Sunday, November 30, 2008

Friday, November 28, 2008

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emes - Rabbi and Rebbetzin Holtzberg Murdered in Mumbai Nariman (Chabad) House Attack

Regardless of my feelings about Chabad and Lubavitchers, I find this to be a horrible tragedy and a despicable act of cowardice. What the hell did these people ever do to the murderers?! Bastard. I hope the murderers are hunted down, tortured for weeks, and then killed slowly, limb by limb.

Thank God their child survived. The parents were 29 (Gavriel) and 28 (Rivka). Children themselves.

UPDATE: Mumbai-Based Rabbi and Wife Killed in Terrorist Attacks

Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, the beloved directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Mumbai, were killed during one of the worst terrorist attacks to strike India in recent memory.

Jewish communities around the world reacted with shock to the loss of the couple, who were killed Thursday at their Chabad House during an apparent standoff between Indian military forces and terrorists.

Their toddler son, Moshe, managed to escape with his nanny some hours before Indian commandos stormed their building, known as the Nariman House, in the popular touristy neighborhood of Colaba. The Associated Press reported that the boy was unharmed, but was wearing blood-soaked pants.

"Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg made the ultimate sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch. "As emissaries to Mumbai, Gabi and Rivky gave up the comforts of the West in order to spread Jewish pride in a corner of the world that was a frequent stop for throngs of Israeli tourists. Their Chabad House was popular among the local community, as well as with visiting businesspeople.

"For five years, they ran a synagogue and Torah classes, and helped people dealing with drug addiction and poverty," continued the statement. "Their selfless love will live on with all the people they touched. We will continue the work they started."

One of the Mumbai terrorists is seen in a closed-circuit television image at a central train station Wednesday night.

The Holtzbergs arrived in Mumbai in 2003 to serve the small local Jewish community, visiting businesspeople and the throngs of tourists, many of them Israeli, who annually travel to the seaside city.

Gavriel Holtzberg, 29, was born inIsrael and moved to the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., with his parents when he was nine. A prodigious student, Holtzberg was a two-time champion in a competition of memorizing the Mishnah, a compendium of rabbinical enactments redacted in the second century C.E.

He studied at yeshivas in New York and Argentina, and as a rabbinical student served communities in Thailand and China under the Summer Rabbinical Visitation Program run by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch.

His 28-year-old wife, born Rivkah Rosenberg, is a native of Afula, Israel. Chayki Rosenberg described her sister as dedicated to helping Jews.

She “gives lots of classes for women at the Chabad House,” Rosenberg told The Jerusalem Post.

Friends described her as always having a positive outlook and a kind word for everyone.

Two years ago, the Holtzbergs raised funds to purchas the current location of the Chabad House, a five-story building in Mumbai’s Colaba market area known as Narimon House. A trained ritual circumciser and slaughterer, the rabbi also conducts weddings for local Jewish couples in addition to teaching Torah classes and visiting with tourists.

His last known phone call was to the Israeli Consulate to report that gunmen were in his house. In the middle of the conversation, the line went dead.

The Holtzbergs joined the more than 125 people who were killed in the Wednesday night through Friday attacks, which saw dozens of suspected Islamic terrorists come ashore in Mumbai near the Gateway of India monument. The terrorists, carrying assault rifles and grenades, quickly fanned out to a central train station, the Chabad House and other tourist locations, including several popular hotels.

According to security services, the Chabad House was a pre-selected target.

Rivkah Holtzberg cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of a Jewish ritual bath in Mumbai.

A team of 15 Chabad-Lubavitch representatives in California, New York, Washington, Israel, India and Bangkok worked the phones throughout the crisis, spending a long, sleepless night awaiting any morsel of information and working to confirm at-times conflicting reports from the field. Hundreds of thousands of Jews around the world prayed for the Holtzbergs, saying Psalms in their merit.

The local police in Mumbai and the highest reaches of the Indian government got involved, but military assault teams first concentrated their efforts on the Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels, where hundreds of foreign tourists were either holed up or being held hostage. When they finally entered the Chabad House on Friday, they found that the worst had occured.

Rivky Holtzberg's parents in Israel, Rabbi Shimon and YehuditRosenberg, were planning to travel to Mumbai to bring their now-orphaned grandson home to family.

To contribute to a fund established to aid relief efforts in Mumbai, go

This story will be updated as new information becomes available.

A press comference will be given by Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of the Educational and Social Services arms of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement at 12:30pm at the Jewish Children's Museum, 792 Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Bariatric Update - Very Difficult to Eat ANYTHING

I'm currently supposed to be on the pureed stage of my diet, but I'm pretty much unable to eat anything. What I DO eat, I eat VERY slowly, 1/2 cup of food in half an hour. The problem is that afterward, I have stomach and chest pains. Even drinking too much has that affect. And if anything, I eat less than the 1/2 cup I'm supposed to eat. I will be discussing this with my surgeon next week when I have my first follow-up with her.

