So is that the new plan, Israel?

I’m now even more disgusted. Mordechai Kedar of Bar-Ilan University made a statement about the ‘realities’ of their conflict.

“You have to understand the culture in which we live,” said Kedar. “The only thing that deters [Hamas leaders] is a threat to the connection between their heads and their shoulders.” When presenter Yossi Hadar asked if that “could filter down” the organization’s ranks, Kedar replied: “No, because lower down the considerations are entirely different. Terrorists like those who kidnapped the children and killed them — the only thing that deters them is if they know that their sister or their mother will be raped in the event that they are caught. What can you do, that’s the culture in which we live.”

When Hadar said, “We can’t take such steps, of course,” Kedar continued: “I’m not talking about what we should or shouldn’t do. I’m talking about the facts. The only thing that deters a suicide bomber is the knowledge that if he pulls the trigger or blows himself up, his sister will be raped. That’s all. That’s the only thing that will bring him back home, in order to preserve his sister’s honor.”

He isn’t actually saying they should start raping Palestinian women, but he just threw it out there as the only way to stop suicide bombers. It’s an actively evil proposition, and it doesn’t even make sense. Would raping their mothers and sisters suddenly reconcile Palestinians to Israeli occupation and oppression? There’s not much knowledge of human behavior there.

Democrat behaving badly

The appointed Democratic senator from Montana, John Walsh, has a master’s degree from the United States Army War College. But does he deserve it?

An examination of the 14-page paper, titled “The Case for Democracy as a Long Term National Strategy” and posted online by The Times, revealed that about a third of Mr. Walsh’s 2007 paper consisted of verbatim language and extremely similar passages to other sources, without any kind of attribution.

“Another third is attributed to sources through footnotes but uses other authors’ exact — or almost exact — language without quotation marks,” The Times said.

That first clause made me pause…you can get a master’s by writing a 14-page paper? My undergraduate students write far more than that every semester. Thanks, War College, for cheapening the value of a degree so much!

Even if two thirds of the essay weren’t plagiarized (really, he wrote about 4½ pages to get his degree?), I’d say that isn’t graduate level work.

The Middle East, untangled and unknotted

Slate has published a fascinating grid explaining all the relationships between different groups entangled in the Middle East. Countries that hate each other have a red cranky face, countries that like each other have a green smiley face, and the yellow confused faces mean the two countries have a complicated relationship. If you go to the link, each point on the grid is clickable, and reveals a short summary of the relationship. At last, we can understand everything…until the faces change next week.

Unfortunately, the only clarity that emerges is that everyone hates ISIS, and most of the groups hate Al Qaida. I also see that hate faces outnumber happy faces 43 to 17.

But I have a solution! Every country should follow the US and Israel’s lead, and bomb, topple, annihilate, or otherwise destroy every country with a hate face. Just pick your favorite country and look down either row or column, and have them go to war with every country that’s red on the grid. The yellow ‘it’s complicated’ faces do complicate this approach, unsurprisingly, but I’m pretty sure that after you blow up their neighbors, they’ll either go green or red. It’ll evolve towards greater simplicity, naturally.

The survivors after this apocalyptic orgy of destruction will be any country that has nothing but green or yellow faces in their column, which means a wave of happiness and peace will sweep across the region. Easy. All solved. Victory!

You can even examine the grid now and predict who the victor will be.

My only prayer is that Hillary Clinton will not be the Democratic nominee

This is news to me, but it’s an old story that needs wider circulation. Hillary Clinton is a conservative Christian with ties to the anti-choice movement. She’s not imbedded deeply in that crap, but she likes to affectionately skirt the edges of it.

That’s enough for me — my nightmare would be an election with Clinton vs. some ratbag Republican, with me in the voting booth vomiting all over the ballot.

Can we please have a secular candidate? Please, please, please?

No more US support for Israel

They no longer hold the moral high ground, if ever they did. The massacre in Shejaiya is an obscenity.

Two small bodies lie on the metal table inside the morgue at Gaza’s Shifa hospital. Omama is nine years old. Her right forearm is mangled and charred and the top half of her skull has been smashed in. Beside her lies her seven year-old brother. His name is not certain. It might be Hamza or it might be Khalil. Relatives are having trouble identifying him because his head has been shorn off. Their parents will not mourn them—because they are dead too.

All of them were killed in Shejaiya, one of Gaza’s poorest and most crowded neighborhoods, which came under a brutal and sustained assault by the Israeli military today.

90 dead. The Israeli military was firing artillery shells into a residential neighborhood. It’s unconscionable, indiscriminate murder.

"Those of us who worked in Shifa can say that last night was the worst night of our lives," says Dr. Mads Gilbert, a Norwegian doctor at Shifa. He has come to Gaza many times to provide medical assistance, including during the previous two Israeli assaults in 2008/2009 and 2012.

"Israeli impunity is a huge medical problem," Gilbert says. "Every single dead child and adult, and all the injuries, all the amputations, are one hundred percent preventable. This is a man-made disaster. Cynically planned and brutally executed by the government of Israel."

I’ve had people try to tell me that it is justifiable — that Hamas is firing rockets into Israeli neighborhoods. I freely grant that trying to kill random citizens with rockets is also unconscionable, whether it’s done by Palestinians, Israelis, or Americans. But how can anyone condemn one and not the other?

We should not be propping up the vile and bloody government of Israel anymore. Maybe if they’re deprived of the teat of unquestioning US aid, they’ll realize that they can’t afford to solve their problems with attempted genocide.

