Future Chief Justice? Cumming to an orgy near you!Oy.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, speaking at Manhattan’s Congregation Shearith Israel, argued against the notion of a separation between Church and State.

“The founding fathers never used the phrase ‘separation of church and state,'” he said, arguing that rigid separation of religion and state – as in Europe, for example – would be bad for America and bad for the Jews. “Do you think it’s going to make Jews safer? It didn’t prove that way in Europe,” he said. “You will not hear the word ‘God’ cross the lips of a French premier or an Italian head of state,” Scalia said. “But that has never been the American way.”

I don’t think I really need to launch into a whole spiel about why this is kind of scary. One of the things establishment Jewish groups have gotten right over the years is their staunch opposition to any attempted blurring of the lines between Church and State. The scariness comes in when one considers that Chief Justice Rehnquist is about ready to retire and President Bush will seek to nominate an Ãœber Conservative to replace him. The only choices are Scalia who was appointed by Reagan in 1985, and Clarence Thomas appointed by Pops Bush. Thomas is a moron, a total judicial lightweight of nearly unprecedented proportions. That leaves Scalia.

Scalia failed to discuss how his advocacy for a more flexible approach towards religion in matters of state corresponds to his support of, uh, free love and stuff. At a recent speech he gave at Harvard University, the following was reported:

Challenged about his views on sexual morality, Justice Scalia surprised his audience at Harvard University, telling them: “I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.”

I must have missed that part of the bible.

Anyhow, Scalia received a standing ovation from the crowd at Shearith Israel, America’s oldest congregation, ironically founded by Sephardic Jews escaping the Inquisition in Brazil 350 years ago. What was that about the separation of Church and state again?

About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

68 Comments

  • Yeesh. You knew this one would draw me out, didn’t you ck? I’ll only comment upon one point that isn’t personal opinion.

    This comment by Scalia regarding orgies, was given in an obviously rhetorical manner. The speech was one in which he was complaining about how a european court struck down a ban on group gay sex.

    I believe the actual quote was “I accept for the sake of argument, for example, that sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.”

    I think it was pretty clear that he was against such orgies, even calling them “socially evil” if I recall correctly.

  • The actual quote was the one reported – he said that orgies ought to be encouraged. If you have another quote, please offer a citation to that effect. My assertion that Scalia is loopy still stands.

    Always good to hear from ya neocon!

  • first off, i’m willing to bet that most people who are reading this have never read a decision by scalia or have studied american constitutional law.

    whether you agree with his opinions or not, i think any student of constitutional law will tell you that scalia is by far the most intelligent justice on the bench. his decisions are well researched and written (former supreme court law clerks tell me that he is the only justice who doesn’t rely on clerks to write his opinions) and unlike some of his contemporaries, he leaves the making the law part up to the elected congress. he also has a famous reputation for being the most entertaining justice; never pass up a chance to hear him speak.

    to suggest the scalia endorsed orgies is laughable. and using the guardian as a source over the harvard crimson – where it was originally reported – can only be read as endorsing sarcasm.

    indeed, the washington post reported (commenting on the crimson article):

    The newspaper quoted Scalia, speaking at a symposium Tuesday, as saying, ‘I even take the position that sexual orgies eliminate social tension and ought to be encouraged.’

    A court spokesman said Friday the quote was ‘not only inaccurate but also taken out of context.’

    “No, he didn’t quite say that ‘sexual orgies eliminate social tensions and ought to be encouraged.’ What he said was: ‘I even accept, for the sake of argument, for example, that sexual orgies …’

    “It was one of those ‘assuming arguendo’ things that lawyers like to indulge in.

    “The Crimson, after reviewing the Kennedy School of Government’s transcript, said it would issue a correction on Monday.

    likewise, the post also reported:

    Lawyers in love: Addressing the annual convention of the Federalist Society here last week, Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia delighted the crowd of distinguished legal eagles — the audience of 1,000 included several judges — by again talking about orgies as a way to “eliminate social tensions.” To much laughter, we’re told, he described his talk as an encore of a notorious speech he gave at Harvard in September, when the press mistakenly reported that he had endorsed orgies.

    “My wife hasn’t heard this talk,” he noted Friday evening at the Mayflower Hotel, our sources tell us. ( Maureen Scalia was among those listening.) He used the famous line “I accept for the sake of argument that sexual orgies, homosexual or not, eliminate social tensions, and ought to be encouraged,” according to one note-taker. Responding to hearty laughter, he ad-libbed: “Ah, the libertarian half of the Federalist Society.”

    second, if you’ve read the federalist papers, which i take from your comments you have not, you’d note that scalia was right: the founding father did not endorse separation of church and state. they only endorsed the freedom to worship as one chooses. therefore you’ll find that the whole “separation of church and state” thing is not in the constitution or the bill of rights (as anyone who has visited the supreme court will see god everywhere). and so you get the fist amendment: “congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”.

    as for how the amendment has been virtually rewritten by activist judges, read http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/data/constitution/amendment01/.

    whether removing religion from government is safer for jews can be debated – though i doubt anyone really thinks europe is not case in point. besides, this argument is much more relevant with respect to the jewish state.

    if you find it scary when democrats and republicans refer to god and prayer, vote libertarian. if you find it scary that supreme court judges will actually be applying the law to a set of facts (instead of making up the law), i suggest writing your congress person. otherwise, i hear cuba is nice.

  • I distinctly recall reading Scalia’s opinion in Bush v. Gore in 2000 (don’t recall exact name of the matter), and thinking to myself that it was self-serving, circular logic that was grounded in nothing but bias. Needless to say, it was a good, solid decision if you were a friend of his, like Cheney.

    Being supercilious does not make one smarter; disparaging those who comment on the inappropriateness of ruling in a case where you travel with one of the key individuals affected by the matter does not make one honest; asserting that a Presidency will not be influenced if certain cases against a sitting President (who happens to be of the opposing party) may move forward while he remains in office does not speak well of one’s capacity for logical thinking. Scalia is guilty of all of the above.

    The truth is that Scalia’s partisanship, demeanor and disrespect for the appearance of propriety as a Supreme Court Justice suggest that he may be lacking a good sense of…judgement.

  • Ah shucks guys. Every conservative doesn’t eat the brains of frightened kittens and club baby seals for fun…..do they?

  • you “distinctly” recall scalia’s opinion? you mean the one rehnquist wrote and with which the majority of the court concurred? http://supct.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/00-949.ZC.html

    as for the issue of recuse, try reading this: http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/scotus/chny31804jsmem.pdf

    as for you deciding that scalia is guility of anything, well, that’s just damn ironic.

    “The truth is that Scalia’s partisanship, demeanor and disrespect … “

    hehehehehe……”the truth”!….you found it!…..i always knew it was out there.

    btw (wikipedia):

    The remedy of ceasing all recounts was approved by 5 to 4. (Kennedy, O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas in support – Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens opposed)

    The finding that using different standards of counting in different areas without a single overseer violated equal protection was approved by 7 to 2. (Breyer, Kennedy, O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Souter, and Thomas in support – Ginsburg and Stevens opposed)

    The view that the Florida Supreme Court acted contrary to the intent of the Florida legislature was rejected by 6 to 3. (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas in support – Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, O’Connor, Souter, and Stevens opposed)

    jebus, save these poor people.

  • you “distinctly recall reading Scalia’s opinion”? the one that rehnquist wrote? the one with which the majority of the court concurred?

    wikipedia:

    The remedy of ceasing all recounts was approved by 5 to 4. (Kennedy, O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, and Thomas in support – Breyer, Ginsburg, Souter and Stevens opposed)

    The finding that using different standards of counting in different areas without a single overseer violated equal protection was approved by 7 to 2. (Breyer, Kennedy, O’Connor, Rehnquist, Scalia, Souter, and Thomas in support – Ginsburg and Stevens opposed)

    The view that the Florida Supreme Court acted contrary to the intent of the Florida legislature was rejected by 6 to 3. (Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas in support – Breyer, Ginsburg, Kennedy, O’Connor, Souter, and Stevens opposed)

    as for the issue of recuse, try reading this: http://news.findlaw.com/hdocs/docs/scotus/chny31804jsmem.pdf

    as for you finding scalia “guilty” of anything…well, that just too damn ironic.

    “The truth is that Scalia’s partisanship …”….heheheehhe….”the truth”! you found it!….i knew it was out there!…..

    jebus, please save these poor people.

  • So let’s see, you quote Scalia explaining why he’s not recusing himself. Great, he justified it and since nobody can dissent since it was his decision to recuse himself, then we have to go on his word.

    Well, first of all, there is the whole issue of the propriety of going hunting with a friend just before their case comes across you. Appearances are important in this matter, even if Scalia apologists think otherwise.

    But better yet, why not go to Scalia’s opinion which in your opinion is such a slam dunk that you can just post a link and it explains everything. Right at the beginning he starts playing games. He cites a case the suggests facts should determine recusal, not misreporting of facts. Then he proceeds to indicate that his host was not in the energy business (the case was about an energy matter), but in the business of renting rigs to oil companies.

    BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!

    Yup, the guy is not in the energy business, it’s just his entire livelihood and existence of his business that depends upon the energy industry. Thanks for giving us the facts, Scalia, suddenly I feel much better about your integrity.

    So then on the 2nd page, Scalia mentions that it was at his suggestion that Cheney be invited to the hunt, because he knew the VP well from their Ford Administration days. Then on page 4, he mentions that a recusal is required if his impartiality might be questioned and he admits that it is required if outcome of a case can affect friendship as it relates to personal fortune. He then qualifies that it doesn’t necessarily apply in matters where official business is at stake.

    Really?

    So the guy who made tens of millions in the energy industry, to which he may go back after he leaves this Administration and where he still has many personal friends and contacts who would be affected by this ruling, is just someone for whom this case is official business?

    Really?

    Then why is he going to hunt with a guy whose business is leasing rigs to energy companies? Why is he holding closed door meetings with energy execs to determine U.S. energy policy? In fact, as the VP, why is it even his business to be involved officially with energy? Isn’t there a Dept. of Energy with a Cabinet level person who traditionally takes care of this?

