Saturday, April 11, 2009

Dos and Don'ts With Your Baby

I'm sure everyone has seen this, but I wanted to put up a few pictures up on my blog for posterity:

A Bit Behind The Ball

I don't mean to brag, but I definitely presaged this Matt Yglesias post by about two years.

Friday, April 10, 2009

There is a Law

The Forward has an interesting follow-up report on the Palestinian response to an Israeli database showing the extent to which settlements were built from seized Palestinian property. An Israeli anti-settlement NGO, Yesh Din, is offering free legal counsel to bring cases to court, but few Palestinians are taking them up on it. Their reasons are varied:

- They don't want to legitimize the courts of the "occupier"

- They don't trust why a Israeli organization would want to help them in the first place

- They are worried that they'll lose the case and thus legitimize the loss of their land

- They reject the premise of the database, which distinguishes between land seized from Palestinian owners and public or purchased land (Palestinians believe that all settlements are per se illegal)

- They doubt whether, even if they win, the judgment will actually be enforced.

Via Kung Fu Jew, who writes: "[T]here are two sides to the conflict: those who want more war, and those who want an end to violence."

Thursday, April 09, 2009

11-Year Old Mass. Student Hangs Himself response to daily anti-gay bullying.

It's Way Too Hard

Texas legislator Betty Brown (R): Asian names are way too hard for Americans to deal with (this was in the context of a voter identification bill).
“Rather than everyone here having to learn Chinese — I understand it’s a rather difficult language — do you think that it would behoove you and your citizens to adopt a name that we could deal with more readily here?” Brown said.

Brown later told Ko: “Can’t you see that this is something that would make it a lot easier for you and the people who are poll workers if you could adopt a name just for identification purposes that’s easier for Americans to deal with?”

Okay, number one: If they're voting, that means they're citizens. If they're citizens, then they're Americans too.

But also, and not to play Brown's game here, when I think of stereotypical Asian names, I think what distinguishes them is their simplicity. Park, Chan, Ho, Wang, Chang, Tran. Quite simple. I'll put the average Chinese name up against Mike Krzyzewski any day (Krzyzewski doesn't even glance sideways at its phonetic pronunciation until the third syllable). But somehow, I doubt Ms. Brown is going to have a follow-up hearing to lecture Poles on their lack of American-ness.

Until You Pick On The Wrong Guy

The Field Negro talks about police abuse in Philly. It's amazing, though, how the only time these issues ever hit the news is when the police make the mistake of harassing a politician or a ballplayer. There's no reason to believe the abuse is confined to those situations, but there are plenty of reasons to think that it isn't addressed outside of them.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

An Orange Seder

Feminist Gal talks about creating a feminist, all-inclusive Passover Seder (via Feministe).

Passover is tough in a new location. Normally I travel on Passover to be with my family, but with the stresses of 1L year, that's not possible this year. So I'm left to find a Seder on campus. Since Jill is visiting me (coming in today), it has to be a Seder that she can attend as a non-Jew, and one we'd both feel comfortable with. That's a bit tough to do on the fly.

Doing Some Updates

I'm updating some stuff on the layout. If my blogroll has suddenly contracted and seems to be slowly rebuilding itself, I'm still working on it. Ditto with restoring some of the widgets (like the book list). Hopefully I'll be finished later this afternoon.

UPDATE: Okay, I think we're through. If anybody sees anything missing, let me know. One oddity -- the blogger blogroll application seems to dislike the American Prospect website, meaning that I can't put either Tapped or Ezra Klein. Tragic, because I like those blogs, but apparently the cost of progress.

Holocaust Anxiety

For better or for worse, the Holocaust remains an important focal point for dialogue in the Jewish community -- both internally and externally. It is a central organizing point of Jewish experience -- probably the most important event in Jewish history (even more than the establishment of Israel) since the destruction of the Second Temple.

My family, however, was not directly affected by the Holocaust. All of my immediate ancestors had immigrated to the United States prior to World War II (seven of my great-grandparents were immigrants -- the eighth was born in the US as well). It seems like most Jews have a relatively close relative who is or is descended from survivors. I don't. I feel awkward talking about the Holocaust as something that personally affects me when I don't have that ancestral connection many other Jews have. It feels almost like cheating.

