The court scholar serving Hermann of Thuringia.

The court scholar serving Hermann of Thuringia.
The scholar

2021/11/13

Answer to a piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer.

This was published in the Inky on 12 November:

Dems lie if they say that critical race theory not taught in schools

Let's parse a paragraph of Thiessen's commentary of this last Friday ("Dems lie if they say that critical race theory not taught in schools"):

For the Marxists, the bourgeoisie were the oppressors. For the Nazis, the Jews were the oppressors. And today, in 21st century America, critical race theory teaches that Whites are the oppressors.

In Marx's day, the "bourgeoisie," the businessmen who ran the factories and sold commercial goods were in complete control of the state. The politicians all represented the businessmen. Is that true today? Not so much. Many other groups have gained quite a bit of political power.

In Germany before World War II, Jewish people were certainly prominent in the government and the culture at large, but by no means did they hold a commanding position. 

White people in opposition to Black people certainly had a regional advantage. In the South, they completely controlled the politics of the region. In the North, the political power of the abolitionists grew and grew until the Civil War broke out. Today, the descendants of the abolitionists hold a grip on the levers of political power, but yes, the racists have made great gains. 

The panic over Critical Race Theory is easy to understand. If you're not guilty of harboring racial animus, then you have no problem with CRT being taught.   



2021/10/17

Latest on Palestinians

 Generally, we've heard about military-grade attacks on the Palestinian civilians of Gaza (Gaza has been run by Hamas since 2005) as various cutely-named “Operations.” Operation "Summer Rains" in 2006, Operation "Autumn Clouds" that same year, Operation "Hot Winter" in 2008, etc. But the conflict in May 2021 has never received a name. The
difference was that Israel didn’t expect Gaza to decide to join the conflicts going on around Jerusalem.

Cityscape of Bethlehem, Palestine. Aerial view of Bethlehem city, Palestine royalty free stock image

Sheikh Jarrah had six Palestinian families living in it. According to an Israeli law that we have seen many variations on over the decades since 1948, those families had to pay rent or otherwise acknowledge that Jewish Israelis were entitled to live there owing to the neighborhood having been previously occupied by Jewish families. This would be a
reasonably fair rule, but it's an entirely one-sided rule. Palestinians can't make any similar claims. The Palestinians of Sheikh Jarrah refused to make even symbolic concessions. despite the Israeli Supreme Court ruling against them.

Palestinian women harvesting olives, Palestine

In a struggle that was going on at the same time and very close by, Israel was also trying to prevent Palestinians from 1948-occupied areas of Israel to attend a ceremony in the old city of Jerusalem at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Hamas of Gaza decided to ally themselves with the residents of Sheikh Jarrah by demanding Israel withdraw from there and from the Temple Mount complex. They launched a barrage of rockets after Israel refused to budge. The one-sided battle (May 10 to 17) resulted in enormous damage to Gaza. Hamas launched 4,360 rockets towards Israel. As the rockets were small and unaimed, 12 Israeli civilians, including two children died.

Successful silhouette man winner waving Palestine flag on top of the mountai. N peak royalty free stock image

The UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provide direct relief and works programs for Palestinian refugees, discovered after Israeli bombs hit one of its schools, that Hamas had dug a tunnel underneath the school. The tunnel did not begin or end on the school grounds, but apparently just traveled underneath it. The tunnel was unknown to
civilians, meaning it was dug for military purposes. 

The war cost Gaza over 260 people, including 66 children and 41 women, and exacerbated previous traumas in particular among children. The World Bank estimated that up to US$380 million in physical damage and US$190 million in economic losses were caused.Recovery needs have been estimated up to US$485 million during the first 24 months. They also estimated that Gaza's GDP would contract by 0.3% in 2021 compared to an estimated 2.5% annual growth before the conflict.

Segregation wall in Palestine

Four high-rise building in Gaza City were also destroyed. Israel warned inhabitants just before the strikes, so they had the chance to escape. Allegedly, the buildings were being used for military purposes, but there were several news agencies housed in one of them. One would think that reporters would have kept an eye out for people whose very presence
would be a danger to them. A quick search showed no updates, no Israeli defense of the attacks, meaning no one has provided evidence that any of the buildings contained any legitimate military targets.


