Monday, September 29, 2008

L'Shanah Tovah!!

At the Head of the Year

Sundown on Monday marks the beginning of Rosh HaShanah, the head of the year. It begins a new year on the Jewish calendar. During the month of Elul, we are asked to pray selichot and to ask forgiveness of those we have wronged. One cannot stand before HaShem and ask His forgiveness until our wrongs of others has been corrected.

I ask the forgiveness of those in Louisiana whom I've maligned in various posts throughout the year. I also ask forgiveness from those who I may have hurt by words I've posted. My family, friends, and co-workers I have asked for forgiveness in private.

Soccer Dad posted the following video:

I ask forgiveness for ignoring those who are dying by thousands in Darfur and other places across the world. The end of the film gives the hope of redemption through acts of prayer, repentance, and charity. May all merit a year of tranquility and prosperity.

Jew Hatred at the UN

Once upon a time, there used to be some decency at the UN. Since the 1970's this hasn't been the case. That is when the UN openly embraced the terrorism of Arafat and his PLO. Now, the UN takes great pleasure on inviting evil to speak. I was going to write about Ahmanijad and how he sounds so much like Hitler. Meryl Yourish beat me to it

If the side-by-side speeches of Ahmanijad and Hitler don't open your eyes, than nothing will. You cannot reason with mad and evil men.

Not in the News Anymore

Other than mentions of gas shortages throughout the southeast, Hurricane Ike is no longer a news issue. And this is sad. So many of our fellow countrymen are now facing the arduous task of clean-up and rebuilding. From Orange Texas to Galveston, the destruction is reminiscent of what occurred along the Mississippi Gulf Coast from Hurricane Katrina. Like the Mississippi Gulf after Katrina, small towns like San Leon, Port Arthur, and Beaumont are ignored. Mississippians continue to pay it forward.

Signs throughout the area echo the messages of those scrawled throughout the lawns of South Mississippi after Katrina, declarations of resiliency, warning, and of course, humor. Like the coast, people in this self-sufficient small town, believe they were overlooked by the national media, as coverage focused on nearby Galveston and Houston. And though self-sufficient, they are well aware it won't be easy to pull off recovery on their own.

"We definitely need outside help," said resident Terry Loutham.

The good news is some people have been exposed to the plights of the people in San Leon. Since the TrailGrazHer's trip, two 18-wheelers full of supplies have been loaded up and will head to San Leon on Monday, and the Diamondhead Fire Department has nearly filled up another 18-wheeler full of donations.

As for the residents of San Leon, those who have decided to stay are doing what they can to get back on their feet, while opening their arms to outside help. Collections at the Diamondhead Fire Department will continue until the 18-wheeler is full.

Besides the messages of hope and strength made by state and local officials in Mississippi after Hurricane Katrina, there was one business that also passed along that message. Hancock Bank saw its main office building flooded from Katrina's storm surge. Many of its branches were also destroyed. They reassured the public and printed bumper stickers that said "Rebuilding better and stronger: Together". They remember all too well the destruction from Hurricane Katrina and from that experience know people in Texas need our help.

Texans made generous contributions to South Mississippi's relief and recovery efforts from Hurricane Katrina and the Sun Herald wants to honor those precious gifts of time and money.

So the newspaper has joined with Hancock Bank and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to establish the Galveston Bay Hurricane Relief Fund to help the cities and counties around Galveston Bay recover from Hurricane Ike.

Contributions to the fund can be made at any branch of Hancock Bank. And every penny contributed to the fund will go to the relief effort - there will be no administrative expenses or handling costs deducted from the contributions.
The more we learn of the devastation around Galveston Bay, the more it reminds us of ourselves three years ago as we were reeling from the impact of Hurricane Katrina.

As we have said, Katrina and Ike both made landfall in a region of multiple jurisdictions - a cluster of towns and cities and counties with varying degrees of damage and with varying levels of resources to recover.

Another similarity has also arisen: just as the flooding of New Orleans overshadowed the shattered Mississippi Gulf Coast, the national financial crisis has shifted attention away from the coastline communities of southeast Texas.

Having been lost in those media shadows ourselves, we dare not allow other coastal communities to suffer the same fate.

We will be promoting the fund often in the pages of the Sun Herald in the hope that the appeal will produce an amount of money that will make a significant difference to our great neighbors in the Lone Star State.

We hardly need to remind our readers how much any contribution will be appreciated by the recipients. We have all been there. And we all know the value of every step toward recovery.

You may contribute to the Galveston Bay Hurricane Relief Fund at any branch of Hancock Bank.

I want to add that the Sunherald did many things after Hurricane Katrina as well. Their coverage of Katrina was impressive. They also gave newspapers away after Katrina. They knew with the communication problems, we needed information. They also won a Pulitzer for their coverage.

Texans are busy cleaning up the mess from Hurricane Ike. They are pulling together like we did in Mississippi. They have a long road ahead of them and they mustn't be forgotten.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Questions, Questions

I consider myself an independent, more accurately a social conservative as far as politics. I receive emails from a Jewish Republican group. I try to balance by reading liberal, conservative, and other blogs. Lately, I've been wondering if Republican presidents have really been on the side of Israel. This is one of the issues I look at very closely as an American citizen.

Some troubling history makes me reconsider if a Republican president is more likely to support Israel. Starting with President Reagan and Secretary if State Weinberger, we have the nefarious prosecution of Jonathan Pollard. Jonathan Pollard was a US Naval Intelligence officer who passed on information to Israel. Under Reagan's term, he was sentenced to life for spying. This sentence is harsh in that most others who were sentenced for the same offense of passing on information to allies of the US were given sentences of around two years. Pollard's sentencing is even harsher than some American spies who passed on information to countries who are not considered allies of the US.

Also, President George W. Bush proclaimed after 9-11 that there is no negotiating with terrorists. The rhetoric coming from Secretary of State Rice gives lie to that stance. Increasingly, Israel is asked to give up more and more to bolster Abbas and Fatah. Fatah is little more than Hamas in nice business suits.

I have a sense of disillusionment when it comes to the rhetoric of Republican candidates regarding Israel. McCain says over and over that the Iranian nuclear threat to Israel is one of his biggest concerns. And yet, time after time, the Republican assurances to Israel seem to falter at some point.

