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November 1, 2011

The best of all possible worlds

The Times of course is happy about events in Libya:

Western Companies See Prospects for Business in Libya

WASHINGTON — The guns in Libya have barely quieted, and NATO’s military assistance to the rebellion that toppled Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi will not end officially until Monday. But a new invasion force is already plotting its own landing on the shores of Tripoli.

Western security, construction and infrastructure companies that see profit-making opportunities receding in Iraq and Afghanistan have turned their sights on Libya, now free of four decades of dictatorship.

But so too are many of my Lefty acquaintances. This item made its way around the lists recently:
Dual US-Libyan Citizen Appointed New Libyan Prime Minister

Abdurraheem el-Keib, a dual US-Libyan citizen, has been elected prime minister of Libya by members of the National Transitional Council who voted in a televised event on Monday, sticking ballots into a transparent box.

... Keib attended University of Tripoli in 1973, earned his M.S. at the University of Southern California in 1976, and his Ph.D. at North Carolina State University in 1984. He has taught as a professor for many years at the University of Alabama, the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

Most recently, he served as Chair of the Electrical Engineering Department at The Petroleum Institute in UAE before joining Libya’s interim council last spring. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), the US Department of Energy (US DoE), Southern Company Services (SC), and Alabama Power Company (APCO).

Not to worry, say the Marxist-interventionists. Leaves from a mailing list:
  • Does it really make any difference? Gaddafi was bending backwards to please EU and keep oil flowing.
  • I remember when they installed Hamid Karzai as leader in Afghanistan. He'd been a consultant for Unocal, the U.S. oil company, which Antiwar.com said proved he was a U.S. lackey. But that didn't turn out so well for the puppetmasters in Washington. The latest news from Karzai is that he now says if the U.S. and Pakistan go to war, he'll fight with Pakistan.
  • The Iraqi government has proved a poor puppet too, hasn't it?
The logic here, insofar as I can follow it, seems to be that since imperial interventions often prove disappointing to the tower trolls who gin them up, they should be applauded. Or at least, they're nothing to worry about.

I feel sure there's something wrong with this line of reasoning, but my head is hurting really bad and I need to lie down.

November 3, 2011

There IS a there there, after all

Gertrude Stein, who was from Oakland, famously observed that "there's no there there." Probably true at the time, but there's certainly a there there now.

A lot of my Lefty comrades are trying to draw a very sharp distinction between the tens of thousands who marched there yesterday and shut down the port, on the one hand, and those (apparently rather few) who broke some bank windows and spray-painted some bank facades, on the other. There's a near-consensus that the latter are probably provocateurs.

Wouldn't surprise me a bit if that were true -- if the window-breakers were cops in disguise, trying to put the movement in the wrong. We'll probably never know, but there certainly isn't anything implausible about this hypothesis.

However. I am inclined to believe that hoping for backlash is as foolish as fearing it. That is: if the cops think that bad behavior attributable to the Occupiers is in itself going to turn the public against them, then they are as deluded as the timorous Lefties who spend their lives worrying that backlash will spoil everything.

Smashing some bank windows doesn't seem like such a terrible thing to me, and seizing an abandoned building seems brilliant.

November 4, 2011

Parlor Game Theory

Edgy stuff, or thin Lakoffian gruel; take your pick.

Might the Democrats expand their moral range without betraying their principles? Might they even find ways to improve their policies by incorporating and publicly praising some conservative insights?

If I've understood the gist of the essay, the answer to the first question is easy. Yes, they could expand their moral range without betraying their principles. They'd need principles first, which might cause their actually existing moral range to contract. But a moral range that excludes drone attacks, for example, would be a significant improvement. Regrettably, that won't attract Republican voters.

The second question is a little harder. The definitions present an unbridgeable abyss. I'll try anyway. We have actually existing Democrats who do little besides concoct policy "incorporating and publicly praising some conservative insights". The result doesn't improve anything, and it doesn't attract Republican voters. Why would it? They've got a comfortable brand identity.

