A video made to offend basically every conceivable stratum of this country -- blacks, Jews, Christians, atheists
A rabbi and Christian scholar questioned Long and Messer, the man who led Long's crowning ceremony. Messer said during the ceremony that the Torah was a "priceless" 312-year-old scroll that had been recovered from the Auschwitz concentration camp during World War II. He said he wanted to honor Long "on behalf of Jewish people, and the land of Israel." Rabbi Hillel Norry of Congregation Shearith Israel in Georgia said the ceremony was "ridiculous."There's no Jewish coronation ceremony where someone is wrapped in a Torah and made a king, he said. "We just don't do that. We treat it with deference," Norry said of the Torah. "It's a shawl, not a crown. Don't treat it that way."Norry said Messer doesn't appear to be an ordained rabbi in the Jewish faith. He also doubts that the Torah that Long was wrapped in is actually 312 years old, and had somehow escaped detection in a concentration camp."The Torah is the size of a person. It's not like you can hide one," he said.
I'm late on this, but given this blog's focus on history, I'd like to use Chris Christie's remarks to pursue a broader question:
Christie last week vowed to veto a gay marriage bill if it came to his desk but said proponents have the option to put the matter on the ballot. He added, "People would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South."
I came across this brilliant quote while thumbing through Democracy In America:
It is a just observation, that the people commonly intend the public good. This often applies to their very errors. But their good sense would despise the adulator who should pretend that they always reason right about the means of promoting it. They know from experience that they sometimes err; and the wonder is that they so seldom err as they do, beset, as they continually are, by the wiles of parasites and sycophants; by the snares of the ambitious, the avaricious, the desperate; by the artifices of men who possess their confidence more than they deserve it, and of those who seek to possess rather than to deserve it.When occasions present themselves in which the interests of the people are at variance with their inclinations, it is the duty of persons whom they have appointed to be the guardians of those interests to withstand the temporary delusion, in order to give them time and opportunity for more cool and sedate reflection. Instances might be cited in which a conduct of this kind has saved the people from very fatal consequences of their own mistakes, and has procured lasting monuments of their gratitude to the men who had courage and magnanimity enough to serve them at the peril of their displeasure.
Intrigue and corruption are the natural defects of elective government; but when the head of the State can be re-elected these evils rise to a great height, and compromise the very existence of the country. When a simple candidate seeks to rise by intrigue, his manoeuvres must necessarily be limited to a narrow sphere; but when the chief magistrate enters the lists, he borrows the strength of the government for his own purposes.In the former case the feeble resources of an individual are in action; in the latter, the State itself, with all its immense influence, is busied in the work of corruption and cabal. The private citizen, who employs the most immoral practices to acquire power, can only act in a manner indirectly prejudicial to the public prosperity. But if the representative of the executive descends into the combat, the cares of government dwindle into second-rate importance, and the success of his election is his first concern.All laws and all the negotiations he undertakes are to him nothing more than electioneering schemes; places become the reward of services rendered, not to the nation, but to its chief; and the influence of the government, if not injurious to the country, is at least no longer beneficial to the community for which it was created.
I really don't want to jump on Mitt Romney every time he phrases something inartfully. Talking in front of people is hard. The chance to phrase something wrong comes with every sentence. It is, of course, a good idea when seeking public office to be better at saying what you mean than most civilians. But I'm more interested in the deeper connotations that you hear both from Romney, most Republicans and most Democrats that somehow equates virtue, and I would argue even patriotism, with being "middle class."
Occupy put the wealth gap on the national radar, but it's doubtful the movement will accomplish anything else
In the New York Review of Books, Michael Greenberg is skeptical about the future of Occupy:
Nevertheless, as Occupy Wall Street enters its fifth month, dislodged from most of the public spaces it had staked out around the country last fall, the movement seems weakened, its future uncertain. It sometimes appears to be driven by a series of tactics designed to maintain its public presence with no discernible strategy or goal--a kind of muddled, loose-themed ubiquity. The movement has proven adept at provoking media attention, but one may wonder what it amounts to, apart from its ability to reaffirm its status as a kind of protest brand name. Some core organizers are painfully aware of the situation."When I step out of the Occupy bubble, I discover that people have no coherent idea of who we are. They think we're a bunch of angry kids," Katie Davison told me. Amin Husain, a graduate of Columbia Law School who worked eighteen hours a day in corporate financing and property law before quitting to devote himself to the movement full time, expressed frustration at the fact that people were having trouble "grasping what we stand for..."
Jackie DiSalvo, Occupy Wall Street's labor expert, felt that after the encampment in Zuccotti Park was uprooted "a set of demands was needed, to define the movement to itself, to bind it together." One demand DiSalvo would like to see is for a WPA-like jobs project funded by taxes on corporations and the wealthiest. "But I know it would never pass the General Assembly," she said, referring to the informal body comprised of anyone who showed up that made decisions in Zuccotti Park. She also hoped that OWS would run candidates in 2012, as the Tea Party did in 2010. But again, she admitted, "OWS would never endorse them."In October, a "Demands Group" did spring up among the protesters. When members of the group went public with a few suggestions, the General Assembly attempted to vote them out of existence and by some accounts succeeded. Today, a version of the group exists with 410 members who, according to the movement's website, are "developing the concept of demands" (italics mine). Instead of debating actual demands, they are asking how a group "can create a process where their wants & needs can be communicated."
