BECOMING A SWIFTIE DAD, AND OTHER SKILLS I’VE LEARNED

The Person of the Year by Gatis Sluka, Latvijas Avize, Latvia

by Jase Graves

Having raised three daughters, I’ve gained, in the words of Liam Neeson, “a very particular set of skills.” Unfortunately, none of these skills would be useful in the event of an international kidnapping.

Because two of our daughters (and some of our credit cards) are now in college and one is deep in the bowels of high school, I feel like an abandoned appliance that seemed pretty nifty at first, but the novelty quickly wore off. (Think – the Baby Yoda waffle iron.)

Below are a few girl-dad skills I no longer use much, but I think they deserve some recognition, maybe in my obituary.

1. I can style girl hair in various complex arrangements – especially the gymnastics-class high ponytail and the ballet-class bun.

2. I can efficiently wash and fold sports bras and women’s/girls’ underwear. (I still have trouble re-inserting the bra pad thingies.)

3. Speaking of underwear, I know that Victoria’s Secret/PINK stores have additional inventory in the “secret drawers” (see what I did there?) under the display tables.

4. I can navigate the feminine product aisle at Target with confidence and expertise.

5. I no longer have to ask for directions in Ulta.

6. I’m aware that “simpin” is bad and “rizz” is good – I think.

7. I can spot a fake Stanley cup a mile away.

8. I know the locations and prices of most reputable nail salons in the area.

9. I know how to make a teenage boy nervous just by looking him in the eye, shaking his hand and smiling.

10. I know how much a Squishmallow or reversible plushie (usually gifted by a simpin teenage boy) will bring at a garage sale.

11. I know the difference between ombre, highlights and balayage – and that all of them will put me in debt.

12. I can order an iced caramel macchiato, a vanilla chai latte and a double shot espresso with steamed oat milk without having any idea what they are, exactly.

13. I can discreetly use a toilet plunger during a multi-girl sleepover without anyone identifying the guilty party.

14. I can invoke a teenage eye roll faster than you can say, “Hi, Hungry! I’m Dad!”

15. I can name most of Taylor Swift’s albums – probably in order. Yes, I’m a shameless Swiftie Dad. My favorite songs are “Style (Taylor’s Version),” “All Too Well (10-minute Taylor’s Version)” and “Delicate” (still waiting for Taylor’s Version) – even though I don’t understand most of the lyrics.

In case you’re wondering, I don’t look to Taylor Swift for my politics, my worldview or my NFL preferences. I just think her songs are catchy, and listening to them makes me feel a little less like I’m ready to pick out my embalming fluid.

Although I, sadly, no longer use most of these skills, I’m going to try to stay sharp because I may have granddaughters someday (hopefully far, far in the future).

Until then, I’ll be keeping it rizzy! (I’m not sure that’s a word.)

Copyright 2024 Jase Graves distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald. Contact Graves at susanjase@sbcglobal.net.

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Nigeria’s security problems deepen as Anglophone insurgency in Cameroon spills across border

Grieving for the 140 victims of a January 2024 attack in north-central Nigeria.
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba

Augustine Aboh , University of Massachusetts

Over the past two decades, Nigeria has grappled with multiple and complex national security threats , each posing a significant challenge to its stability.

The nation finds itself fighting a violent militancy in the Niger Delta , conflicts between farmers and herders across multiple regions, terrorism and insurgency in the northeast, banditry in the northwest and secessionist campaigns by groups such as the Indigenous People of Biafra in the southeast.

Now a new layer of complexity has emerged in the form of the Ambazonian secessionist group from Cameroon. This group’s growing threat, most recently seen in the December 2023 violent invasion of the Nigerian borderline village of Belegete , adds to the strain on Nigeria’s national security capabilities.

As a scholar specializing in radicalization, violent extremism and counterterrorism in West and Central Africa, I believe the latest threat raises concerns about Nigeria’s strategic preparedness and ability to confront growing challenges.

How the country responds could have far-reaching consequences. Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and most populous country . Since its independence in 1960, Nigeria has played a crucial role in regional stability and security. It remains an important diplomatic partner for the United States , which provides support to the Nigerian government in its efforts to combat extremism in the region.

Rise of a violent campaign

Ambazonian separatists, seeking independence from the Republic of Cameroon, are mounting a bloody civil war that stems from the Anglophone crisis , a protracted conflict rooted in the colonization of Cameroon by both the French and British governments.

Separatists from Camaroon’s two English-speaking regions declared independence from the French-speaking majority in 2017, and war has been raging between the separatists and Cameroon government forces ever since.

The Ambazonian secessionist movement, fueled by grievances that include the perceived dominance of Francophone Cameroonians , seeks to secede and establish an independent Federal Republic of Ambazonia .

Grievance over perceived Francophone bias is fueling Camaroon insurgency.
A sign saying ‘Speak English and French for a bilingual Cameroon’ outside an abandoned school in a rural part of southwest Cameroon.
Photo by Giles Clarke/UNOCHA via Getty Images

Agitation over the past seven years has resulted in violence and widespread human rights violations .

Estimates by the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs reveal that over 1.7 million people are in dire need of humanitarian assistance. Furthermore, the Anglophone crisis has resulted in over 6,000 deaths and displaced 765,000 people. About 70,000 of these refugees are in Nigeria, including a few in the village of Belegete.

The attack in Belegete in December left two dead, including the traditional leader, Chief Francis Ogweshi, and 20 others kidnapped.