In the meantime, however, I've lost 17 pounds since the surgery, bringing me down to 319 pounds as of this morning. I should be down to around 315 when I go for my follow-up this Monday morning. And I'm hoping to be down to about 290 or 285 by January first. That'd be nice, if I can lose the weight safely...

More updates as they occur.

Happy Turkey Day!

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Best News I've Heard All Day

The ultra-conservative Right-Wing nut job anti-Semitic slut, Ann Coulter, has been silenced, at least for a while:

Ann Coulter's Jaw Wired Shut: Report

Huffington Post | November 25, 2008 07:39 AM

Ann Coulter may be completely silenced, at least for a while.

If the New York Post's Page Six report is true, Coulter broke her jaw and her mouth is wired shut:

WE HEAR...THAT although we didn't think it would be possible to silence Ann Coulter, the leggy reaction- ary broke her jaw and the mouth that roared has been wired shut...

Check back at Huffington Post for more updates...

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Headline Today from the AP: Government Plans New Program to Aid Credit Issuers

Government Plans New Program to Aid Credit Issuers...

Now, let me get this straight. This whole crisis is predicated on the fact that all these banks and financial institutions issued bad loans that the borrowers could not pay back. Right? Right. That's pretty much all of this boiled down.

So, instead of giving the institutions MORE money to lend out, and then find out they're using the funds for something else, like buying other banks (PNC buying National City), which will therefore not in any way solve any problems, perhaps it's time to bail out the actual taxpayers and wipe out THEIR, or rather OUR debts. Now, then. Wouldn't THAT stimulate the economy? I mean, think about it. If we had about $1400 LESS to pay in credit card bills and student loans per month, we'd actually be able to buy groceries and clothing, as well as the rare "luxury" item, like new windows on our house or something.


Monday, November 24, 2008

Torah She'Be'Al Peh - The Oral Torah

I had an interesting conversation yesterday with an old friend of mine who somehow manages to find himself in the same basic geographic location I happen to end up in not too long after I arrive (though it DID take him three and a half years this time). We got on the topic of Dennis Praeger, the liberal-turned-conservative radio talk show host. Apparently, Praeger believes firmly in the Written Torah, the Torah She' B'Ksav, but completely delegitimizes the Oral Torah, Torah She'Be'Al Peh.

So, we naturally got to discussing the many different sects that popped up in Israel about two thousand years ago, most of which invalidated and ignored Rabbinic Torah (another term for the Oral Torah), saying the Rabbis of their times were making up most of the stuff they were saying. The most famous of these groups were the Sadducees, who did NOT believe the Rabbis' teachings and all their add-ons were valid, and the Pharisees, who WERE the rabbis and fought back ferociously to defend all the chumrahs they put in place. Now, on the other hand, some of the rules Chazal (the rabbis) put in place were actually leniencies. One such was allowing a fire to burn in AFTER the start of shabbos, as long as that fire was lit BEFORE shabbos began. This was an interpretation of the verse "do not light a fire in your dwellings of the sabbath day" (Exodus 35:3). The Sadducees interpreted this verse as meaning NO fire was allowed to be burn once shabbos begins, EVEN if lit before the start of the shabbos.

Ok, so that's really a matter of interpretation. On the other hand, the Sadducees wore their Tefillin literally between their eyes, as the verse says "between your eyes." The Rabbis interpreted the same verse as between your eyes, but above the forehead, at the hairline.

In essence, the Sadducees and other groups had a valid complaint: Stop adding so many chumrahs and making being Torah observant so difficult. And stop interpreting things that change of the meaning of what the verses say.

And it was a valid complaint. Not necessarily correct at all times, but valid.

So, how did the Pharisees legitimize their stance, their interpretations, their addition of so many chumrahs we now know as halacha, and even saying things in direct conflict with the Written Torah?

With one very simple claim: The Oral Torah is as valid as the Written Torah because the Oral Torah was handed to Moshe at Mount Sinai at the same time the Written Torah was handed to him. In other words, it was ALL given by God to the Israelites at Mount Sinai in about 1312 (give or take a couple of hundred years) BCE.

That's a wonderful claim. A powerful one. But one we can shoot down as easily as fire melts butter: Of COURSE the Rabbis are going to make this claim! After all, without it, what validity do they and their teachings have? It's the claim of hundreds, thousands, probably hundreds of thousands, of religious leaders of ALL religions throughout human history: God, or the gods if the person happened to be a "heathen," anointed me His/their messenger to bring His/their teachings to the people. My teachings are legitimate because they're from God/the gods PERSONALLY, therefore all I say is FROM God/the gods and THEREFORE, all I say is legitimate and irrefutable.