In the past, it has been the Democratic presidents who have responded more quickly when Israel was in danger. President Johnson, unlike President Eisenhower supported Israel.

The past history of Democratic and Republican presidents makes me question which will truly be on the side of Israel when Iran tries to make good on its threat to annihilate Israel.

There are other issues I'm looking at. One being the United States energy needs and the dismal state of infrastructure. Popular Mechanics has a good breakdown of McCain's and Obama's views. McCain supports the building of more nuclear plants while Obama supports more clean-coal plants. In my opinion, McCain's option would be the best. However, McCain doesn't address the critical state of US infrastructure. Obama does and Obama also has stated his ideas for improving the US's electrical grid.

McCain decried the money from taxes collected from gas sales were being earmarked for stuff other than infrastructure. He also supported a national gas tax "holiday" which seems a contradiction.

Also, Obama has plans to help protect New Orleans as well as build-up the marsh lands to help coastal areas along the Gulf Coast, not just in Louisiana. McCain hasn't shared his plans.

I'm going to do more research. I have questions about health care and education. There are other things that I'm bitterly disappointed with President Bush. He promised to increase funding for college grants and yet after he made his speech, funding was cut.

In the end, all politicians make promises which cannot be kept. Some of those promises are vitally important to the safety of millions. Questions, questions.

The Barbarian Has It!

Barbaric Yawp is hosting Haveil Havalim-184: A Barbarian Roars

Friday, September 26, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!


This headline at had me laughing: Mississippi to get black & white TV tonight

A very funny way to announce McCain will show up for the debate being held in Oxford Mississippi at the University of Mississippi.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Mississippi: Paying it Forward

After the 28 foot storm surge of Hurricane Katrina receded from the Mississippi shoreline, we stood in awe and shock at the destruction along the 66 miles of shoreline, bayous, rivers, creeks, and bays. Homes were swept into the Mississippi Sound and in thousands of places, they only thing left after decades of hard work was concrete slabs. We well understand the damage a hurricane's storm surge can do and the upheaval and chaos it can create.

The hurricane's fury was no match for the will of the people of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Chainsaws were whipped out and roads began to be cleared. The hard and dirty work of cleaning and recovery began. We were resolved to clean the mess and rebuild better and stronger. Thousands upon thousands of volunteers came and helped us with the back-breaking work in the sweltering heat. Millions upon millions donated money to the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, and other groups. Churches, synagogues, civic organizations and others across the country gathered supplies.

Mississippi was hit with two tsunamis. The first was Katrina's storm surge. The second and far larger one was the amount of help we received. We stayed glued to our TV sets as Hurricane Ike struck along the Texas and Louisiana coastlines. We saw the destruction Ike's storm surge caused and we saw images of destruction that rivaled Hurricane Katrina's. Then groups got together to pay it forward.

Churches such as Bel-Aire Baptist began collecting supplies. People brought canned goods, water and other supplies. These supplies will go to those in Lake Charles Louisiana and Beaumont Texas. These towns have received very little news coverage but the destruction is massive.

Another group, the TrailGrazHers collected eight horse trailers of food, toiletries and other supplies. Monday evening, they arrived in San Leon, Texas. Tuesday morning, they began distributing the supplies. They also began looking around other areas to see what else is needed.

These are but two examples of what south Mississippians are doing to help our neighbors in Texas. The news coverage of Hurricane Ike has been overwhelmed by the financial meltdown of Wall Street and the politics of the presidential race.

Towns such as Port Arthur, Bridge City, Orange, and Beaumont have received very little attention. Pictures are worth thousands of words. Let's not forget them.

To help:

Red Cross
Salvation Army
United Jewish Communites
Feeding America(formerly Second Harvest
Houston SPCA
Portlight (A great organization that came to my attention via Weather Underground)

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Time for....

shoes! A quick google search found these. Should I or shouldn't I?

These are barefoot running shoes. They look fun.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Days Upon Days

You access the Internet. You see the news headlines: Nine killed in school shooting. You breath a sigh of relief that it was in Finland this time. Briefly, you may even think about those who were murdered and those injured. Never once does it cross your mind to blame the policies of the Finnish government or try to excuse the mad murderer. You may wonder if the person had a mental illness but you don't really try to excuse his barbaric behaviour.

So why are excuses given for the murders of Israeli students? You hear that it is the fault of the policies of Israel, much like some were saying the barbaric murders of 9-11 were due to the policies of the United States. It just excuses away the brutal murders and serves to give to justification to the barbarians who do these acts of murder.

Some try to say that the root cause of terrorism is poverty. This is untrue. Many of the barbaric, murderous terrorists come from middle class homes. Some, like Osama bin Laden are even millionaires. Terrorists are not some poverty stricken group that seeks justice. If they were, those in the slums of Cairo would have long risen up against the brutal Egyptian government. Some may try to say the barbaric Palestinian terrorists are seeking to right perceived wrongs. Does this really give them the right to murder toddlers? Does it give them the right to throw acid into a soldier's eyes and blind him? Does it give them the right to drive BMWs into a crowd of students and off-duty soldiers? Common sense would tell you no.

But common sense has nothing to do with the support Palestinian terrorists receive. These barbaric terrorists receive support in many ways. There are the church groups who seek to divest from Israel. There are the idiotic protesters who hold signs proclaiming they are Hezbollah. There is the UN "Peacekeepers" in Lebanon who salute the coffins of terrorists who have murdered children. The list goes on and on. Days upon days, Israelis have to deal with barbaric terrorists whose only goal is to maim and murder as many Israelis as possible.

Why is the murder of Israeli school children not treated as the tragedy it is? Why is there always excuses for the barbarian who pulls the trigger or flicks the switch of bomb belts, or throws the acid, rock, Molotov Cocktail, or drives the front-end loader, bulldozer, BMWs?

News Biases

The same thing happens in most political races. Palin is but the latest example. This video of a Mad TV spoof of Fox news is hilarious:


It will be next Wednesday before the tests my son had last week can be discussed with the doctor. I'm hoping this means nothing serious was found.

On the ballot controversy, Governor Barbour after the Mississippi Supreme Court ruling, ordered the Musgrove-Wicker Senate race to be placed at the top where it belongs with the presidential and other Senate race.