Nigeria’s national security

As Cameroon’s clash with separatists worsens in southwestern Cameroon, the Ambazonian insurgents have moved into Nigeria.

The violent attack on the Belegete community, which followed earlier incursions in Nigeria such as the Manga village attack of November 2021, suggests a growing cross-border element to Cameroon’s Anglophone crisis.

As well as presenting a violation of territorial integrity, the incident also suggests collaboration with Nigeria’s own secessionist groups, with evidence of links between Ambazonian secessionists and the Indigenous People of Biafra.

Ambazonian insurgents are also engaged in drugs, arms and human trafficking and have brought that illegal trade across the border into Nigeria.

The incursion of Ambazonian activities has not only added to Nigeria’s security challenges. It has also intensified an ongoing humanitarian crisis in Nigeria’s border region, displacing thousands of people and straining the capacity of authorities to care for its internally displaced persons and refugees from neighboring countries, including Cameroon.

As of June 2023, Nigeria has an estimated 2.3 million internally displaced persons and 93,130 refugees and asylum seekers . The Belegete attack added to this by displacing the entire village of over 2,000 people, who took refuge in the neighboring village of Becheve.

Confronting the emerging threat

Nigeria’s capacity to confront the emerging Ambazonian threat is questionable, given multiple strategic, operational and tactical limitations.

The 2022 Afrobarometer working paper , which mapped states’ capacity to prepare for or respond to security threats, concludes that Nigeria – like several African states – “is widely seen to lack the necessary capacity for the physical and material security of its citizens or to command legitimacy.”

A man in fatigues holding a gun Nigerian police officer stands guard.
A police officer in Yola, Nigeria.
Photo by PIUS UTOMI EKPEI/AFP via Getty Images

The Ambazonian separatist insurgency poses a threat not only to Cameroon and Nigeria but risks further degrading the security situation in West Africa.

The Nigerian government, undoubtedly, understands the magnitude of the security threats it faces, and its apparent limitations, and has called for assistance. President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, in a January 2024 letter to the outgoing French ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, stressed the need for strengthened cooperation . “On regional security, we want you to remind Paris at every opportunity that it is necessary to upgrade our technical cooperation,” he wrote.

The United States has said it remains committed to assisting Nigeria. In January 2024, U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan met with his Nigerian counterpart, Nuhu Ribadu, and underscored the need for continuous bilateral security cooperation.

And while Nigeria has in recent years partnered with Cameroon to ensure regional stability, the latest attack suggests a need to increase strategic cooperation between the neighboring countries to stem the growing threat.

However, countering the Ambazonian separatists and other internal security threats will remain a challenge for the Nigerian government. With a vast population and territory, security personnel are already stretched thin.

Meanwhile, the existing security apparatus in the country is compromised. The military is beset by problems, including low morale and corruption , and the national police force is perceived as largely unprofessional and corrupt .

These issues hamper Nigeria’s capacity to respond, and they undermine any attempt to counter the spiraling security threats faced by Nigeria, including the Ambazonian separatists.The Conversation

Augustine Aboh , Ph.D. candidate in Global Governance and Human Security, University of Massachusetts

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

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Sen. Mitch McConnell’s legacy is the current Supreme Court and a judiciary reshaped by his ‘calculated audacity

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell departs the Senate chamber on February 28, 2024 in Washington, DC.
Photo by Nathan Howard/Getty Images

Al Cross , University of Kentucky

Mitch McConnell, who announced on Feb. 28, 2024, that he would step down as the Senate GOP leader later in the year, used his tenure as the longest-serving Senate leader of any party to remake the federal judiciary from top to bottom .

His success could hardly have been predicted when Senate Republicans elected McConnell as their leader in 2006. For most of the 40-plus years I have watched McConnell, first as a reporter covering Kentucky politics and now as a journalism professor focused on rural issues , he seemed to have no great ambition or goals, other than gaining power and keeping it.

He always cared about the courts, though. In 1987, after Democrats defeated Supreme Court nominee Robert Bork, McConnell warned that if a Democratic president “sends up somebody we don’t like” to a Republican-controlled Senate, the GOP would follow suit. He fulfilled that threat in 2016, refusing to confirm Merrick Garland , Barack Obama’s pick for the Supreme Court.

Keeping that vacancy open helped elect Donald Trump. Two people could hardly be more different, but the taciturn McConnell and the voluble Trump have at least one thing in common: They want power.

Trump had exercised his power with what often seems like reckless audacity, but McConnell’s 36-year Senate tenure is built on his calculated audacity.

Trump points at McConnell in a crowd while shaking his hand
Trump and McConnell in February 2017.
Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call

McConnell’s political rise

It was audacious, back in 1977, to think that a wonky lawyer who had been disqualified from his only previous campaign for public office could defeat a popular two-term county executive in Louisville.

McConnell ran anyway.

It was audacious to think that a Republican could get the local labor council to endorse him in that race, but he got it, by leading the members to believe he would help them get collective bargaining for public employees .

McConnell won the race. He didn’t pursue collective bargaining.

Seven years later, it was audacious to think that an urbanite who wore loafers to dusty, gravelly county fairs and lacked a compelling personality could unseat a popular two-term Kentucky senator, especially when he trailed by 40 points in August. But McConnell won.

As soon as he won a second term in 1990, McConnell started trying to climb the Senate leadership ladder , facilitated in large measure by his willingness to be the point man on campaign finance issues, an area his colleagues feared. They reacted emotionally to this touchy issue; he studied it, owned it and moved higher in the leadership.

