Saturday, July 04, 2009

Freedom Freedom Freedom OY!

Happy Fourth of July! May it be a fabulous, crabulous day for all.

Friday, July 03, 2009

Of Law and War

Noting that no less than 30 African nations have officially repudiated their treaty obligations under the ICC in order to protect genocidaire Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir, Chicago international law expert Eric Posner writes:
It is increasingly clear that the ICC, like every utopian international institution that preceded it, will not accomplish its mission—to bring international justice to places like Sudan where a genocide is taking place. It is rapidly being downgraded to a development institution, one that can provide legal and judicial capacity to states that request its help in battles with insurgencies, such as Uganda and the Central African Republic.

However, Posner notes, the full fury of international law has been raining down upon Israel. Posner's advice to Israel is simple: the law doesn't matter, it's the politics. Change your behavior, do better diplomacy, or take vacations elsewhere.

I think this goes hand-in-hand with my observations about the heavily political nature of the international legal regime. Because the very norms themselves are being crafted in the midst of salient political conflicts, it is unsurprising that these norms will systematically be bent to advance the interest of locally powerful actors, i.e., those most in the position to influence the development of the law. The international legal regime is less a tool of law than it is a tool of lawfare. It is an open question whether any legal system can "escape" from political influences, but it is beyond dispute that the international legal system (for reasons any good realist could explain) is hopelessly entangled with them. It is fair to say, indeed, that there is no international law outside of international politics.

Holy, Er, God

The South Jerusalem blog takes a break from commentary on Israel and Palestine to give us Rep. John Shimkus' (R-IL), er, unique perspective on global warming:

Back to SJ:
Maimonides would not have made such a ridiculous mistake had he been elected to Congress. He adduced the Talmudic principle that ha-olam ke-minhago noheg—meaning that the universe functions in accordance with the laws of nature. Even when the Messiah comes, he argued, we will see no supernatural events or miracles that violate the natural order. (One reason Maimonides and other theologians have held this position is that if the natural order must be violated for God to carry out his will, then the world is an imperfect creation—implying that God made mistakes that He needs to correct.)

So God’s promise to Noah is not that he’s made it impossible for Noah’s descendants to destroy the world. God’s message to Noah is that it’s entirely up to humankind to maintain the world. It would be apt to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin today: “A world—if you can keep it.”

Leave theology to the pros, Rep. Shimkus.

Muslims Against Anti-Semitism

Bob from Brockley points to an interesting initiative from Faith Matters: Muslims Against Anti-Semitism.
We are a not for profit organisation that is made up of British Muslims who believe that Anti-Semitism in all of its guises needs to be challenged. We also believe that Anti-Semitism can and usually does evolve and mutate into other xenophobic ideologies, whether this is Islamophobia or ideologies against migrants who have legally settled in the UK.

Islam at its core is about emancipation from ignorance and learning and social justice sit at its core. With this in mind we will work towards combating xenophobia and intolerance so that our Jewish brothers and sisters do not feel threatened or frightened because of who they are. Together, Muslims and Jews can also work towards combating some of the stereotypes and myths perpetuated against Muslims and Islam.

The website still seems a bit spartan, but the sentiment is very, very welcome. And let me say likewise that Islamophobia, inside and out of the Jewish community, is utterly intolerable as well.

This is how alliances are forged.

Being Gay is Just Too Natural

David Klinghoffer eagerly reprints an argument by Israeli biblical scholar Joshua Berman claiming that the main victims of allowing gay marriage are ... women! Even lesbian women, I wonder?* In any event, the thrust of the argument is of a form I've heard before -- albeit rarely because it clashes so severely with the dominant "homosexuality is unnatural" paradigm -- namely, that if we sanction gay relationships, men will suddenly flock to gayness, leaving women in a lurch. We know this to be true
Because of what you read in the the writers of imperial Rome. Some people are indeed homoerotic by nature. But others, as Aristotle noted, develop this as an acquired passion. Homoeroticism is, to a large degree, socially constructed. It turns out that where homoeroticism is granted full social sanction, as it was in Rome, it flourishes -- so much so, that one writer noted that the emperor Claudius exhibited an unusual trait: he was sexually interested in women alone!
The social history behind this piece is clear: once they've experienced sex with other men, Catullus tells us, men are unsatisfied with what their new wives provide them. Notice that the poet is unconcerned about the husband's dallying with other women -- it's the other men around that threaten the marital union.
The losers from all this will be the vast majority of women. With full social sanction given to homoerotic activity, the historical precedent suggests that tomorrow's women will have a harder time finding and holding on to suitable men. As women will suffer, so will the vitality and stability of the nuclear family.

