Reading George Fox

Expanding the trope?

I wonder if the people calling out Congresswoman Omar would be as upset if she said that Sheldon Adelson massive donations to Trump played a large part in his decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem? Because I don’t remember an uproar about the New York Times leading an article about the move with: Ten days before Donald J. Trump took office, Sheldon G. Adelson went to Trump Tower for a private meeting. Afterward, Mr. Adelson, the casino billionaire and Republican donor, called an old friend, Morton A. Klein, to report that Mr. Trump told him that moving the American Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem would be a major priority. While the article also acknowledges the influence of evangelicals, it doesn’t mention them until the fifth paragraph and it clearly stresses Adelson’s money (and AIPAC) as the leading motivation. The anti-Jewish trope is about shadowy Jewish Financiers secretly controlling politics. There’s nothing secret about AIPAC sponsoring congressional trips to Israel or major politicians from both parties making a pilgrimage to speak at their annual conference. Calling criticism of AIPAC anti-Jewish is expanding the trope to any Jewish use of money in politics.

Read more

“All About The Benjamins”

Here’s the chorus from Puffy’s 1997 hit, It’s All About The Benjamins: It’s all about the Benjamins baby Now, what y’all wanna do? It’s all about the Benjamins baby Wanna be ballers, shot-callers It’s all about the Benjamins baby Brawlers — who be dippin in the Benz wit the spoilers It’s all about the Benjamins baby On the low from the Jake in the Taurus Anyone see any anti-Jewish tropes1 in there? ‘Cause I don’t. Yes, there is one reference to Jews: “You should do what we do, stack chips like *Hebrews*.” But there are way more references to Italian Mob films. The song is about enjoying the life of the wealthy, not using money for power. ↩

Read more

Of Filibusters & Magical Thinking

After listening to Dahlia Lithwick on 2038 today, I had to write her a note. It’s hard to believe someone so smart and incisive can be so blind to political reality. Dahlia, I was just listening to you on the new 2038 podcast. Your support of the Democrats reinstating the judicial filibuster is simply magical thinking ignoring the current reality of the Republican Party. The Democrats simply cannot shame them into re-establishing norms. They already tried to do it once. The Republicans got rid of Blue Slips during the Bush years; Democrats brought them back during Obama’s term; and the Republicans immediately dropped them after Trump was elected. The only thing the Blue Slips did was help McConnell keep spots empty for Trump to appoint more judges. I have no doubt if the filibuster is brought back, the Republicans will get rid of it again when they control the White House and the Senate. Their behavior over the past two decades has not given any reason to believe otherwise. The Democrats are stuck in a prisoner’s dilemma and continually compromising doesn’t work when the Republicans refuse to reciprocate. It’s tantamount to conceding defeat. The correct strategy for the current situation…

Read more

Life Affirming Politics

This is a continuation of a response to @marmanold on Micro.blog. While being pro choice, Democratic priorities would do a lot to reduce the number of abortions: Better and ideally free access to healthcare, especially prenatal and postnatal. Whatever our options are on the status of fetuses, we can all agree that taking care of mother’s during pregnancy and their children after birth is life affirming. A more equal distribution of wealth, free daycare, etc. A significant number of women who get abortions already have children and cite financial reasons about not being able to afford to raise more. Regulation of industries and pollution controls. Environmental factors have clearly been shown to affect the health of children both pre and post birth. One of the most effective methods of reducing abortions is comprehensive sex end and free widely available contraception. Pro-life groups almost always oppose these as well. Abstinence education only delays sexual activity by about 6 months, but when the teens do have sex, they are much more likely to not use contraception. Here’s a really great post from a woman who was strongly pro-life in her teens and was disillusioned with the movement when she learned more in…

Read more

Initial Thoughts About “religious myths recycled as ersatz social science”

@ayjay wrote a strong piece challenging tensions within contemporary liberalism. I need to spend more time digesting it and the piece by John Gray that he links to. Here are some initial reactions though: Gray claims that liberal elites have run the West for the past 30 years. Yet, from the 80s onwards the US has been on a rightward march from the economic liberalism of the New Deal through the Great Society. Conservative thinkers and Republicans seem to have been setting the terms of the debate. The austerity in response to Great Recession had much more to do with conservative Austrian Economics than liberal Keynesian solutions. How much have the resulting economic shocks fueled the extreme left and right? Also, the Chicago School’s 90s shock therapy for Russia may have quite a bit to do with their illiberal turn. I guess the upshot of the above is a question about the relationship between economic beliefs and social beliefs. Has the move back towards conservative economics and greater income inequality affected the place of liberalism within society? Are conservative social beliefs connected to the conservative economic approach? And, if so, how does that relationship affect the liberal response to the…

Read more

A Rigorous Response to A Sophomoric Argument

Berny Belvedere responds to Patrick S. Tomlinson’s Fertility Clinic Hypothetical: (1) The standard liberal position crucially involves the view that every individual has equal value. (2) In a scenario roughly comparable to Tomlinson’s, where a standard liberal had to choose between saving 100 random people, or their own spouse or child, someone who believed that every individual has equal value would easily and unproblematically choose to save the hundred random individuals. (3) But if a standard liberal were actually put in such a scenario, he would choose to save the family member. (4) Thus, standard liberals don’t really believe every individual has equal value. (5) The liberal position is a sham. This argument is unserious because Tomlinson is not arguing about what people would do, but what people believe they should do. The “standard liberal” (or at least a rigorous utilitarian) would admit saving family over strangers was the morally wrong choice and, if they had the courage of their convictions, they’d save the 100 people. We see this scenario played out in movies all the time. It happens three times in Infinity War: Quill and the Scarlet Witch make the choice to kill their romantic partner to stop Thanos.…

Read more


A Response To Dave Winer’s Claim of Small Justification

Today Dave Winer linked to his earlier post claiming there was a small justification for the internment camps at the border. I’m going to leave aside the argument that there can be a moral justification for imprisoning these children. If a law is fundamentally unjust and immoral, the duty of the law-abiding is civil disobedience, not acquiescence. So, for sake of argument, it is moral1 to imprison refugee children, either by separating them from their parents or with their parents for an indefinite length of time. To justify such a law, for legal asylum seekers who have committed a misdemeanor2, the policy would have to be both by far the most effective and least punitive. Oddly enough, Winer himself has linked to the evidence that interning asylum seekers and their children does not meet these standards. ICE used to have two less punitive and restrictive methods: the Intensive Supervision Alternative Program (ISAP) and the Family Case Management Program (FCMP). In the former, electronic ankle bracelets were used to track asylum seekers and 99.6% showed up for their court dates.3 Regular phone check-ins and unannounced visits were also part of the program. This is hardly “catch-and-release”. In the FCMP, social workers…

Read more


Don’t Let Those Bastards Own the Flag

Calling the atrocities un-American is important. We have dismally fail to live up to our ideals again and again. Thomas Jefferson was a slave owner and a rapist. But his words in the Declaration of Independence are America too. We have done terrible things. We have made a mockery of our rhetoric again and again. We have killed and tortured and raped and slaughtered. We must not let that happen again. We must rise to the challenge of our claim that all men people are created equal. Those who are torturing children do not own the flag. The true patriots are those protesting at the gates. Update 10-13-2018: Was looking back through the blog and noticed the gendered quotation.

Read more