Thursday, July 16, 2009

the thankful for a little time to blog blog

Happy to feature the work of dear longtime friend Caitlin Myer in this week's "Best of Shared Sacrifice" edition.

Morton Montgomery gets my first annual, maybe only, award for being a Daily Kos diarist who actually pushes the Kossacks forward by explaining why it's unlikely Obama will fix the economy...
Writer Joe Gregorio expands on the popular Free Market Fairy concept:
There is nothing benevolent about free markets, they are a natural force, like gravity, and aren't magical, good, or evil. The free market will maximize efficiency and it will do so in a manner that is blind to externalities...

Maximizes efficiency and is blind to externalities. That's the market, not good or evil, simply a force, with a will to live and colonize. That's the "invisible hand." It's true that the Hand has fallen out of fashion, but give it time to recover. Already, libertarians insist that the current crisis is merely a natural fluctuation exacerbated by government intervention--this 20 years + into deregulation.

A much more depressing story, I suppose, because I recently had a falling out over this argument, and because there are so many human faces in Dion Nissenbaum's account of Israeli soldiers confessing to practices that range somewhere between illegal and legally-murkey-over-the-top-brutality:
Soldiers described incidents in which Israeli forces killed an unarmed Palestinian carrying a white cloth, an elderly woman carrying a sack, a Gazan riding a motorcycle, and an elderly man with a flashlight[...]The 110-pages of testimony — along with 16 video clips — of interviews with 26 unnamed Israeli soldiers offers the most comprehensive look inside a military campaign that's become the subject of an unfolding United Nations war crimes investigation.

No longer perceived as the cohesive, smart, morally pure army, the IDF response is clumsy and circular...
The Israel Defense Forces dismissed the report.
IDF spokeswoman Avital Leibovich said Tuesday that the IDF now is conducting dozens of investigations into troop conduct during the Gaza operation and that more than a dozen cases led to police investigations.
In April, the IDF announced it had concluded five high-level investigations, including one into the use of phosphorus to burn down buildings, and cleared itself.

So this week, instead of pointing out the misleadership of the Palestinian resistance and pissing off my progressive friends (I routinely do this and they accuse me of an irresponsible neutrality), I suppose I'll piss off ex-friends by pointing out that failure to condemn Israeli violence and seriously engage the issues separating the people of Israel from the people of Palestine is not only moral tunnell vision, but also pragmatic paralysis...and a death sentence for more Israeli and Palestinian children.

Finally, the Pentagon and others apparently want to expand the size of the U.S. Army. Part of me actually thinks this is a good idea. Get more people over to Iraq and Afghanistan so that they can see what a folly of a mess U.S. imperialism has created. Sure, most will come back with the same uncritical love for U.S.-imp they had before, but more and more will come back critical thinkers and progressives, while zero will experience a net increase in blind patriotism. As predicted by all sorts of radical commentators, war is revolutionary. But on the other hand, I don't want more of my brothers and sisters in uniform to experience danger in a world they never made.


Will said...

re: the market is blind to externalities - not quite. individual actors on markets have tons of incentives to eliminate externalities where and when they occur. see

more solid points on externalities (not necessarily refuting what you quote, but interesting nonetheless:

re: deregulation:

matt said...

Thanks Will--I'll likely have time after institutes to take a closer look at this.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Douchebag here ('tho I prefer "Douchnozzle"):

You wrote "failure to condemn Israeli violence and seriously engage the issues separating the people of Israel from the people of Palestine is not only moral tunnell vision, but also pragmatic paralysis...and a death sentence for more Israeli and Palestinian children."

I agree with everything you have said. But, I think, in one sense, it is you who have failed to "seriously engage the issues" that separate Palestinians and Israelis, because in our previous debates about Islam, you seem to have rejected the idea that Islam is one of these issues, instead stating the "everyone-knows this" mantra that all religions are the same.

Every school of Islamic jurisprudence teaches that jihad is warfare on unbelievers, and Hamas and Fatah both believe jihad is the only solution to their problems. Both seem to think that only when Israel is destroyed will there be peace. Their only difference seems to be in their timelines.

The Qu'ran repeatedly says very bad things about Jews, and Islamic Anti-Semitism is very much alive today, in the political cartoons published in the Palestinian press, to the ridiculous conspiracy theories promulgated by Palestinians. The latest such is that Israel supplied "sex gum" to undermine the Palestinian youth.

Islam and Arab intransigence are the paramount issues separating Israelis and Palestinians. Saying all religions are the same is to remain morally blind to this reality.

matt said...


I maintain that there is intransigence on both sides of the isle. You will not convince me otherwise merely by repeating the talking points of the pro-Israel side, anymore than pro-palestinian sources will convince me that the fault lies primarily with Israel. My allegiance lies with groups like Parents' Circle and other groups made up of BOTH Israelis and Palestinians, criticizing both sets of leaders. The existence of such groups proves that the differences between Israelis and Palestinians, as between Jews, Christians and Muslims, is due to the mismanagement and intransigence of their leaders, not the people themselves. I invite you to take this very liberating, albeit difficult, step towards being for peace in all instances, rather than taking one side (as of yet you haven't proven to me that you are in any way critical of Israeli leadership, for example). Until then, your anonymous posts here will carry little weight with me (and I'm not sure why you're trying to convince me anyway--clearly to those unconditionally defending Israel--as with those unconditionally defending Hamas--I am a lost cause).

In short: I value the opinions of peace groups made up of both Israelis and Palestinians ABOVE the opinions of any group that confines itself to ONLY Israelis or ONLY Palestinians. I don't see myself turning from that position anytime soon. Perhaps the intransigence truly lies with me.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Douchenozzle here:

I have never denied that "there is intransigence on both sides of the isle [sic]".

But Islam itself and Arab intransigence are the paramount obstacles to peace in the region.

The Palestinians have been offered a homeland on 3 separate occasions: in 1937, 1947 and 2000-2001, and each time have rejected the offer and responded with increased terrorism.

The reason for such rejection is often seen that to accept these offers, Palestinians will have to accept the existence of Israel; which is something they never want to do. Why? At least partially because of Islamic Anti-Semitism.

So, there are problems on both sides of the aisle, no doubt; but these two are the biggest, most fundamental problems and they need to be dealt with before others, if peace is to be achieved.

There is no virtue in balancing the blame, if one side is indeed more culpable than the other.

matt said...

Fair enough. You're on the side of Israel. I'm on the side of Parents' Circle and other joint Arab-Israeli peace groups. Anything else?

Anonymous said...

Hell yes I'm on the side of Israel! I'm also on the side of democracy, equality, justice, freedoms (of speech, of conscience, of religion, of thought, of expression), fairness, and human rights.

Israel is the only country in the region that even remotely has all of these things.

matt said...

I don't disagree. I think a major difference between our approaches is that you side with a nation-state and its accompanying ideology, whereas I side with groups of people, not necessarily (though not in principle excluding) nation-states, and tend to question, rather than feel the need to side with, dominant institutional ideologies.

Anonymous said...

Whatever gets you thru the night, dude.

If freedom, democracy, rule of law and human rights are "ideology", then you are correct.

matt said...

You would kill more Palestinian children as a means to the end of security defined exclusively on Israeli terms. So, indeed, whatever gets _you_ through the night...dude.