The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Archive for February 2009

Alfred Lilienthal, 1949: Israel’s Flag is Not Mine

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How very intriguing it is to read the early Jewish anti-Zionists! Lilienthal, an American, articulately decried the way his lifelong faith became a tool of Israeli nationalism, and used as a competitor intended to weaken his American identity.  [H/T Servant Savant!]

ISRAEL’S FLAG IS NOT MINE
By Alfred M. Lilienthal

Dear Mother:

I brought you my hurts and troubles when both they and I were little: in that same spirit I bring them to you today.

JO05   ISRAEL from JORDAN
Image by templar1307 via Flickr

Only last year, a new white flag with single blue six-pointed star was hoisted to a mast many thousands of miles away on the east coast of the Mediterranean Sea. This flag of Israel is the symbol of a new nationalist state, with its own government, army, foreign policy, language, national anthem and oath of allegiance.

And this new flag has brought every one of us five million American citizens of the ancient faith of Judah to a parting in the road.

Judaism, I have felt, was a religious faith which knew no national boundaries, to which a loyal citizen of any country could adhere.

By contrast, Zionism was and is a nationalist movement organized to reconstitute Jews as a nation with a separate homeland. Now that such a state exists, what am I? Am I still only an American who believes in Judaism? Or am I-as extreme Zionists and anti-Semites alike argue-a backsliding member of an Oriental tribe whose loyalty belongs to that group? Read the rest of this entry »

Biting the hand that feeds you

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Or, the surprising story of how blue states subsidize red states

{{w|Bobby Jindal}}, member of the United State...

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[UPDATE, 2-28-09: Turns out Gov. Jindal’s juiciest anti-government anecdote— how he and Sheriff Lee faced down a rescue-preventing bureaucrat during Katrina— wasn’t exactly true.  See Jindal Admits Katrina Story Was False.]

Anything strike you as odd about the GOP’s choice of Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal to give the response to President Obama’s speech to Congress?

How about this:  Republicans gave the task of making the anti- government pitch to the governor of the state that may well be the leading recipient of federal government largesse.

American taxpayers funded Louisiana’s Katrina recovery, to the tune of something like $300 billion dollars. Yet to hear Gov. Jindal tell it, you’d think Louisianans chose to go it alone.  Crediting their admirable “spirit,” he scoffed at the kind of government assistance that flooded his state with cash from the rest of us.

Hang on to that thought for a moment—red state governor pitching self-determination while surviving on barge-loads of federal cash—and back up to 2005.

Here’s columnist Steven Pearlstein writing in the Washington Post on the day before Pres. Bush’s second inauguration:

Tax Foundation

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I have in front of me the latest report from the Tax Foundation showing how much each state gets back … for every dollar of taxes paid. And it shows that … the anti-government red states are the net winners in the flow of funds while the pro-government blue states are almost all losers. Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Monte

February 25, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Iran’s enriched uranium ready for bombs? Not by a long shot.

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Iran does not have the capability of making weapons-grade enriched uranium.

I know, you heard that there was more enriched uranium there than previously thought. But there are, apparently, many grades of enriched uranium, and bomb material is far cry from what Iran has.

Here’s U of Michigan Prof. Juan Cole:

clipped from www.juancole.com

Pie-graphs showing the relative proportions of...

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Iran Nuclear Program Hyped again

Note to mainstream media:

Iran cannot construct nuclear bombs with uranium enriched only to less than 4%.

It needs to be enriched to something like 90% to make a bomb. Iran is not known even to have that capability, and no it cannot be done in 2 months (try a decade), assuming they were trying to do it, which our $40 bn. a year intelligence agencies say they are not.

So all the silly articles on Friday about how iran now has enough enriched uranium to make a bomb are just illiterate.

Moreover, the report in question actually says that Iran is slowing its enrichment activities.

h/t Jay McDonough.

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Reason for panic? Threat to world peace? Justification for a strike from Israel?

Hardly.

Why is it “reasons for war” stories are so rarely true?


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Former KKK member apologizes to 1961 Freedom Rider, now Congressman

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This’ll bring some healing – both directions, I expect.
clipped from blog.sojo.net

Rep. John Lewis

Rep. John Lewis

On May 9, 1961, when the … Freedom Riders came into town and attempted to enter an all white waiting room at the bus station, Ku Klux Klan member Elwin Wilson of Rock Hills, South Carolina was there. When he saw future U.S. Representative John Lewis enter, Wilson attacked, pummeling the young civil rights worker, who responded with nonviolence. […]A few weeks ago, Elwin Wilson contacted representative Lewis to apologize for beating Lewis nearly 48 years ago.