Here's a little shift, for emphasis. There are plenty of professors who criticize the tenure system and bemoan its failures, but how many of them reject the benefits, once they're offered and once they have them? The system serves their needs and interests pretty well.

Window-smashers vs. window-dressers

This link sailed into my inbox this afternoon:

The Koch's main front group, Americans for Prosperity (AFP), is hosting a gala at the Washington Convention Center in DC. Outside hundreds (maybe even thousands) of members of the 99% will gather for a Guerrilla Drive-In to save the American Dream. We'll Have popcorn, good food, and a great time while we watch fun videos that expose the Koch Brothers in colossal fashion.
You really have to follow the link and look at the page. The graphics, the language -- all clearly the product of middle-aged DC wonks trying to figure out what The Kids(tm) will like. "Fun videos" ... about the Koch brothers? Puh-leeze.

The screenshot up top gives the outfit's affiliations, which really drive the point home.

This is all clearly meant to 'leverage' the Occupy movement, of course. The obsession with liberal-schmiberal pet bogeymen like the Koch brothers and the teabaggers is an absolutely reliable diagnostic sign of Democratic Party infection.

The Occupiers, bless 'em, don't seem to give a hoot about the Koch brothers and the teabaggers. Quite right too. The Occupiers' crosshairs have settled squarely on the larger social formation of which the Koch brothers are merely one rather eccentric part; and as for the teabaggers, one might as well get worked up about Flat-Earthers.

Comrade Mike F got it right a while back. (That's me all the way on the left):

November 8, 2011

Nurse Ratched finds a new Occupation

There's a chap on one of my Lefty mailing lists -- call him Brunellus -- who belongs to that irritating but fortunately now rare species, the CP Democrat. (That's the original Brunellus at left, a far more amiable and intelligent creature than my mailing-list pest.) Comrade Brunellus is one of only two or three individuals, on all my mailing lists, whom I have listed in my bozo filter; his communications go straight onto the dungheap.

Today however I saw fragments of a Brunellogram quoted by another participant, and I was intrigued enough to do a bit of dumpster-diving. I'm glad I did. Brunellus had posted this astonishing piece in its entirely:

Occupy’s Asshole Problem: Flashbacks from An Old Hippie

by Sara Robinson

I wish I could say that the problems that the Occupy movement is having with infiltrators and agitators are new. But they’re not.

... It is absolutely OK to insist on behavior norms.... Being open and accepting does not mean that we’re obligated to accept behavior that damages our ability to achieve our goals. It also means that we have a perfect right to insist that people sharing our spaces either act in ways that further those goals, or go somewhere else until they’re able to meet that standard.

2. It is OK to draw boundaries between those who are clearly working toward our goals, and those who are clearly not. Or, as an earlier generation of change agents put it...

Oh, go read the whole thing. You'll be glad you did.

You'll love all the therapeutic/managerial turns of phrase -- 'behavior norms', 'achieve our goals', 'meet the standard', 'space', 'mission', 'empowered', 'confront', 'intervention', 'change agents' and of course boundaries, boundaries -- the word kept tolling dismally throughout the piece like a cracked bell.

Of course what it came down to, quite explicitly, was the ultima ratio pwoggorum: calling the cops, who we were told would consequently 'respect us more'. And of course it goes without saying that obtaining the respect of the cops should be a high priority for all of us.

My favorite line: 'It might make sense to create a large committee whose job it is to gather information [and] build cases against offenders'.

The author, we're told, is a 'senior fellow' at the 'Campaign for America's Future' -- which is to say, a Democrat. Clearly, her idea of an Occupation is a sanctimonious po-faced PC hellhole, lousy with petty tyrants and hall-monitors, like... like... like the Center For American Progress, or I miss my guess. A place where muffled sidelong sadism wears the stony mask of Tough Love, and the cadre are all police informants -- not just some of them, which is the more usual situation.

