Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

DICK Cheney Should Really Really Really Shut the FREAK Up Already

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Actually, that’s basically the whole diary.  The only thing I want to hear from him is an unqualified apology.  And I doubt he’s ever apologized to anyone.  Not to Leahy for cussing him out on the floor of the Senate.  Not to the chap he shot in the face.  No one.  I’ll bet if he accidentally stepped on your foot and spilled hot coffee down your shirt in an elevator he wouldn’t apologize.  

I don’t want to read about Megyn Kelly “schooling” him.  Why should she get to use him to feign journalistic responsibility and rational thought?  I don’t want Rand Paul and Pat Buchanan using him to create an illusion of vibrant political diversity in the GOP.  I don’t want anyone beyond the local Jackson Hole media covering him.  

So, that’s my argument.  He should really really really shut the FREAK up already.  Really.

300 Schoolgirls

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300 schoolgirls.  300 schoolgirls.  300 schoolgirls…stolen from their classrooms, kidnapped by men.  300 schoolgirls kidnapped by men who have publicly announced their intention to sell them as slaves.  To sell them into slavery.  To sell them to men who would rape them and terrorize them into drudgery.  No more school.

This morning I kissed my daughters as they went off to school.  I didn’t remember the 300 schoolgirls waiting to be sold.  I didn’t remember them until I read a headline on a left-wing blog and I think I know why.  And it’s the ugliest of reasons.  It’s a reason I only impute to others in the most severe situations.  It’s the reason that people were stolen from Africa and sold into slavery for centuries.  It’s the reason that stands behind slavery, murder, torture, humiliation, lynching.  It’s the reason that 6 million members of my own community were exterminated.  Racism.

Climate Change and Apocalypticism

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I’ve never really considered myself an environmentalist. I don’t live a particularly “green” life, though I recycle, don’t litter, and don’t leave lights on or other electronic devices running. But I increasingly find opposition to climate science (I don’t think they are skeptics as much as scoffers) infuriating.

I don’t even know quite what is motivating this post at the moment. But I have a family member with a science based Ph.D. who consistently raises his opposition to the findings of climate scientists every time he sees me. He argues that he’s “read the science” and that his work has always been about modeling and that the models they use cannot hope to capture the complexity of the phenomenon of climate change and that ultimately belief in anthropogenic climate change is nothing more than belief, even religious belief. This last point resonates with those who often compare the dire predictions of climate scientists and environmental activists to the apocalyptic speculation that has occurred so frequently across western history.

Why I am Converting to Catholicism

Yes. You read that correctly.  I’ve lived my life as a Jew, a traditional Jew in many senses.  And I have always been a rationalist.  But I am converting to Catholicism.  And it is the most rational thing for this rationalist Jew to do.  It’s motivated by empirical observation and analysis that suggests, quite convincingly, that The Roman Catholic Church has been telling the truth.  I cannot be an obstinate super doubting Thomas and remain unconvinced, even after probing the wounds of the Savior with my own grubby fingers.  The fact is, the Catholic Church has performed a miracle.

Anti-Zionism and Anti-Semitism

One of the most debilitating and divisive aspects of the discourse surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the way constituencies engage the question of how anti-Zionism relates to anti-Semitism.  Very often, the division on this question is dichotomous and creates a binary of extreme positions that cannot engage with one another.  

One of these sides sees anti-Zionism, and indeed all criticism of what they call the settlement of Judea and Samaria, as anti-Semitism masquerading as political critique and individuals with humanitarian intentions being manipulated unwittingly by anti-Semites.  These folks emphasize how Israel, even when they grant its imperfections, is singled out for disproportionate criticism, that it is inaccurately depicted as the root of all discord in the Middle East and the primary source of tension between the Muslim world and the west.  And even when they grant that criticism of Israel doesn’t have to be anti-Semitic, at least in theory, they argue that it almost always is and must be viewed through the lens of this question.  Israel’s critics must be considered guilty of anti-Semitism or of unwitting and na├»ve collusion with anti-Semites, until categorically proven otherwise.

The other side, as is so often the case in this ideologically over-determined debate, seems its mirror image.  These folks argue that the accusation of anti-Semitism is a canard meant to silence valid criticism of Israeli policies and that the occupation of the West Bank and the blockade of Gaza are the primary causes of contemporary anti-Semitism.  Furthermore, they accuse the “Israel Lobby” of manipulating US politics, and thus international politics, to support Israel’s continued repression and exploitation of Palestinians against American interests and values.  This accusation strikes their opponents as all too close to the ugly conspiracy theories emanating from the anti-Semitic forgery known as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, which depicted international Jewry as the ultimate source of all war and suffering in the world.  

East is West: Reflections on Electoral Ironies by an Unrepresentative Israeli Voter

When I try to encapsulate the extent of the absurdity that animates Israeli politics, I point out how the Israeli electorate divides on the subject of Jerusalem.  A majority opposes any division of Israel’s “eternal capital.”  Most of these folks support the construction of a concrete wall that cuts off neighborhoods of Arab/Palestinian East Jerusalem.  A smaller constituency is ready and willing to divide Jerusalem so that its eastern sectors will be administered by Palestinians, and where they will locate the capital of their state.  These folks generally support the activists who protest the concrete wall and want it torn down.  Those who want the city unified support a bisecting wall.  Those advocating division want it torn down.  

