Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mad CEI Men

The Competitive Enterprise Institute (perhaps best known for their pro-Carbon Dioxide ads -- tag: "They call it pollution. We call it life!" recently hosted a Mad Men themed fundraiser. The thesis is that Don Draper would be appalled by corporations always apologizing for this or that misdeed. Take BP. Sure they basically destroyed the Gulf of Mexico and nearly beset a flaming wall of alligators onto Louisiana. But that doesn't mean they should be apologetic. This is America, damn it!

As the writer notes, the CEI doesn't actually take Draper's mercurial spirit seriously enough, citing to his famous anti-tobacco letter that was as pure a business-oriented mea culpa as they come. Businesses run apologetic TV ads because, one presumes, they're better for business than the alternatives -- particularly for firms with unlovely reps. That's part of the market too -- sometimes, the market doesn't reward your testosterone fueled fantasies.

Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Things You Can Do With a Shiny New Coalition

A recent dust-up in Israel comes in response to a Supreme Court decision demanding the evacuation of settlers in the Ulpina neighborhood, who built their homes on private Palestinian land. The settlers, of course, don't want to go, and there have been murmurings that the Israeli government would vote to retroactively legalize the settlement (which would put it on a collision course with the Supreme Court).

It seems like Netanyahu just put his foot down on that though: he's saying that any minister in his government who votes to legalize Ulpina will be fired. Two ministers (including one from Likud) have stated their intent to vote for it anyway, and I can't say I'll shed a tear if they depart.

So that's a good start to having a flexible, broad-based coalition. How about following up by evacuating some of the far-flung settlements that Israel knows it cannot keep?

Change Places!

Fascinating article on population shifts in Cleveland. Basically, it goes like this: Rust Belt cities have witnessed the hollowing out of the urban cores for decades now. This means that residential real estate in the city is dirt cheap. You know who loves cheap urban real estate? Young White people, who are flocking to the city as they can purchase houses at rock bottom prices that are very close to finally reflowering city neighborhoods.

Meanwhile, the collapse of the housing market in the suburbs has had its own effect on Black city residents -- they see this is their big shot to cash in on the American dream (nice house with a yard away from the city). So as we're seeing an influx of White couples into the city, we're seeing a transition of Black families out to the suburbs. The upshot? Far more integrated neighborhoods.

Monday, June 04, 2012

Dershowitz's Evolution Continues

A few weeks ago, I commented on Alan Dershowitz's experiences speaking at a "pro-Israel" gathering where attendees booed the President as well as members of Israel's security establishment whose views on Iran they found distasteful. Dershowitz was furious, but I noted that in a sense he was laying in a bed he had made -- it was Dershowitz, after all, who had supported Republican challenges to reliably pro-Israel Democrats like Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) for being too close to President Obama.

Still, his belated recognition that maybe he was backing the wrong pro-Israel horses is something to be encouraged. And we're seeing another step from Dershowitz as he takes to the Wall Street Journal to endorse (gasp) a settlement freeze. A settlement freeze! Signature element of President Obama's supposed apostasy. But now Dershowitz thinks it is a good idea, if done right (basically, paired with an immediate Palestinian return to the negotiating table, and lasting as long as they stay at the table). And he's right -- it is a good idea. But again, who exactly does he think will be his allies and who his saboteurs on this? He'll be backed up by the pro-Israel left and savaged by the right.

And once again, that leaves Professor Dershowitz with a choice regarding what he wants the future of pro-Israel to be. He can't straddle the line forever. He needs to take a breath, perhaps swallow his pride, and recognize who is and isn't his ally in the quest for rendering Israel a safe and secure Jewish democracy.

Sunday, June 03, 2012

Quote of the Day: Liberalism and Neutrality

Liberalism need not be defined by neutrality, nor by an unchanging list of individual rights which always and everywhere trump collective goals.... What keeps a society liberal is not that it retreats from any pronouncements on what constitutes the good life, but that, in pursuing its own conception of the good, it none the less respects those who disagree. 'A society with strong collective goals can be liberal, on this view, provided it is also capable of respecting diversity, especially when it concerns those who do not share its goals; and provided it can offer adequate safeguards for fundamental rights.'

Anne Phillips, The Politics of Presence (Oxford UP 1995), pp. 133 (quoting Charles Taylor, "Shared and Divergent Values," in Ronald L. Watts & Douglas M Brown, eds., Options for a New Canada (Toronto UP, 1991), pp. 71).