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Apr 28 10

The Next Justice

by Editor

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

As much as I may be confused by the direction our country should take—European-style socialism or hard-core libertarianism?—I am decidedly less mixed in my opinions about the next Supreme Court appointee. This is not to say I have a name to put forward, so much as a clear picture of the candidate likely to be the most valuable for breaking through the Court’s present left-right split. Here goes.

The next Justice (or, the next nominee for a seat on the Court) needs to be someone who will egregiously offend people on both sides of the Senate aisle, while paving a path through the extreme middle of the Court’s decisions for the next 40 years.

The nominee should, preferably, be either a present sitting judge or an esteemed legal scholar—but someone who spent time in a slightly different career prior to their current position, perhaps working in the business world or as a high school teacher.

The nominee’s background matters less than what they have done with it. Catholic, Jewish, Pentecostal: as long as they are presently a devoted (and official) Secular Humanist or Ethical Culture-ist, that should do it. The only exceptions to this should be for a Unitarian Universalist, or a Muslim; the latter would be perfect for the purposes of making everyone in the Senate excitable.

The nominee must, of course, believe in the separation of church and state, but not so much that they allow priests who are molesters to go untouched by criminal law—or so much that they think its wrong for a state school to support a religiously affiliated student group if the same school also supports racial, political, or gender-affiliated student groups.

For the same reason—it’s important to know where you’ve been, to understand where you’re going—the nominee’s ethnic background also does not matter, so much as clear evidence of a lack of entitlement. Did they pull themselves up by their bootstraps? Pick ‘em! Are they second-generation bootstrappers? Maybe even better.

Man or woman? Yes, one or the other would be good. If the nominee owns a gun, even better. If the nominee was once the victim of a hunting accident but still owns guns: best of all!

Abortion? Perhaps the Gordian knot for a confused and conflicted Senate, especially those colored-dog Democrats. Clearly, the nominee should be against abortion on moral grounds, but for it on legal grounds—and if the nominee is a woman, she should preferably be able to discuss having faced a possible (though not actual) unwanted pregnancy at some point in her life. If she took Plan B as a result, perfect.

Finally, much was made recently of some of the sitting Justices seemingly not knowing the difference between a pager, a text message, and an e-mail. Really, too much has been made of this, unless we suddenly believe the medium is the message. What matters is whether the nominee has a sense of the ubiquity of these devices and tools in the lives of normal people. (Because they are ubiquitous, but the nominee may not be normal.) In theory, any nominee who has spent time in the last decade not working as a judge or legal scholar should have had occasion to use a cell phone and an e-mail system, and it is up to the lions of the Senate to sniff out the meaty truth here. Similarly, we-the-people are entitled to know whether the nominee has ever used YouTube, Google, or signed an online petition from some relentless group like or some SwiftBoatVeterans.something group. All of this should come out in the hearing, with an emphasis on a discovery process for any web links the nominee may have willingly shared with other people.

But if the nominee has ever (s)(t)exted pictures of themselves at some point, and then posted them to Facebook? This should be considered an automatic qualifier; after all, nothing could be more in keeping with the zeitgeist of the day.

Apr 24 10

When it Works

by Editor

When it works – which isn’t always – technology can be a beautiful thing.

In this case, it’s getting my blog re-established, redesigned, re-launched … And now accessible via the glory of a mobile WordPress app. If technology was the only impediment to more writing, I’d be in great shape!

Apr 24 10

My Own Wayback Machine

by Editor

I discovered the other day, as I work my way through this whole switch from Blogger to WordPress, that I inadvertently made the archives of this site nearly impossible to reach. That’s partly a function of the way that Blogger handles such things—it’s driven by a database, but set up to load from the home page. Another problem is that the archives from the first five years, when I was doing the HTML coding myself, are also linked from the old home page, but are not database-driven at all. The new “Archive” link off to the side here is also pulling from a database—but it’s the new, WordPress database, so it doesn’t have all the earlier material. How’s that for confusing?

In an effort to rectify this, I have compiled this semi-comprehensive cheat sheet to collect the archive’s worth of links in one place, starting with my first year on the job.

