Friday, December 22, 2006

Conservative Hypocracy on Eminent Domain

The New York Post extols the approval of the Atlantic Yards redevelopment in Brooklyn:

"Think jobs. Customers for businesses. Housing. Office space. Tax revenue. "

Of course, there is the little technicality that this project requires the use of government eminent domain power to take property from private individuals (the landowners there) and give it to other private individuals (the developers, especially Nets owner Bruce Ratner).

Conservatives had gone ballistic over the Supreme Court's 2005 Kelo vs. City of New London decision that basically said that the government can do exactly the above in the name of economic development. So what is a conservative paper (Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. is the Post's owner) doing expressing support of big government intervention? For once, even they admit that there is a bit of a problem here:

'Ever since the Supreme Court's ruling last year in Kelo vs. New London, we, too, have had concerns about eminent domain, which lets public officials seize private property (and compensate owners) for "public" purposes, including economic development.'

But the Post's editorial writer rationalizes away this concern by showing that big government knows best:

'But this project will benefit far more than Forest City Ratner; indeed, its positive ripples will cross the East River and be felt by all New Yorkers.'

Right. As the left has been saying for decades, big government projects have positive effects. The difference between liberals and conservatives is to whom they wish the benefits of big govement to reach. In this case, the biggest beneficiaries are the wealthy developers.

And no wonder that there was no serious move to reverse Kelo with a clarifying Constitutional Amendment. The K Street lobbyists would not have stood for it.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Unfit for Leadership

(Hat tip: EditCopy)

That would be Silvestre Reyes (D), of Texas - the incoming Chair of the House Intelligence Committee.

Two recent statements of Reyes:
WASHINGTON, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Is al Qaeda a Sunni organization, or Shi'ite?

The question proved nettlesome for Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, incoming Democratic chairman of the House of Representatives Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

"Predominantly -- probably Shi'ite," he said in a recent interview with Congressional Quarterly, a periodical that covers political and legislative issues in Congress.

Unfortunately for Reyes, the al Qaeda network led by Osama bin Laden is comprehensively Sunni and subscribes to a form of Sunni Islam known for not tolerating theological deviation.

In fact, U.S. officials blame al Qaeda's former leader in Iraq, the late Abu Musab al Zarqawi, for the surge in sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shi'ites.

But Reyes' problems in the interview didn't end with al Qaeda.

Asked to describe the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, Congressional Quarterly said Reyes responded: "Hezbollah. Uh, Hezbollah," and then said, "Why do you ask me these questions at five o'clock?"
Perhaps it is because you're the incoming Chair of the HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE?! Ugh. Reyes then put out a statement which included this brilliant comment:
"The report's [Iraq Study Group's] conclusions about the state of our intelligence capabilities in Iraq are troubling," said Reyes.

The report states that '[t]he Department of Defense and the intelligence community have not invested sufficient people and resources to understanding the political and military threat to the American men and women in the armed forces.'
Because Reyes understands it so much better! CopyEditor's last line sums it up perfectly:
Reyes has lost the political, moral and intellectual authority to conduct oversight in these matters.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

The most silly article I've seen in years

Steve Lipman tries to make a big deal about the politics of the founders of Hasgen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry's ice creams in this article in the Jewish Week:

He argues that one should look at the politics of companies before making purchases. I have no problem with that idea. But it doesn't apply to ice cream: both Hasgen-Dazs and Ben and Jerry's are now owned by apolitical international agribusiness conglomerates: 1983 the founders of Hagen Dazs sold their company to Pillsbury, which merged with General Mills in 2001. And in 2000, Ben and Jerry's was sold to Unilever. Jews can enjoy ice cream produced by these and other brands without being concerned about the political impact of their sweet tooth.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006


David Kirschner's series, on the NSA Surveillance Program's legality, the first two parts of which were published here on JAJC, is being published in the upcoming edition of The Prosecutor. The Prosecutor is a quarterly publication of the National District Attorney's Association.

Congratulations to David on this wonderful accomplishment!

