Tag Archives: White House

The Flotilla and Helen Thomas

I have more to say about the Israeli flotilla debacle than can be written in a mere blog post. Suffice it, I am of the belief that Israel would be best served by ending the blockade, but recognize that this is an incredibly important issue on which both sides have truly valid and compelling points. I also believe that Israel had every right to board the Mavi Marmara under international law (San Remo) in order to maintain an internationally sanctioned blockade. Now, if the issue is that the international community now believes that blockades are an inevitable means of collective punishment that should not be a legal tool of war, then that is something that the international community should address, but to act like this blockade was a rogue move by a crazy nation is frankly factually disingenuous.

Israel has spent the last 20 years learning how to rule, and it is now past time to learn how to govern, but let’s be perfectly clear: Turkey’s absurd behavior (which really has much more to do with global positioning than it ever had to do with Israel), the apparent sudden incompetencies of the Israeli navy, and the deaths of the activists that all contributed to this event can be decried (and they should be!) while simultaneously supporting both Israel and its right to keep its citizens safe and an end to the Gaza blockade and better, legitimate lives for its citizens. Free Gaza does not have a monopoly on this idea by a long shot, though many of the rest of us are not especially supportive (understatement of the year) of Gaza’s incredibly repressive government, also known as Hamas. But then, there are very few repressive governments I support when their people are the ones who are suffering…

On the other hand, liberals who rally to the pro-Palestinian side need to be careful about the way in which they talk about Israel. Not the “Israel is an apartheid state,” “Israelis are Nazis,” etc crap, but this sense that often comes across that they perceive Israel as something temporary and experimental and thus able to be dismantled if necessary. Let me be perfectly clear, Israel is not going anywhere. Period. It’s kind of like how the LGBT community says “We’re here, we’re queer, get used to it!” Israel is a sovereign nation with nuclear weapons, not the Tea Party…

Of course, this is an incredibly contentious and emotional issue on both sides, and a brief comment does not even count as scratching the surface. In fact, it is so emotional that the Israeli-Palestinian issue makes some liberals look like Deep South Republicans of the 1950s-60s. No, really:

Apparently this is how Helen Thomas chose to help celebrate Jewish Heritage Week at the White House. In some ways, I’m still so shocked that anybody would say this (and on camera!) that I have yet to decide how I personally believe this should be responded to. Should Thomas  be fired? Moved to the back of the room? In the same way that elephant ivory from Africa is now essentially valueless thanks to its enforced illegality and the lack of any kind of even underground market, so too had I imagined blatantly racist or anti-semitic comments by members of the press now existed. Or at least when it came to highly respected members of the press.

Clearly, I was wrong.

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Goldman Sachs and the politics of financial reform

Last night, I couldn’t fall asleep so I ended up mulling over the fraud case against Goldman Sachs (GS) for about 3 hours. Here’s my (totally uneducated) take:

Bottom line, this case against GS is not a gamble by the government. The administration wants financial reform much more than they want to “get” GS, but because midterm elections are around the corner and Democrats are already expected to lose a fair number of Congressional seats, the administration really can’t afford to have Republicans running around telling people that financial reform is Maoism in disguise (or in the best interest of the banks…with the Republicans still auditioning opposition strategies, it’s like amateur hour on the Hill). So. What is to be done? How do you pass real financial reform in this political climate without more than a mock brawl? Apparently if you’re particularly savvy, you bring a charge against the most loathed bank on Wall Street based on a disclosure issue that may not actually be technically illegal, but that very clearly sounds like something that should be. The ambiguity of the law is the SEC/administration’s ace in the hole. Either GS settles or loses and financial reform happens because the issue is very clearly illustrated for the public by one great example, or GS wins and financial reform happens because the entire country is incensed that whatever GS did isn’t illegal. Either way, financial reform passes.

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Maybe They Just Want to Belong? Confederate History Month and the Tea Party

It’s been a really, really long time since I last posted. This time around, I hope to vastly improve on the quality of my former posts (it’s always strange looking back at opinion bits and realizing that you kind of sound like a moron…eh). I guess we’ll just see…

This is not a true “post” in the sense that any of this is meant to be coherent. Rather, just a jumble of thoughts I can’t get out of my head at 2:23am. In fact, this was originally written as a comment for an article on NY Liberal State of Mind (you might want to read this first), but I jumped over here before clicking the send…:

I’m from the South, North Carolina specifically. That may not be important to impart, but having spent the vast majority of my life in the South, I have had plenty of opportunity for observation. Having said that, I will now make a ridiculous claim.  I think I might understand, to some degree and academically, a bit of the need that white southerners feel to “honor” the Confederacy. Let me just state that I do not support, to any degree, a Confederate History Month, or any sort of dismissal of Slavery. Leaving Slavery out of the Civil War is like leaving religion out of the history of the Crusades- absurd, historically inaccurate and just, plain bad (“wrong” seems like an indictment too light). My theory, though, is this:

Essentially, I think it comes down to the sense that, as the U.S. became more mobile, as more people began moving into the Southern states and others out, the structures of the original community organizational schemes were lost and those people left behind, aka white southerners, were left feeling not a part of any particular community. A century ago, white southerners, for the most part, would have either been part of a town community filled with people they knew because there wasn’t that much mobility and they had all lived there for a fair amount of time, or they were newer to the country and perhaps still identified with their origin nationality (Irish, Germans, Italians, etc), or they were still identified with a specific Southern church community. All of these areas provided identities for those who were a part of them. Now that the organizational structures are gone, white southerners are those with power but no sense of identity or self, no greater organization into community.

When I say, “I’m Jewish,” I’m claiming a host of experiences, point of view, and history that are specific and give me a place in the world. White southerners have no label like that. Though there are those who believe that labels are generally detrimental, we all use them to self-identity and show identification with larger groups that we consider ourselves a part of. White southerners only have, for the most part, a shared geographic history. Memories of the Confederacy do remind them of a better South as long as they forget that slaves were not just there for the “paternal coddling,” but I think that behind the portion of hardcore racists, most of these people just want to be a part of something.

I see the same thing in the Tea Party. There is, of course, an element of the Tea Party movement that is legitimately racist and just afraid of the black man in the White House, but I think the majority of Tea Party members are looking to be part of a group, to belong somewhere, something we all desire. This doesn’t excuse the bad behavior by some and lack of condemnation by most, but it seems to explain, in my mind, their totally contradictory and inexplicable ‘ideology.’ The ideology isn’t what’s most important, the important part really is the party itself.

Goodnight!

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Rachel Maddow Discusses the Deathers and Other Anti-Reform Conspiracies

Here’s what I now know about the proposed government takeover of health care:

1. The government wants to kill my grandparents. They will be “put on a list and forced to die early”….by being sent out into the ocean on ice floes…

2. The government is going to use the takeover of health care to promote abortion. The more abortions people have the more the government benefits because (fill in the blank).

Did I miss anything?

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Stephen Colbert on the Birthers!- Pt. 2 (ORLY TAITZ IS ON THE SHOW!!)

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Stephen Colbert on the Birthers!- Pt. 1

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Why Ana Marie Cox Has More Twitter Followers Than God.

It must be hard being this good…A streak of tweets sent from Wonkette.com founder Ana Marie Cox this past Sunday (notice the time stamps. too funny.):

  • Orszag on “Week”! Intro’d as “OMB Director,” friend notes “More like OMG.”

Wow. She’s good. I mean, you only get 140 characters…

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