Original TTAISI Format:

Year 2000 – Chronological

Year 2001 – Chronological

Year 2002 – Chronological

Years 2000 – 2002 – By Subject

Year 2003 – Chronological

Year 2003 – By Subject

Year 2004 – Chronological

Year 2004 – By Subject

Year 2005 – Chronological

Year 2005 – By Subject

Year 2006 – Chronological

Year 2006 – By Subject

Year 2007 – Chronological (partial)

Year 2007 – By Subject (partial)

In the process of doing this, I also discovered what some of you may have known for a while: much of the Blogger archives from 2009 and early 2010 were not working at all. That’s now fixed! Classics such as “Where’s My Gun?”, “It Won’t Happen”, “Au Naturel”, “Inculcate, Not Indoctrinate” are back and more accessible, in all their glory!

Blogger Format:

December 2005

January 2006

February 2006

March 2006

April 2006

May 2006

June 2006

July 2006

August 2006

September 2006

October 2006

November 2006

December 2006

January 2007

February 2007

March 2007

April 2007

May 2007

June 2007

July 2007

August 2007

September 2007

October 2007

November 2007

December 2007

January 2008

February 2008

March 2008

April 2008

May 2008

June 2008

July 2008

August 2008

September 2008

October 2008

November 2008

December 2008

January 2009

February 2009

March 2009

April 2009

May 2009

June 2009

July 2009

August 2009

September 2009

November 2009

December 2009

January 2010

March 2010

April 2010

Apr 22 10

Judt & Jewish

by Editor

Reading Tony Judt’s recent essay in the New York Review of Books, “Toni,” I was stuck by the degree to which so much of what he articulated there lines up with my own thinking on the subject, and much of my own writing over the last decade, too. (Indeed, after reading it, my wife remarked that she thought she’d been reading me at certain points.)

Judt’s themes—the confusion of American Jewish identity with Israeli identity; the odd and irrational fear among so many American Jews, that makes them support Israel as a potential refuge; and the mis-use of the holocaust as a rational for being “Jewish” in some form—are all important to me. “Important” is really an understatement. Where Judt is an English Jew reorienting to the U.S., my own identity as an American Jew has been shaped by these issues, but often in reverse: in opposition to these grand themes of American Jewry rather than born of them.

It is occasionally an uncomfortable place to be. In synagogue, when virtually the entire congregation stands to say a prayer for the state of Israel, I do not. After all, I’m not an Israeli, and have no plans to become one. (Out of a sense of both ecumenical fairness and theological interpretation, I also don’t stand for the prayer for the United States. If there is a god, I’m fairly sure that this god is not involved in the politics that shape our future, either here or abroad. My god is more personal than that.) I don’t like the American fetishizing of “Hatikvah,” the Israeli national anthem, or of reports about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Nor am I, as an American Jew, living in fear.

I regularly avoid New York City’s annual Israel Day parade. A few years ago, I did attend a small rally a couple of years ago pushing in the opposite direction: for peace and the implementation of plans for a two state resolution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. The abuse we counter-ralliers received was low, but only relative to the screams endured by the aggressively anti-Israel Hasids on the opposite side of the avenue.

I believe that the so-called “Occupied Territories” are, indeed, “occupied”: rightly by Palestinians, wrongly by Israeli settlers and the IDF. While I do not think that Israel-as-occupier is acting as the Nazis did, I do think that too often these claims-and-counter-claims become a way of distracting from the reality of Israel as an occupying force.

And don’t even get me started on the holocaust.

For all that, I find meaning in the religious aspects of Judaism, year after year after year after year. Indeed, I can safely say that I would be a very different person without this aspect of Judaism. This is not to say that Tony Judt has missed something in his own life—this is without judgment—but that for my life, the religious aspect of being Jewish is integral to both the experience of it and the struggle with it.


As with the other site, bear with me as I work through the challenges of switching to a new publishing system. So far, I am impressed with WordPress, but I still have much work to do to get the look and feel of it to a place I feel comfortable with.