Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day 2010: Remembering Alejandro Ruiz, Medal of Honor Winner

Today being Memorial Day, we'll continue a long-standing Hedgehog Blog tradition and share a Medal of Honor Citation for Alejandro Ruiz, Private First Class, U.S. Army:
When his unit was stopped by a skillfully camouflaged enemy pillbox, he displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. His squad, suddenly brought under a hail of machinegun fire and a vicious grenade attack, was pinned down. Jumping to his feet, Pfc. Ruiz seized an automatic rifle and lunged through the flying grenades and rifle and automatic fire for the top of the emplacement. When an enemy soldier charged him, his rifle jammed. Undaunted, Pfc. Ruiz whirled on his assailant and clubbed him down. Then he ran back through bullets and grenades, seized more ammunition and another automatic rifle, and again made for the pillbox. Enemy fire now was concentrated on him, but he charged on, miraculously reaching the position, and in plain view he climbed to the top. Leaping from 1 opening to another, he sent burst after burst into the pillbox, killing 12 of the enemy and completely destroying the position. Pfc. Ruiz's heroic conduct, in the face of overwhelming odds, saved the lives of many comrades and eliminated an obstacle that long would have checked his unit's advance.
Alejandro Ruiz died on November 23, 2009. Let's think about him today.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Obama and the Gulf Oil Disaster: Talk versus Action

This is a pretty good video:

Someone said a day or two ago that the G.W. Bush administration was all action and no talk, and that the Obama administration is all talk and no action. Both statements are exaggerations, but there seems to a lot of truth to both as well.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

What If Israel Published a Gaza Guide Book?

Another convoy of tender-hearted international activists are headed for Gaza, this time in a 9-boat flotilla. Omni Ceren at Mere Rhetoric has marked the occasion by publishing a faux Gaza Travel Guidebook for the Pro-Hamas Flotilla. What is remarkable is that the only faux aspect of the Guidebook is its purported authorship by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. All of the other information and photographs are genuine, and totally demolish the mass media portrayal of Gaza as "the world's largest concentration camp." Among the facts that Ceren provides:

*During the blockade, Israel has shipped millions of tons of food and aid to Gaza. "Just last week we handed over 810,209 liters of heavy duty diesel fuel, 21 truckloads of milk powder and baby food, 897 tons of cooking gas, 66 truckloads of fruits and vegetables, 51 truckloads of wheat, 27 truckloads of meat, chicken and fish products, 40 truckloads of dairy products, 117 truckloads of animal feed, 36 truckloads of hygiene products, 38 trucks of clothing, 22 trucks of sugar and 4 trucks of medicine and medical equipment." Incidentally, this must be the first time in history that a nation undertook to feed, clothe, and provide clean water, fuel and electricity to people engaged in an active military campaign whose objective is to destroy that nation. More surprisingly, instead of international praise, Israel has received only international opprobrium for its conduct. It is truly absurd.

*"Gaza’s markets are simply overflowing with goods supplied by hundreds of smuggling tunnels, from food and clothing to widescreen TVs and even live cows. The depth and breadth of the selection is so astounding that smaller tunnel operators are actually getting run out of business because they can’t compete with the scale of the larger operations."

*"Tourists hoping for bargains may nonetheless find themselves disappointed, however. Gaza’s relatively healthy per capita income – higher than India’s as a result of being the world’s largest per-capita aid recipient – keeps demand robust and prices stable."

Ceren's text and slide shows acquaint the reader with the luxury hotels, beach resorts (photo above left) and restaurants (patronized by the Hamas, UN, and international NGO elites), and the fully stocked markets and stores, found in Gaza. They exist and they are in the plain sight of any enterprising reporter who might want to write a story with a theme other than the cruel oppression of the Israeli siege. Of course, none of Western journalists who visit Gaza, even the ones who lodge the luxury hotels and dine in style at the high-end restaurants, are interested in telling that story.

[HT: Doris Wise Montrose, Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors]

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Dear Tea Partiers: Be Careful About Excesses

Amid the chorus of glee over Senator Robert Bennett's needlessly ignominious political execution, let me sound a discordant note: This event is more about Utah's caucus-style political nominating system than about Bennett's supposed sins. Apparently the Senator's worst misdeed was to vote for TARP. Is anyone really suggesting that vote as a basis for throwing out not only Bennett, who is Utah's Mr. Republican, but virtually the entire Republican membership of the U.S. Senate? In Utah's caucuses, the political parties' more extreme bases rule the nominating process - more, it seems, than in just about any other state. Before anyone gets too excited about Bennett's ouster being an expression of national conservative outrage, let's note that Representative Jim Matheson now faces a primary. Matheson is the lone Democrat in Utah's delegation. His sin? Voting against Obamacare. In Utah's caucus system, being insufficiently liberal can get you in as much trouble as not being conservative enough. I found this comment interesting:

