Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Mike Zoss Pharmacy, Pt. II

Today a number of Jewish organizations in Minneapolis received a fax concerning upcoming extras casting call for "A Serious Man," the next Coen brothers' movie set to start shooting early September in the Twin Cities. I wrote an earlier blog about this upcoming Jewish-themed movie. In today's fax, among the named extras is a call for a character named "Mar King," -- a "grey haired man who speaks Hebrew and is the teacher at Hebrew school." Mar is the proper modern Hebrew honorific for "Mr.," from the more ancient Hebrew word "master."

What a hoot! For those of us who went to the Minneapolis Talmud Torah for the decades between the 1940s through 70s, Mar (Joseph) King is remembered as one of the beloved members of the Talmud Torah faculty. Joel & Ethan are really digging deeply into the realia of the Minneapolis Jewish communtiy of the 1960s. Great job!

Olmert: About F#%king Time

This evening Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced that he has decided not to run for leader in the Kadima party primaries in September, and to resign as PM once a new party chair has been elected. With that, the farcical Olmert government will come to an end. And with that, the very last nail in the coffin can be put through President George W. Bush's wistful "expectation" that by the end of his presidency the rough outlines of an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal will be hammered out. Now we know for certain that it will be up to one of two warmed-over US foreign policy teams to re-engage the Arab-Israeli mess in 2009. Either it will be round two for the chastened neo-cons (if McCain wins) or round two for the old Clinton foreign policy hands (if Obama wins) to work with a new Israeli government to promote some kind of resolution of the ever-worsening problem. But George Bush, Condoleeza Rice, Keith Dayton and Robert Gates can now once-and-for-all let it all go. For all intents and purposes, the Annapolis "process" -- a still-born diplomatic initiative if there ever was one -- is over.

But back to Olmert. I've already described him as the "accidental Prime Minister" of Israel. He was never, ever supposed to arise to such things. It was only the incapacitating stroke of Ariel Sharon in January 2006 that elevated Olmert into such a vaunted position of power. Olmert was a party hack, a man already stained by tales of corruption and kickbacks while he presided as mayor over the decade-long deterioration of Jerusaelm. He proved himself unfit to lead Israel when he cavalierly barreled into a disastrous war with Hizbollah back in July of 2006. For those who knew a bit of the back story, Ehud Olmert was a disaster waiting to happen. And disaster there was, in spades.

But it is not just Olmert. The stench of corruption pervades Israeli politics. It doesn't matter whether it is Kadima, Labor, or Likud. Everyone does it, and there are many wealthy diaspora Jews willing to foot the bill for these venal Israeli machers. This is why small, short-lived protest parties crop up so often during Israeli national election cycles. The entrenched parties seem to be rotten to the core. There is a real possibility that Kadima -- the artificial creation designed by Sharon to buttress his massive political ego -- won't be around by the time of the next election. But if it is, expect two fairly inept and insignificant political underlings to duke it out for party leadership -- the inexperienced Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and the military man Shaul Mofaz. If there actually is a party to lead, one of them will then have to contend with the elder Likud and Labor parties for the bulk of the Israeli electorate. These will likely be led by two former (and failed) PMs respectively -- Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak. But don't be surprised if some new boutique "clean government" party rises out of this political swamp.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Stop the presses!

I've been waiting a long time for something like this. If it isn't a hoax news story, then I finally feel vindicated.

From (here is the link):

FORMER NASA astronaut and moon-walker Dr Edgar Mitchell - a veteran of the Apollo 14 mission - has stunningly claimed aliens exist. And he says extra-terrestrials have visited Earth on several occasions - but the alien contact has been repeatedly covered up by governments for six decades.
Dr Mitchell, 77, said during a radio interview that sources at the space agency who had had contact with aliens described the beings as 'little people who look strange to us.' He said supposedly real-life ET's were similar to the traditional image of a small frame, large eyes and head.
Chillingly, he claimed our technology is "not nearly as sophisticated" as theirs and "had they been hostile", he warned "we would be been gone by now".
Dr Mitchell, along with with Apollo 14 commander Alan Shepard, holds the record for the longest ever moon walk, at nine hours and 17 minutes following their 1971 mission.
"I happen to have been privileged enough to be in on the fact that we've been visited on this planet and the UFO phenomena is real," Dr Mitchell said. "It's been well covered up by all our governments for the last 60 years or so, but slowly it's leaked out and some of us have been privileged to have been briefed on some of it.
"I've been in military and intelligence circles, who know that beneath the surface of what has been public knowledge, yes - we have been visited. Reading the papers recently, it's been happening quite a bit." Dr Mitchell, who has a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering and a Doctor of Science degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics claimed Roswell was real and similar alien visits continue to be investigated.
He told the astonished Kerrang! radio host Nick Margerrison: "This is really starting to open up. I think we're headed for real disclosure and some serious organisations are moving in that direction."
Mr Margerrison said: "I thought I'd stumbled on some sort of astronaut humour but he was absolutely serious that aliens are definitely out there and there's no debating it."
Officials from NASA, however, were quick to play the comments down. In a statement, a spokesman said: "NASA does not track UFOs. NASA is not involved in any sort of cover up about alien life on this planet or anywhere in the universe. 'Dr Mitchell is a great American, but we do not share his opinions on this issue.'

Update: Sounds is a link to the audio.

Dueling Senate Commercials

Three commercials from the Minnesota Senate campaign.

The first one, from the Coleman campaign, sets the theme -- a regular league night bowler.

Here's the Franken response:

And then the Coleman campaign decided to go for the dirt bomb. Here is the next bowling league commercial (it was on the Coleman website briefly, and now is gone -- has it been pulled?), and it is about as low and sleazy as you can get: