February 28, 2023

Posted by orrinj at 6:39 PM


Israel's Liberal Democracy Risks Becoming a Casualty of the Palestinian Conflict: The new hard right seems determined to crush institutions and organizations that interfere with its designs for Jewish supremacy (Mairav Zonszein, 2/28/23, The UnPopulist)

There has always been a tension between Israel's ability to uphold liberal democratic norms while crafting and maintaining a Jewish ethnonational majority to ensure Jews a safe homeland. Many with a strong interest in the success of the Jewish state have believed Israel would be able to handle that tension. But at this point, the Israeli government no longer seems concerned with balancing those goals; rather, it is elevating ethnonationalism and security while relinquishing key norms and institutions of liberal democracy. Now, it seems hard to escape the conclusion that the Israeli government's anti-democratic initiatives are rooted in Israel's control over, and dispossession of, Palestinians, and in its perennial military rule and de facto annexation of occupied land. [...]

The government also intends to weaken the legal standing of Israel's Basic Law on Humanity Dignity and Liberty, which is the closest thing to a constitution that Israel has, having served over the last 30 years as the basis for several High Court rulings that protected minorities, though only in certain cases and in highly limited ways. The court has, for example, invoked the law to protect gay pride parades and to prevent the expulsion of asylum seekers.

The new government's judicial proposals, which would effectively politicize the legal system, have drawn condemnations from senior Israeli judges and legal experts, who warn that Israel would cease to be a liberal democracy; Israel's Attorney General even said it would make Israel a "democracy in name only." The new laws would allow a tyranny of the majority, removing all checks and balances on government actions, and thereby ending the minimal liberal protections of fundamental minority and human rights currently in place.

Posted by orrinj at 4:54 PM


Underrecognized: Extremist murders are usually from right-wing actors (Philip Bump, February 28, 2023, Washington Post)

In May, YouGov conducted a poll for Yahoo News measuring where Americans put the blame for extremist murders. YouGov asked people to say how many such killings were committed by left-wing or right-wing extremists, finding that only a fraction of Americans viewed one side as more likely to engage in such violence.

Most 2020 Trump voters said that more than half of murders linked to extremism were committed by left-wing actors; most Democrats and Biden voters said the same of right-wing extremists. In total, only 18 percent of respondents said that almost all extremist murders were a function of right-wing actors. Another 21 percent said that more than half were.

Data released by the ADL last week shows the reality. Over the past decade (the period included in YouGov's poll), 96 percent of incidents in which extremists killed someone were committed by people motivated by right-wing ideologies. 

Posted by orrinj at 4:33 PM


Matt Gaetz unknowingly cites Chinese Communist newspaper during Ukraine military funding hearing (Sonam Sheth Feb 28, 2023, Business Insider)

"Is the Azov battalion getting access to US weapons?" Gaetz asked Colin Kahl, the US's undersecretary of defense for policy. The Azov battalion is a far-right nationalist regiment in Ukraine, and some of its members serve in Ukraine's armed forces.

"Not that I'm aware of, but if you have information, happy to hear it," Kahl told Gaetz.

Gaetz then asked to enter the Global Times report into the congressional record and cited from the paper to support his allegation that the Azov battalion was "getting stuff as far back as 2018."

"Any reason to disagree with that assessment?" Gaetz asked Kahl.

"Is this the -- I'm sorry, is this the Global Times from China?" Kahl said.

"No, this is --" Gaetz began, before leaning over to read from the article he was quoting.

"That's what you read," Kahl said.

"Well, it might be," Gaetz said. "Yeah, it might be, yeah."

"As a general matter, I don't take Beijing's propaganda at face value," Kahl replied.

MAGA man does not live by being Vlad's mouthpiece alone. 

Posted by orrinj at 11:57 AM


Supreme Court questions Biden administration lawyer on legality of student loan relief that would affect 40 million borrowers (Dan Mangan, 2/28/23, CNBC)

Early in the hearing, Chief Justice John Roberts questioned Solicitor General Elizabeth Prelogar, who is defending the program, about the argument by the plaintiffs that Congress needed to approve the debt relief first before it was set in motion. That did not happen in this case.

"Do you think Congress shouldn't be surprised when half a trillion dollars gets wiped off the books?" asked Roberts, who is part of the court's conservative supermajority.

"I think most casual observers would say if you're going to give up that amount of money ... then Congress should" have to approve that, Roberts later said.

A liberal justice, Sonia Sotomayor, echoed that...

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


As Orthodox Union and other Jewish groups condemn settler rampage, many avoid mentioning Benjamin Netanyahu (RON KAMPEAS, FEBRUARY 27, 2023, JTA)

As American Jewish organizations responded to Sunday's settler riot in the West Bank, most began with statements of condemnation.

One began with a question: "How can such a thing happen?"

"How could it come to this, that Jewish young men should ransack and burn homes and cars?" continued the statement from Rabbi Moshe Hauer, executive vice president of the Orthodox Union, who added that "we cannot understand or accept this."

He concluded with a note of desperation: "What happened yesterday must never, ever happen again."

Hauer's anguish was all the more notable because it came from a group whose constituency, American Orthodox Jews, has historically sympathized with the movement to create Jewish settlements in the West Bank. And Hauer's statement did something else that many other groups did not: It appeared to question the leadership of Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

This is the point of "Religious Zionism" just as brutalizing immigrants is the point of Trumpism.

Posted by orrinj at 12:00 AM


February 27, 2023 (Heather Cox Richardson, 2/27/23, Letters from an American

Today's filing shows that executives at the highest levels of the Fox Corporation and the Fox News Network knowingly permitted Fox News Channel personalities to spread false conspiracy theories about the election in order to protect their profits. It includes testimony from Rupert Murdoch, the chair of the Fox Corporation, showing that Murdoch and his son Lachlan Murdoch, the executive chair and chief executive officer of the Fox Corporation, as well as Suzanne Scott, the chief executive officer of Fox News Media, were all deeply involved in the question of how to deal with Trump's lies and with the personalities who were echoing those lies, without losing viewership.

Rupert Murdoch spoke with Scott frequently, and testified: "I'm a journalist at heart. I like to be involved in these things." Lachlan Murdoch, as well, was in the loop with his father and Scott. Ultimately, although they knew that claims of massive election fraud were unfounded, they decided to give the lies airtime anyway to stop their audience from abandoning them for other channels. Fox board member and former House speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-WI) warned them "that Fox News should not be spreading conspiracy theories," but they ignored him.