We did have a branch of my paternal grandfather's family which had remained behind in Europe. We never heard from them again, and we assumed that they had perished, until a few years ago (in my lifetime) we suddenly reestablished contact (this wing of the family also includes my "twin" David Schraub, who now also resides in Chicago. Small world). Obviously, I'm delighted that they all survived. But relating this experience feels dangerous to me; almost akin to Holocaust denial. The classic response to Holocaust denial is "where do you think all those Jews went?" My family offers a counterpoint: we simply lost track due to the war. Again, this is anxiety-producing, because clearly I don't want my main familial intersection with public discourse about the Holocaust to be buttressing the deniers.

I don't believe that I am actually distant from the Holocaust. It is an accident of ancestry that my family was relatively unaffected by the genocide -- I still know that were I there, my life would have been forfeit as well. And, knowing that the Holocaust was not some insane aberration but rather the extreme end of the continuum which governs how Jews are treated, the "lessons" of the Holocaust are as potent for an American-descended American Jew as they are for our European or African or Middle Eastern cohorts. Insofar as the Holocaust still is a normatively meaningful event in crafting policy or engaging in ethical deliberation, I have as much claim to it as any other Jew. I really do believe that.

But still. It's alienating. I don't feel like I'm a credible speaker for my own experience, and that hurts.

A Life Behind Bars

When I was younger, I was leery not just of the death penalty, but life without parole. When you're 14, the idea of being locked away for life seems potentially crueler than the death penalty, because when you're 14 life feels timeless -- like it will go on forever. Which makes the prison sentence also forever. And it ran contrary to my optimistic views about persons -- that they can reform and become healthy members of society.

It never really occurred to me that children would face that fate. But some kids are living my nightmare -- locked away for life for crimes (generally, but not always, murders) they committed as young as 14. Most of the kids are poor, most of the kids are people of color. Many come from appalling family and social backgrounds. The proponents of keeping them behind bars literally for their entire adult life consider this to be an argument in their favor: "Many of them have dysfunctional homes, and the crimes will escalate because there is no place to put them," argued one advocate. This, to me, is unbelievably heartless.

Kids aren't mini-adults. Even when a teenager commits an adult crime -- even when they're charged as adults, they're still not adults. America seems to have abandoned the goal of rehabilitating criminals. I don't think it can ethically do so when the subject is child offenders.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Couching Language

David Hirsch asks kindly: "Do not confine Jews to the couch".
A therapist guides us on a journey to the frightening places inside ourselves and helps us to find ways to live with our demons. While we might do well to examine our own crazinesses with our therapists, we do not expect to have to answer for them in public and we expect our therapist to be on our side. Philosopher Michel Foucault warned that the sciences of the mind are also techniques of power and they have hostile as well as healing potential.
I think critics of Israeli policies should make their arguments politically and with reasons. They should avoid ascribing to Jews collectively a pathological inability to act rationally. Israel is a state and acts according to what its leaders and its electorate calculate to be its national interest. Israel may be wrong. It may even be very wrong. But making peace with its neighbours is a matter for politics, not for therapy.

I actually am somewhat conflicted on this. I agree with Mr. Hirsch that we should not ascribe "to Jews collectively a pathological inability to act rationally." And I agree that some branches of the "psychoanalytic" critique of (Israel? Jews?) walks into this territory. Certainly, we should not confine Jews to the couch. There is more to this story than merely mind games and hallucinations.

However, I believe that psychology matters, particularly when we recognize that certain resposnse mechanisms are rational responses to abuse and oppression. Growing up Jewish, with all the opportunities and burdens that represents, makes certain outlooks of mine vis-a-vis non-Jews rational and reasonable.

It is reasonable for me, for instance, to not assume that any random person off the street is an ally of Jewish liberation. I'm under no obligation to assume that non-Jewish speakers -- even ever-so-progressive ones, even ones with Jewish friends -- know what is required to put Jews in a position of equality, or even particularly care about it. To some extent, this is "psychology" -- it is a schematic construction I use to order the world in absence of complete information, based on how I perceive my position and standing as a Jew in it. But I don't believe that is an illegitimate social behavior on my part.

Still, Hirsch is correct in referencing Foucault and noting the potentially pernicious power of this sort of analysis when it is being used to inferiorize. The discourse becomes not a tool of healing but a weapon of war -- a justificatory mechanism for viewing the target class (in this case, Jews) as morally and mentally defective, removed from the realm of rational discourse and consequently ripped from the fabric of normal societal norms and boundaries. Our beliefs on how to relate with the other are premised on the idea that she is a rational creature. When dealing with others who are not conceded to have that property, well, we can hardly be faulted for resorting to "the type of language she understands", which is to say, either force or none at all. This is fundamentally dehumanizing.

