Tuesday, September 2, 2014
Michael Cohen points out the shallowness of the recent ISIS hysteria.The rise of ISIS is terrifying, but far more for the people of Iraq and Syria than for Americans. It's true, albeit a minute possibility, that ISIS could establish a safe haven in the territory they hold, train some terrorists and send them to attack the United States.
But it's hard to be concerned over such a remote event, especially when Americans face serious actual challenges at home - like the constant drumbeat of senseless gun violence that takes the lives of an estimated 30,000 Americans every year.
The punditry vs. the presidency - NY Daily News:
by Michael Cohen
"There is a fun foreign policy game making all the rounds in Washington D.C. this summer: Pin the tail on Barack Obama. Its appeal is not hard to understand; it's so easy to play. Step 1: Pick a foreign crisis that touches even slightly on U.S. national security interests. This shouldn't be hard, because the United States defines practically everything in the world as being an American interest. Step 2: Make clear that this is no garden-variety problem but rather "the defining crisis of [OBAMA'S] presidency," or a threat to the "very foundations of global order" or the answer to the question, "is this how World War III begins." Step 3: Bemoan the lack of "leadership," "strategy," "attention" or "fortitude" from the commander in chief. Note that the President is "weirdly detached" and "emotionally disengaged" (bonus points for a Churchill reference). Make corny jokes about how Obama's focus on golf is "turning into 'a real handicap.'" Ask snarky questions like "what would it look like if America actually had a Middle East strategy" that wasn't defined by "inaction" and the lack of a "clear vision." Even suggest that if only a Russian strongman were running America, those terrorists would finally get their due. Step 4: Insist that everything would be better if something had been done differently a few years ago (bonus points if you made that suggestion at the time)."
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Labor Day Movie Time: Once Were Unions – J.J. Goldberg – Forward.com:
by J.J. Goldberg
"Before saying goodbye to Labor Day weekend and heading back to work and school tomorrow morning, here’s a movie to get you into the spirit of Labor Day. It’s an hour-long documentary called “The Inheritance,” and believe me, it’s a great way to spend an evening. It was made in 1964 for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America, back when the Amalgamated was still the living, beating heart of a still living and breathing American Jewish labor movement. It’s as moving a film today as it was then, and a thousand times more important. (Full disclosure: I grew up in the Amalgamated. My father spent nearly all his adult life working there, first as an economist, then as a lawyer.) It’s no secret that unions are on the ropes today. In their heyday in the 1950s they represented about 35% of the American workforce. Today it’s 11% — and less than 7% in the private sector. Why does it matter?
Journalist Timothy Noah answers that question today about as well as anyone has recently in his Labor Day column on MSNBC.com, “The most challenging issue facing liberalism today”: Why must liberals recommit themselves to labor unions, in spite of their imperfections and weakened state?
Mainly because the problem of ever-growing income inequality — a problem that didn’t exist for the half-century prior to 1979 — is intimately associated with labor unions’ decline. If you look at a line tracing the fall and rise in income share for the top 1% during the past century alongside a second line tracing the rise and decline in union membership, you will notice immediately that these lines are mirror images.
To be sure, income inequality has many causes. But the decline in labor’s clout is one of the most significant — more significant, for example, than income-tax policy. Labor income’s share of the non-farm business sector has been dropping since 1960, but it has dropped most precipitously since 2000. A shift in GDP from labor to capital is precisely what you’d expect to see happen as unions’ influence dwindles. It’s also a recipe for the sort of financial instability that’s prevailed in the U.S. economy since the 1980s.
This process won’t reverse itself, so anyone who professes concern about the problem of income inequality and the social problems that derive from it has to worry about the declining clout that workers exercise through labor unions. But the urgency of unions’ decline runs deeper than that. Financial journalist Justin Fox, executive editor of the Harvard Business Review Group, wrote an important post today on his HBR blog, bluntly titled “What Unions No Longer Do.” The short version: Unions no longer equalize incomes. Unions no longer counteract racial inequality. Unions no longer play a big role in assimilating immigrants. Unions no longer give lower-income Americans a political voice."
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Monday, September 1, 2014
"MANILA, Philippines–He may be short in height, but 56-year-old Chinese lawyer Wang Canfa is a giant and the poor’s champion against unscrupulous businesses hurting them and the environment. For almost two decades, Wang, a legal scholar specializing in environmental law, has represented his country’s downtrodden who, due to poverty, have been powerless and voiceless against erring huge companies.
