Monthly Archives: April 2008

End of the Semester (Grading Time)

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It’s that time of the semester…the end. That means loads of final papers to grade and less time for the blog. I hope to be done with all of that by May 9 and then have more time to write. I also am trying to convince someone to contribute a guest post on the American labor movement (nudge, nudge) in the next few days (weeks?).

Nobody that I tagged has responded. But Ben Neill added me to his blogroll, which was nice. Bob has a post on the books people are reading here.

Charles Tilly, 1929-2008

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Sociologist Charles Tilly passed away today (April 29, 2008). He was a mentor to and influence on a number of my professors. I’ll be writing an obit shorty. In the meantime, here is some information on the man and his work from his faculty bio at the Columbia University website:

Charles Tilly is Joseph L. Buttenwieser Professor of Social Science, Columbia University. His work focuses on large-scale social change and its relationship to contentious politics, especially in Europe since 1500. His most recently published books are The Politics of Collective Violence (Cambridge University Press, 2003), Contention and Democracy in Europe, 1650-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2004), Social Movements, 1768-2004 (Paradigm Press, 2004), Economic and Political Contention in Comparative Perspective (Paradigm Press, co-authored and co-edited with Maria Kousis, 2005), Trust and Rule (Cambridge University Press, 2005), Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758-1834 (Paradigm Press, 2005, revised paperback edition of 1995 book), and Identities, Boundaries, and Social Ties (once again Paradigm Press, 2005).

He has recently completed Why? (Princeton University Press, forthcoming), the Oxford Handbook of Contextual Political Analysis (co-edited and co-authored with Robert Goodin, Oxford University Press, forthcoming), and Regimes and Repertoires (publisher pending). He is co-authoring (with Sidney Tarrow) Contentious Politics (under contract with Paradigm Press) and co-authoring (with John Coatsworth, Juan Cole, Michael Hanagan, Peter Perdue, and Louise A. Tilly) Politics, Exchange, and Social Life in World History (Wadsworth/Thomson). He is helping run the Russian Academy of Sciences – (U.S.) National Academy of Sciences joint project on conflict in multi-ethnic polities.

Charles Tilly’s writings on methodology are found here: http://professor-murmann.info/index.php/weblog/tilly

Free Markets and Food Riots Redux

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In a previous life (1990s) I studied the political-economy of development with an emphasis in the Indian subcontinent, in particular India and Nepal. I traveled to India in 1993 when the market was first opening to Foreign Direct Investment. Like the rest of my cohort I was extremely skeptical of “globalization” or capitalism in general. One book that had an impact on me at this time was Seldon and Walton’s, Free Markets and Food Riots: The Politics of Global Adjustment. The basic thesis is as follows:

In numerous countries in the global South, from the Middle East to Latin America, shock treatment in the form of structural adjustment, privatization, and so on established the conditions for “IMF Riots.” In the Middle East alone, major austerity protests occurred in Algeria (1987, 1988, 1990); Egypt (1977, 1986, 1987, 1989); Jordan (1989); Lebanon (1987); and Turkey (1978-1979, 1980, 1990). Sedden and Walton argue these outbursts were analogous to the “bread riots” in eighteenth-century Europe and “part of the process of international economic and political restructuring” that swept the globe from the late 1970s to the early 1990s. Countries that pursued a more moderate course of economic liberalization (e.g. Mexico) experienced less unrest.

There were food riots in over thirty countries last week but the economic forces at play in 2007 are not the same as those in the 1990s. The reasons given for the current food crisis include:

1) Increasing oil prices. Oil is critical for agricultural production whether as gas in tractors or as a primary component of pesticides, etc.

2) Drought/Climate change. For example, Australia, a major wheat producer, has been experiencing drought for a decade.

3) Demand for biofuel. The NY Sun reports, an estimated 30% of America’s corn crop is now used for fuel instead of food.

4) The booming economies of India and China. Both countries are consuming more energy than in the past. And an increasing middle-class in both countries means that their food consumption patterns are changing. They want to eat more animal protein, especially in China. Today, China purchases 2/3 of Brazil’s soybean crop to feed animals.

Given that so many factors are contributing to these high food prices, what can be done to remedy the situation? The first thing Western nations can do is assist in situations of food emergency. We also need to cut subsidies to agribusiness. The United States and Western Europe should be ashamed that we tell poor countries to open their markets and cut subsidies (Haiti imports 90% of its food) while providing massive aid to our ADM and other mega-producers.

