Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Sign the Petition to Make the Filibuster Real!

In the movies, in order to filibuster, Senators have to stand in the Senate and make their case to the American people. But in the modern Senate, a filibuster takes no such act of principle or courage. Senators can filibuster simply by placing a phone call to a clerk and heading off to dinner!

This January 5th, we have a chance to change the rules of the Senate, and make Senators engage in an all night talk-a-thon in order to block legislation or nominations. The key is to adopt new rules on the first day the Senate convenes next year, when only a simple majority of Senators is required for a change in Senate rules.

I've joined with Senators Jeff Merkley and Tom Udall, who are fighting with some dedicated colleagues to make this happen. To get across the finish line, they need to get as many people as possible to show their support for making the filibuster real. You can do so by signing the petition Daily Kos has created:

Friday, December 17, 2010

The David

No Foto!
shouted and ignored
can you capture the divine?
No Foto! No Foto!
David stands and sighs
the tourists push their buttons
flashes like David is on the red carpet
transcendence or mere celebrity?
No Foto! No Foto!
Chatter echoes through the hall
Grandma focuses her lens
a guide gesticulates towards a crowd
a listless young boy wonders
what all the fuss is about.
No Foto! No Foto!
flip flops shuffle in and out
but David's still standing
never takes that next step forward
as he looks, at any moment now, to do:
climb down off the throne and
crush tourists with his marble legs
rip bodies with the strength of rock
tourists flee in horror, blood
fills the hall, creeping across the floor,
the Italian woman screaming
No Foto! No Foto!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Little rays of legislative hope

Could it be... past the fallout of a wipeout election, the grandstanding over tax cuts, the no votes on the defense authorization bill and inaction on the DREAM Act, now comes this small ray of bipartisanship over the civil rights issue of our time. Our hopes have been dashed before, yet it looks inevitable now that a standalone vote on the Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" will happen this lame duck. Republicans like Richard Lugar may want to be on the right side of history; guys like Scott Brown want to get re-elected.

A possible DADT repeal this month is a welcome advance -- but it is also another in a series of sad examples of why the fillibuster has so fundamentally corrupted the Senate. Every bill now requires 60 votes to advance to the floor for debate, making 60 the de facto number needed to pass any legislation. This anti-majoritarian diversionary tactic, in an already undemocratic chamber, needs to go.

I was given another new hope today, when I saw that some Democratic Senators seem genuinely serious about amending the Senate rules on January 5th, the first day of the 112th Congress, to reform the fillibuster. This procedure calls for a simple majority vote; no legislation may be passed until the rules are passed. Tom Udall is confident they will be able to reform the fillibuster. I would like to be rid of it entirely, but even restoring its genuine character would be a huge improvement. Now, Senators can simply use the threat of a fillibuster to shut down debate. If this procedural trick wasn't available, Senators would actually have to physically hold the floor to prevent debate to continue. Tying the fillibuster back to its original purpose would be more in line with the great deliberative tradition of that Chamber, which historically was at times a place where people actually listened to each other, and served with honor and dignity.

One area where this problem has manifested itself most acutely is judicial nominations. This editorial expressed the crisis well:

As it stands today, there are 110 vacancies out of around 870 federal judgeships, with another 21 judges anticipating retirement in the near future. That's 15 percent of the federal bench currently empty or about to become so. Moreover, there have been fewer judges confirmed during President Obama's first 20 months in office than at any point since Richard Nixon was president. A bipartisan collection of retired judges recently penned a letter to senators complaining about how the antics in the legislative branch were helping to cripple the judicial branch, arguing that the "situation is untenable for a country that believes in the rule of law."

This backlog of cases, which is delaying fundamental justice for American citizens, is just another casualty of the fillbuster. Might these new rule changes also help us solve this systemic problem? There is some hope in my mind that, by restoring majority rule in a closely divided chamber, we can have people start coming together in the middle to do the People's work. Learn more about the judicial nomination backlog at this interactive website made by the American Constitution Society,

