CNN’s headline reads “Hillary Clinton must once again win over some in Jewish community” and the text of the article implies that Clinton might have some problems with the Jewish community in 2016 because of her affiliation with the Obama administration and its refusal to be as belligerent toward Iran as the Netanyahu administration insists is always appropriate.
The trouble is that all the data about “the Jewish vote” in the article itself completely undermines the headline — unless by “some” the author meant fewer than 30% of Jewish voters:

According to a 2012 report by The Solomon Project, a nonpartisan public policy organization, Jewish support for Democrats has grown since the 1990s. When Republican Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 and 1984, he garnered between 31% and 37% of the Jewish votes. But starting in 1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected to the White House, American Jews began to gravitate to the Democratic Party.
In fact, at no point between 1990 to 2008 has a Democratic candidate for the presidency won less than 70% of the Jewish vote. In 2008, Obama won nearly three-quarters of the Jewish vote.
But history is also changing.
In 2012, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to win less than 70% of the Jewish vote when 69% of the community supported the president.

In other words, if Clinton fails to make herself seem any better than Obama, who has been vilified for no reason as the worst American president when it comes to Israel, she might only manage to garner 70% of the Jewish vote.
So, yeah, I’m sure her advisers are telling her to spend as much time and money as possible in order to ensure that the four decade stranglehold that the Democrats have had on “the Jewish vote” doesn’t somehow magically disappear for no reason.

CNN’s headline reads “Hillary Clinton must once again win over some in Jewish community” and the text of the article implies that Clinton might have some problems with the Jewish community in 2016 because of her affiliation with the Obama administration and its refusal to be as belligerent toward Iran as the Netanyahu administration insists is always appropriate.

The trouble is that all the data about “the Jewish vote” in the article itself completely undermines the headline — unless by “some” the author meant fewer than 30% of Jewish voters:

According to a 2012 report by The Solomon Project, a nonpartisan public policy organization, Jewish support for Democrats has grown since the 1990s. When Republican Ronald Reagan won the presidency in 1980 and 1984, he garnered between 31% and 37% of the Jewish votes. But starting in 1992, when Bill Clinton was first elected to the White House, American Jews began to gravitate to the Democratic Party.

In fact, at no point between 1990 to 2008 has a Democratic candidate for the presidency won less than 70% of the Jewish vote. In 2008, Obama won nearly three-quarters of the Jewish vote.

But history is also changing.

In 2012, Obama became the first Democratic presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter in 1976 to win less than 70% of the Jewish vote when 69% of the community supported the president.

In other words, if Clinton fails to make herself seem any better than Obama, who has been vilified for no reason as the worst American president when it comes to Israel, she might only manage to garner 70% of the Jewish vote.

So, yeah, I’m sure her advisers are telling her to spend as much time and money as possible in order to ensure that the four decade stranglehold that the Democrats have had on “the Jewish vote” doesn’t somehow magically disappear for no reason.

# media # politics # Clinton # Israel # Judaism # religion # CNN

The Top 10 Posts of 2013

In the last couple of days of 2013, by way of reflection on a successful year of blogging, I’ll be linking to my Top 10 posts of the year.

These are the posts that drew the most unique eyeballs; the list doesn’t include the About page, where several thousand people each year go to find out whose writing they’re reading, the Ask page, where people write in with questions or to say kind and unkind things to me, or the front page, which is always the top draw since it’s the way that people access the site directly (rather than via some referring site).

Perhaps you missed some of these posts. Or maybe you just want to have another look since it’s been a little while. Feel free, of course, to share them with friends and loved ones because each click tells me that you’d like for me to keep writing these sorts of things.

Here, then, are the 6th-10th most viewed posts of 2013:

#10. That time the Republican leader of the Oklahoma House of Representatives casually used an anti-Semitic slur during a debate on a bill (4/18/13)

#9. “Here We Are Now Entertain Us,” a manifesto against the whole notion of “edutainment”: that it’s equally if not more important for college courses to be entertaining than educational (5/13/13)

#8. “Althouse: The Clinton clot plot thickens… or thins… with anti-coagulants,” in which a Wisconsin law professor suggests that Hillary Clinton was probably faking a blood clot to avoid testifying about Benghazi (1/1/13)

#7. That time conservative pundit Erick Erickson made a whole bunch of claims about the “real” Jesus, who was wrathful, vengeful, and could definitely throw a haymaker (5/24/13)

#6. That time a graduate student at the University of Nebraska repeatedly used the n-word during a discussion on whether or not student government members should avoid using derogatory language and then tried to turn the whole ensuing mess into a free speech issue (12/3/13)

See you here tomorrow for the Top 5!