The question then becomes: Where does this leave the Oral Torah? What status should it truly have?

I've mentioned before, I don't think even Chazal themselves intended for their rulings and arguments to be recorded. When they made a ruling, they made that ruling for their times, based on specific circumstances. Sometimes one would say white and the other black, depending on how stringent the rabbi one approached happened to be. A wonderful contemporary example of this is Igros Moshe, Reb Moshe Feinstein's many volume work of answers he gave to the thousands of questions he was asked during his lifetime. The rule of thumb with this work is, use it as a guide, NOT as a manual to decide halacha. Why? Because we have no idea what the specifics were in many of the questions he was asked. Sometimes he gave a more lenient answer because of special circumstances and deciding halacha without knowing that circumstance can lead one to deciding WRONG.

However, as happened with the works of Chazal when they were collected into various volumes of Mishnah and Talmud, turning these guides into ironclad law over the centuries, and solidifying that hold with the publication of various halachic works like the Tur and the Shulchan Aruch, the same will likely happen with the Igros Moshe in just a couple of hundred years, if not less.

So, what is TRULY from God and what isn't? I don't know. I CERTAINLY do NOT believe the Oral Torah was handed down to the Israelites at the same time as the Written Torah. I mean, seriously, I even have doubts about the Written Torah. It just happens to be MUCH better written and much more open to interpretations that make it flexible enough to roll with the times, if not for the Oral Torah. For example, the times for reciting the Shema would be totally different if Chazal had lived in our world rather than theirs. Second day of Yom Tov would never have even crossed anyone's mind if there was better communication between Israel and Babylon during the Second Temple Era. Even a telegraph, much less phones, fax, email, and computers, would have caused the concept of second day of Yom Tov to simply never have come into existence. Even better, had they OFFICIALLY set the calendar at the beginning of the Second Temple Era, there never would have been second day of Yom Tov. I say officially because it was "unofficially" set pretty early on. They just followed the forms anyway. No one really has a good reason why...

To be honest, I think the Oral Torah, which, again, I do NOT believe is from God, actually caused a lot more problems for the Jewish people than it solved. I think it is the root cause of why so many Jews want nothing to do with Orthodox/Halachic Judaism. I think it was the cause of the many fractious groups that splintered up during the Second Temple Era. I CERTAINLY think it was a mistake to write it all down, pretty much with the intent of binding us to laws that would later become completely outdated. Of course, this doesn't mean I don't learn it. I do. I learn Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat once a week. And I love it. Of course Shulchan Aruch Choshen Mishpat deals with the halachas of Bein Adam La'Chaveiro - interpersonal laws, rather than those between man and God.

Well, anyway, just a thought that's been running around my head since that conversation with my old friend, who happens to be a Right Wing Republican (even though his father's an avowed democrat and well-respected member of the LA community) Yeshivish/Chareidi (though pretty cool) dude.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Auto Industry

The latest serious hit to the economy is the auto industry, as we've all read and seen in the news over the last week or so. It's hard to decide how to feel. On the one hand, I want to say "Screw them!" because, once again, of the greed. I mean, really! Showing up in Washington on INDIVIDUAL PRIVATE JETS?!?! How, precisely, does that convey to Congress and, even more relevantly, to the taxpayers, the urgency of their situation?! And Congress DID call the on it, though not seriously enough, in my opinion.

On the other hand, hundreds of thousands, even millions, of jobs depend on this industry, and the bankruptcy and failure of Ford, GM, and Chrysler would be a serious blow to the economy from which it would take years, even over a decade, perhaps even more, to recover. And that, I believe, was the statement the CEOs of these three big auto makers was making when they showed up in their individual private jets. They basically told Congress and the American people that THEY were in control and that unless they received the funds they were demanding, they would allow the economy to completely fail. And does anyone honestly believe these three pieces of crap would actually give a damn if the economy crashes? Of course they won't. They've got THEY'RE money, nice and safe and untouchable. THEY won't suffer. And they CERTAINLY won't care about their employees or any others who would be affected by the failure of their companies.

So, in essence, they are correct. They have the US and its economy by the "short and curlies," and they are NOT about to let go any time soon.

Here's to hoping Congress is actually smart enough to turn the tables on these assholes and tell them they'll provide funds if, and ONLY IF, the CEOs themselves invest at least 75% of their own, personal wealth, into their own industries themselves. Of course, that'll mean opening their books to VERY careful scrutiny.

Think it'll happen? I don't. I think these rich F#$KS are going to continue raping the country and the American people until there's nothing left to rape. And I think Congress, even a Democratic Congress, will be quite complicit.