Business, not service

In politics, lack of emotion is usually a drawback. McConnell makes up for that by having command of the rules and the facts and a methodical attitude.

Black and white image of a younger Mcconnell
McConnell in 1992.
Laura Patterson/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

The recording on his home phone once said, “This is Mitch McConnell. You’ve reached my home. If this call is about business, please call my office.”

Business. Not something like “my service to you in the United States Senate,” but “business.”

This lack of emotion keeps McConnell disciplined. I am not the only person he has told, “The most important word in the English language is ‘focus,’ because if you don’t focus, you don’t get anything done.”

Five years ago, I spoke to the McConnell Scholars , the political-leadership program he started at the University of Louisville. One thank-you gift was a letter opener bearing two words: focus and humility. The first word was no surprise, because of McConnell’s well-known maxim; the second one intrigued me.

The director of the program, Gary Gregg, says adding “humility” was his idea. But it fits the founder. With his studied approach and careful reticence, McConnell is the opposite of bombast, and that surely helped him gain the Republican leader’s job and stay there. He has occasionally described his colleagues as prima donnas who look in the mirror and see a president , something he claims to have never done.

When the colleagues in your party caucus know you are focused on their interests and not your own, you can keep getting reelected leader, as McConnell has done without opposition every two years since 2006.

McConnell’s Supreme Court

McConnell’s caucus trusts him. When he saw Obama as an existential threat – someone who could bring back enough moderate Democrats to give the party a long-term governing majority – McConnell held the caucus together in opposition to Obamacare , and Republicans used that as an issue to rouse their base in the 2010 midterm election.

Meanwhile, McConnell was working on the federal judiciary. He and his colleagues slow-walked and filibustered Obama’s nominees, requiring “aye” votes from 60 of the 100 senators to confirm each one. The process consumed so much time that then-Majority Leader Harry Reid abolished the filibuster for nominations, except those to the Supreme Court.

That sped up the process, allowing Obama to appoint 323 judges, about as many as George W. Bush. But Republicans’ additional delaying tactics still left 105 vacancies for Trump to fill.

When Democrats weakened the filibuster, McConnell warned , “You’ll regret this. And you may regret it a lot sooner than you think.”

Democrats may now concede that point. McConnell and Trump put nearly 200 judges on the federal courts, making them all the more a white-male bastion of judicial conservatism .

When Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016 and McConnell said the seat wouldn’t be filled until after the November election , it was another case of calculated audacity.

Schumer holds a sign reading, 'The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.'
Sen. Chuck Schumer reminding McConnell of his ‘rule,’ September 2020.
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Democrats cried foul, but they were powerless to reverse his decision because Republicans stuck with him.

Trump’s 2016 victory preserved the Senate Republican majority, which then did away with the Supreme Court exception, allowing McConnell and his colleagues to install by simple majority vote the sort of Supreme Court justices they wanted: Neil Gorsuch, Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett .

It is the Roberts Court, but it is also the McConnell Court.

This is an updated version of an article originally published Oct. 1, 2020.The Conversation

Al Cross , Professor and director emeritus, Institute for Rural Journalism, University of Kentucky

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article .

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Donald Trump Is A Racist (Cartoon and Column)

I did not take this cartoon lightly. In fact, I wasn’t even considering it when I thought of it or when I roughed it out. But I decided to draw a rough of it and bounce it off a few people I respect.

The first friend said go for it. She saw that I wasn’t the one being racist but instead, was calling Donald Trump out for his racism. She’s smart but also crazy, like me, so I can’t entirely trust her on this. But I knew that if it scared her, then I shouldn’t draw it. It didn’t scare her.

Then I showed it to a fellow cartoonist who is very bold himself. He’s not afraid of much. He said I was taking it to another level with the exaggerations, but it was defendable because Trump was the one who brought in the racist stereotypes.

Then, I showed it to one of my two proofreaders. Proofer number one said it churned her stomach. When she saw the finished cartoon, she said it bothered her even more.

Proofer two said, “Oh god! Excellent.”

Then I showed it to my best friend. He is not on social media and I can’t even text him a photo of the cartoon because he still uses a flip phone. So I called him and asked if he was home. He was and I told him to check his email, which is on Comcast. I set up the cartoon first because I didn’t want to throw something racist at him in case he would see the cartoon that way. But he’s one of the smartest people I know, liberal, and knows where I’m coming from. He’s also black. What’d he think?

He liked it. We went over every panel and he said all of it was fine with him…except for the KFC thing. He said that might be the only problem but that he also knew that I was going to do what I do and good luck with it. He also wasn’t familiar with Trump’s love for KFC.

So I may have ignored good advice. I know MAGAts are going to call me a racist but I don’t care about their criticism. I know the folks who hang out at places like Daily Kos who are so liberal that they don’t have a sense of humor will call me a racist. Remember when I drew George Santos as a hula dancer? They called that racist.

I’m more worried about the rational people. first off, if they’re rational, they won’t call me a racist but they will express concern. And I’ll listen to them. The thing is, everyone who objects to this cartoon could be right.

After what Donald Trump did last Friday, I wanted to hit him for his racism and hit him hard. I wanted to take him on to the point that I’d risk being misunderstood.

Trump spoke to a Black conservative group last Friday and they gave him an award they had just invented. Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson called Trump’s “con-man hustle” for the African American vote “cringeworthy, cynical, infuriating, insulting, racist, and super-racist.”