Through the Beijing-based Center for Legal Assistance to Pollution Victims (CLAPV), which he formed in 1998, the lawyer has pursued hundreds of cases and offered free legal services to poor clients. “Most of my clients are poor. Can you imagine how pollution results in the loss of property and livelihood?” Wang said, speaking through a translator, in an interview with the Inquirer. In ceremonies Sunday, Wang accepted the Ramon Magsaysay Award, Asia’s equivalent of the Nobel Prize, with four other individuals and an organization from Pakistan. The awards, named after the well-loved Philippine President who died in a plane crash in 1957, are given annually to honor those who have rendered selfless service to the people of Asia and have made valuable contributions in addressing issues of human development.
Besides Wang, the awardees this year are Hu Shuli, a Chinese investigative journalist; Saur Marlina Manurung, an Indonesian anthropologist; Omara Khan Masoudi, director of the National Museum of Afghanistan; Filipino schoolteacher Randy Halasan; and the Citizens Foundation in Pakistan. Unenforced laws Years back, Wang, a professor at China University of Political Science and Law, helped draft environmental laws for China. But while the laws protecting the environment are in place, his main concern is that they have not been enforced."
<iframe width="620" height="349" src="//www.youtube.com/embed/eL_HdMSiuqQ" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
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Economist's View: 'What Unions No Longer Do': "Jake Rosenfeld, an associate professor of sociology at the University of Washington ... is out to change that. His book What Unions No Longer Do ... is an account of Rosenfeld’s attempt to empirically establish (mainly through a lot of regressions...) the consequences of Big Labor’s decline. ... [H]ere, for Labor Day, are the four big things that, according to Rosenfeld, unions in the U.S. no longer do: Unions no longer equalize incomes. ... Unions no longer counteract racial inequality. ... Unions no longer play a big role in assimilating immigrants. ... Unions no longer give lower-income Americans a political voice. ... The decline of unions in the U.S. has often been painted as inevitable, or at least necessary for American businesses to remain internationally competitive. There are definitely industries where this account seems accurate. ... But ... even if the decline of unions was inevitable or desirable, that still leaves those tasks unions once accomplished — which on the whole seem like things that are good for society, and good for business — unattended to. Who’s going to do them now?"
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Gaza ceasefire is too little, too late - Israel Opinion, Ynetnews:
by Nathum Barnea August 28, 2014
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh at Gaza 'victory' rally (Photo: AFP)
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Sunday, August 31, 2014
U.S. Urges Israel To Reverse Planned West Bank Land Appropriation – Forward.com:
Reuters) — The United States sees Israel’s announcement on Sunday of a land appropriation for possible settlement construction in the occupied West Bank as “counterproductive” to peace efforts and urges the Israeli government to reverse the decision, a State Department official said.
Israel laid claim to nearly a thousand acres (400 hectares) in the Etzion settlement bloc near Bethlehem, a move which an anti-settlement group termed the biggest appropriation in 30 years and a Palestinian official said would cause only more friction after the Gaza war.
“We have long made clear our opposition to continued settlement activity,” the U.S. official said. “This announcement, like every other settlement announcement Israel makes, planning step they approve and construction tender they issue is counterproductive to Israel’s stated goal of a negotiated two-state solution with the Palestinians.”
“We urge the government of Israel to reverse this decision,” the official said in Washington.
Read more: http://forward.com/articles/204921/us-urges-israel-to-reverse-planned-west-bank-land/#ixzz3C1TxlZcL
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|Hong Kong City Hall - lower block|
What became known as Mississippi Freedom Summer was a project of SNCC - the Student Non-violent Co-ordinating Committee. Three of those volunteers were murdered: Michael Schwerner, Andrew Goodman, and James Chaney. The Freedom Summer workers sought to build on the momentum of the civil rights movement which had spurred the 1964 Civil rights Act Their objective was to create "freedom schools" which would encourage Black Mississippians to stand up for their rights. That summer three civil rights workers were killed, the Mississippi Freedom Democratic party lost its fight to represent the state at the Democratic National Convention and the southern civil rights movement reached a peak. The next year the Voting Rights Act would pass and much of the attention shift north and west to the large cities. - gwc
Summer of 1964 - They Heard the Call of Freedom
by Eric Moskowitz // Boston Globe
They were idealists taking on the nation’s shame, students who stood with brave, black Mississippians denied a most basic civil right: the vote
Friday, August 29, 2014
by Forest Wilder // Texas Observer August 18, 2014
The Travis County DA is no different, in almost every respect, than the more than 300 local elected prosecutors in Texas. She is locally elected and is a servant of the jurisdiction she represents. The only thing unique about the Travis County DA’s office is that it contains the Public Integrity Unit, which polices corruption in state government. Practically speaking, this anti-corruption unit is one of the few checks on the power and influence Perry has accumulated over 14 years in office.