Basically, it is the orientation equivalent of "once you go black, you never go back." (Once you try man, you're always a fan?).

These arguments always amuse me, because they seem of the sort that would only be persuasive to folks hard at work suppressing their own queer tendencies. Speaking as someone who would probably suffer few immediate social consequences to coming out as gay or bi, much less engaging in a little "experimentation", I can honestly say I've never really felt the urge to hook up with a fellow possessor of the Y chromosome. Go figure.

Klinghoffer says that "if you want to disagree with this analysis, you'll have to explain why the historical parallel doesn't apply." Okay, sure. If we're accepting that homoeroticism is socially constructed, then we have to accept the same thing to be true of heteroeroticism. It should not surprise us that in misogynist societies where a) women are constantly devalued as inferior and subordinate beings and b) same-sex relationships were a viable alternative, that male/male pairings would be seen as superior and normatively preferable. In other words, I Blame The Patriarchy. The way to keep gay marriage from being a threat to women, unsurprisingly, is by breaking down the mentalities that say women are inferior creatures (the same tactic, conveniently enough, for dispatching many other threats to female equality. Fancy that!). Where women are seen as equal, then I have full faith in their ability to compete in the market of relationships.

* Berman says that lesbianism did not increase, and writes "I leave it the reader's basic grasp of anatomy to figure out why in ancient Rome a man who found pleasure in a woman, could also find pleasure in a man, while the record shows that a heterosexual woman rarely found sexual satisfaction in the company of another woman." Well then I say, thank God for technology! And, you know, non-penetrative sex.

Palin Resigns

I give my full breakdown and a roundup at The Moderate Voice. Short story -- assuming this was meant as a step towards running in 2012 (and I think it was), it was a grave, grave miscalculation.

Crist Tries to Diversify Courts

I didn't know that Florida Governor Charlie Crist (R) had tried to reject a slate of candidates for a state judicial seat because the list was all-White. Unfortunately, the Florida Supreme Court said Governor Crist did not have the discretion to do so. That's unfortunate, but I'm impressed by Crist's instincts -- a continuation of his excellent work on felon disenfranchisement. He's facing a tough Senate primary fight with far-right insurgent Marco Rubio, and this probably won't help him there. But if he survives (and I expect him to), Crist is positioning himself (along with Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman) as a potential leader of the serious and inclusive wing of the GOP.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

A/Sexual Body

Guest-post by David Schraub of The Debate Link.

The Futurama episode "Parasites Lost" opens with Leela being harassed by space truckers at an interstellar rest stop. Seeking to defend her, Fry yells at the men "How would you like it if Leela said you were sexy and she wanted to make love with you?" It is, of course, a well worn joke -- the male answer to that question is "that would be awesome!" The idea that someone finding you attractive and expressing it might be unwelcome is supposed to be utterly foreign to a guy.

All people, men and women, move in a sexual sphere. We love and want to be loved, lust and wanted to be lusted after, flirt and want to be flirted with. Of course, this isn't all we want, and we don't want all of it all the time. But it is fair to say that everybody in some form or another wants the mutuality of a relationship: to want someone and be wanted by them.

The prevailing discourse surrounding bodies is one that aggressively reinforces a sexual dichotomy between men and women: men as subjects, and women as objects. Men are the wanters, women are the wanted. Feminist literature has challenged this somewhat, but primarily by trying to reclaim female subject status and react against objectifying norms that "treat women as thing." The goal is to recognize that women are not just objects of desire, they are subjects as well -- they can create desire just as well as it can be directed at them. A valid goal, to be sure, but one that leaves largely unchallenged the descriptive legitimacy of dominant masculinity as a valid presentation of how men experience sexuality.