Bariatric Update - Learning How to Eat Again...

Well, I don't know for sure if I've had the surgery, since I am in a blind study, but I am following the prescribed diet. I suspect I DID have the procedure, as I am actually having difficulty eating even what I'm supposed to eat. Let alone what I used to eat, which is completely out of the question. For now, and for the next few days to a week, I'll be on a liquid/VERY thin food (thin cream of wheat, thin oatmeal, strained vegetable juice, etc) diet.

Example of the diet: I have to eat a 1/2 cup portion of cream of wheat, and it has to take about half an hour to eat it. To be honest, it takes me about forty minutes. Over the next half an hour I need to drink 1/2 cup juice (1/4 cup juice, 1/4 cup water). By the end of the hour or so, I'm STUFFED! I actually experience a heaviness in my chest from eating. So I'm learning to eat even slower. Over the course of the morning, I have to down 16 fl oz. of fluid, which is proving to be VERY difficult. So I'm cutting down, as the doctor's office suggested. They said DON'T eat to stuffed. It's bad for the stomach and can expand it and undo the procedure. I guess the process will be a hit and miss/trial and error. Yesterday was my most comfortable day (at least in the afternoon and evening). Going to start light exercise today and see how that goes.

Oh. And since the surgery (which was last Tuesday - five days ago) I've lost TEN POUNDS!!!

I haven't found the weight meter I was looking for, so I guess I just post my progress...

I started out, after the Jewish holidays, at 357 pounds. Not my heaviest, but pretty close.

I lost twenty pounds between the end of the holidays and the day of my surgery. Two weeks before the surgery, I started on a liquid diet, which accelerated the weight loss (but which I do NOT recommend if you haven't had or aren't preparing for the surgery - you just NEVER get satisfied, much less full). On the day of my surgery, I weighed 336 pounds.

This morning, Sunday, 11/23/08, I weighed 326 pounds.

This morning, I ate 1/2 cup cream of wheat and drank one half cup diluted apple juice.

And I'm learning I can't really tolerate milk by itself (I'm allowed 0% or 1%) or even mixed with something like no sugar added Carnation Instant Breakfast, but I CAN tolerate it in cream of wheat or pudding (Jell-O fat free/sugar free in 0% milk).

Obviously, before the surgery, I found the idea of eating such small portions ridiculous. NOW, I can't imagine how I'm supposed to eat even close to what's prescribed in the diet instructions...

My goal is to be below 300 pounds by January 1, 2009. Here's hoping and working!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Back from Surgery...

And in a bit of pain. Frankly, I don't even know if I even HAD the surgery, though I have a 67% chance of having had it.

Well, let the weight loss commence!

Monday, November 17, 2008

This Is Just TOO CUTE!!!


Shiba Inu Puppy Cam, Ustream.TV: Tune in daily to see the cutest Shiba Inu pups... EVER!

Obama's TRUE Identity Revealed!

Great article from E! Entertainment: Barack Obama: Commander in Geek!


The Center-Right Nation Exits Stage Left.

Really good article about the shift this nation has made to the left, EVEN among the conservatives. Best point in the article: In 1980, having a pregnant teenaged, unwed daughter would have disqualified a candidate from the number 2 spot on the ticket for the DEMOCRATS. Having one in 2008 made the conservatives more "human..."

So much for the lie that this country is "Center-Right..."

Sunday, November 16, 2008

When I'm Ashamed to be Called an American...

When these people claim to be Americans as well... Unfortunately, I've seen much of the same, disgusting sentiments among supposedly "Orthodox" Jews as well...

Obama election spurs race crimes around country

Cross burnings. Schoolchildren chanting "Assassinate Obama." Black figures hung from nooses. Racial epithets scrawled on homes and cars.

Incidents around the country referring to President-elect Barack Obama are dampening the postelection glow of racial progress and harmony, highlighting the stubborn racism that remains in America.

From California to Maine, police have documented a range of alleged crimes, from vandalism and vague threats to at least one physical attack. Insults and taunts have been delivered by adults, college students and second-graders.

There have been "hundreds" of incidents since the election, many more than usual, said Mark Potok, director of the Intelligence Project at the Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate crimes.

One was in Snellville, Ga., where Denene Millner said a boy on the school bus told her 9-year-old daughter the day after the election: "I hope Obama gets assassinated." That night, someone trashed her sister-in-law's front lawn, mangled the Obama lawn signs, and left two pizza boxes filled with human feces outside the front door, Millner said.

She described her emotions as a combination of anger and fear.