Can't make this shit up, as the man said.

November 9, 2011

Prisoner in the dock: How do you plead?

Much discussion, most of it deeply depressing, on my Lefty mailing lists about the supposedly deplorable 'violence' in Oakland. Material for several posts on the intellectual limitations of the American left. But tonight's topic is question and answer, a rhetorical gambit one of my listmeisters loves to indulge in:

What I'm mostly remarking on is the inability of any proponents to explain just what breaking windows accomplishes. Like I said, I'm not at all opposed to violence in principle. I'd like to hear why it makes sense now.
Posing questions, as an argumentative gambit, is a little squirrelly anyway, isn't it? I never much admired Socrates, myself.

No doubt there's a place for it --trying to tease out implications, trying to see whether you're following the interlocutor's logic. But in general it puts the questioner in the position of Mr District Attorney and casts the questionee as Prisoner In The Dock. Answer the question! Yes or no!

Then there's the related question of Bad Questions. Nobody is required to answer any question, but it's downright stupid to answer Bad Questions -- questions packed as full of questionable presuppositions as a haggis is of offal.

The constructive thing to do with a Bad Question is point out why it's bad. But even that may start to seem like too much work for too little reward, particularly with a questioner who seems to specialize in bad questions.

More on Bad Questions with toxic presuppositions tomorrow.

November 10, 2011

DEFINITELY all right

Look at the way the kids stand their ground. God, how I love 'em.

Worth a thousand words

This is one of the most eloquent images I have seen in a long time. Sarko so excited he can't keep both feet on the ground -- note the dwarfish buffoon's elevator heels. Silvio with his tongue hanging out so far he's about to topple over. Then there's policy-monk Obie gazing vaguely off into the middle distance with the usual peevish pissy schoolmaster look on his face; and that poor Canadian, Whatsisname, apparently having an autism flashback.

November 12, 2011

Bellum intestinum

One of my old Maoist comrades,a lurker on this blog -- let's call him Feliks -- has been berating me lately for being squishy-soft on anarchism.

Feliks has got a point. I'm not as antagonistic to the whole anarcho thing these days as I once would have been.

'These days' is the operative term. Feliks and I knew self-proclaimed anarchists back in the 70s whose anarchism was merely a thin left cover for bourgeois liberal anti-communism, but let's face it, communism isn't scary enough these days to produce anti-communists. It's just not on the table at all, in fact. One may deplore the fact, but fact it remains.

The vaguely-defined 'anarchism' that seems to be frequently met with among the Occupations seems rather open and undogmatic to me -- not a defense mechanism against real activism, as it so often was back in the day. (Obviously, since they're out there stopping traffic.)

As the Occupations continue, evolution will do doubt take place, as is its wont. Will the Occupations evolve into something that Feliks and I might find more familiar and ideologically congenial? Who knows? Part of me would like to think so, and part of me is wondering whether we might be looking at something new and different. What's the right analogy? 1905? 1789? 1649? None of the above? I personally have no idea how to answer this one. Only time will tell, surely.

Meanwhile, it seems clear that trying to sell classic Leninism constitutes pissing into the wind. Some of these old arguments may become relevant again -- probably will, in fact -- but if they do, they will only usefully do so in a practical context, not on a mailing list or a blog.

The old ML war horse in me is certainly not dead, and when the sealed train arrives at the Finland Station I'll happily place myself under strict Party discipline along with Feliks. Do us both a world of good. Meanwhile, the moment seems too intense and interesting to waste in arid, abstract, and over-familiar quarrels.

November 14, 2011

Great souls

Speaking of Great Souls, somehow or other I have ended up on the unctuous, oleaginous, saponaceous Rabbi Michael Lerner's email list. ha-Rav favored me this evening with the following, much snipped(*):

Here is [a] letter I received on email this morning:


I attended the Oakland camp yesterday.... To my horror, however, I observed and heard things that left me in a state of great concern. The 99% need healing, they need repair, they need transformation. The camp was ripe with hostility towards police....