Monday, September 22, 2008

The Speech Not Given

Because Senator Hillary Clinton threw a major hissy fit, Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin and the Republican Vice-Presidential nominee was disinvited from a rally opposing Iran's president. The New York Sun posted the speech she would have given.

I am honored to be with you and with leaders from across this great country — leaders from different faiths and political parties united in a single voice of outrage.

Tomorrow, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad will come to New York — to the heart of what he calls the Great Satan — and speak freely in this, a country whose demise he has called for.

Ahmadinejad may choose his words carefully, but underneath all of the rhetoric is an agenda that threatens all who seek a safer and freer world. We gather here today to highlight the Iranian dictator's intentions and to call for action to thwart him.

He must be stopped.

The world must awake to the threat this man poses to all of us. Ahmadinejad denies that the Holocaust ever took place. He dreams of being an agent in a "Final Solution" — the elimination of the Jewish people. He has called Israel a "stinking corpse" that is "on its way to annihilation." Such talk cannot be dismissed as the ravings of a madman — not when Iran just this summer tested long-range Shahab-3 missiles capable of striking Tel Aviv, not when the Iranian nuclear program is nearing completion, and not when Iran sponsors terrorists that threaten and kill innocent people around the world.

The Iranian government wants nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that Iran is running at least 3,800 centrifuges and that its uranium enrichment capacity is rapidly improving. According to news reports, U.S. intelligence agencies believe the Iranians may have enough nuclear material to produce a bomb within a year.

The world has condemned these activities. The United Nations Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend its illegal nuclear enrichment activities. It has levied three rounds of sanctions. How has Ahmadinejad responded? With the declaration that the "Iranian nation would not retreat one iota" from its nuclear program.

So, what should we do about this growing threat? First, we must succeed in Iraq. If we fail there, it will jeopardize the democracy the Iraqis have worked so hard to build, and empower the extremists in neighboring Iran. Iran has armed and trained terrorists who have killed our soldiers in Iraq, and it is Iran that would benefit from an American defeat in Iraq.

If we retreat without leaving a stable Iraq, Iran's nuclear ambitions will be bolstered. If Iran acquires nuclear weapons — they could share them tomorrow with the terrorists they finance, arm, and train today. Iranian nuclear weapons would set off a dangerous regional nuclear arms race that would make all of us less safe.

But Iran is not only a regional threat; it threatens the entire world. It is the no. 1 state sponsor of terrorism. It sponsors the world's most vicious terrorist groups, Hamas and Hezbollah. Together, Iran and its terrorists are responsible for the deaths of Americans in Lebanon in the 1980s, in Saudi Arabia in the 1990s, and in Iraq today. They have murdered Iraqis, Lebanese, Palestinians, and other Muslims who have resisted Iran's desire to dominate the region. They have persecuted countless people simply because they are Jewish.

Iran is responsible for attacks not only on Israelis, but on Jews living as far away as Argentina. Anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial are part of Iran's official ideology and murder is part of its official policy. Not even Iranian citizens are safe from their government's threat to those who want to live, work, and worship in peace. Politically-motivated abductions, torture, death by stoning, flogging, and amputations are just some of its state-sanctioned punishments.

It is said that the measure of a country is the treatment of its most vulnerable citizens. By that standard, the Iranian government is both oppressive and barbaric. Under Ahmadinejad's rule, Iranian women are some of the most vulnerable citizens.

If an Iranian woman shows too much hair in public, she risks being beaten or killed.

If she walks down a public street in clothing that violates the state dress code, she could be arrested.

But in the face of this harsh regime, the Iranian women have shown courage. Despite threats to their lives and their families, Iranian women have sought better treatment through the "One Million Signatures Campaign Demanding Changes to Discriminatory Laws." The authorities have reacted with predictable barbarism. Last year, women's rights activist Delaram Ali was sentenced to 20 lashes and 10 months in prison for committing the crime of "propaganda against the system." After international protests, the judiciary reduced her sentence to "only" 10 lashes and 36 months in prison and then temporarily suspended her sentence. She still faces the threat of imprisonment.

Earlier this year, Senator Clinton said that "Iran is seeking nuclear weapons, and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps is in the forefront of that" effort. Senator Clinton argued that part of our response must include stronger sanctions, including the designation of the IRGC as a terrorist organization. John McCain and I could not agree more.

Senator Clinton understands the nature of this threat and what we must do to confront it. This is an issue that should unite all Americans. Iran should not be allowed to acquire nuclear weapons. Period. And in a single voice, we must be loud enough for the whole world to hear: Stop Iran!

Only by working together, across national, religious, and political differences, can we alter this regime's dangerous behavior. Iran has many vulnerabilities, including a regime weakened by sanctions and a population eager to embrace opportunities with the West. We must increase economic pressure to change Iran's behavior.

Tomorrow, Ahmadinejad will come to New York. On our soil, he will exercise the right of freedom of speech — a right he denies his own people. He will share his hateful agenda with the world. Our task is to focus the world on what can be done to stop him.

We must rally the world to press for truly tough sanctions at the U.N. or with our allies if Iran's allies continue to block action in the U.N. We must start with restrictions on Iran's refined petroleum imports.

We must reduce our dependency on foreign oil to weaken Iran's economic influence.

We must target the regime's assets abroad; bank accounts, investments, and trading partners.

President Ahmadinejad should be held accountable for inciting genocide, a crime under international law.

We must sanction Iran's Central Bank and the Revolutionary Guard Corps — which no one should doubt is a terrorist organization.

Together, we can stop Iran's nuclear program.

Senator McCain has made a solemn commitment that I strongly endorse: Never again will we risk another Holocaust. And this is not a wish, a request, or a plea to Israel's enemies. This is a promise that the United States and Israel will honor, against any enemy who cares to test us. It is John McCain's promise and it is my promise.

Thank you.

H/t:Soccer Dad

Thanks to DoveBear, I was made aware of a vicious attack on Jews. See, it was Jewish groups that put on the rally and they might with a great deal of pressure about Sarah Palin's appearance. They caved in. Many groups have done similar things in the past. However, it seems to Redstate that this is just the latest in snubs by American Jews. To quote:

I, for one, tire of the many snubs the American Jewish community routinely throws at Republicans, conservatives and evangelical Christians.

