I'm not sure you could pay me to read this.
I'm not sure you could pay me to read this.
The news has gotten a bit heavy this week, and though I welcome the onslaught of name-calling clogging my inbox, it seemed like a good time to talk about beer, especially because Sgt. Crowley and Henry Louis Gates are supposed to be drinking heavily just now at the White House. Slate has compiled a list of the top five "bonding over brewskies" moments in movie history. Here's number four, proof that beer helps catch criminals and create unlikely friendships -- even if you're Jewish!
Goldblog reader Brad Smilgin writes:
I read this whole article and I think the most important phrase you wrote in that piece is, "I don't know Crowley."
This is just an extraordinary statement. I've covered politics off-and-on for a while, and I've never heard anything like this. From Sarah Palin's farewell speech to the state of Alaska:
I say it is the best road trip in America, soaring through nature's finest show.Denali, the great one, soaring under the midnight sun. And then the extremes. In the winter time it's the frozen road that is competing with the view of ice-fogged frigid beauty. The cold though, doesn't it split the Cheechakos from the Sourdoughs? And then in the summertime, such extreme summertime, about a hundred and fifty degrees hotter than just some months ago, than just some months from now, with fireweed blooming along the frost heaves and merciless rivers that are rushing and carving and reminding us that here, Mother Nature wins. It is as throughout all Alaska, that big wild good life teeming along the road that is north to the future.
That's been my experience as a citizen and as a reporter. Back in the day, I used to write about the subject of racial profiling a bit, and and I'm reasonably sure, based on my reporting, that Sergeant Crowley of the Cambridge Police Department a) is a self-righteous man who was enraged when his authority was questioned, and b) set-up Gates for an arrest because of these feelings of rage. By set-up, I mean he that he made at least a semi-conscious effort to gaslight Gates, that he went out of his way to make sure that Gates would be so angry at his treatment that he would be, by Crowley's standards, a plausible candidate for arrest.
I don't know Crowley though, and since I have family members who are serving, or have served, in various police departments, I know I shouldn't generalize, but Crowley strikes me, after days of watching this story, as a type I've met over and over again. There is one specific cop -- a very good, if flawed cop, I once profiled who seems very much in the Crowley model. This is from a New York Times Magazine story I wrote ten years ago that was about, in part, a Maryland state trooper named Mike Lewis, who was a brave cop but one who was consistently sure that he was right, and consistently sure that any complaints directed against him by black people were rooted in prejudice against white cops. He was so sure, in fact, that even when black people didn't accuse him of racism, he knew that they were thinking he was a racist:
As we drive, Lewis watches a van come up on his right and pass him. A young black man is at the wheel, his left leg hanging out the window. The blood races up Lewis's face: "Look at that! That's a violation! You can't drive like that! But I'm not going to stop him. No, sir. If I do, he's just going to call me a racist."
Then Lewis notices that the van is a state government vehicle. "This is ridiculous," he says. Lewis hits his lights. The driver stops. Lewis issues him a warning and sends him on his way. The driver says nothing.
"He didn't call me a racist," Lewis says, pulling into traffic, "but I know what he was thinking." Lewis does not think of himself as a racist. "I know how to treat people," he says. "I've never had a complaint based on a race-based stop. I've got that supercharged knowledge of the Constitution that allows me to do this right."
In the old days, when he was patrolling the Eastern Shore, it was white people he arrested. "Ninety-five percent of my drug arrests were dirt-ball-type whites--marijuana, heroin, possession-weight. Then I moved to the highway, I start taking off two, three kilograms of coke, instead of two or three grams. Black guys. Suddenly I'm not the greatest trooper in the world. I'm a racist. I'm locking up blacks, but I can't help it."
His eyes gleam: "Ask me how many white people I've ever arrested for cocaine smuggling--ask me!"
"None! Zero! I debrief hundreds of black smugglers, and I ask them, 'Why don't you hire white guys to deliver your drugs?' They just laugh at me. 'We ain't gonna trust our drugs with white boys.' That's what they say."
Mike Lewis's dream: "I dream at night about arresting white people for cocaine. I do. I try to think of innovative ways to arrest white males. But the reality is different."
