Saturday, November 12, 2011

My Big Fat Gay Orthodox Jewish Wedding

The very first, in fact, officiated by the first openly gay Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Steven Greenberg. While gay weddings have been done for some time in the Reform, Reconstructionist, and (more recently) Conservative Jewish communities, this marks a milestone amongst Orthodox Jews.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Yes, It's Cliched

But I'm as tickled as anyone about the whole 11:11:11 on 11/11/11 thing.

Though it also is one of those "grappling with my mortality" things when I remember that this is the last time something like this will happen in my lifetime (I am pessimistic at my ability to survive to the year 2111 -- though I guess making it to 2:22:22 on 2/22/22 is pretty likely).

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Narrow Interests

The Washington Jewish Week has a new piece up on the ongoing skirmishes between the liberal J Street and conservative Emergency Committee for Israel. The story's focus is on the ECI taking credit for reducing the number of congressional signatures on a J Street-backed letter -- even though everyone agrees that the letter is "staunchly pro-Israel". In fact, the ECI hasn't quibbled with the letter's content at all. It simply is wreaking havoc for havoc's sake -- and declaring victory because fewer legislators are putting their names on a document defending Israel's security.

And so a J Street spokesperson replied "It's a sad day when ECI puts narrow partisan interests over Israeli security and calls it a victory." To which I say that's far, far too kind. The ECI's entire raison d'etre is to put narrow partisan interests over Israeli security. I asked some veteran Jewish journalists whether they could think of a single instance where the ECI hadn't done this -- where it had acted to put Israeli security over narrow GOP partisan interests. So far, no response -- but it's a fun parlor game you can play with the whole family.

Of course, it shouldn't surprise us that the ECI's commitment to Israel is so thin. That's what happens when you let the notoriously mercurial Noah Pollak be Executive Director of your allegedly "pro-Israel". What you get is a group that cares a lot about seeing Democratic politicians defeated, and very little about seeing Israel survive and thrive as a secure, Jewish, democratic state.

Another Hajaig-Style Apology

After a speech where she darkly warned about "Jewish money" controlling America, South African official Fatima Hajaig issued an "apology" that somehow managed to be more offensive than the original statement. Its hallmarks included claiming that the statement was only anti-Semitic in the minds of the beholder (alongside the classic I-apologize-if-you-were-offended structure), and spent the vast majority of her time reassuring everyone that she would not be cowed in expressing anti-Israel rhetoric or her belief that the evil hyper-sensitive Jewish Zionists were the real problem in any way, shape, or form.

Union activist Steve Hedley apparently was taking notes. We reported on him for referring to a Jewish interlocutor as a member of the "chosen people", implying in the course of it that this would cause the Jew to feel better than him. Now he's, well, sort of apologized (via TULIP):
The phrase “chosen people” refers to the Jewish people, comes from The Torah and is repeated in The Bible (Deuteronomy 14:2. It has been adopted by right-wing Zionists as a Biblical justification for the seizure of Palestinian land, which they see it as their God-given right. However, I accept that my use of the phrase in the context of the highly inflammatory argument with aggressive and disruptive intruders trying to wreck a public meeting and provoke a reaction, was unwise and I regret using the phrase. I apologise to anyone who may have been offended by this remark.

I have never been, nor will I ever be, anti Jewish, or racist against any nationality or ethnicity. Neither will I refrain from criticising Israeli state policy towards the Palestinian population where that policy is discriminatory, oppressive and racist. I regret that I was provoked into making statements that could be deliberately and maliciously miscontrued by right-wing Zionists who are openly hostile to trade unions, openly consort with the neo-fascist EDL and who wish to smear my reputation and that of my union.

"I'm sorry that I let evildoers provoke me saying into something that they were able to manipulate." My heart just wrenches. It is worth noting that I know of no evidence that "chosenness" is an important or even noticeable part of right-wing Israeli rhetoric justifying seizure of Palestinian land. I'm dubious given the actual religious meaning and pedigree of the term, and suspect that Hedley is simply lying here, but I'm open to evidence to the contrary.

The apology, incidentally, is prefaced by several paragraphs of accusation that paints the victim of his anti-Semitic assault as a consort of the EDL who was there to disrupt the meeting in service of an anti-union agenda, as well as the classic "can't tolerate criticism of Israel charge". You can read the victim's account of the story here, as well as his response to Hedley's faux-apology, which he calls "defamatory".

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

But Once You Get To Know Her!

SurveyUSA has a new Minnesota poll out, mostly testing the numbers of Amy Klobuchar (D). As expected, she throttles her GOP competition by 30 points or so (and beats several bigger name GOPers who aren't in the race by double-digit margins as well).