For the past several weeks, Wilson has been apologizing to members of the African-American community in Rock Hills for his numerous acts of racial hatred. He has had the guts to simply say “I’m sorry.” And representative John Lewis responded to this former member of the KKK with mercy, grace, and forgiveness […]

Lewis said that Elwin Wilson is the very first person out of the hundreds who attacked and abused him during the civil rights struggle to say “I’m sorry.”

If we are to continue to come to terms with our tragic racial history, Wilson cannot be the last to have the courage to say “I’m sorry.”

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Amen to that.  Takes guts to apologize.  Takes guts to forgive. But contrition and forgiveness are mighty restorers.

Just as racism—America’s “original” sin—has tainted us all, such transcendent heroism makes us all a little bit better.  Thank you, Wilson.  Thank you, Lewis.


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That scary socialism

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Those who make their living by exaggerating have been on a tear lately. Socialism is the threat.  Talker Sean Hannity is especially apoplectic.

Columnist Bob Cesca has a brilliant idea: Hannity should spark a revolution—with right-wing pundits as co-revolutionaries—that casts off socialism’s tainted fruit.

Here’s the Cesca war plan:

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

Social Security Poster: old man
A Victim of Pernicious Socialism
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I’m calling upon Sean Hannity to […] end American socialism now!

Refuse to send your kids to socialized public schools and universities; refuse to use socialized roads and highways; refuse to call upon socialized police and fire departments; shut down the socialized air traffic control; refuse to visit socialized national parks; tell grandma that her Social Security and Medicare checks will have to be sent back; demand the immediate dismantling of our socialized American military.

Sarah Palin and her supporters in Alaska should refuse all forms of “redistributed wealth” by sending back their checks from the socialized oil program there.

Send it all back. I’m sure the entire roster of [pundits] — Limbaugh, Scarborough, Hannity and the like — have already forgone their usage of these socialist services […]

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Uh-huh!

Was Joe McCarthy fifty years ahead of his time?


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Written by Monte

February 20, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Stimulus bill includes hi-speed rail! But where?

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Not to Iowa, unfortunately (reasonably, though, since Iowa has no multi-million-person population centers). But just imagine the tens of millions of people who could be served! Compared to auto or air, it’s a huge environmental savings.

And on weekends, think of, say, the football traffic on the Chicago Hub Network.

clipped from www.huffingtonpost.com

High-speed rail corridors

High-speed rail corridors

After much clamoring by energy hawks, who knows what it was that finally brought high-speed rail to the stimulus — perhaps a little nudge from ol’ Amtrak Joe? — but it got in, to the tune of $8 billion.
And now the question is, where will the expansion be?
the areas that will get a leg up should be the Federal Railroad Administration’s officially designated high-speed rail corridors
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What possibilities do you see?


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Good news about economic stimuli

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I’ve posted a few excerpts about how slow and ineffective tax cuts are as an economic stimulus. But (as the saying goes) any jackass can kick a building down.  What does work?

Beyond the partisan rhetoric, there’s good news.  Here are excerpts from an interview with Mark Zandi, economist with Moody’s Economy.com:

clipped from money.cnn.com

Moody’s study suggests extending unemployment benefits, increasing food stamps fastest ways to stimulate economy.

Lower Wall Street from Under the FDR
Lower Wall Street; Image by SheepGuardingLlama via Flickr

The industry research firm Moody’s Economy.com tracked the potential impact of each stimulus dollar, looking at tax rebates, tax incentives for business, food stamps and expanding unemployment benefits. […]

The report found that “some provide a lot of bang for the buck to the economy. Others … don’t,” said economist Mark Zandi. […]

In findings echoed by other economists and studies, he said the study shows the fastest way to infuse money into the economy is through expanding the food-stamp program. For every dollar spent on that program $1.73 is generated throughout the economy, he said. […]

“If someone who is literally living paycheck to paycheck gets an extra dollar, it’s very likely that they will spend that dollar immediately on whatever they need – groceries, to pay the telephone bill, to pay the electric bill,” he said. […]

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Food stamps. Direct aid to people short on food. Unemployment benefits. And why? Because it will most likely be spent on practical, immediate needs. The kinds of things that we want to be producing.

Now there’s a nexus of moral and economic responsibility than anybody ought to be able to back!

It may be late in the game to impact the first stimulus bill. But hang on to this idea: in all likelihood, this is a recession of several years’ duration, and this is not the last time economic stimuli will be on the table.

Here’s the moral of the story:

Food stamps and unemployment benefits are not only good for people who are struggling. They’re good for the entire economy. They’re good for all of us.


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Written by Monte

February 13, 2009 at 12:57 pm

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