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Gary Epstein
And now for something completely different . . .

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

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It gets harder and harder to read the news in Israel. And it’s been getting me down.  So I went back to my old US standbys: Breitbart, Fox, Wall Street Journal, and for balance, or imbalance, CNN and MSNBC (apart from Bret Stephens, the Times is still banned).  And, mirabile dictu (I recently learned that is not a Yiddish expression), I found myself smiling.  Not because the news overseas is any less troublesome.  It’s just more . . . silly.  We haven’t had the luxury of being silly here for six months.  So, begging your indulgence if any of this seems  mean-spirited, or petty, or unkind, or small-minded, or smug, or all of the above, please take it as it is intended–without rancor of any kind–just pure astonishment and amusement.

Everything discussed below happened or was reported in a 24-hour news cycle.  You really can’t make this stuff up.

Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) has credentials that provide credence to her perspectives on certain subjects. She served as the ranking Democrat on the space subcommittee of the House Science Committee.  It is thus not surprising that on the day of the full solar eclipse she was invited to address a local high school in Houston.

And here is what she told the students: “You’ve heard the word [sic] ‘full moon.’  Sometimes you need to take the opportunity just to come out and see a full moon is that [sic] complete rounded circle, which is made up mostly of gasses.  And that’s why the question is why or how could we, as humans, live on the moon?  Are the gasses such that we could do that?”  Having exhausted that subject, she turned her attention to the sun, which, she told the students, “is a mighty powerful heat,” explaining that it was that scientific fact that made it “almost impossible to go near the sun.”

Well, then, cross that off the bucket list.

She also explained that the eclipse resulted from the proximity of the moon to Earth: “that’s why they will shut the light down because they will be close to the Earth.”

Oh.

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The Arizona Supreme Court held that an 1864 law prohibiting abortion was still in effect.  Because, as a result of Dobbs, the procedure is no longer protected by the current Supreme Court’s interpretation of the Constitution, it remains for the legislature to do its job and  enact a new law.  Of course, the Arizona Attorney-General immediately made it clear that no doctor or woman would be prosecuted under the old law, but that did not keep everyone (or anyone) from going crazy.  The issue will be on a ballot initiative for the next election, which should, eventually, put the matter to rest and, until then, keep the issue in the spotlight.  All candidates from both parties oppose the old law.

But none of that kept MSNBC from running the banner:  “Arizona Court Upholds Civil War-Era Abortion Law,” and featuring other archaic laws circa 1864 about criminal penalties for tampering with branded livestock or refusing to serve on a posse.

Wait until MSNBC finds out that the U.S. has a Revolutionary War-Era Constitution and a Post Civil War-Era 14th Amendment (you know, the one that guarantees equal protection under the law).

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According to Turnitin, a software service that checks documents for plagiarism (yes, Harvard University, there is a service that checks documents for plagiarism) students submitted 22,000,000 papers last year that were generated by Artificial Intelligence tools.

True story: When I was teaching in college, two sorority sisters turned in the same paper.  I called them in and advised them about the University-mandated penalties for plagiarism (which were far harsher than I was willing to impose).  They took the news stoically, asking only whether receiving an “F” on the paper would affect their eligibility for the cheerleading squad.  Later, however, one of them returned to my office and explained that she did not deserve to be punished, because she had properly checked the paper out of the file cabinet the sorority maintained to store papers for that purpose, and that she never would have been caught had the other student simply followed the rules and reviewed the check-out list before using the same paper from the file for the same course.

Yes, she really believed that submitting someone else’s work as her own was permissible if she followed the sorority’s rules.  That’s why I am surprised that they only found 22,000,000 examples.

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Uri Berliner, a Senior Business Editor at NPR, wrote a long essay for The Free Press (how did we ever exist without The Free Press?) about the extreme political bias at the station, bemoaning the fact that the taxpayer funded station had skewed so far to the left that it had lost a significant part of its audience.  Berliner provided many examples, from reliance on Adam Schiff, to rejection of the Hunter Biden laptop story, to refusal to address the Mueller report.  An NPR spokesman, saying that this would be the station’s last response on the issue, denied any political bias.  Berliner had pointed out that in senior editorial positions at NPR in Washington, D.C., there were 87 registered Democrats and 0 registered Republicans. NPR expressed its belief that inclusion is critical to reporting on nuanced stories.