Meanwhile, back here in the U.S. Costco and other retailers are rationing the amounts of rice, flour and cooking oil they are selling to customers. Foreigners and immigrants are buying large quantities of grain and other foodstuffs to ship back home to their relatives in Latin America, Asia, Africa and the Caribbean. The dollar is weak and is buying less food overseas these days so they are asking for direct shipments of food instead. Yet as my wife pointed out to me, a lot of these packages will likely not make it to the families and loved ones they are intended to reach as the civil services in many of these countries (including the postal service) are rife with graft and other forms of corruption.

Read More:

AP: UN food agency needs hundreds of millions of hungy

Commodity Online: Food crisis is a silent tsunami

Foreign Policy: Seven Questions, the Silent Tsunami

The Hindu: UN food agency warms of eroding capacity

Seattle PI: A food disaster is brewing

Washington Post: U.S. Scrambles to Address International Food Crisis

Tag, I’m It

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I’m not much for these tag games, but I like the Contentious Centrist so I will comply and shut up…

Here are my tasks:

1. Pick up the nearest book.
2. Open to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the next three sentences.
5. Tag five people, and acknowledge who tagged you.

I’m tagging Elder of Ziyon, the Kvetcher, Modernity Blog, Ben Neill, and Sultan Knish.

Not sure if they will all respond but what the hay.

The nearest book to me is George Nash’s, The Conservative Intellectual Movement in America: Since 1945. It’s the last required book in my course on twentieth century American history. The class also read Lizabeth Cohen’s Making a New Deal: Industrial Workers in Chicago, 1919-1939 and Van Gosse’s Movements of the New Left, 1950-1975: A Brief History with Documents, among other things.

Here is the quote:

The leaders of the new conservatism are not now, nor will they be, identified with the American business community. They are clearly identified with natural law philosophy and revealed religion. The seat of the new conservatism is not a hereditary aristocracy which America lacks, but the Churches and theological faculties which are playing an ever more important role in American life.

This is from conservative historian Stephen Tonsor of the University of Michigan, who was vigorously rebutting Schlesinger’s persistent attempts to link conservatism with the business class in the U.S. This quote is from 1955.

Thoughts on the Current Debate: A Perspective from the U.S.

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[Image courtesy of Zombietime.]

I haven’t found the time to post a response to what Bob, Marko and the Drink Soaked Trots for War have been writing the past week or so. I’ve found the discussion stimulating aside from the occasional juvenile outbursts. I certainly find the West vs. Anti-West perspective to have some utility, especially vis-à-vis the current anti-totalitarian struggle we are facing.

The generic left-right divide does not actually capture the complexity of people’s politics in the U.S. these days. For example, an individual may be considered “conservative” on foreign policy issues and “liberal” on domestic issues. Plus, when you actually start to examine positions on specific issues things get more muddled. I’ve known many working-class individuals who are very “liberal” when it comes to wages, health care, and pensions but very “conservative” when it comes to the environment or matters of concern to the lgbt community.

Why this is the case is an interesting question to ponder. IMHO most Americans have similar ambiguities in their political identities. I suspect that part of it is we don’t have a long history of political parties tied to specific political ideologies like democratic socialism, communism, etc. in the United States. The parties espousing these sorts of ideas were all relatively short-lived, especially compared to those of Europe. This continuous institutional history goes a long way in explaining differences in worldview between American and European workers.

I think the entire issue of reality, cognition, and perception gets overlooked in these discussions and debates. It’s my contention, and I realize it’s a strong claim, that most people involved in radical politics in the United States are not involved for reasons that many would consider political. Instead, involvement in these groups and organizations provides a sense of belonging and identity.

Most of the actions that take place under the rubric of “radical politics” in the U.S. has very little actual political content, at least in relation to domestic or foreign policy. As Kevin Harris has argued, many people who join these marginal political groups are participating in a self-delusional political fantasy:

My first encounter with this particular kind of fantasy occurred when I was in college in the late sixties. A friend of mine and I got into a heated argument. Although we were both opposed to the Vietnam War, we discovered that we differed considerably on what counted as permissible forms of anti-war protest. To me the point of such protest was simple — to turn people against the war. Hence anything that was counterproductive to this purpose was politically irresponsible and should be severely censured. My friend thought otherwise; in fact, he was planning to join what by all accounts was to be a massively disruptive demonstration in Washington, and which in fact became one.