"I can't say that every white person in Snellville is evil and anti-Obama and willing to desecrate my property because one or two idiots did it," said Millner, who is black. "But it definitely makes you look a little different at the people who you live with, and makes you wonder what they're capable of and what they're really thinking."

Potok, who is white, said he believes there is "a large subset of white people in this country who feel that they are losing everything they know, that the country their forefathers built has somehow been stolen from them."

Grant Griffin, a 46-year-old white Georgia native, expressed similar sentiments: "I believe our nation is ruined and has been for several decades and the election of Obama is merely the culmination of the change.

"If you had real change it would involve all the members of (Obama's) church being deported," he said.

Change in whatever form does not come easy, and a black president is "the most profound change in the field of race this country has experienced since the Civil War," said William Ferris, senior associate director of the Center for the Study of the American South at the University of North Carolina. "It's shaking the foundations on which the country has existed for centuries."

"Someone once said racism is like cancer," Ferris said. "It's never totally wiped out, it's in remission."

If so, America's remission lasted until the morning of Nov. 5.

The day after the vote hailed as a sign of a nation changed, black high school student Barbara Tyler ofMarietta, Ga., said she heard hateful Obama comments from white students, and that teachers cut off discussion about Obama's victory.

Tyler spoke at a press conference by the Georgia chapter of the NAACP calling for a town hall meeting to address complaints from across the state about hostility and resentment. Another student, from a Covington middle school, said he was suspended for wearing an Obama shirt to school Nov. 5 after the principal told students not to wear political paraphernalia.

The student's mother, Eshe Riviears, said the principal told her: "Whether you like it or not, we're in the South, and there are a lot of people who are not happy with this decision."

Other incidents include:

_Four North Carolina State University students admitted writing anti-Obama comments in a tunnel designated for free speech expression, including one that said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head." Obama has received more threats than any other president-elect, authorities say.

_At Standish, Maine, a sign inside the Oak Hill General Store read: "Osama Obama Shotgun Pool." Customers could sign up to bet $1 on a date when Obama would be killed. "Stabbing, shooting, roadside bombs, they all count," the sign said. At the bottom of the marker board was written "Let's hope someone wins."

_Racist graffiti was found in places including New York's Long Island, where two dozen cars were spray-painted; Kilgore, Texas, where the local high school and skate park were defaced; and the Los Angeles area, where swastikas, racial slurs and "Go Back To Africa" were spray painted on sidewalks, houses and cars.

_Second- and third-grade students on a school bus in Rexburg, Idaho, chanted "assassinate Obama," a district official said.

_University of Alabama professor Marsha L. Houston said a poster of the Obama family was ripped off her office door. A replacement poster was defaced with a death threat and a racial slur. "It seems the election brought the racist rats out of the woodwork," Houston said.

_Black figures were hanged by nooses from trees on Mount Desert Island, Maine, the Bangor Daily Newsreported. The president of Baylor University in Waco, Texas said a rope found hanging from a campus tree was apparently an abandoned swing and not a noose.

_Crosses were burned in yards of Obama supporters in Hardwick, N.J., and Apolacan Township, Pa.

_A black teenager in New York City said he was attacked with a bat on election night by four white men who shouted 'Obama.'

_In the Pittsburgh suburb of Forest Hills, a black man said he found a note with a racial slur on his car windshield, saying "now that you voted for Obama, just watch out for your house."

Emotions are often raw after a hard-fought political campaign, but now those on the losing side have an easy target for their anger.

"The principle is very simple," said BJ Gallagher, a sociologist and co-author of the diversity book "A Peacock in the Land of Penguins." "If I can't hurt the person I'm angry at, then I'll vent my anger on a substitute, i.e., someone of the same race."

"We saw the same thing happen after the 9-11 attacks, as a wave of anti-Muslim violence swept the country. We saw it happen after the Rodney King verdict, when Los Angeles blacks erupted in rage at the injustice perpetrated by 'the white man.'"

"It's as stupid and ineffectual as kicking your dog when you've had a bad day at the office," Gallagher said. "But it happens a lot."

Friday, November 14, 2008

I Haven't Disappeared...

... And I've got lots to say, including, but not limited to, my shame at much of the Orthodox community at large for their attitude toward Barack Obama (I find the behavior despicable and plan on writing a letter to the President-Elect apologizing, though not making excuses for, my wayward brethren who seem to hate this person whose greatest desire is to fix this country), financial issues (not good AT ALL, but maybe some hope on the horizon), my fast-approaching surgery, being shrunk, Judaism, Chareidism, and a whole bunch of other stuff.

Most of this stuff is just a memoir for myself, a personal log, not meant to convince, convert, or otherwise subvert. Whoever DOES read this, I appreciate it.

Stay tuned...


Oh, MAN! I can't WAIT to see this movie! And I RARELY go to the movies, but this? This I'll go see...