Donald Trump compared his arrests for 91 criminal indictments to historic discrimination against Black Americans.

Trump said, “A lot of people said that’s why the Black people liked me because they had been hurt so badly and discriminated against. And they actually viewed me as I’m being discriminated against.”

Trump, a white billionaire who poops in gold toilets, claiming his arrests is discrimination is almost as bad as when Republicans use Martin Luther King quotes for their racist agenda.

Trump also said, “The Black people are on my side now because they see what’s happening to me happens to them.” I can’t think of any Black people who are being charged for trying to steal the election and classified documents. Trump’s civil fraud case is about favorable loans, which most Black people would never be considered for.

Trump got eight percent of the Black vote in 2016, 12 percent in 2020, and is currently polling at 16 percent with Black voters. You can’t make a case that the “Black people are on your side” when your support is only 16 percent.

Trump claimed, “I am being indicted for you, the Black population.” That’s a lot of bullshit. He knowingly and intentionally broke the law to stay in power for his own selfish reasons, not for Black America.

Trump claimed Black Americans are drawn to him because of his Fulton County mugshot. He said, “The mug shot, we’ve all seen the mug shot, and you know who embraced it more than anybody else? The Black population. It’s incredible. You see Black people walking around with my mug shot, you know, they do shirts.” I have not seen this. Maybe all the Blacks for Trump guys I saw at each of the four arrests I traveled to will get those shirts because the ones they were wearing when I saw them are from 2020.

Trump has a long history of racism which includes his real estate company being sued by the Justice Department in 1973 for discrimination against Black renters. In 1989, he purchased full-page ads in four New York newspapers urging the state to “bring back the death penalty” for the Central Park Five, a group of Black and Latino men convicted and then exonerated for a brutal rape. Trump never apologized for the ad.

Trump was the champion of birtherism, the racist lie that President Obama was not qualified to be president because he was born in Kenya when he was actually born in Hawaii, a US state.

Trump defended the Tiki Torch Nazis who marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us” and “Blood and Soil.” Even after the Nazis murdered anti-racism activist Heather Heyer, Trump said there were “some very fine people on both sides.” Fine people don’t march with Nazis.

Trump referred to Central American, Caribbean, and African nations as “shithole countries” sending us “the people they don’t want” while asking why we couldn’t get more people from places like Norway.

Trump said, “Send them back” about The Squad, a group of four non-white members of the House, three of whom were born in this nation and one who immigrated and became a US citizen.

Trump once asked a Black reporter if she could set up a meeting between him and the Congressional Black Caucus, not understanding that isn’t something journalists do and that not every Black person knows every other Black person. Trump is so racist, he can’t hide it.

Even the agenda of building a wall is racist as it won’t even slow down illegal immigration. A wall across our border will only be an expensive monument to Donald Trump’s racism.

Donald Trump and the entire Republican Party worked to make voting more difficult for Black Americans after he lost the 2020 election. He lied about voter fraud in Black voting precincts. This is a man who’s invited racists to lunch at Mar-a-Lago. He once said he didn’t know about David Duke to avoid criticizing him.

Donald Trump put racist Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller in his administration.

Donald Trump doesn’t represent or fight for Black America. Trump is the president (sic) of white racists. The reason Trump is so popular in the GOP is because of his racism. Hate crimes increased after Donald Trump announced his candidacy in 2015. Memberships in hate groups have only grown since the Trump era began. He is their champion.

Visit Clay Jones’ website and email him at Clay@claytoonz.com.

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Rep. Eric Swalwell Turns the Tables

Credit: Monte Wolverton via Cagle Cartoons

Part of Republicans’ reluctance to question Hunter Biden in open hearings is – in addition to the fear of exposing the sheer lunacy of their impeachment inquiry — the dread that, with Trump’s shady record in exactly the same areas of the Biden investigation, the tables could be turned on them.

Well, during the closed-door hearings last week Republican nightmares materialized and now we have the transcript to prove it.

A transcript which, fortunately, is in English – not Russian. *

Please enjoy the following exchange between Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.) and Hunter Biden:

Swalwell: Any time your father was in government, prior to the Presidency or before, did he ever operate a hotel?

Hunter Biden: No, he has never operated a hotel.

Swalwell: So he’s never operated a hotel where foreign nationals spent millions at that hotel while he was in office?

Hunter Biden: No, he has not.

Swalwell: Did your father ever employ in the Oval Office any direct family member to also work in the Oval Office?

Hunter Biden: My father has never employed any direct family members, to my knowledge.

Swalwell: While your father was President, did anyone in the family receive 41 trademarks from China?

Hunter Biden: No.

Swalwell: As President and the leader of the party, has your father ever tried to install as the chairperson of the party a daughter-in-law or anyone else in the family?

Hunter Biden: No. And I don’t think that anyone in my family would be crazy enough to want to be the chairperson of the DNC.

Swalwell: Has your father ever in his time as an adult been fined $355 million by any State that he worked in?

Hunter Biden: No, he has not, thank God.

Swalwell: Anyone in your family ever strike a multibillion dollar deal with the Saudi Government while your father was in office?

Hunter Biden: No.

Swalwell: That’s all I’ve got.

Hunter Biden: Thank you.

* As a “cherry on top of the cake,” we point to the following (abbreviated) exchange between Representative Swalwell and Committee Chairman James R. Comer:

Swalwell: Hey, Chairman, about that, parliamentary inquiry, when are you going to release this transcript?

[::]

Comer: We’re conducting the deposition.