The sexual landscape upon which men walk, by contrast, is not well mapped. The traditional paradigm of the male-as-pure-subject has not been interrogated to a meaningful degree. To be sure, feminist commentators have hardly exempted this male status from critique -- the subject-status of men, by contrast, is laid out as the crucial contrast between male sexual privilege and female sexual subordination. But their inquiry, I feel, falls short on at least two dimensions. First, it accepts the patriarchal construction of male sexual being as a given -- effectively ceding it so they can bash it and hopefully replace it with something new. The idea that the dominant narrative of male sexual existence might not actually be a valid, even descriptively, of male sexual being doesn't seem to occur. Second, even to the extent they recognize that the male sexual image may be somehow lacking, they overlook the realm of objectivity a potential candidate for absence. This is understandable -- objectification is the primary manifestation of the sexual subordination women are trying to escape. But, just as water takes on a different valence to the drowning woman versus the man trapped in a desert, it is wrong to presume the realm of objective value is barren territory.

The paradigm of man-as-subject restricts male sexuality to very particular manifestations -- it is active, not passive; in control, not reactive; autonomous, not relational. It wants, it is not wanted. But healthy sexual relationships are not the product of this pure subjectivity. The pure subject is a parasite -- it takes, but does not offer anything of use. This is not a positive image to have of the self. Few of us desire that sort of relationship. We want our partner to respect our rights, autonomy, and human dignity, yes; but we also want him or her to find us useful for their own purposes: we want our partner to gain benefits from the arrangement, whether it be humor, cooking skills, sexual pleasure, or any of the infinite ways we can be instruments to another's happiness. Where our interlocutor draws nothing from us, finds nothing necessary in us, sees nothing desirable in us, then we are ultimately interchangeable instead of indispensable. When men are told that "real men" carry no objective value, that there is no reason anyone would find them attractive or desirable, what grounds are their to construct stable relationships on (except, perhaps, coercion)? The dominant masculine narrative clearly goes hand in hand with the tolerance of sexual violence and inequality, by denying women subjectivity, for sure, but also by denying the potential for men to be objects -- to be the type of entity with which one might want to form a voluntary association with.

I am not saying that such subject-values as autonomy, control, and activeness are unimportant (clearly, we want to be valued both subjectively and objectively -- it is not either/or), nor am I drawing an equivalency between the harms of objectification and subjectification, nor am I saying there is an obligation to desire men. This isn't about individual behavior, this is about the broader language we use to create and police the borders of the sexual arena -- what counts as being psycho-sexually healthy and self-actualized. If we define healthy sexuality as a relationship of mutuality, as I think we should, then the prevailing discourse asexualizes men in important ways. Put bluntly, the way men walk through the world, sexually-speaking, is severely stunted. Ours is a/sexual existence.

By depriving men access to an important realm of human personhood -- the realm of objectivity -- it effectively closes off the full flourishing of interpersonal relationships. The uncritical acceptance the men have had their say about sex ignores the very real ways in which (to use the old cliche) patriarchy hurts men too. That the sexual narrative has largely been constructed through male eyes does not mean it represents male experiences. At best, it represents "male experiences" refracted through seriously distorted lens (at worst, it represents "male experiences" constituted in such a way as to preserve existing structures of power -- which, for anyone who agrees with Frederick Douglass' admonition "No man can put a chain about the ankle of his fellow man without at last finding the other end fastened about his own neck," is not equivalent to a frame that actually provides for full male actualization). We should, if we take seriously the importance of pluralism and inherent incompleteness of any one perspective, expect the dominant paradigm to be as incomplete a descriptor of male lives as it is for women. And so it is.

There is a reason, I think, why the language of the pure Cartesian subject is often referred to as the "disembodied self". Bodies that matter are bodies that matter to other people. The pure subject cannot be fully sexually liberated, because the pure subject cannot be the object of another's desire. Talking about bodies (particularly happy bodies!) means talking about objective as well as subjective bodily potential. It is a gap in the discourse, and one that needs to be filled.

