Odds and Ends Vol 24

Odds and EndsThere are lots of things on my mind these days. In fact, two of the sections below were going to be full articles. (It shouldn’t be hard to figure out which ones.)

But as serious as some of these issues are, three of them also come with a lot of humor. Humor seems more and more the only way to process political events — especially with Republicans constantly gaslighting us.

Ilhan Omar and her Pro-Israel, Anti-Jewish Detractors

Jonathan Chait has been one of the most hysterical critics of Ilhan Omar. But after all his claims of antisemitism, I thought it was interesting that he said the following:

Is the Democratic Party going to normalize dual-loyalty accusations as part of the Israel debate — not directed against Jews per se but against American Zionists?

Note that Omar never said anything about dual-loyalty, but let’s leave that aside. What’s interesting here is that it is no longer about antisemitism; it’s now about anti-Zionism.

Chait himself has said that he’s getting soft on support of Israel because of the behavior of its hard-right government. Somehow, that’s okay but Omar’s beliefs are not. (This is typical of Chait: anyone to the left of him is an extremist.) That in itself is interesting.

But his comments destroy an important myth among the chattering class: that they make any distinction between being against Jews and being against Israel. This is something that Chait shares with many on the right, although those on the right are generally pro-Israel and anti-Jewish. The charge of antisemitism is just a club wielded to attack anyone who isn’t a booster for Israel. And this tactic only makes real antisemitism worse.

Facts Don’t Care About Ben Shapiro’s Feelings

I have a visceral hatred of Ben Shapiro that goes well beyond his vile beliefs. Mostly, it is that he is the ultimate snowflake while being completely intolerant of others’ vulnerabilities. In order for him to admit racism against, say, blacks, Shapiro requires overwhelming evidence over years. But when it comes to himself, one needs only give him the wrong look to start him screaming, “Antisemitism!”

There’s nothing new about this. What’s annoying about Shapiro is what’s annoying about conservatives generally. We see this with the constant complaining about “political correctness.” Student’s not wanting bigots speaking at their school? Political correctness! Outrage at sports figures kneeling during the national anthem? Simple patriotism — in fact, there should be a law against that!

Ben Shapiro’s comments about Ilhan Omar show what a snowflake he is. And I would accept it if he would show one-tenth of the concern for different oppressed groups. This meme shows what’s going on.

Ben Shapiro Antisemitism Hypocrsy

Brad DeLong Embraces the Left — Kinda

In a Zack Beauchamp interview with neoliberal economist Brad DeLong, he says that it is time for the old guard of the Democratic Party to allow the younger, most leftist, members lead. It’s gotten a lot of coverage. But most people miss what he’s actually saying.

He’s not saying that the New Democrats (and don’t kid yourself — they are still powerful within the party) should roll over to the left. Rather, he’s saying that there is no point in even trying to work with the Republicans. In fact, he said one thing that warmed my soul:

Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George HW Bush’s foreign policy. And did George HW Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they fucking did not.

Of course they didn’t! As John Dean explained over a decade ago, the Republican Party is authoritarian. They aren’t not against the Democrat because of their policy; they are against the Democrats because they aren’t Republicans.

So all DeLong is saying is that neoliberals should form a coalition with leftists. And in a sense, this is radical because there are a lot of Democrats who have looked at the way many in the Labour Party have sabotaged Jeremy Corbyn and thought, “Good idea!” So DeLong’s awakening is a good thing.

Just the same, as Mike Konczal responded, The Failures of Neoliberalism Are Bigger Than Politics. Although neoliberal policy hasn’t failed as utterly as conservative policy has, it has nonetheless failed in terms of helping ordinary workers.

#NeverBernie

Speaking of Democrats who would rather Republicans win than elect someone too far to the left:

#NeverBernie

Now I understand: some in the Democratic Party have what seem to them to be substantive criticisms of Sanders. I’m not going to litigate that here, but my experience is that the anti-Sanders hysteria is the result of online echo chambers. People can believe whatever they want about Sanders.

When I came upon #NeverBernie on Twitter, I responded as modestly as I could:

Overall, the response was positive. But I did get an interesting response, “And are you telling the Bernie people that too??” I have, of course. And she would have known that if she had simply read the headline of my article.

My point is not about Bernie Sanders, per se. My point is that there are a lot of Democrats who support Bernie Sanders. These are people who overwhelmingly supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 general election. (And note: Sanders supporters appear to have abandoned Clinton less often than Clinton supporters abandoned Obama.)

So is it really a good idea for the Democratic Party to vilify dependable Democrats who just happen to like Bernie Sanders?

Obviously, I don’t think so. These #NeverBernie people are doing exactly what they themselves (rightly) complained about Sanders supporters doing in 2016.

This skit isn’t nearly so funny now:

Brazil’s New President

Back on 25 Feb 2019, Brazilian actor José de Abreu announced that he was the president of Brazil. He is making fun of both Brazilian president Bolsonaro and Venezuelan opposition leader and — according to hypocritical and evil countries like the US — the “real” president, Juan Guaidó.

José de AbreuRight after this announcement, someone changed the Wikipedia entry for Brazil’s president to “disputed.” This is great because that’s what Wikipedia did the moment that the US decided that it could say who controls the Venezuelan government.

The thing is, Abreu has a stronger claim than Guaidó — at least when it comes to the validity of the current presidents. It is often reported that Maduro’s election was invalid because the opposition didn’t run. But it didn’t run because it chose to boycott the election. Maduro didn’t stop it from voting. And there is every indication that it could have won.

Bolsonaro, on the other hand, only won because Lula da Silva was wrongly imprisoned and then forbidden from running. Polls indicate that he would have won in a landslide.

Of course, the US won’t take Abreu seriously for the same reason they don’t care about the imprisonment of da Silva: they aren’t the right kind of leader — the kind that gives away all its resources to corporations.

Fact-Checking Trump’s State of the Union Address

This is from last year, but it’s very funny and insightful. If only our regular media outlets were this good.

See you all later!