Swalwell: Yeah, but you’ve got 91 of them buried and –

[::]

Comer: We will release the deposition — the transcripts like we always do when we agree to release the deposition, the transcripts

[::]

Swalwell: In English or Russian?

[::]

Comer: We’ve already answered the question, Eric, and we’re not going to tolerate outbursts like we had the last time.

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Get my Jew


by Don Hermann
Columnist

“Get my Jew.”

The words of a bigot. If the expression is unfamiliar to you, it’s commonly used by someone who is in need of an attorney.

It’s a putdown and at the same time, a cry for help.

Is the user of the expression really an antisemite but putting the thinking aside for a little reality?

In this era of increased antisemitism it’s interesting how Jews are still critically important to people around the world for everything from legal help to medical care to entertainment to finance to all areas that contribute to the welfare of how we live.

While Jews account for less than 2% of the population in the U.S. their contributions stand out amongst the top of the class.

There’s a good chance when someone has a medical issue they might think or say the following: “Get me a Jew”.

Since 1901 through 2023 there have been 965 recipients of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences. 214 are Jewish or have a Jewish parent. That’s 22%, or 0.2% of the world population are Jewish.

They may not know the numbers but know when the thermometer says, Jewish doctor.
1
When it comes to entertainment, those bigots shell out big bucks to satisfy that need.

You name the area and the Jews are involved in one way or another.

Are you a big fan of professional sports? This may upset you. Here’s a list of current or former owners of a team. Some even own or owned a team in other sports:

Arthur M. Blank, owner Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United FC
David Blitzer, owner Philadelphia 76ers, NJ Devils
Mark Cuban, minority owner, Dallas Mavericks
Al Davis, former owner Oakland Raiders
Mark Davis, owner Las Vegas Raiders, Las Vegas Aces
Dan Gilbert, owner Cleveland Cavaliers
Josh Harris, owner Philadelphia 76ers, NJ Devils, Washington Commanders
Robert Kraft, owner, New England Patriots
Jeffrie Lurie, owner, Philadelphia Eagles
Mikhail Prokhorov, former owner, Brooklyn Nets
Jerry Reinsdorf, owner, Chicago Bulls
Carroll Rosenbloom, former owner, Baltimore Colts and Los Angeles Rams
Stephen Ross, owner, Miami Dolphins
Howard Schultz, former owner, Seattle Supersonics and Seattle Storm
2
Daniel Snyder, former owner, Washington Redskins
Steve Tisch, co-owner NY Giants
Larry Weinberg, former owner, Portland Trail Blazers
Sonny Werblin, former owner, NY Jets
Zygi Wilf, Minnesota Vikings
(source: Wikipedia)

Not to sell the MLB short there are currently twenty four Jewish players. Well over one hundred retired players and coaches. Nine Jews who were home run kings. Sandy Koufax, one of the greatest pitchers of all time and Hank Greenberg, equally prominent as a first baseman. There are over thirty executives and owners of teams.

The all-time great soccer player David Beckham, has spoken of his Jewish heritage.(source: Google)

Do you hold your nose when you root for one of those teams? Or does the Jewishness disappear like magic? And then return? By the way, speaking of magic, Houdini was a Jew, the son of a rabbi. It’s been said he could escape anything, except antisemitism.

Get out your Pepto. The following will provide further insight into how Jews have affected your life. In many cases, they have made you smile, giggle, laugh and maybe even cry. They help you get in touch with feelings.

3
Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David kept you entertained for years with Seinfeld. Then David created Curb Your Enthusiasm another highly entertaining comedy where he played a version of himself.

Jon Stewart in the Daily Show on the Comedy Channel lasted over fifteen years. Stewart has a tremendous following and is back on Monday nights with his comedic approach.

Jewish influence in Hollywood is epidemic. Writers, Producers, Directors help determine what you see in the movies. A small sample of some of those people who have filled those rolls are Stanley Kubrick, Steven Spielberg, Woody Allen, Billy Wilder, Stanley Kramer. How do you feel when you go to the movies?

Norman Lear had to be one of your favorites. He lived to 101 and died recently. A man of tremendous creativity and ability. He created and produced All in the Family, Maude, Sanford & Son, One Day at a Time, The Jeffersons, and Good Times. In fact he was working on another project at his death.

You should know that Don Hewitt, creator of 60 Minutes was Jewish. How about Lorne Michaels, Saturday Night’s creator is also Jewish?
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The chances are you might have seen any of the following Jewish actors: Harrison Ford, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Joaquin Phoenix, Paul Newman. Or Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, Debra Messing or Mila Kunis. Just to mention a few.

Have you been to Broadway? Or at least enjoyed any of the music from a show on Broadway? A good percent of those musicals were created by Jews.

Thank Rogers and Hammerstein, Leonard Bernstein, George and Ira Gershwin, Stephen Sondheim, and of course, Irving Berlin who gave you “White Christmas” and “God Bless America.”

Jewish influence goes on and on.

Get my Jew doctor. We mentioned that before. During part of the Middle Ages, in spite of restrictions on Jews, several Popes used doctors of the Jewish faith as their personal physician.

At one time there were about 113 Jewish hospitals in the US. Now there are about 22. The reduction is not all due to less antisemitism but economic reasons, as well.

It’s difficult to find a field where Jews have not made an impression, where they have contributed positively.
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Google. The founders of Google. Sergey Brin is Jewish. Larry Page’s mother is Jewish. His father not.