    And also, how can you say that the moment a person becomes an “official,” his personal fortune isn’t decided by “official” activity? Of course it’s decided that way. At a minimum, there is the matter of re-election. In this case, however, there is the simple fact that Cheney worked in that industry and will likely return in 2008 (although he might have thought in 2004 when this case was up).

    Furthermore, if Scalia claims that it’s okay for him to preside over a matter affecting a friend if it’s “official business,” then why does he spend all that time explaining how they were a group of 13 hunters and he therefore saw very little of Cheney (even if their friendship was such that Scalia himself suggested Cheney come along).

    I could continue, but why bother? This was a terrible decision on Scalia’s part and fits in well with his hubris. He really does seem to believe he’s above it all.

    ————–

    It is important to note that this isn’t the first time Scalia should have recused himself. He should have done so in 2000 when his two sons were working for the Bush campaign and his wife for the Heritage Foundation. Also, we know he was buddies with Cheney because he admits that their friendship goes back to Ford Administration days in your link.

    So now we have two matters before us where he should have recused himself but didn’t, and in both cases, they involve his party of choice and people he knows within that political party.

    Again, he thinks he’s above it all.

    ————————–

    Speaking of Scalia’s hubris (and yours, my little Scalia fan), I wasn’t referring to the Dec. 12th decision, I was referring to Scalia’s opinion in the vote stay of Dec. 9, 2000 when he responded to Stevens’ eviscerating minority dissent.

    Specifically:

    In other words, “I believe Bush won and therefore if we do anything here, it might jeopardize his legitimacy.” Oddly enough, that is precisely the public stance the Republican leadership and THEIR ATTORNEYS, including James Baker, took.

    Here, read the Vanity Fair article interviewing Supreme Court clerks who were there in 2000 and how partisan his opinion on the stay seemed to all involved, and how surprised they were by the “boldness” he showed in pushing his partisan agenda to get Bush into office over the next couple of days as they were about to have hearings and submit an opinion.

    http://www.goldsteinhowe.com/blog/files/VFPart1.pdf

    ————–

    As for the rest of my comments, you know the ones about his character flaws, disrespect for appearance of propriety (especially in matters of political partisanship) and poor judgement in terms of how he lets people know about his lack of objectivity and mountainous opinion of himself, let me know if you have something of value to add.

  • Okay, that was weird. That post is missing a couple of important paragraphs and also seems to be doing strange things with my setup.

    After the word “Specifically:”

    It should read in blockquotes:

    “The counting of votes that are of questionable legality does, in my view, threaten irreparable harm to petitioner [George W. Bush] and to the country, by casting a cloud upon what he claims to be the legitimacy of his election. Count first and rule upon legality afterwards, is not a recipe for producing election results that have the public acceptance that democratic stability requires…It suffices to say that the issuance of the stay suggests that a majority of the Court, while not deciding the issues presented, believe that the petitioner has a substantial probability of success.”

    Everything else that is currently in blockquotes should not be and that quotation is followed by my comment starting “in other words.”

    I also want to adjust the comment about Scalia’s sons, they were working for law firms that were doing the work of the Bush campaign. Wink wink.

  • Oh, by the way Kenny, don’t get any hard feelings here. I enjoy your blog, respect your opinions, and try to read it whenever I get a chance.

  • TM. If you are not a lawyer or politician (oops, I repeated myself) you ought to be. You seem to really enjoy debate and argument down to crossing the ‘t’s and doting the ‘i’s….or should that be ‘eyes’. 🙂

  • CK:

    I didn’t notice that link was to the guardian. You should know better than to trust a source like that 😛

  • 1) i linked to scalia because it was clear from your comments that you had no idea why he recused himself. whether you take him on his word or not – i could care less. another lost battle for the left.

    2) the standard for recusal is much debated. you can read about it here .

    3) my opinion is not that it’s a “slam dunk”. nor is it scalia’s opinion. my opinion is that you should read scalia’s memo before dissenting.

    4) you wrote: “Then he proceeds to indicate that his host was not in the energy business (the case was about an energy matter), but in the business of renting rigs to oil companies. BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!”

    scalia actually wrote: “Our friend and host, Wallace Carline, has never, as far as I know, had business before this Court. He is not, as some reports have described him, an “energy industry executive” in the sense that summons up boardrooms of ExxonMobil or Con Edison. He runs his own company that provides services and equipment rental to oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.”

    and you may want to go back again and read what the case was actually about. those pesky facts sure are funny.

    5) while you conspiracy theories would do michael moore and howard dean proud, what cheney actually wrote and what legal precedent implies is nothing remotely close to what you fantasize. i’d quote his memo but i can see the BDS already. further, you must have just “forgot” to mention the “under god” case where the standard for recusal was met and scalia recused himself.