Junior and Senior

Jon Chait calls out Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) for condescending Al Franken:
[A]s I've written, and which Norm Ornstein attested on the Diane Rehm show yesterday, Franken is a policy wonk. Anybody who's spoken with him or read his books (as opposed to just read the titles) knows this. He probably knows more about public policy than 90% of his colleagues. I've never met Franken, but the inability of people to understand that somebody can have a career in comedy and satire and also knows a lot of public policy galls me.

There are plenty of folks who refuse to accept that Franken actually might be a smart, serious guy who is qualified for the job. Unfortunately, there is no reason for their fixation other than a deep, deep desire to hold onto a superficial, know-nothing form of political punditry.

Sorry, Pal

Search: "thieving jewish bankers"

Hit: Solidarity with Anti-Semites!

But alas, I am not expressing solidarity with anti-Semites, I am condemning it.


Holiday Round-Up

We're closing in on the Fourth Third of July -- a celebrated holiday in Chicago. Roundups for everyone!


Russian sportsmen are hunting the most dangerous game of all: Pirates!

An Indian court has decriminalized sodomy. Supporters lauded the reversal of a law enacted by British colonial authorities. Opponents blasted the decision as importing Western norms. See also Ruth Robson.

The military has historically been one of the strongest supporters of affirmative action. But one professor at the Naval Academy is alleging it is lowering the standards at Annapolis.

Alan Dershowitz, one of the many Jews falsely alleged to possess an inability to countenance criticism of Israel, shoots down the idea that Obama has turned against Israel.

A Palestinian teenager was killed in Gaza, either by an Israeli tank shell or a Palestinian mortar (depending, obviously, on whose account you believe).

Anti-German Translation has a good post up on Naomi Klein, and I'm not just saying that because it links to mine.

Sigh...bloggin' just ain't what it used to be.

Gershom Gorenberg on why a one-state solution remains a lousy idea.


Jill and I are going to the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, and then having folks over for Chili on Saturday. If I don't write tomorrow, have a great weekend and a happy Third (and Fourth)!

And That's a Wrap

The last 1L grade has come in, so as far as I'm concerned, 1L year is now officially over! Huzzahs are in order.

Best grade: Civil Procedure I, Buss. The was also the first grade I got. It was all downhill from there. But it was a nice confidence booster to start the year.

Worst Grade: Criminal Law, McAdams. This was the last grade I got (see above about the downhill slope). It was also the exam I felt I did the best on. Go figure. In fact, my spring term grades had a complete inverse correlation to how well I thought I knew the material. That will teach me to rely on book learnin'.

Most average grade: Property, Helmholz & Leiter, Jurisprudence II (tie). These were the grades closest to my overall GPA. As befits their average status, I did better than expected on one (Property) and worse in the other (Jurisprudence).

Biggest upset victory: Contracts, Bernstein & Baird. Tied for the second best grade I received all year, and there was never a day where I felt I understood a word of it. Life is weird sometimes.

Now to await the results of the law review competition. I'm feeling good about it, but I remember the last time I felt good about something in law school (namely, my criminal law exam). So, fingers crossed!

Tip of the Top

The link on CNN's homepage reads "Ticker: Top Republican says Sanford must quit". So I was curious: who is this top Republican? Steele? Boehner? McConnell? Barbour?

Nope. Bill Bennett, the radio talk show host.

Though I guess that in today's GOP, talk shows are probably the biggest dogs in the house.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Shocking Doctrine

Naomi Klein, backbone of the leaders of the movement to boycott Israel, was in Israel launching her new book (with her largely incoherent message of boycotting the state, not the people). Ha'aretz got to interview her, and got her unique perspective on civil rights, which seems to boil down to "it's the Jews fault if they're in the privileged position, and it's the Jews fault when they're in the marginal position." Why do I say that? Because of her answers to questions on Durban II:
Last April Klein attended on assignment for a magazine the Durban 2 conference in Geneva, which Israel and a number of Western countries boycotted because of the invitation to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. She is still upset by her experiences there.