Jews have served in the military going back to the colonial days. In World War II, 550,000 Jewish men and women served in all branches of the armed forces. Since the Medal of Honor was created there have been 3473 recipients. At least 17 American Jews have been awarded the Medal.

Jews have made a lot of noise. Here’s another reason to dislike them.

More than 1/3 of Forbes 400 Billionaires are Jewish.

A significant percent of these people were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths. They did it with hard work. Sticking their necks out. Creativity. Patience. Honesty. Caring. Intelligence. Overcoming the strong biases that made the road extremely difficult, but found ways to achieve in spite of the obstacles.

It should be added that Jews as a group are extremely philanthropic and ready to help people in need. Both financially and emotionally. Minorities who are being treated as second class citizens can count on their support.
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To those opposed to Israel’s approach, please put yourself in their position. How would you satisfy the needs of both parties?

Would you trust Hamas with an agreement? On the other hand, I believe that when Netanyahu looks in the mirror he sees Trump. Both doing everything possible to avoid jail.

A look at fairly recent history tells us that bitter enemies can become friends. Germany and Japan are classic examples of where horrific actions seemed to indicate the end of two major countries.

Reasonable and logical people structured paths for rebuilding and reorganizing those countries to become stable, healthy and amongst some of our closest allies.

Hate is too convenient an excuse to pursue. Any relationship takes work. Understanding. The long- term benefits far outweigh narrow untruths that lead to nowhere.

Instead of anger. Let’s recognize the problems. Have some of these super creative individuals on both sides develop solutions.

Get My Jew is no solution for anything. Kindness. Thoughtfulness. Acknowledgment that positive thinking can solve problems.

Hate is hateful. It leads to nowhere.

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Rescuing Jesus From Christendom

If one doesn’t understand why Jesus needs to be rescued from Christendom, then one hasn’t had much exposure to Christendom. Such is especially true about the American version of Christendom. Seriously, what some alleged “Christians” say in public forums is enough to make a person vomit. I am constantly reaching for a barf bag whenever I wade into the cesspool called Twitter. That place is full of theobros who do more to drive people away from Jesus than anything said or done by atheists.

For example, consider the following Twitter post:

Compare Ben Zeisloft’s Twitter post to one by Christian pastor Zach W. Lambert:

No, the New Testament doesn’t say that believers in Jesus are to take care of themselves before taking care of unbelievers.

I wish that Ben Zeisloft’s Twitter post represented a fringe of American Christendom, but it doesn’t. As Christian pastor Kevin M. Young, ThD explains, American Christendom feigns godliness while doing works of the devil.

Dr. Young is alluding to a parable of Jesus recorded in Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43 .

The lesson of this parable isn’t being practiced by the American Christendom. Whereas its members and leaders are the servants in the parable, they feign being the reapers, thus contradicting the teaching of Jesus.

An additional problem with American Christendom is that it has become so polluted with right-wing politics that it has become difficult to tell the two apart. The result is that the label “evangelical” has lost its original meaning.

This loss of religious and moral credibility is reflected in a trend reported by Christianity Today.

It is no secret that churches in general are falling out of favor with the American public, as the Roys Report mentions in a 13 September 2022 article.

The dechurching movement in the USA has gained so much momentum that two Christian pastors wrote a book to try to explain it.

Here is Religion News Service national reporter Bob Smietana describing something in the aforementioned book.

I know of one source for the conflict that Smietana mentions: Education.

People can use modern technology to gain information that used to be exclusively in the domain of religious institutions.

Preachers and churches are no longer gatekeepers of data that pertains to the Bible and to what is in the Bible.

Thus, whenever people leave a particular church or denomination, they aren’t necessarily rejecting Jesus or the Bible. Instead, they may be rejecting what they consider to be flaws in how particular pastors, churches or denominations interpret the Bible.

Domineering pastors and other religious people don’t like for their interpretation of the Bible to be challenged because it is their interpretation.

Thus, they will express condemnation of anyone who dares to disagree with them. I have witnessed plenty of such domineering people proclaiming others to be apostates, heretics, non-Christians, etc. because the latter expressed an interpretation of the Bible that contradicts that of the former.

Such domineering people assume that their theology is flawless and therefore act as if they are the final authority on how to correctly interpret the Bible.

Even if they are correct about a particular point, they express themselves in a way that is arrogant. They display zeal, but zeal isn’t on the Apostle Paul’s list of the fruit of the Holy Spirit.

In response to this domineering, some believers in Messiah Jesus are participating in something called Deconstruction. Britannica.com describes Deconstruction this way: “In popular usage the term has come to mean a critical dismantling of tradition and traditional modes of thought.”

People engaged in deconstruction aren’t rejecting Jesus or the Gospel that is recorded in the New Testament.

Dr. Kevin M. Young elaborates.

Here is how two believers in Messiah Jesus responded to Dr. Young.

I agree with Katie, Dr. Young and John Reed on this point. Rescuing Jesus from American Christendom results in power and control (and prehaps even money) being taken from religious leaders who are drunk on power and control (and perhaps incomes higher than they should be).

When when religious leaders act as guides and coaches, which is what religious shepherding is all about, they express disagreement in a godly way. If they disagree with you, then they will express themselves this way:

“I disagree because ________________. I hope that one day you will conclude that I am correct.”

When when religious leaders act as dictators, they express disagreement in a toxic way. They tear down instead of building up.

Sure, one should practice etiquette when one disagrees with a religious leader. If one’s disagreement interferes with the functioning of a particular church, then one should keep the disagreement outside of that church’s functions. If the disagreement prevents one from worshiping with that church, then one should leave and find a more suitable church.