I'm Not Surprised, But....

No, I'm just not surprised. The FRC's Tony Perkins condemned the Vermont passage of a same-sex marriage bill (which overrode the governor's veto with a 2/3 majority in each house), as well as a DC vote recognizing gay marriages performed out of state, as something that would "destroy not only the institution of marriage, but democracy as well."

We all knew that the FRC's purported concern about "judicial activism" was a pure front that can be modified at will when it conflicts with its substantive political agenda of bigotry and intolerance. The same thing applies to its calls for maximum democratic ratification of policy decisions on gay marriage.

In other words, they're hacks. I'll tell you, even if I was ambivalent on the subject of gay marriage, I'd be cheering these developments just to watch the FRC lose.

I Guess It's a Step

Via (Engage), the NYT has an article about the Bahrain government's efforts to secure the state's Jewish population (right now standing at 36), and attempts to get emigres to return. I feel bad reading it with such a cynical eye, but I am. Between the head of the Bahrain Human Rights Society, who believes "America is governed by the Zionist lobby," and "The media and the money are all in the hands of the Jews", and the university professor who says it is easy to like one of his Jewish friends -- so much so that "I don't feel he is a Jew", well, they may have come a long way, baby, but they still got quite some space to go.

(And that's aside from whether this whole thing is a facade to distract attention from the state's continued repression of its Shi'ite population).

Stevens Prosecutors to be Investigated

The Federal judge who presided over ex-Sen. Ted Stevens (R-AK) trial has set aside the verdict and will pursue contempt charges against the prosecution team.

“In nearly 25 years on the bench, I have never seen anything approaching the mishandling and misconduct that I have seen in this case,” Sullivan said. “Again and again, both before and during the trial in this case, the government was caught making false representations and not meeting its discovery obligations.”

No objection from my end. It was clear from the start that this prosecution team was the gang that couldn't shoot straight, and I'm as pissed as anyone given that it cost the United States the conviction of a man who I remain convinced is guilty of corruption. The only thing I find unfortunate is that I doubt this precedent will extend to cases of prosecutorial misconduct in situations where the defendant is not politically well-connected. Ted Stevens deserves justice and a fair trial just as much as any other accused criminal, but I worry the upshot of this move will not be to increase fairness but persuade DOJ attorneys to focus their shenanigans on defendants who don't have the pull to fight back.


I've been wanting to use that title for days.

It's all well and good to give props to Vermont for becoming the first state to legalize gay marriage legislatively. But the Iowa legislature also seems intent on bringing it, as evidenced by the majority leader flatly rejecting a request to help overturn the Iowa decision by constitutional amendment.

Incidentally, I highly encourage other states to get involved in gay rights one-upsmanship.

Dreaming On

The Forward has nice biographical snaplet of Jewish lesbian poet Adrienne Rich, on occasion of the publication of her new book, A Human Eye: Essays on Art in Society, 1996-2008.

The Is/Ought

Publius explains to Ed Whelan the difference between a descriptive and a normative argument.

Vermont Legalizes Gay Marriage

Vermont made history today as the first state to legalize gay marriage through legislative means, overriding Republican Gov. Jim Douglas' veto. I look forward to hearing how getting a 2/3 majority in both state houses is insufficiently democratic.

And while I want to reiterate my congratulations to Iowa, I have to say that it is New England which is really representing on this issue. Half the states in New England (Connecticut and Massachusetts are the others) have now legalized gay marriage.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Clean Hands

A performative contradiction:
"We're disappointed that Levi and his family, in a quest for fame, attention, and fortune, are engaging in flat-out lies, gross exaggeration, and even distortion of their relationship," [Palin family spokeswoman Meghan] Stapleton said. "It is unfortunate that Levi finds it more appealing to exploit his previous relationship with Bristol than to contribute to the well-being of the child."

Because clearly this tirade is helping tons in terms of creating a solid and supportive family environment.

Happy Bodies

A group of Carleton College students, including the lovely Jill, have started a new blog: Happy Bodies, promoting body positivity.
We began to talk about bodies. We wanted to talk about our own: what they look like, what they do, what we think about them. And we wanted to talk about all our bodies: health and positivity, discrimination, sexual violence, and power.

We wanted a space to talk about bodies. So, here we are.

Give them a warm welcome.

More On Drug Enforcement

Pun definitely intended.

