Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Priests will be Priests

Somehow many Americans do not find the Vatican's ban on heterosexual priests nearly as offensive as its ban on homosexual priests.

Monday, November 28, 2005

NYT Shout Out

I will not bother liking to the article, as it will be dead in a few days anyhow. On Friday (Nov. 25th) "Such Sound and Fury! Tradition! Einsteins in Food Fight of Words" led the NYT National Section (p. 21). UofC Hillel's Latke-Hamitashen debate gets top billing. Pretty cool, says I.

Thanks to Maggie for pointing it out to me.

Monday, November 21, 2005

The End of Israel's Left?

For five years now analysts have been asking this question, however, for all intents and purposes they have been wrong. The left (economically, socially and strategically liberal) has existed as a party with a measurable (though muted) effect on Israel's politics. I would contrast this to American politics which is economically "conservative" (by which I really mean libertarian: let companies run without intervention). In the US is assumed that companies should be able to do what they want, so long as there is not a specific political need. This is in contrast to Israel where it is assumed that companies need to request permission from the gov't to act.

The creation of a "centrist party" may in fact destroy the left. All Israelis are committed to two things: their security and livelihood. In the early 90's it looked to many Israelis as if their security could improve through Oslo. A reduced armed forces is first and foremost to limiting casualties (if such an opportunity presents itself). 12 years later most Israelis believe they can improve their security by isolating the PA and endorsing measures such as the fence, disengagement and a smaller, more efficient military. While Likud and the Centrist Party can debate over these specifics, Labor will struggle to present any viable third alternative. With a two party system the opposition party need only present the opposing opinion, in a three party system that becomes increasingly difficult for one of the two opposing voices.

With regards to Israel's economy there are very few who still endorse a socialist system. Particularly with Peretz, an old-skool socialist with a history of close camaraderie with his associates (read: corruption), Labor will find it difficult to deliver a real message to which the people will respond. The election of Peretz indicates that Labor is falling back on their traditional economic values, which are increasingly out of touch with the Israeli people. They are so desperate to retain their voice, that they have chosen one which is irrelevant.

The catch is the new party. If Sharon is truly ousted from within, the Centrist Party may collapse and leave the old two party circus. However, if Sharon is a viable leader (which I believe he is) this may constitute the death-spell for Labor.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Israel's Next (Previous?) Enemy

Peretz said he hoped that an agreement on early elections would calm markets concerned at prospects of political turmoil as well as his pledges to roll back free-market reforms.

"I think that if we reach the Knesset on Monday with an agreement between the prime minister and myself, it will bring quiet to the political framework, it will calm the markets in Israel," he said. (Haaretz)

Roll-back free market reforms? And by "calm markets" I think he means "kill markets."

Georgia on Our Mind

or "Why's the North always a' Pickin' on Us?"

Once again my homestate has made it to the arena of national debate over her voting practices. Due to problems with this sort of thing in the past, Georgians have to submit all proposed changes in voting procedures that might affect minorities to the Justice Department up in Washington so they can continue to exercise control over our elections (see Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965). Anyway, here is the current problem (from Wash Post):
The [proposed] program requires voters to obtain one of six forms of photo identification before going to the polls, as opposed to 17 types of identification currently allowed. Those without a driver's license or other photo identification are required to obtain a special digital identification card, which would cost $20 for five years and could be obtained from motor vehicle offices in only 59 of the state's 159 counties.
That's not all:
Proponents said the measure was needed to combat voter fraud, but opponents charged that Republicans were trying to keep black voters, who tend to vote Democratic, away from the polls.
I guess the assumption here is that Blacks don't have driver's licenses or other photo id cards and many are too poor or would be significantly inconvenienced by going to a nearby county to buy an id card.

Anyway, I really can't see how this move specifically targets blacks. With the Mexican immigrant population in Georgia increasing daily, such measures could easily be understood to target them. Or perhaps it targets all poor people, or all lazy people. Or perhaps they are actually worried about voter fraud and think that people should have better ids.

I'm waiting for all you Chicagoans to explain to me why this really is against blacks and why we don't need to worry about voter fraud.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005


In the summer of 2004 I worked to research International Security Initiatives in Post-Disengagement Gaza. As far as I can tell these are they--and I am sorely displeased. It appears that the Palestinians gained on every front.

The following is the text of an email I sent to my boss at the JCPA, I think it captures everything I have to say on the matter:

I have read the State Depts release on "Movement and Access" for the Palestinian controlled areas, it looks like this is the result to which our paper looks. I am very confused.

The PA seems to have won on every front. They "gain control over entry and exit from their territory" through Rafah [at least the way it works here, in Buffalo, is that the Canadians control entry and the US controls exit--from my perspective. Why does the PA get both?] A seaport is to be constructed and "the importance of an airport" is acknowledged. They are even afforded convoys between WB and Gaza! I recognize that it can be done securely, but I had thought that that World Bank proposal was off the table.

The US is to act as a security coordinator (a task you indicated they were not up to under Oslo) and the border control (which **** told me the US would oversee) is being looked after by the EU--the UK is not even mentioned.

Is it just my reading, or does Israel have very few security guarantee with this compromise? Why, so soon after disengagement, has the PA been afforded such mobility, despite their poor showing on the political front?

I guess this is it.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Make my life easier

For those of you who do not already know, Miriam Gedwiser and I are betrothed to be married in Boston on January 15, 2006.

If you are reading this blog, you are almost certainly invited. You will make my rather hectic life easier by emailing to my your name, address, and possibly phone number. Thank you.


For those of you who are looking for a good movie to watch, particularly one that happens to have an uncanny similarity to the recent events in France, I highly recommend watching the movie "La Haine" (Hate), a Mathieu Kassovitz film, which won a Palm D'Or in 1995. The amazing thing about it is that even though it was produced 10 years ago, it contains the same exact storyline as the current riots - ethnic youths rioting against authority in the Parisian suburbs. Apparently the difficulties that the youths are currently experiencing has not changed for a while - it was the same when I was in Paris three years ago, and evidently it was the same back in '95. While Kassovitz had good foresight in producing this movie, and had J.M. LePen won the election back in '02, his movie would have become reality even sooner.

Thursday, November 10, 2005

On Andy Warhol

I heard an interview with John Updike this morning on NPR about his new book "Still Looking."

Updike explained Warhol in a completely new light, and in so doing, blew my mind. Warhol was known for making very ironic statements such as, "I like boring." I have always understood his art to be a jibe at the superficial, artificial culture. Updike maintains that, like all Pennsylvanians, Warhol is not ironic. He enjoys the boring and the superficial and his art embraces those very elements.

Updike once met Warhol at a party wearing a tuxedo. Updike thought it odd and put the question to Warhol who then lowered his pants to reveal jeans underneath.

It is all about what's on the surface.

Oh the Youth!

I tried explaining one of Churchill's whiticisms to my brother today.

Z: Do you even know who Winston Churchill was?
B: No.
Z: He was only one of the greatest statesmen to ever live. He was the leader of Britian in WWII.
B: Oh, this is kinda like the time I didn't know who Snoop Dogg was.

No Benny, its not like the time you didn't know who Snoop Dogg was.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Monday, November 07, 2005

Intifada 2005

This time it's in France. Consider this my formal recommendation that Israel send observers to France to ensure that they do not act against any international laws.