The poll also tests Barack Obama, and things are a little tighter there -- he's up 6 over Romney, and 13 over Cain, Perry, and Paul. As for native daughter Michele Bachmann? She's down a whopping 28 points to the President.

Ouch -- that stings.

Only a Select Few Can Be Truly Authentic....

Adam Serwer has some well-deserved fun at The National Review's Victor Davis Hanson's attempt to declare what is and isn't authentically Black (Herman Cain, yes; Barack Obama, no).
Of course, the assumption that it's within Hanson's authority to police whom black people accept as a member of the community is itself a noxious form of paternalism. His argument doesn't actually work if white people don't get to decide for black people what being black means. It is perhaps, the first time ever that someone has argued that being "at ease" with white conservatives is proof of how authentically black you are, but you work with what you got.

The comparison between Cain and Obama isn't so much "volatile" as it is flattering to conservatives who, having latched onto Cain as a racial alibi, an explanation for the fact that the party of Lincoln hasn't broken 20 percent of the black vote since Richard Nixon, desperately need a symbolic figure of racial absolution. The only time conservatives aren't using trite arguments about black authenticity as an explanation for ongoing racial disparities is when they're relying on them to show everyone how well they understand the soul of the Negro. Hanson doesn't bother to explain how it is that the overwhelming majority of black people haven't discerned that Barack Obama is a fraud and that Herman Cain is the second coming of Marcus Garvey, but that's because their "brainwashed" opinions don't actually matter. The sole purpose of establishing Cain's racial authenticity, premised as it is on Hanson's rather limited view of what constitutes "the black experience," is for Hanson to flatter himself and his ideological allies as racially enlightened.

As we know, the relevant locus point for thinking about Blackness in America is a Black politician whose support amongst the Black community hovers around the Planck Constant.

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Technical Error Roundup

This one might be a bit more haphazard than most, as it incorporates some election night celebration. As for the title, my laptop had its hard drive replaced, and in the middle of doing so my wireless card somehow snapped. So that has to get fixed too.

* * *

My comment to this post set of a twitter war between myself and the Republican Jewish Committee, centered around my observation that if disliking Bibi means hating Israel, then disliking Obama means hating America. Why do Republicans hate America so much, anyway?

Occupy movement inspires unions to get bolder.

Andre Berto is dropping his belt to pursue a rematch against Victor Ortiz, which may pave the way for a match between Randall Bailey (42-7, 36 KOs) and Carson Jones (32-8-2, 22 KOs) to claim the vacant belt. I like both guys, but I'm a particularly fervent Jones fan, so I approve. Bailey is average at best in all dimensions of the sport save one: concussive, brutal, devastating, one-punch power. So it should be good.

Though Blacks are far more likely to be imprisoned for it, it's White kids who actually are more likely to use drugs.

Mostly a good election night for Team Blue: Maine voters reinstated same-day voter registration, Ohio voters tossed Gov. John Kasich's (R) anti-union law, Mississippi(!) voters decisively rejected a "personhood amendment" that would declare life begins at conception, and won massive victories in most Kentucky statewide races as well as an Iowa State Senate election that preserves their control of the chamber. Also, one of the chief xenophobes in the Arizona State Senate, Senate President Russell Pearce, was successfully recalled by another (more moderate) Republican.

On the negative side, the Virginia state Senate will likely flip by an agonizingly small margin (86 votes in the pivotal race) and Mississippi approved a voter ID law (and elected a new GOP governor -- no shock there).

UPDATE: Another bit of good news: Dems have retaken the Wake County (NC) school board. That's a big deal: Wake County had been one of integration's few true success stories, and the GOP board that swept to power last cycle was looking to undo that.

DC Circuit Upholds ACA

And like the 6th Circuit, it was a high-profile conservative stalwart (actually, two) who took the lead. Judge Brent Kavanaugh found that the court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case under the Anti-Injunction Act, while Judge Laurence Silberman (joined by Judge Harry Edwards) reached the merits and upheld the act. The opinion is here, with Silberman ultimately declaring that "appellants cannot find real support for their proposed rule in either the text of the Constitution or Supreme Court precedent" (incidentally, only in the legal arena can a panel release opinions totaling 103 pages and declare that they are being "sparing in adding to the production of paper.").

It is worth emphasizing who these judges are. Silberman is a Reagan appointee and Kavanaugh was put on the bench by George W. Bush. Kavanaugh, like Judge Sutton on the Sixth Circuit, is considered a rising star amongst right-wing judges. And with respect to Silberman, there's no "rising" about it -- he's been among the most high-profile conservative judges in the country for decades now (Edwards, for his part, is a liberal stalwart). Perhaps for this reason, Stuart Benjamin expects Judge Silberman's opinion to serve as a template for a majority opinion upholding the ACA from either Justice Scalia or Kennedy.