Over the last week, the Economist tasked Daniel Levy and David Frum with debating whether President Obama is an "honest broker" in the peace process. Levy, who serves as director of the New America Foundation's Middle East Task Force ("task force" sounds so martial, but whatever), argues that Obama's no-nonsense handling of Israel is a refreshing -- and hopeful -- approach, while Frum, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a former speechwriter for George W. Bush, argues that Obama's role as mediator here is detrimental to Israel. The two do agree that, for better or worse, Obama's strategy and attitude is sharply different from Bush's, and perhaps from any president in recent American history. Here is a glimpse of their back and forth, the winner of which will be declared on Friday.
On previous attempts to broker peace:
Daniel Levy: Aaron David Miller, who advised six secretaries of state on Middle East policy, in his "The Much Too Promised Land" describes the three "bad boys" of Arab-Israeli peacemaking: Kissinger, Carter and Baker. ... Under Kissinger's guidance, when Israel dragged its feet on Sinai redeployment talks with the Egyptians, President Ford in 1975 announced a "reassessment" of the US-Israel relationship and froze new arms agreements. President Carter brokered Israeli-Egyptian peace at Camp David that included a full Israeli withdrawal from the Sinai to the 1967 lines and full settlement evacuation. This happened despite the fact that Israel's prime minister Menachem Begin was committed to keeping the Sinai and to personally retiring to the Yamit settlement there. President George H.W. Bush and Secretary Baker imposed loan guarantee penalties on Israeli settlements' expansion in 1991.
David Frum: Messrs. Kissinger and Carter achieved successful and enduring results. One, Mr Baker, did not. What made the difference? The answer is obvious: Messrs. Kissinger and Carter were brokering disputes between Israel and Egypt; Mr Baker between Israel and the Palestinians. By 1973, Egypt had very finite demands upon Israel: It wanted the Sinai back and in return it offered a permanent end to hostilities. But Mr Baker tried to mediate with the Palestinians. The demands presented by the accepted leaders of the Palestinian polity are not finite. Nor can Palestinian leaders safely offer a permanent end to hostilities. (The Israeli, prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has again flushed out this unwillingness by his demand for the recognition of Israel's Jewish character.) The result was that Baker's much vaunted toughness led nowhere. ... If Mr. Baker's approach does not work, why repeat it?
John Bolton thinks Israel might strike Iran before the end of the year. So do I, for what it's worth. I sense a growing feeling among some Israeli analysts that a strike is almost inevitable.
Rabbi Naftali Tzi Weisz, a prominent rabbi in the Hassidic community -- also arrested for money-laundering in 2007 and again last week for tax fraud -- addressed a Borough Park symposium Tuesday to repent and assume responsibility for his crimes:
Nathaniel Popper reports:
"Unfortunately we have to admit in public that things happened that were not supposed to happen," Weisz told the men in attendance (women were not invited to the forum). "We must have to express our wish that these matters will never happen -- we have to commit that in the future this will never happen again." Weisz spoke in great detail about the compliance program that [his] board has entered with the government and he said, "Our community, baruch hashem, (thank God) is not lacking in smart experienced lawyers and accountants that are willing to teach the tzibur [community], how to conduct their communal affairs in a manner that is in compliance with the law in all respects."
The meeting was called in response to all the unfortunate publicity surrounding the apparently never-ending reality show, "When Orthodox Rabbis Go Bad." Those in attendance were seemingly receptive to Weisz's call for responsibility, though several demonstrators protested outside the building about the Jew-baiting media, calling last week's massive corruption bust a "pogrom." On the other hand, Rabbi David Zwiebel of Agudath Israel read actual excerpts from my earlier post about this crisis -- and no one booed. I'm big with the Hasidim, apparently.
I've received a lot of mail already in reaction to my post about the crisis in Israel -- a crisis caused by the willful disregard of settler extremists to Israeli law, and by the Israeli government's impotence in the face of such law-breaking -- and I'll post some of it throughout the day, but here's one sample:
I've decided your a self-hating Jew. You would rather have the approval of Barack Hussein Obama and the self-hating Jews that are his lapdogs than of your own Jewish people. You want to make Israel Judenrein, and Heaven will punish you for that. Shame!
