Thursday, January 29, 2004


By Gene Berman

Time has not, in recent history, been kind to the Left. But, in a very real sense, it may be considered to have been far kinder than deserved and (momentary triumphalism aside) it should be obvious that the Left (as Jesus said of the poor) "are ever with us."

"The Left" is neither political movement nor coherent philosophy. Rather, it is the catch-all refuge of all that is negative and vicious in the human psyche. The Left organizes and justifies the poor, the weak, and the failed--to find outside themselves (personally, ethnically, religiously, nationally) those "root causes" for what are nothing more than the most ordinary human inadequacies.

The Left is the nihilistic politics of resentment, malice, jealousy, and revenge. It (the Left) may be fought -- even suppressed -- but cannot be eradicated; it shall be ever with us, its endurance due to its very humanness. Inferiority and dissatisfaction are the universal, omnipresent characteristics of the human personality.

No (sane) man can be other than keenly aware of his "place" in a bewildering array of hierarchically-ordered comparisons. Improvement in most of these is open to nearly all (indeed, is pursued with varying success by nearly all) and the lack of complete success in most resolved by adjustment to reality and a healthy integration in society. Everyday life brings abundant examples of both phenomena but, as well, an equal abundance of failure to achieve either the desired improvement or the reasonable adjustment.

In other words, every man who is not a king, who is not the richest, who is not as big, strong, fast, smart, brave, handsome, admired, respected, famous, and sexually-surfeited -- every man who has ever endured the slightest dissatisfaction with his existence -- is a potential target for the lure of the Left. That's an awful lot of people! The Left is the political expression and organization of what, in relation to medicine and physical health, is termed "quackery." It offers (to all sufferers -- of whatever ails them) the illusion of a coherent etiology for their unsatisfactory conditions, whatever they may be, and a "program" -- nostrums for their relief.

It would be an easier task to eliminate homeopathy, naturopathy, chiropractic, "holistic," and other "alternative" medicines (as well as belief in the supernatural: fortune-telling, "channeling," ESP, astrology, spells, and demons) from their acceptance over the world than to eliminate the constantly-renewable reservoir upon which the Left is constituted and feeds. To recognize these things is not defeatist nor does it suggest the disparagement of successes, whether enduring or evanescent; it is simply acknowledgment that the "battle" is forever.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Pope Tells All In The Star

By Arlene Peck

Dang! I just discovered I've been looking for love, or fair and unbiased reporting in all the wrong places. All this time I've been writing and complaining about the attacks on Israel from mainstream papers like The Los Angeles Times. Or, I've watched CNN and the BBC spew their hatred and, I shouldn't have been paying any attention to them. Folks, I've discovered it's the trash scandal sheets that know the real scoop.

For instance, while on a recent trip to the hairdressers, I sat under the dryer with a stack of those magazines that are read by everybody but, no one has ever admitted to buying. What a Mecca of real information.

For instance, did you know that "The Star" had the real scoop on 'alleged anti-Semite' Mel Gibson's new movie, "The Passion of the Christ". It was from none other than "The Man'" Pope John Paul II who apparently despite his failing eyesight and the apparent inability to form a coherent sentence, has seen this movie and "given it two thumbs up". I find it truly amazing that at this point in time the Pope who appears to have to have his head propped up could even raise that hand, but hey, it was a Vatican official who reported it so how could there be any doubt.

Except Abraham H. Foxman, the national director of the Anti-Defamation League, (according to the L.A. Times and we know how truthful they are) quoted Foxman as saying he snuck into a screening, paid a $295 registration fee and found it "painful, offensive and capable of stoking anti-Semitism."

Interesting how the Jews could look at this abomination and find it "unambiguous portrayal of Jew as being responsible for the death of Jesus. And concerned that Mel's movie "could fuel latent anti-Semitism that exists in the hearts of those people who hold Jews responsible for the death of Jesus." Funny, how the Catholics see the same thing and give it "two thumbs up."

An article in the mainstream press denies that the pope made any reference to Gibson's movie, for or against. So who knows what the real story is folks; but I'm sticking with the Star, because you know how reliable the mainstream press is especially when it comes to Jews and Israel."

Anyway, this same Vatican official reported "It is as it was" the Holy One said." And, hey, he should know. He was probably there.

I wonder if this movie goer Pope who has been ever so vocal about the dangers of the Fence that Israel has been building to protect them from the violent neighbors who surround them has ever noticed the monstrous fence that encompasses his hometown, Vatican City? And, that's just to keep out the tourists who are vying for one of those favored visits with him. Remember how cute he and Arafat were in those photo-ops?

I suppose he's been to busy being a movie critic to notice those stories and lawsuits the Catholic church has been paying out to victims of pedophiles.
And, speaking of that! The Star was full of all kinds of juicy tid-bits about super star Michael Jackson's (Jacko's) Dream Team.

Imagine my surprise when next to a full page spread of the friends and supporters of' possible upcoming felon Jackson I should see, next to a clip of Louis Farrakhan, "Jackson pal Rabbi Shmuley Boteach! How delighted I was to see a picture of the good Rabbi, kepot and all, smiling into the camera saying, "I don't believe Michael Jackson is a pedophile. It is the rest of his life that is so screwed up." And, "The Star" heard if first.