His diatribe is very long and it is one that Jews have heard for the past 5,768 years. In responding to one of his commentors, he even makes a statement that his post wasn't aimed at the "good Jews" who happen to be Republican. His post also states blithely that we are in Iraq now in order to protect the interests of Israel. He sounds like many of the posters at DailyKos.

It is the nature of those who have a sense of impotence to lash out in the same manner.

I do not like how the situation was handled by the various Jewish groups who held the rally. Democrats and Liberals tend to do these things when confronted with controversy. Many of the Jews who belong to these groups are also Democrats and Liberals. Should they be viciously attacked because they are Jews? Of course not.

I for one am tired of all the hysterical rhetoric coming from the likes of Redstate, Buchannen, and so many others.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

To the Top

Honorable Governor Haley and Secretary of State Hosemann,

The Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled:

A majority of justices ruled Thursday that state law requires the special election between Republican Roger Wicker and Democrat Ronnie Musgrove to be near the top of the Nov. 4 ballot.

Are you going to follow the laws of the State of Mississippi? This is the only question I have for you and it is an important one. As governor, you have the responsibility to lead by example. If you and Secretary of State Hosemann flaunt the laws of our state, why should anyone in this state not do the same?

The United States was founded on the precepts that no one is above the law. Are you two going to flaunt 232 years of that tradition? This country was founded as the response to the tyranny of King George III. The Bill of Rights guarantees that each person has certain unalienable rights. Our countries sought to make the equitable.

Each person from the lowliest beggar to the President is not above the laws of our great country. There are no kings, queens, or other royalty in our country or state that can say, "This is what I want and this is the way it is going to be".

As Governor and as Secretary of State, you both have a higher moral obligation to uphold and follow the laws. If the special election race is not placed at the top of ballots as mandated by the laws of Mississippi, you are no better than a murderer. Does that comparison seem to harsh? I think not. Both are laws on our books. If one can be discarded, why not the other?

Mississippi has a long, sad, cruel, and inhumane history of flaunting basic laws of human decency. In order to leave that past behind, leaders such as yourselves must not be above the law.

The Mississippi Supreme Court has left the ball in your hands. They stated the law means the special election must be on the top of the ballots without ordering you to change the ballots. Are you two going to do the right thing? Are you going to be leaders in the truest sense of the word? Are you going to uphold the laws of Mississippi or are you going to flaunt them in some misguided effort to give Roger Wicker a slight advantage?

Are you going to be like tyrants everywhere and be above the law?

The people of Mississippi await your decision and are watching closely.


Shira, concerned citizen

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Waiting to Exhale

Most say that worrying about things is not so good. I've been doing a lot of worrying the last 3 weeks or so. First is was Hurricane Gustav and then Hurricane Ike. The National Hurricane Center has been a very good job of predicating the landfalls of hurricanes. Still, if there's any system in the Gulf of Mexico, I'm nervous until it does.

Now comes this past Monday. My son goes to the doctor for what I thought would be just a routine visit. He calls me at work and tells me he has to have all sorts of tests done. He says the doctor thinks there may be something wrong with his liver. I leave work so I can go with him to have the tests done. Tomorrow or Monday, we should know something.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

From Gulfport to Galveston

Mayor Lyda Thomas of Galveston and other city officials have requested help from the City of Gulfport Mississippi. Gulfport Mayor Brent Warr and others are heading to Galveston to share the lessons learned after Hurricane Katrina. But even before Hurricane Ike struck the Texas coast, Mayor Warr spoke with Mayor Thomas. I can only speculate but maybe he influenced her for her to finally order a mandatory evacuation of Galveston.

Three days before Ike struck Texas, even with Ike well to the south of us, Mississippi experienced two days of flooding from the massive amounts of water Ike was pushing. The storm surge affected Florida, Alabama, Louisiana, and Texas days before landfall.

Others along the Mississippi Coast gave warnings of just what a massive storm surge could do. The storm surge from Hurricane Katrina is officially estimated at 28 feet. Evidence points to it being between 30-35 feet. The 66 miles of Mississippi Coastline were defenseless against the onslaught the massive wall of water. The images of Crystal Beach and the Bolivar Peninsula in Texas bring flashbacks of what we in Mississippi experienced from Katrina's storm surge. Ricky Mathews wrote an editorial pleading days before Ike made landfall in Texas.

MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST -- For whatever reason it now appears that thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of the residents of Galveston Island, and untold others along the Texas Coast have chosen to stay and face the wrath of Hurricane Ike. As your neighbors in South Mississippi, who have watched the deadly surge of Katrina destroy virtually every mile of our coast, we care for your survival, and beg you to leave now. You should know further that in a nighttime storm your chances will be further reduced.

The hours dwindle, but it is not too late for you to flee and save your lives. There is something deceptive about the idea that Ike is only a Category 2 hurricane. The developing science of Integrated Kinetic Energy (ironically IKE) which expresses the destructive power of a hurricane’s surge, shows that Ike represents a force exceeding even Katrina’s surge, which was the largest ever seen against an American Coast.

The people of the Mississippi Coast know all of the excuses to stay “hunkered down” in their homes and comfort zones.

They survived the previous big storm(Camille for us), there was no place for their pets, they were old, sick, tired, etc. Some were just skeptical. Many of them now lie in the sandy soil of their homeland, victims of the storm surge.

We ask our citizens to join us in this heartfelt mission to save those who may otherwise die where they are making their stand against Ike. If you know someone in Galveston or the South Texas Coast, please call them or e-mail them and tell them your stories of Katrina. Pass along this editorial and the links to our Katrina photos and stories. Make your comments on the reader commenting opportunity with this editorial.

It is not too late but with every passing hour your possibility of evacuating to safety is diminished. We implore you – do not become a casualty of Ike. Its deadly surge is coming, and no seawall, no plywood nor your false notion of safety will save you from its destructive force.

He also made a video pleading for those in harm's way to get out.