    6) then again, as the journal wrote: “There’s something to be said for having Sandra Day O’Connor recuse herself from any case involving anyone who attends those Beltway dinner parties she is so fond of. Justice Anthony Kennedy is also known to be highly sensitive to the press reviews of his decisions. Perhaps both of them should have to disclose the names of every public official–and every journalist–they socialize with. We are talking “appearances,” after all.”

    or as the times wrote: “Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has given her name and presence to a lecture series cosponsored by the NOW (National Organization for Women) Legal Defense and Education Fund, an organization that often argues women’s rights issues before Justice Ginsburg. Should she disqualify herself from issues involving women’s rights?”

    7) nice link to the loony left pdf. no, i didn’t waste my time reading it. the whole point of my post was that a) dave’s quote was obviously wrong and that b) while i understand you’re pissed that you lost the election again, you can’t rely on the courts to pass laws for you.

    now i’m done wasting my time on this.

  • Sorry to interrupt this little wankfest, but I’m confused.

    What does this have to do with being Jewish again? 😉

  • 1. Well, you were wrong as I knew and know quite a bit about it. Whether I take him at his word is indeed irrelevant since he sits on the SC and I don’t. Whether the integrity and appearance of integrity of a SC judge should matter to any person is something that seems fairly obvious regardless of ideology. For you, unfortunately, it appears the ideology trumps everything else.

    Anyway, don’t you find it a little silly to attack me for being of the Left as if, A. it means something bad because all people on the Left must have something wrong with them, and B. considering that in the posts just above this one I poke fun at a professor who is affiliated with the Left?

    I will grant you this: you are right to assume that people on the Right don’t have a monopoly on foolishness.

    2. The standard for recusal is debatable but in this case was obvious. Moreover, since you linked to his writing on the matter, and he has the authority to self-recuse, we have to go by his opinion and reasoning, which is what I was doing. They don’t hold up to close scrutiny.

    3. Has it occured to you that you have little idea who I am, what I read, what I’ve read, what I know, or what I believe? For somebody who wants me to read something so that I should have full info in front of me, you sure make many presumptions without having too much evidence in front of you.

    4. Those pesky facts stand in my corner and not Scalia’s. He took the VP’s plane to a duck hunt to which the VP was invited at Scalia’s invitation. The duck hunt took place just a little while before a matter involving that VP and his buddies was up for consideration at the SC.

    Scalia then has to dance around the friendship; around the amount and quality of time where he and Cheney were together; how friendship and issues that benefit a friend normally constitute sufficient reason for recusal, but he doesn’t feel this applies here because this is an “official” matter – as if he and Cheney are mature enough to handle the difference and we should trust them to do so. I buy it! Why would Scalia care if he never gets to fly to a duck hunt with the VP of the US again?

    Oh, did I mention that if your business is a business renting rigs to oil companies, then you may be in the rental business but you are also in the energy business? Pesky facts.

    5. Conspiracy theories? Fantasies? Kenny, you don’t know me, so relax with the accusations. If I have to invent stories and suppose facts about what transpired, it is simply because my democratic government is acting in a manner that eliminates openness and anybody’s participation, much less mine. To this day we don’t know what transpired behind those closed door meetings involving our VP and his energy industrialist buddies as they determined the future of America’s energy policy. You should note that what you believe went on behind those doors is no less of a fantasy than mine, because you have no idea either. I don’t know why you consider that to be acceptable.

    The “Under God” case slipped my mind and I thank you for reminding me. First of all, by recusing himself, Scalia undermines his own claim about the Cheney non-recusal that it’s important to have a tie-breaking vote in a SC decision. Second, in that matter, Scalia made his recusal-worthy faux pas in PUBLIC. He did it twice, in fact. As a result, he really had no choice but to remove himself. In the Cheney matter, he knows full well that what happened took place in private and we all have to go on his word.

    6. Um, the WSJ op-ed page and the Moonie-owned Washington Times are among the biggest apologists and cheerleaders for this Administration. However, I don’t want to rule out their comments just because their ideals comport with those of the people who are being criticized here – that would be like dismissing somebody’s opinion just because we believe they’re of the Left and are bitter about losing the election.

    So: in the first editorial, I would say that iIf these justices do go to dinner with individuals who have matters coming up before the SC, they should definitely recuse themselves. But then I would challenge you to show that those soirees are such that you can make a claim they are equal to flying together with the VP on Air Force II and having a couple of day camping-like nature experience killing animals just before ruling on a case affecting that VP. I believe that you would find it difficult to compare the situations.

    In the second editorial, we have a different matter altogether because there isn’t a personal issue at stake but an ideological one. I don’t ask Scalia to stop giving talks to Right wing organizations, or to change his ideology. I also expect that his ideology, and the ideas he introduces in these talks will appear in his judgements, although he is not permitted to prejudge a case. I think this is kosher. I believe you need a Court with a range of opinions, and justices should feel comfortable expressing their views openly. I don’t see what that has to do with seeing the VP in his PJs over morning bacon and eggs a couple of weeks before a case involving him comes before you.

    7. You just dismissed a link to Vanity Fair because it’s the loonie Left? Well, okay. You disappoint me because your blog reveals an intelligent individual.