Mr Jordan goes on to deplore a hostility toward Israel which also seemed to be pretty 'rife'.

The rabbi responds:

I share your sadness at the distortions within Occupy Oakland....

I know that at least 90% of the people who marched on Nov. 2nd during the General Strike and marched to the Port of Oakland are people who agree with you. But there is a determined group of violent self-described "anarchists" who ideologically believe in violence and seek it out. [Their] arguments are, in my view, not good reasons to allow violence or provoke violence or property destruction by demonstrators...

Basta! You get the idea. I'll paste in the whole thing -- it's incredibly long -- below the fold here, for anybody who has ten minutes to waste reading it.

Really, the only reason I posted this at all is that Soapy Mike's arguments are exactly the same as those put forward by a number of red-hot Reds of my acquaintance. These underlying affinities amuse me, in a Saturnine sort of way.


(*) No link provided in the email and Teh Google wot not of it.

Continue reading "Great souls" »

November 15, 2011

OWS live stream


Wonderful stuff. I'm going to be off the grid for a few hours this afternoon.

Happy Anniversary, and a footnote

I'm late to the party but Happy Anniversary nevertheless. Ecological Headstand is one year and five days old.

The footnote: the "structural unemployment" excuse, beloved of neoliberal policy wonks, is based entirely on the belief that there is a fixed amount of work to be done. This is the Lump of Labor Fallacy. "As the derisive name suggests, it's an idea economists view with contempt, yet the fallacy makes a comeback whenever the economy is sluggish."-- Paul Krugman, regular reader of Ecological Headstand.

November 17, 2011

Labor kleptocracy

This just in, from the AFL-CIA:
Illegal Downloads Steal Wages, Benefits From Workers

Too few people who download entertainment illegally recognize that they are stealing wages and benefits from workers, Paul Almeida, president of the AFL-CIO Department for Professional Employees (DPE) told a bipartisan Capitol Hill press conference today.

Almeida joined with members of Congress and business leaders to discuss the continuing harm illegal downloads and other online infringement or counterfeits pose to American jobs and the economy.

This is all in aid of the House's Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) bill, an even more insane counterpart to the Senate's PROTECT-IP bill -- I can't even remember what that stands for, but you get the idea.

The details are obscure and tedious, but the bottom line is that both measures require internet service providers (ISPs) and search engines like Google to deny any access to any site that a court -- or in some versions, the Justice Department -- has decided infringes somebody's copyright on something.

In practice, this means that your ISP -- Time Warner or Verizon or your campus network or whoever -- would have to tell you, when you navigate to some supposed 'pirate' site, that there is no such site. ('Navigation' includes clicking on a link in some otherwise innocuous Web page.) And Google would have to excise any references to such putative pirate sites that might turn up in its search results, before delivering them to you.

The ban includes sites hosted outside the US, in places where such activity may be perfectly legal. (For those of you who care about legality.)

I note with amusement that the Senate version is sponsored by that fine liberal Democrat, Patrick Leahy of Vermont. The House version is sponsored by a nice bipartisan list of bargain-basement vendible lickspittles:

