Thursday, February 11, 2016

Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials? In the following case it seems that the Supreme Court is attemptng to guard the people from administrative going around the legal restraints... As per an order released Tuesday night, the Supreme Court placed a stay on the Environmental Protection Agency's plan to impose rules even while industry and state lawsuits move forward.

Here is more from the news report on this: "The court granted the request in a 5-4 vote on Tuesday night, saying the rule was on hold until the circuit court reviews it and Supreme Court appeals are exhausted. The court’s four liberal justices dissented from the decision....

It also signals that the court believes that the states, companies and groups suing the EPA are likely to win their case when its merits are considered.

The order from the court is extraordinarily unprecedented. While court often blocks rules temporarily, lawyers on all sides said the Supreme Court has never done so when a lower court refused to.

A coalition of 26 states, led by West Virginia, asked for the stay as part of a legal strategy against the regulation in federal court. They argued that the rule would hurt them in irreversible ways during the litigation process....

“If this court does not enter a stay, the plan will continue to unlawfully impose massive and irreparable harms upon the sovereign states, as well as irreversible changes in the energy markets,” they wrote to the Supreme Court last month. Various business groups joined in asking for the stay."

The EPA had hoped to engineer a fait accompli by rushing the states into making permanent revisions immediately. Once the Clean Power Plan starts, it becomes self-executing. If there are court loses down the road, the Administrations opinion was that would be too late and thus pointless.

The following is a description of this tactic: "After the court ruled last term that the EPA’s rule regulating power plants’ hazardous air emissions was unlawful, the agency bragged that the judgment wouldn’t make a difference because the plants had already been forced to comply or retire during the years of litigation. The Clean Power Plan doubled down on that approach.

It’s one thing for a rule to be unlawful—which happens, and rarely merits a stay—but another for it to be lawless. This one was lawless. That is why the court had to act: to reassert the rule of law over an executive who believes himself above it."

For more on this and the legal case involved see:

Here is an editorial on the matter: 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Bernie Magic - "The only statement about Sanders that has stood the test of time is this: Don’t underestimate him."

In light of the recent victory of Bernie Sanders in the New Hampshire Democratic Presidential Primary, a reporter discusses an older victory by Bernie Sanders.

"As presidential primary election results stormed in from icy New Hampshire on Tuesday, my thoughts drifted back to a similarly wintry evening 35 years ago. Along with fellow journalists, clerks, and city officials, I crowded into the drafty basement of City Hall in Burlington, Vermont, as that day’s election results were counted.

The local Irish and French Catholic politicos who tried to push me away from the election counters’ table knew Burlington so well, they could project final results from reading the totals on individual voting machines. Their normally ruddy complexions faded first to pink, then white, and then a sickly gray, as they realized that their Democratic Party, whose grip on Burlington’s levers of power rivaled that of storied political machines in Chicago and Albany, NY, was being voted out of office. 

To them, the unthinkable and unimaginable had happened. Bernie Sanders, not only a “Flatlander,” Vermont parlance for a non-native, but a newcomer to Burlington, a New Yorker, a socialist — and a Jew — had won election as mayor by one-tenth of a percent.

The shocking outcome wasn’t as much of a surprise to me as it was to the city’s veteran political operatives. Perhaps my own status as an outsider made it easier to see the changes under way in that Rust Belt city, changes in demographics and attitudes that Sanders capitalized on to forge a winning coalition — the kind he is building today on a vastly larger scale."

For the rest of this article see:

What Nurtures Peace and Tolerance? What Destroys Peace and Tolerance? The relationship between Islamic triumphalism and Islamophobia.

What gets in the way of peace and tolerance in the world today ?

How is this played out in the Islamic world's internal conflicts in places like Syria, Nigeria and Pakistan/Afghanistan, and in the issues of Muslims in the West, including Islamic terrorism and Islamophobia?

The following is an excerpt from an interesting and extensive analysis which offers many points for further exploration, disagreement and pondering.

"Right now, the core element of the jihadi impulse is triumphalist: “We are the warriors who, in conquering for Islam, prove that Allah is the most high God and Muhammad his true prophet.” The greatest appeal that they exercise on the larger Muslim Ummah is precisely in terms of this assurance that Islam is destined to rule the world, this psychological comfort that Islam is the true faith, despite its apparent lowliness in the modern world. And when people speak of the radicalization of mosques in the West, they mean the introduction of an aggressive triumphalist Islam.

The triumphalist Muslim motto: Where there was Dar al Harb (Realm or Abode of the Sword or of War), there shall be Dar al Islam. This religiosity informs a wide range of attitudes, particularly visible in the widespread acts of contempt and disdain that triumphalists show for infidels. This behavior runs the gamut from everyday forms of intimidation and scorn, to the programmatic rape of infidel women, and the slaughtering those who “insult” the prophet.

In Paris in 2015, jihadis began with attacks on blasphemers and Jews and ended with attacks on the nightlife scene. Some puzzled about why. Whence this hostility? It seems less incomprehensible when one realizes that triumphalists find any independent infidel, especially those who are enjoying their (immoral) freedom, intolerable. While different believers have different thresholds at which they will become violent, all triumphalists are susceptible to the Jihadi temptation. When people warn of the negative impact of insults on moderate Muslims’, they refer, often without acknowledging it, to this tipping point at which triumphalists find the behavior of insufficiently deferential infidels unbearable.

