Saturday, August 08, 2009

Only in Vegas

From a review of the newly frugal dining options in the Sin City, this burger was mentioned:
...ground-shrimp-and-pork burger, designed to taste like a Vietnamese banh mi with cilantro, pickled daikon and carrots.

Put some cheese on that sucker and I think you've officially found the least Kosher dish ever created.

What a City

So Netanyahu had previously stated that Jerusalem will never again be divided. And now, Fatah says that Jerusalem is a red-line for negotiations -- not that it gets East Jerusalem as a capital, apparently, but all of it. Even West Jerusalem over the Green Line (sounds like Fatah dreams of an occupation of its own).

What a shame. The Fatah conference really did hold some potential to take a step forward in this conflict. Instead, they took a position that is clearly untenable under any legal or moral standard and raised it up to the level of primary principle.

What a shame.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Moving Roundup

We began helping Jill move into her new place today -- that project will continue over the weekend. Then Monday is M-Day for me -- excitement city! I also turned in my first topic proposal for a law review comment. It draws from this post on Rhode Island's weird exemption for Jews from its incest laws. Thanks, Rhode Island!

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Iran's Christians labor under the states apostasy law.

The other Carleton (the Canadian one) is having a hell over a spat over a visiting professor accused of being behind a terrorist attack on a French synagogue.

A 1975 essay by Albert Memmi on "Arab Jews". Memmi himself was a Tunisian Jew who had been a staunch supporter of Algerian independence.

According to this poll, Latino approval ratings for the GOP stand at 3%. That's not a typo.

David Hyman really doesn't get that one can support "grassroots activism" and yet oppose angry mobs comparing the Obama administration to the SS?

A related observation.

And no, saying Obama will set up a "death panel" isn't any better.

Adam Serwer is annoyed that the ADL hasn't come out to condemn conservative Nazi imagery directed at the Obama administration -- except, whoops, they did.

Jeff Fecke on the "nice guy" sexism that led to the Pennsylvania health club shooting.

We took a break last week, but Chicago Faculty blogging is back with Rosalind Dixon on Dynamic Constitutional Rules.


A poem by Steve Cohen.

Baseball in Minnesota

Why Your Stadium Sucks -- The Metrodome:
A couple of years ago I was watching the beloved local nine at the Dome with my brother, and apparently this was the day the home plate umpire decided not to sesh before the game and alleviate his advanced-stage glaucoma. After calling the third consecutive six-strike walk to load the bases, my brother and I screamed in (profanity-free, mind you-we know our audience) unison, "OH COME ON!!!"

And at that G-rated outburst, every single person-every man, woman and child alike sitting below us in our section-turned their heads in synchronous, counterclockwise, Hitchcockian slow motion to stare at us in their silent, furious, six-hundred eyed judgment. All because we had apparently ruined the tranquil atmosphere of the ballpark by being, well, fairly well behaved baseball fans.

It's emblematic of Beyond Metrodome: two parts of the psychic apparatus enter, one part leaves. Here, you are entering the id-versus-superego crucible, and in the Land of 10,000 Manifestations of Passive Aggressive Behavior, the don't act out/don't rock the boat/don't have fun superego has a scandalous Dome-field advantage. For every Twins fan who exhibits certain actions that fall under the rubric of demonstrative, totally acceptable public displays of emotion-you know: arguing obviously shitty calls, cheering for the home team, laughter and, uh, joy, etc.-they will inevitably encounter the legion of moralizing goons bent on transforming an afternoon at the game into the largest Lutheran Bible camp in Western Civilization. And for the Legion, any outburst that rises above the decibel level of the mild susurrations typically reserved for one's local library is regarded as a rank crime of passion and met with shame-inducing scorn. There's a code of conduct here, people. You better observe it.

And you wonder why you hear such an echo in there. Good times, indeed.