Sunday, December 05, 2010

In space

In space, no reach for limits logic known
here I float authentic, seeming sound
catch me: a wisp, in strands cotton fleeting
like seeds with wings twirling sensed flight
in search of the soil of earthly delight.
Desire me this way a fanciful
string, color me object remarkable
white. Know that in whiteness reside all things
colored; know that in darkness I ne’er disappear
“shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.”
What is the difference remarkable made
‘tween poems rejecting and poems accepting
melodious, marking a profitable trade?
In Judgement find no one find nothing find
none, in Mercy weep pleasant, profitless
stars. Fixed skybound, meanings fixed in the sky
where I float less with grace higher twisting
around a molecule. and none comply.
atoms are the essence of character.
scissored unrolling presumptuous feat
to scatter my seedlings so timely in beat
around such a small thing such as this is
something I’m proud to be scattered around.
Your kind indulgence, I do then accept
qualified; paying, my own proud designs
the cost of floating in space exhaustive
spent my last flight falling, landed soft crunch
in a pile of Fall. red yellow orange
green pink purple. oak leaf maple acorn.
a white wisp floating, seeds winged and unbound.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

I won a case -- and there's a blog about it

I am excited to tell everyone about an individual I was able to recently help through Penn's Employment Advocacy Project. Bill Whiting, a good friend of Penn Law School Dean of Students Gary Clinton, had his unemployment compensation benefits wrongfully terminated after he voluntarily reported to the UC office that he was publishing a blog that was earning a very small amount of revenue. The blog was a collection of political-type cartoons that was a continuation of Bill's "Creative Arts" business that he has been doing for decades on the side. With the invaluable assistance of Penn Law student Pat Nugent, who represented the client at the hearing (I had to be at the MPRE that morning), we successfully argued that this blog fell into an exception for pre-existing sideline businesses, and therefore did not constitute the type of self employment that results in loss of benefits.

For a more lighthearted view of this case from the client himself, please check out his Winnie Toons blogpost on the subject, here!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

old poem

Sleep in my chest
Shut your eyes and close your head
Fold your feet and cross your heart
Hope to die
Hope to die
Stick a needle in your eye.

Slumber like a unicorn
Unknown, unseen
you don't exist
you're in my mind

Leonard didn't want to fight anymore.
So he ran off to a desert isle
with maidens on the shore.
And Leonard was so happy there
a castle, grassy, tall and cream.
Landing with knights
Chardonnay and Capricorns
dipped a ladle in the stars for his alphabet soup.

She fell asleep in his arms
together in my chest.
Sewer inside a leather bag
with baubles and silver
and petals of gold.
Trapped in the castle
on Manchua the isle
A desert in a snowglobe and I'm shaking.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

when times are tough, make art

I have all this work I have written over the years but never share with anyone. This is error. Art is meant to be put into the world, not hoarded up Dickinson-like for some postmortem discovery. Here is just something I recently wrote. I am going to try to put pieces of regularly without comment. I hope you will take some satisfaction in them.


Black tanks whir toward oblivion
empty shells explode on the street
the rain falls at night like a flood
consuming all with dust.
nothing meaning nothing.
The Dead are awake, watching us sleeping.
Late into the night, they
raise their ghostly eyes.
a cool draft of supernatural air
flows through the fan's wheels
the night falls like a food,
filling the streets with molasses;
everything is sticky and fused together like hot iron.
nothing separate from the only thing,
the Universe putting forth her silent mysteries like a holy Virgin untouched, untainted,
and living on even after Death,
forever watching the living shuffle forward
in what they presume is the beginning of the End,
or do not conclude at all, being human,
and therefore to err, to be Divine.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010


Last night on the Rachel Maddow Show, I learned that among registered voters on a generic ballot, Democrats enjoy a 4 point edge across the country -- but among so-called "likely voters," those numbers flip, with Republicans showing +4. The voter model predicting the loss of Democratic control of the House, and a narrow Democratic majority in the Senate, is based on this key indicator. Here's what it all comes down to: today history will not be made by a poll of the likely; it will be written by the votes of the actual.

Only you can make the change. Our votes tomorrow will decide if Democrats will continue to lead this country forward, or if we allow Republicans to drag it back.

If you are still undecided, I hope you'll watch the video below and remember that reckless Republican leadership produced the deep recession we are still digging our way out of. It was Republicans that turned record surpluses into historic deficits, threw away a trillion dollars on a war of choice in Iraq, and defunded and corrupted our regulatory and administrative agencies responsible for everything from food and drug safety to the levees in New Orleans. In the worst economic climate since the Great Depression, Democrats not only averted an economic collapse of epic proportions, they got the economy growing again, and steadily creating private-sector jobs. Things are not perfect, but they're getting remarkably better. Don't let the GOP snatch progress from our grasp.


Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Top Five Strengths

On Monday in my Creativity class at Wharton, Marty Seligman lectured about his development of Positive Psychology, a discipline that has had a major influence in the discipline. I signed up at the his website, Authentic Happiness, to try out some of his tools. I took the survey of character strengths first. These are the results.

VIA Survey of Character Strengths
Here are your scores on the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. For how to interpret and use your scores, see the book Authentic Happiness. The ranking of the strengths reflects your overall ratings of yourself on the 24 strengths in the survey, how much of each strength you possess. Your top five, especially those marked as Signature Strengths, are the ones to pay attention to and find ways to use more often.

Your Top Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

Your Second Strength
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums-anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Third Strength
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Your Fourth Strength
Bravery and valor
You are a courageous person who does not shrink from threat, challenge, difficulty, or pain. You speak up for what is right even if there is opposition. You act on your convictions.

Your Fifth Strength
Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Friday, October 22, 2010

When the Moment's at its Crisis

Hey gang. Its been a while since I posted on the blog. My attention was averted to, where as I'd been blogging for over a year on the Pennsylvania Senate Race. Well, know we're only a few weeks away from what promises to be an historic election. The Conventional Wisdom is spelling doom for the Democrat, with pollsters betting they lose 50 seats in the House. Goodbye Nancy. The Senate is still considered safe, but Republicans smell blood in the water. Power in Washington is vulnerable.

At the leading edge of the Democratic Party is The Admiral Joe Sestak, a 30 year navy veteran turned Congressman with progressive values. I followed the man he beat in the primary, Senator Arlen Specter, on my blog The In-Specter.

Arlen Specter is a career survivor in Pennsylvania Politics. I carefully watched as Sestak languished by double digits for months, only to come from behind mere weeks from the election and take Arlen down. Now Sestak is making a similar move in his race against Club for Growth darling Pat Toomey.

Nate Silver says his chances of losing are still over 80%. But as Silver admitted yesterday, Pennsylvania is "one state where a candidate in a fairly tight race does seem to have made up ground."

What's going on? Why this sudden shift in the polls? Reversals are rare, but polls are only a prediction. The outcome of this race will come down to one thing only: who votes on Election Day.

Sure that's obvious. But its also the point. Elections come down to who votes. In a democracy, only you can make the future.

I'll be posting here more often about the race, and hope to get you motivated to get out and vote for Democrats in this election.


I want to jump into a pair of ads I saw this afternoon on a Fox affiliate. The first was a veteran talking about his brother who died in Iraq.

Dante Zappala's is the narrator of this ad by His brother died in Iraq. He says:

Big Oil and its backers are spending millions to scare us, saying it costs too much to break our dependence on oil. What they're really doing is putting our security at risk. My big brother went to Iraq to keep us safe. He came home in a flag-draped coffin. America lost another hero. Big Oil wants to talk about costs? Don't let Big Oil lie to you about what our dependence really costs.

Now compare this ad, by the Republican Senatorial Committee. A dark, scary voice speaks in whispered tones about Joe Sestak's record in Washington, and association with Washington Liberals, and offers clips of Sestak speaking as evidence of his accusations.

(Voice) What did Joe Sestak think of the stimulus bill that failed to create jobs?

Sestak "It's the minimum amount needed. I would have voted for one trillion dollars."

(Voice) The government takeover of Health Care?

Sestak: "its hard for me to vote for a bill that doesn't have a public health care plan option in it."

(Voice) The job killing cap and trade energy tax?

Sestak: "I pushed hard for the cap and trade bill. The one the House passed should have even been more."

(Voice) There's left. There's far left. And then there's Joe Sestak."


The Republicans are right about one thing in this ad. You have a real choice in this election. Joe Sestak supported the ambitious agenda of President Obama: to reform Wall Street and stop the economic catastrophe caused by eight years of Republican mishandling; to guarantee health care as a right owed to every American, and stop the discriminatory, wasteful practices of the insurance companies; to enact practical reforms that will slow climate change while stimulating the creation of 21st century American industry.