The Public Integrity Unit is largely funded by the Texas Legislature. That money isn’t earmarked for Rosemary Lehmberg; it’s earmarked for the oversight function of the Travis County DA’s Public Integrity Unit. It is that money that Perry threatened to line-item veto if Lehmberg did not resign. When she did not, and Travis County opted not to remove her, Perry then yanked the funding. Afterwards, he continued to make offers to restore the funding in exchange for Lehmberg’s resignation, according to media reports. One account says he signaled that he would find Lehmberg another well-paying job within the DA’s office. Had she resigned, Perry would have appointed her successor.
The criminal case against Perry centers on his “coercion” of a local elected official using threats and promises. It is not premised—as has been repeatedly misreported—on the veto itself. Craig McDonald, the head of Texans for Public Justice and the original complainant, has said as much. As McDonald told CNN:
“The governor is doing a pretty good job to try to make this about [Lehmberg] and her DWI conviction. But this has never been about his veto of her budget and about her. This is about his abuse of power and his coercion trying to get another public citizen to give up their job.”
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|Mervyn Susser and his wife Dr. Zena Stein|
Mervyn Susser has died. The physician, epidemiologist, and philosopher of science was 92 when he passed at home in Hastings on Hudson. The former editor of the American Journal of Public Health, he was a South African-born progressive, who collaborated with his wife Zena Stein. I had just began to seriously look at the problem of how to prove causation of disease in occupational illness cases where no exact mechanism of injury could be identified. Susser gave me direction as I represented the Trial Lawyers Association in the asbestos-related disease case Landrigan v. Celotex, a landmark guide in the use of scientific evidence.
When I was in graduate school at B.U. Howard Zinn’s syllabus on method included Karl Popper, the positivist philosopher of science and anti-communist polemicist. Popper was a skeptic who asserted that propositions could not be proven, only falsified. On that foundation he built a vision of science that ironically saw it as the brick by brick construction of certainty. In the culture of science that view was embraced as a strong attachment to the null hypothesis and an extreme attachment to calculations of probabilities.
Mervyn Susser, like the great progressive epidemiologists Irving Selikoff and Sir Austin Bradford Hill, was motivated by the fight against disease and the need to identify causal relationships. The epidemics of heart and lung disease associated with tobacco and asbestos motivated Selikoff and Hill. Susser, a pioneer of community medicine, worked in a clinic treating Black citizens in Johannesburg. In the progressives view causal inference was to be achieved neither by idolatry of formal tests of statistical significance nor by anecdotal snapshots. Rather the public health called for a socially aware observational perspective informed by clinical methods, pathology, and biostatistics. No single factor was decisive. The health of patients called for effective strategies, not skepticism.
Susser's was always the approach of a physician concerned for his patients. He wanted to help and that required rejection of skepticism, magic, and authoritarianism:
"The philosophy of causal inference reaches deep into abstractions. Applied in clinical (practice), however, it yields some practical benefits. For clinicians, inference is a constant and every day activity. In going about their business of diagnosis and treatment, clinicians are constantly making logical inferences, that is to say, drawing conclusions from a set of facts and premises...This logic (of causal inference) enables the contemporary clinician, in dealings with patients, to shift from charismatic priest-like authority to the authority of tried knowledge and of rational predictions founded on explicit models of causal relationships."This approach offered guidance for judges and lawyers who seek to achieve a just result for those who suffer from illness, and for those who would act to prevent illness. Dr. Susser explained that scientific skepticism is to be doubted. “We have to practice believing”. He wrote:
In the end, a quality which lawyers should understand better than any- judiciousness- matters more than any. Scientists use both deductive and inductive inference to sustain the momentum of a continuing process of research. The courts of law, and the courts of application, use inference to reach decisions about what action to take. Those decisions often cannot rest on certitudes, most especially when population risks are converted into individual risks. It is my firm belief, nonetheless, that practical decisions that draw sustenance from scientific inference will be better decisions than those that do not.
George W. Conk
Against the Odds: Proving Causation of Disease with Epidemiological Evidence, 3 Shepard's Expert and Sci. Evidence Q. 103 (1995)
Causal thinking in the health sciences: concepts and strategies of epidemiology (1973)
`Causal Thinking in Practice: Strengths and Weaknesses of the Clinical Vantage Point', Pediatrics 74:842-849 (1984)
`The Logic of Sir Karl Popper and the Practice of Epidemiology', American Journal of Epidemiology 124:711-718 (1986)
`Rules of Inference in Epidemiology', Regulatory Toxicology and Pharmacology 6:116-128, 116 (1986)
Susser, Epidemiology, Health and Society, Selected Papers, Oxford University Press, New York, 1987.