A term that has been used for the political post-war time has been “habbet Ayyar” (May outburst). Palestinians inside Israel and Israel-occupied territory since 1948, with residents closing roads, throwing Molotov cocktails and putting up Palestinian flags in place of Israeli
ones. On May 12, Israel declared a state of emergency in Lydd for the first time since 1966 and imposed a curfew on the city as the war on Gaza began to unfold. Over 2,000 Palestinians had been arrested from then until early June. Palestinians were led by regular people within their own communities.

Palestine village on West Bank

A very serious result of the May conflict was that Congress wanted to send Israel $1 billion for the Iron Dome missile defense system that defends against Palestinian short-range rockets. For the first time ever, members of Congress refused to vote for a shipment of military goods to Israel The vote was very small, but was an ominous first. Currently, the
appropriation isn’t passed yet, Senator Bernie Sanders Is insisting that the Iron Dome appropriation be coupled with humanitarian aid for Palestinians. 

Senator Robert Menendez, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, usually a strong supporter of Israel, says he’s “troubled” by reports of “innocent civilians” suffering at the hands of Israeli forces this past May. He assured Israel that he still supports them, but his statement is unusual and worth noting.

A Palestinian boy working in an olive grove, Palestine. A Palestinian boy at an olive grove in Palestine stock images

Turning to the question of Israel’s laws that permit Israel to seize properties that used to
belong to Jewish people, but do not permit Palestinians to seize properties that used to belong to Palestinians, we need to ask: “Is it antisemitic to protest such laws?” By protesting such an imbalanced judicial system, are we being insensitive to the Israeli need to survive as a Jewish state that’s surrounded by Arab states?


The NGO (Non-Governmental Organization) B'Tselem says Israel is practicing Apartheid. Human Rights Watch agrees. Both the Jewish Israeli population and the Palestinians who live within the boundaries of both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories number 6.8 million each. If we insist that Israel must give equal right to Palestinians, then
isn’t that asking that Israel no longer be a Jewish state? Would such a demand be antisemitic as we’d be asking Israelis to give up something very precious to them or would it simply be asking for justice? After all, living under Apartheid is something no people would voluntarily do.

Sarah Silverman Calls Out Hollywood's 'Jewface' Problem | IndieWire

The Jewish comedian Sarah Silverman recently noted that progressives hardly ever mention Hamas. She identifies Hamas as a “terrorist” group and had some harsh words for them.


My own view on that is that I don’t think Israel draws any real distinction between Hamas, which runs Gaza, and Fatah, the Palestinian group that runs the West Bank. Both are under tight blockade by Israel, nothing and no one gets in or out without going through an Israeli
military checkpoint. Israel feels no obligation to let anything in that they have not approved. One could make the argument that since we’d like to see Palestinians have more unrestricted commerce with the outside world, that we’d “really” like to see the destruction of Israel and thereby, maybe we’re really just antisemitic. 


Our idea is that we need to draw a distinction between wanting to annihilate the Jewish race, y’know “Drive them into the sea” (that is, being antisemitic) and between being critical of the policies of the state of Israel, that is, criticizing Israel as though it were a regular country.



2021/09/07

Truth and the Trumpers

Very interesting. “Republicans' trust in national news outlets drops by half in just five years” This piece details how liberals still have “some” or “a lot” of trust in the media, but for Republicans, that trust went down very quickly from 70% to 35% from 2016 to 2021.

Why might that be? The Netflix series “How to Become a Tyrant” provides an answer. In episode 4, the series points out that an effective tyrant must “Control the Truth.” He (They’re always a “he”) must control the past (The George Orwell novel 1984 showed us in great detail how that’s done) and he must, like a domestic abuser, Plays mind games, such as when he denies requests he has made previously or when he undercuts her sense of reality.”

A dictator must have people believe that he is the only source of truth. That only he can be believed. That no other source is worthy of any trust.

Now, does this mean I or liberal friends of mine trust the media implicitly? No, we apply critical tests to distinguish truth from falsehood. There are certainly faults and problems with the media. CNN seems to believe that Afghanistan, the Texas “snitch” law on abortion and the economy are all “crises” for President Biden right now. They are, of course, nothing of the kind. But CNN has to get “clicks” on its websites and eyeballs on its TV show, so they’re desperate to make the news more dramatic than it actually is. .

