Lindsey Graham Addresses the Republican Jewish Coalition

— by Richard Chaitt and Scott Schley

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham was among the 13 Republican candidates speaking at the RJC Presidential Presidential Forum.

Senator Lindsay Graham

Senator Lindsay Graham

Senator Lindsey Graham

Senator Graham’s presentation was “folksy”. He took off against unserious candidates; zeroing in on those who never held office. Objected to what Cruz said. Graham believes that by emphasizing a nationalist, pro-life agenda Republicans are alienating Hispanic and young women voter; the party needs to be more inclusive if they are to prevail in the general election. If the Republican candidate takes the position that a woman who is raped or is a victim of incest can’t get an abortion or that all illegal immigrants must be deported, the Republicans will lose.

Graham was strong on foreign policy and against Iran. He promised to stop the Iranian nuclear program. He would defund the UN unless they stop taking discriminatory positions against Israel. He also said the Palestinians should lose US funding unless they get serious about peace.

Speeches by the other Republican presidential candidates is available in our full coverage of the RJC presidential forum.

Politico: Former GOP Critics Praise Hagel

— by Jacob Miller

Some of Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel’s toughest Republican critics have praised his tenure as Secretary of Defense. From Politico:

“I’m very pleased,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, the South Carolina Republican who during his confirmation hearing grilled Hagel on controversial remarks he made about Israel. Graham voted against Hagel but now says he’s happy with the way Hagel has tackled a flurry of national security challenges in his first three months on the job.

More after the jump.
Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), also formerly a staunch Hagel opponent, approved to Politico of the job he has done thus far:

I think he’s trying to bring people together, even people who didn’t support him. So I appreciate his efforts, and I think he’s off to a good start.

In his short tenure as Secretary of Defense, Hagel has astutely navigated the immense challenges of sequestration — a $40 billion cut on his first day — an unpredictable and dangerous North Korea, and the volatile Middle East. It is great to see that Republicans are giving credit where credit is due. Hagel has done an great job thus far — especially concerning the US-Israel relationship.

Theater Chat: The Big Bang

By Hannah Lee

Theater critics should add caveats to their reviews.  After reading the rave reviews in the Inquirer and the Main Line Times, I booked tickets for The Big Bang for my family.  Judging from the number of young children in attendance for a comedy that deserves an R rating, I know that other parents were mislead by the praise for a zany, frenetic romp through history.

More after the jump.
A two-man tour de force played by local thespians, Tony Braithwaite and Ben Dibble with piano accompaniment by Sonny Leo, The Big Bang skewers historical icons from Adam and Eve to Christopher Columbus and Queen Isabella to Eva Braun.  They’re equal-opportunity offenders, but the lyrics seem to tilt heavily towards Jewish inflections and phraseology, even in historical skits that do not involve Jews, such as Pocahontas and Minnehaha griping about their poor line-up of prospective mates, including Chief Sitting Shivah.  The name of the lyricist sounds WASPy — Boyd Graham — but my friend and companion, Susie, suspects that he may have a Jewish ancestor.  The composer, Jed Feuer, is the son of the prominent director and producer, Cy Feuer.

More than the frenetic lyrics which forced us audience members to strain to catch every line (with a joke in each), my friend and I were enthralled by the clever use of props put to use for each skit.  So, file these ideas for next Purim: an inverted lampshade as a headdress for Queen Nefertiti; a T-shirt worn backwards on the head as Egyptian head gear; a small pillowcase as Columbus’ floppy hat; fancy colanders as helmets; and two open umbrellas as hoop supports for a Southern belle’s gown (this I have yet to try at home).  There were no credits given for the costume or props designer, but that creative individual deserves an ovation.

The Big Bang made its theatrical debut at the Douglas Fairbanks Theatre in New York City in 2000 and it had previously played in Philadelphia in 2005 at the Kimmel Center and three years later, at Ambler’s Act II Playhouse.  I’ve read that it’s been slightly updated to include current references, but most of the script has been left alone.  The conceit of a show within a show includes a solicitation for audience members, who are supposedly members of a backers’ audition for a $83.5-million proposed production of a 12-hour musical (longer than a Wagner production!), to contribute to the show at, which is actually the website for ticket sales.

The Big Bang continues its local run at the Kimmel Center’s Innovation Studio in Philadelphia through October 30th.  

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates Awarded Liberty Medal

Liberty Medal award-winner Secretary Robert Gates and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center

Presenting the Liberty Medal to former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates were SFC Dana Graham of the Liberty USO, Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and David Eisner, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center.

After a lifetme of public service, in the CIA, and ending with serving as Secretary of Defense, the Honorable Robert Gates was awarded the Liberty Medal on September 22 at the National Constitution Center.  The word “liberty” took on added meaning as David Eisner, the president and CEO of the National Constitution Center, had invited Iraq war veteran Anthony Odierno, representing the Wounded Warrior Project, and SFC Dana Graham of the Pennsyvalnia Army National Guard, representing the USO of Pennslvania and Southern New Jersey (Liberty USO), to present the actual Liberty Medal to Dr. Gates.

More after the jump.

Jim Gardner, of Channel 6 ABC, hosted the television broadcast of the Liberty Medal ceremony.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was one of the dignitaries who appeared by video to congratulate Secretary Gates and sing his praises.

With Governor Tom Corbett and Mrs. Lisa Nutter joining other diginitaries on stage, the program included video tributes from Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush, as well as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Mayor Michael Nutter.  Gates is unique in having served under both Republican and Democratic administrations, which made his remarks of concern for the condition of public discourse in the country and in the nation’s capital today even more pertinent.

The VIP audience included a representation of the area’s Jewish community, some of which are pictured here.

(photos by Bonnie Squires)

Harold and Lynn Honickman

Joan Specter awaits Senator Arlen Specter, who was teaching a class before attending the Liberty Medal event.

Eugene and Roz Chaikin

A new twist on this year’s Liberty Medal ceremony was the introduction of the official timepiece by Hublot, presented to Secretary Gates at the gala which followed  the award ceremony.

Steve and Sandy Sheller