`What is a Cause and How Do We Know One? A Grammar for Pragmatic Epidemiology', American Journal of Epidemiology 133:635-648 (1991)
Thursday, August 28, 2014
How I Know Israel Won the Gaza War – Forward Thinking – Forward.com:
by Brent Salsey
"...four things stand out for the immediate future. First, it is clear that Israel has won the war. Much of Hamas’s military capabilities have been degraded or used up, its regional allies are few and far between (and themselves bereft of much regional influence), and none of its efforts to achieve a tactical victory over Israel succeeded. In addition, the United States and many European governments are now talking about demilitarizing Gaza (essentially, disarming Hamas and the smaller jihadist groups) as part of a longer-term process to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All of these tilt the balance of power in Israel’s favor.
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/204809/how-i-know-israel-won-the-gaza-war/#ixzz3BiVHee65"
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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
This makes sense. After two years on ssd you get Medicare. Get off ssd you lose it. But if you can afford health insurance you'll keep working because you have to stop working to get on ssd. And there is a five month waiting period. And the approval process is slow. How would you pay even your subsidized ACA premiun if you quit work?
|Guillotining f King Louis XVI|
The impulse to attack ISIS after the savage beheading of American photojournalist James Foley was strong. But this story reminds one that such savagery is not an ISIS monopoly, as "our bastards" do the same thing. And I suppose one should remember the French Revolution and the execution by guillotine of King Louis XVI. - gwc
American Fighting for ISIS Is Killed in Syria - NYTimes.com:
FP Interview with Martin Indyk (former U.S. mid-east Ambassador)
"one can, in a sense, look at the long arc of the relationship and say everything's going to be all right. But where it won't be all right is for Israel itself, because as nice as it is to have strategic alignments, none of that solves Israel's existential problem: What is it going to do about the 2.6 million Palestinians it has responsibility for now? And if it doesn't find a way to resolve that issue, that existential dilemma, if Israel continues to control 2.6 million Palestinians in the West Bank, it's going to have to decide sooner rather than later whether it's a democracy or a Jewish state, but it won't be able to be both.
I witnessed it during these negotiations. The younger generation of Palestinians who have grown up knowing nothing but Israeli occupation don't believe in a two-state solution, don't believe there will ever be an independent Palestinian state. They want equal rights in Israel. And that's where this is heading. And then Israel will find itself in a really serious dilemma. It's only a matter of time. And no matter how strong the relationship is between the United States and Israel, it's not going to help solve that dilemma unless Israelis decide that they want to resolve it"
"David Rothkopf: How has what happened in Gaza altered the dynamics of the peace process?
And once the dust settles, we may have a politically weakened [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu as well. There was already the problem of distrust between the people and the leadership -- I'm afraid that's just going to be compounded by what's happened [in Gaza]. "
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Tuesday, August 26, 2014
Governor Cuomo’s Failure on Ethics Reform Hinders an Endorsement - NYTimes.com:
"Ms. Teachout brings a refreshing seriousness to the job of cleaning up state government, making a strong case for the urgency of rescuing politics from unchecked corporate power. The centerpiece of her platform is a campaign finance system modeled on the matching funds program that has proved successful in New York City."
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Monday, August 25, 2014
The Last And First Temptation Of Israel « The Dish: "What is one to make of the fact that the deputy speaker of the Knesset has called for ethnic cleansing in Gaza?"
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I think I get it now. Rand Paul studied opthalmology but he missed the class about astigmatism, so everything is blurry. He can't figure out the difference between Fairness and Freedom. They both start with the Big F but the letters after that get blurry. - gwc
"The hard part--and this is the hard part about believing in freedom--is that if you believe in the first amendment, for example, you have to, for example, most believers in the first amendment will believe in abhorrent groups standing up and saying awful things. We're here at the bastion of newspaperdom. I'm sure you believe in the first amendment. You understand that people can say bad things. It's the same way with other behaviors. In a free society we will tolerate boorish people who have abhorrent behavior, but if we are civilized people we publicly criticize that and don't belong to those groups or don't associate with those people..." Rand Paul
Mowing the Grass and Taking out the Trash:
by Daniel Byman
"If Hamas cannot be fully defeated, and if isolating it politically and economically makes it more likely to lash out, then the Israeli goal should be to use deterrence as part of a broader strategy to transform Hamas. Because Hamas cares about governing Gaza as well as defeating Israel, it should be given a stark choice: If it ends its own violence and launches a full crackdown on other militant groups in Gaza, the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of Gaza will be eased. Palestinian moderates, working with the international community and Israel's neighbors, would control crossings to prevent the smuggling of arms. If not, the blockade will remain, and Israel will strike Hamas leaders and at times conduct more massive military campaigns: In other words, the suffering will continue.