As the Supreme Court considers whether (poorly warranted) suspected possession of ibuprofen justifies the strip-search of a 13 year old girl in school, and on the heels of the ruling that teenage drug use is so terrifying that we have to ban gibberish phrases to keep the monster at bay, a Fairfax County (VA) student got suspended for two weeks and may face expulsion after she was caught popping her birth control pill during lunch. Drugs + Sex = a county that either needs to learn how to roll with flexible circumstances, or have a rock thrown at its head.

The student did learn some useful information though. If she had showed up to school high on heroin, she would only have been suspended five days. Live and learn, I guess.

McCain Lashes Out

The National Journal reports that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) is not happy with the Latino community, whom he views as betraying him by giving 2/3 support to Barack Obama in spite of his strong support for immigration reform legislation:
"He was angry," one source said. "He was over the top. In some cases, he rolled his eyes a lot. There were portions of the meeting where he was just staring at the ceiling, and he wasn't even listening to us. We came out of the meeting really upset."

McCain's message was obvious, the source continued: After bucking his party on immigration, he had no sympathy for Hispanics who are dissatisfied with President Obama's pace on the issue. "He threw out [the words] 'You people -- you people made your choice. You made your choice during the election,' " the source said. "It was almost as if [he was saying] 'You're cut off!' We felt very uncomfortable when we walked away from the meeting because of that."

In 2006 and 2007, McCain was a leader on immigration, but his efforts ran aground largely because his legislation included what many Republicans derisively characterized as "amnesty," a pathway to citizenship for the nation's estimated 12 million illegal immigrants if they took a series of steps to earn legal status.

Having stuck his neck out in the past, McCain apparently is in no mood to do so again for an ethnic group he seems to view as ungrateful. On NBC's Meet the Press on March 29, McCain repeated his message that the ball is in the Democratic president's court. So far, the senator said, he has not seen much on immigration from the Obama White House, although the president recently met with the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and set the goal of launching the debate in the fall, a senior administration official said.

It would be perfectly reasonable for a Latino voter to say "John McCain bucked his party to support a position I care intensely about, and thus I'm voting for him." It would be equally reasonable for that voter to say "I'm glad John McCain voted the way he did, but that's one issue and on a host of others, we have fundamental disagreements. At the end of the day, I'm closer to Obama than McCain." It'd also be reasonable to say "I like McCain fine, but the Republican Party has gone crazy and I'm not comfortable putting them into power -- even with McCain as the leader." The notion that they owe him something is ridiculous.

Sunday, April 05, 2009


I'm a big fan of J Street, and that hasn't changed. But Mira Vogel of Greens Engage writes something that I have noticed and does bother me: J Street is awfully mushy on the topic of anti-Semitism.
This position on Caryl Churchill is a manifestation of an aspect of J-Street that makes me uncomfortable. It’s not the entirety of J-Street - it’s the part which tries to fend off antisemitism with appeasement. “They say there’s a Jewish lobby? Well, we’ll show them a second Jewish lobby which speaks against the one they hate. We’ll be seen to criticise Israel. We’ll be recognised as US patriots. And then they’ll leave us alone”. The pathos is acute.

It's the good Jews all over again. With the prevalence of the Livingstone Formulation amongst the left-wingers that they wish to convert, J Street seems to think the best way to counter is by studiously refusing to call anything anti-Semitic (except, presumably, the most obscene cases). This is how one wins credibility on what passes for today's left; or it would, if it works. And I'm not sure it will -- Mr. Livingstone's fellow travelers are quite adept at recasting any criticism of leftist orthodoxies on Israel as knee-jerk accusations of anti-Semitism.

But to an extent, this is besides the point. Since I don't think a genuine left can take such a blase attitude towards resurgent anti-Semitic attitudes (even when they don't rise to the level of murderous violence), J Street's approach is more than just aggravating: it's an indictment of its professed political position. If J Street is going to be what it aspires to be, it can't take the easy way out. It might look more difficult to build a genuine pro-peace alternative to AIPAC without this form of appeasement. But I think J Street will find the people whom it thinks it is appealing to through this tact will not be true friends when push comes to shove. In any event, if J Street wanted to do things easy, it could have merged with AIPAC. There's a reason I and many others are looking for an alternative, and it isn't because we're just looking for another set of cliches to jump to.