Both his editorial and video were made in an effort to warn those in Texas what wascoming. Both can be a warning for anyone who faces the threat of a hurricane heading their way. The message is clear: No excuse is worth putting you and your family in harms way. You cannot judge what will happen based on previous hurricanes. If you are told to get out, get out!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Al Aqsa Politics

Many accuse Israel of being an apartheid state. They do this while ignoring certain facts. For one, the Temple Mount is the holiest site for Jews. It is also holy for Christians and yet Jews and Christians are not allowed access. Why? Muslims claim it is their holy site and that no one but Muslims can go there. This is odd since Jerusalem is not mentioned once in the Koran. How did Jerusalem and the Temple Mount become for Muslims a holy site if it is not mentioned once in the Koran? Muslims even attempt to deny that the First and Second Temples even existed. The get help from that belief with pseudo-scholars such as Edward Said. But how did Jerusalem and the Temple Mount(the remains of the Second Temple destroyed by the Romans) become Al Aqsa?

What are the difficulties with the belief that the al-Aqsa mosque described in Islamic tradition is located in Jerusalem? For one, the people of Mecca, who knew Muhammad well, did not believe this story. Only Abu Bakr, (later the first Calif,) believed him and thus was called al-Siddiq (“the believer".)

The second difficulty is that Islamic tradition tells us that al-Aqsa mosque is near Mecca on the Arabian Peninsula. This was unequivocally stated in "Kitab al-Maghazi," a book by the Muslim historian and geographer al-Waqidi. According to al-Waqidi, there were two "masjeds" (places of prayer) in al-Gi'irranah, a village between Mecca and Ta'if - one was "the closer mosque" (al-masjid al-adna) and the other was "the further mosque" (al-masjid al-aqsa,) and Muhammad would pray there when he went out of town.

This description by al-Waqidi which is supported by a chain of authorities (isnad) was not "convenient" for the Islamic propaganda of the 7th Century. In order to establish a basis for the awareness of the "holiness" of Jerusalem in Islam, the Califs of the Ummayad dynasty invented many “traditions" upholding the value of Jerusalem, which would justify pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the faithful Muslims. Thus was al-Masjid al-Aqsa "transported" to Jerusalem. It should be noted that Saladin also adopted the myth of al-Aqsa and those "traditions" in order to recruit and inflame the Muslim warriors against the Crusaders in the 12th Century.

Since the 7th Jerusalem and the Temple Mount has been a very useful political tool for Muslim leaders. They use it to inflame the passions of people. Arafat is just but the latest example. In 2000, he used the Temple Mount as an excuse to begin the Second Intifada and suicide bombers murdered hundreds of innocent lives. Just as the Mufti of Jerusalem did in the 1920's and the 1930's and all because of political expediency.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Louisiana: Full of Whiners

When a hurricane threatens Louisiana, more specifically the New Orleans area, contraflow goes into place. In Mississippi, this means two interstates, I55 and I59 are no longer available to those in south Mississippi. Louisiana also closes off I10 going west. Lately, there has been much whining and complaining from those in Louisiana that Mississippi should open I10 to evacuees from Louisiana. The Times-Picayune was full of those complaints. An excerpt:

In Wolshon's opinion, the controversial decision to close down Interstate 10 east at its junction with Interstate I59 in St. Tammany Parish -- preventing most Louisianians from evacuating eastward -- is also worth another look.

The decision has been second-guessed by many Louisianians, led by Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard, who recently insinuated that Mississippi officials were thinking of money, not people, when they made that call

Aaron Broussard, Aaron Broussard, where have I heard that name before? Oh yes,, he's the one that lied about the nursing home incident during Hurricane Katrina. But I digress. I'm just sick and tired of the sense of entitlement that permeates those in Louisiana. Below is my response via email to the articles author:

There have been many in Louisiana complaining about Mississippi closing I-10 east to those in Louisiana evacuating. What you guys seem to forget that in threats like Gustav, there are many in south Mississippi who need to evacuate as well. We in south Mississippi can't travel on I55 and I59 because of contraflow. That leaves a population of 400,000, almost the same as the New Orleans metro area, with two options: I10 and Highway 49.

I can understand the concerns of those trying to evacuate from Louisiana, but we in south Mississippi need to have avenues of evacuation as well.

You state in your article that those from Louisiana didn't want to go west because of Gustav's direction. Are there not any Louisiana highways going north that can be accessed from I10 and other highways in Louisiana?

Can't officials in Louisiana stagger evacuation orders so that those in the most dangerous areas can leave first?

Can't more from Louisiana use just one car when evacuating? I know many many families who take two cars. Wouldn't using just one car help ease traffic?

Also, there were a few Louisiana evacuees who helped themselves to shelters in Jackson County. Those shelters are for Mississippi coastal residents. Doesn't Louisiana have shelters of its own?

Also, Louisiana closes I10 to those in Mississippi when contraflow is in effect. Like I stated before, this leaves two options for those in south Mississippi to evacuate: I10 and Highway 49. Considering that the population of south Mississippi almost equals that of the New Orleans metro area, I consider that to be very generous.

When Ivan threatened, we in Mississippi faced tens of thousands evacuating from Alabama and Florida. They used I10 to gain access to Highway 49. There were long waits. There was no contraflow in place. Yet, I've heard few complaints from those in Alabama that Mississippi should exclusively provide for those evacuees by the closing of interstates and other roads.

We in Mississippi want our neighbors in Louisiana to be safe but we also need to be able to evacuate in a timely manner. However, those in Louisiana need to remember we need to be able to get out as well. The closing of I10 had nothing to do with it being the Labor Day weekend. The casinos closed on Sunday. We had major flooding from Gustav and Ike. Mississippi tries to be a good neighbor to Louisiana. It works both ways. Those in Louisiana need to be mindful that they are not the only ones at risk and need to evacuate.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Pin the Tail on the Ballot

Soccer Dad brought this New York Times editorial to my attention

Mississippi’s governor, Haley Barbour, and its secretary of state have come up with a particularly cynical dirty trick for the November election. Let’s call it: “Where’s the Senate race?”

Defying state law, they have decided to hide a hard-fought race for the United States Senate at the bottom of the ballot, where they clearly are hoping some voters will overlook it. Their proposed design is not only illegal. It shows a deep contempt for Mississippi’s voters.

Hard fought race? How about one of the nastiest mud-slinging fests Mississippi voters have seen in a long time? At this point, I wouldn't want to vote for either of them.