Under such a deal, Hamas will be given a true chance to govern -- but the price of that legitimacy is an end to violence. With this approach, Israel and its backers should change their policy toward Hamas's feud with Fatah. They should want Hamas to be tied to more moderate elements, and thus be part of a technocratic Palestinian unity government. Indeed, if Hamas is implicitly part of such a government, it strengthens Hamas's acceptance of peace and helps the Palestinian Authority regain its influence in Gaza. It also strengthens Palestinian moderates, showing that a peaceful path can lead to progress.
The good news is that negotiations underway in Cairo have all the elements of such a broader deal -- but politics on both sides stands in the way. Israel doesn't want to reward Hamas for the latest round of violence and, in general, is skeptical that Hamas will ever transform into a more peaceful movement. Hamas, for its part, wants to retain the legitimacy it gains from the occasional use of violence and believes that only the threat of force will move Israel. The result, unfortunately, is that both the parties are only thinking of a short-term stopgap measure.
Mediators need to describe what a sustainable solution would look like, laying out specifics about Hamas's responsibilities to stop the violence and the extent and nature of the easing of the blockade of Gaza. Such an offer will lead to a crisis in Hamas from which Israel can only benefit. If Hamas rejects such terms, it will anger Gazans who want an end to violence, alienate any international support for the group, and legitimize a strong Israeli response. If Hamas accepts the offer, however, then it is implicitly accepting Israel's right to live in peace and moving away from violence. It would also compel the group to crack down on more violent groups in Gaza.
The transformation of Hamas will not occur overnight, and Israel may have to mow the grass again. But the stark choice should remain, allowing both Israelis and Palestinians a real chance for peace."
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8-Point Guide To Criticizing Israel the Right Way – Forward Thinking – Forward.com:
by Abraham Gutman
As an Israeli who lives in New York, I know that I can sometimes be unfair. On the one hand, I often get defensive when people criticize Israel. On the other, I can also get upset when people seem to blindly support Israel. Criticizing Israel is allowed, and even important for Israel’s wellbeing, but there is a right and a wrong way to do it. In that spirit, here are eight ground rules that I believe can help make the Israel debate more productive.
Read more: http://blogs.forward.com/forward-thinking/204624/-point-guide-to-criticizing-israel-the-right-way/#ixzz3BQg5yqhI
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BEIJING, Aug. 25 (Xinhua) -- A bill that would make it easier for citizens to bring court cases against the government went up for a second review on Monday.
An amendment that would broaden actionable cases against the government beyond the current restriction of "specific administrative acts" was put forth before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress on the first day of their bimonthly review meeting.
The draft amendment was put forth to officials involved with Administrative Procedure Law.
Currently, citizens, companies and other organizations can only file suits against "specific administrative acts" by administrative agencies or personnel which they believe to have infringed their rights.
As Articles 11 and 12 explicitly list which kind of acts that are actionable, the amendment removes the word "specific," which sometimes is used by courts to throw out cases.
The extra restriction is one of the biggest roadblocks for citizens to sue the government.
According to a survey by Xiu Fujin, a member of the NPC Standing Committee, only 35.19 percent of cases filed against government agencies were accepted by courts in 2012.
Jiang Ming'an, professor of the Peking University, advised further easing of restrictions for such lawsuits.
Currently, courts can only punish an administrative act when it is deemed illegal. The draft allows acts that are "evidently unreasonable".
The draft also compels representatives of the administrations concerned to personally appear before the court. Currently, most defendants simply ask their lawyers to represent them in court, which often does little to help settle the dispute.
"Having them appear in court will also effectively promote the officials' awareness of the rule of law," Jiang said.
Another suggested change will see broadened responsibility, with the original department in question and the administration that reviewed the case listed as joint defendants. According to current law, an administrative agency that reviews another agency's actions will only be listed as a defendant if they change their original decision.
In the past, such stipulations have resulted in a reluctance to change controversial decisions to avoid being dragged into legal battles. In some situations, it has rendered the administrative review system ineffective.
The draft also extends time limits for hearings and how long plaintiffs have before filing suits.
The 1990 Administrative Procedure Law is a major guarantee for the citizens' right to pursue the government through the courts.
Because using administrative power in accordance with law is a key requirement in the rule of law, the draft amendment, which streamlines the administrative litigation procedures, is also expected to promote it, Jiang said.
Sunday, August 24, 2014
I am deeply skeptical of tribalist movements. Wherever I have encountered them it has been ugly - from the Jim Crow south to American "official English" campaigns, anti-Muslim rampages in India, Maratha nationalism when I lived just outside Bombay, and the Irish vote against birthright citizenship. The Jewish state is a special problem - because after the Nazi Holocaust Zionism was a perfectly understandable exodus and nation-building movement. But it wasn't the Palestinians who had been the oppressors, so they experienced it as a settler invasion. And that continues with a tribal ideology that justifies taking more Arab land.