My friend did not disagree with me as to the likely counterproductive effects of such a demonstration. Instead, he argued that this simply did not matter. His answer was that even if it was counterproductive, even if it turned people against war protesters, indeed even if it made them more likely to support the continuation of the war, he would still participate in the demonstration and he would do so for one simple reason — because it was, in his words, good for his soul.

What I saw as a political act was not, for my friend, any such thing. It was not aimed at altering the minds of other people or persuading them to act differently. Its whole point was what it did for him.

And what it did for him was to provide him with a fantasy — a fantasy, namely, of taking part in the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed against their oppressors. By participating in a violent anti-war demonstration, he was in no sense aiming at coercing conformity with his view — for that would still have been a political objective.

Instead, he took his part in order to confirm his ideological fantasy of marching on the right side of history, of feeling himself among the elect few who stood with the angels of historical inevitability. Thus, when he lay down in front of hapless commuters on the bridges over the Potomac, he had no interest in changing the minds of these commuters, no concern over whether they became angry at the protesters or not.

They were there merely as props, as so many supernumeraries in his private psychodrama. The protest for him was not politics, but theater; and the significance of his role lay not in the political ends his actions might achieve, but rather in their symbolic value as ritual. In short, he was acting out a fantasy.

For want of a better term, call the phenomenon in question a fantasy ideology — by which I mean, political and ideological symbols and tropes used not for political purposes, but entirely for the benefit of furthering a specific personal or collective fantasy. It is, to be frank, something like “Dungeons and Dragons” carried out not with the trappings of medieval romances — old castles and maidens in distress — but entirely in terms of ideological symbols and emblems. The difference between them is that one is an innocent pastime while the other has proven to be one of the most terrible scourges to afflict the human race.

I’ve found that most people on the radical left (whether “authoritarian” or “libertarian”) subscribe to various forms of fantasy ideologies. For them, politics is about validating their own personal political beliefs (like being “anti-state”) rather than accomplishing anything political. That’s not to say that the libertarian left holds uninteresting political beliefs. But let’s be honest, how many of these black-hooded youths actually thinks “the state” is going to collapse anytime soon?

I used to consider myself an anarchist. Anarchism was–key word being was–a thriving political movement in the mid to late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries because it had a strong foundation in working-class communities. Today it is mostly a fad for middle-class college students, like socialism in general. This, not government repression, explains the movement’s weakness. These ideologies lack any sort of appeal amongst the classes they were once associated with. Historian Ron Radosh refers to this as the “leftover left”.

Marko articulates similar thoughts when he writes:

It may be true, philosophically speaking, that anarchists who support autonomous communes are fundamentally different from statist socialists who support a centrally planned economy, but given the unlikelihood that the ideals of either will ever be realised, I do not consider it particularly worthwhile to discuss such differences. What matters is where one stands on concrete issues relating to struggles that are actually taking place…

And this is the key point: real, meaningful change is possible under the existing liberal-democratic order, whereas there is no reason to believe that this order can be overthrown and replaced by something radically different and better. If I have ‘made my peace’ with the existing order, it is not because I think the existing order is perfect, but because it is an existing order that can be improved, whereas the radical-left alternatives do not offer any realistic prospect for successful progressive change.

That’s the clincher. As I’ve written elsewhere, utopian political programs lead to dystopian outcomes. Reform is necessary in any society or system of government, economics, jurisprudence, and so forth. But revolution, at least as dreamed by the radical left in the U.S., is a fantasy.

Cinematic Orchestra at the Jazz Standard

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The Cinematic Orchestra played last night. My wife and I had the opportunity to check them out last September at Webster Hall and it was a great show so I knew we’d want to check them again when they came back to town. Last night’s show was at the Jazz Standard which is a really nice club. The setting is much more intimate than Webster Hall and you can actually sit down at a table instead of standing the entire set. In our case the table was front and center less than a half a foot from the stage.

We arrived for the second set (9:30) and it was short but sweet. Some of the songs I remember are “Flite,” “All that You Give,” “Evolution,” “To Build a Home,” and “Breathe.” Everyone was great but drummer Luke Flowers and guitarist Stuart McCallum were the standouts that night. Here is a vid for “Flite”

Are Religious Americans and Gun Owners “Bitter”?

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I know it’s ancient history in the time frame of American politics but I intended to write a few words regarding Obama’s recent jab at working-class Pennsylvanians. As informative as it is to deconstruct the content of Obama’s comment, just as illustrative is the response from conservatives and liberals. In particular which part of his comment they choose to latch on to. On this issue, I find myself in the former category.

