But this column by Thomas L. Friedman, I Have Never Been to This Israel Before (dated Nov. 9, but appeared in my Sunday paper today), is actually quite good.
A few bits:
After traveling around Israel and the West Bank, I now understand why so much has changed. It is crystal clear to me that Israel is in real danger — more danger than at any other time since its War of Independence in 1948. And it’s for three key reasons:
First, Israel is facing threats from a set of enemies who combine medieval theocratic worldviews with 21st-century weaponry — and are no longer organized as small bands of militiamen but as modern armies with brigades, battalions, cybercapabilities, long-range rockets, drones and technical support. […]
I am stunned by how many Israelis now feel this danger personally, no matter where they live — starting with a friend who lives in Jerusalem telling me that she and her husband just got gun licenses to have pistols at home. No one is going to snatch their children and take them into a tunnel. Hamas, alas, has tunneled fear into many, many Israeli heads far from the Gaza border.
The second danger I see is that the only conceivable way that Israel can generate the legitimacy, resources, time and allies to fight such a difficult war with so many enemies is if it has unwavering partners abroad, led by the United States. […]
But Biden can sustainably generate the support Israel needs only if Israel is ready to engage in some kind of a wartime diplomatic initiative directed at the Palestinians in the West Bank — and hopefully in a post-Hamas Gaza — that indicates Israel will discuss some kind of two-state solutions if Palestinian officials can get their political house unified and in order.
This leads directly to my third, deep concern.
Israel has the worst leader in its history — maybe in all of Jewish history — who has no will or ability to produce such an initiative.
My brother, the journalist and now journalism watchdog, had a great idea:
Donald Trump took the stand on Monday in his civil fraud trial in a Manhattan courtroom.
But because television cameras were not allowed inside, the public was only given a filtered look at the proceedings, through the eyes of journalists whose takes varied considerably. Without the ability to record audio, reporters were unable to capture longer passages and exchanges.
Precisely what went on in that courthouse should not be shrouded in mystery. So I tracked down the court reporter working that day, and purchased from her the full transcript. (I raised the money to do so through a GoFundMe. Thank you to all who contributed!)
And now I’m making it public, for all to see. Feel free to download and repost.
You can read Trump’s trial testimony online or read Trump’s trial testimony in PDF.
Thank you, Dan!
In Moore v. United States, the Supreme Court is set to hear a challenge to a tax on an unrealized financial gain. The core of the challenge is that the tax exceed Congress’s power under the 16th Amendment, which gave it the power to levy direct taxes, such as per-person income taxes. Lurking not far in the background of this dispute is the issue of whether a hypothetical wealth tax would even be constitutional.
Professors Vikram Amar and Akhil Amar have submitted one of the best amicus briefs I’ve ever read. Written with some pizazz, it argues that the case is being fought on the wrong grounds. The 16th Amendment has nothing to do with this dispute, they argue, because the tax on unrealized gains is not a direct tax at all, as the term was originally understood, and as construed unanimously by the Supreme Court in Hylton v. United States, 3 U.S. (3 Dall.) 171 (1796). (Spotted via Balkanization.)
It seems a narrow majority of the House GOP conference has plumped for ultra-rightist but somewhat establishment Rep. Steve Scalise over ultra-rightist bomb-thrower Rep. Jim Jordan as its choice for Speaker of the House–an office the Washington Post recently called ‘the worst job in Washington’.
But it also seems as though there currently are enough House GOP rebels to prevent Scalise from having the necessary 217 votes to get elected over Democratic opposition. So we remain in a state of paralysis while Gaza burns and Ukraine hangs in the wind. The chances that Scalise would cut a deal with Democrats to get elected, pass a budget, seem remote.
When looking for culprits for this state of affairs, in addition to the obvious do not forget the American campaign finance system, which allows unlimited dark money in federal campaigns, and the increasingly gerrymandered districts in so many states in which partisan majorities work to create as many safe seats as they can. If fewer districts are competitive, there is no incentive to tack to the center, nor to work with the opposition. Indeed, any sign of cooperation becomes a dangerous trait, as it leads to primary opponents.
I’m at We Robot 2023! It’s a true delight to see so many old friends, but quite weird to go somewhere not just out of the house but in another city. And it’s even weirder to be in a room with so many people that is not in a hospital. I’m also one of only a handful wearing a mask.
We Robot is a workshop-style event, and many of the papers are in progress, which I find much more fun than a diet of fully baked papers where audience comments are too late to have an influence. We Robot tends more to conversation (and the audience comments/questions are usally terrific). Also, the norm is that people read papers in advance, and the authors do not present — we go straight to the discussant and then Q&A. Good times.
I am still immunocompromised, but my doctors said it was OK to go, so long as I was “careful”. So here I am. We’ll see if there are aftereffects.