Oh.

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Speaking of inclusion and diversity, MSNBC hired Ronna McDaniel, former head of the Republican National Committee, in order to present its audience with a “widely diverse set of viewpoints.”  Then, almost immediately, it fired her when its very fragile current anchors loudly protested.  The company is now going, it says, to redouble its efforts to seek voices representing different parts of the political spectrum.  Joy Reid allowed that she might host Republicans like Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney.

That is, if NPR hasn’t locked them up to achieve diversity of opinion.

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President Biden said that he plans to issue Executive Orders  designed to curb the influx on the Southern border. He did not mention whether his plans included a wall.

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The woman who stole Ashley Biden’s diary was sentenced to one month in prison.  The illegal aliens who assaulted and beat a New York police officer on the streets of Manhattan walked out of jail the same day they were arrested.

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Representative Jasmine Crockett (D-TX) has suggested that it might be an appropriate form of reparations to excuse African-Americans from paying taxes (what is it about Texas?).  She, perhaps mindful of all the plagiarism going around, acknowledges that the idea is not original.  Without naming the famous person who inspired the suggestion, she explained that she didn’t “remember which celebrity, but it was actually a celebrity.”  She also acknowledged that the proposal might not be entirely equitable, because there were many African-Americans “not paying taxes in the first place.”

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Some New York City men are going around sucker-punching random women in the face.  Salon blames it on . . . MAGA, which is fueled by misogyny.  Apparently New York City has become a hotbed of MAGA supporters.  Who knew?

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As part of a comprehensive sanctions regime provoked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the Group of Seven (G7) imposed a $60 a barrel price cap on Russian crude oil.  It is currently selling for $75 a barrel (more in India and China).  Unfortunately, the G7 has not yet announced any sanction on the price of US postage stamps.  The US Postal Service just announced that a first-class stamp for a letter will now be $0.73, up five cents, or 7.8%.  This is the sixth price increase since 2020.  It is doubtful whether James Clyburn will understand.  See below.

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The head of the Anti-Defamation League said that Biden had strengthened Hamas.  John Bolton, Trump’s former National Security Adviser, said that Trump has simple-minded ideas about how the world works.

It’s going to be a tough choice.

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The Utah Department of Corrections has been sued by the US Department of Justice for discriminating against a transgender prisoner.  The complaint alleges that the Department violated the Americans with Disabilities Act, by failing to provide the prisoner with hormone therapy on a timely basis, refusing to move the prisoner to a women’s facility, and failing to purchase women’s clothing for the prisoner.  The prisoner apparently attracted the attention of the DOJ by performing a “dangerous self-surgery” in which she removed her testicles.

The Department said it was blindsided and disappointed by the actions of the DOJ.

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Islamic State has threatened to attack Champions’ League football matches in various cities because . . . do they need a reason?  They announced their goal is to “kill them all” and “destroy the meetings.”

Personally, I think the games are better on television anyway.

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Good news for Memphis Grizzlies:  The Judge held that it was self-defense when 6’3” Ja Morant punched the 17-year-old who threw a basketball at him.  He has been suspended twice for waving a gun at night clubs.  He has apologized.  For the guns.

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Anti-Israel protestors in Dearborn, Michigan closed out Ramadan by gathering and chanting “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”  It was, after all, International Al Quds Day.  The city’s first Arab-American  and Muslim Mayor, Abdollah Hammoud, explained that Dearborn is a city of proud Americans and that the rhetoric at the rally did not reflect the opinions of the patriotic members of the community.

He probably also believes that NPR reporting is fair and balanced.