Here is Obama’s comment in its entirety:

You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration, and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate and they have not. So it’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

As is probably clear to most people, there are two interrelated claims being made here. One is that international trade and immigration, “globalization” in the current verbiage, has cost people their jobs and economic security. As a result, they are bitter. The second is Americans believe in God and own guns because they are bitter. Obama’s millionaire donor audience in San Francisco may be unable to make the distinction but most Americans can.

As I recently opined on Sultan Knish’s blog, gun owners and believers make up a majority of voters in the United States. The United States regularly rates as among the most religious of the Western, capitalist states. There are more guns than cars in this country.

People are religious because they believe, not because they are “bitter.” People own guns because it is a Constitutional right and an expression of our liberty and freedom. Heck, some of us simply enjoy shooting guns. But Obama had to pander to San Francisco’s liberal millionaire elite and express opinions that were openly disdainful of the majority of Americans.

Some conservatives seem convinced that comments like these and Obama’s affiliation with individuals like Rev. Wright indicate he is some sort of closet radical. But I find Obama to be a condescending snob, more along the lines of a limousine liberal than a subscriber to the ideologies of the leftover left. He knows how to “speak to a crowd” because he tells the crowd what they want to hear.

People are starting to see through Obama but the conclusions they are drawing are dramatically different. Many conservatives think Obama identifies with the perverse goals and values of organizations like the Nation of Islam or the Weatherman but he constructed these connections for political reasons. The man was a community organizer with ACORN for all of what, six months? He had no connection to “the community” so he proceeded to hook up with the Nation of Islam, Reverend Wright, and all the rest of the gate-keepers and power brokers in Chicago. In short, Obama may be less the revolutionary that conservatives fear and more along the lines of the opportunist, poverty pimp, that conservatives loathe.

All this relates, in a peripheral way, to the arguments raised by Thomas Frank in What’s the Matter with Kansas? Like many elitist liberals, Frank contends working class conservative voters are duped into supporting social-conservative politicians who act against the economic self-interest of the working class by cutting taxes on the rich, for example. However, when confronted with the reality that people in liberal enclaves routinely vote on social issues (gay marriage, abortion, etc.) and act against their economic self-interest (electing liberal politicians who will raise their taxes) critics like Frank are silent. Why is that?

ADDED: Michael Weiss at the New Criterion makes some similar points, albeit in a much more erudite fashion.

Hag Pesach Sameach

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[The Marx brothers as the Four Sons. By Dick Codor, USA, 1981.]

Pesach is the story of liberation from slavery and a return to the land of Israel. All very positive things and a cause of celebration. But an important element of Pesach is the reality of Amalek—the first foe to attack the people of Israel after they had come out of Egypt as a free nation. Amalek is twice designated in the Pentateuch (Ex. xvii. 14-16, Deut. xxv. 19) as the one against whom war should be waged until his memory be blotted out forever (Y’Mach Schmo Vezichro). For some rabbis Amalek is an actual human or humans, for others Amalek represents an idea (like anti-Semitism). What Jewish history shows is in every age we face a new Amalek.

And on a lighter note, here is an interesting gallery of images depicting The Four Sons from various Haggadot:

I especially enjoy the images from the Chicago Haggadah (1879), Istvan Zador’s (Budapest, 1924) and I can’t leave out Dick Codor’s variation with the four Marx brothers as the Four Sons (1981). Tzvi Livni’s socialist Zionist images (Israel, 1955) suffer from a problem common to much “political” art. The political content takes precedent over the quality of the drawing, painting, sculpture, etc. Nevertheless, I found much affinity with the message especially regarding anti-Zionism and ignorance of Israel’s history.

But contrast this to the imagery of Arthur Szyk (Poland, 1939). Here is a political artist who is truly a master of his art. More on Szyk here and here. The second URL from the New York Sun is an article about the limited reissue of The Szyk Haggadah. Szyk was a very interesting individual, an activist for African American civil rights and a supporter of the Revisionist Zionist movement. An image of the Four Sons from Szyk’s Haggadah is found at the bottom of this post.

Here is a bit on the Four Sons:

The Torah refers to four sons: One wise, one wicked, one simple and one who does not know how to ask a question.

What does the wise son say?

“What are the testimonials, statutes and laws Hashem our G-d commanded you?”

You should tell him about the laws of Pesach, that one may eat no dessert after eating the Pesach offering.