# raison d'être # Nebraska # Wisconsin # Clinton # Erickson # Twitter # racism # politics # education # Oklahoma # apology # terrible apologies # religion # Judaism # anti-semitism # internet

Syria and the Bystander Effect

About a week ago, as people were writing about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, I read a blog post in which the author argued against American intervention and in favor, more broadly, of a moral responsibility not to intervene when others are suffering:

Let us suppose that I see a person being physically assaulted on the sidewalk.  The aggressor appears to be using their fists, but no weapons are visible.  If I see that person being assaulted, and I fail to intervene, am I morally at fault?

This was a question faced early on by common law judges, and the answer they gave was almost universally no.  At common law, there was no duty to rescue, and there are good reasons for this.  First consider that in most cases, I will be ignorant as to the motivation for the assault I’m witnessing.  The person being assaulted may actually be the more “culpable” of the two based on some prior bad act, and I’m simply witnessing some sort of aggression in-kind.  But I have no way of knowing in the moment of initial apprehension.  Second, Intervening may require me to place myself or someone I love in harm’s way, as the aggressor may see fit to visit retribution upon me or my loved ones at a later date for becoming involved in his or her dispute.  It is selfish and reckless of me to place an uninvolved third party potentially at risk based on my desire to rescue the person in front of me from the apparent violent predations of another.  While we can agree that I may place myself at risk to rescue another, I have no moral claim on placing others at risk through my actions.   these considerations mitigate any moral responsibility to intervene I might otherwise have.

But let us suppose that I do intervene to try to save the person being assaulted, but in the process, I only make matters worse.  Perhaps the aggressor, realizing he or she is outnumbered, draws a weapon that he was not using before.  Now, what began as a fistfight has been escalated into a more lethal situation for both the victim and myself.  An aggressor who may have merely seen fit to “beat up” the victim is now rearing to kill them.  Am I morally responsible for that escalation?  Absolutely.

It is certainly possible that my intervention will only be helpful to the victim.  But the difference between our example and official state military intervention is that, as you add more human beings and political interests to the example, the potential for unintended consequences increases.  Furthermore, imagine that the last four or five times I intervened in a sidewalk assault, I ended up doing as much and more harm as I prevented.  That would certainly make non-intervention seem to be a more morally responsible action, even if there’s still a chance that I’m watching a genuinely innocent person get assaulted without just cause.

In other words, because it’s possible that intervention won’t help and might even cause harm, we ought to feel either a) unconcerned or b) good about not attempting to assist those who are suffering.

This is an elaborate defense of being a bystander.

It’s the sort of argument one constructs in order to excuse the sort of non-action that, in other circumstances, most people wouldn’t want to admit. You see someone being assaulted but you don’t want to get involved … so you tell yourself that, if you did get involved, things would probably just end up worse than if you’d left well enough alone. “If I try to stop a simple assault, the victim — who would just be badly beaten — will probably end up being shot. And, hey, maybe the victim in this situation isn’t really even a victim; maybe she’s done something to deserve the assault. I shouldn’t get involved.”

Of course, the author of the blog post wants to suggest that it’s a very different equation because we’re dealing with the American military and we have knowledge that previous interventions were carried out badly. This should, apparently, change the moral calculus … just as it did for the U.S. when extremist Hutus were massacring Tutsis and moderate Hutus in Rwanda in 1994. We’d intervened badly in Somalia, of course, so we decided that we ought not to intervene in Rwanda. If we’re being honest with ourselves, I’m not so sure the Rwandans are grateful that President Clinton recognized the possibility of unintended consequences and decided we weren’t morally required to provide any assistance.

Now I’m equating Rwanda with Syria in this post and I’m not writing some sort of full-throated call for intervention either. I’m just trying to make clear two things:

1. Past actions don’t actually give us any indication of what will happen in the future. It’s quite possible to do something badly nine times and then to do it perfectly the tenth time;

2. We need to stop giving ourselves so many excuses for our desire to turn our backs on people in need. We have a hard enough time pushing ourselves to act on behalf of others as it is.

And, indeed, the blogger knows this. Here’s how he attempts to mitigate what he’s said:

Note that this is not an argument for never intervening to stop a perceived injustice.  This is an argument for not intervening in a perceived injustice when you have prior knowledge and experience which suggests that your intervention will cause at least as much damage as it alleviates.  This is why, say,Oskar Schindler’s interventions on behalf of Jewish victims of the Third Reich, for example, are different than U.S. military intervention in the Middle East.  The moral calculus of humanitarian intervention changes when you have prior knowledge which suggests that your intervention will cause affirmative injuries elsewhere or in the future, even if it appears to alleviate the suffering that is in front of one’s face.

