Is Mitt Romney also an anti-Semite?

As you know, a Moment of Silence was not held during the opening ceremonies in London, despite the backing of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, and Mitt Romney.

But only one of those three ever had the ability to do something about it.

In 2002 – the 30th Anniversary of the Munich Olympics – Romney was President of the Salt Lake City Organizing Committee. I know 2002 was a long time ago, so let me remind you: there was no moment of silence in memory of the 1972 Israeli delegation.

Perhaps, one might protest, as the mere host of the games, Mitt had no power to get a moment of silence onto the agenda. But I can’t imagine this happening anywhere outside of London (certainly not in Beijing):

The IOC permitted a video tribute to the 52 people who were killed in the suicide bombings in the London transit system the day after the city won the Games in 2005.

In other words, host cities do have some discretion in planning the opening ceremonies, and Mitt could have done something had he so wished.

But still, one might protest, perhaps it never occurred to him. Perhaps he never even knew about it. Well, given Ankie Spitzer’s account of her repeated appeals, I also find it difficult to believe the proposal did not once pass over Romney’s desk sometime between 1999 and 2002:

For the past 40 years, I, along with the families of the other ten victims, have called on the International Olympic Committee to honor our loved ones’ memories by observing a minute of silence at the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. We first asked for the minute of silence before the 1976 Montreal Olympics and, to our dismay, were denied. We’ve continued to be denied every Olympics since.

The issue became headline news this cycle not because it was the family’s first try, but because of the proliferation of social media like Facebook and Consequently, there’s been a lot of outrage directed toward the IOC over the decision not to hold a moment of silence. And I agree: it was a lousy decision. The victims deserve a moment every four years, with interest tacked on for the 19 Olympics they’ve been denied.

But it seems to me that the same arguments used to paint Rogge and the IOC as a pack of anti-Semitic scumbags should also apply to Mitt Romney. And so far they haven’t. Meanwhile, the Romney campaign has refused to answer questions on the topic of what happened in Salt Lake City.

Of course, Mitt’s not actually anti-Semitic. But he didn’t hold the moment of silence 10 years ago, and it still took him four days longer than Obama to throw his support behind the initiative this year. I’d have a lot more confidence in Romney’s support of Israel – for its own sake, and not just to win Jewish and evangelical votes [and Sheldon Adelson’s money] – if he would for once put his money where his mouth is.

In fairness to Romney, I’m not sure anyone’s mouth is big enough for all that money.


Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Except when guns kill people.

After an 18-month investigation, congressional Republicans yesterday released a draft report on the Fast and Furious ‘scandal’. The first of what will eventually be three reports blames five officials at the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) for a gun-smuggling operation gone wrong:

In Operation Fast and Furious, agents employed a controversial tactic called gun-walking — allowing low-level “straw” buyers in gun-trafficking networks to proceed with loads of weapons that they purchased at gun shops in Arizona.

The tactic was designed to track guns to major weapons traffickers and drug cartels, but many of the weapons weren’t tracked and wound up at crime scenes in Mexico and the U.S., including the site of a shootout on the U.S. side of the border that resulted in the death of a border agent, Brian Terry.

I have more to say on the topic of gun control later, but in the meantime, I felt the need to point out that right-wing outrage over the incident is the height of absurdity – not because the program was initiated under President Bush, though it was, and not because Bush also freely exercised ‘executive privilege’ to cover for his Justice Department, although that is also true – but because, as we all know:

Continue reading Guns don’t kill people. People kill people. Except when guns kill people.

You probably haven’t heard this song, but if you paid attention on Tisha B’Av, you just might recognize the tune

I didn’t post this on the 9th of Av because it was Shabbat, and I didn’t post it on the 10th of Av, for obvious reasons, and I didn’t post it on the 11th of Av because I had better things to do, and so here we are on the 12th.

After all that time, you just might remember the tune for Eli Zion – if not, feel free to refresh your memory. Either way, I couldn’t help but notice the similarity when I first listened to this song (in 2007), though – as it was nowhere near Av on the calendar – it did take me a few days to place it. Look at all that work I’ve saved you by identifying both tunes up front! No need to listen past where the singing starts (about a minute in) unless you want to:

Continue reading You probably haven’t heard this song, but if you paid attention on Tisha B’Av, you just might recognize the tune

For some reason, I feel the need to share things that annoy me

Commercials are the worst. Wouldn’t you know, the problem has been covered extensively on this very blog.

But this is not a post about commercials in general. Rather, it is about car commercials and how terrible they are and how they ask the kind of questions that would get them beaten up in sixth grade and how they are now getting free publicity due to the fact that I am even mentioning them in writing.

I’m sure you’ve seen both of these at some point. I could pick other examples; these happen to be the ones I saw most recently.

This one’s been bothering me ever since it began to play relentlessly on The Daily Show:

Continue reading For some reason, I feel the need to share things that annoy me

Shopping on Tisha B’Av

It’s a shame you’re not really supposed to buy new clothes on Tisha B’Av, cause I’d be lying if I said these pecs didn’t seriously tempt me:

And at that price, what Jew wouldn’t spring for this shirt?

To be fair, the choice of cotton makes a lot of sense, as it is the only one of the five most heavily-subsidized crops in America that is not edible (the others: wheat, corn, rice, and soy).

And girls, no need to worry – you’re also covered (below your elbows, even! Though maybe someone can do something about those pants):

As if that style isn’t tempting enough, check out some other day-appropriate offerings:

Continue reading Shopping on Tisha B’Av

What not to do when you’re introduced to someone from Seattle

Whenever I tell someone where I’m from, the response is always predictable, and always about the rain. Nevermind that Seattle gets less annual precipitation than New York, Boston, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Houston, Atlanta, or Washington DC – people know one thing about Seattle, and that thing is rain.

Furthermore, the banal comment always insinuates that the rain is negative, e.g. ‘Why would you want to live there?’ ‘Doesn’t it just make you want to kill yourself?’ ‘Dentists in Seattle must have it pretty rough! :)’

Don’t be that person.

I’m here to suggest an alternative, courtesy of one John Nelson. Last week, Nelson published a historical map of wildfires in the United States using data collected by NASA satellites:

On a stark black background, complete with topographic features, the map shows not only where fires have burned between 2001 and July 2012, but also shows their intensity, veering from a wash of purplish dots for the smallest fires, up through stipples of red and smears of searing yellow for the mightiest blazes.

Without further ado, here’s the map he created:

Continue reading What not to do when you’re introduced to someone from Seattle

What Mitt Romney was really up to while “not working for Bain”

I was doing ‘research’ (i.e. light googling) for a possible post on how to fix the Olympics (Did you know it needs fixing? If not, you will soon.) when I came across an interesting ABC News article, Cost to Host Olympic Games Skyrockets, dated to September 25, 2002. The article details the relative contribution of the federal government to subsequent Olympic host cities. Here are some non-sequential excerpts from the article:

The federal government spent just $75 million (in 1999 dollars) to support the 1984 Olympics in L.A. [Those games]  actually made money — more than $100 million — for Los Angeles, the host city.

The federal government will pay nearly half of the $2.7 billion it is expected to cost to host the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah.

The $1.3 billion in federal spending is more than double the amount of federal funds —$609 million— that supported the 1996 summer Olympics in Atlanta. The Atlanta games cost the city a total of $2 billion.*

Given his description of London’s Olympic preparation as “disconcerting”, and his party’s current concern over the deficit, I thought it interesting to note that Romney was incapable of pulling off the games without record levels of support from the federal government. But even more interesting was his defense of the handout, as related by the article:

Continue reading What Mitt Romney was really up to while “not working for Bain”