Actually, that triggered thoughts of another encounter I had with the "celebrity Rabbi' It was a couple of years ago and he was promoting that scholarly book, "Kosher Sex". He had arranged at a local theatre a 'dialogue' with yet more paragons of virtue, Hustler Magazine publisher, Larry Flint and "white trash with money", Rosanne who now is redeemed because she's discovered Kabala.

Naturally the audience was filled to the brim with young Orthodox kids who had come to be enlightened with their dialogue of sex, pornography and I'm sure religion was tied in there somewhere. When the Rabbi was able to get a word in edgewise, between Rosanne's four-letter expletives, he was generous in his praise with those who shared the stage with him. So, I wasn't too surprised in the class he showed by praising his good friend Michael Jackson.

Yet, another surprise was awaiting me in the full page spread of "Jacko's Dream Team" Liza Minnelli ) was also in this 'Star special' giving glowing reports to "suspected" pedophile Jackson. Now, would you have ever seen such earth-shattering news in the mainstream press? Probably.

But elsewhere in many of these same scandal sheets as of late was even more about one-time star, Minnelli. It seems that the tabloids say Liza Minnelli has a new man in her life. Several have said that "Liza (57) is often seen with Yossi Dina, 49, a former Israeli army captain described as a pawnbroker to the stars" He supposedly lends her diamond jewelry, and she invites him to high-profile events such as Liz Taylor's recent AIDS fundraiser." The news out here in Hollywood is giving glowing reports to this happy couple.

Aw, but I have a scoop that I don't think even the tabloids know yet. I know Yossi personally and his reputation is that he only likes under aged, blond, bimbetts. Hmmmm, maybe I can start writing for the Star or Inquirer?

Arlene Peck is an internationally syndicated columnist and television talk show hostess - Arlene speaks regularly around the country and keeps a packed suitcase ready to GO.

Arlene can be reached at: and

Thursday, January 22, 2004


A recent article in the NYT -- to the effect that too much choice can be bad for you -- has attracted some attention. Below is Peg Kaplan's response to it

A reasonable article. I empathize with those who are overwhelmed with choice; too often, I find myself in similar straits.

But I think that part of the reason I feel overwhelmed and do not make a choice isn't so much that we have too many choices: the reason is that we have the goal of perfection.

What if we buy a digital camera ... and find out that there was a superior one for $25 more? or we sign up for a mutual fund - and ours ends up earning only 7.3% annually instead of 8.5%? Although we would be fine with the slightly "inferior" camera or mutual fund ... we cannot accept that we chose one way, when there was something better. When we have a huge array from which to choose - and we are perfectionists - too often we make no choice at all.

Another factor involved, I believe, is that, too often, we are being trained to have our ability to choose removed from us. Look at how many functions either the government and/or our employer makes for us today - unlike 50 or more years ago. retirement? handled by the government and employee pensions. (at least, in theory *_*) healthcare insurance? employer for some, emergency room for the poor; playing as a child? no more games of running and chasing on an open field. Nope. Now Mom drives kids to soccer or swimming or gymnastics ... all supervised by an adult, with little opportunity for a child's creativity.

No wonder when choice stares us in the face, too often we are unprepared to handle it. A couple of stories, perhaps to illustrate.

First - my friend Bonnie. She just put a beautiful new kitchen in her home. I ooohed & ahhhhed - and asked her if it was tough to find the lovely cabinetry, hardware & appliances. Not at all, she replied: The company with whom she worked showed her some ideas; She saw something that she liked and knew would work - and she selected it. She didn't feel a need to look at every door-pull or cooktop ever invented: "If I see something a little better, I don't care," explained Bonnie. No wonder she's one of my smartest and most practical friends.

Second - the story of Vera: She came here from Russia, roughly 25 years ago, pregnant at the time. She soon had her second child and went to the local department store to purcahse a baby blanket. She came home empty handed. Did they not have any? Of course not! they had too many! In Russia, Vera explained, if you needed a baby blanket, you went to the store - and if you were lucky, they had one. You wanted it? You bought it. There was no choice of color, of yarn, of style, of size ... one blanket. Here in the United States, Vera was overwhelmed by having to choose -- when she never had such an array of goods before in her life. She couldn't do it.

In the long run, if we learn to choose - and choose reasonably - all of us will be better off.

Finally - when it comes to social security, all of the above discussion and the article in the New York Times is really irrelevant. Today, unless you have an income above a certain level, you have NO choice when it comes to retirement. You get social security - and that's it. You don't make enough to save and have a choice about where to park your investment assets. So you are protected to some degree until you and your spouse die. But that's it. Nothing to leave to your offspring. If we want to give those earning less a crack at a little wealth, privatization is the only opportunity for it. Why not let these people have some choice about where their money goes? Why not give them the opportunity to amass some nest egg - something that they could leave to their children for a downpayment on a house - or their grandchildren's college educations?

Choosing is tough. if it's available. We then have to work and weigh our options. We might make a poor choice, and then we have to live with the knowledge that we went wrong. Still, I'll take choice any day over having someone else make it for me.