Attorney General Mike Moore has stated that the law is clear that ballots must list those running for national office at the top of ballots. Secretary of State Hosemann doesn't believe it applies to special elections. Governor Barbour agrees with Hoseman.

Hinds County Circuit Judge Tomie Green ruled a sample ballot Hosemann sent to election commissioners this week is illegal because it puts the race between Democrat Ronnie Musgrove and Roger Wicker, a Republican, near the bottom.
But Green wrote that the law speaks "loudly about the special election placement on the ballot ... (it) explicitly states that candidates for the U.S. Senate shall come first on the ballot, along with others who are seeking National Office."
Hood advised election commissioners Thursday that state law requires races for federal offices to be placed near the top of the ballot. He said the law changed in 2000 to require that statewide offices appear at the top of the ballot, just under the race for president, and didn't make an exception for special elections.

A decision on the ballot is to made by the Mississippi Supreme Court, It does appear the good ol' boy system is at play here. It begs the question why would Hoseman want to place the Senate race between Wicker and Musgrove at the bottom. Hoseman, just put the Wicker and Musgrove race at the top where it belongs.

Governor Barbour supports Hoseman's decision. This taints the wonderful work he did in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

I urge my fellow Mississippians to contact Governor Barbour and Secretary of State Hosemann and let them know voters do not appreciate this game of pin the tail on the ballot.

Barbour can reached at 1-877-405-0733 or 601-359-3150.

Hosemann can be reached at numerous numbers at this link.

Hopefully, the Mississippi Supreme Court will make a decision based on the law and not political cronyism.


One of the most effective qualities of a leader is the confidence they inspire. Leadership is at a premium when natural disasters occur. The leaders in Mississippi from Mayor Warr of Gulfport to Governor Barbour worked with one goal in mind: The safety of the people along the Mississippi Gulf Coast in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Mayor Nagin showed no leadership when he cowered behind walls and wouldn't speak directly to those in the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina. He showed lack of leadership and concern when he didn't institute the emergency plans the City of New Orleans had in place. And he sure didn't show it when he made the comment telling Houston evacuees they were more than welcome in New Orleans and ask for 'Nagin's special rate' at hotels and motels. Problem was, there was no such special rate and when he was asked about it, he said he was just "joking" to lighten the mood.

I cannot help contrast the leadership of Nagin to the leadership that was shown by Houston Mayor Bill White and the others tasked with helping four million citizens who find themselves without power. I was impressed by the way he spoke. Directv has Houston news on channel 361. Mayor White clearly told the people of Houston what to expect in the aftermath of Hurricane Ike. He told of the National Guard, the Coast Guard, and the utility companies which were in place and beginning operations. He asked neighbor to help out neighbor. He complemented those in Houston who took their chain saws and began clearing roadways.

Perhaps if Mayor Nagin had done those things instead of crying along with a reporter from WWL, things might have been different in New Orleans. If he had just said that the National Guard was doing its job and that people in the Superdome and the Convention Center had food and water, there wouldn't have been the chaos that existed.

New Orleans had many heroes. Those who pulled neighbors and strangers out of flooded homes without being told, the kid who commandeered a bus and drove people to Houston were looking out for one another. I have to admit, I was busy listening to my mayor and my governor in Mississippi and New Orleans was just in the periphery, but when I did hear him speak, I felt I was listening to someone who didn't know what to do next.

I didn't have that feeling when Mayor Warr spoke to us in Gulfport. I could hear the weariness in his voice but his words told us clearly what to expect. It was the same with Governor Barbour. And it is the same with Houston's Mayor Bill White.

Houston, Galvaston, Port Arthur, and the rest of the Texas coastline are still assessing the damage. Search and rescue operations are ongoing. Houston, the Texas coastline to Louisiana, and large portions of southern Louisiana are in the dark as shown by this Naval Satellite:

During disasters, it is the clear voice of confidence which leads. The lights will come back on. Homes, roads, and infrastructure will be repaired. Houston has a problem but it seems it is under firm guidance control.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

United States

From Marshall Ramsey of theClarion Ledger:

Texans: Ike's Storm Surge-Heed the Warnings!

Hurricane Ike is to the south of the Mississippi gulf Coast. The hurricane is traveling west but the storm surge is affecting the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Sections of Highway 90 in Gulfport are closed because the water has already reached the seawall.

Below are pictures I took about an hour ago. All are of Biloxi's Back Bay. The water is already 4 feet above normal.

9-11: Remembered

Seven years ago, 300,000,000 million hearts were torn asunder. It wasn't just an attack on New York, it was an attack on us. All were glued to their television sets. Our horror was as great as those who saw the events unfold before their eyes. The 2,996 lives lost will not be forgotten.

The Twin Towers which had stood for decades, were no more. From Likelihood of Success, a portion of E. B. White's Here is New York:

A block or two west of the new City of Man in Turtle Bay there is an old willow tree that presides over an interior garden. It is a battered tree, long-suffering and much-climbed, held together by strands of wire but beloved of those who know it. In a way it symbolizes the city: life under difficulties, growth against odds, sap-rise in the midst of concrete, and the steady reaching for the sun. Whenever I look at it nowadays, and feel the cold shadow of the planes, I thing: “This must be saved, this particular thing, this very tree.” If it were to go, all would go–the city, this mischievous and marvelous monument which not to look upon would be like death.

Many people like Pamela Stennis-Wilkins will remember escaping the Twin Towers.

Others will remember the escape of family members:

The detail of Jon's escape that still amazes is that given the lack of ventilation and the number of people escaping the stairwells had gotten quite hot. So the emergency worker broke open soda machines and handed out drinks to the escapees. A fire fighter handed Jon a bottled water on the 21st floor. Jon realized that half and hour or 45 minutes later the man who had extended him such kindness was probably dead.

Another New Yorker remembers and has posted extensively on the rebuilding.

The Pentagon remembers and is opening a memorial park today.

And one thing none of should ever forget is the words of Osama bin Laden: "We love death. The US loves life. That is the big difference between us.”