Right Wing Israeli Government Moves to End Jewish State

Bibi Netanyahu’s response to the UN vote is nothing less than the manufacturing of an unmistakable Pyrrhic victory:

Israel plans to build some 3,000 new housing units in East Jerusalem and West Bank settlements in response to the Palestinians’ successful bid for recognition at the UN General Assembly this week, a senior diplomatic source told Haaretz on Friday.

According to the source, Israel also plans to advance long-frozen plans for the E1 area, which covers an area that links the city of Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim.

If built, the controversial plan would prevent territorial contiguity between the northern and southern West Bank, making it difficult for a future Palestinian state to function.…

Paper, such as the UN vote upgrading the international status of Palestine, rarely competes with bulldozers, unless the drivers of the bulldozers recognize the authority of the paper in question.

Has the Moose Become a Quadrennial Gathering Spot?

It was nice to “see” everyone on election night.  But it would be nice if we could actually grow the Moose back to and beyond what it was a few years back.  Feels dead and depressing around here.  Is this dying with a whimper?

Some Views From Jerusalem

This past Friday evening, as I finished mopping the floors and removed the food I had prepared for our guests from the oven, I heard the siren that announces the approach of the Sabbath in Jerusalem every week.  It is a deep lowing moan broadcast over the hills of this garden city, echoing off its pale stone and resonating through its cypresses and cedars and palms and eucalyptuses, and flowers blooming even in November.  In our home, as in many, the siren always spurs one last burst of energy to finish preparations as it calls us to relinquish our week-day efforts and concerns.  I always feel like a wind-up toy that speeds up frantically as it spends the last twists of animating tension in its mechanism.  For the siren proclaims the arrival of the particular moment in which we understand ourselves as commanded to slow down, to relinquish all the electronic devices that occupy such a central role in our daily lives, and to put aside all instruments of material creativity and production.  It begs us to pause and remember how all the arts of our hands should be guided by reflection, how all meaningful activity depends upon rest and quiet, how all acts of signification require contemplation in order to attain significance.  It suggests that a grateful consciousness of our status as caused creatures will enhance our abilities and experiences as causes and creators.  This siren tells us that the time has come to move at a slower pace, to sing ancient poetry and to study enduring stories and their commentaries, familiar texts that promise a potentially infinite yield of meanings.  It announces the weekly occasion on which we celebrate our existences by indulging in richer foods spread on festive tablecloths and to savor them more slowly than we do on other days, and to share them with those we love.  It bids us place our hands upon the head of each of our children to invoke upon them weekly blessings of enlightenment, of peacefulness and well-being.  

I look forward to blessing my children on Sabbath eve as a highlight of each week.  But this week, as missles and rockets flew back and forth between Gaza and southern Israel, the yearning for peace and well-being for children felt particularly acute, for mine and ours and theirs, all caught in the middle of a cascading political failure, a persistent vacuum of vision and leadership.  I put on my jacket and stepped out of our garden gate to head to a local synagogue to hear how a Rabbi with whom I have been studying on Sun. evenings for the past few weeks would respond.  A deeply kind and compassionate man, he is composing his doctoral dissertation in Philosophy on the metaphysical and theological underpinnings of John Rawls’ concept of distributive justice.  As such, his commitment to traditional Judaism is deeply intertwined with a rigorous and deeply felt humanism, a combination all too rare these days.  

Three steps out of the gate, as I turned up the lovely, quiet street we live on, a different kind of siren sounded.  This siren was a shrill, electric, undulating alarum.  Given that the Palestinian and Jewish populations are intertwined here and that the city is the site of Islamic holy sites of the highest significance, no rocket had ever been fired from Gaza at Jerusalem before this.  Yet they would not perform a civil defense drill on the Sabbath.  I turned on my heel, literally – thinking to myself “aha, so that is why they call it turning on one’s heel” – crossed the garden in five elongated strides and reentered our apartment.  The special blend of aromas, of cleaning products and fresh cooking that we enjoy for a few hours every Friday evening refused to be perturbed.  We calmly took our three children down to the basement library.  I could feel myself reverting automatically to the efficient detachment I learned as an infantryman, but it was now mixed with a consciouness of the necessity to exude reassurance.  We called a friend in the neighborhood to check in about the protocol.  Usually, we do not use the telephone after commencement of the Sabbath.  But this seemed to me to fall under the rabbinic injunction to set aside any and all Sabbath restrictions in the face of the faintest possibility that human life is at stake.  Our friends were not sure what to do either, given the unfamiliarity of the situation in Jerusalem.  We waited while they checked and called us back with instructions.  After the siren sounds, if there is “something” then “it” will occur within 90 seconds.  Generally, one should wait about 10 minutes to make sure the siren doesn’t sound again.  Then everything is “normal” again.