Christians are fighting back. They’re threatening to sue schools districts that have banned the singing of Christmas carols and other places where "Happy Holidays" has replaced "Merry Christmas" as the preferred greeting of the season.

Evagelical leaders don’t cast the Jewish community as the Scrooge, yet efforts to highlight Christian themes and celebrations at Christmas historically have come at the expense of religious diversity and tolerance — and Jewish leaders fear that stressing Christmas’ religious significance could highlight Jews’ minority status in the United States.

"It is not a movement prompted by an animus against Jews or the Jewish community," said Abraham Foxman, THE national director of the Anti-Defamation League, who in recent months has taken the lead in warning about growing evangelical influence in the United States. "But the unintended consequence is that Jews may be blamed for it."

Much of what evangelicals criticize consists of efforts to include religious minorities in holiday celebrations, say Jewish community leaders, who fear that adding more religious expression in schools and government could make Jews feel like second-class citizens.

Rabbi Leah Richman of Pottsville, Pa., received angry letters and phone calls when she called for the removal of a nativity scene in her town square.

"The non-Jewish people in the area are very interested in promoting Christmas and they believe that church and state should be more mingled," Richman said. "They’re taking my stand as being anti-tolerance and anti-diversity, because I’m not tolerant of their nativity scene."

Instead of opposing the nativity scene, some respondents said Richman should place a menorah nearby. Indeed, much of the evangelical community’s argument has rested on a call for more celebrations of both Christmas and Chanukah, part of a call for a return to "Judeo-Christian values."

"It just seems to me that what we ought to be aiming for in America is recognizing everyone’s traditions, rather than melding traditions into a homogenized whatever," Gary Bauer, the president of American Values, told JTA.

Richman declined to help the local library put up a menorah display, instead suggesting an educational program on different holidays.

The onslaught of Christmas decorations and programming for years has been a source of quiet frustration for American Jews, but decisions about how to handle it have varied. Some Jewish groups have worked to ensure that religious Christmas displays don’t enter the public square, while others —- predominantly the Chabad movement — sought equal treatment for menorahs and other Chanukah decorations.

The inclusion of Chanukah, and then the African-American holiday of Kwanzaa, has forced retailers and municipalities to seek more generic and inclusive ways of acknowledging all faiths. That has led to claims that Christianity has been taken out of Christmas celebrations.

The city of Boston renamed a tree in Boston Common a "holiday tree." Target, the giant retailer, was criticized for airing commercials in December that did not specifically mention Christmas.

Even Pope Benedict XVI has weighed in, declaring Sunday that a "commercial pollution" of Christmas could alter the holiday’s true meaning. He suggested families erect nativity scenes in their homes.

The pro-Christmas movement comes at a time of growing evangelical political strength, giving their message increased weight and attention. Evangelicals have fought this year against efforts to remove proselytizing from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and for the teaching of "intelligent design" in public schools. Nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court have been weighed in part on their church attendance and their public proclamations of faith.

"They’ve come to feel a certain strength in their position in America and in the public that they didn’t feel under President Clinton," said Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and chairman of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews. "They feel the can flex their muscles more if their rights as a majority are being abridged for the sake of political correctness."

Even the White House has been chastised this year for writing "Best wishes for the holiday season" on its annual Christmas cards. Last year’s cards also referred to the "holiday season" rather than Christmas, and both years’ cards included a quote from Psalms.

Those who see a decrease in Christmas observance, including media figures like Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson, both of the Fox News Channel, claim Christmas is being excluded from seasonal decorations in an attempt to be sensitive to minorities.
Indiana is getting 800 new jobs.
Sen. Evan Bayh's office said Pentagon officials formally approved plans today to move the 800 jobs to the former Ft. Benjamin Harrison site over the next three years.

"Indianapolis will gain more jobs through this realignment than any other center, proving that military leaders have recognized the value of the work we do in Indianapolis and across Indiana," Bayh said.

While Indiana's DFAS facility is gaining more jobs than any other facility through the Base Closure and Realignment Commission process, the number of jobs is far less than the 2,500 jobs state and local leaders had predicted for the facility.
In an email I recieved earlier, it was reported that Jim Tobin was found guilty of phone jamming during the 2002 election season.

Chris Carpenter is the winner of the "This Year in Baseball" award for being the Major League Starting Pitcher of the Year.

Iran has not been banned from the World Cup.
Soccer's governing body will allow Iran to play in next year's World Cup despite calls from German politicians for the Islamic nation to be banned because the country's president denies the Holocaust.[...]

Ahmadinejad's comments were denounced in Germany, which is sensitive to its Nazi past. Hitler's Nazi regime was responsible for the deaths of six million Jews in the Holocaust.

The calls to banish Iran from the event in Germany came mostly from the opposition Greens party, although they had been supported by parts of the media and members of the country's ruling coalition.

"A country with such a president, who is driving the country into isolation, has nothing to do at the World Cup," said Angelika Beer, a Greens member of the European Parliament.

The leader of the Greens in Germany's parliament, Volker Beck, said Iran must be shown that "this cannot go on and that it cannot remain without consequences."

Social Democrats lawmaker Swen Schulz said the president's "unbearable comments" had "endangered" Iran's participation in the World Cup.
They should have been banned.

Oy vey. Forget the War on Xmas. It's really a War against Chanukah. My apologies to my non-Jewish readers.
War in Iraq, war against terrorism, war in Afghanistan, move over -- today, House GOP leaders have decided there is a more pressing war to attend to: the fictional war against Christmas, which apparently requires protection for Christmas symbols. And what happened when Democrats asked that the symbols of Chanukah be protected along with the symbols of Christmas? The House GOP simply said "no."

This afternoon, 26 House Republicans -- together with the GOP leadership -- will be forcing the full House to vote on whether House members support the "symbols and traditions" of Christmas, and whether they disapprove of the utterly mythical "attempts to ban references to Christmas." Today's roll call vote comes on the heels of a House floor debate held last night regarding H. Res. 579, a resolution "Expressing the sense of the House of Representatives that the symbols and traditions of Christmas should be protected." During the debate, Democratic members asked the Republican author of the resolution, Rep. Jo Ann Davis (R-VA), if she would permit the symbols of Chanukah and other holidays to be included in the protection of the resolution -- and she refused.
It's hard to believe that we still have anti-Semites in this country. Jo Ann Davis, through her action, is an anti-Semite.

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