He thanks the blogworld for encouraging him to spend the time to actually sit down and write the piece - I know he's often told me that he particularly enjoys the insights of everyone on this blog, especially Charlie and JA who bring great arguments from the "other side" that he might otherwise not hear.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Republicans Got Shellacked

OK, by now that's pretty obvious. If Montana and Virginia hold up, the Democrats will control both the House and the Senate. I'm actually happy that the Democrats got the House (although the margin is a little disconcerting) but Democrats controlling the Senate will make it much more difficult for the President to nominate reasonable judges and that's something to be afraid of.

Why did the Republicans get hit so hard? I think there are two major reasons: Iraq and corruption. Iraq is all over the news and every day we hear how the country is falling into civil war, how the region is becoming more unstable, how American power in the region is waning, and how the war is making us less safe. The average American doesn't care about spreading democracy in the Middle East or about ousting dictators. Americans want to know they are safe and that the wars we wage will be successes. Iraq certainly doesn't appear to be one.

Corruption is obvious. Even if Joe Schmo can't name his Congressman, he understands kickbacks and bribes. And he wants his representative to represent him and not some guy with deep pockets.

I think the key point is that most voters are woefully uninformed and vote based on intuition, party identification, ads on TV, or a specific issue. How many Americans care about limited government or big deficits? How many understand the difference between an originalist and moralist? How many care?

They want to know they are safe (and at this point they already feel like they are because we haven't had an attack on US soil in years). They want to see less of their income going to the government. Some care about abortion, others about minimum wage. Very few care about both. Some vote Democrat because their family always has. Some vote for Republicans because the Democrats seem soft on terror. The list goes on.

Democrats want to claim this election was about repudiating Bush's policies. Conservatives want to claim the election was not about that. I think both are wrong. Americans don't know or care about Bush's policies on Social Security, immigration, and free trade. What they care about is whether their representatives are being bribed and if America is stuck in another Vietnam. The Republican party failed to deliver and honestly, I don't see the Democrats being much better.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Arab Zionist in America?

The Jewish Week reports on the recent visit of Imam Omar Abu Namous of the Islamic Cultural Center of New York to an Orthodox synagogue. He is reported to have "stunned" the Jews there by saying,

“Why shouldn’t Israel agree to a one-state solution and incorporate the West Bank and Gaza into that state? There would be two administrations, one for Jewish affairs and one for Christian and Muslim affairs. No one will take a Jewish person’s property and [Palestinian refugees] will not return to Haifa and Jaffa.”

The article reports that this was not received favorably. But isn't the dream of Religious Zionists to have one state between the Jordan and the Meditteranean? Aren't monotheists permitted by Torah law to live in Eretz Yisrael by accepting the Noachide laws? Don't Moslems (according to almost all opinions) and Christians (according to many opinions) have the staus of monotheists? And aren't non-Jewish monotheists supposed to set up their own courts under the Noachide laws?

In this particular encounter, it was the orthodox Rabbi who supported a "two state solution" -- dividing the Land of Israel. Could it be that an Arab Muslim is more Zionist?

Thursday, November 02, 2006

The Jewish Press -- a Democratic paper?

Did anyone notice the Jewish Press list of endorsements for this coming Tuesday's election? The paper, which endorsed Republicans George W. Bush and Mike Bloomberg, and often takes right wing positions on many issues, gave endorsements to (if I count correctly) 4 Democrats and no Republicans in statewide elections, 32 Democrats and no Republicans in State Assembly races, 3 Democrats and 1 Republicans (Martin Goldin) in State Senate races, and 8 Democrats and a single Republican (Peter King) in races for the U.S. House of Representatives. The paper also endorsed Sen. Joe Lieberman, a Democrat running for re-election as an Independent, in his race.

If I count correctly, that is 47-2 in favor of Democrats if you don't count Lieberman.

So at least one loud and influential voice in the Orthodox Jewish community agrees that Democrats are on the right side regarding Jewish issues.