Tag Archives: Bohemian Rhapsody

An unbelievably horrible bi-partisan bill shows just the power of the Israel lobby. A sensational “Bohemian Rhapsody” singalong by 65,000 people. And a translator story that made me laugh

It’s pretty rare for my blood to boil on a Sunday night, especially in the summer after yet another terrific weekend spent with friends and family.

But then again, it should be pretty rare for a piece of legislation this stupid, this mind-numbingly awful, to get bipartisan support. And hardly anyone has been paying attention to it.

Let me direct your attention today to a new proposed law called S.720, the Israel Anti- Boycott Act.

This law, sponsored by Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland and Republican Rob Portman of Ohio, would actually impose civil and criminal penalties on American citizens for backing or joining any international boycott of Israel because of its settlement activities.

Let me say that again: You could legally be arrested, and charged with crimes, for supporting any international boycott of Israel. So let’s say I’m sitting here in my apartment in New York City, and I decide to sign a petition, or give a speech, or donate money, to a cause or group abroad that believes Israel should be boycotted.

Now I’ve broken the law. It would be a FELONY!

Get this, too: There are even penalties for simply inquiring about such a boycott. And they’re not messing around. The minimum civil penalty would be $250,000 and the maximum criminal penalty $1 million and 20 years in prison. Up to 20 years in prison for opposing the policies of a foreign government and doing something about it!

Forty-three Senators have already signed on as co-sponsors, including alleged free speech enthusiasts like Democrats Chuck Schumer and Kristen Gillibrand, and Ron Wyden of Oregon. And on the other side, Mr. Popularity, Ted Cruz is a co-sponsor, as is Marco Rubio.

At first I thought this was something from The Onion. The idea that an American citizen could be arrested, and would be breaking the law, by daring to express support for an Israeli boycott, is absolutely despicable.

Free speech, anyone? First Amendment ring a bell there, Chuckie Schumer? Can you even imagine a law like this passing in our Congress in regards to any other nation in the world? Let’s say a lobbying group representing India, or Germany, or (heaven forbid) our “friends” in Saudi Arabia tried to get a bill like this passed. It would be D.O.A.

But destroying civil liberties is possible thanks to AIPAC, the incredibly-powerful Israel lobbying group in Washington, D.C. AIPAC has so many politicians in its pocket, I’d venture to say they’re the 2nd-most powerful organization in Washington, behind the NRA.

The ACLU has, thankfully, written a strong letter to Congress letting them now exactly what this bill would do, and how dangerous it is.

Read this from The Intercept about it; it’s especially chilling how many co-sponsors have no idea what they’ve signed on for, expressing that they’ll read it right away, and “look into it.”

What AIPAC wants, AIPAC gets.

This bill is an abomination. I know there are so many abominations going on in Congress these days, but don’t let this one slip by you. Call your Senator and your Congressman and tell them we still live in a free society, dammit.

**Next up today, this was so cool. At a punk rock festival in London on July 1, 65,000 fans eagerly awaited for headliner Green Day to show up. While waiting, the organizers played Queen’s classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” for the crowd.

And 65,000 people then belted it out, perfectly, even humming the guitar solo. So freaking amazing.

**So I don’t know if you will find this as funny as I did, but here goes. With the revelation last week that Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump had a secret meeting that was previously undisclosed (shocking! The Trump administration has been so transparent to this point!), and the added fact that only a Russian translator listened in, with no American ears present, made me remember a great old story my Dad re-told me this weekend.

My father was a teacher in the South Bronx in New York City in the 1960s and ’70s, not an easy time nor place to be a public school educator. One day, after months of dealing with a very disruptive and problematic 6th-grade Hispanic boy, and trying unsuccessfully to get his mother to come in for a conference, the school was finally able to get her to show up.

The mom spoke only Spanish, and for the first 2/3 of the meeting with the principal, my Dad, and other administrators, the only other Spanish-speaker in the room was the misbehaving student.

As my father and the others told the mom about all her son’s acting out in class, vandalizing school property, terrible attitude, etc., the mom sat there smiling and grinning, looking at her son admiringly. The faculty was puzzled.

Finally, a Spanish-speaking teacher arrived and suddenly solved the mystery. Instead of translating for his mother what was actually being said, the student said only that the teachers were so proud of her boy, he’s such an excellent student, we couldn’t be happier and more thrilled with him here!

In short order, the Spanish-speaking teacher set the mom straight.

Hey, you gotta give the kid credit for trying!

A wedding weekend in Baltimore: good times. A horrific tragedy at the Bronx Zoo. And the joy of carpool singing

Most people enjoy attending weddings. Others find it a chore.

Me? It’s probably my favorite thing to do.
I’ve never not had a great time at a wedding. Eating, dancing, seeing friends and loved ones? What could be bad about that?
I spent the weekend in suburban Baltimore at the wedding of my girlfriend’s first cousin, a heck of a guy despite being an Orioles fan (that’s not them in the above photo; just some random folks I found on the Internet).
As always after big events, I had a few thoughts on the fabulous shindig:
— Generally I come down very strongly on the side of “wedding band” in the perennial “band vs. DJ” debate, but the button-pusher at this event was pretty damn good. A terrific mix of mostly fast songs, with a few slow ones thrown in, plus the DJ mixed in current songs with some oldies that kept both the older guests and the young’uns (who I now consider anyone under 30) dancing. A solid job.
— Help me out on this, non-New York people: Is it only at New York weddings that people dance before dinner? Because at just about every NY wedding I’ve been to, the dancing starts immediately when the reception does, and then after 20 minutes or so people sit down for the salad course. But most weddings I’ve been to outside of NY everybody eats for an hour, and then the dancing starts.
Personally, I like to boogie down immediately.
— Very cool Jewish wedding ritual I hadn’t seen before: Instead of the traditional  groom breaking the glass at the end of the ceremony, Saturday the bride and groom both broke glasses. Very 21st century; I liked it a lot.
— Never saw this before: The beautiful bride started crying on the way down the aisle. Sweet to see how excited and moved she was before we even got started.
— Finally, a few words about the plight of a Baltimore Orioles fan. I was standing in the lobby Saturday when I saw a man with an O’s cap checking in at the front desk. He excitedly told the clerk that he had driven all the way up from Virginia for the game that night.
“They’re honoring Frank Robinson, so I figured it was definitely worth coming,” the O’s fan said.
And I thought: That’s what 15 years of awful baseball and terrible ownership does to your fan base: They only get excited when a blast from your great past is feted.
Even though I’m a Yankees fan, it’s truly sad to see what’s happened to the Orioles. They were such a proud franchise for so long; now they’re just a laughingstock. Baseball’s more fun when the Orioles are at least competitive.

**One of the scariest car-crash stories I’ve heard in a while happened Sunday: Seven people, including three children under 10, were killed when a van they were traveling in careened off the parkway and down into the area that surrounds the Bronx Zoo.
The SUV flipped over a four-foot fence, then plunged more than 50 feet to the ground.
No explanation or reason was found so far on the crash, but my heart goes out to those families involved. What an awful, sickening way to die.

**Finally today, here’s a little heartwarming video to lift your spirits a little bit. A father and his three kids, singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” on the way to school in the morning.
How much fun are these kids having? A lot more fun than they had later that day in class, I’m guessing.