  • Lamar Smith [R-TX]
  • Rep. Mark Amodei [R, NV-2]
  • Rep. John Barrow [D, GA-12]
  • Rep. Karen Bass [D, CA-33]
  • Rep. Howard Berman [D, CA-28]
  • Rep. Marsha Blackburn [R, TN-7]
  • Rep. Mary Bono Mack [R, CA-45]
  • Rep. John Carter [R, TX-31]
  • Rep. Steven Chabot [R, OH-1]
  • Rep. John Conyers [D, MI-14]
  • Rep. Ted Deutch [D, FL-19]
  • Rep. Elton Gallegly [R, CA-24]
  • Rep. Robert Goodlatte [R, VA-6]
  • Rep. Tim Griffin [R, AR-2]
  • Rep. Peter King [R, NY-3]
  • Rep. Ben Luján [D, NM-3]
  • Rep. Thomas Marino [R, PA-10]
  • Rep. Alan Nunnelee [R, MS-1]
  • Rep. William Owens [D, NY-23]
  • Rep. Dennis Ross [R, FL-12]
  • Rep. Steve Scalise [R, LA-1]
  • Rep. Adam Schiff [D, CA-29]
  • Rep. Lee Terry [R, NE-2]
  • Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D, FL-20]
  • Rep. Melvin Watt [D, NC-12]
Of course we all knew that, as Mark Twain observed, we have the finest Legislature money can buy. But the AFL-CIA's sign-on, even to me, still seems a bit more startling, though one has seen for decades that there is no depth to which these depraved parasites won't happily sink.

Ah, the American labor movement: let's turn our handful of members into rentiers.

A walk on the not-so-wild side

After a day of running skirmishes here in New York between the Occupiers and the pigs, which I missed, I finally got myself down to Zuccotti Park around four PM today, to find a rather alarmingly sparse crowd, with a high proportion of nut cases trying to do 'mic checks' and then drivel on about some incomprehensible personal obsession. I wasn't really worried -- not as who should say worried -- but it was a relief when 5:00 rolled around and we took off for Foley Square.

Very different scene there. Lots of people. The number I heard bandied about was 20,000. I'm no good at estimating crowd sizes but this number did not seem wildly implausible. The union contingent was sizable, including a lot of people wearing T-shirts with the word 'MARSHALL' [sic] printed on them. I may return to this topic later.

There was a PA, rather than the now-characteristic Occupy 'people's mic'. It wasn't an improvement. I ended up in a spot -- near the corner of Duane and Lafayette. on the west side of Lafayette -- where it was hard for my old ears to hear the speakers. Might be time for a map:

View Larger Map

The bulk of the crowd was on the other, that is, the east side, of Lafayette Street from my coign de vantage; they were in Thomas Paine Park/Foley Square. I think most of these folks must have marched down from Union Square.

The cops -- there were easily a thousand of them, probably more -- had done their usual 'corridor' thing, dividing up the crowd into little Gaza Strips with metal barriers, leaving nice wide Haussmanian military highways in between. Lafayette Street was one such cordon sanitaire; I was penned on the west side of it, though there were a lot of other people there with me, spilling back into that awful bleak 'plaza' in front of the federal building.

The crowd was initially very polite and accommodating to all this police theater -- as all the Occupy crowds have been, in my experience. But after an hour or so of speechifying and standing around in the cold, you could sense a certain restiveness beginning to bubble up. The cops had to move the barriers on the east side of Lafayette a few feet into the street, because the crowd there had clearly become so huge and so densely-packed that it just had to have more room. A roar went up on our side -- in which I joined with the last articulate sound I was able to make today; I'll be speaking in whispers for a week.

The sense of a point gained was heady. My side of the street went from bubbling to boiling. After a few indecisive moments, a lovely young woman -- about five-two, maybe 100 pounds, raven hair and dark snapping eyes -- darted under my left armpit and kicked over one of the metal barriers. Oh how we loved that! Another woman, this one 70 if she was a day, but clearly very naily, shoved over another barrier. Even I managed to kick one over, with less conviction than the ladies, but effectively nonetheless -- then of course I beat a hasty and undignified retreat as the porkers charged.

They were fairly restrained. I didn't see any clubbings or beatings, this time. They just pushed us back and re-erected their erections.

But it was interesting to see them up close -- four feet, three feet away. They were scared. You could see it in their faces. They were trying to keep that stony automaton cop look in place, but it wasn't working. They were pale and jittery. The facial musculature was tense and drawn, the eyes way too wide, the pupils dilated, the eyes darting -- a world away from that slow scanning look they teach at the 'police academy', surely one of the most hilarious phrases ever coined, and on so many levels, too.

