Political Animal


February 16, 2013 6:21 PM Saturday Evening Reads

By Samuel Knight

-President Obama, in Chicago yesterday to promote his gun control initiative, lamented the violence that plagues the city’s youth. “Last year, there were 443 murders with a firearm in this city, and 65 of them were 18 and under. That’s the equivalent of a Newtown every four months,” he said, according to POLITICO. Just two and a half hours after he had left, the paper also reported that there were four shootings in the city, but none of them were fatal.

-In a recent column [hat tip: Salon’s David Daley], James Wagner, the President of Emory University, hailed the “three-fifths” compromise between slave and non slave states. The deal allowed slaves to be counted as three-fifths of a person in censuses despite their complete disenfranchisement. Wagner praised the two sides for setting “sights higher, not lower, in order to Identify their common goal and keep moving toward it.” Wagner, unsurprisingly, did not reach out to the Emory Black Student Alliance for comment. But he did manage to demonstrate —albeit inadvertently — the crude immorality of compromise for compromise’s sake.

-Bernie Sanders has an op-ed in the Guardian, promoting legislation that he cosponsored with Barbara Boxer aimed at reducing carbon emissions. “Unless we take bold action to reverse climate change, our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to look back on this period in history and ask a very simple question: Where were they?” Sanders states. A question that will be asked if a miracle were to occur and the bill, as it stands, is approved by Congress: would the provision that raises tariffs on goods originating from countries that don’t price carbon enable foreign companies to sue the United States government in investor-state tribunals created by NAFTA and the WTO?

-Update from this morning’s bombing in Quetta, Pakistan: the death toll is now believed to be at least 64, according to Reuters, and the Sunni militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. Local police said the bomb, which was detonated in Quetta’s main bazaar, was fastened to a motorcycle. “This is a continuation of terrorism against Shi’ites,” Wazir Khan Nasir, the deputy inspector of police in Quetta, said.

-Marco Rubio departed on a trip to Israel and Jordan today in what is most likely a bid to bolster his credentials ahead of Republican Presidential primaries in 2016. Rubio will be meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Palestinian National Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, and Jordanian King Abdullah, according to The Hill. This blogger will resist hackish inclinations to remind Senator Rubio that staying hydrated is a great way to beat jetlag (oh, damn) and instead point out that the “democracy” and “religious freedom” in Israel that Rubio praised today is, by definition, nominal, as it is in all states that elevate one religion over another.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • nonymous on February 16, 2013 7:43 PM:

    Hmmmm....Marco Rubio goes looking for some foreign policy cred, just like Romney did.
    Having just proved himself to be a Romney clone, literally pilfering the rigid, familiar statements from the Romney campaign in that Rubio answer to the State of the Union Address.

    Even the tone was the same old one we saw during the republican primaries and during the final campaign. Negative bumper sticker talk. No substance. Just timeworn slogans.

    And the insanity of Rubio's global warming denial-- referencing the president's concerns with oceans (hello, east coast)---Rubio, not long ago wavering about the age of the earth--- fearing he'd displease the tea party. Actually Rubio's speech contributed to global warming.

    He is just a dredged up candidate, remmiscent of Sarah Palin in a prettily wrapped package..... containing nothing of substance.

  • Bobby Goren on February 17, 2013 8:30 AM:

    "point out that the “democracy” and “religious freedom” in Israel that Rubio praised today is, by definition, nominal, as it is in all states that elevate one religion over another."

    Amen brother!

  • DemsDaBreaks on February 17, 2013 10:46 AM:

    I continue to be fascinated at the growing anti-Israel message in a blog I have long enjoyed. Don't get me wrong. There is plenty in the current Israeli Government and in the policies pursued by it and its predecessors that I oppose. Israel has done much to make its situation worse, and has not always taken the opportunities available to it to pursue a just and lasting piece.

    That said, how about some balance in what is supposed to pride itself on being a fact-based, left-of-center blog? Israel is a nominal democracy? How about the election that was just held in which 70% of Israelis voted? How about the fact that 10% of the seats in the Knesset will be held by Arab parties, roughly the percentage of Arabs in Israel proper (i.e., inside the Green Line)? Compare that to the recent Egyptian elections to use just one example.

    The article suggests that there is no religious freedom in Israel either, yet the Waqf (Muslim religious authority) continues to operate all Muslim holy sites, including the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount and Christian religious authorities continue to operate all Christian holy sites. Muslim and Christian life cycle events are recognized by the State too. If anything, the primary focus of religious tension in Israel is on the part of non-Orthodox Jews who object to the stranglehold the Orthodox rabbinate has on marriage, etc. among Jews.

    For all this, Israel does not yet compare favorably with some Western democracies in some respects, but could Israel's security situation explain much if not all of that? Consider how fast some of our fellow Americans are to take action against anyone perceived to be Muslim or foreign or otherwise a "threat" and that just took one (albeit horrific) act of terrorism. Consider the upheaval in France as it deals with its growing Muslim population. Israel has suffered literally hundreds of such acts, and yet all of the above remains true.

    Would it be too much to ask Washington Monthly for a little balance on this topic?

  • ceilidth on February 17, 2013 11:23 AM:

    We hear a lot about how we need more engineers and fewer people from the liberal arts. The president of Emory makes it clear by his example that a course or two in ethics would have been useful for him.

    Not long ago the Times wrote an article about several young and poor women and the struggles they faced in college. One attended Emory. Emory was utterly clueless about working with a young woman who was struggling to attend and deal with the financial aid paperwork. They even "raised" her mother's income on the FAFSA without telling her so that it would be above the amount where she would have been exempt from tuition. They were utterly unrepentant even when they found out the first number was accurate. 'Sounds like the apple doesn't fall too far from the presidential tree at Emory.

  • James Wimberley on February 17, 2013 12:34 PM:

    The closing sentence is OTT.
    Britain, Spain, Greece and Sweden have established religions; but they are genuine democracies, and the inequalities that come from membership of a non-established religion or none are trivial (eg. only Anglican bishops sit in the powerless British House of Lords). You need a more sophisticated test than one-line laicité. The Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan isn't a democracy, but non-Buddhists do fine. The disabilities that come from being non-Jewish in Israel, or non-Muslim in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan, are much more serious.