Friday, January 27, 2012

Go Strong or Don't Go At All

An interesting letter from Zionist Organization of America hit the mailboxes of various Jewish media outlets. In it, one Robert I. Lappin declares that "Western Civilization is at war with Islam", which is "not a religion of peace". "Saying that we are at war with terror, or radical Islam, or Islamic extremists, provides American Muslims with a rationale to do nothing."

Now, it isn't exactly surprising to see ZOA descend into Islamophobia (hell, it's no longer surprising to see them endorse anti-Semites willing to sign onto their destructive, anti-Israel agenda). But contacted by the media, Mort Klein -- well, distanced himself doesn't seem quite right. He says that the email was not intended to be "from" ZOA, but that he had allowed a prominent donor (Lappin) access to it "as a favor". ZOA, he said, was neither "endorsing" nor "condemning" the letter's contents.

Oh come on, that's just weak sauce. If you're going to allow someone to send a bigoted email through to your mailing list, either stand behind it or disavow it. This whole, "it was a favor, it doesn't mean anything" nonsense isn't persuading anyone.

Attackerman Attacked for Attacking Anti-Semitism

Spencer Ackerman has up a very sensible, bordering on mundane, article objecting to the use of the term "Israel-firster". The point is simple: "Israel-firster" has a sharp anti-Semitic pedigree (not to mention it might be conceptually incoherent if we're to accept the premise that even minorities are allowed to construct and forward their own conception of American "interests") and should be abandoned. It's not like it plays some critical role in buttressing the progressive argument regarding the proper US/Israel relationship or the best policies for securing a safe, democratic, Jewish state of Israel. That's a debate progressives are well-positioned to win on the merits, what with the GOP going all one-stater.

Of course, left-wing purveyors of "Israel-firster" can't possibly comprehend that there might be a progressive critique of anti-Semitism that nonetheless sometimes implicates fellow progressives. So, for example, M.J. Rosenberg of Media Matters proclaimed that Ackerman "put your rightist buddy & your career over principle". For those of you who don't recall the circumstances of Ackerman's departure from The New Republic (he sardonically offered to "skull-fuck a terrorist" to counter charges he was squishy on foreign policy), I think it is fair to say that Ackerman's problem has not historically been that he is too deferential to conservative sensibilities in pursuit of his career ambitions. But as Rosenberg aptly demonstrates, the problem here is simply that some people think there is no such thing as anti-Semitism when it used for "noble" reasons, and will react with all the fury and indignation of a Heritage Foundation staffer who's just been condemned for racist dogwhistles (it's a distraction from "real racism", dontcha know?).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Gingrich Scores the Coveted Duke Cunningham Endorsement

Newt Gingrich -- who, let us recall, was forced to resign from Congress in disgrace after a slew of ethics scandals -- has just won the endorsement of a prominent former Congressman. Unfortunately, both the reason he's "prominent" and the reason he's "former" is because ex-Rep. Duke Cunningham (R-CA) is currently in prison after being convicted of bribery.

Cunningham also said Gingrich enjoyed the support of "80%" of the inmates who watched the debate. And while they can't themselves vote (being in jail and all), Cunningham thinks they might be able to sway their extended families.

(Note: This post does not reflect a change in my underlying belief that prisoners probably should be allowed to vote).

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Minnesota Poll: Klobuchar Annhilates Everyone, Franken Does Well

PPP has some new polling out, with the main emphasis on Sen. Amy Klobuchar's (D) 2012 reelection. And, no surprise, the insanely popular senior senator throttles everyone who could conceivably challenge her, including a whopping 15 point lead against former governor and presidential-wannabe Tim Pawlenty (who hasn't expressed any interest in the race). One might think that Klobuchar's sponsorship of SOPA might have dimmed her star a little, but apparently not.

Possibly more surprising is some early numbers for Sen. Al Franken (D), who isn't up for re-election until 2014. Franken squeaked past Norm Coleman in a 2008 nailbiter, and for that reason has long been viewed as vulnerable given his polarizing public figure and the high-water nature of 2008. But he's actually looking pretty decent, sporting a six point lead over Pawlenty (his most dangerous potential challenger) and a 15 point margin over Michele Bachmann.

I've mentioned before that, while Franken is kind of a dick, he's also been a stellar Senator. And I think a lot of Minnesotans have seen that he's serious about his job and serious about being a legislator, and that's what has him in such a strong political position even as Democratic political fortunes have taken generally taken a turn for the worse since 2008.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Jewish Newspaper Editor Who Called for Obama's Assassination Resigns

Obviously good riddance. The editor, Andrew Adler of the Atlanta Jewish Times, faced a torrent of criticism from all quarters for his repulsive column, including from the AJC and ADL, as well as finding his paper cut loose by the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta until Adler left the paper. Adler, who owned as well as managed the newspaper, is also looking to sell it to another owner to complete his withdrawal.

Oh, and since I've been hearing murmurings that Adler isn't being investigated by the Secret Service because Jew Jew special treatment Jew, it's worth noting that he is, in fact, being investigated by the Secret Service. Which is appropriate, but it is almost certainly the case that he didn't do anything illegal -- just repulsive (abstract advocacy of violence, particularly against public figures, is protected by the First Amendment. Unless he had an actual conspiracy in motion, which seems more than a little far-fetched, his column falls into that category).

Washington Ready To Legalize Gay Marriage

The announced support of state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D) provides the crucial 25th vote that will put gay marriage over the top (it already has sufficient support in the House, and Governor Christine Gregoire (D) has likewise come out in favor). Like a fellow Marylander friend of mine, I'm pouting that they beat my state to it -- and for that matter, Maryland also provides a cautionary tale to not count your chickens before they hatch. But still, things are looking good right now.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Gabby Giffords Stepping Down

Rep. Gabby Giffords (D-AZ), still recovering from brain injuries after being shot by a deranged constituent, has announced she is stepping down as Congresswoman in order to focus on her recovery. She promises, however, that she will return to public life in the future.

Obviously, best wishes to Rep. Giffords as she continues her remarkable recovery.