Liberal Zionism seeks accommodation with Palestinians while insisting that a single state on all Israeli controlled territory threatens the Jewish majority. Palestinians, it is said, must remain a minority in Israel and citizenship remain full only for those who meet the sort of tribal criteria that we find unacceptable here as a violation of 14th Amendment equal protection principles. The most prominent defector among the intelligentsia, the late historian Tony Judt abandoned his youthful Zionism. The current Gaza war seems certain to harden lines. The "obvious and inevitable" two-state compromise seems to have lost its traction. And the single democratic state is a non-starter among Israelis, precisely because to Palestinians it looks like a path to Arab majority rule. - gwc
Israel’s Move to the Right Challenges Diaspora Jews - NYTimes.com:
by Antony Lerman
"[I]t’s not just Gaza, and the latest episode of “shock and awe” militarism. The romantic Zionist ideal, to which Jewish liberals — and I was one, once — subscribed for so many decades, has been tarnished by the reality of modern Israel. The attacks on freedom of speech and human rights organizations in Israel, the land-grabbing settler movement, a growing strain of anti-Arab and anti-immigrant racism, extremist politics, and a powerful, intolerant religious right — this mixture has pushed liberal Zionism to the brink. In the United States, trenchant and incisive criticism of Israeli policies by commentators like Peter Beinart, one of liberal Zionism’s most articulate and prolific voices, is now common. But the critics go only so far — not least to avoid giving succor to anti-Semites, who use the crisis as cover for openly expressing hatred of Jews."
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Saturday, August 23, 2014
|Texas Governor Rick Perry|
by Chris Ladd
"Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: Mmm, yes I would, Kent.
The Simpsons, Season 5, Episode 11
In advance of his next big campaign, Texas Governor Rick Perry is learning from his 2012 mistakes and working to perfect his mastery of the paranoid style in American politics. Look closely at Perry’s remarks at the Heritage Institute this week and you’ll see a perfectly formed appeal to the modern Republican primary base. Sure, the delivery was wobbly and he had trouble pronouncing some of the words, but whoever built that speech understood exactly what a Republican politician needs to say to win. Perry attempted to tie the immigration debate to terrorism with the bizarre suggestion that Iraqi terrorists may be infiltrating the US along the fortified shores of the Rio Grande.
Here’s the relevant portion of his remarks from the video of the event (starts at 1:25:20):
“Certainly there is great concern that the border between the United States and Mexico is unsecure and we don’t know who’s using that. What I will share with you that we’ve seen historic high levels of individuals from countries with terrorist ties. “Over the course of the last months. I’ll give you one anecdotal picture of what’s happening. Three Ukrainian individuals were apprehended at a ranch in far West Texas within the last 60 days. So, I think there is the obvious great concern that because of the condition of the border from the standpoint of it not being secure and us not knowing who is penetrating across that individuals from ISIS or other terrorist states could be, and I think there is a very real possibility that they may have already used that. “We have no clear evidence of that, but your common sense tells you when we’ve seen the number of criminal activities that have occurred, and I’m talking about the assaults, the rapes, the murders, by individuals who have come into this country illegally over the last five years, the idea that they would not be looking at and managing any of those types of attacks from that region is not a good place to be.”"
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Israeli Teens Gripped by Virulent Racism – Forward.com: "(Haaretz) —
by Or Kashti
“For me, personally, Arabs are something I can’t look at and can’t stand,” a 10th-grade girl from a high school in the central part of the country says in abominable Hebrew. “I am tremendously racist. I come from a racist home. If I get the chance in the army to shoot one of them, I won’t think twice. I’m ready to kill someone with my hands, and it’s an Arab. In my education I learned that … their education is to be terrorists, and there is no belief in them. I live in an area of Arabs, and every day I see these Ishmaelites, who pass by the [bus] station and whistle. I wish them death.”
The student’s comments appear in a chapter devoted to ethnicity and racism among youth from a forthcoming book, “Scenes from School Life” (in Hebrew) by Idan Yaron and Yoram Harpaz. The book is based on anthropological observations made by Dr. Yaron, a sociologist, over the course of three years in a six-year, secular high school in the Israeli heartland – “the most average school we could find,” says Harpaz, a professor of education.
The book is nothing short of a page-turner, especially now, following the overt displays of racism and hatred of the Other that have been revealed in the country in the past month or so. Maybe “revealed” isn’t the right word, as it suggests surprise at the intensity of the phenomenon. But Yaron’s descriptions of what he saw at the school show that such hatred is a basic everyday element among youth, and a key component of their identity.