The Veterans Vote ad provides the essential contrast in Pat Toomey. Like many of the radical right wing Republicans running this cycle, he threatens to undo our record of achievement on these critical issues. He might claim to be tough on National Security, but honest patriots like the men and women at Veterans Vote know the truth: his record of support for Big Oil, and no votes on things like CAFE standards and the Kyoto Accords from when he served in the House indicate that he too does not understand the real cost of oil dependence. Like the oil companies, his shortsighted focus on what is profitable now fails to take into account critical externalities that, in the long term, are dangerous for the physical and economic security of our nation and our world.

Don't sit this one out. On November 2nd, you have a clear choice. You can let the Republicans obstruct any more progress, or you can be counted on to deliver for good Democrats like Joe Sestak. The Coalition that elected Barack Obama must show up now. We cannot be silent!

Thursday, May 06, 2010

"I am Israel"

This is a video worth watching. It is strong defense of Israel and I endorse its central message.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Take Action NOW to Protect Florida's Coastline

My fellow Floridians:

As you may already have heard, it is only a matter of time before the oil spill in the Gulf begins to reach our shores in Florida. It is critical that our government act immediately to stem this crisis. Please, take a moment to send an email to our governor and Senators. You can simply copy and paste the letter I used, which I have copied below. Then, take a moment to forward this email to your family and friends and urge them to do the same. We must force our leaders to take action NOW to protect our state. Please don't delay; take two minutes to help protect our State!



Governor Crist:
Senator Nelson:
Senator LeMieux:
Debbie Wasserman Schultz:

Dear Governor Crist,

Our worst fears are being realized. News reports in the Miami Herald this week report scientific predictions that it is only a matter of time before the Gulfstream current carries patches of polluted surface water and balls of tar to our pristine and sensitive beaches, mangrove forests, coral reefs, and other marine habitats in the Florida Keys and South Florida. It is critical that our state government take action immediately to protect these areas and assure that this horrible pollution does not foul our State's environmental treasures. I urge you to please put aside all other concerns and focus your energy on protecting our state from a devastating environmental catastrophe.

Thank you.


Adam Schwartzbaum
1940 NE 124th Street
North Miami, FL 33181

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Controversy over Michael Oren's Commencement Speech at Brandeis University: the Value of Listening and Academic Freedom

Once again, in what seems at this point to be an almost time-honored tradition, my alma mater, Brandeis University, has set off a wide controversy over its decision to give a prominent speaking engagement to a partisan in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This time, the fight is over Michael Oren, an American academic turned Israeli Ambassador to the United States who will be giving the commencement address at this year’s graduation ceremony.

The disputants have fallen into their predictable camps. On one side is the liberal, anti-war, anti-colonialist crowd, who began a petition calling on the University to revoke Oren’s invitation to address the graduating class and replace him with a less “divisive” figure. Spearheaded by the influential Brandeis blog, the petition proclaims, “[h]is far-right views are divisive and do not reflect the diversity of opinion on campus, and moreover politicize what should be an uncontroversial, inclusive role.” It further argues that, because Oren’s far-right views are antithetical to those of many Jewish students at Brandeis, his speech is “in conflict with one of our founding values: our integral relationship with the Jewish community.” It concludes by threatening that, if Oren is not removed, the signees will boycott commencement. It currently has 126 signees.

On the other side is the pro-Israel crowd, an assortment of individuals spanning a relatively broad political spectrum, from liberal sympathizers like myself, to right-wing conservatives I normally don’t have anything to do with. This camp has sprouted its own petition available at the facebook group, “A letter in support of President Reinharz and Michael Oren.” Its 247 members support the University’s decision to invite Oren to speak on the grounds that, while admittedly controversial, Oren is a high profile academic and political actor of international renown who “reflects Brandeis University’s historic ties to the American Jewish community and timeless dedication to academic excellence as well as Justice Louis Brandeis’ own commitment to Zionism and Social Justice, a legacy on which this university was founded.” It calls on Brandeis students to receive his remarks “critically and respectfully, demonstrating the intellectual maturity that makes Brandeis an institution characterized by academic rigor and reverence.”