I was sure, at this stage, she was going to remark on the horrifying anti-Semitism that was present at the event, which included an Iranian delegate calling Elie Wiesel a "Zio-Nazi". It's such a gimme, right?
"The most disturbing feeling," she explains, "was the Jewish students' lack of respect for the representatives from Africa and Asia who came to speak about issues like compensation for slavery and the rise of racism around the world. In their midst, Jewish students from France ran around in clown costumes and plastic noses to say 'Durban is a joke.' This was pure sabotage, which contributes to the tensions between Jews and blacks."

"Durban wasn't just about Israel: The Durban Declaration acknowledged for the first time that the trans-Atlantic trade is a crime against humanity and that opened the way to compensation. The boycott of the conference created a vacuum that was filled, on the one hand, by Jewish students who wanted to sabotage the conference, and on the other, by Ahmadinejad both of them were truly awful."

Ah, such delightful moral equivalency. Ahmadinejad spewed racist garbage, which is bad. Jews didn't feel like lying back and taking it -- equally bad. Indeed, worse -- it was "the most disturbing" thing! The most disturbing thing about Durban II, for Klein, was peaceful protests against anti-Semitism. Think about that for a moment. Think about what that says about her and her worldview. Cleansing power of anti-Zionism, anyone?
Do you think it was necessary to allow Ahmadinejad to speak out so prominently at a conference against racism when he is calling for Israel's destruction and denying the Holocaust?

"I think that silencing the Palestinians was a big part of the reason he got so much attention. He is the only one who acknowledged what happened this year more Palestinians were killed in 2008 than in 1948. The boycott seems to me to have been an irresponsible decision the Jewish community unifies in an attempt to shut down a discussion of racism when there is a shocking rise in racism on the right in places like Austria, Italy, Switzerland, in the midst of an economic crisis, in conditions close to those in which fascism spread in all of Europe."

Yes, we all know that the UN's biggest problem is that it silences the Palestinians. Seriously, this is victim-blaming at its most blatant. Klein admits that Ahmadinejad's speech was racist, but still faults Jewish groups for opposing the conference that gave him an open mic. Because we refuse to be abused, we're committing sabotage at an anti-racism conference. Here's a thought -- maybe if putative anti-racists like Klein would step up and refuse to tolerate anti-Semitism, then Jewish students wouldn't need to dress up like clowns to draw attention to it.

Alice Walker once wrote that "No person is your friend who demands your silence." In the face of growing anti-Semitism -- a rise in racism that has occurred on both the left and right, in Europe and worldwide -- Klein's demand of Jews is that they shut up and let the real people talk. No dice. Klein's antics reveal her true colors -- as an ally of hate, of the fury and bigotry that threatens to consume us all.

Maybe Klein, playing the age-old role of the "good Jew" will be spared, and maybe she won't. But she has no right to demand my silence at a time like this, and certainly no right to appropriate the good name of progressivism to her fanaticism. And the people who call themselves her allies ought to know with whom they stand. Her apologias for hate should render her beyond the pale of good company.

UPDATE: Rebecca Lesses, writing from Israel this summer, overheard an interview with Klein on Israeli radio and offers her own thoughts.

Secondary Objective

There is something quite unseemly about targeting a political opponent's spouse as a retaliatory measure when they vote for a bill you dislike. I'm not sure, however, if it is more or less distasteful when said spouse is a fellow elected official who took the "right" position on the bill you're complaining about.

Not That You Need Convincing

I'd be very surprised if any of my regular readers are opposed to same-sex marriage (maybe I'm too optimistic -- I'm always surprised when anyone with even remotely egalitarian attitudes opposes same-sex marriage at this point). Nonetheless, Martha Nussbaum has an article up in Dissent which does a very nice job dismantling the argument against providing equal rights for gay and lesbian citizens in the marital sphere. Definitely worth a read, regardless of whether you're already there on the position or not.