As Jesus is rescued from American Christendom, I keep in mind that the latter is comprised of flawed fallible mortal sinners, and I am one, too. It would be a mistake for me to assume that my own theology is flawless. It isn’t. I am constantly revising my theology whenever I encounter data that I wasn’t aware of. While I am on this side of eternity, I know only in part, just as the Apostle Paul mentions in 1 Corinthians 13.

As long as flawed fallible mortal sinners are trying to express faith in Messiah Jesus, mistakes will creep into the latter, which is why said faith is always undergoing reformation. Jesus doesn’t just need to be rescued from American Christendom. He also needs to be rescued fallible human thinking in general.

The preceding commentary features screenshots that have been edited to remove irrelevent details.

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THE DAMAGE MITCH MCCONNELL HAS DONE TO DEMOCRACY IS INDELIBLE

To best assess the execrable essence of Mitch McConnell, you just need to connect the dots.

After the MAGA insurrection on Jan. 6, after the dead and the injured and the feces smeared on walls, McConnell tore into Donald Trump. He said, “The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president” who was guilty of “a disgraceful dereliction of duty.”

But when the time came to convict Trump during the impeachment trial, McConnell – and other Senate Republicans who followed his lead – voted to acquit. McConnell’s excuse: “We have a criminal justice system in this country… And former presidents are not immune from being held accountable.”

We learned this week the U.S. Supreme Court may make it impossible to hold Trump accountable in the criminal justice system prior to the November election – thanks to the MAGA justices who got their jobs courtesy of McConnell’s cynical machinations.

See how it works? That’s his legacy.

Those of us who love democracy are too dispirited to applaud McConnell’s decision to step down as Senate Republican leader. The damage he has done is too sobering to warrant any celebration. He has said that his reshaping of the Supreme Court, tilting it rightward for a generation or more, is the “most consequential thing I’ve ever done,” and he got that right.

Amazingly, he’s stepping down in part because Trump doesn’t think McConnell is loyal enough. McConnell saved Trump in the Jan. 6 impeachment trial, he has rigged the high court to minimize criminal accountability before the election – but Trump still calls him “Old Crow” and hurls racist insults at his Asian-American wife. Apparently McConnell’s criticism of Trump after Jan. 6 was unforgivable. Rest assured that McConnell’s successor as Senate GOP leader will be fitted with an airtight MAGA armband.

Trump may not to remember McConnell’s craven servitude, but we certainly do.

When high court conservative Antonin Scalia died suddenly in February 2016, it was President Obama’s right to nominate a replacement. He tapped respected centrist Merrick Garland for the seat. But McConnell, as majority leader, refused to schedule a hearing and stonewalled the process all year long.

He held the Scalia seat open until 2017 for Donald Trump and his nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Then, in 2020, during another presidential election year – indeed, just eight days before the balloting – McConnell squeezed Trump nominee Amy Coney Barrett onto the court.

So how fitting it was that within hours of McConnell’s step-down announcement, we learned that the MAGA-infested court – McConnell’s creation – has decided to throw Trump a lifeline. There are no constitutional grounds for giving a president total immunity from crimes, as the federal appeals court’s recent bulletproof decision made clear, but now the Supremes say they want to weigh in on that issue anyway. They’ve scheduled oral arguments seven long weeks from now, thereby making it highly unlikely that a criminal conviction in the federal coup-insurrection trial can happen before the election – or that the trial itself might even start before the election.

Voters in a democracy need to know whether the Republican nominee is guilty of trying to end democracy. Instead, thanks to McConnell’s machinations, we’ve been forced to take another goose step toward fascism.

And that’s before we even mention other rancid fruits from McConnell’s orchard – like the high court’s abolishment of affirmation action at most universities, its hostility to anti-gun laws, and its abolishment of women’s constitutional right to bodily autonomy (the fallout from the Dobbs ruling is obvious, most recently, in Alabama, where the state’s top jurists cited the Bible while ruling against in vitro fertilization). Thanks a lot, Mitch.

Jonathan V. Last, a wise center-right political analyst, sums it up nicely: “McConnell’s entire adult life was spent in pursuit of two goals – The placement of conservative judges in the federal judiciary and the advancement of the Republican party’s electoral prospects…Trump understood this. Which is why Trump was able to use McConnell so effectively. McConnell hates Trump. McConnell was never MAGA. McConnell is not in favor of authoritarianism. But none of that mattered because Trump was able to align McConnell’s primary goals with his own. And so in the end, McConnell became Trump’s tool just as surely as if he’d been a toadying true-believer.”

We could sure use a little humor right now, so here we go: When McConnell was a newly elected lawmaker back in January 1985, he stood at the podium in a Washington ballroom and tried to entertain with this joke: “I read about a Paris newspaper that conducted a major survey and asked French men what they did after making love. The results were indeed startling. Ten percent said they made love again. Fifteen percent smoked a cigarette. And 75 percent said they went home to their wives.”

The guy was as funny then as he is now.

Copyright 2024 Dick Polman, distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate. Dick Polman, a veteran national political columnist based in Philadelphia and a Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, writes at DickPolman.net. Email him at dickpolman7@gmail.com

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About Your “Panama Hat”

Author’s father and grandfather sporting Panama Hats in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, circa 1920.