The fact is that, for all the Homer Hankie-waving, bloody eardrum-screaming fervent fan myths of yore, a typical Twins game at the Dome will yield more reprimands of "Down in front!" if you dare to stand during the 2-out, full count, possibly final at bat of a tense, hella exciting Joe Nathan save situation than should ever, ever actually happen. That's not the acrid odor of stale hotdogs and cheap beer you're inhaling in the Dome. That's "Minnesota Nice." And if you're not careful, you just might suffocate from it. To wit, too many Minnesotans keep it all inside a double-walled, Teflon-coated monstrosity that is completely unnatural and ugly as hell. And their baseball is no exception.

I prefer hockey games, personally.

For The Win

I have to think that he thought of the title first, and then dreamed up an article to go with it. Still, nicely done (and it isn't even forced!).

Tom Lininger, Sects, Lies, and Videotape: The Surveillance and Infiltration of Religious Groups, 89 Iowa L. Rev. 1201 (2004).

The only article title I can think of better than this was my ex-roommate's proposed senior thesis title. It was, in part, about medieval iconography of a particular choir of angels often represented as serpents. Hence, its title: "Snakes on a Higher Plane."

Alas, it was too tangential to the main thrust of his argument. But it lives on in my memory.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Into Bed Roundup

I'm not getting ready to go to sleep, but I just did buy a new bed for the house I'm moving into Monday. It's a Serta too -- now I can actually call myself a Serta jockey from now until Jill decides to hit me.

* * *

Another Black Harvard professor says he was baited and then arrested by Cambridge Police. Via Sullivan.

This article on the Promise Keepers is really, really interesting. They're definitely a complicated organization, and their past efforts at race reconciliation (even if not with the focus I'd like), and their present attack on domestic violence, are certainly nice. On the other hand, their "outreach" to "believing [i.e., Messianic] Jews", among other things, understandably annoys the hell out of me. (via)

Fatah is blaming Israel for Arafat's death. Sure, why not?

Meanwhile, Israeli voters seem to be taking a turn towards Kadima leader Tzipi Livni (who is facing a stiff challenge from within Kadima by Shaul Mofaz).

What is racism to Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK)?

Can one criticize a "socialist regime" without being called an imperialist shill? Non-hack leftists want to know.

Five tips for raising a girl geek.

I remember when the Bush administration was telling critics to watch what they say. The Obama administration, by contrast, actually wants to debate its critics -- and that apparently is what's actually "Orwellian".

Eugene Volokh thinks we should not ratify the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Peter Spiro thinks he's dead wrong; Volokh responds.

The APA rejects gay-to-straight "therapy." Needless to say, the FRC is outraged.

Hey, let's stir up a hysteria of right-wing mobs and then joke about lynching! Great call, Rep. Todd Akin (R-MO)!

Congratulations, Justice Sotomayor

She wins approval 68-31. May she have many years of long, distinguished, and happy service.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

And Stay Down

Hey! The cop who called Henry Louis Gates Jr. a "jungle monkey" is suing the Boston Police Department for "intentional infliction of emotional distress." Because irony apparently was trying to drag itself to its feet in the face of multiple bullet wounds.

Wave Away

I firmly take no position on whether it was proper to award former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Many Jewish groups are "deeply disappointed" (to use AIPAC's language) with the decision, citing Robinson's involvement in the Durban I debacle and her time heading the UNHRC. I'll discuss their case in a moment, but I want to stress again that I am neither endorsing it nor rejecting it.

Rather, my objection is to this Matt Yglesias post on the controversy, which I find appalling on several dimensions. Really, there is almost nothing right about it. First off, he cites to Abe Foxman's reaction:
Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, today issued a statement saying that Robinson has “anti-Israel bias” and calling the decision to bestow America’s highest civilian honor upon Robinson as an agent of change “ill-advised.”

