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Archive for the ‘Politics & Society’ Category



“Jewish Jew baiter Jew baits.” – Bloomberg’s Eli Lake Smears Glenn Greenwald, Represents the Hatred Which Pervades American Jewish Discourse on Israel

Jul25

by: on July 25th, 2015 | 11 Comments »

Eli Lake, formerly a senior national security correspondent for Newsweek and current columnist for Bloomberg, decided today to represent in a single Tweet all that is toxic within the American Jewish community when it comes to discussing Israel.

Lake, himself Jewish, responded to fellow Jewish journalist Glenn Greenwald’s critique of congressional Iran-deal supporters with the following, vile description:

What caused Lake, who is no fan of the Iran deal, to parrot anti-Semitic language and direct it toward a fellow Jew? He took exception to Greenwald’s suggesting that some Republican members of Congress are prioritizing Israel’s interests over those of the United States in opposing the Iran deal.


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Donald Trump Has Been Located!

Jul24

by: on July 24th, 2015 | No Comments »

Donald Trump.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Gage Skidmore.

“[Mexico] are sending people that have lots of problems, and they are bringing those problems to us. They are bringing drugs, and bringing crime, and they’re rapists.”

Donald Trump, June 16, 2015, Trump Tower, NYC,during announcement for presidential run

Trump later went on to declare that “I will win the Hispanic vote.” He has currently surged to the leader of the pack of 15 Republican hopefuls in national polls.

As a hot topic of discussion in political pundit circles, José Díaz-Balart, host of MSNBC’s The Rundown with José Díaz-Balart, brought up Trump’s claims and ever-increasing poll numbers on his show, Wednesday, July 15, 2015. Talking with his guest, Victoria DeFrancesco Soto — of the Center for Politics and Governance at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas — about a number of Trump’s claims regarding the Mexican government and Mexican people, Díaz-Balart asked, “When [Trump] says the U.S. is getting the short end of the stick, what’s he talking about?”

DeFrancesco Soto answered the question with a question many pundits have been pondering even prior to Trump’s entry into the race: “What planet is Donald on?”

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Uri Avnery and Jeffrey Sachs on the Iranian Nuclear Deal

Jul23

by: on July 23rd, 2015 | 9 Comments »

Editor’s note:

Avnery is sage in his analysis, but too much into big-power-politics thinking for comfort. As a result he underplays the role of ideology, and understates the evil deeds of the Iranian mullahs against their own people. Some people respond to the balance of power argument, then, by saying that Iran is more serious about ideology and hence might be willing to do a first strike on Israel even if that did lead to their own destruction. But here we agree more with Avnery–it is precisely because of their ideology that makes them want to remain the society that brings Islam to the world. To be the advocate for a growing Islam, rather than its grave-digger, a Muslim Iran has to avoid being wiped out by a second retaliatory strike by Israel should the Iranians use the nuclear weapons they will likely eventually acquire in ten or twenty years. It is only as a second retaliatory strike that the Iranians would need an atom bomb to use against Israel or the U.S., GOD FORBID, and that is not an unreasonable desire on their part, though we hope they never get such a weapon and we hope that neither Israel nor the U.S. ever engage in a first nuclear strike against Iran or any other country.

Best scenario is for a worldwide disarmament of all nuclear weapons with the same kind of strict guidelines this deal imposes on Iran (including disarming the US, China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Israel, etc.). Short of achieving global nuclear disarmament, the most likely outcome in the next few decades is Mutual Assured Destruction, the strategy that kept the crazies who ran the U.S. and Communist Russia from using nuclear war against each other. In postponing the development of a nuclear weapon, the treaty now going before Congress deserves our support, because it might postpone an American/Israeli attack on Iran that would be even more disastrous than the Iraq war proved to be hopefully it will be the prelude to a new era in which the people of Iran can non-violently replace the mullahs with a more human-rights respecting regime that might even make peace with Israel once Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank and acts in a spirit of generosity toward the Palestinian people. But since Israel is unlikely in the coming years to do that, the best we can hope for is a balance of power, and this agreement is a hopeful move toward that end.

That will mean, sometime in the next twenty to thirty years, Iran will have a nuclear weapon that will keep Israel or the US from attacking it–a sad prospect, but probably the likely outcome whether or not there was a nuclear deal with Iran unless the US was really ready to invade Iran and fight a ground war that would be far less easy to win than the war with Iraq, and far more likely to spur global wars and domestic terrorism far more dangerous than the balance of power between Iran and Israel that Iran’s eventual nuclearization would produce. What a MAD world–yet this is what will likely happen unless the West really takes a whole new path toward generosity, peace, and nuclear disarmament.