What does the wicked son say? “What does this drudgery mean to you?

“To you and not to him. Since he excludes himself from the community, he has denied a basic principle of Judaism. You should blunt his teeth by saying to him: “It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt. For me and not for him. If he was there he would not have been redeemed.”

What does the simple son say? “What’s this?” You should say to him “With a strong hand Hashem took me out of Egypt, from the house of servitude.”

And the one who does not know how to ask, you start for him, as the Torah says: “And you should tell your son on that day, saying ‘It is for the sake of this that Hashem did for me when I left Egypt.’”

The passage of the four sons raises many questions:

The wise and wicked sons seem to be opposites, but then why isn’t the wise son called ‘the good son?’

Is the simple son the opposite of the one who does not know how to ask? If so, how are they opposites?

The simple son’s question – “What’s this?” – is as simple as can be. Who, then, is the son who does not even know how to ask? A little baby?

The wicked son is told: “It is because of this that Hashem did ‘for me’ when I went out of Egypt – for me and not for him - had he been there he would not have been redeemed.” Why is the wicked son answered in third person?

The verse used to answer the wicked son is the same verse used to answer the one who does not know how to ask. Why?

The sons divide into two pairs – the wise and the simple on one side, and the wicked and the one who does not know how to ask on the other.

The simple son wants to learn. He looks up to the wise son and emulates him. When he hears the wise son asking questions, he also wants to ask. His question ‘What’s this?’ lacks the sophistication of the wise son’s question, but it reflects the same sincere desire to learn and understand.

The one who does not know how to ask admires the wicked son. He desires to show the same ironic contempt for the Torah, but unlike the wicked son he lacks the requisite cleverness. Not trusting himself to attack as effectively as his mentor, he remains silent.

The wicked son’s ‘question’ is merely rhetorical – it deserves no response at all. Yet, the one who does not know how to ask is sitting at the table listening to the wicked son’s remarks. He’s in danger of being influenced. Therefore, our response to the wicked son is to say to the one who doesn’t even know how to ask: “Don’t be influenced by his smug cynicism. Had he been in Egypt, he would not have been redeemed. He is cutting himself off from the eternity of the Jewish people.”

This difference in approach is described in the book of Proverbs (26:4,5): “Do not answer the fool according to his foolishness, lest you become equal to him. Answer the fool according to his foolishness, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” This seems like a contradiction: Should we answer the fool or not?

The answer is that there are two types of fools. One type of fool already ‘knows’ everything. For him, discussion is merely an opportunity to show off his ‘superior’ knowledge. There is no point in answering him, because he will never admit a fault. On the contrary, our attempts to educate him will meet with ridicule. As he rejects our insights one after another, the fruitlessness of our efforts makes us appear foolish.

But there is another type of fool: One aware of his limitations. His views are wrong and foolish, but he’s not completely closed to instruction. If we open the lines of communication we can have an impact on him. If we don’t reach out to him, he’ll eventually start to think: “I’ve held these views for so long, and no one has ever contradicted me – so, I must be right!”

There is a profound message here for our times. We are all confronted with people who scoff at the Torah. We often have to decide if and how to respond. The book of Proverbs teaches us that our primary responsibility is to improve the critic by our response. If that is impossible, then responding is a waste of time. But if it is possible, then we must not wait for his initiation. We must reach out to him and start the dialogue.

Notice, however, that the wicked son is at the Seder! We do not exclude him or reject him personally. Only discussion is avoided, since discussion has no point. The inclusion of the wicked son at the Seder expresses our conviction that no Jew is ever irretrievably lost. We hope our stern response will shake his proud self-confidence to the point where real discussion becomes possible.

“Who is wise? He who learns from every person (Pirkei Avos 4:1).” Indeed, the classical title for a Torah scholar is ‘Talmid Chacham‘ – a wise student.

What is the idea behind this definition? In order to learn from others, one needs two crucial insights. First, “I am lacking. There is much that I do not know.” And second, “Others possess the knowledge which I need.”

Now we can appreciate why the Haggadah juxtaposes the wise and the wicked sons. The central failure in the wicked son is his closed-mindedness. The heart of his evil is the supreme foolishness to think that his understanding is perfect. Thus he is the diametrical opposite of the wise son who is completely open to the instruction of others.

Have a great Pesach!

More Pesach Posts (added as I find them):

Bob from Brockley

Contentious Centrist

The Kvetcher

Simply Jews

Sultan Knish

Carter’s Middle East Study Mission: Peace Tour or Terror Tour?