Counter Walkout

Iranian delegates walked out of an inter-faith conference in Kazakhstan as Israeli President Shimon Peres took the stage. The stunt was widely seen as a reaction to the mass walkout that greeted Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's speech before the Durban II follow-up conference -- a speech which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said was intended "to accuse, divide and even incite." But the parallel is more revealing than the Iranian's perhaps intended. The anti-Ahmadinejad walkout was prompted by the fact that his speech was flagrantly anti-Semitic, as even some of his defenders admitted. Peres, by contrast, saw a walkout in a speech where he called for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians, an end to terrorist violence (which he noted had claimed many Muslim victims), and praised the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.

It doesn't surprise me that the Iranian government finds this offensive. The priorities they've demonstrated over the years (not to mention these past few weeks) have clearly indicated their views on the topics of peace and human rights. I'm quite proud to be on the side of those who refuse to tolerate hate, and against those who refuse to hear a message of peace.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Green-Brown Swirl, Part II

I already linked to some of ex-Rep. Cynthia McKinney's sojourns into the heart of extremist anti-Semitic hate-swamps. But I think it is important to reiterate just who she is associating with. There are those who, after being made aware of this, would still accord McKinney credibility. These persons, no matter their protestations, cannot be said to hold any beliefs that are recognizably progressive -- at least any progressivism that is not avowedly anti-Semitic.

I was once asked if there was "any criticism of Israel that you wouldn’t automatically suspect of anti-semitism." I took exception to the premise of the question (as I felt quite within my rights to do), but noted that it also missed the point. The mistrust tends to be directed more towards critics than towards criticisms.
[M]y presumptions, if you will, are not tied merely to the statement but also to the stater. A comment, issued by someone whom I know and respect and know cares about Jews and truly views and treats them as equals (particularly if they themselves are Jewish because then it’s their body on the line) is going to meet more acceptance than the same comment by someone whom I know is an anti-Semite (and of course there is a continuum in between). So J Street won’t meet with charges of anti-Semitism from me even when I disagree with them, because I know they are committed to norms of fairness as well as the security of Israel and Jews. By contrast, [my] default stance towards Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir is significantly more … skeptical.

The problem, of course, is that in the whole wide world I don’t know most people, and thus don’t have access (at least at first glance) as to whether they are people who truly view Jews as equal, understand Jewish history, value Jewish perspectives — in short, are allies. My default assumption is that they are not. I don’t think that’s unreasonable of me — it certainly accords to my experience with most non-Jews I’ve met who don’t really know that much about Jews qua Jews (this is true for pro- as well as anti-Israel folks out there).

That isn’t to say that I believe the average person is a Jew-hating Nazi; I don’t. I just don’t have any particular reason to believe that Joe Random Gentile either knows all that much about or cares all that much about Jews, beyond mainstream stereotypes. In a world where this is the default, I’ll admit to starting off mistrustful unless I see indications otherwise. Show me you value Jewish perspectives, show me that you think Jewish bodies matter, show me you take as seriously as human beings and not as caricatures or objects, and you’d be surprised how far I’m willing to walk with you.

In a world of limited knowledge, we have to use heuristic short-hands when trying to evaluate the motivations and intentions of political actors. Suppose I overheard a stranger railing vitriolically against affirmative action. Now, there are plenty of grounds by which to critique affirmative action from an avowedly anti-racist perspective. Nonetheless, my immediate assumption, without any qualifying knowledge, would not be to assume that the speaker is particularly committed to racial egalitarianism, because most (not all) people aren't so committed, and because most (not all) people who are favor affirmative action. That's how a heuristic works: it is a cognitive shortcut sacrificing optimality for efficiency.

Anti-Semitism works similarly. It certainly isn't true that every critic of Israel is anti-Semitic, or every criticism is. The problem is that, heuristically, if I know little about a speaker, and I start from a presumption that the average person isn't particularly committed to securing equal standing for Jews, and then I hear a criticism of Israel thrown in -- particularly of the kind rarely (not never) voiced by those who do hold said commitment -- it makes sense for me to default to a skeptical stance.