Former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan says “It was not rigged. It was not stolen," Ryan told WISN 12 in a rare interview on Monday. "Donald Trump lost the election. Joe Biden won..." But here we are, 10 months after the 2020 election that Joe Biden won by about 7 million votes and “Two-thirds of Republicans still think the 2020 election was rigged.”

What is their proof? The “Kraken” lawyers, Sidney Powell, Rudy Giuliani and others, are on the verge of losing their licenses to practice law, their lies were so clearly and egregiously false. The brainwashing appears to have worked.

2021/09/05

Political quotes that really shouldn’t be made public

 

Political quotes that really shouldn’t be made public

awful @MeetThePress premise this morning: we're "divided" over Covid and masks! we're not: 70% have a shot. 70% support masks.

Eric Boehlert

The problem with the crush of COVID-19 patients using up most of the available ICU beds* and crowding out emergency facilities is that it’s all so unnecessary.

*Alabama, Georgia, Texas, Florida and Arkansas are nearly out of ICU beds as Covid-19 cases surge across the US — particularly among unvaccinated Americans.

CNN

Here are the ICU beds that are occupied just by Covid patients in each of 14 states. Now, if you’re vaccinated and catch even the dreaded Delta Variant of the coronavirus, it might still result in some unpleasantness, but you’re unlikely even to have to go to the hospital.

To say that Americans are “divided” is to suggest that both sides have good reason to feel the way they do. That, for instance, taking Ivermectin, a cow de-wormer that yes, people can safely take under some very specific circumstances, but that the FDA says please don’t use it for Covid, is a reasonable and rational choice. It isn’t. It’ completely insane to think that the vaccines that the US went to great length to produce and to safety-test and to test for efficacy is less safe or effective than a quack cure pushed by Fox News and other conservative commenters.

There’s also a problem with a claim that anti-choicers/forced birthers make, that the new Texas “snitch” law “...bans abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is usually after about six weeks of pregnancy, before many women are even aware they are pregnant."

As the C&L piece points out, a six week-old embryo (It won’t become a fetus for another month) doesn’t actually have a heart!

The rhythmic sound that can be heard is "a group of cells with electrical activity. That's what the heartbeat is at that stage of gestation … We are in no way talking about any kind of cardiovascular system." That's all from Jennifer Kerns, an ob-gyn at University of California, San Francisco and director of research in obstetrics and gynecology

There’s absolutely no question that the people who came up with the term did so consciously and deliberately, with malice and forethought. But why mainstream news reporters keep mindlessly repeating that “fetuses” have a heartbeat after six weeks is a real puzzle. This is a claim that fails a very simple true/false test.

Another recent problem is that the Texas “snitch” law didn’t just suddenly pop up out of the blue. The law was passed back in May. The course it took to the Supreme Court was publicly documented. Yet, the Supreme Court decision landed like a bombshell because, apparently, the press was so wholly and completely absorbed in the withdrawal from Afghanistan (a legitimate and worthwhile story) that it just didn’t have any time or attention to spare for the gutting of a Supreme Court ruling that’s been in effect since 1973. The press played catch-up with a number of pieces after the ruling was made, but there was absolutely no need for it to have been such a surprise.

Why does this happen? Why does the press constantly use right-wing talking points that are completely bonkers or ignore a clearly important issue that will obviously have a great impact? My own personal theory is that media people like to run stories through people they feel are outside experts, who are always free to chat and who provide authoritative-sounding quotes. In other words, reporters have right-wing “friends” who have cultivated close relationships with them and who assure them that a fetal heartbeat at six weeks is a real thing and who discourage putting out pieces on something like the Texas “snitch” law that will make right-wingers look bad (Fox News apparently realized how unpopular the new law was as they didn’t mention it for quite awhile). Reporters don’t need to stop talking with right-wing “friends.” What reporters need to do is to get friends on the “other side of the aisle” who can provide corrections and equally authoritative-sounding quotes.

2021/07/07

Glenn Greenwald's latest J'accuse

First off, we certainly should “want to see the evidence about whether NSA spied on Carlson's emails..." I agree.

But to simply presume that the NSA is guilty is not a journalistic standard we should support.

Greenwood's two examples are 1. Julian Assange, the Wikileaks guy. Were we seeing "the prosecution of a journalist" or were we seeing an asset getting caught while serving a foreign power? Assange crossed the line between being a journalist and between being an asset when he released Democratic emails right at the beginning of the 2016 Democratic Convention. By deliberately and consciously acting to affect politics, he lost the presumption that he was simply a journalist when he did that.