    Anyway, that article was a lengthy and well researched article about the Bush v. Gore case. What was unique about it is that the reporters were able to get SC clerks to speak to them about what went on behind closed doors at that time. Since SC clerks are sworn to secrecy, signed NDAs for Rehnquist and rarely breach this protocol, this is an unusual and important article. The clerks felt that the importance of this case and the way the court handled it merited breaching their oaths. I guess you would rather dismiss the reporters, clerks, publication and me as being from the loonie Left rather than spend a few minutes reading some pesky facts. That’s unfortunate.

    A. I’ll let Dave speak for Dave.
    B. This has nothing to do with the election, but your comments provide for resounding laughter on my end when I think back to 2000 when an activist SC, and Scalia in particular, manipulated the law and their power to hand the election to Bush. When Scalia becomes Chief Justice, we will all learn what “activist judges” really means.

    C. “Now I’m done wasting time on this.” Okay. But please don’t leave permanently because Dave will fucking kill me if another visitor to this site (they’re always from the Right 😉 ) stops coming here because of me.

  • Grace: Maintenance of the separation between Church and State has been a hallmark of the organized Jewish community in North America for like.. forever. That’s what this “wankfest” has to do with being Jewish. Granted this debate has gone into much broader issues, but civil liberties have always been a hot topic with Jews.

  • I think a strong case can be made that Israel embodies proof that combining state functions with religion is generally harmful.

  • It never harmed me in Israel. I think given our history, Israel generally combines religion and state matters in a relatively even handed and benign way – hardly has freedom of religion ever flourished so in that region. People without the same history of oppression do not seem to handle the combination so well. Thus, I don’t mind mixing religion and politics in Israel (although I keep a close watch at how it is implemented) but I do mind it plenty in North America.

  • Unfortunately for us who believe that the bible should stay out of government powers, it has recently seemed to overtake it. Issues of gay marriage and abortion are using, “Because the bible says it’s wrong,” as valid arguments, when not looking at the facts of the matter. It’s disheartening and scary for me, as a non-Jesus worshipping person who is trying to make their way in America and stand for what is right, know what the Torah has told me, and let that help in making my decisions, not be the only thing that makes them for me.

  • TM:
    Every “full recount” done indepentently after the supreme court ruled in 2000 showed Bush won, so let’s drop the entire “manipulated the result” line of reasoning completely. Moore even had to photoshop together some headlines because he couldn’t find evidence for that position (and he is now being sued for it)

    All people on the left DO have something wrong with them, at least when it comes to foriegn policy. Sometimes I wonder what sort of mental blockage it must take to stand for a position that has been on the wrong side of history _always_. The Democrats really are the meretz of America.

  • Neocon, I know the recounts and their conclusions, the counts and their conclusions, the non-counts and their conclusions, etc., and don’t want to get into that debate.

    The point is that Scalia had no way of knowing how it would turn out, but he acted as if he did. Scalia’s actions were simply partisan maneuvering from the Bench. What makes it egregious is that he was sounding, perhaps unintentionally (I’m not going to suggest it was in collusion with the Bush campaign – although he might have had a talk with his sons…), very much like the Bush post-election machine at that time.

    As for your comments about the “Left.” I’m not sure how to respond. Do you want me to tell you about the mistakes of the Right, like Fascism and Nazi Germany? Would you like me to point out that the Right shares its bed with the Far Right which is composed of some of the biggest people-hating, Jew-hating, black-bashing, conspiracy-minded loonies on the planet? Would you like me to point out to you that Israel was founded by, and mainly because of, the Left?

    No party has a monopoly on idiocy, and no party has a monopoly on correct and judicious foreign policy.

    I will attempt to adjust your Meretz thinking, though. Meretz is a very impressive party with some very profound thinkers and true and loyal Israelis. I don’t see how you can claim they’ve been proven wrong, when they haven’t held power. You can say that about Labor, if you like, but Meretz has always been a small party and even in coalitions, less important than Labor by far. The Dems are the Labor of Israel.

  • Every political party has crazy people in their family. Some leave them rocking on the front porch too long to win.

  • Well said Jim.

    This is all I needed to hear:

    Meretz is a very impressive party with some very profound thinkers and true and loyal Israelis. I don’t see how you can claim they’ve been proven wrong, when they haven’t held power.

    What a silly thing to say. I can say the communist party of America has been proven wrong even though it’s never held power.

    I’m not speaking about the fringe loons of the party. I’m speaking about mainstream liberalism in the USA. I think it’s also silly to call hitler “on the right” when speaking of American or Israeli political parties.

    All in all, a response full of sillyness. No party has a monopoly on idiocy, but that’s like saying that Charles Lindberg and Amelia Earhart “both made mistakes during their flights”

    Meretz? Impressive? yeeeeeeeeeeesh

  • Hitler was of the Right. It’s that simple. You want to say that he took things way farther than the US or Israeli Right? Okay, granted. He was of the Right. Are there people like him in the Republican Party or the Israeli Right parties? God, I hope not. So what? He was of the Right.

    But let’s talk about the Right in the US for a little bit so we don’t let the Lindberg aberration comment slide.