Obama and Hitler

Go Paul Broun ((R-GA).

Hooray for racism!!!

Baracknophobia - Let the FEARFEST Begin!!!

Courtesy , of course, of F@#KS Noise Network. Who else?

The Most Dangerous Game of All...

TOO MUCH SARAH FAILIN' PALIN!!! Talk about bitter, a liar, and a hypocrite! I REALLY pray she's out of the national political scene for good. Please GOD!!!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

And... Let the Hatefest BEGIN!!!

What Doesn't Kill The Far-Right Only Makes Them Crazier.
Great article about how the Right Wing Nut Job anti-Obama Republican hatefest has already begun. Best, yet most ironic quote from the article:

The obvious intention here is to cobble together an abuse of power meme against President-elect Obama, despite President Bush and Vice President Cheney having, you know, spent the last eight years consolidating executive power, authorizing torture, suspending habeas corpus, illegally invading sovereign nations, ignoring congressional subpoenas and eavesdropping on American citizens.

Whoops. There I go again, talking about facts and treating the crazy like it's real.
On the other hand, irony is quite lost on Right Wing Nut Jobs.

I guess the hopes of them going off peacefully into the sunset is just NOT going to happen. What a shame. It'd be a better world without them.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Once Again: WHERE'S MY F@#KING BAILOUT??? Part 3.5 TRILLION...

You know, I'm about $60,000-$65,000 in debt. If the government bailed ME out, all I'd need to pay off the debts and get back on my feet is about $85,000.

Is that REALLY so much to ask? Instead, the banks get it...

And the tally just keeps rising while stocks keep falling: 

Bailout Price Tag: $3.5T So Far, But 'Real' Cost May Be Much Higher
Posted Nov 12, 2008 10:16am EST by Aaron Task in NewsmakersRecession,Banking

While the government is clearly spending a lot of taxpayers' money to bail out financial firms, the tally is even bigger than most Americans (economists and pundits included) are probably aware or willing to admit.

The bailout bonanza has gotten so big and happened so fast it's the true cost often gets lost in the discussion. Maybe Hank Paulson and Ben Bernanke prefer it that way because the tally so far is nearly $3.5 trillion, and that's before a likely handout for the auto industry.

Yes, $3.45 trillion has already been spent, as details:

  • $2T Emergency Fed Loans (the ones the Fed won't discuss, asdetailed here)
  • $700B TARP (designed to buy bad debt, the fund is rapidly transforming as we'll discuss in an upcoming segment)
  • $300B Hope Now (the government's year-old attempt at mortgage workouts)
  • $200B Fannie/Freddie
  • $140B Tax Breaks for Banks (WaPo has the details)
  • $110B: AIG (with it's new deal this week, the big insurer got $40B of TARP money, plus $110B in other relief)

Tallying up the "true" cost of the bailout is difficult, and won't be known for months if not years. But considering $3.5 trillion is about 25% of the U.S. economy ($13.8 trillion in 2007) and the U.S. deficit may hit $1 trillion in fiscal 2009, hyperinflation and/or sharply higher interest rates seem likely outcomes down the road.

At the very least, the possibility of the U.S. losing its vaunted Aaa credit rating -- which determines the Treasury's borrowing costs -- cannot be discounted.

Moody's has already said it's not in jeopardy of being lowered. But we really can't put much stock in what Moody's -- or S&P or Fitch -- say after the subprime debacle, can we? More importantly, the price of credit default swaps on U.S. government debt has been on the rise since the bailout train got rolling, as Barron's reports.

Oh, Look. The World's STILL Going to Hell...

U.S. backs away from plan to buy bad assets.

Paulson backs off asset plan; crisis cures at risk.

Ain't it grand?

And have I thanked the Republican Party for the Great Republican Rape of the United States and the world?

Oh. Well then. Thanks!


It's Good to be the Man...


Sarah Palin Is So Dumb...

Sarah Palin: tagged and reintroduced into the wild...

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

It's a New Day...

Thank God.


Monday, November 10, 2008

If Only...


This was just too funny. Yet sad at the same time...

Once Again: Where's MY F@#KING BAILOUT???

AIG gets $150 billion government bailout; posts huge loss.

I don't get it. They screw up, they get bailed out because they're big business.

But I, your basic Am Kshe Oref the Radiological Equipment Broker, screw up, and on a MUCH smaller scale, I might add, and I get to continue being screwed.

That just SUCKS!!!

Getting Ready for Surgery

Ok. So my surgery, if indeed I am one of the two in three people who actually GETS the procedure, is scheduled for Tuesday, Nov 18. I've gone through all the testing. I've had my psych evaluation (hope I passed...). I had a manometry (motility test), which was VERY unpleasant. They numb your nose and shove a catheter up your nose then down your throat and into your stomach. Ugh. I've had an EKG and blood work done. I've had an EGD. Everything looks good.