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Representative James Clyburn (Dem SC-not TX), who Co-Chairs the Biden Campaign Committee declined to comment on inflation, saying, “I don’t know how it really works.  I’m not an economist.”  Members of Congress mail their letters for free.  Otherwise, he might know how it works.  Clyburn’s comment was reminiscent of Justice Jackson’s response when she declined to define the word “woman” because she was not a biologist.

In my house, it’s someone who can’t open a jar.

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Tarek  El-Aissami, the former Oil Minister of Venezuela who has been linked to Hezbollah, has been arrested and charged with treason, money-laundering, and corruption.  He had been purged by Maduro in March 2023 and has been out of sight for a year. Apparently $3,000,000,000 in oil revenue is missing.  Since 2020, the US has been offering a $10 million bounty for information leading to his arrest or conviction.  He is suspected of selling Venezuelan passports to Hezbollah terrorists and also linked to narcotics and prostitution.  Before he was purged, Maduro had claimed that the US was defaming Al-Aissami because of his Arab family and described him as a “brave man,” a “true patriot,” and “a revolutionary, a socialist.”  In the announcement of his arrest, the Venezuelan Attorney-General called him a “scoundrel” who tried to destroy the Venezuelan economy.

Is it just me, or is anyone else wondering whether Maduro is going to try to collect the US bounty?

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Whoopi Goldberg announced that Republicans want to “bring slavery back.”

That would disrupt the entire reparations discussion.

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Cornel West, independent candidate for US President in 2024, announced that he has selected Dr. Melina Abdullah to run for Vice-President on his ticket.  While she has not previously run for or occupied any political position, she is the former chairwoman of Pan-African Studies at California State University in Los Angeles and one of the founders of the LA chapter of Black Lives Matter.  They are going to jointly campaign for truth, justice, and love, and confront the crumbling era of empire, white supremacy, and patriarchy.

It would seem that the ticket will not display much racial diversity.

This also narrows the field with respect to qualified people remaining to replace Mike Pence on Trump’s ticket.

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Speaking of Trump, MSNBC chose to interview none other than Michael Avenatti on Trump’s upcoming trial.  Avenatti joined MSNBC’s “The Beat” and expressed the views that Trump would be convicted, Trump couldn’t get a fair trial in New York City, and the case, which was brought by the State but involves federal election law, was the wrong case at the wrong time.  Avenatti is currently incarcerated at the Terminal Island Prison in California.

Apparently, there were no other available legal experts, and at least Avenatti is not Ronna McDaniel.

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CNN reports that a court in Vietnam has sentenced real estate tycoon Truong My Lan to death for her role in a 304 trillion dong ($12.46 billion) financial fraud.

CNN could not confirm that Alvin Bragg, Letitia James, and Jack Smith were in attendance, taking notes and smiling.

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 Multiple people were arrested in Philadelphia when at least two people were shot at the celebration of the end of Ramadan.

Why can’t they just celebrate the way they do in Dearborn?

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Biden in Japan:  “Elect me . . . I’m in the 20th Century . . . um . . . the 21st Century.”

 

Listen, I get it.  I’m 76 years old.  I have gotten days, months, and years wrong.  But never a century, 24 years into the century.

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According to The Wall Street Journal, the women’s NCAA basketball championship game drew 18.9 million viewers  compared to 14.8 million for the men’s game.  The TV rights to the women’s tournament were sold for $6.5 million.  “The men’s tournament?” you ask. $873 million.

Want to guess how much Caitlin Clark is worth?  I doubt that she will be complaining about gender disparity in pay.

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To the reader of my most recent blog who commented that it was rubbish, this is what rubbish looks like.  To the rest of you, I hope that it brightened your day for a moment.  If not, I apologize in advance.  I’m still giggling about some of it.  I am not proud about that.

About the Author
Gary Epstein is a retired teacher and lawyer residing in Modi'in, Israel. He was formerly the Head of the Global Corporate and Securities Department of Greenberg Traurig, a global law firm with an office in Tel Aviv, which he founded and of which he was the first Managing Partner. He and his wife Ahuva are blessed with18 grandchildren, ka"h, all of whom he believes are well above average. He currently does nothing. He believes he does it well.