    As of this election victory that has given the Republicans control over both Houses, the Presidency and ostensibly the Supreme Court, what are they doing? First, Frist now has authority to appoint the top two members of any committee, thus depriving those who have worked their way up through seniority the privilege and respect they have earned, unless they give Frist veto power over their actions. Essentially, it gives him control over those appointments. Net result: less democracy, less conflicting opinions from his own party, much less the opposition. The very important committee system that has already been undermined by partisan politics now becomes hostage to the head of the Republicans with a threat hanging over any House member who opposes something Frist and his backers want to do. Then again, I guess if you park in his parking space inadvertently, he could also screw you out of an appointment…it’s amazing how power corrupts.

    Now, as of this week, they’ve started to talk about removing the filibuster from the House. Imagine that, a majority party with a sitting President removing the last vestige of a possible check and balance from a party that represents 48% of the voters in this country. How democratic! How wonderful! This is a really smart Right wing party that is showing the “Left” how historically wrong it is. Woo hoo!

    Talk about being on the wrong side of history!

    Back to Meretz. It’s a shame you disrespect these impressive Israelis the way you do. I’m not going to bother saying more about them than I have.

  • I don’t say stalin was “on the left” any more than hitler was “on the right” It’s just ludicrous. You can’t compare soviet communism with the current left wing, and you really, really can’t compare nazi fascism with the current right wing.

    I really see the equivelency of committe appointments Frist might make with, say, a minor thing like assuming the soviets were simply agrarian reformers and going to be our buddies? Or that we should slash our intelligence services post cold war?

    You forgot to comment on my main points:
    – A party does not need to hold majority power to be judged a success or failure
    – I’m not speaking about fringe loons, I’m speaking about mainstream liberals

    …and instead you went off on Frist. I find I get into this cycle with liberals constantly. They make a statement, I respond, they change subjects, I respond, they change subjects again.

    But I just can’t forget this one… You’re saying that it’s undemocratic to weaken fillibuster power, but not preventing a vote from even happening?! Come on man, which is more undemocratic?!

    Sheesh. I give up.

    PS: I’m not disrespecting meretz, I’m just saying they’re bonkers.

  • Uh, neocon? There is a spectrum of political thought, divided roughly into the left and the right. Hitler resides firmly on the right and Stalin resides firmly on the left. That’s just political science 101 dude. It doesn’t mean that all right wingers are nazis and all left wingers are stalinists – it just is what it is.Some might argue that the left/right dichotomy is not so instructive, and truth be told, it IS a little simplistic BUT it doesn’t change the fact as to where on the spectrum one would find stalin and hitler.

  • 1. Stalin was on the Left.

    2. If you take Left wing and Right wing ideologies to their logical conclusions, I believe you end up with Lenin (and perhaps even Stalin) and Hitler.

    3. You can equate Frist’s control with anything you like. I’m suggesting that it weakens the fabric of our institutional democracy. By a lot.

    4. It’s undemocratic to prevent a vote from taking place. It’s undemocratic to kill filibusters. Your Right wing party is acting in a manner that will give those individuals who run it the power to dictate policy and laws without any checks and balances. Now, we know these are smart people, but even smart people need to learn to work with others in a democracy. This is an ongoing process where there is less and less room for alternative voices to be heard, or to have an impact on legislation. We will get to a point where there will be a “vote” on an issue, but its conclusions will always be foregone and determined by the Republican leadership. There won’t be anything anybody in the Democratic party or even in the moderate ranks of the Republicans can do about it. That means that we call it democracy but it is something else.

    5. Meretz is bonkers? You think it’s bonkers to strive for peace by trying to learn what the other side wants and giving to them as much as you can without undermining your own values and country? That’s a fair outlook, but then I would say that it’s bonkers to let the population you occupy exceed your own numbers even as you plan to take over land that they believe is theirs. I wouldn’t say bonkers is the right word. I would say “wrong approach.”

    6. A party does not need to be in power to be judged a success or a failure is correct. I agree. Meretz, however, has been influential in many aspects of Israeli life. The one thing they haven’t been able to do, and it is probably the reason you call them bonkers, is implement their ideas about how to resolve the conflict. Your comment was that they were always on the wrong side of history. I reject that thesis on the basis of the politics that founded Israel, which were of the Left. And not just of the Left, why don’t you read up a bit on HaShomer HaTzair and the kibbutz movement.

    7. As for fringe loons and mainstream liberals, in comment 23, you compared the Dems to Meretz for always being on the wrong side of history. I addressed that by saying the Dems are more like Labor, and that Meretz has some serious people and thinkers and it’s hard to evaluate whether they are on the right or wrong side of history because they were never in power to see their ideas implemented in full. I don’t consider Meretz to be on the fringe, Hadash is on the fringe. The Dems are definitely not on the fringe either. And by the way, the Dems are also not always wrong, that is simply a historical fact.

    8. It’s okay to support the Right and Republicans. It’s okay to support Likud and Sharon. But to say, “We are completely right and have always been right and our ideology is proven right” smacks me as entirely wrongheaded. Why not try to understand the other side and learn from it. I personally find many ideas of value on the Right, just as I do on the Left. Nobody is always right, and the list I could make of fuckups just with this Administration and current Houses boggles the mind. How are your Dollars doing?

