6.29.2002

Okay, here are my comments on that article in The Nation...

First off, the article is confused. It can't decide what it's about. It starts by talking about the need for divestment, explains this need by drawing parallels between Israel and Apartheid South Africa, and then begins running off at the mouth about how Israel is a reincarnation of pre-Mandela Africa.

I'll start with divestment.

Trying to crush Israel by pulling out its economic support would, theoretically, work. Theoretically, pulling out foriegn investment from most any country would put its economy -- and therefore, its political stability -- into a screaming tailspin. However, the "moral and financial pressures" that the authors -- Desmond Tutu and Ian Urbina -- are calling for would never have any impact. They say: Students on more than forty US campuses are demanding a review of university investments in Israeli companies as well as in firms doing major business in Israel. From Berkeley to Ann Arbor, city councils have debated municipal divestment measures.

Oh-no, Ann Arbor is going to pull out of investing in Israel. I'm *so* scared.

In theory, this person-by-person divestment strategy could, eventually, work, so long as one of the people involved is George W. Bush. Since the US is the biggest foreign investor in Israel, only its pulling out of the Israeli economy would cause Israel to recant is "cruel" policy towards terrorists. If US citizens, but not their government, pull out, then the only ones to lose would be the US citizens; their changing their portfolio will not have enough of an impact on Israel as a nation, but could have a substantial impact on them as a private investor. And one cannot make the statement that eventually there will be enough public pressure on the government for it to pull out of Israel. The government right now is in support of Israel -- Bush's speech proves this -- and they will not cease this, especially as it is an integral part of the War on Terror, to which Bush is most certainly wed.

The remainder of the article, which draws an "explicit analogy between apartheid and curren Israeli policies" is fairly biased, making the assumption that the motivation behind white supremists in Africa and settlers in Israel is the same: racism. Their argument loses its cogency when one realizes that Israel's action are not in the name of racism, but rather in the name of national security.

6.28.2002

I want a legal affairs editor too. And I think you probably do have to go to law school to be that; the author of the Op-Ed is a law professor. The article has a great led, by the way: "Yesterday the Supreme Court played a calming role in the culture wars by declaring that the era of strict separation between church and state is over."

Gotta love how the Times manages to promote fear if the vast right-wing conspiracy in all things. Look out! The religious wackos are coming to take over your school system! No secular child shall be safe.
This is a great piece from today's NY Times (you need to be signed up), talking about the reprocussions from the Pledge decision and the Voucher decision. It's written by the "Legal Affairs Editor" from the New Republic.

I wish I had a legal affairs editor.

Do you think you have to go to law school to be that?
Check back tomorrow afternoon for some snarky comments on this article in The Nation. I had them all typed up, and then when I clicked Post and Publish, Blogger deleted the post. Dammit. Off to sleep.

6.27.2002

Small correction to Carolina's post: gay partners of 9/11 victims are allowed to get death benefits. Bush signed a bill a few days ago to allow it. Small technicality, and Carol's point remains the same. Bush's action was a small step, and not indicative of the US' attitude on a whole (see Federal Marraige Amendment).
I just wanted to mention that a lawsuit was filed yesterday by seven same-sex couples in New Jersey against the seven respective county clerks that have denied marriage licenses on the basis of their being gay. I was reading an article in "Insight On the News" and I found a great quotation: ""If you take gay marriage to the courts, they win. If you take it to the people, we win," says Matt Daniels, executive director of Alliance for Marriage."

He's right, and the first step to achieving this crucial win for gay and lesbian couples has been taken. Sure, there's no guarantee that the gay community will win, or that the case will ever reach the Supreme Court. However, chances are that this lawsuit will be decided before the proposed 28th Amendment [an amendment to define marriage as the union between one man and one woman] will ever get passed.

Some people argue that marriage is not necessary for gays to achieve "liberation" or feel better about themselves. However, this point overlooks the definition of marriage: a legal contract between two people to facilitate the division and distribution of property. There are dozens of cases where a gay man/lesbian dies and the family inherits the estate, despite the fact that the partner of the deceased was the intended heir. Also, partners of gay/lesbian FDNY and NYPD casualties of 9/11 are not getting support from the federal government becaused they are not recognized as partners. Marriages allows these people to get the money or property they deserve.

Defenders of traditional male-female marriage argue that same-sex marriage destroys the stability of the American society. Don't divorces, single parents, and low income families also destabilize the American dream of two parents, 2 kids, a car and a nice house? Anyway, in the eyes of the law, the members of a newlywed married couple enjoying life and the members of a twenty-year old marriage with three kids heading for separation are treated equally.
That's the key phrase equal protection under the law. This means equal protection of rights and of property.