Then there are what I will call the pragmatists – people who have assessed Oren’s invitation in the context of Brandeis’s long history of inviting controversial speakers to address our graduating classes, and concluded that its just not a big deal. Several people have pointed out that past Brandeis commencement speakers include the Prince of Jordan, Massachusetts Supreme Court Justice Margaret Marshall (who wrote the controversial Goodridge opinion legalizing same-sex marriage), liberal Israeli Supreme Court President Aharon Barak, neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz, Bill Schneider (a CNN political analyst), Cory Booker (mayor of Newark), and Tom Friedman – all political figures with distinct and sometimes controversial points of view on a wide range of topics that include the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These people make a strong point; if Brandeis could tolerate these speakers, why can’t it accept Oren? What it is about the Israeli Ambassador that makes over 100 Brandeis students want to walk out on their own commencement?

The fact remains that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a particularly hot topic on the Brandeis campus. Because of the fact that Brandeis is historically associated with Zionism, students who oppose Zionist beliefs feel particularly adamant about distancing themselves from what they view as a kind of majoritarian (perhaps even anti-majoritarian) tyranny that reigns on the campus. On the other hand, students proud of this strand of Brandeis history feel all the more compelled to stand up and vigorously defend it. The result is two bitterly divided communities that are largely engaged in talking past each other, rather than entering into meaningful dialogue about the issue that tears them apart. In a way, it is a microcosm of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself, with two sides trading in absolutes and dealing in renunciations and commands.

For my part, I think this is very unfortunate. While I sympathize with close friends who are offended by the choice of Oren on the grounds that they do not want to be assaulted with divisive rhetoric at their graduation ceremony, I am highly skeptical that Oren would be short-sighted enough to wade into political waters at a commencement ceremony; it is simply inappropriate, given the occasion. While his point of view will almost certainly come across, it will likely be in reference to things like fighting for what you believe in and making a difference in the world – lessons that students on all sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can appreciate even if they do not accord with the examples from Oren’s own life.

Moreover, Brandeis’s history of inviting controversial speakers to speak at commencement demonstrates that our student body is perfectly capable of sitting through the address of a person whose political views are likely highly offensive to at least some students in the crowd – Justice Marshall jumps to mind as a prime example – yet those speakers did not face the kind of vitriol and threats of boycott that face Oren. Conservative students did not petition and threaten boycotts of a liberal judge, a liberal Israel Supreme Court Justice, a liberal mayor, etc., yet supposedly “liberal” students are now threatening to skip their own commencement because of Oren’s address. This is the worst kind of intolerance, which individuals who cherish the freedom of speech and open intellectual inquiry should not support.

On a larger level, I think this controversy also speaks to the unfortunate extent to which individuals on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict refuse to acknowledge the legitimate claims of the other. On the one hand, it is undoubtedly true that many right wing Jews and conservatives do not pay enough attention to the suffering of the Palestinian people, and discredit their legitimate claims to disputed territories. They lump a small group of terrorists and petty dictators in with the majority of Palestinians, the majority of whom have been abused and manipulated by their own government, the Arab world, and at times, the Israeli government as well. They refuse to recognize that, for the average Palestinian, their animating desire isn’t the destruction of Israel or the murder of Jews, but rather to enjoy the simply necessities that all human beings want: a safe and healthy environment in which to raise their families in dignity and peace.

On the other hand, too often, the pro-Palestinian crowd rushes to vilify Israel supporters as genocidal fanatics, and Zionists as colonialists with no legitimate claim to a state of their own. These people ignore the historical reality that it was European anti-Semitism and the horrors of the Holocaust which forced Jews to migrate to their ancestral homeland in Israel, where there has been continual Jewish habitation for over 3000 years. They regard as insignificant the fact that the original 1947 partition created two states – one Jewish, one Palestinian – which was destroyed not because of Israeli expansionism, but rather because Israel’s five Arab neighbors immediately declared war on the fledgling state and set out to destroy it and all of its Jewish inhabitants. And they turn a blind eye, or even try to justify Palestinian terrorist attacks that deliberately target civilian population centers with suicide bombings and indiscriminate rocket fire.