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Jimmy Carter is in the Middle East allegedly on a mission of world peace. According to the Carter Center website:

Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter will lead a study mission to Israel, the West Bank, Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan April 13-21, 2008, as part of the Carter Center’s ongoing effort to support peace, democracy, and human rights in the region…“ This is a study mission, and our purpose is not to negotiate, but to support and provide momentum for current efforts to secure peace in the Middle East,” said President Carter

Study mission? The trip would more accurately be described as a terror tour. Consider who Carter is meeting with, high-level officials of Hamas. Hamas, as evidenced by their actions, has no interest in peace. Hamas, as evidenced by their charter, is dedicated to murdering Jews and the destruction of Israel.

While in Cairo, the former president met with former Hamas deputy prime minister Nasser Eddin Shaer. He also gave a speech at the American University decrying IDF actions in Gaza as a “crime” and “atrocity” and an “abomination.” Less than 24 hours later, Hamas terrorists shot and killed 3 Israeli soldiers. Carter is scheduled to meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashel in Damascus on Friday. Mashel is believed responsible for organizing the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit and has expressed that terrorism is the basis of Palestinian politics and the identity of the Palestinian people. Carter is also scheduled to meet with Syrian president Bashar al-Asad.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert and other officials have reportedly refused to meet with Carter. Good for them. They should have refused Carter entry into the country. Hamas is at war with Israel and Carter is clearly more than sympathetic to the Hamas “narrative.” Israel should refuse entry to other self-serving activists like Carter whose ideal of peace in the region means Israeli capitulation and endless concessions to terrorists. Failing to take an enemy at their word is worse than hubris, it’s suicidal.

Here in the United States, some politicians are coming up with creative ways to punish Carter for his political activities. The appropriately named CARTER Act (Coordinated American Response to Extreme Radicals Act) seeks to remove funding for the Carter Center. The Center has received $19 million in federal funding since 2001. The Democracy Project notes, this “$19 million pales beside the tens of millions that have flowed to the Carter Center from MidEast sources.” Agreed. But why our tax dollars are supporting an organization engaging in activities in opposition to American foreign policy goals is baffling. The New York Sun reports, Rep. Joseph Knollenberg (R, MI) introduced the bill and has found support to be “overwhelming in the first 24 hours since he introduced it.” However,

The chairman of the House subcommittee that oversees American policy towards the Middle East, Gary Ackerman, a Democrat of New York, yesterday said he thought the CARTER Act was “rather silly,” and “reactionary.” At the same time, Mr. Ackerman, who wrote a letter with the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Rep. Howard Berman, a Democrat of California, urging Mr. Carter not to visit Mr. Meshaal, had harsh words for Mr. Carter.

“The man is entitled his idiotic, moronic, nonsensical, anti-commonsensical, foolish opinions. And all that being said, he is still entitled to have them. I don’t think we should be cutting off funding for any ex presidents to do things. We didn’t cut off Richard Nixon,” he said. Mr. Ackerman added that if Mr. Carter came to his home for the Passover Seder, he would ask him to read the part of the simple son, the boy who does not know enough to even ask a question about the story of the Jewish exodus from ancient Egypt.

One issue for Democrats will be whether Mr. Carter will speak at the national convention in Denver scheduled for August. The editor-in-chief of the New Republic, Martin Peretz, this week urged Democrats not to let the ex-president speak. “If the Democrats want to win Florida in November they should try to keep him in Plains or send him on another voyage to Darfur where his syrupy cynicism is also well-understood,” he wrote.

Read More:

Arutz Sheva

JPost

Boker tov, Boulder! “Carter Doesn’t Quit.

But I am a Liberal! “Some ‘Wisdom’ from Jimmy Carter.”

The Contentious Centrist, “Carter and the hypocrites.”

Democracy Project, “CARTER Act in Congress to Cut Off Carter Center Funding

Robert Maginni at Human Events, “Hamas’ Useful Idiot

Eric Trajer at Contentions, “Islamic Jihad: We Refused Carter’s Request for a Meeting.” Trajer’s “Carter’s Historic Relationship with Hamas” is also worth reading.

Jacob Laksin, at FrontPage, “Carter’s Terror Tour“.

Solomonia urges readers to Support the CARTER Act.

The CARTER Act is H.R. 5816. Want to see it pass? Contact your representative and let your voice be heard and counted.