I figure I might as well do some odds and ends since I'm posting today.
First, I wanted to comment on Richard Dawkins recent quote in The Guardian:
"When you think about how fantastically successful the Jewish lobby has been, though, in fact, they are less numerous I am told - religious Jews anyway - than atheists and [yet they] more or less monopolise American foreign policy as far as many people can see. So if atheists could achieve a small fraction of that influence, the world would be a better place."
I have lots of thoughts on this issue, and I have posted most on RichardDawkins.net.
It would be denying reality if one ignored that Dawkins has become the equivalent of a Jerry Falwell for atheists, though not too many atheists including me believe that we need a spokesperson who speaks for all of us, because we all differ so much when it comes to our opinions on crime, state, politics, etc.
But when Dawkins talks, he gets attention. Unfortunately, he is not perfect, as seen by the above quote. He has swallowed the Arab and anti-semitic propaganda about the Jewish lobby. I think it is a cultural thing in Britain, and Dan Johnson agrees with me in this article, "Suppressed Scholarship."
Dawkins apologists on the Dawkins Forum point out that he meant the comment as a compliment. That a small amount Jews are organized enough to monopolize US foreign policy. The thing is that is not a fact, and comments like this have led to dead Jews in the past. That is why it is a bit disturbing that he even thinks it.
Jewish lobby is a term referring to allegations that Jews exercise undue influence in a number of areas, including politics, government, business, the media, academia, popular culture, public policy, international relations, and international finance.  It is used most commonly by the far right, far left, and Islamists.
The expression is commonly associated with antisemitic aspersions. Chip Berlet of Political Research Associates, an American research group that tracks right-wing extremists, writes that it combines the classic elements of anti-Semitic stereotyping and scapegoating, and is part of the discourse of conspiracism.
Sometimes the term "Jewish lobby" is being used to refer to Israel lobby, but according to Mitchell Bard, director of the non-profit American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise (AICE), such usage "is both vague and inadequate."
For centuries, a key element of antisemitic thought were conspiracy theories that the Jews, as a group, were plotting to control or otherwise influence the world. Vijay Prasad described The myth of the "Jewish lobby" in India's magazine Frontline:
The idea of the "Jewish lobby" is attractive because it draws upon at least a few hundred years of anti-Semitic worry about an international conspiracy operated by Jewish financiers to defraud the European and American working poor of their livelihood. The "Jew," without a country, but with a bank, had no loyalty to the nation, no solidarity with fellow citizens. The anti-Semitic document, "Protocols of the Elders of Zion," is a good illustration of this idea. The Nazis stigmatized the "Jew" as the reason for poverty and exploitation, and obscured the role played by capitalism in the reproduction of grief. The six million Jews in the U.S. do not determine U.S. foreign policy; nor are they united. Jews in America, like other communities, are rent with division, not united behind one agenda.
I am not saying Dawkins is anti-semitic (he is not known for any other anti-semitic slurs), but what he said was anti-semitic, though I blame it on him being a victim of the British culture.
About the Jewish lobby: There are plenty of lobbies in the US that have as much if not more influence on foreign policy than Aipac does. The oil lobby for instance. US foreign policy takes Saudi Arabia and China into consideration way ahead of Israel in my opinion.
What Dawkins said about the Jewish lobby is similar to what Christians say about the Atheist lobby. Think about it. Courts are ruling for gay marriages, against pro-lifers, taking the 10 commandments out of government buildings and prayer and creation out of school. But all these things are happening not because of the Atheist lobby (Dawkins said we need a lobby in the article), but because it makes sense to separate church and state in order to have freedom and freedom of religion too. Common sense makes the laws, not atheists. In fact, common sense makes atheists.
The US supports Israel and does things that appear to help Israel so much because Israel pretty much the same ethical values and goals as the US. Of course, it is a little more complicated than that. The US also supports Israel to keep Israel in check. They try to make sure Israel doesn't respond as the US would respond if the US were in Israel's shoes. This keeps the Saudi lobby content.
Respectful Insolence is a must read if you are still interested in this topic.
I'll also note that one commenter (Tim) was banned because a moderator didn't like the inference that Dawkins might be anti-semitic. Even though it was clear to me that all Tim was saying that what Dawkins said was obviously anti-semitic. What is with moderators? See previous post.
Tim left a comment on my previous post saying that Dawkins did email him back when he inquired about the ban. Dawkins stated that he was misquoted, but there was nothing to back it up according to Tim.
OK, now for some levity. Pat Condell's latest video on the Christian love he has been receiving for his previous videos. Great points about the "historical Jesus" too:
And finally, on a sad note. My "other" dog Jake had to be put down on Saturday.
Jake is the dog on the couch in the above picture.
We took him in almost exactly a year ago. He had very bad back legs. And my brother, who took him in two years previously (because his former owner moved to an Old Folks home), move from a farm to a place with lots of stairs. Jake could barely make 3 steps tops because of his infirmaries. So he was sort of pawned off on us. We have a very good sized main floor with a couple of three step accesses to a very large backyard. He never did see the upstairs of our house.
I never really bonded with Jake, but he loved my wife. He would walk around the house looking for her all the time. Why not? She fed him and took care of him like a king, cooking him and Daisy chicken almost every morning.
He was probably 11ish based on the information I have. On Saturday, he fell right after drinking water in the kitchen. My wife called me, I saw his eyes moving up and down and he wouldn't get up. He couldn't get up. His back legs finally gave out.
My sister in law came over with her friend (who is very knowledgeable about dogs). The friend was pretty sure it wasn't a stroke or a heart attack. We called vets. But in a small town just after noon, it was impossible to get immediate help.
We waited a couple of hours. Jake refused food for the first time ever. He was always like a disposable garbage can when it came to scraps. Instead he threw up a couple of times.
He wasn't improving at all. And he tried to get up but couldn't.
We made the decision to euthanize him. We found an SPCA that was still open though 20 minutes away and lifter him into my brother's truck (he weighed about 90 pounds), in the front seat.
My wife and I were to attend a wedding at 3:00. I told my wife to go without me, I'd make it for the reception. My wife tearfully said goodbye, to Jake and I went with my sister in law and her friend on his final road trip.
They wouldn't let anyone in with him at the SPCA after they took on a stretcher to the death room, which was fine with me (though I wouldn't have minded the option). I don't like watching an animal die. From the front desk at the SPCA I heard Jake bark a few last times. Then I didn't hear anything.
The vet told us that he most likely suffered a blood clot in the hind and that it caused his main functions to shut down. We did the right thing. And remember, this is a long weekend. If we waited, we would have probably had to wait until Tuesday morning.
We took Jakes body back to my house. My wife was back from the wedding and we had a couple of hours to kill before the reception. We spent it digging Jake's grave and then burying him wrapped in one of his favorite blankets.