On what basis should Schindler have believed that he would succeed in saving the lives of Jews during the Holocaust? Indeed, on what basis should any of the Righteous Among the Nations have taken action? They didn’t really have any reason to believe that they would succeed in their efforts to rescue Jews and they had every reason to believe that they would be killed if they were discovered. I suppose the blogger’s argument would be that they couldn’t possibly make things worse for the Jews by attempting to rescue them, since they were almost certainly going to be killed by the Nazis one way or the other. This puts the threshold for intervention at cases where things couldn’t possibly get any worse for the victim … which means, happily for us, that we will almost never have to take any risk or exert ourselves in any way for others since we can almost always say to ourselves, “I could conceivably make things worse so, for everyone’s sake (and especially for my own sake), I’d better just stay put.”

Plain and simple, this is nothing more than an excuse to remain a safe, secure, happy, and healthy bystander while others are suffering. It’s not some sort of moral high ground.

# morality # Syria # global affairs # politics # heroism # Rwanda # Holocaust # human rights # Schindler # Clinton

"But when will she testify about Benghazi?!," scream several million tinfoil hat wearing wingnuts, who continue to allege that she’s been faking illness because the utter lack of evidence of a conspiracy fits perfectly into their endless conspiracy mongering.



Clinton had not been seen in public since Dec. 7 and has undergone treatment for a blood clot that stemmed from a concussion she suffered in mid-December.
Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Reuters

"But when will she testify about Benghazi?!," scream several million tinfoil hat wearing wingnuts, who continue to allege that she’s been faking illness because the utter lack of evidence of a conspiracy fits perfectly into their endless conspiracy mongering.

Clinton had not been seen in public since Dec. 7 and has undergone treatment for a blood clot that stemmed from a concussion she suffered in mid-December.

Photo credit: Joshua Lott / Reuters

# Clinton # Libya

reblogged from Breaking News

Only Some Conspiracies Are Good Conspiracies

Daniel Holter replied to your link: Althouse: The Clinton clot plot thickens… or thins… with anti-coagulants:

I wonder if Althouse ever weighed in against Andrew Sullivan’s Trig-Palin-gate… if she was happy he would “stand tough against people who try to cut off debate with this kind of shaming.”

Why yes!

On the subject of Andrew Sullivan’s comments about Trig Palin, she wrote:

Andrew, read what you’ve written. Step back and read it with the eyes of someone who has never heard of you. You sound like a raving conspiracy theorist.

[…]

Come back, Andrew. Back to the reality that calls you.

Amazingly, Althouse didn’t praise Sullivan for courageously sticking to his bizarre and baseless suspicions in the face of all evidence and etiquette considerations.

Instead, she urged him to come back to reality and to stop talking “like a raving conspiracy theorist.” But that’s probably not the kind of shaming language she means today … because it was written by her rather than about her.

# Althouse # Sullivan # Clinton # Palin # politics

Hillary, Conspiracy, and Blood Clots

From Reuters:

FLASH: Secretary Clinton suffered blood clot between brain and skull, behind right ear, doctors say. Clinton did not suffer stroke or neurological damage according to doctors.

From a million idiots all over the country:

So, then, when is she going to testify about Benghazi? #tcot #faker #conspiracy #foxnews

# news # politics # Clinton # Libya

reblogged from Reuters
Diving back into Real Twitter this evening, we find that Hillary Clinton’s hospitalization for a blood clot is merely convenient cover for a liberal conspiracy around the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.
Real Twitter: Your #1 source for insane conspiracy theories and racists rants.

Diving back into Real Twitter this evening, we find that Hillary Clinton’s hospitalization for a blood clot is merely convenient cover for a liberal conspiracy around the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi.

Real Twitter: Your #1 source for insane conspiracy theories and racists rants.

# Libya # Clinton # politics # sadness # Twitter # internet

reblogged from ShortFormBlog

Just One More Thing…

I don’t particularly care for Bill Clinton.

And I’m not talking about taking some sort of Monica Lewinsky-inspired cheap shot, of the sort that Fox News analysts trotted out last night in the guise of analysis.

No, when I think about his campaigns and his presidency, I think of his utter failure with regard to the Rwandan genocide. And about 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. And Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And the execution of Ricky Ray Rector.

This isn’t exactly highlight reel material and Clinton knows it … at least when it comes to some of these things. And so I’m a little put off by the hagiography of Clinton that I’ve seen all over the internet for the past days. It’s particularly tiresome because it paints Clinton as some sort of savior when in reality his presidency ran into many of the same kinds of critiques from progressives that are leveled against President Obama today.

But, as I discussed with my students at the beginning of class today, none of that really impacts my ability to recognize that his speech last night was masterful. As someone who cares about making arguments — and who is committed to teaching my students about how to judge whether or not they are clear and compelling — I have to recognize one of the best examples of political argumentation I’ve heard when I hear it.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the argument he made was one that buttresses a) many of the policies I support and b) a vision of a political community I endorse. But it’s noteworthy that many of the conservatives with whom I regularly interact online also recognized the fine quality of Clinton’s speech as it was happening. And I feel pretty confident that I could applaud a well-constructed argument by a conservative politician if I heard one.