Yglesias led into that quote by saying "Naturally, Abe Foxman sees an insidious plot against the Jewish people." Because Foxman had the temerity to say "ill-advised"? Yglesias (of course) makes the by now extremely cliched argument that for many "criticism of Israel amounts to anti-Israel bias" (at least he didn't say anti-Semitism). But what this is really indicative of is how even relatively tempered criticism ("ill-advised"! "deeply disappointed"!) of any critics of Israel is blown up into a massive threat to the entire project of democratic deliberation. Yglesias analogizes this dispute to the spat over Human Rights Watch -- ironic, because there too he waves aside the entire issue of anti-Semitism without pause.*

Yglesias is also extremely dismissive of the idea that Robinson's performance at Durban might have been even remotely problematic, saying "it takes a pretty serious case of narcissism to reach the conclusion that this bill of particulars ought to outweigh a person’s entire career." (I also take exception to the patronizing lead-in here: "You see, back in 2001". Ancient history!). Now, nobody, including Robinson herself, disputes that Durban involved vicious anti-Semitism. Indeed, Robinson powerfully denounced it early in the proceedings, declaring "I am a Jew" in response to anti-Semitic cartoons distributed by the Arab Lawyers' Union. The question is whether she did "enough to prevent [the anti-Semitic atmosphere] – or speak up loudly enough after the debacle."

On the former, some, such as the late Rep. Tom Lantos (D-CA), thought she did not. As to the latter, Robinson's refrain is been that overall, Durban was a good thing -- including on the middle east -- which leaves me wondering why so many seem to consider it acceptable (if not obligatory) for Jews to take in the teeth for the sake of everyone else's human rights discussions. What heartens me is that Robinson has been quite clear that she recognized the going-ons as anti-Semitic. What troubles me is that Robinson seems to buy into a growing norm that something can be a "success" from a human rights standpoint even if it viciously promotes hatred and bigotry against the Jewish people.

But as far as Yglesias is concerned, all this can be collapsed into the unfair targeting of critics of Israel. And the most absurd part is that the most salient area of critique isn't her supposed "bias" against Israel, but her insufficient response to anti-Semitism. Contrary to the popular refrain, nobody serious argues that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitic. But there does seem to be a growing equation that says criticism of anti-Semitism is anti-Palestinian.

* The cause isn't helped, obviously, by David Bernstein's "start with the kitchen sink and work backwards" approach to attacking HRW. Still, the particular problem Goldberg noted was a serious one and one that deserved more searching scrutiny -- scrutiny that Yglesias didn't give because at this point he is ideologically committed to the notion that anti-Semitism is mostly a red herring.

UPDATE: By contrast, Marty Peretz's slam on Robinson is well-worth condemning, though Peretz is arguably too easy a target.

Monday, August 03, 2009

The Evolution of a Chicago Student

Today, I realized that I found a set of articles approaching a subject from a rational choice perspective more compelling than the ones I read relying on 1980s narrative theory.

What's happening to me?

It's like working in the accounting department at Dilbert's company: too much time, and you transform into a troll.

Square One

"On the issue of the Hispanic voter, we have to do a lot more. We Republicans have to recruit and elect Hispanics to office," McCain told CNN's State of Union. "And I don't mean just because they're Hispanics, but they represent a big part of the growing population in America. And we have a lot of work to do there. And I am of the belief that unless we reverse the trend of Hispanic voter registration, we have a very, very deep hole that we've got to come out of."

While he was one of only a handful of Republicans willing to tackle immigration reform in 2007, McCain faced a massive deficit with Hispanic voters in the 2008 election. His aides have said that, were he not the home state senator, he would have lost Arizona to Barack Obama, in large part because Hispanics had left the Republican Party in droves.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called Judge Sonia Sotomayor a “judicial activist” today, announcing he’ll vote against making her the first Latina on the Supreme Court.

Sotomayor “cannot change her record. She has a long record of judicial activism” as a federal judge since 1992, McCain said. “Her decisions too often stray from legal norms.”

Best of luck, Senator (via).

Who Gave This Speech?

In a speech to be delivered today, MK Reuven Rivlin will reportedly say the following:
[Rivlin] is calling for a fundamental change in relations between Jews and Arabs in Israel, urging the founding of a "true partnership" between the two sectors, based on mutual respect, absolute equality and the addressing of "the special needs and unique character of each of the sides."

