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.


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


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!

6 thoughts on “Odds and Ends Vol 24

  1. The pile-on of Omar was inevitable. It was going to happen the first time she took a public stance on any stupidity right-wingers hold dear. They were going to call her a supporter of terrorism and sharia law, the whole bit, they were just waiting for the opportunity. But she certainly jumped in the controversy deep end! Criticizing Isreal! Oh, no! That’ll get not just the open right-wingers, but the closeted ones like Chait all up in your grill. (Andrew Sullivan was just as bad, I’m sure you’re SHOCKED!)

    Well, she’s used to it, and while her district does have a Jewish community, it’s fiercely liberal. (The Orthodox community mostly lives in Saint Paul.) She didn’t get elected with the help of our vastly useless state Democratic Party bigwigs, and she’s not going to fear any umbrage they might take.

    That is a great Onion clip. Incidentally, I wrote a thing on that Lee Camp guy from RT, he’s worked for the Onion. It’s pretty much done if you want to see if you can use it. There’s no photo and there’s some YouTube embed code near the end I couldn’t figure out how to plop in, I don’t know how to do either of those things!

    • It’s here on FC? I’ll look. Lee Camp is great. He’s incredibly polished.

      The thing about Israel is that the people I know who are harshest about it are Jewish. It’s pretty much only the conservatives (Jewish and Christian) who care much about Israel. The truth is that the Israeli government long ago turned away from American Jews. I still think it is a good idea for the Jews to have their own state. So maybe I’m still technically a Zionist. But Israel is not that state. It’s a proto-fascist state that is going to be a bigger problem to world peace in 30 years than North Korea.

      The western powers have allowed Israel to get far too powerful, militarily. And it’s all because Israel was just assumed to be good. Well, it turned bad. And fast. It just goes to show you that ultimately, the powerful oppress. Give the weak power and they will oppress. I got into a fight recently with a young man who had these ridiculous ideas of taking property away from whites and giving it to indigenous people. I said, “So we’re still going to have a capitalist class — it will just be a different capitalist class?!” That’s all that’s going on in Israel.

  2. @ Frank — well, hopefully, it was an internet fight, and nobody’s teeth got broken! Although as “Now You’ve Been Publicly Shamed” told us, sometimes internet fights can do more lasting damage than broken teeth…

    I liked a bit Greenwald said today on Democracy Now. He was having an Twitter interaction with Omar which started the whole kerfluffle in the first place, and he mentioned how dangerous criticizing right-wingers in Israel can be. She responded, she’d lived through a Somali civil war, nothing is as scary as that. I’ve worked with some Somalis; they do NOT talk about that civil war. It’s just too horrible. Like if your husband was dying of cancer and a co-worker complained about their foot itch. No way Americans can comprehend that kind of horror. She’s tough as they come, she’ll be fine.

    For the writing details, I’ll send an e-mail, but thanks for giving it a look!

    • If I had been in the room with him, I fear I would have slapped him. I muted him on Twitter so I don’t have to deal with him. But it bugs me that he considers himself blameless and doesn’t have a clue why I was actually mad at him — much less why I muted him.

      It’s pretty amazing. I’m glad to see just how strong she is.

  3. I found the DeLong interview at Vox interesting. But at the same time he’s as full of shit as you average NeverTrump Republican. His failure to notice how and why his policy preferences were not delivering the expected results as it was happening is malpractice. And by 2008 there can be no question of who or what Republicans are. So why the surprise? He obviously spends all his time in the company of wealthy sociopaths and assumes the rest of us have the same motivations.

    • The weird thing is that I read him at that time and I never got the impression that he had any illusions about the Republicans. And I wouldn’t have called him a neoliberal, even though all economists are guilty until proven innocent. But I did like that he came out at this time because we are seeing some nonsense from a lot of people in the Democratic Party. And like a lot of the #NeverHillary people, the #NeverSanders people don’t disagree with him about policy. This is all just factionalization. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “Bernie isn’t even a Democrat!” For these people, this is an argument. To me, it is meaningless — and indicative of the fact that they have no argument. So I’m glad that a proud neoliberal is saying, “Hey! We need to work with and listen to the leftists in our party.”

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