Of course, all of the above is also why I hoped — rightly, it turned out — that live-tweeting the Fox “analysis” of the speech last night would be comedy gold. That network is firmly committed to the idea that Clinton couldn’t possible have given a powerful or effective speech, and so it was no surprise that they offered a series of lame critiques of a speech that millions and millions of people recognized as both entertaining and compelling. And, of course, it’s not a huge surprise that the Fox-News-ification of the Republican party has many thoughtful conservatives feeling pretty despondent.

# Clinton # politics # Rwanda # death penalty # criminal justice # media

Not going to move the needle whatsoever

I waited patiently for Presient Clinton to finish his speech — which every Fox News analyst quickly pointed out was very long and filled with too many numbers — and then I turned the volume up so I could catch the insightful Fox analysis.

I live-tweeted the few minutes that the panel spent on it. And then, happily, they brought in Charles Krauthammer, who explained why the speech would have “no resonance beyond the hall,” why it was “a wasted opportunity in what could have been a rousing renomination speech for Obama” and — his opening salvo — “a giant swing and a miss.”

The thing is, it’s hard to tell if Krauthammer and the others actually believe what they’re saying or if they’re just being paid to say things that the bosses think the audience needs (or perhaps wants) to hear. The latter is just business. It’s detestable business, but business nonetheless. The former is terrifying because it demonstrates a pretty obvious disconnect from reality.

Millions and millions of people watch Fox News — though probably many, many fewer people during their Democratic convention coverage — and they listen to this garbage day in and day out. They think it’s actual news and analysis. But it’s either good business to keep viewers angry and afraid (so they’ll buy the gold that the commercials have long told them to hoard) or viewers are taking their cues from people who seem to be operating on an entirely different plane of existence from the rest of us.

Either way, they have a whole lot of power. And that’s very, very bad.

# Clinton # politics # media # Krauthammer

You’re actually learning things. You’re processing statistics. You’re following an argument.
And you like it.
This guy is acting like he doesn’t think you’re so stupid. It feels weird, right?

You’re actually learning things. You’re processing statistics. You’re following an argument.

And you like it.

This guy is acting like he doesn’t think you’re so stupid. It feels weird, right?

# politics # Clinton # Twitter

Apparently, the GOP didn’t think that George W. Bush would fire up the delegates, drive television ratings, or inspire anyone to vote for another Republican presidential candidate.
Most interestingly, Bill Clinton has had more nice things to say about George W. Bush in the first ten minutes of his speech than anyone at last week’s the Republican convention.
And, of course, all of those mentions of cooperating with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush speak to the broader point: Democrats cooperate and Republicans obstruct. If you want to get anything done in this country from this point forward, you vote for the Democrat.

Apparently, the GOP didn’t think that George W. Bush would fire up the delegates, drive television ratings, or inspire anyone to vote for another Republican presidential candidate.

Most interestingly, Bill Clinton has had more nice things to say about George W. Bush in the first ten minutes of his speech than anyone at last week’s the Republican convention.

And, of course, all of those mentions of cooperating with George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush speak to the broader point: Democrats cooperate and Republicans obstruct. If you want to get anything done in this country from this point forward, you vote for the Democrat.

# politics # Clinton # Bush # Twitter

Bachmann says Muslim Brotherhood embedded in U.S. government

In letters sent to several top-level government agencies, Representative Michele Bachmann claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated multiple branches of the United States government. Bachmann goes on to claim that the organization has successfully placed individuals in high-ranking Obama Administration positions, and lists Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin as one such example. She also claims that the group has infiltrated the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and “potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.” (Photos via Gage Skidmore, zennie62) source

Wasn’t this a one-off half-joke on last week’s episode of “The Newsroom”?
Seriously, wasn’t it?
Is Michele Bachmann getting her ideas from Aaron Sorkin shows now?

In letters sent to several top-level government agencies, Representative Michele Bachmann claims that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated multiple branches of the United States government. Bachmann goes on to claim that the organization has successfully placed individuals in high-ranking Obama Administration positions, and lists Hillary Clinton’s Deputy Chief of Staff Huma Abedin as one such example. She also claims that the group has infiltrated the Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, and “potentially even in the National Intelligence Agency.” (Photos via Gage Skidmore, zennie62source

Wasn’t this a one-off half-joke on last week’s episode of “The Newsroom”?

Seriously, wasn’t it?

Is Michele Bachmann getting her ideas from Aaron Sorkin shows now?

# politics # Bachmann # Clinton # news # Islam # Obama

reblogged from ShortFormBlog

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