We all have our different versions of the American dream. For some it's owning a nice house, for others it's playing in the NBA [Yao Ming, good luck]. For these seven couples from New Jersey, as for many more couples in the United States and the world, it is obtaining the legal and financial protection for themselves and their loved ones.

"All men are created equal" is cliche these days, but it cannot be more applicable. "All men are created equal" means "equal protection under the law" which means the legalization of same-sex marriages.
Hey guys! This is Becky, a new addition to Like a Hawk. A little about myself before I begin: I'm a friend of Sarah's, I'm a conservative (more than she), and I am working at a camp with four year olds this summer. I wouldn't normally bring my work home with me, but if something absolutely adorable passes between the kids, you can bet I'll be spreading the wealth. And watch out, I expect answers to random questions I will have. (For example: Whatever happened to Art Garfunkel?)

Now to the good stuff.

I believe in school vouchers: I think they help people who normally wouldn't receive help. I never read all of this book, but I did read snippets. It's called Savage Inequalities . The part I read shows the huge differences. There are a few ways to solve the problem, but I won't even bring up Mayor Bloomberg. For now, go Supreme Court!

Don't get me started on Israel-"Palestine." At the moment, I'm in the part of Truman (by one of my favorite authors, David McCullough) where they talk about Israel's formation, and McCullough points out that no one knows what would have happened if FDR, who felt less fervent than Truman about Israel, had been alive to see 1948. It's something to keep in mind now. Two more things on this topic: 1) ate dinner with some people Tuesday night, and one of them said that it's gotten bad enough that he couldn't read the paper. And one of the others said it was enough to make him cry. Imagine what it would be like if you were IN Israel. 2) On the bus to camp this morning, a very chatty kid noticed a cop and said he was cool because he had a gun. I, good counselor that I am, pointed out that cops protect us. The boy next to me said something like "Soldiers protect us. And we should all go to Washington and tell President Bush that we should send all the soldiers to protect Israel." He also told me Usabama bin Laden was dead, so take it with a grain of salt.

Happy reading!
Will have two new team members soon, Carolina and Rebecca. Keep your eyes peeled, they're both very cool people.
Finally stopping my constant posting about the Palestinian violence to post about the Supreme Court. I, for one, was thrilled by the Rehnquist's court ruling on the Cleveland voucher case. The opinion was unsurprising; the logic Rehnquist used in his opinion is entirely keeping with his past precedent on relgion/state matters, such as the Mueller case (allowing tax deductions for educational expenses for parents of parochial school students). His focus on the intent of the funding is, I think, an extremely clever way to look at the Cleveland case, as it truly draws the distinction between whether a state is funding religion or a state is funding a child's education. Here is the relevant paragraph:

"Mueller, Witters, and Zobrest thus make clear that where a government aid program is neutral with respect to religion, and provides assistance directly to a broad class of citizens who, in turn, direct government aid to religious schools wholly as a result of their own genuine and independent private choice, the program is not readily subject to challenge under the Establishment Clause. A program that shares these features permits government aid to reach religious institutions only by way of the deliberate choices of numerous individual recipients. The incidental advancement of a religious mission, or the perceived endorsement of a religious message, is reasonably attributable to the individual recipient, not to the government, whose role ends with the disbursement of benefits."

In my opinion, this opinion is merely fuel for the fire; it solves absolutely nothing. Far from ruling on the main issue regarding vouchers -- their value as worthwhile alternatives for public education -- this merely addressed the constitutionality of vouchers. In other words, it addressed a technicality that was only an issue because of this court case. Of the three main programs, Florida, Cleveland, and Milwaukee, the main issue has rarely been religion. Even in Cleveland, the religious issue was raised by many of the same opponents of vouchers in general; it is no surprise that the NEA (National Education Association) was virulently opposed to the Cleveland voucher system. The say of the ruling: "Reacting to today's ruling, NEA President Bob Chase said that while vouchers may be legal in some instances, they are still a bad idea. We will continue to work to improve existing public schools by addressing teacher quality, class size, and standards." In other words, Cleveland vouchers that go to parochial schools is a bad idea because they are vouchers. The anti-parochial school movement will now merge with the anti-voucher movement. Rehnquist's decision just consolidated the opposition. Now, instead of three parties of voucher opposition -- those who oppose because of the Establishment clause, those who oppose because they believe vouchers drain funds, and those who oppose because they favor public schools -- there are only two.

