Around the internets

Tuesday night edition — links by the pound, after the jump:

 Just don’t mention the ‘A’ word: Your ‘Dude, WTF?’ Mideast moment of the day, courtesy Mairav Zonszein (h/t):

Thousands of Palestinians travel from the West Bank to work in Israel every day using Israeli public transportation. The buses are overcrowded. At times there are tensions and confrontations between Israelis and Palestinians. Israeli settlers can’t stand the sight of Palestinians anyway. So why not create a separate bus line for them? This is the logic behind a new proposal being considered by the Ministry of Transportation:  Additional bus lines exclusively for Palestinians that go between checkpoints in the West Bank and central Israel, as Walla reported on Monday (Hebrew).

Last August, Haggai Matar reported about an Israeli bus driver on his way from Tel Aviv to the settlement of Ariel who refused to take Palestinians on board, was then instructed by police that he had to by law, but ultimately kicked them off later on anyway. At the time, Haggai reported that Ben-Hur Akhvat, CEO of the Afikim bus company, which serves the settlements, said that the company regularly receives complaints from Jewish passengers who don’t wish to see Palestinians on the bus. “We are in ongoing negotiations with authorities regarding a possible alternative solution to the problem,” Akhvat told Haggai at the time.

Apparently they have found the solution, and authorities claim this is a win-win situation for all involved: For Israeli settlers, it is ideal since they won’t have to come into contact at all with Palestinians (the same Palestinians they have chosen to live next to/on top of).  For Palestinians who have work permits, it will ease their travel time by eliminating the need to transfer buses at the various checkpoints where they must undergo security checks.

Zonszine’s bitter conclusion is on point, alas:

While the Transportation Ministry, the police, the bus company heads and the settler council leaders have or will claim that this is not racist, that it does not constitute the formal institutionalization of ethnic segregation, it makes no difference, because that is exactly what it is. Clear as day. And considering it is no secret that most Israeli Jews prefer ethnic segregation, no one should be surprised. When military control and occupation is the norm, it is only “natural” that a de facto reality becomes a de jure one.

Gender and jack-asses: Judith Brett on Australian PM Julia Gillard and her response to overtly misogynistic criticism:

Lady Macbeth has been evoked by supporters of both pretenders to [Gillard’s] position – Abbott and Rudd. Earlier this year, Christopher Pyne claimed that to compare Gillard to Lady Macbeth was unfair to Lady Macbeth as “she only had one victim to her name; this prime minister has a list of victims longer than Richard III”. What elicited this comparison was Gillard’s adviser tipping off some protesters about comments Tony Abbott had made about Canberra’s Aboriginal tent embassy, which precipitated an unseemly security scuffle. To this crime Pyne added the dispatch of Kevin Rudd, the ‘no carbon tax’ pledge she made to win the election, the demotion of a cabinet minister, and a few other manoeuvres of the sort that are standard fare in day-to-day parliamentary politics. But none of this was the real crime, which was that she, a woman, had usurped a man.


Lady Macbeth is a figure of female ambition, using underhand and illegitimate means to dispatch men from power. Calling Gillard a witch points more crudely to the same archetype of an evil, manipulative female power that threatens to kill and emasculate men. Faced with this sort of assault, deep from the unconscious of so many men, it has been very hard for the real Julia. What does one do when the misogynist fantasies of so many men are being projected onto you on a daily basis? How do you remind people that you are an ordinary human being, when not even bereavement protects you? In the end she did perhaps the only thing she could do. She fought back.

McMaverick’s fragile ego on overdrive, redux: Ian Leslie on why he believes John McCain has it in for Susan Rice:

[T]he key to everything with John McCain is to understand that he views all of US politics through a singular prism: does this represent a slight to me or not? For McCain, the political is very personal.

By opposing Rice, he can get back at Obama, who slighted him by winning the presidential race in 2008. He can also get back at Rice herself, who, as one of Obama’s team during that campaign, made a catty comment about his tendency to grandstand:

As a campaign surrogate in 2008, Ms. Rice could be withering. When Mr. Obama made a trip to the Middle East, she mocked an earlier visit Mr. McCain had made to a market in Baghdad, during which he wore body armor. She said of her candidate, “I don’t think he’ll be strolling around the market in a flak jacket.” [emph. original]

So that’s what this is all about.

A radical cycle: Sarah Jaffe talks with veteran labour organizer Jane McAlevey about winning elections vs. organizing for change:

Every radical organizer, if you look at who’s been winning serious fights, where participation became enormous on the part of the rank and file, and the workers themselves together with good organizing direction won big shit, wages, housing, conditions, school reform, Chicago, whatever, it’s all radicals. I know now that this craft of having the best of us get sent in to win big elections is a variation of not wanting to have the left radical organizers build permanent relationships with the workers.