So, the surgery is interesting and part of a clinical trial. Hence the possibility of being part of the control group (one in three will NOT have the surgery). The only ones who will know if I actually have the procedure will be the two surgeons. Regardless of whether I have the surgery, I will have to go through the entire program, including following eating instructions and going to follow-up visits with the surgeon.

The procedure itself is pretty simple. Instead of making an incision, they enter the stomach through the mouth and make a small pouch in the stomach using a triple line of titanium staples. It's similar to gastric banding in results as it is NOT a BYPASS surgery like Roux-en-Y, but they expect better results than the banding. It's also somewhat better than Roux-en-Y because they don't reroute your system as they do with Roux-en-Y.

I am currently on a liquid only diet, which sucks. However, I can eat anything I can pour that is smooth, including thick and smooth soups like split pea soup, or any soup I can puree, like beef/barley soup. I'll be honest, it's VERY hard NOT to eat what I feed the rest of the family, especially when it comes to something like bread, but even just regular old protein.

On the plus side, I've lost fifteen pounds since the end of the Jewish holidays. When I first met with the surgeon, I weighed 351, clothed, no shoes. After the holidays, I weighed about 357, clothed. Today, when I weighed in, I weighed 342, clothed. I expect to weight between 330 and 335 pounds by the date of the surgery. If all goes well, I hope to be down to 300 pounds by the end of 2008.

In the meantime, I WILL continue blogging as I can, so please stay tuned (if you read this blog...). I'm working on what to focus on next, and I may turn back to focussing more on Judaism, my latest feelings on the subject, and my latest thoughts on concepts, ideas, halacha, midrash, and all the rest. I'm probably going to be what is considered "controversial" by the Chareidi/Yeshivish community, and maybe even, to a certain extent, to the Orthodox community as a whole, but that's how it is.

Yet Another Sign of Our Ailing Economy...

Electronics giant Circuit City filed for bankruptcy....

So much for the fundamentals of our economy...

The Election is Over...

My Dear Republican friend:
The election is over,
   The results are known.
The will of the people
   Has clearly been shown.
Let's forget our differences
  And show by our deeds
That we will give Barack
  The backing he needs.
We'll all get together
  And let bitterness pass.
I'll hug your elephant
  And you kiss my...
                         Your Democratic friend
Thanks to my father-in-law!

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama DOES Associate with Terrorists!!!

Here's how a negative campaign ad would look if the McCain campaign had known about Obama's pick, Rahm Emanuel, for Chief of Staff:

Obama is dangerous. He has known William Ayers for a very long time. They are close friends. Obama launched his political career in Ayers' living room.

Now, Obama wants another man known to have terrorist affiliations as his Chief of Staff. Rahm Emanuel is the son of Benjamin Emanuel, a former member of the Irgun in 1940s Palestine.

Obama. Terrorists. Hand in hand.

I'm John McCain and I approve this message...

Yeah, anyway, it's been a slow day!

Some interesting information on Rahm Emanuel.

Highlights: He's a frum Jew, member of a Modern Orthodox synagogue. He worked for Clinton's administration in the 1990s.

So, somehow, I don't think Obama's the "bad for Israel" candidate all the RZs and Chareidis think he is.

According to reports, Obama got about 78% of the Jewish vote. Which probably means, if you break down the demographic, that he did NOT get the Yeshivish/Chareidis (probably including the chassidim, CERTAINLY including Lubbies), and rich Jews from across the spectrum (from secular to Reform, to Conservative, to MO, the Yeshivish/Chareidis).


Obama Grabs Headlines

Cool collage of front pages of MANY newspapers.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

New Mastercard Commercial...

Ok, not really, but it should be!

21 month long campaign: $2,000,000,000

Tanked Economy: $700,000,000,000

Celebrating Obama's victory in front of the White House right under Bush's nose? PRICELESS.

On Countdown Tonight

Keith Olbermann, quoting a McCain campaign aide:

The Palins are nothing but a bunch of "Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast." And you thought because the election is over, we'd run out of good material!
I really can't think of a better, closing way to describe Sarah Failin' Palin.

The Republican Complaint

Here it is. The Republican complaint about the election:

Cantor cited Obama's financial advantage and the toxic environment for Republicans as factors contributing to the party's decline. The biggest problem, Cantor said, is that the GOP allowed Democrats to co-opt what has traditionally been a conservative message. "All of a sudden you hear Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and Chuck Schumer talk about the middle class as if the Democrats own the middle class issue," he said. "The middle class is, really was, our playing field. That's how Ronald Reagan came into power, that's how Newt Gingrich came into power, is to stick up for the working families … If nothing else, we couldn't get the message out.
Boo hoo.