Although why a Jewish state would need any kind of compulsion to recognize that is surprising.

Fightin’ words

This weekend, Elizabeth Warren spoke at Netroots Nation. This is what I want. This is what I would like the Democratic party to be.

We have to talk about what does it mean to be a progressive, an American.

We believe Wall Street needs stronger rules and tougher enforcement, and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe in science, and that means that we have a responsibility to protect this Earth, and we’re willing to fight for it.

We believe that the Internet shouldn’t be rigged to benefit big corporations, and that means real net neutrality, and we will fight for it.

We believe that no one should work full-time and still live in poverty, and that means raising the minimum wage, and we will fight for it.

We believe that fast-food workers deserve a livable wage, and that means that when they take to the picket line, we are proud to fight alongside them.

We believe that students are entitled to get an education without being crushed by debt, and we will fight for it.

We believe that after a lifetime of work, people are entitled to retire with dignity, and that means protecting Social Security, Medicare, and pensions, and we will fight for it.

We believe — and I can’t believe I have to say this in 2014 — we believe in equal pay for equal work, and we will fight for it.

We believe that equal means equal, and that’s true in marriage, it’s true in the workplace, it’s true in all of America, and we will fight for it.

We believe that immigration has made this country strong and vibrant, and that means reform, and we will fight for it.

And we believe that corporations are not people, that women have a right to their bodies. We will overturn Hobby Lobby and we will fight for it. We will fight for it!

Right here  in this room this is where it happens. This is 21st century democracy. This is where we decide that we the people will fight for this together, and we’re going to win!

Everyone seems to be assuming that Hillary Clinton is going to be the frontrunner for the next presidential election. Can she be this strong on the right things?

Minnesota Republicans are not nice

We try. We really try. But no matter how progressive the state might be, we’re still afflicted with horrible, demented people who run for office. Fortunately, there’s a tell: they always join the Republican party.

Look, here’s Michele Bachmann (she’s still around?). She thinks because a few immigrants committed crimes once upon a time, the entire recent influx of foreigners — including the children! — are all an invading horde of rapists.

“Foreign nationals that have come into the United States are between 300- to 500,000,” Bachmann told an incredulous Crossfire co-host Van Jones. “My heart is broken for a female college student in Minnesota who was raped, murdered and mutilated by a foreign national who came into our country. We had a school bus full of kids in Minnesota — four children were killed on that school bus because an illegal alien driving a van went into that schoolbus.”

“There are lines that can’t be crossed here,” Jones responded. “I’m sorry, congresswoman. Are you gonna scapegoat children for the crime of this despicable person?”

Uh-oh. Did you know the guy who kidnapped the Lindbergh baby was Bruno Richard Hauptmann, a German? All you Germans — out of my state. Robert Hanson was a serial killer in the 1980s. Look at that name. Scandinavian. All you Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes…out. The Lakota…you can stay. Clearly all those European immigrants were a bad influence.

But Bachmann is a fading star, soon to be out of Minnesota politics altogether and persisting only to haunt the media, where a dumbass conservative is always welcome. Are there any others we should watch out for?

Meet the Freys.

Bob Frey is running for state office. His big issue is sodomy, and he has a theory, which is his, about what causes AIDS.

“It’s more about sodomy than about pigeonholing a lifestyle,” he explained. “When you have egg and sperm that meet in conception, there’s an enzyme in the front that burns through the egg. The enzyme burns through so the DNA can enter the egg.”

But Frey said that it was a different story when the “sperm is deposited anally” because “it’s the enzyme that causes the immune system to fail.”

“That’s why the term is AIDS – acquired immunodeficiency syndrome,” he opined.

That’s an amazingly distorted version of the acrosome reaction. Yes, the sperm head releases enzymes like hyaluronidase to digest away matrix that surrounds the egg, and also triggers changes in the oocyte membrane to facilitate fusion at the entry point and to also inhibit fusion elsewhere. This has nothing at all to do with AIDS. For one thing, the reaction is specific; it requires recognition of receptors on the egg surface that are not present in generic epithelial cells. For another, we know how the HIV particles (which are not sperm) enter immune system cells and it doesn’t involve a mechanism anything like the acrosome reaction. We also know quite obviously that sperm aren’t the cells involved in transmission.

Mr Frey is an idiot.

Also, if his sperm is transmitting anything, it seems to be idiocy. His son Mike also has the same silly idea.

Last year, Frey’s son, Mike, used the exact same theory while testifying against a same-sex marriage before the Minnesota House Civil Law Committee.

And earlier this year, Frey distributed a DVD that claimed an anti-bully bill was part of a plot to infect the general population with AIDS through sodomy.

I’m trying to puzzle out how anti-bullying legislation would spread AIDS. Because…if bullies aren’t beating kids up, they’re … having …anal sex … with them?

I’m also reminded that years ago, when Cheri Yecke was on her crusade to get creationism into Minnesota public schools, Bob Frey was a particularly loony witness at state hearings, who would show up with a giant plastic bone, claiming he had proof that there were giants in the earth in those days, and therefore every word of the Bible was true. He also threatened the education committee.

Frey: I have about 25 hours of presentation material with lots of slides of dinosaurs, lots of slides of this sort of thing, and also the consequences of teaching known fraud and everything to society.

Kelley: Thanks very much Mr. Frey .. .

They’ve always got hours and hours of noise.

Oh well, if it’s any consolation, this dynasty of Freys will end with this generation. No one is ever going to marry a Frey ever again.