Yaron portrays the hatred without rose-colored glasses or any attempt to present it as a sign of social “unity.” What he observed is unfiltered hatred. One conclusion that arises from the text is how little the education system is able – or wants – to deal with the racism problem.
Not all educators are indifferent or ineffective. There are, of course, teachers and others in the realm of education who adopt a different approach, who dare to try and take on the system. But they are a minority. The system’s internal logic operates differently.
Much of the chapter on racism revolves around the Bible lessons in a ninth-grade class, whose theme was revenge. “The class starts, and the students’ suggestions of examples of revenge are written on the blackboard,” the teacher told Yaron. A student named Yoav “insists that revenge is an important emotion. He utilizes the material being studied to hammer home his semi-covert message: All the Arabs should be killed. The class goes into an uproar. Five students agree with Yoav and say openly: The Arabs should be killed.”"
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Friday, August 22, 2014
Legal Ethics Forum: Kentucky Supremes strike down pleas with waivers of IAC claims:
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Wednesday, August 20, 2014
|David Grossman at peace rally|
David Grossman mustered his usual eloquence at a Peace Now rally in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv on Sunday, just before the latest round of now-failed negotiations. J.J. Goldberg translates, followed by remarks by liberal Orthodox Rabbi Yuval Sherlow's open letter reply. Goldberg says Sherlow "concedes many of Grossman’s sharpest critiques, but insists that Grossman fails to acknowledge “the other sides of the coin” — the still-vital humanity within the Israeli public, the implacability often facing Israel from its enemies — and so alienates a large audience that Sherlow wishes the novelist could reach." Frankly I think Sherlow is blowing smoke. The courage that is needed is by Zionists to reject the ideology that justifies continuing to take Palestinian land without compensation, and the courage to see Palestinian oppression and to make a political settlement with their enemies. - GWC
|Rabbi Yuval Sherlow|
"But what must change this time, after this war, is the spirit of things. To my mind this is one of the main reasons we’ve come and gathered here this evening. To remind those who negotiate in our name with the Palestinians in Cairo that even if the people of Gaza are enemies today, they will always be our neighbors, and that is the spirit of things. We will always live beside one another, and this fact has meaning, because my neighbor’s downfall is not necessarily my victory, and my neighbor’s welfare is in the end my welfare. But above all we have gathered here this evening to voice a demand that the central provision in the agreement they are trying to draft in Cairo will say the following: that after the cease-fire is stabilized, Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as represented by the Palestinian unity government, will open direct talks whose goal is to bring peace between the two peoples. That’s how it has to be, without hesitation, without stammering, without grieving, perhaps without clear, sharp declarations of intention by the two sides. Because if after a war like this, after its terrors, after its results, Israel does not initiate such a step, there will be only one explanation: that Israel prefers the certainty of repeated wars over the risks involved in the compromises that bring peace. And we will know that Israel’s current leader is not prepared, does not dare to go down the path of peace because he is afraid to pay the price, especially the price of withdrawing from the West Bank and evacuating the settlements. Friends, this moment of decision might come tomorrow, or perhaps the day after, or perhaps in a month, but it could be that we will suddenly discover that it is very near and it will be a sort of acid test that will tell us in the clearest fashion whether or not Israel is trying with all its might to reach peace or whether it chooses another war."
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Tuesday, August 19, 2014
by Andrew Sprung
"A typical account of Hillary Clinton's assessment of Obama's foreign policy in the Goldberg interview ran like this one in the New York Times:
"Her blunt public criticism of the president’s foreign policy in The Atlantic this week touched off frustration among Mr. Obama’s advisers and supporters, especially her suggestion that under Mr. Obama, the United States lacked an “organizing principle” in its approach to international relations. “ ‘Don’t do stupid stuff’ is not an organizing principle,” Mrs. Clinton said."
Three things to note about this takeaway:
1. Clinton didn't say that "don't do stupid stuff" is Obama's organizing principle, or that he lacks one. In fact she said the opposite.
2. The "organizing principle" that Clinton articulated, when pressed, is indistinguishable from Obama's, and, just like Obama's, incorporates "don't do stupid shit" but doesn't end there (though the particulars of her favored policies on specific issues may quite different, in disturbing ways -- more on this at bottom).