  • CK: I simply said they are in no way comparable to the current political parties in existance. So I find the “well, hitler was on the right!” arguments ludicrous, because basically, both sides lead to pogroms. Perhaps I’m being too simpllistic, but every dictator is just a dictator, so I find it silly to place them into the political spectrum of a democracy.

    TM: I honestly don’t have time to write pages in response. I’ll try to hit the high points.

    2: Totally disagree. Especially the use of the term “logic” there. See my comments to CK above.

    3: My point was I was NOT equating frist with anything. It was sarcastic.

    4: Your statement made zero sense. You admit it’s undemocratic to prevent a vote from taking place through fillibuster, but it’s also undemocratic to stop that ‘undemocracy’ from happening?

    5: I honestly think most everyone is ‘striving for peace’ – I think it’s bonkers to do it in a way that gets your people slaughtered, yes.

    6: Meretz did not found the country. You resort to the useless “left-right” scale again. Meretz is not labor, or vice versa. Nor is labor mapai.

    7: On this we disagree. I consider meretz fringe.

    8: I don’t think I’ve ever claimed one side was correct all the time. For those who haven’t taken an econ class, the weakening American dollar is working wonders for American business, the one I’m working for included.

    You can nit-pick all you want, but I’m not complaining about appointments to senate committee chairs or petty things like a slightly weaker dollar. I’ve never said one side is correct all the time, as you continue to claim. But for nearly ever major event in American history, the democrats have taken the side that is ultimatly proven wrong. (Slavery, Civil Rights, the Soviet Union, and on for pages) On war and peace, meretz and democrats share a vision: the vision of submission and defeat. We’ve played that game in the past. I don’t want to play again.

    That being said, feel free to respond, and the last word is yours. We aren’t communicating, so the discussion is pretty worthless at this point. That, and my boss is starting to wonder what is so interesting in this tiny little browser comment window 😛

  • I thought we were communicating, just disagreeing. This is how I learn what you think and you learn what I think. Hopefully we’re learning something in the process, even if I’m not going to change your mind.

    I didn’t understand your earlier remark about filibusters. My point is that the filibuster serves as a final hedge against an all-powerful majority. It is obviously a useful tool that will compel the Republicans to compromise on some issues with the Democrats. That is a very valuable part of our democracy, not to mention the checks and balances of our democracy.

    Finally, you consider Meretz fringe. Okay. You think they’re loonies? Okay. You think they got people slaughtered even though 1000 Israelis have been killed under Sharon and about 60 were killed under Barak? Fine. But please, please don’t say that just because Mapai is no longer with us, that Labor and Meretz are not direct descendants. They are, and their Left wing values are what gave us Israel. No whitewashing can deny that. In fact, the only people I hear making a different claim are the Palestinians and their LEFT WING supporters who claim that the Irgun and Lehi’s terrorism are what founded Israel, so it is just desserts that the Palestinians use terrorism against Israelis.

  • NeoCon, I have a solution to your problem with the boss. Just tell him you’re viewing pornography. He will never suspect that you’re actually on Jewlicious.

  • My boss happens to be an ultra-feminist chick 😐

    Btw, CK, is there any way you can add a “resizable” to the window.open call in wpopen? That was I can make the little comment window a big comment window to better read TM’s essays.

  • This comment thread has been facinating, even if it rated a but high on the vitriol scale at times. I’d like to make two quick (and unrealted) points in order to help contribute a bit to the debate.

    1) On the question of filibuster, I think both TM and Neocon are ducking the issue a bit. Filibuster is, in fact and undemocratic institution. It is a check to prevent the rule of the majority over the minority, which is esssentially the definition of anti-democratic. It is not “a very valuable part of our democracy,” as TM says. It helps limit our democracy. The reason it exists is that the founders were worried, justifiably about the possible consequences of unchecked democracy. Thank God, the USA is not a total demomcracy.

    2)On the point of Labor and Metetz being the decendents of the Mapai, well, this is self-evident. What is not so self-evident is that, ” They are, and their Left wing values are what gave us Israel. No whitewashing can deny that.” Certainly, Mapai and their followers were the people who were centrally involved with settleing the land. Part of the reason for this is that they had control of the Jewish agency and A) wouldn’t help the people that Jabotinsky and the right wanted in the country get visas and B) refused to help smuggle them in either. During the Holocaust a delierate decsion was made not to devote resources to saving Jews in Europe, partially because many of them were viewed as political reactionaries who would only hurt the ideological purity of the state (check out the first few chapters of Tom Segev’s book, The Seventh Million). Now, this is not to disparage the Mapai’s obviously major accomplishments. But their legacy is hardly without fault, and we see some of these same faults in their decendents.

  • Oy oy oy!

    Jesse,

    1. Democracies protect the rights of minorities. The Founding Fathers created checks and balances precisely because power corrupts. What we are seeing now with the Republicans, drunken with their victory, is how power corrupts. That’s why Tom DeLay gets a pass on a matter where they burned a Democrat. The filibuster is a check and balance that protects the minority. By removing it, you are removing the final check and balance that exists, and depriving your minority, in this case 48% of the population, of any possibility of influencing outcomes. This minority cannot dictate outcomes, which would be undemocratic, it can merely negotiate until some satisfactory compromise is reached.