More on this -- and the timing of this with regards to the Pledge ruling -- later.
I've been giving some thought to Bush's plan for nation-building in Palestine, especially after reading this article in The New Republic. This one quote especially struck me as unintentionally explaining the biggest problem we will have in Palestine. "Unless the Bush administration assumes clear authority for nation building in Palestine, all it will reap is Palestinian blame for failure to deliver according to the three-year quasi-timetable the president envisioned for a final status agreement with the Israelis."

The people that need to assume the blame for a possible failure is the Palestinians. It is ultimately up to them to assure that their state will be successful. Speaking of the Palestinians and the "international community", Spencer Ackerman (article's author) said that "If the past is indicative, these groups lack the capability -- and, more importantly, the will -- to create a free Palestinian state." If the Palestinian's indeed lack the will and capability to create a free state (as opposed to one which gives them a lovely excuse to kill Israelis), why is up to the US to force one upon them? Indeed, the US needs to do something in the Middle East, but -- as we have seen in Africa over the past few decades -- a democracy must be desired before it can be implemented.

A democracy is not like a pizza. It can't be delivered piping hot and gooey to a nation's doorstep. Yes, other nations -- here, the US, EU, and UN -- can lend some flour, a pinch of salt, some mozzerella, but it's up the consumers -- here, the Palestinians -- to mix the ingredients. What is needed is a chef, someone who can be the Palestinian Madison. Obviously, it will not be Arafat playing this role; he, like Sharon, will not have the patience or the innovation to craft a workable, balanced constitution. And, since the US is insisting on democratic elections, it will up to the Palestinian people to elect a candidate who they feel can be their George Washington. And if they don't? If the democratic elections give the wrong results desipte being run fairly? Then the world must realize that the Palestinians aren't hungry.

6.26.2002

Adam Schaeffer has a great article on NRO today. Apparently, he believes that the way to protect kids from drugs is "to end prohibition, while simultaneously bringing oversight and regulatory control to what is now a black market wide open to our youngest and most vulnerable." Read the article...he doesn't really say anything new (it's like the textbooks about ending alcohol prohibition, except he's writing about pot, not vodka), but his writing is wonderfully logical. If only those fools fighting the drug war in Columbia would heed his words...

6.25.2002

Ooh! Got a commenting system! Am so happy!

No, wait, have 50 lines of Sallust still to translate. Am so not happy.
People can be so f*cking stupid sometimes. My viewpoint on this matter is probably influenced heavily by my age and my relative naivete regarding bigotry, but some things seem so pathetically obvious. Point one: murder is bad. Seems pretty basic, nothing too complex, no big SAT-words, no complicated subordinate clauses. Most religions have figured this one out; mine even had it engraved on a nifty tablet so no one could forget (and as far as I know, there were no Animal Farm-esque rechiseling of that particular commandment). There are most certainly no loop holes in it. No "murder is bad...unless they really deserve it." No "murder is bad...unless they're way ahead economically and in which case it's your duty to lob a few bombs at them to slow them down so you look better." And yet people seem to want to allow Palestinians to blow up buses because the Israelis are "treating them badly." Yeah, because making someone prove they aren't carrying a bomb into your country is so psychologically scarring for those wanting to carry in bombs.

Israelis too should not kill Palestinians, but at least they have precedent on their side. It's somewhat acceptable (yet still horrible) for a uniformed soldier to attack other uniformed soldiers. America does it a lot. Europe does it a lot. Palestine doesn't. They don't wear uniforms. So whenever the Israelis retaliate, they are forced to eliminate people in civilian clothing, because that's the uniform of a Palestinian terrorist. It's a lose-lose situation for the Israelis: either suffer terrorist attacks or get blasted by Europe for killing civilians.

Why, in some people's eyes, is it ehtically acceptable to kill a bus of children because you're "oppressed," but not okay to protect ones country in any way possible?

6.24.2002

Ah, sitting here in Chicago in this lovely 90 degree weather being totally grateful that it's really summer. Have got Latin work to do, but eh, who cares? I'll have comments up on Bush's speech a bit later. And probably will post some writings.

Initial thoughts on Bush's speech (haven't thoroughly read it in completion) is that it's a huge step, but that it will do very little, except make Arafat even more "helpless" to stop suicide bombings. Hamas doesn't want control of Palestine; they want control of Israel, so this speech will not sate their drive for power. The only way, in my mind, to get rid of Arafat -- who will never yield control willingly -- will be to write him out of the picture by the silent treatment. Some people have done this already, by referring to talks with "Sharon and the Palestinian leadership." Focusing on him is what gives him power. From what I read of Bush's speech, he does this somewhat, but focusing more on the need for new leadership than the moral turpitude of the current one, and that's great. Now let's see some speeches that state as bluntly that blowing up school buses is wrong. It should be obvious, but it's not. And Bush needs to do something about that.