The two historic narratives that inform the most extreme ends of this conflict seem irreconcilable, until one realizes that these groups are neighbors sharing the same land and limited resources, and that they must come together to achieve a just and permanent settlement. But that cannot happen if partisans on both sides of the conflict are unwilling to simply listen to one another in a spirit of mutual respect. The seeds of peace and conflict resolution begin where we put aside our heated rhetoric and actually hear each other’s stories, and then work together to find a solution. Is Michael Oren the least controversial figure to ever speak at a Brandeis commencement? Maybe. Maybe not. Is the fact that some students strongly disagree with some of his political views a reason to boycott graduation? Certainly not. I hope that cooler heads will prevail, and that my fellow Brandeisians will go to graduation in high spirits and with open minds. In this way, they will uphold the great Brandeis tradition of intellectual freedom and respect for difference, and set an example for partisans on both sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict here and abroad that could benefit a great deal from listening to each others voices.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton Speaks at Penn Law

Here, presented without further commentary, are my notes from the talk.

John Bolton
Foreign policy of Barack Obama
He cares less about foreign policy and national security than any American president since FDR (??? Who fought WWII???)
“lack of interest in foreign policy”
“doesn’t see the world as challenging/threatening to the US”
He thinks he sees American decline as natural and inevitable and to be managed not resisted.
Devotion to multilateralism we haven’t seen since Woodrow Wilson
“No need for American Leadership” according to Obama
• nuclear disarmament
“Obama”: The interests of nations and people are shared, power is no longer a zero sum game
Bolton thinks Obama endorses Wilson’s vision of “Peace without Victory” and this is a mistake. My Q: Wasn’t the PROBLEM with WWI that we didn’t follow Wilson’s advice, and we made Victory over Germany instead of peace, which lead to the Third Reich???
Obama the first “post-American” President.
• Not “anti-“ or “un-“ American.
• Fundamentally does not believe in American Exceptionalism
o Gov. Winthrop/Reagan
o Difference between American’s founding and the direction the country took.
o Are you implying Obama doesn’t believe in American values and ideals? Obama Rejects that?
No Exceptionalism, country not challenged, doesn’t care about foreign policy… this means trouble for America! Oogaboogabooga!!!
• WMDs: nuclear security summit, new arms treaty. (is this somehow bad? Only gets a passing reference)
• Me: isn’t it great that we and Russia are both getting rid of 1/3 of our nuclear weapons?
• “we have no effective policy on iran”
• Iran will have nuclear weapons. And what are we supposed to do about it?
• Much of the fault must be laid at the door of the Bush Administration.
o Deference by US to EU to talk Iran out or weapons program
• Leaders of Iranian revolution are all crazy and will use their weapons so we should be very afraid!!!!
• So what do you think we should do about it? Bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb-bomb Iran? You actually think these states would use these weapons?
o Later: yes, bomb them.
War On Terror
• Obama frustrated with Bush shit he has had to keep pursuing because he has no alternative
o Example: Afghanistan
o Bad to give with one hand and take with the other. Undermines ability to achieve 2 strategic objectives of preventing Taliban from coming back to power and making it a platform for launch of attacks, and avoid having instability in Afghanistan/Pakistan destabilize the nuclear Pakistan government.
o He thinks there will be increase in terrorist threat and WMDs, so we will be less secure than when he took office.
American Sovereignty
• Giving up control to “others”
• Global governance ooga booga booga!!!
• Copenhagen to deal with climate change: too ambitious! We can’t deal with climate change! America America til we fall into the ocean!!
o He “doesn’t know” if global warming is real and can’t educate himself on it.
o Even if its man-made, he doesn’t like the solutions. Because global institutions will tell us what to do. Its all about losing control of America.
• Other institutions that are worthless and scary:
o International criminal court
• Not effective to deter human rights violations
• Won’t stop bad guys
o UN Human Rights Decision-making mechanism
• N Korea, Congo, Guinea, Burma, and five against Israel – demonstrates why even sources like NYTimes and Washington Post think the HRC is bad. I think that’s pretty fair but I do think its good to try to influence it not just abandon it.
o Refusal to ratify statutes on discrim against women, against disabilities, various other UN Conventions.
• Me: YES it is a reason to be negotiated internationally because it creates norms for all countries, and we can take exception to specific things like the death penalty while still working with the international consensus on the vast majority of these conventions
Why Obama doesn’t care about foreign policy
• He wakes up and thinks about the minimum wage
• We should attack!!!!! War!!!!!!
• Israel under pressure not to strike
• What does Israel have to lose?
Al Qaeda hates us booga bogga boggaa
• Me: They do say death to great Britain. remember attacks in Madrid, London, etc etc etc
• Bolton: “there is no Muslim world.”

