Friday, August 22, 2014

Blurring the DREAM

Rand Paul has just come out in favor of deporting hundreds of thousands of undocumented Latinos who came to America as children. But he also traveled to Guatemala to give medical examinations to some lucky locals. Jon Chait smells a new policy:
The 2016 hopeful opposes universal health insurance, and he wants to deport half a million people who grew up in America. But Rand Paul will personally provide every deported immigrant with a free eye exam. Call it compassionate paleolibertarianism.
That youth support is around the corner!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Apostates

A very interesting review by Adam Kirsch of three books which touch on the theme of Jewish apostasy -- Jews who betray the Jewish community to hostile gentiles. This, of course, must mean something beyond criticizing Jews -- Kirsch immediately draws the distinction between those who criticize from within the community as an attempt to make it better, and those who remove themselves from the community and seek to tear it down. Moreover, he observes that their is a significant qualitative difference between how one criticizes Jews when they are purely in a position of marginalization and weakness versus when they have gained some measure of power and influence (not the least of which comes in the form of a state with an army).

But the key point Kirsch returns to is that Jewish apostasy has been the source of some of the gravest threats to Jewish lives and livelihoods across history. It was medieval Jewish apostates who could credibly claim "insider" status whose polemics against the Jewish community and the Talmud sparked some of the most aggressive anti-Semitic campaigns by the Church. This is in many ways the violent cousin of Derrick Bell's concept of superstanding -- the heightened authority African-Americans receive when they speak out against the majority of the African-American community. Likewise, there is always a healthy audience for Jews who will eagerly tell non-Jews exactly what they've always yearned to hear about Jews; that even a Jew will affirm that most Jews are worthy of contempt.

I don't mean to minimize the difficulty of the question: freedom for Jews, or any minority group, includes the freedom to dissent from the orthodoxy of one's own community. No doubt there are strong vested incentives for those currently in positions of authority within a community to take a broad view of what counts as apostasy against it. This is an age-old problem -- one not limited to Jews -- and I don't pretend to have an easy answer other than adopting a principle of anti-tokenization. It is fine to be a Jew who is deeply critical of mainstream Jewish practices. But it is not okay for people to treat such voices as emblematic of Judaism such that it replaces their need to engage with the Jewish community writ large.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


To everyone furiously parsing Rule 35 of the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure in order to argue that Halbig v. Burwell (also affectionately known as the "moops" case) is or is not en banc worthy -- stop. We all are well aware that the standard for en banc review is no more and no less than "if the court feels like it." That's it. Indeed, when I clerked on the Eighth Circuit a panel once asked for supplemental briefing on whether a case should go en banc (some of the judges disliked a prior Eighth Circuit precedent that granted jurisdiction over the appeal in the first place), and the lawyers' really had no way to argue one way or the other because granting en banc review is for all intents and purposes a pure exercise of unfettered discretion.

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Ship Docks in Oakland

Protesters in Oakland have blocked an Israeli-owned ship from unloading. The ship is owned by ZIM, the 10th largest shipping company in the world. Notably, ZIM is privately-owned (the Israeli government divested its minority ownership in 2004) and to my knowledge there is no claim that the company is implicated in the occupation other than by its nationality.

Protesters claim that local unionized dockworkers (members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, I believe) honored the picket line and refused to unload the ship; with one leader saying "[t]his is the first time in history that this has happened." If indeed the workers made a voluntary decision to refuse to unload the ship in deference to the picketers, that would be a first -- but only because the last time time this happened the picket temporarily succeeded only because the union workers feared for their personal safety if they unloaded the ship.

UPDATE: This news story indicates that we're in roughly the same boat as we were in 2010 -- union workers did not cross the picket line "for safety reasons." The ILWU confirmed that it had not taken a stance favoring (or disfavoring) the picket.

UPDATE x2: The ship was unloaded last night, when the union concluded there was no longer a "safety issue." Basically, this great non-violent BDS "success" was that they successfully created a safety hazard for union workers which kept them off the job. Hurray!