An icon for the ages: Mark Safranski looks at Spielberg’s Lincoln and why Honest Abe was the GOAT:

 Spielberg has done a magnificent storytelling of the passage of the 13th Amendment to abolish slavery in the United States and he has done even better at capturing Lincoln’s towering stature as a statesman. Day-Lewis’ Lincoln is Periclean – in possession of heroic, historical vision and mastery of grand strategy along with an intimate grasp of the granular, grubby mechanics of political deal making and a humane tolerance of other’s frailties needed to make things happen.  The scene where Day-Lewis explains to his squabbling Cabinet Lincoln’s coup d’oeil –  the real Constitutional, moral, military and political exigencies of emancipation governing the imperative questions of the 13th Amendment –  is one of the most brilliant expositions of strategy in the fusion of policy, politics and war that I have ever seen on screen.

In a sense, that was the genius of Abraham Lincoln – surpassing his own humble origins to solve herculean problems without ever losing sight that lasting resolution of Civil War and slavery were going to have to occur on Earth with fallible human beings, operating in a political reality that would never be ideal. The limits of vision of Lincoln’s contemporaries, copperhead and abolitionist, is marked but the comparison between Abraham Lincoln and politicians of our own day is yet for the worse.  Our problems are so much smaller, our resources and capabilities infinitely vaster than the severe test the Republic faced in Lincoln’s time, yet our leaders are grossly inadequate even to these.

Martyrdom naturally magnified the legacy of Abraham Lincoln, but even without the assassination he would have still been reckoned our greatest president, one of the rare individuals whose leadership made an irreplaceable mark upon history. If one of Lincoln’s rivals for the Republican nomination had become president in 1860 instead, or had Lincoln not been re-elected in 1864, the Union cause would have failed.  We would not be who we are nor the world what it is without a United States in the 20th century to stem the tide of  first German domination, then Fascism and then Soviet Communism. The world would be a poorer, darker place and we would be lesser peoples of lesser nations of the former United States.

KISS: A simple but timely policy lesson from Ian Welsh:

The first thing you should do, in any policy situation, is ask “what would the golden rule have me do?”  Most of the time, this will be the correct policy, which will produce the best results.  People who are treated with kindness, in general, reciprocate and are productive.  Yes, there are exceptions, but they are just that, exceptions.

Further, kindness is the default position even with the worst people.  If you allow rapists to be raped, you become a rapist.  If you torture torturers, you are now a torturer.  You do not, in the old phrase, sink to their level.  That doesn’t mean being a pushover, it doesn’t mean no justice, it does mean that the State has no business seeking revenge and that the rules, which should default to kindness, apply equally the worst people and the best.  This is not just the right thing to do, it is the only thing to do, because the State often decides the best people are the worst people, as even a cursory examination of history will attest, and it very often makes mistakes, as the many errors in capital cases have brought to light.  But, again, even if someone is the worst of the worst beyond even the shadow of a doubt, they must be treated with kindness even as they are incarcerated, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because doing anything else degrades those who do it.  Torturers are always corrupted by torturing, occupying armies always become weak, corrupt and brutal.  You cannot do evil and not be, yourself, scarred by it.

Exit music:

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"I don't fuck much with the past but I fuck plenty with the future."

3 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Oh man. Am I glad to see a new Internets thread up. I just read an excellent piece by Charles Pierce (“excellent piece” and “Charles Pierce” are redundant, I know) about listening to Martin Bashir rhapsodize on the radio about Obama’s drone war with a bunch of guests who all agreed with him. Not one dissenting voice.

    Here’s the link:

    One part in particular really got to me:

    Came the end, though, and Bashir asked him about the “moral justification” for the use of drones. O’Hanlon answered him by saying, essentially, that only American lives count.

    because I got into a hugely heated debate over Thanksgiving dinner with the 23-year-old daughter (Katie) of the friends we were with, about Afghanistan in general (she supports the U.S. being there 2000 percent, and she will ALWAYS feel that way), and the drone war in particular, and this bit about only American lives counting was one of her big lines, and it was the one that upset me the most.

    My own 23-year-old daughter (Maggie) was there, too, and it was her, me, Katie’s mother and father, and Katie’s mother’s sister and her husband on the side opposing the predator drones and staying in Afghanistan in general, and Katie alone on the rah rah war and drones side.

    The arguments she was making were appalling. It was so depressing.

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