An Inventory

People get known for the randomest things. At the law school, I've developed a little bit of a reputation for wearing college t-shirts -- both the frequency of wearing them and the variety of schools represented (particularly given that I have little to no linkage to many of them). So I thought to myself: what exactly is my inventory of various higher-education shirts? Unfortunately, I'm too lazy to check, so this is by memory:

Carleton College (2x)
University of Virginia (2x)
University of Chicago (2x)
UC-Santa Barbara
Arizona State (MIA)
University of Miami (MIA)

It doesn't look like that much, but when you think about it, that's enough to get me through two school weeks wearing nothing but various university shirts. Impressive, I think.

Incidentally, I'm wearing UVA today, and wore UC-Berkeley yesterday.

What a Boxing Weekend

This weekend was just an orgy of good things for the boxing fan.

First, Friday Night Fights got a knockout of the year candidate with Randall Bailey's (39-6, 35 KOs) vicious destruction of Francisco Figueroa (20-3, 13 KOs).

(Go to 2:13)

Then, Golden Boy Promotions put on a great PPV card Saturday with its "Lightweight Lightning" quasi-tournament. Everything about this card was done right. The original lineup of fights was spectacular; with injury dropouts, it stepped downwards merely to excellent. The price was $40 -- very reasonable for four legitimate lightweight battles. And the fans were not disappointed. In the first fight, which might have looked to be the least competitive on paper, late replacement Rolando Reyes (31-4-2, 20 KOs) turned on the heat in round five to take out former titlist Julio Diaz (36-5, 26 KOs). Reyes has been laboring as a fringe contender for awhile now, and this vicious KO of a legitimate top-10 guy may finally give him that big fight. He's calling out the other J. Diaz, Juan "The Baby Bull" (34-2, 17 KOs), and I for one like it. It's a good payday and step-up for Reyes, and it is a legitimate and live bounce back fight for Diaz, who is coming off a KO loss to division champ Juan Manuel Marquez (50-4-1, 37 KOs).

The next fight pitted Vicente Escobedo (20-1, 12 KOs) in a major grow-up fight against former titlist and Salvadorean national hero Carlos Hernandez (43-8-1, 24 KOs). Escobedo, who represented America in the Olympics, was a highly touted prospect whose career momentum stalled out after split-decision loss to Daniel Jimenez. Hernandez, the first person of Salvadoran descent to win a world title, had said he had to win this bout or retire, and he fought like it, putting forward every ounce of grit, veteran savvy, and determination to put Escobedo in the trenches all fight long. Escobedo, who is more known as a lanky boxer, rose to the occasion, matching Hernandez shot for shot on the inside and knocking down the veteran twice in rounds one and two to get the decision victory. If this is it for Hernandez, what a way to go -- he surely covered himself in glory.

The co-feature put action star Michael Katsidis (25-2, 21 KOs) against comebacking former titlist Jesus Chavez (44-5, 30 KOs). It may have been the least exciting fight of the night -- but that isn't saying much. It was a back and forth brawl for the first several rounds before Katsidis began to impose his will on the older, oft-injured fighter. Katsidis (and perhaps more importantly, Katsidis' corner) needs to learn that he is not a boxer. He is a brawler. He wins when he gets in his opponent's grill and wails on them. Chavez quit/retired at the close of the seventh round. It wasn't completely out of line -- Katsidis had seemingly turned a corner and was landing many hard shots on Chavez, but it still didn't look like the hometown fighter was completely out of the fight. But Chavez -- who has battled injuries throughout his career, not to mention the Leavander Johnson tragedy -- was bothered by a cut all fight long and seemed to definitively lose his focus. It may be time for him to call it a career as well.

Finally, we saw the headliner -- and by this point, the promoters had long since earned my $40. Antonio Pitalua (46-4, 40 KOs), who burst onto the lightweight scene with an upset KO victory over Jose Armando Santa Cruz (whom many thought should have been the lineal champ when he was robbed of a victory over Joel Casamayor), got the honor of fighting YouTube sensation (and 70s porn star look alike) Edwin Valero (25-0, 25 KOs) -- the Ring's #1 Jr. Lightweight contender who possesses frightening power. But this was the first time he has fought in the US (licensing issues due to a brain bleed in a non-boxing related accident). Valero was moving up in weight to fight Pitalua, whose power isn't too shabby itself (14 straight knockouts since his last lost in 2001).

Let's put it this way -- Valero is for real. Pitalua is a durable fighter, if a bit of an unknown quantity. In round two, not only did Valero knock Pitalua down, he did so with a hook on his heels. And it still had Pitalua on queer street. Pitalua managed to get to his feet, but it was only a matter of time, and referee Laurence Cole waved the fight off as Pitalua went down for the third time in the round.