- Rabbi Michael Lerner

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American Jews overwhelmingly SUPPORT Iran deal, despite all-out assault by Netanyahu & AIPAC

Jul23

by: on July 23rd, 2015 | 5 Comments »

When an historic nuclear agreement with Iran was announced on July 14, Israel’s Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, immediately lambasted it as a “historic mistake.” He then warned that Israel would not be bound by it, and pledged to lobby Congress to oppose it. And he did so after claiming that this opposition was on behalf of “the entire Jewish people.”

Soon after, a host of American Jewish organizations, including those pluralistic institutions which are supposed to represent the broader American Jewish community, took up Netanyahu’s mantle, pledging to oppose the Iran deal on account of the (claimed) danger it poses to Israel. Unsurprisingly, so too did AIPAC, which so far has raised $30 million for its massive lobbying effort to kill the agreement, including television spots in 40 states.

When J Street expressed support for the deal, Jeffrey Goldberg – who has long predicted Israel would bomb Iran and opposes the deal – wondered aloud if those Jews who support it could be considered ‘pro-Israel,’ given the Israeli government’s opposition.

From Netanyahu to AIPAC to Goldberg, the unspoken assumption was that the American Jewish community – and certainly those Jews who care about Israel – overwhelmingly opposed the deal. And those who supported it? Well, they were anything from not sufficiently ‘pro-Israel’ to self-hating Jews who want to see Israel destroyed.

But guess what? A poll just released, overseen by the country’s preeminent sociologist and pollster who focuses on the Jewish community, Steven M. Cohen, shows that the overwhelming majority of U.S. Jews support the Iran deal.


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What Religion Tells Us About the Place of Wilderness in American Environmentalism

Jul23

by: Dr. Mark Stoll on July 23rd, 2015 | 2 Comments »

Muir woods.

Muir woods. Credit: CreativeCommons / Aftab Uzzaman.

Wilderness has long been regarded as a cause near the heart of American environmentalism. Typical histories trace rising appreciation for wild nature that runs through Henry David Thoreau and John Muir on up to present passionate defenders of wilderness. This is such solidly received wisdom that hardly anyone, from environmental activist to academic historian, really questions it.

I discovered a rather different story during research for my book, Inherit the Holy Mountain: Religion and the Rise of American Environmentalism. I investigated the religious backgrounds of major figures in the history of environmentalism. Intriguingly, for over a century they overwhelmingly were raised in just two denominations, even though adult beliefs varied considerably.

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The Cost of Cowardice (part two)

Jul22

by: on July 22nd, 2015 | 1 Comment »

When it comes to passing gun regulations, the United States Congress is a group of cowards.

Congress-members of both parties use the second amendment as a fig-leaf to cover their cowardice while they dance to the tune of the National Rifle Association. Republican senators, with the exception of perhaps four, are completely in the pocket of the NRA. Democrats who will vote for gun regulations pay homage to “responsible gun owners” and “second amendment protections” before they speak about Band-Aid measures to prevent gun violence.

The cost of this legislative cowardice is high. In an average year, “over 108,000 (108,476) people in America are shot in murders, assaults, suicides and suicide attempts, unintentional shootings, or by police intervention.” In an average year for all ages, 32,514 people die from gun violence; 75,962 people survive gun injuries. On an average day, 7 children and teens die from gun violence. “Every day, 41 children and teens are shot and survive.” (These numbers come from the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence: http://www.bradycampaign.org/key-gun-violence-statistics)

Further, there is the monetary cost of gun violence. According to an article in “Mother Jones” magazine (http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2015/04/true-cost-of-gun-violence-in-america), the annual cost of gun violence, based on 2012 data, is $229 billion dollars. “Mother Jones” reports:

“Even before accounting for the more intangible costs of violence, in other words, the average cost to taxpayers for a single gun homicide in America is nearly $400,000. And we pay for 32 of them every single day.”

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A Plea for Clergy to Affirm Climate Science and Join Together in Action

Jul22

by: Deborah Meinke on July 22nd, 2015 | No Comments »

Editor’s Note: Please bring this to the attention of any clergy with whom you have or could establish some contact so that they could sign it.