Culturally, triumphalism is at the intersection of two powerful social forces: a tribal warrior ethos that appeals especially to the youth, and an imperial, millennial ethos that mobilizes the drive for world conquest. Together they constitute a powerful recruiting device urging hormone-riddled young people to join the apocalyptic global battle to implement Allah’s plan for a global Caliphate. And as victorious warriors, to them go the spoils of holy war.

The ability to identify this behavior and the attitude underlying it, constitutes a critical element in the defense of free and tolerant societies. One of the most significant dimensions of this problem manifests itself in a key dimension of the triumphalist Muslims’ war on the West: the matter of honor, disrespect, and hurt feelings. By insisting on the hurt feelings of the community, Muslim triumphalists have pressured Western harbis into making extensive concessions on the cognitive battlefield.

In the world of victimization discourse so prevalent on campuses today, for example, triumphalist Muslims have learned that, when attacking the West, they can lead with their glass chin: How dare you offend us so? They can, thereby, maneuver a conflict-averse Western culture into conceding and placating them. The widespread consensus that one should not hurt the feelings of “marginalized and underrepresented minorities,” has been an enormous boon to triumphalist Muslims.

As a result, there’s a significant and troubling overlap between Western sensitivity to minority feelings, and Muslim triumphalist attitudes toward infidels. When our intellectuals distance themselves from Charlie Hebdo, insisting on the importance of not offending Muslims, or our publishers reject things Muslims will find provocative, they insist that this is a show respect and consideration. But while westerners think they’re being generous, triumphalist Muslims see them complying with their demands, behaving as proleptic dhimmi, who submit without even being conquered.

And when Westerners committed to these displays of “respect,” attack as “Islamophobes” fellow infidels who do criticize Muslims as “Islamophobes,” they are, from the perspective of the triumphalist Muslim, behaving like dhimmi leaders have always behaved: silence any dissent within the ranks before it goes public and brings retaliation to the whole community. In modern parlance: stigmatize critical discourse about Muslims as “essentialist … racist … xenophobic … Islamophobic.” This unspoken dimension of the problem explains the stridency with which Western liberals assault critics of Islam: They are afraid to insult triumphalist Muslims and view those who do, as the problem. Thus when women dress provocatively, or Jews wear kippas, they provoke triumphalist Muslim violence.

By failing to ask for even minimal reciprocity, we have systematically diminished our own democratic public sphere, where we now see a wave of tragi-comic mobilizations of this culture of offense that have strange and (should be) unwelcome echoes of both brown shirts and Maoist “struggle sessions.” These represent the epitome of what a modern, free and tolerant society cannot abide, and they offer triumphalist Muslims an ideal opportunity to demand submission to their insistence that their sensibilities not be offended. Until we understand the magnitude of triumphalism’s deep atavistic wells of desire, the libido dominandi from which it draws its strength on the one hand, and the magnitude of the accomplishment that democratic polities have achieved in pruning it back on the other, we cannot begin to deal with the challenge we face.

And yet, by confronting it, we might begin to figure out what to do. Among other things, an appreciation of the power of raw, pre-modern triumphalism in Islam allows us to grasp how small the differences that separate the “right” from the “left” in Western democracies. The split between progressive and conservative that looms so large in the current public sphere, becomes nearly indistinguishable when mapped on terrain that includes open triumphalist religiosity. Only when “left” and “right” leave off our narcissism of small differences, and start to act in coordination in the defense of our common values, can we begin to defend democracy and freedom. Only then can we begin to shape substantive citizens capable of tolerance, of granting others the dignity we wish to receive, but also capable, in return, of demanding basic reciprocity, which begins with the struggle against triumphalism. Only that way, can one imagine a relatively peaceful and tolerant 21st century."

For the full article with historical introduction and context see:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Something Else - A Dharma Talk 2/7/16

In the safe spaces on campus, no Jews allowed

The following is an article with interviews of and by participants at University of California, Berkeley November 6, 2015 annual Students of Color Conference:

"College students have risen up to fight racism on campuses across the country. But it is often those very same students who subject Jewish students to anti-Semitism..."


".....It was a prevailing sentiment that I felt at the conference and in the progressive community, that because I am Jewish, I cannot be an activist who supports Black Lives Matter or the LGBTQ community. When I heard that among my peers that “the Jews are oppressors and murderers—How can you care about students of color on campus when they’re murdering our people abroad?”—it quickly dawned on me that it wasn’t that they don’t like us because we’re pro-Israel—they don’t like us because we’re Jews. We were targeted.....

It was, ironically, in a safe space intended to protect students from discrimination and bigotry in which their Jewish identity was marginalized, ostracized, and politicized. And it was the progressive students and students of color—often themselves targets of hate, bigotry, and discrimination—who were the propagators of ancient hatreds against the Jewish people.

Mokhtarzadeh still painfully remembers that weekend. “I was made to feel uncomfortable and unwanted in a space that was meant to be inclusive and safe,” she said. “It was in that moment, during that conference, that I realized that every identity and every intersection of identity was to be welcomed and championed in progressive spaces—except mine.”

For the full article see:

Thursday, February 4, 2016

A Funny Bernie Sanders 1999 Video

Here is the story:

"Sanders fans have uncovered a cameo appearance he made in a 1999 indie film, “My X-Girlfriend’s Wedding Reception.” 

He does a persuasive comic turn as a rabbi who still isn’t over the Dodgers baseball team’s departure from Brooklyn, and who lets it get in the way of wishing the newlyweds well."