And Rep. McKinney bears this out. Rep. McKinney was one of the more virulent Israel critics when she served in Congress, but she wasn't doing the sort of flagrantly racist and judeophobic stuff we're seeing right now. Nonetheless, the Jewish community, drawing on its long experience in recognizing anti-Semitism (a survival skill we've had quite a few generations to hone) recognizes something quite askance. And given her playing footsie with the worst sorts of bigots and hate-mongering maniacs, I think our intuitions were quite warranted.

So where does this leave the Israel critic who genuinely cares about the liberation of all people, including Jews? Well, the first step of respect is recognizing our vulnerable status and not demanding our trust as an entitlement. Trust is something earned through listening, through respectful dialogue, through a demonstrating willingness to reassess and reevaluate your views, through agreeing to view those you know the least about in their strongest possible light. People who have done the hard work of showing themselves to be allies will find a welcome ear in our community. But persons who openly flaunt their unwillingness to listen, who traffic in arrogant pathologizing and psychoanalyzing -- these persons cannot be surprised when I view their professed commitment to my equality with significant skepticism.

Franken Wins

Note to Wendy Long: This is what a unanimous decision looks like.

I also want to express my near-total agreement with James Joyner:
I’ve maintained from the beginning of this fiasco that 1) the election was for all intents and purposes a tie and 2) Coleman, who was ahead when the initial counting stopped — and after the initial recount! — and saw some really weird things go against him, had every right to fight this in court but that 3) it has long been apparent that Franken was going to win and all Coleman’s tactics were achieving was denying Minnesotans their just representation in the Senate and therefore 4) he should have quit this farce some time back. It’s time to accept the inevitable and move on.

This was roughly my position too, and with Coleman agreeing to concede it seems as good a time as any to reiterate it.

Congratulations, Senator-elect Franken!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Blow Me Away

You know, the more I read about Hugo Chavez, the more I'm convinced that he doesn't so much dislike "imperialism" as he is jealous of it. His forays into naked authoritarianism are well documented, but the implied threat to invade nearby countries (in this case, Honduras) is a different animal.

To be sure, I oppose the coup in Honduras -- even though the President appeared to be breaking the law (as interpreted by the Supreme Court) in forcing through a referendum on whether to amend the constitution to allow him to run for subsequent terms. Most other governments rightly have come out against it, and Chavez -- who was nearly the victim of a coup himself in 2002 -- certainly is quite proper to join them (of course, the fact that he attempted to launch a coup to come to power back in 1992 shows he resides in quite the glass house). Coups aren't the way modern democracies do business. But I was under the impression we had all learned a valuable lesson about getting too trigger happy in trying to convert or revert regimes to the styles and behaviors we preferred.

"And all in the name of Moses"

How to avoid being a left-wing anti-Semite.

Step #1: Read this post

Step #2: Avoid doing everything the Race and Class journal does.

The editor of the journal (who wrote the poem alleging that atrocities in Gaza were done "all in the name of Moses.") is one A. Sivanandan. He apparently considers himself highly influenced by the American Black Power movement. It is interesting to me that he does not see the clear parallels between Zionism and Black Power. But perhaps not surprising.


Time profiles the recession-proof Bismark, North Dakota -- and throws out a little smack in the process:
Want to make jokes about North Dakota? Sure, the state's got three times as many cattle as people, and a typical day in January is a balmy 20°F. But the folks who live here, unlike those in many other parts of the country, have jobs.

Suck and die, Michigan.

SCOTUS Rules in Ricci

Showing that conservatives are just as capable of molding the law to suit their empathic preferences, the Supreme Court has ruled 5-4 in the moderately famous Ricci case that the city of New Haven acted wrongfully in throwing out the results of a firefighters' promotion test because the results were racially imbalanced. The case has gained some renown because the lower court opinion was authored by Judge Sotomayor, currently awaiting confirmation to the high court.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do They Have the 4th of July in Chicago?

Bizarrely, it seems I'm the only one of my friends who isn't going to DC for the 4th of July. Despite the fact that I, unlike they, hail from that region of the globe.

Chicago is a weird place -- it has it's fireworks on the 3rd instead of the 4th. But some of Jill and my college friend will be coming over for the weekend, so we won't be lonely.