They're cowards, really, the cops. They're trained -- and probably predisposed, or why would they be cops in the first place? -- for situations in which they have the overwhelming advantage. They're not happy otherwise. Vikings they ain't.

You could read these guys' minds very easily. They knew that if we got pissed-off enough and really decided to charge, they would be going down under our feet. Oh, they could go down clubs-flying, sure, and take a few of us with them. Most were not visibly carrying pistols, though some were, and the latter group could have taken out maybe a dozen or so of us apiece before they were trampled into a bloody pulp on the pavement(*). But they would still be going down, if we charged, clubs or not, pistols or not. They knew it, and you could tell they knew it.

This evening gave me lots of material for reflection. But perhaps this is enough for one post.


(*) And not a minute too soon.

November 18, 2011

Infra violence

I've been pondering my mixed feelings about last night's OWS event at Foley Square. Might as well confess that I was a little disappointed that the crowd was so well-behaved. I'm deeply convinced that no real social change ever happens without some lawbreaking, and that stopping traffic is the very least you can do. But last night, a crowd of 30,000 people -- by some accounts -- allowed themselves to be squeezed onto the sidewalk, so louts in SUVs could continue to drive down Centre Street.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a connection here to the union contingents. It's wonderful that the unions have come to the party, of course. But they really seemed to be in charge last night, and their recent history -- I mean in the last half-century or so -- and institutional culture are anything but insurrectionary.

Full disclosure: It creeped me out to see all these SEIU types wearing T-shirts with the word 'MARSHALL' [sic] printed on them in big type. And at the narrowest point of the Centre Street sidewalk bottleneck, in front of the municipal building, one saw an extraordinary spectacle: a double line of these 'marshalls' lined up in front of the police cordon, and facing, like them, toward the crowd -- rather than toward the cops. Have I made the picture clear? It was like the 'marshalls' were the first line of defense against the crowd, and the cops were the second. I thought then, and still think, that there's something very wrong with this picture.

During the tense ten minutes or so when barricades were getting kicked over and the cops were sweating big greasy smelly beads of coward sweat, there was a young chap -- not a union guy, I think; looked just like a regular mid-20s Occupier -- who did a 'people's mic' thing and tried to calm all us hotheads down. I can't reproduce his exact words, but what it came down to was that the right-wing media -- which is to say, all the media -- would have a field day if we got out of line.

The kids are all right. But all of us, of course, are still dragging around various selections of mind-forg'd manacles. Among them, the fetish of law-abidingness, and the fear of backlash and bad press, are surely among the most burdensome.

But I don't want to turn into some kind of Jacobin-magazine alter-kaker, so let me end on a pleasanter note:


November 23, 2011

Mulligan von Mises

I could call this deranged wingnut boilerplate and leave it at that, but it's rare to find a NY Times blog post that draws so many reasonable comments. That's something special. So...

Mulligan, via CEPR, appears to be unfamiliar with the work of Fred Hayek, who was very much in favor of a "comprehensive system of social insurance " and saw no reason why there shouldn't be government interference to ensure such things as limits on working hours.

It is self-evident that if labour-time is reduced to a normal length and, furthermore, labour is no longer performed for someone else, but for myself, and, at the same time, the social contradictions between master and men, etc., being abolished, it acquires a quite different, a free character, it becomes real social labour, and finally the basis of disposable time—the labour of a man who has also disposable time, must be of a much higher quality than that of the beast of burden.*

Hayek also believed that workers deserve "a chance to decide whether the prospects of a particular occupation are sufficient to compensate for the disadvantages connected with it." They don't need to be immiserated until they're compliant. Hayek was opposed to that. Casey Mulligan really needs to read Road to Serfdom.

I typed that with a straight face. Honest, and it's all true too.

