Saturday, January 07, 2017

Out/In: The 2017 Inauguration Edition

Inauguration day is approaching, or as Jill Stein would put it, a day in which nothing important will change in American politics is approaching. Jill (my Jill) and I will be having our own mini-counterinauguration celebration, as our (Muslim) friend's (immigrant) fiancé is returning to the US that same day. Muslims, immigrants, Jews, women -- I feel like there's some symbolism here.

In any event, new beginnings, awful as they are, are also time to experiment. And so I present to you a Debate Link first: An "Out/In" list for the 2017 inauguration!

Barack Obama
Michelle Obama's speeches
"When Putin rears his ugly head......"
Two state solution
America won the Cold War
Deficit hawks
Drain the swamp
American exceptionalism
"Assange is a hero/traitor!"
Social science
Amateur hackers
Professional civil service
Abuse of executive power
New anti-Semitism
Susan Collins
Merrick Garland
Heartland values
"Trigger warning"
College is about encountering challenging ideas
A wall Mexico will pay for
Disney World
"Obama forgot Syria!"
Fist bumps
Fuck you, 2016!
Donald Trump
Michelle Obama's speeches
"Whatever you want, Trump!"
By any means necessary
"When Putin bats his baby blues......"
Bi-national curious
"Russia at the buzzer!"
Tax cuts
Wetlands protection
American caudillo
"Assange is a traitor/hero!"
Gut instinct
Professional hacks
One dollar salaries
Strong leadership
Old & new anti-Semitism
Ben Sasse
Judge Dredd
"Don't normalize"
College is about left-wing indoctrination
A wall taxpayers will pay for
Affordable Care Act
(Under)Sea World
Forgetting Syria
Tiny hands
Please don't hurt me, 2017!

Whether you're in or you're out, best of luck this 2017!

Friday, January 06, 2017

Reclaiming Unilateral Action

A recurrent theme in my recent writing on Israel and Zionism has been the fundamentally reactive character of many "pro-Israel" voices. They can only speak in what others are or aren't doing. Ask them why Israel doesn't do X -- withdraw from settlements, say -- they speak solely in terms of the badness of someone else's Y. The UN is biased. The Palestinians incite. The Saudis behead people. It's not that these things are wrong -- far from it. But they have completely supplanted any sense of Zionist-Jewish agency -- a sad development in a movement that was supposed about Jewish self-determination.

I am pleased, therefore, to see at least some move in the rhetoric of the pro-Israel left that explicitly adopts this frame. I already flagged T'ruah's statement that "Zionism, ultimately, is about taking our future in our own hands, rather than waiting for someone else to determine our future." The Israel Policy Forum has a post on David Friedman declaring him a symptom of a larger disease: "the personified distillation of the view that Israel need not seize its own destiny and should not seize its own destiny, and that everything in the end will be fine because the status quo can reign forever." A prestigious Israeli think tank, cynical about the prospects of a negotiated settlement, has just come out with a proposal for a unilateral two-state solution.

Now to be clear, I do not prefer unilateralism as against a negotiated solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. Many of the people who consider the Gaza withdrawal a disaster (I don't, but I concede I'm in a minority) lay the blame on its unilateral character. An agreement is obviously better than an imposed solution, by anyone. But with -- for all manner of reasons -- negotiations a dim prospect for the near future, I do favor Israel taking the steps it can take over Israel lying back and doing nothing indefinitely.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

.... Can You Imagine a Class Just for MEN?

The University of Wisconsin-Madison is offering a workshop for male students to discuss issues of masculinity in American culture and their own lives. Wisconsin Republicans are unhappy about it. This comes on the heels of Wisconsin Republicans also being unhappy about a UW class on Whiteness. Clearly, we're moving out of the "college is about challenging young minds with uncomfortable ideas, not coddling them with safe spaces" phase of the GOP/academia cycle, and into the "it's outrageous for colleges to offer these ideas that I find outrageous" portion.

But I'm actually even more perplexed that this class is triggering the reaction. After all, isn't the ur-conservative retort to all these ethnic studies classes and "safe spaces" something like "can you imagine if someone proposed something like this for men/heterosexuals/whites"? And then Wisconsin goes and does exactly that, and the right still goes through the roof!

"Perplexed" is obviously the wrong word here, since that implies I thought there was any coherent ideology undergirding GOP objections, but it's still worth noting.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

The GOP Congress IS the Swamp

The House GOP caucus has beaten a hasty retreat from its proposal to gut their independent ethics oversight body, thanks to a firestorm of calls from angry constituents. A good example of what angry constituents can still accomplish. But also a good opportunity to start imposing a narrative on 2017.

As far as I'm concerned, the second Trump is inaugurated is the second that the DNC and affiliated organizations should start cutting ads hammering Republicans on ethics. Over and over and over again. Drain they swamp? They are the swamp! And the more quickly that narrative is established, the harder it will be for congressional Republicans to wriggle free of it come 2018. Take this script:
Entrenched corruption in Washington. Politicians in the pocket of Wall Street billionaires. Foreign states interfering in American elections. Unprecedented conflicts of interest. 
And the first thing [John Doe] did in 2017? He voted to "gut" Congress' independent ethics watchdog.
Drain the swamp? John Doe IS the swamp.
No credit for having second thoughts. Run it until they bleed.

Monday, January 02, 2017

Welcome to the Future Roundup

Back from a wonderful New Year's celebration in Boston, Massachusetts. And a New Year is always a good time to clean off excess browser tabs. Here are some links that have been cluttering up mine.

* * *

It's rare that I say this, but this Nation piece trying to explain the psychology of (many) Trump voters by comparing them to the bikers Hunter S. Thompson followed is really good (and generally coheres with my sense that much of pro-Trump sentiment is more the product of ressentiment than any cohesive political ideology -- which does not make it any less dangerous,.

The BBC on those who study the spread of ignorance.

If it seems like right-wingers are deliberately trying to sabotage Israel as a bipartisan issue -- you're right. Not to toot my own horn, but perhaps worth reading in conjunction with this piece I published in Tablet.

Politico argues that "Trump Could Be Israel's Worst Nightmare." The argument is a little more complicated can that -- it's really that Trump is Netanyahu's worst nightmare by emboldening his right flank (the Naftali Bennett's of the world), though that in turn would be disastrous for Israel as Bennett's policy platform rests on an array of delusions like "nobody will care if Israel annexes the West Bank but doesn't give the Palestinians who live their full citizenship" and "China will replace the US as Israel's patron".

Jonathan Bronitsky -- he who wonders why more Jews aren't wetting themselves over the absorption of Syrian refugees, like he is -- also thinks that Jews are spending way too much time fretting about the alt-right:"a vague, fringe phenomenon that barely constitutes a 'movement'". Who's the real enemy that the Jews should be fighting? "Themselves." Let me put it this way: I won't say Bronitsky is a self-hating Jew, I'll just say that he's another person whom I sincerely hope he's never called anyone else a self-hating Jew.