Category Archives: Politics

mike brown

A truly heartbreaking observation about Mike Brown’s death

This entire piece about how perceptions were altered by President Obama’s election in the context of events in Ferguson, MO is totally worth the read. Here’s the final paragraph:

“[Michael Brown] may well have seen himself differently when he watched Barack Obama take the oath or take a walk, that balmy November night of his presidential victory in 2012. He may have believed that he could ascend to the highest office or achieve his potential in whatever field he chose. But the police officer who shot Michael Brown did not assume he might be gunning down the future president of America. And so, like so many before him, he couldn’t even walk the streets.”


israel under fire

Death Threats < The Threat of Actual Death in Israel

Last week, a pro-Israel Facebook posting I made went ‘viral’ when my friend (whose politics I rarely agree with) Aaron Robinow blogged on it, noting that some of the most aggressively anti-Israel replies to the post were coming from national and state officers with the College Democrats of America. Conservative media — including Ben Shapiro’s Truth Revolt, The Daily CallerTown Hall, College Fix, Campus Reform, and others — immediately latched on.

Unsurprisingly — given that the College Democrats of America is an official branch of the Democratic Party, which is explicitly pro-Israel — the attention did not go over well. Both officers who commented resigned from College Dems office. Also unsurprisingly, folk at the openly anti-semitic Electronic Intifada, and their readers, were unamused: in an article, they accused College Dems of censorship and “McCarthyism”.

A tweet in which I reiterated my support of Israel was mischaracterized as applauding the conservative blog attention, straightforward responses to the barrage of criticism were branded “increasingly incendiary claims”, and my previous attendance at AIPAC events with College Dems was highlighted.

And that’s when the ‘fun’ started: instead of stating their disagreement peacefully, the anti-semites who read Electronic Intifada responded with personal attacks and violent rhetoric. (two from Twitter of the many around the web)

I’m proud to be a progressive who stands with Israel. I don’t need Jewish heritage to understand that Israel’s response is restrained given the constant attacks it suffers from a radical religious terror group which seeks to wipe it off the map.

Correlation doesn’t equal causation. But it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that the recent rise in anti-semitism coincides with criticism of Israel’s actions — most of which are, in fact, steeped in racism of the anti-semitic variety. Last I checked, Democrats and progressives were anti-racist.

So the death threats and harassment don’t phase me. After all, the threats come from (relatively) harmless keyboard warriors. Meanwhile, civilians in cities across Israel are regularly having their lives interrupted and running to shelters. They’re under siege by the onslaught of rockets from Hamas terrorists. That’s the real tragedy. And this is my response to the brouhaha over one college kid’s Facebook post. Here’s to hoping Hamas allows peace to return to the Mid East soon.

Hillary Clinton state department jet

Secretary Clinton’s Oft-Forgotten Work on Human Trafficking


Until very recently, high level government officials did very little to confront domestic human trafficking.

In fact, the department of state’s annual Trafficking in Persons Report did not even include the U.S. for much of its existence, essentially ignoring the trafficking occurring within its own borders every year. So much for “the world’s most comprehensive resource of governmental anti-human trafficking efforts” that “reflects the U.S. Government’s commitment to global leadership on this key human rights and law enforcement issue.”

That changed when Hillary Clinton became secretary of state.

For the first time, the 10th issue of the report–released in 2010–included a ranking of the United States. In her introduction, Secretary Clinton said: “The United States takes its first-ever ranking not as a reprieve but as a responsibility to strengthen global efforts against modern slavery, including those within America. This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it.”

In her remarks at the release, Secretary Clinton noted that we are also reporting on the United States of America because we believe it is important to keep the spotlight on ourselves.”

Megabytes have been filled with discussions of Hillary Clinton’s many accomplishments as secretary of state. Her work to highlight and combat human trafficking deserves more attention.

Josh Nass and “Voices of Conservative Youth”

A new organization called “Voices of Conservative Youth,” which promises to redefine conservatism to young people, launched yesterday. It is the brainchild of Sheldon Adelson protege Joshua Nass, along with his buddies from Brandeis University and a kid from rival (and very similar) Yeshiva University. Based on its Twitter profile, the group’s been in the works for a while: its launch has been pushed back quite a bit.

Voices of Conservative Youth (VOCY) is “dedicated to defining and evolving conservatism’s perception to America’s youth” and, according to its about page, it will give “young voters a brand of conservatism which reflects their generation’s desire for social liberalism and fiscal conservatism.” It is based on the rather nonsensical premise that today’s young people “are not liberal” and that, despite voting for President Obama over Romney by a 23 point margin, the votes are “not a function of their genuine political philosophy” (as opposed to a non-genuine political philosophy?).

As a strong proponent of getting more young people involved in politics and civic dialogue, I welcome any legitimate attempt to increase participation including those ideologically opposed to me. However, VOCY is unlikely to achieve any level of support with their misguided approach, even with lavish astroturf funding from Adelson.

Adelson is, of course, a major benefactor to multiple right-wing Super PACs and Republican candidates. He’s not quite the Koch Brothers but definitely in that club. And it’s probably a safe bet that he’s sinking big money into his protege’s project.

Josh Nass with disgraced Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell
Josh Nass with disgraced Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell

But Adelson isn’t the only unsavory character Nass and VOCY is in bed with. If there’s anyone Republicans can’t disassociate from fast enough, its Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Vaginal probes notwithstanding, McDonnell’s signature accomplishment was supposed to be a bipartisan transportation compromise, but now a corruption scandal is overshadowing everything. But that isn’t stopping Josh Nass from proudly displaying a picture of him with the now disgraced governor on his homepage.

Meanwhile, they seek to advance an almost entirely conservative agenda. Young, educated Americans overwhelmingly disagree with conservative ideology and no amount of lipstick on a pig will change that. Amusingly, the organization even admits that, stating, “offering a moderate social platform” will meet young voters’ “desire for social liberalism.” (I suppose that’s why they have a picture of Mike Huckabee on their site?) They also advocate scaling back entitlements through restructuring social security and medicare. They spout Ron/Rand Paul rhetoric that the “larger our government grows the more it will impede on our civil liberties.” They even assert that “history has proven that lowering taxes ignites job growth” (not true. At all.) and support tax cuts.

Essentially, VOCY cozies up to corrupt politicians, is bankrolled by a shady billionaire, and promotes a fringe right-wing social and economic agenda.

And they think they’ll succeed where republicans have failed in reaching young people.

Good luck with that.