    2. Ben Gurion determined, on behalf of the Yishuv, that the Jewish community in Mandate Palestine would behave during WWII as if the White Paper was never introduced. The idea was that it was critical to support the British against the Nazis. In fact, it was at his urging and the Yishuv’s support, that tens of thousands of Jews joined the British Army, experience that would serve them well in 1948 against the Arab armies that chose not to take sides in WWII until it was clear the Allies were going to win. There is no question that the Yishuv and the Hagana did not treat the Right and the Jabotinsky offspring-groups well. There is no doubt that the Altalena was blown up, and that when Shamir (I believe it was Shamir) went to Germany to try to negotiate the removal of Jews to Israel, the Yishuv was not supportive. On the other hand, the Yishuv did a great deal to try to smuggle Jews in, and they didn’t check ideological credentials before people got on the boat.

    Their legacy has many faults, such as giving the Orthodox a place in government. They have other faults as well. So what? The point remains that as a Left wing movement, they succeeded in creating a new Jewish state. That alone removes the original faulty premise that the Left is always on the wrong side of history.

  • TM,
    You’re second point is fair, and I’ll concede it. The first argument we are having is essentially a semantic one, on the definition of the word democracy. The USA, as I understand it, is not a democracy, but a representative republic. A true democracy gives each citizen one vote on every public issue. This is obviously not practical, which is why pure democracies don’t exist. There are varying degrees of democracy. Protecting the rights of minorities is not a democratic value per se. There is, I think, a tendency to equate “democracy” with good government. That is not neccesarily the case.

  • Kenny wrote: if you’ve read the federalist papers, which i take from your comments you have not, you’d note that scalia was right: the founding father did not endorse separation of church and state. they only endorsed the freedom to worship as one chooses.

    The Founders and the Framers most assuredly endorsed a separation of Church and State, this despite the fact that most of them were indeed persons of faith. It’s precisely because of their reverence for what Benjamin Franklin called “The Mystery” that this was an issue at all – they were concerned with the corruption of religious bodies when churches acquired power through affiliation with or participation in government.

    American examples of such corruption exist. For instance Puritans in 1658 banned Quakers from Massachusetts under pain of death. When Quakers persisted in living in Massachusets and practicing their faith in defiance of the law, several were burnt at the stake.

    Prior to the introduction of the 1st Amendment, Quakers were also officially banned from Virginia – any Captain who landed on the shores of Virginia with even a single Quaker on board risked being fined. Anyone in Virginia claiming that G_d didn’t exist risked being jailed for life. This was surely noted by Washington, Jefferson and Madison who were all Virginians.

    The Quakers themselves, once they established a power base in Pennsylvania, were not immune to the corruption attendant when Church and State get too close. Once installed in power, Quakers imposed steep fines on anyone not attending Church on Sunday, unless they could prove that they were at home reading scriptures.

    Ben Franklin left Boston as a teenager to escape the oppressive environment created by politically powerful preachers, and for the rest of his life was openly hostile to the idea of secular political power being wielded by those who also hold religious power.

    Madison even vetoed a bill that would have given a Church funds to help feed the poor. He was opposed to, but didn’t block the appointment of Chaplains to the two houses of Congress. Madison wrote in 1822: We are teaching the world the great truth, that Governments do better without kings and nobles than with them. The merit will be doubled by the other lesson: the Religion flourishes in greater purity without, than with the aid of Government… I have no doubt that every new example will succeed, as every past one has done, in showing that religion and Government will both exist in greater purity the less they are mixed together.”

    And yet today we are faced by the daunting possibility that such purity will be compromised by various faith based initiatives promoted by fundamentalist religious leaders, supported by the President and championed by the next Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

    So please tell me again how the founding fathers did not endorse a separation of church and state?

  • CK: “And yet today we are faced by the daunting possibility that such purity will be compromised by various faith based initiatives promoted by fundamentalist religious leaders…”

    Ck, didn’t I read you justifying the Israeli Gov’t endorsement of the Jewish religion to TM in another post? I know your religion don’t burn people at the stake, but would they have in the 1600s if they had been the first to settle America and had the power to?

  • Jim – I think the situations are completely different. Israel is a country whose modern rebirth owes its legitimacy to both a historical tie to the homeland and a religious imperative. Judaism is also not a religion that demands that all the people of the world join it, a characteristic that is unique amongst monotheistic religions. In that respect, the Orthodox have wielded their democratically attained powers in Israel in a comparitively benevolent manner. Consequently, I have no problem with it. I can go into more detail but that’s my main point and it is nearly 6 am….

  • I agree ck, seriously. I believe strong religious ties are very important to the solidarity of the Jewish people based on its past, and very sadly to say present, history with wacky whacky whacko neighbors.

    Hell, you would’a thunk you was trying to convert’m or something, when all’s you ever wanted was to be left alone…. excepting for that foreskin thing long long ago. 🙂

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