Okay, I've had my fun. One thing we do know for sure, as far as dependency goes, is that state protection for banksters does rob millions of Peters for the benefit of a handful of insatiable Pauls. The higher their compensation, the more handouts they demand. The more wealth they control, the less incentive they have to engage in productive activity. This is Econ 101!

*Some other guy, not Hayek.

November 25, 2011

Nice one, Mike

From our pal Mike Flugennock.

November 26, 2011

A Daniel come to judgement

Above, my new hero, Rabbi Meir Hirsch, the learned leader of the very Orthodox and very anti-Zionist group Neturei Karta. I have known about these folks for some time, partly because a good friend of mine, a thoroughgoingly atheist lapsed Jew and Bolshie, got very helpful support from them, a few years ago, to travel and do extensive research, which led to a couple of rather good books. I'm being coy about the name because I don't actually know just how confidential, or not, this arrangement was supposed to have been. Suffice it to say that Neturei Karta, though they are deep deep Talmudists and very into the higher esoterica of the religion, are anything but bigots when it comes to advancing the causes they believe in. They'll work with anybody.

Liberals, however, are a different breed of cat: far more sectarian, in fact, than the supposedly obscurantist scholars of Neturei Karta. And not nearly as smart.

Today a staunchly anti-Zionist Facebook 'friend' of mine -- who I wish was a friend in the 3D world, but whom alas I have never met -- posted a link to a rather interesting interview with Rabbi Hirsch. It reminded me again of the suppleness and subtlety of theological reasoning -- the same quality that sends me looking for earnest exegeses of the Epistle to the Romans on the radio when I'm sailing overnight. The analysis is a lot sharper than anything you'll find on NPR, when you get one of the good ones.

Perhaps predictably, my 'friend's' post brought howls of execration from liberal blockheads -- and not even because he was being anti-Zionist, which his friends and followers were used to, but for an altogether different reason:

Yes by all means opportunistically push these misogynistic scoundrels, "true torah jews," haha what a joke.

No one should be a fan. Its like taking the problematic yet strategic deployment of jewish voices then shrugging and throwing principle to the winds. They are circus freaks.

...misogynistic nut-jobs....

I love that misogyny to push an agenda has now been categorized under the banner of "human rights." btw, if this was a nutcase misogynistic Christian group, I'm willing to bet money you wouldn't even touch it, never mind post it.

Now the eminent Rav had had nothing to say in his interview about the Woman Question, so I assume that the anti-misogynists quoted here were simply operating on the premise that all Orthodox Jews are retrograde on this topic.

Maybe they are; I don't know. But I was struck by the hysterical and even rather dehumanizing rhetoric of the beautiful humanists -- ''circus freaks,' 'nutcases'.

And oh the misogyny! Clearly the Orthodox Jews' supposed or actual 'misogyny' was supposed to disqualify them utterly from ally status. As would, no doubt, their position on the Gay Question and any number of other touchstones, ranging from a progressive income tax to proportional representation.

In fact, what it comes down to is that liberals can't be allies with anyone who doesn't think exactly as they do on every topic of any consequence. If this isn't the definition of sectarianism, what is?

November 29, 2011

Covering the waterfront

This is certainly the silliest post I have ever committed here, but I can't resist.

My indefatigable email correspondent, the damp and clammy Rabbi Michael Lerner, just deposited this in my inbox:

New on Tikkun Nov. 23:

Should circumcision still be practiced? ... We are also featuring perspectives on the Occupy movement and its future. And don't forget to order Rabbi Lerner's new book "Embracing Israel/Palestine," which makes a great holiday gift!

Comment seems not only superfluous but impossible. It's not even a question of where do you start; but having started, where could you go, and where might you end up? Just the series of participles -- circumcising, embracing, occupying -- is a sort of I Ching Lite. Arrange them in any of the three-factorial possible orders and you end up with six different tractates -- or novels, for that matter.

About November 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in November 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2011 is the previous archive.

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