- Abandoning Eden on the secrets in her family, which I think is applicable to the majority of Orthodox families.
My dad's parents have 8 grandchildren. Now that I have this new information, I know that at least four of them are not religious, including 3 dating non-jewish people. 50%. And yet the other 50% (plus our parents, so really it's 4/12, or 33.34%) completely controls our actions. We disguise ourselves, my brother and Y with kippas and me and N with skirts and high-cut 'modest' shirts, and do it so well that we don't even know the other people are exactly the same as us, until some third party, still religious, but totally in the know about everything, lets out the big secret...
[M]ost of the people I was friends with as a teenager are no longer religious, and many of them are dating not-jewish people. And not telling their parents about it. The people my age who I wasn't friends with all seem to be having thousands of babies and their facebook profiles all say "Jewish- orthodox". And yet us non-religious folks bow to the will of the religious ones, by keeping our situations private or secret.
Have they socialized us so well that even though we completely disagree with them, we have internalized the shame they feel about us?
- Illegal and disturbing hiring practices at Bush's Department of Justice:
For nearly two years, a young political aide sought to cultivate a "farm system" for Republicans at the Justice Department, hiring scores of prosecutors and immigration judges who espoused conservative priorities and Christian lifestyle choices.
That aide, Monica M. Goodling, exercised what amounted to veto power over a wide range of critical jobs, asking candidates for their views on abortion and same-sex marriage and maneuvering around senior officials who outranked her, including the department's second-in-command.
An extensive report by the department's Office of the Inspector General and Office of Professional Responsibility concluded yesterday that Goodling and others had broken civil service laws, run afoul of department policy and engaged in "misconduct," a finding that could expose them to further scrutiny and sanctions. The report depicted Goodling as a central figure in politicizing employment decisions at Justice during the Bush administration. [Previously on Goodling and the hiring of incompetent Christianists.]
- Via Matthew Yglesias, McCain's dishonest attacks:
Obama’s cancellation of a visit in Germany to visit wounded U.S. troops has been adequately explained: that his campaign was advised by the Pentagon that since Obama was on a campaign trip and spending campaign resources, it would be viewed as using the wounded as props whether cameras were allowed in the hospital or not.
This ad asserts a McCain campaign talking-point that Obama wouldn’t make time for wounded troops unless cameras were allowed to follow him, but did make time to work out at a gym. This, of course, is a lie. It’s a blatant lie. Steve Schmidt, a disciple of Karl Rove’s who worked on George W. Bush’s 2004 ad/communications effort, though, is playing the Rovian playbook that says that it doesn’t matter if it’s true as long as your target audience (non-college educated white working class voters) won’t bother to find out the actual truth, and believe that it “sounds like it might be a true.”
For the second time in a week the non-partisan www.factcheck.org takes McCain to task for a false ad [false, btw, is another word for lie].
And USA Today wrote an editorial about last week’s ad scam from McCain, blaming Obama for higher gas prices. The paper wrote: “Even by the elastic standards of political ads, this is more than a stretch. It’s baloney. It’s also a marker on the path toward the kind of simplistic, counterproductive demonizing that many expect will poison the fall campaign.”
What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch. I guess that’s political hardball. But another word for it is the one word that most politicians are loathe to use about their opponents—a lie.
- Lawrence Lessig has a great post about Congress, Ted Stevens, and Corruption:
On Tuesday, Senator Ted Stevens was indicted by federal prosecutors for failing to report gifts he had received from an oil company to help him renovate his Alaskan home. The charges were not a surprise, though official Washington mustered its collective, and requisite outrage. Senators Dole and Sununu were quick to return campaign contributions from the now-tainted Stevens. Editorials across the nation were quick to condemn the obvious graft targeted by the government.
But I confess, I don't get it. Not that I don't see the wrong in what Stevens has done. That's obvious. What's not obvious to me is why this wrong is so different from everything else that DC thinks is right.
The concern with the gifts that Stevens allegedly took from oil companies is clear enough. If a Senator takes a gift from a special interest, he's less likely to weigh the interests of that special interest properly. If he's getting gifts from an oil company, for example, he's less likely to weigh concerns about global warming properly. He's more likely to ignore those concerns. He's more likely, in other words, to put his private interest (in continuing the gifts) above the public interest (dealing with the threats from global warming)...
So far, so good. But what about the other ways that oil companies act to make it less likely that a legislator weighs in the interests of special interests properly? How do the laws and ethics of DC police this?
Consider the most obvious example first. Ted Stevens was elected to the United States Senate in 1968. As the Republican with the longest tenure in the United State Senate — ever — he had perfected the business of getting reelected to serve his state. Individuals and special interests helped him secure that tenure. Since 1989, those contributions have exceeded $11 million. Close to $1 million in that eleven has come from the Energy and Natural Resource sector. Oil and gas has given him almost 1/2 of that.
These "gifts," of course, were not to Stevens personally. They were gifts to his campaign, for the purpose of securing Stevens' tenure. But as someone for whom tenure is quite important, it is bizarre to me that anyone would see this distinction as a distinction that matters. If Microsoft gave Stanford $1 million to persuade Stanford to give me tenure, or if the RIAA gave Stanford $1 million to persuade Stanford not to give me tenure, there'd be no doubt that I would be disqualified from judging whether either was entitled to special benefit. Yet in DC, the doubtless is not. There's nothing wrong, in the world of DC, with Stevens' voting on matters that affect the industries that have worked so hard to secure his tenure.
And the gifts don't stop there. As Ken Silverstein described in Harper's last March, despite their relatively modest salary, many Congressmen and Senators live a life of extraordinary luxury. Not because these representatives come to Washington with their own private wealth (though more and more often, of course, they do). Rather, they live a life of luxury because more and more of their day to day existence is paid for by their campaigns. As Silverstein put it, "[t]he most lavish benefit of winning a congressional campaign is, ironically enough, the right to keep on campaigning—and therefore to keep raising and spending donor money." And that spending increasingly substitutes for the sort of stuff most of us have to pay for out of our own salary. Again, Silverstein: "[T]he FEC has permitted virtually any expenditure, from a night on the town to a resort stay with big contributors, to be drawn from [campaign] funds." Thus while it is a crime for VECO Corporation to pay to have Stevens' house renovated, there's no problem with VECO's PAC and senior executives giving Stevens' campaign many times more than that which Stevens' is then free to use to fly to a resort in Montana, or entertain senior executives at DC's most expensive restaurants.