3. Obama has articulated that principle continually since his first year in office.
Point 1: Here is the full text of what Clinton said with respect to the "don't do stupid stuff" mantra:.... "
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by J.J. Goldberg - Jewish Daily Forward
"The lesson, as we’ll see, was that there’s a difference between what’s traditionally known as anti-Semitism and the recent wave of hostility toward Jews on various continents. The old anti-Semitism was a hatred of Jews because of myths and fantasies disconnected from reality like drinking Christians’ blood or killing God. The new anti-Semitism includes some of that, but it starts with something else: an anger at Jews over something that actually happened. Israel was created on land that Muslims, like it or not, considered part of their sacred waqf, the indivisible House of Islam. Many Muslims haven’t gotten over it. Hey, Osama bin Laden wanted Spain back. Moreover, thousands of Palestinians were displaced, which generates its own anger. And many more Muslims get angry when they see large numbers of fellow Muslims getting killed, as happens periodically. There may be good reasons why those deaths happened, but not everyone is open to reason. Some hotheads will look for a target to vent their anger. Some thugs might blow up a bus in Haifa. Others might attack Israel’s best friends in, say, Paris. This doesn’t excuse, it explains. Explaining is the first step toward solving. Rage at Israel can lead to actions that are thuggish, sometimes criminal, occasionally murderous. But it’s not necessarily the same as the world’s oldest hatred. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one. If someone hates you because of a delusion, there’s nothing you can do. If a person is angry with you because of something that actually happened, you have choices."
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Sunday, August 17, 2014
‘Ending the siege is not a Hamas demand – it is a Palestinian one’ | +972 Magazine:
Ending the siege is not a “Hamas demand.” It is the people’s demand. Gaza is still under occupation—it is an open jail. Israel always says, “We withdrew, we gave them land to control…” I am always shocked when I hear this line repeated by someone on CNN. The borders are completely controlled by Israel, the sea is completely controlled by Israel. The airspace is completely controlled by Israel. The crossings are completely controlled by Israel, aside from one crossing, controlled by Egypt—and this is now closed as well.
by Chris Ladd
"By trying to take Perry down on the tenuous grounds of “abuse of power,” the Travis County DA is unintentionally obscuring a far more important investigation. Her reasoning, probably, was that this was the only way to rescue the Public Integrity Unit’s inquiry into the Governor’s other activities. Unfortunately, Lehmberg is up against two miserable problems.
The first problem is that she is utterly compromised. The only lasting images likely to emerge from this complex mess are the pictures of her making an ass of herself during her arrest. The larger problem is that prosecuting public corruption in Texas is nearly impossible because of the shape of the legal and political landscape.
By playing this desperate gambit, Lehmberg is not only likely to lose. Her actions may finish off Travis County’s public integrity unit, effectively snuffing out what little light of scrutiny still shines on the art of Texas political corruption. Trying to take down Rick Perry on a such a trivial, clearly political matter is an embarrassment. This is a guy who let a major campaign donor, Bob Perry, write his own regulatory scheme to regulate his own industry. The Governor then appointed Bob Perry to head the “watchdog” agency that the legislation created.
Perry appointed the head of one of Texas’ most powerful payday lenders to head the agency that regulates payday lending. He presides over a half-billion dollar “investment fund” fueled by state money which he hands out to well connected friends with no oversight.
And the best that the Travis County DA’s Office can do is indict him for hounding a prosecutor with a criminal record? Ultimately, why is Perry being charged with something so seemingly trivial? Just as in the DeLay case, it is very difficult to find a form of public corruption in Texas that actually breaks a law. The core of the problem is that virtually nothing that passes for public corruption elsewhere in the western world is illegal in Texas. Under Perry’s influence and with little legislation or oversight to stand in the way, Texas has become America’s champion of blatant, unapologetic, and remarkably uncreative public corruption. No one ever goes to prison for it, not even Tom DeLay. Perry is unlikely to be an exception.
Texas has an unpaid Legislature. Think that over for a minute. Just as every new prisoner supposedly must fight for his life or become someone’s bitch, each new Legislator has to immediately decide which collection of donors and lobbyists is going to pay his rent in Austin. How do you prosecute public corruption in a system built on those rules? The Travis County courts can do whatever they will. It doesn’t matter. Just as in the DeLay case, Perry would appeal any conviction into a system of Appellate Judges he constructed. Many of them he hand-picked across his record 15 years in office. The rest of them owe their livelihood to the Texas Republican machine.
The charges against Perry might be a minor factor in his Presidential ambitions, but no one was going to take him seriously at that level anyway. It will cost Perry some of the money which has been donated by the people he takes care of. It is unlikely to force him to dip into the millions in wealth God has granted him over the course of his public service career. You can bet that appearances at a few prayer breakfasts will shake loose whatever cash he needs to earn vindication. This indictment is little more than a frustrated prosecutor spitting defiantly in the wind. She should have passed on this. By doubling down on a compromised investigation she is gambling the future of Texas’ only major institution for public integrity on a very bad hand."
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