Much in the same fashion as what Utah Conservatives accomplished against Senator Bennett, an ideological sense of pureness has overcome Utah Liberals, who want to remove their one chance of representation in Washington, because he isn't big government enough.... if the Republican Caucus wants to emerge a stronger and healthier coalition come November, I would suggest a gameplan for maintaining a sense of Ronald Reagan's big tent and his 80 percent friend, not a 20 percent foe approach. If we lose the Ronald Reagan Republican formation, than our movement will shrivel and die, especially if we don't reinstate the Eleventh Commandment of Republican politics.

Writers in the blogosphere (including yours truly) often criticize our national political class. Well, Bennett is one of the good guys: decent, thoughtful, conservative, and well-spoken. The hard-core anti-Bennett forces in Utah who, amid their gloating, are calling the Senator a RINO have a very heavy lift in making that argument. Others, like Dan Riehl, wonder whether the tea partiers are controlling the situation quite as much as they think they are.

The tea party movement is a great and important phenomenon, but excesses are excesses, no matter who commits them, and the Bennett episode was one. Excuse me if I don't join in the celebration.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

The President Shows Us All How to Practice Civility

According to Jonathan Alter's new book, the President of the United States used the term "teabaggers" to describe the citizens in the Tea Party movement. (Some call that term vugar; I think it is simply obscene.) Here is the press secretary to the President of the United States refusing to confirm or deny that his boss used that term:

(HT: Hot Air.)

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Clara Chaya Hammer, "The Chicken Lady" of Jerusalem, Of Blessed Memory

How much good can one ordinary person do?

Some 30 years ago, Clara Chaya Hammer, a Jerusalem widow and retired school teacher of around 70 years in age, was in line at a butcher shop one Friday morning, when she saw the butcher give a young girl ahead of her in line a large bag of chicken skin and fat. Curious, she asked the butcher, "How many cats or dogs does that family have?"

He explained the family had many children and the father was on dialysis. They had run up a tremendous bill, so the butcher just gave them fat and skins to use for a soup for Friday Sabbath dinner and a cholent, or stew, for Saturday Sabbath lunch.

Mrs. Hammer declared: "You give them every week two chickens and a half kilo of turkey, and I will pay for it." Soon the butcher, rabbis, social workers and friends began telling her of other families who needed help, and the fund grew. She began to solicit donations to buy chickens a growing number of impoverished families.

By the time of Mrs. Hammer's death in March, just shy of her 100th birthday, the Clara Chaya Hammer Chicken Fund was feeding over 250 families, with a butcher bill of around $10,000 per month. Mrs. Hammer, may her memory be for a blessing, leaves a legacy that includes nine grandchildren, 35 great grandchildren, 24 great great-grandchildren, and an awesome accumulation of mitzvot (good deeds). Her daughter, Chana Homnick of Jerusalem says that she and one of the great grandddaugheters will continue the work of the fund.

Kudos to CNN for reporting this story. Read the entire story here.

There could be no more fitting memorial to her than donations to Clara Chaya Hammer Chicken Fund. I found this address online:

Chaya Hammer
Mishmar Ha'Gvul 4
Ramat Eshkol
Jerusalem, ISRAEL.

Unfortunately, the Clara Chaya Hammer Chicken Fund does not appear to be registered with the IRS as a charitable organization; so donations may not be tax deductible. Also, I am uncertain whether the above address, which was published in an article about Mrs. Hammer when she was still living, remains a good address after her death. Any updated information from knowledgable readers will be greatly appreciated.

May the memory of this saintly lady continue to be a blessing.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

What Does the Times Square Bomber Have in Common with the UN Nuclear Nonproliferation Conference?

Wall Street Journal editor Bret Stephens provides the answer. He notes that the star of the UN Conference is none other than Iran's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose regime is busily at work proving why the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and the nuclear weapons policy of the Obama Administration are based on concepts that are 40 years out of date. His chilling warning concludes:
The world today is rapidly moving toward what strategist Andrew Krepinevich calls the "second nuclear age," in which deterrence no longer works as it did during the Cold War. "It may be," he writes, "that leaders of the newly armed nuclear states do not calculate costs and benefits in a manner similar to the United States." Yet we haven't even begun to think seriously about how to navigate these waters. Hillary Clinton's mindless calls yesterday about strengthening the NPT [Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty] won't do.

One day a Pathfinder with tinted windows may park itself in Times Square with something more than propane tanks in the back seat. We may not be able to stop it. But we will live more securely if the driver of that car knows exactly what we intend to do next.