When I asked Amin and Katie what Occupy Wall Street's ultimate goal was, they said, "A government accountable to the people, freed up from corporate influence." It seemed that this pointed to a simple, single demand, something that many in the movement had been seeking since September: a campaign finance law that would ban private contributions and restrict candidates to the use of public money. Several detailed proposals for such a law already existed, including one from Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig that, though imperfect, would attack, in Lessig's words, "the root, the thing that feeds the other ills, and the thing that we must kill first."As I spoke, I could sense the impatience of my listeners. I wasn't getting the point. Any such demand would turn them into supplicants; its very utterance implied a surrender to the state that went against Occupy Wall Street's principles. Katie maintained that Occupy Wall Street didn't yet have "a broad enough base" to make such a demand with any reasonable expectation that it could be met. And Amin said, "It doesn't matter what particular laws you pass. We're not about laws."
How valid is the socialist NFL argument?
Kasia Cieplak-Mayr von Baldegg brings us an animated argument for football as socialism. She also links to Allen Barra's argument to the contrary, which I find unconvincing. Which isn't to say I couldn't be convinced. I don't really know a lot about baseball's economics beyond the rudiments. I have a feeling I'm about to get an education.
Is it me, or are these outfits looking more and more like they belong in video games?
Ian Parker's piece on the young teen who committed suicide at Rutgers in 2010 is well-reported and complicates the picture some.
Ian Parker's piece on the young teen who committed suicide at Rutgers in 2010 is well-reported and complicates the picture some. By "complicates" I don't mean that it makes Dhuran Ravi--the freshman who spied on Clementi--sound anymore sympathetic. But it does add some interesting data-points to what we consider bullying. To be clear, I've viewed the anti-bullying movement with some skepticism.
One afternoon last October, a year after Clementi's death, the image was projected onto two giant screens in a hall in a student center at Rutgers. CNN was taping a special, "Bullying: It Stops Here," hosted by Anderson Cooper. The audience consisted mostly of Rutgers students--Tyler Picone sat in the front row--and they listened courteously as a floor manager called out "Are you guys excited to be on TV?" and "You're a good-looking group," then coached them on how to express shock or grief while watching the panel. The discussion, involving Dr. Phil McGraw, Kelly Ripa, and Robert Faris, a sociologist at U.C.-Davis, and others, began with Cooper declaring that Tyler Clementi's life had been "thrown onto the Internet."Then, in what may have been quiet recognition that the source of Clementi's despair was unknown, and may remain unknown, the show barely mentioned Clementi again. Its primary subject was the meanness of middle-school students. Clementi was a totem, but not part of the story. Outside, I spoke to Eric Thor, a junior, and the president of Delta Lambda Phi, a gay-oriented fraternity. " 'Bullying' is trying to be a label that covers all negative interrelations between students," he said. "If you say the word enough, it starts to lose meaning." He noted that Clementi had lacked a close ally at Rutgers. "Everyone needs a sidekick. I don't think he had that."
Jeff Goldberg looks at what the Republican primary has to say to black voters:
Black people have lost the desire to perform a day's work. Black people rely on food stamps provided to them by white taxpayers. Black people, including Barack and Michelle Obama, believe that the U.S. owes them something because they are black. Black children should work as janitors in their high schools as a way to keep them from becoming pimps. And the pathologies afflicting black Americans are caused partly by the Democratic Party, which has created in them a dependency on government not dissimilar to the forced dependency of slaves on their owners.
Jonathan Chait on Republican amnesia:
The idea that Romney can "think on his feet," and that Obama is all "flash," expresses a common right-wing trope that Obama is actually an idiot: a charismatic speaker but helpless when not reading from prepared text. That is the basis for the GOP's otherwise inscrutable obsession with TelePrompTer jokes - the TelePrompTer is an extremely common political tool, but many conservatives have come to believe that Obama would be helpless without it. That belief accounts for a major portion of Gingrich's appeal -- he has painted an appealing picture of himself exposing the stammering dope in a lengthy series of debates. Among other problems, this fantasy ignores the actual history of Obama's debate performances ...
What if 'E.T.' wasn't really a masterpiece?
I don't know if I agree with this Bill Wyman essay on the master film-maker, but I enjoyed it very much:
Beneath all his technical wizardry is only a simulacrum of aesthetics. The gassy high-mindedness; the complete lack of all but the most bland humor or self-awareness; the boring, slightly pompous exposition that bespeaks a person whose every word is hung on, and never challenged, for far too long. (Watch Spielberg in the promotional material that accompanies the DVD release of his films.He speaks with the breezy self-importance of someone who is no longer contradicted, seemingly, by anyone. He appears to exist in a cloud.) Steven Spielberg has built a remarkable career by amplifying the familiar--taking what we know, both with regard to the language of cinema as well as his thematic concerns, and saying them loud. But he hasn't said anything new.
How Chuck D crafted the perfect black superhero
Chuck D's politics have always obscured his actual MC cred, which is a little sad. In his day he lived in this weird place between Run-DMC volume and Rakim surrealism. Looking back I just appreciate how he erected at a mythology as a black nationalist superhero. Whereas most MCs only had to worry about the cops, sucker MCs or drug dealers, Chuck D was targeted by the greatest super-power ever known to man. Here you see the mythology in full-effect--with guns, sneering white people, prison guards and EPMD all in effect.