A lake with chunks of ice floating in it.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Jay Mantri

Our earth home is running a fever. Time has run out for arguing over climate science. The window for reducing greenhouse gases is still open, and nearly all climate scientists advise decisive actions to slow climate change. Such is the content of the Clergy Climate Letter (http://clergyclimate.org) that emerged from the National Center for Science Education (http://ncse.com). Some months ago, I signed the Clergy Climate Letter. Since then, I have been encouraging my network of clergy colleagues to sign and to become active in a range of efforts to address and reduce climate change.

Why is it important for clergy to sign the Clergy Climate Letter and to share it? The Clergy Climate Letter provides one way for people of faith to rally around common moral and religious values centered on earth stewardship and care for creation. As Pope Francis has done at length in Laudato Si, the Clergy Climate Letter lays out in brief – climate science is sound, and people of faith bear a moral responsibility to heed this science and act to protect our only earth, home to 7 billion human beings and countless creatures, and to preserve its complexity, health, and beauty for future generations.


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An open letter to black America from a white, Jewish man of privilege

Jul22

by: on July 22nd, 2015 | 23 Comments »

Dear black Americans,

I’m a white, Jewish man from Pittsburgh who, over the last year, has watched videos of Eric Garner being murdered, read about Tamir Rice being murdered, and shuddered over Ferguson after Mike Brown was murdered. On television and online, I’ve been confronted with disturbing images of black bodies being destroyed. And I’m telling you, I can’t bear it any longer. I can’t bear to learn any more details about Sandra Bland. I’m sick to my stomach, losing sleep, feeling unsteady. Yet you keep showing me images, telling me stories. And I have to look away.

It’s too much.

Which is to say: good. Don’t let up, not for a second. Make me and all of white America feel uncomfortable until police stop murdering innocent women, men and children. Make us feel perpetually uneasy until our criminal justice system – “the New Jim Crow” – no longer exists as an institutional tool to disenfranchise black citizens. Get in our faces and make us unable to ignore you until the United States is no longer as dangerous for black Americans as war-torn countries like Myanmar.

Confront us in our social media feeds, disrupt our travels, interrupt our lives.


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Pushing Up

Jul21

by: Kathy Kelly on July 21st, 2015 | 1 Comment »

A woman doing a push up with a grassy hill behind her.

Credit: CreativeCommons / Living Fitness.

July 18, 2015

Last weekend, about one hundred U.S. Veterans for Peace gathered in Red Wing, Minnesota, for a statewide annual meeting. In my experience, Veterans for Peace chapters hold “no-nonsense” events. Whether coming together for local, statewide, regional or national work, the Veterans project a strong sense of purpose. They want to dismantle war economies and work to end all wars. The Minnesotans, many of them old friends, convened in the spacious loft of a rural barn. After organizers extended friendly welcomes, participants settled in to tackle this year’s theme: “The War on Our Climate.”

They invited Dr. James Hansen, an Adjunct Professor at Columbia University’s Earth Institute,
to speak via Skype about minimizing the impacts of climate change. Sometimes called the
“father of global warming”, Dr. Hansen has sounded alarms for several decades with accurate
predictions about the effects of fossil fuel emissions. He now campaigns for an economically
efficient phase out of fossil fuel emissions by imposing carbon fees on emission sources with
dividends equitably returned to the public.

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Sweet Blossoms out the Crater: A Review of Bodymap by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha

Jul20

by: on July 20th, 2015 | No Comments »

bodymap book

With all the celebrations of gay same-ness after the Supreme Court’s recent decision to legalize gay marriage, I am grateful for Leah Laskhmi Piepzna-Samarasinha’s filthy gorgeous poems, which remind us how queer desires still have the power to fuck shit up. The poems in her collection Bodymap demonstrate how queer desires–for each other, for ourselves, for something different – can provide a roadmap for moving toward freedom.

Reading so many poems about raw, dirty, queer crip sex made me think about Yasmin Nair’s recent argument that radical sex does not always translate into radical politics. While I agree that we can’t assume that any particular kind of sex is necessarily revolutionary (don’t we all know kinky people with regressive politics?), the poems in Bodymap serve as an argument that queer desire can–and should – fuel us to challenge the social order and reclaim the full humanity of those whom capitalism discards – including queers, people of color, working class folks, poor people, immigrants, undocumented people, and disabled folks.

What shines through every single poem is how hard Piepzna-Samarasinha has had to fight to love her queer, femme, disabled, brown working class self in a world that doesn’t always love her back. Her determination to love is generous; it starts with herself and then spreads its shimmering wings out to encompass all of us who have been marginalized and fucked over by systems of oppression.

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