Several years ago, a relative in Ecuador gave me a beautiful, white, straw hat (below). The hat is so finely and delicately hand woven that it can be rolled up tightly enough that it can almost pass through a wedding ring. Some say it can even hold water, although I have never put mine through that test.

Already in 1869, an article in Scientific American Magazine described such hats, made in Ecuador, as being distinguishable “from all others by consisting only of a single piece, and by their lightness and flexibility.” It also points out that the hats would be equally used in Europe (as in the American continent and the West Indies) were it not for “their high price, varying from two to one hundred and fifty dollars…” The CPI Inflation Calculator says , “$150 in 1869 is equivalent in purchasing power to about $3,401.66 today.”

I don’t remember if my relative called the hat a Montecristi hat, a Jipijapa hat, a Toquilla hat, or just a “sombrero de paja toquilla.” I am pretty sure, however, he did not call it a “Panama Hat,” although it is traditionally yet incorrectly called that.

Let me explain.

As far back as the 16th century, when the Spanish conquistadores arrived in Latin America, natives in the coastal regions of Ecuador were weaving head covers resembling toques (“Tocas” in Spanish), using the dried fibers from a plant abundant in the Ecuadorean lowlands with the scientific name of Cardulovica palmata. The plant came to be locally known as the Toquilla palm plant and, more recently, as the Jipijapa palm. “Toquilla,” the diminutive of “toca,” means little toca or little headdress.

Cutting the Toquilla palm

As an interesting sidenote, in the late 18th century botanists gave the tropical plant that Latin name in honor of Spanish King, Carlos IV and his wife Queen María Luisa (“Ludovica’) of Parma, “who promoted the botanical cataloging of South America.

The weaving of hats became a family occupation in small villages on the slopes of the Andes mountains and along the Ecuadorian coast where the palm plant grows abundantly.

In fact, the Jipijapa palm is named after the small town of Jipijapa in the coastal province of Manabí where many of the great Jipijapa hats are still being made today. They are also made in Montecristi — also in Manabí province — and in the beautiful colonial, Andean city of Cuenca.

Some believe that the famous Ecuadorian hats began to be called “Panama Hats” when, in 1906, U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt visited the Panama Canal that was under construction at the time.

Photos of the president dapperly dressed in a white linen suit and sporting a stylish, white, straw fedora (below) went “viral” (1906 style). Such publicity, on one hand, helped reinforce the perception that the hats originated in Panama, and on the other hand caused the popularity — and the sales – of the Ecuadorian hats to soar.

Panama Canal. Pres. Roosevelt at Bas Obispo, Culebra Cut, addressing the crew of the steam-shovel.
Credit:Underwood & Underwood, U. & U. (1906).
Theodore Roosevelt Collection, Harvard College Library

As can be seen in the photo, “Panama Hats” were already very popular with the workers at the Canal. In fact, Ecuadorian entrepreneurs had been exporting the toquilla hats to and through Panama for nearly a century before Roosevelt’s Panama visit.

In 1835, Manuel Alfaro, a Spanish immigrant, settled in Montecristi, Ecuador, and quickly transformed the artisan, small-town, family toquilla hat-making craft into a thriving business.

Soon, ships loaded with toquilla hats were plying from ports in Ecuador to the Gulf of Panama and beyond, delivering much-needed hats to the thousands of east coast prospectors who were traveling through the hot and humid Isthmus of Panama on their way to California gold rush fortunes.

In 1849, Alfaro shipped over 200,000 hats to Panama, significantly expanding the trade into North America.

Helping his father in the hat business was young José Eloy Alfaro Delgado. Eloy Alfaro would go on to serve as Ecuador’s president from 1895 to 1901 and from 1906 to 1911, becoming “a driving force for fairness, justice and liberty .”

Remember the hat President Roosevelt wore in Panama? It is rumored that the hat was a gift from Manuel Alfaro himself.

Panama hats became even more popular after they appeared at the 1855 Paris World Fair. It probably helped that Napoleon III was presented with a finely woven Panama hat which “His Highness loved…and wore everywhere .”

Soon, the export of toquilla straw hats surpassed Ecuador’s cocoa exports .

In the early 1860s, Ecuador exported 500,000 hats to the United States and Europe.

A little more than three decades later, during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. government bought 50,000 “Panama Hats” for troops based in Panama. LINK

The production and export of the hats gradually expanded until the 1940s, reaching a peak in 1944 when, at 14.8% of total exports, the export of these hats beat cocoa, coffee and banana exports .

To this day, the Panama hat industry (It seems inappropriate to call such a culture, craft and heritage an “industry”) continues to modestly contribute to Ecuador’s economic growth.

Weaving the “Panama Hats”

Although similar hats are now made in other countries, including in Panama, and although – even in Ecuador – some production has been “modernized,” the Ecuadorian Toquilla hats are still considered the finest and most-sought-after straw hats in the world.

How much does a Panama Hat cost?

One can pay from several hundred to several thousand dollars for a genuine, handmade, quality Toquilla hat, depending on workmanship, quality of materials and authenticity.

Some hats are made in a few days, some in a few months.

Some have as many as 4,000 “weaves” per square inch (“a weave so fine it takes a jeweler’s loupe to count the rows. ” ), others a few hundred.

While the quality and price of a Panama hat may vary, there is nothing ephemeral about this Ecuadorian heritage.

In 2012, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recognized the traditional weaving of the Ecuadorian toquilla straw hat as “an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

Watch an excellent UNESCO video – “Una Historia de Toquilla/A History of Toquilla” – on the making of Panama Hats in Ecuador HERE.

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