Shame is right. By the way, if I'm a self-hating Jew, then anyone who is not a rabid, land-stealing settler is a self-hating Jew. I believe such a category exists -- though in my experience, the Jews who hate being Jewish and afflict the rest of us with their hatred generally tend, in an overall way, to love themselves very much. But what you have in this debate over self-hating Jews -- remember, there's a report out that Bibi himself has called Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod self-hating Jews -- is the hijacking of Judaism by a group of extremists who have conflated support for the settlement project with love for Israel and the Jewish people.
Via Romenesko, police arrested a New Hampshire sportswriter yesterday for allegedly running a prostitution ring. If I were to start a newsroom-based prostitution ring -- and I'm not, but if I were -- I would at least try to build a clientele of politicians and other potential sources, and I would offer discounts in exchange for secret documents. A full-service journalistic whorehouse, in other words.
One of the chief complaints leveled against the Palestinian Authority in the years of the Oslo process was that it did not, or would not, control the people who lived under its rule. The Palestinian government had no monopoly on violence, in other words; anyone with a gun had power. This was a legitimate complaint. It went to the seriousness of the Palestinian regime, and to its competence.
Well, the government of Israel today is facing a similar crisis. The building of new "illegal" outposts by West Bank settlers -- building accompanied by racist slurs directed at Israel's main benefactor, the President of the United States -- is a direct challenge to the legitimacy of Israel's democratically-elected government. If these outposts are allowed to stand, it will mean that the government of Israel is incapable of enforcing its own laws, or unwilling to do so. Israel and the United States demanded of the Palestinian Authority that it jail those who defied Palestinian law and threatened the Palestinian national cause. Israel should treat these settlers in the same manner. They are criminals who undermining the sovereignty of the Jewish state. If they are not stopped, then we might as well face the harsh truth, that the settlers are in open revolt against the government of the State of Israel, and that their fanaticism may destroy the 2,000-year-old dream of Jewish independence.
Nigeria now has its own Taliban, and it is filled with geniuses, apparently:
In an interview with the BBC, the group's leader, Mohammed Yusuf, said such education "spoils the belief in one God"...There are prominent Islamic preachers who have seen and understood that the present Western-style education is mixed with issues that run contrary to our beliefs in Islam," he said. "Like rain. We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.
Because people you don't know -- Ann Althouse, in this case -- insult you for no particular reason except that you happen to find Dahlia Lithwick's Sotomayor-related poetry highly amusing, and they don't. But nice to meet you, Ann. I actually take your side in the men-in-shorts debate, for what it's worth. But now with less enthusiasm.
Possibly -- and understandably. Newsweek reports:
The Israeli foreign minister is enjoying a 10-day tour of Latin America, including stops in Rio, Lima, and Bogotá. Officially, his mission is said to be a long-scheduled effort to strengthen ties with South America. Unofficially, Israeli wags suspect, his mission is to stay out of the way. The foreign minister, who is considered an embarrassing loose cannon by large swaths of the Israeli public, has never been taken particularly seriously in diplomatic circles. Western officials complain that his hard-line policy proposals, which include transferring some Arab Israeli communities to Palestinian control, undermine Arab-Israeli coexistence.
Newsweek is suggesting that President Obama make George W. Bush his Mideast envoy:
During the Bush years, Israelis were consistently among the few foreign populations that gave the American president high approval marks--often in far greater proportion than Americans themselves. Senior officials in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, where I worked, spoke on their cell phones daily with their White House counterparts--circumventing the State Department and the Israeli Foreign Ministry entirely.
That closeness paid off. It's no coincidence that, during the Bush years, Ariel Sharon had political cover to suggest "painful concessions" for peace--a euphemism for withdrawal from territory. The unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza Strip--followed by preparations to withdraw from large parts of the West Bank that were interrupted only by the Hizbullah war of 2006--almost certainly would not have happened with anyone else in the White House less trusted to ensure Israel's safety.