And 2. "NSA leaked Flynn's conversations with a Russian official!" A. If the NSA caught such a conversation, that's because they were spying on the Russian official and Flynn took the initiative of contacting that official. The NSA is certainly not going to stop listening simply because an American official has entered the picture. In fact, they should perk up their ears and should pay even closer attention, which is apparently what they did.

B. I am very much aware of the 1980 "October Surprise," which was an example of what happens when an incoming presidential administration takes the initiative to contact a foreign adversary and starts conducting negotiations without going through the incumbent administration. The accusation is that Reagan's people talked with Iran about the hostages that were taken by the Iranians in 1979. The assertion is that Iran's leader, the Ayatollah Khomeini, agreed and waited until Reagan was actually inaugurated before releasing the hostages. In return, Iran received weapons which they used against Iraq.

So, in no way, shape or form should we consider Flynn's actions to be innocent or harmless. We have historical precedent that says we should be immediately and deeply suspicious when an incoming administration starts playing the lone cowboy before taking office.

Are the liberal media guilty of never taking risks or are they simply more responsible and more willing to base their stories on actual evidence? Because Tucker stating that “some nameless guy I ran into said he saw my emails!“ is not exactly what I would consider compelling evidence.

2021/06/30

What’s the status on Critical Race Theory?

Ed Prep Matters | AACTE Blog AACTE Members Stand Up for Critical Race Theory  - Ed Prep Matters | AACTE Blog 

Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene has a surefire method of detecting when Critical Race Theory (CRT) is being taught. She identifies a course given by the National Children's Museum as containing the 1619 Project, a set of essays that described the contributions to American history made by slaves and by the institution of slavery. So the definition of CRT is pretty elastic, the meaning is broad and vague.

Further definitions are given by the Texas Public Policy Foundation, with them identifying “the civil rights movement, the KKK, the Versailles Treaty, Nazis, NATO/the Cold War, 20th century Africa & Asia…“ as all indicating a suspect agenda. In other words, CRT is what separates a school course on American history from a children’s bed-time story.

A Republican Congressman decides he’s

...against a bill to remove Confederate statues from the Capitol because it's "animated by the Critical Race Theory concepts of structural racism, microaggressions, and a United States based solely on white supremacy."

This is apropos of:

Today, the House voted in favor of removing all treasonous confederate statues from our US Capitol. 120 GQP Republicans voted against removing them, thus cementing once again that they are indeed the party of white supremacy terrorism.

2021/05/02

Occam’s Razor

 

Philadelphia Inquirer: Philly high school students get to be part of a  famous art movement - Wexler Gallery

The idea of Occam’s Razor is to examine a theory. If the theory is relatively simple and straightforward, it’s more likely to be correct than if it’s really complicated. This was a piece in my local paper, today’s Philadelphia Inquirer (The Inquirer doesn’t like posting the author’s pieces because it attracts too many partisan commenters, so I have to use the AEI site to get an online version of the editorial). The editorialist comes up with what I feel is an overly complex theory.

He feels that President Biden wore a mask to his address to the Joint Session of Congress on the 28th of last month. Biden also instructed the people at the address to socially distance from each other. But, the editorialist says, everyone there was vaccinated! It must be some sort of conspiracy to create an atmosphere of crisis!

Hmm. Or, perhaps, it could be that the COVID-19 crisis isn’t quite over yet. As we see in these two charts at the top, we’re doing well, but we’re not doing that well! It really isn’t time to break out the champagne just yet. In which case, Biden may be modeling the sort of behavior he’d like to see the rest of us adopt so that we can get out of the crisis faster!

The second theory presented is that Biden wants to spend a humongous amount of money and thereby needs to create a sense of crisis in order to justify that.

Hmm. Or, perhaps Democrats have wanted to spend a lot of money on infrastructure and other items for a long time and Republicans have been standing in the way. Check out how many filibusters they’ve deployed against the legislation that Democrats would like to pass. Filibuster motions filed per two-year periods remained in first the single, then the double digits until the 2007-2008 session. It’s been at least 100 per session since then. Maybe there’s a big backlog of legislation that Democrats would like to pass!

I tend to favor the second, simpler theory in both cases!