But let's continue:
"Look, Barack Obama ran as a conservative," [said Cantor].
Um. WHAT?! I thought he ran, at least according to the Republicans DURING the campaign, as the "most liberal member of Congress!" So, NOW he ran as a "conservative?!"

But, let's conclude, which will bring us back to the beginning:
Cantor, who was relaxed and reclining comfortably in front of a fireplace in the hotel lobby as he spoke, said that while Obama talks about giving 95 percent of Americans a tax cut, he believes the president-elect plans to pay for it with significant tax hikes on small businesses. His job, he said, will be to explain that to people and "rebuild a mandate for the middle class in this country." Meanwhile, 100 yards away, Cantor's fellow Republicans were all but crying in their drinks, trying to figure out how it all went so wrong.
Hm. Can it be because the Republicans completely screwed over the Middle Class? Can it be they screwed over the middle class, and the working class, for that matter, so badly that not even their rich and powerful patron in the lobbies, special interests, and big businesses had the power to KEEP screwing the American public?

Why, yes. Yes it could. And yes. Yes, it did. Hence Obama campaigning to the other 95% of the country. We're the ones who actually count and make this country work. The Republicans simply never go that. Oh, and it's not like the Republicans ever actually "stuck up" for the middle class and working families. It's more like they stuck it TO the middle class and the working families.

So, no, you couldn't get that message out because the vast majority of us finally realized it was a false and misleading message.

Weird Star Trek/Star Wars Moment Last Night

So, while I was flipping between CNN and MSNBC last night (I don't TOUCH Fox Noise), I experienced a really strange Science Fiction moment while watching CNN.

The anchor, I think it was Anderson Cooper, had Will.I.Am (you know, the guy who recorded the "Yes, We Can" video) on for an interview. Only he wasn't at the studio. Nor was he on screen speaking from Grant Park in Chicago. He was a hologram. A full, three dimensional, life-sized hologram. The resolution was fantastic, though there was a bit of a shimmer surrounding him, as though he were beaming on a Star Trek teleporter.

Really weird, but extremely cool!

Son of Irgun Member Offered Position of Obama's Chief of Staff

And yet, Obama's "bad" for Israel.


Well, the election's finally over. Barack Obama has won, and is now the President-Elect of the United States of America. John McCain graciously and immediately conceded defeat. Sarah Palin is on her way back to Alaska, where many of us hope she'll stay. Permanently.

Whether a black man won, or a white woman became VP, is irrelevant. I don't care about sex or skin color. Neither sex nor skin color matter. What matters is the person. And the person most likely to heal this country and lead us back to respect and prosperity is Barack Obama. The fact that he IS black says volumes of how far this country has come in so short a time. That the majority of voters put their faith in Obama rather than in "tried 'n true" McCain fills me with pride. I am proud today to be an American. I wasn't before yesterday. I wasn't because the Republicans, led by Governor Bush the Smirker (who reportedly looked quite angry at a news conference this morning) have raped this country, pillaged our finances, and brought upon us a waking nightmare many of us thought would never end. On top of that, he started an illegal war in Iraq, he lied to the American people and to Congress to get approval for that war. And on top of that, he managed to tarnish the United States' reputation on a global scale to where we no longer enjoy the respect we used to in the global community.

Now is the time for the Republican Party to take stock of itself. Where it went wrong, where greed got it, and where it will go from here.

We live, as Barack Obama so eloquently put it, not in the Blue States or the Red States, but in the UNITED STATES of America. We, as the American people, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike, need to start working as a united people, to heal this country, to rebuild from the shambles. It's time now for both parties, but the Republicans in particular, to take stock, reevaluate, and decide what's more important: The depths of their pockets and those of lobbyists, special interests, and big business, or the welfare of their constituents, the American people, many of whom have been suffering greatly with no representation, no voice to speak for them, no government of the people, by the people, for the people.

Poster in Israel



Yes. We can.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Shehechyanu, V'Kimanu, V'Higianu La'Zman Hazeh

Thank God. The nightmare over. Time for the healing to start. Of our raped country, our ravaged reputation, our working and middle class.

Thank God.

Baruch Ata Adonai, Eloheinu Melech Ha'Olam, Shehechyanu, V'Kimanu,

Race Over...

If all projections hold, the presidential race is OVER!


Thank God Ohio went to Obama! Gives Obama a 98.9% Chance of Winning

So, if Obama loses, the election is OBVIOUSLY rigged. Electoral Projections Done Right

BUT, I don't think he's gonna lose... :-)