Meanwhile, Showtime had its own card going on. I missed Librado Andrade (28-2, 21 KOs) cruising to a decision over Vitali Tsypko (22-3, 12 KOs), but from what I've heard it was a typical Andrade victory: marching forward with a terrifying imperviousness to punishment and progressively breaking down a game Tsypko. This sets up a rematch with Lucien Bute (now 24-0, 19 KOs), who controversially defeated Andrade after the referee gave him a little help and extra time allowing him to survive a 12th round knockdown. Bute, who is originally from Romania, has been adopted by Montreal as one of their own (which has lead many to speculate about the motives of Montreal-based referee Marlon Wright). But after two fights in Montreal, now Andrade has also seemingly been accepted as a local there, which will make for a fabulous fight scene when the two meet up again in what is rapidly establishing itself as one of the premier fight cities in the world.

The main event was a unification bout between Patterson, New Jersey based Kendall "Rated R" Holt (25-3, 13 KOs) and California-representing Timothy Bradley (24-0, 11 KOs). In the first round, Holt put Bradley down for the first time in his career (amateur or professional) with a huge right hand. It is testament to Bradley's incredible conditioning that he was able to rise at all, and he had the state of mind to walk to his corner and then take a knee to make sure he was all gathered up before rising again at 8. From there, the fight was a textbook Kendall Holt evening: the ability to control the fight, and persistent refusal to do so. Holt's jab was giving Bradley fits when he used it, but that wasn't often. His work rate was low throughout the fight but particularly in the middle rounds, when Bradley put round after round in the bank. Holt woke up a little towards the end of the fight, but even in the 12th round, when he actually scored another knockdown after Bradley's gloves touched the canvass, there was never any sense of urgency. It cost Holt his belts in a unanimous decision that could have gone either way (Bradley was clearly worried as the scores were being announced).

Holt wants a rematch. It isn't the most unreasonable request in the world, but really, Holt's got nobody to blame but himself for his loss. When he lets his hands go, uses his jab and keeps the workrate up, he really is a special talent. But in fight after fight (even some of his victories), he's demonstrated serious focus lapses, and at some point you have to wonder if it is something he'll ever overcome.

But that's a downer note to end this post on. The point is, I got to watch six genuinely wonderful fights this weekend. That is a great thing, and I am grateful to the fighters and promoters for putting these shows together and giving all of us fans such compelling performances.

Getting Me Killed

The Pittsburgh man who shot and killed three Pittsburgh police officers believed that the US was influenced by "Zionist propaganda":
Mr. Perkovic and other former classmates said they were surprised by this morning's events. Mr. Perkovic said Mr. Poplawski was opposed to "Zionist propaganda" and was fearful that his right to own weapons would be taken away but he wasn't a member of an organized group or militia.

"He always said that if someone tried to take his weapons away he would do what his forefathers told him to do and defend himself."

Another friend, Aaron Vire, 23, said he'd helped Mr. Poplawski and Mr. Perkovic with a radio show they'd broadcast on the Internet, discussing "politics, girls and life."

Mr. Poplawski had supported Republican candidate John McCain in the presidential election and had "very spirited debates" about Democratic candidate Barack Obama, Mr. Vire said. Mr. Poplawski was opposed to Mr. Obama's election, which he thought would result in the loss of his rights, Mr. Vire said.

"He wasn't a racist but thought some of his amendments were overlooked," Mr. Vire said. Even though Mr. Vire is black and Mr. Poplawski is white, the debates over President Obama did not hurt their friendship, he said.

Mr. Poplawski told him he bought his guns "because he felt the quality of life was being diminished," Mr. Vire said.

"He said he'll be ready if there's ever an invasion of the United States and that he had stockpiled foods and guns for that eventuality."

Dave Neiwert already has the goods on how Mr. Poplawski was probably stoked by right-wing extreme paranoia about Obama, liberals, and guns. Today, three Pittsburgh officers died because of it. But it's worth noting the usual right-wing intersection between anti-state violence and anti-Semitic attitudes.

Believe me, I know enough to worry about left-wing anti-Semitism. But in this country, it remains right-wing elements which are most likely to provoke and implement violence against me and my family. When Beck, Limbaugh, et al launch their rants and ratings calling for violence and insurrection, that gets pointed directly at me, because I'm contained on the list of legitimate targets by the folks with the gun. And it's something I keep in mind about anyone who supports or apologizes for these inflammatory thugs.