It is the love of life which has helped us these past 7 years. And it is our love for life which has made us determined to rebuild the Twin Towers, to remember those who perished, to seek justice, and most of all to remember there are those who are willing to murder us just because we love life.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Big Bang

I'm typing this, therefore the world has not ended as some were hysterically proclaiming would happen once the Large Hadron Collider was fired. I received the picture below via email:

I don't understand the science involved but I understand the sense of wonder. This collider is looking for signs of the Big Bang. What caused matter to be bottled up? What caused the seconds delay when the Big Bang started? If those seconds hadn't occurred would any of us be here today? What would the universe look like?

Other questions: Why do sub-atomic particles behave so differently from what is understood? What wonders will quantum physics and mechanics bring us? Is it possible that at some point in time we will be able to travel worm holes?

Questions, questions: The pursuit of the answers is the fun.

Update: Live webcast

Tuesday, September 9, 2008


After the passage of Hurricane Fay and Hurricane Gustav, Mississippi received some unexpected visitors: Flamingos! After work, I'll be on the beach hoping to spot some and take some photos. Wish me luck.

Sadly, the same article reports that over 7,000 nutria were killed by the storm surge of Gustav. These swamp rats are not indigenous to Mississippi. They eat different types of grasses and can cause damage from the way they root.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Disappearing Marshland

Most satellite images of the Louisiana shoreline give a false sense of substance. Take this one for instance:

It shows landmass that doesn't really exist.

The radar image below gives the reality:

There is more water than land in the approaches leading up to New Orleans. Hurricane Katrina destroyed a lot of those marsh lands but they've been in decline for decades. Lake Borgne is becoming part of the Gulf of Mexico. New Orleans and south east Louisiana is sitting very precariously on slender strips of land. How soon will that little strip of land that reaches from New Orleans to Venice be there?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Storms in the Islands

The news reports indicate the Turks and Caicos Island took a devastating blow from Hurricane Ike. If you would like to help, please donate to the American Redcross.

Haiti, once again is suffering from the deluge of rain.

The destruction in Haiti has been described as catastrophic.

Police said 500 people were confirmed dead from recent Tropical Storm Hanna but that others are still missing and the number could rise.
The UN's World Food Programme (WFP) said hundreds of thousands of people had been displaced by the flooding.

Denuded mountains are one of the reasons Haiti suffers such devastation from the torrential rains of tropical storms and hurricanes. There is nothing to hold back the rampaging waters. Political turmoil doesn't help matters. Dr. Masters at the The Weather Underground recommended donating to the Lamdi Fund. This organization helps t build up the lives of Haitians and has a goal of planting 1 million trees to counter the rampant deforestation.

In the US, Louisiana took the brunt of Gustav. If you would like to help, click here for the Red Cross.

Squirrelly Cleveland

Thought Jack might appreciate this:


This past Shabbat, my congregation said the Birkat Ha-Gomel in thanksgiving Mississippi was spared the worst of Hurricane Gustav and we came through unscathed.

Haveil Havalim - 181 is up. There are many, many great posts to read.

Is Your Life Worth It?

Some of the commetors at Weather Underground are saying they will not evacuate if Hurricane Ike threatens their area. Some are just tired after Gustav and don't have the money to leave. It worries me.

I'm fortunate that I live in a zone for which I don't have to evacuate for even a Category 5 storm. Still, I too lack the energy to prepare for another storm so soon after Hurricane Gustav.

However, I will do what is necessary, as will my son. My offices are still the trailers we've been renting since Hurricane Katrina. We know the drill well and even though my muscles are still aching from the flurry of activity of first clearing all equipment, files, etc, and then replacing them once the threat was over, this week, if Ike threatens the Mississippi Gulf Coast, we'll do it ago. I view the preparations we did for Gustav as a practice run. If next week, we have to do it all over again, it will be easier.

The mental fatigue of worrying and the thought of "Oh no, here we go again" takes its toll. But it isn't something that can be wished away. It has to be dealt with.

Staying in a area that is prone to floods is just plain stupid. I was so angry at those in Pearlington and Pass Christian Mississippi who stayed during Gustav. These two areas are like water magnets and flood severely during hurricanes. They not only put their lives in danger but those of rescuers.

If money is a factor, don't let a false sense of pride keep you from using the options that are available. Mississippi and Louisiana offer buses for evacuees that need transportation. Pets are allowed as long as you have proper medical documents showing your pets are vaccinated and have no communicable diseases . I'm sure Alabama and Florida do the same. There are also shelters, some for those with pets, available.

In short, if you are under a mandatory evacuation order, there is really no reason you cannot evacuate.

Right now, the thought of redoing everything that was done before Gustav seems overwhelming. There's the lost work, the stress and strain, the constant worry of what damage will occur if your area is hit.

The thing to remember is isn't your life and that of your loved ones worth more?

Friday, September 5, 2008

Shabbat Shalom!

Our New Rabbi

When I posted about our new rabbi, I forgot to mention he was to give the invocation at the Republican Convention. In the post, I mentioned he was Congregation Beth Israel's rabbi during the 1980's. Here is a snippet of the invocation Rabbi Ira Flax gave:

The retired Air Force chaplain, now living in Birmingham, Ala., began by noting that “the song ‘God Bless America’ was introduced to this country 70 years ago, and in those seven decades, Lord you have indeed blessed us in so many ways.”

He continued, “We are here in this hall this evening safe and secure because there are men and women willing to serve others [and] they are standing guard against the enemies of freedom and ready to respond to the natural calamities that beset our lot from time to time. We ask you, God, to bless their efforts, bless their families, and bless us too.”

Flax also paid tribute to those suffering through Hurricane Gustav: “As our fellow citizens on the gulf coast emerge from the dark night of storm clouds and rain, may the light of God’s face shine upon them and bless them with peace.”

He is retired from the Air Force and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi when he also served our community as its rabbi. I like him and many congregants were happy to see him back with us.

A Lifetime

Tender and heartfelt.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Tougher Than I Thought

Monday, when I went out on my front porch, I saw a speck of yellow fluttering around. The winds from Gustav were still blowing and there were still gusts. I watched as the speck of yellow came closer and saw it was a butterfly. It seemed to just let the wind carry it and only used it's wings when an obstacle was close by.