Rivlin was expected to say all this in an address to be delivered at the president's residence in Jerusalem on Monday. In his speech, Rivlin was to say that "the establishment of Israel was accompanied by much pain and suffering and a real trauma for the Palestinians (in large part due to the shortsightedness of the Palestinian leadership). Many of Israel's Arabs, which see themselves as part of the Palestinian population, feel the pain of their brothers across the green line - a pain they feel the state of Israel is responsible for."

"Many of them," Rivlin says, "encounter racism and arrogance from Israel's Jews; the inequality in the allocation of state funds also does not contribute to any extra love."

According to Rivlin, Israel's Arab population "is an inseparable part of this country. It is a group with a highly defined shared national identity, and which will forever be, as a collective, an important and integral part of Israeli society."

Rivlin remarks that most of Israel's Arab residents refuse to accept the idea that the state of Israel is the home of the Jewish people, and adds that some of the Arab leaders within Israel align themselves with Israel's worst enemies, and incite against it.

"The Arab population is an inseparable part of our homeland," he adds, however, saying that "we, the Jews, must send out a clear message that is apparent to us that our homeland is their homeland, and that we intend to live together with them, and that we reject all the calls for forced immigration or even expulsion."

"The somewhat European goal that most of us have -- to live alongside a Zionist minority which sings the anthem with sparkling eyes -- will not become a reality in our Middle East," Rivlin planned to say. "We can't pretend, or hope that our neighbors will go away, even if we close the window. Furthermore, we mustn't do it! We must see them as they are and tell them that we accept them as they are and that we seek a true partnership with them."

But who is Reuven Rivlin? Is he a member of Meretz, Israel's left-wing Zionist party? Or perhaps Labor or Kadima?

No, MK Rivlin is the Speaker of the Knesset, and a member of the right-wing Likud party. Which is why this speech -- which forthrightly acknowledges the "trauma" Palestinians faced along side the establishment of the state of Israel, recognizes the racism and discrimination faced by Israeli Arabs, and starkly lines himself against any efforts to uproot them as full and equal members of Israeli society -- struck me.

Rivlin seems like an interesting character. On the one hand, he was a vocal critic of the Gaza disengagement plan as well as crusading Israeli Supreme Court Justice Aharon Barak. On the other hand, he tellingly chose an Israeli Arab town targeted by far-right demonstrators for his first official state visit (he denied his visit was related to the protests, but most observers thought it was meant to convey a conciliatory message).

In any event, the speech is a very good one, and it is a very good one to hear from a prominent member of Likud.

No One Here By That Name

Is there a reason nearly all the spam that makes its way into my junk folder is addressed to "Amanda"? Who is Amanda?

Sunday, August 02, 2009

Weekend Roundup

I'm not as funny as Tina Fey, but I make up for it in erudition.

* * *

There was a brutal shooting at a gay club in Tel Aviv, with two dead. The gay community blames Shas, the Sephardic/Mizrachi ultra-Orthodox party, for inciting violence against their community.

The police are recommending that Israeli FM Avigdor Lieberman be indicted on graft charges. Hey, whatever gets him out of office.

Likud MK Yisrael Katz, Israel's Transportation Minister, calls the Fatah draft platform currently up for a vote a "declaration of war" against Israel. I'm not convinced it's a "declaration", since it doesn't seem to change much Fatah policy. The draft endorses two states and encourages civil disobedience, but also sanctions violence, rejects Israel as a Jewish state, and demands a right of return for Palestinian refugees. It also contemplates increased links with Iran, unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state on '67 borders, or even a binational state should talks fail.

Politicians won't stop lying until lying becomes a liability.

Ann Friedman on the gendered implications of the "beer summit".

Red-heads feel the pain.

Gregory Gordon pushes an African Marshall Plan for the Congo.

Pat Boone only opposes metaphorical waterboarding.

The Australian TULIP event I mentioned earlier appears to have been a rousing success.

Frank Rich identifies the source of much of the Gates-gate flap as anxiety over America's upcoming majority-minority status. Post-racial, we're not.

Iran is putting 100 protesters on trial. It appears that they may have coerced false confessions out of them.

Finally, funny science abstracts!