I've never seen a butterfly when tropical storm conditions were ongoing. I didn't think they could survive the wind gusts. They're tougher than I thought.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Gustav: A Normal Hurricane

I suppose it may seem somewhat strange to characterize a hurricane as normal. It was normal in the sense there wasn't massive damage and destruction like we saw with Hurricane Katrina. It was with a sense of relief that when we look around, there were only a hundred homes flooded in Mississippi and not the tens of thousands that were reduced to slab after Katrina.

It was a normal hurricane in that there were no pictures of boats in trees, just a few tossed on Highway 90.

It was a normal hurricane in that Highway 90 was closed due to sand being washed onto it and not because large sections were washed away.

Instead of casinos being closed for months, they will reopen today.

Damage assessments ares till being made. When completed, they will be in the millions of dollars and not the billions after Hurricane Katrina.

I'm so thankful Gustav wasn't as bad as it could have been. But I'm fearful that people will become complacent and won't heed the evacuation warnings or prepare for the next hurricane. Even after the devastating storm surge from Hurricane Katrina, there were those on the Jourdan River and Pearlington, both in Hancock County, who didn't heed the mandatory evacuations for Gustav. Some had to be rescued. Not only did they put their lives in danger but those of the National Guard and police and fire and rescue teams as well.

Pass Christian is one of those towns which can expect to be inundated by a storm surge. Even in that most vulnerable city, people stayed and had to be rescued.

Tine and again, when hurricanes move across the Gulf of Mexico like Gustav did, they push water from the south east and water accumulates at the Louisiana and Mississippi line. It goes into Lake Ponchatrain. It goes up the Pearl River. It goes up Bay St. Louis. And until the winds recede and the storm passes on, the water piles up and has no where else to go but on land.

Memories of Katrina are still fresh and raw three years later. These memories will tend to fade as the Mississippi Gulf Coast experiences another normal hurricane. Already there are those who say since their homes didn't flood or wash away from Katrina, they have nothing to fear from the next one. It was this fallacy over the belief that no storm surge could equal Hurricane Camille's which led to many people dying from Katrina's storm surge.

Even with a normal hurricane like Gustav, if evacuation orders are not heeded, loss of life can occur. Thankfully, no one in Mississippi lost their lives in Gustav.

People must remember each hurricane has the potential to be a Betsy, a Camille, an Ivan, a Charley, or a Katrina. It may be a pain in the ass to prepare and to evacuate each time warnings are given. But that pain in the ass may very well save your life.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gustav: Reflections

In Mississippi, we prepared for Gustav like it would be another Hurricane Katrina. Preparations on the Mississippi Gulf Coast started in earnest when Gustav was a Category 4 and the potential was there for it to become a Category 5. The National Hurricane Center's projected path of Gustav proved very accurate with landfall expected along the central Louisiana coast. Mississippi has been experiencing the tail-end of Gustav all day. Even at 11:00 pm Monday evening, the occasional gust would go through. The storm surge spread across the Mississippi Coast and was greater than expected.

Mississippi started preparing for Gustav on Wednesday, August 26, 2008. Containers at the Port of Gulfport were moved inland. People began stocking up on water, food, and materials needed to secure homes. Businesses took the threat seriously and secured inventory, equipment, and files. Mandatory evacuations were ordered in Hancock and Harrison counties for those living in flood zones A & B. Mandatory evacuations were also ordered for those living in FEMA trailers and Katrina cottages. The National Guard was called in.

It was an eerie repetition of what we all were doing three years ago in preparation for Hurricane Katrina. Lessons learned from Hurricane Katrina were employed, hence the containers being ordered inland. School buses were used to evacuate those who needed transportation and pets were allowed to go along. The Mississippi Department of Transportation did a great job of handling the contraflow of evacuees from New Orleans and other areas of Louisiana.

Some may say the threat of Gustav was hyped up. That all the time and energy put into preparing for Gustav was wasted effort since we did not have a direct hit or because it was not a major hurricane when it made landfall in Louisiana. Hurricanes can be very unpredictable. You can never know what to expect until it hits land. Hurricane Camille which struck the Mississippi Coast in 1969 intensified to a Category 5 just before it made landfall. Hurricane Georges which struck us in 1998 was a Category 2 storm. The rains it dumped caused major flooding in Jackson County.

With other disasters such as earthquakes, tornados, and wildfires, you don't know when they will occur. When a tornado threatens, you may have only a few minutes warning to seek shelter. With hurricanes, you have days to get prepared. And if you don't, it can cost you your life. Everyone should have a basic emergency kit consisting of food and water to last at the minimum of three days. It's best to prepare for a longer period of time.

Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. That is what we in Mississippi and Louisiana did for Gustav and by doing so, lives were saved.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Gustav:Starting to Calm in Gulfport?

Since the weather radio is not sounding tornado alarms every 20 minutes and the gusts are becoming less frequent, I dare to hope the worst is over.

I lost power for about 30 minutes. I love the utility crews down here. The work around the wind gusts and the storm surge.

Gustav:Current Conditions in Gulfport

Winds are really gusting. Horizontal rain on occasion. There are sporadic power outages across the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The storm surge is coming across Highway 90 in low-lying areas. These areas usually experience flooding in tropical storm conditions. It is nothing like Katrina.

My brother reports a tree fell on his shed. My Mom and sister in Biloxi are doing fine.

Louisiana is taking the brunt. Again, my thoughts and best wishes are with those in harm's way.

Day Has Dawned

The winds are increasing. The gusts now last longer and are stronger. With the daylight, I can the winds effect on the trees. It isn't too bad but power may go out at some point. I was able to go outside and check on things. The roof on my shed looks like an accordion. Tree branches and leaves are littering the yard. My blue car is now green with its plastered leaves.

Still as things go, it isn't bad. News reports indicate New Orleans has lost power. It looks as if Gustav may make lanfall over Grand Isle, which is just west of the Mississippi River. My heart goes out to those in Louisiana who are taking the brunt of this storm. I know good people are in its path. I'm hoping things will be okay for them.

Windy Morning

The wind woke me up. It is steady about 30-40 mph with higher gusts. I checked the radar to see where Gustav is. It looks close(20 to 3 hours?) to landfall just west of the Mississippi River. Winds will probably be picking up more in my area as the morning goes on. Currently Hancock, Harrison, and Jackson counties are under a tornado warning until 6:00 am.

Hoping for the best for Louisiana and New Orleans.