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Make your blog carbon neutral

Here's a neat idea from a German company. Simply post about the "my blog is carbon neutral" initiative, and this organization will plant a tree in your honor to offset your carbon footprint. This is an easy way to do some good and spread awareness about climate change.

Go here to learn how to do this.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Scott Galvin for Congress!

Last week, I learned the exciting news that an old friend, North Miami City Coucilman Scott Galvin, is running for Congress to fill Kendrick Meek's vacant seat in FL-17. For years, Scott has been the most effective and hardworking person on the city council by a long shot. He is widely known for bringing people together, crossing racial and economic lines in order to build coalitions to fight for what's best for our entire city. He has always been a voice of reason and coolheaded consensus-making in an often fractious community. So, while I am sad to learn that our city will be losing his services, I am excited to be able to wholeheartedly endorse his run for the United States Congress. Scott's lifelong commitment to public service exemplifies the very best of American democracy. I am hopeful that you will support his candidacy by going to and making a donation. Also, if you're a FL-17 resident, make sure to get out and vote on August 24th.

Below, I'm pasting his announcement of his candidacy. Let it inspire you to help send Scott Galvin to Washington, DC!

Galvin for U.S. Congress
Primary Election on August 24th

Dear Adam,

I have very exciting news to share with you!

I am running for Congress.

It's not a decision have made lightly. After careful deliberation with family and friends, and with their full support, I know I can continue the tradition of public service and leadership we deserve in Washington.

Running as a Democrat in Florida's 17th District, the primary election will be Tuesday, August 24th and I am asking for your help today and throughout what is sure to be an exciting campaign.

These are challenging times. Partisan bickering has blocked real progress in Washington. The result is a government that is over-committed overseas and under-serves us here at home.

But I have great optimism for America because I know the hope we shared last election is still alive. I want to take that hope and your energy with me to the Halls of Congress to continue our fight for progress.

I can not be more excited about this new challenge and the humbling opportunity to represent you in Washington. I'm asking you to join me every step of the way.

Please go right now and visit my campaign website ( where you can share your thoughts, sign up to help and, most importantly make a financial contribution.

You know elections are expensive and I'm counting on your help today to get our campaign off to a strong start. Whatever you can give -- $250, $100, $50 even $10 - is deeply and personally appreciated.

Your friend,

Donate Now!
Councilman Galvin needs your help to win.

Click here to donate or visit the campaign website!

Or send a check to:
"Galvin for Congress"
1755 NE 137 Terrace
North Miami, FL 33181

Every donation helps...from $25 to $2,400....

Thank you for your support!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Hillel: If Not Now, When?
"If I am not for myself, then who will be for me? And if I am only for myself, then what am I? And if not now, when?"

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Israel's Field Hospital in Haiti: a small, hopeful miracle in a sea of misery

Israel has set up the only surgically capable field hospital in Haiti
Watch this 2 minute CNN clip!

The reporters shock is apparent as she tours the Israeli facility with full imaging equipment, ventilators, and functional operating rooms. Israel, coming from half a world away, got a fully functional hospital set up by Saturday, while the American hospital, coming from Haiti's backyard, is not more than a first aid unit.

Not well known, is that Israel was denied landing clearance by the Americans controlling the airport. After a 14 hour flight they were to be diverted to the Dominican Republic. Somehow the Israeli pilot found out about my friend's brother, a prominent and wealthy Jewish man whose family has been in Haiti for generations. He has many businesses there, and even though he could leave, decided to stay to help. From the cockpit, the pilot called my friend's brother by satellite phone and he directed the plane to an open field on his property. The Israeli pilot landed a Hercules (that is one big plane!) between two warehouses in an open field and it was offloaded there. They were operational 18 hours later. That's getting the job done!

There is also video footage on Israeli TV showing crowds in the streets chanting "Israel Good Job. Israel Good Job" This special medical unit was disbanded 9 years ago for lack of funding and only reconstituted a few months ago. I think this is one of the most important things that Diaspora Jews can support during the Haitian crises. It seems to be the mot effective care on the ground- and puts Israel's best face forward at the same time. See article below.

Israel's Haiti field hospital: a microcosm of a country's turmoil

By Natasha Mozgovaya, Haaretz Correspondent in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE - The Israeli field hospital in the earthquake-stricken Haitian capital reflects the streets of the city, fluctuating between despair and hope amid the looting, violence and stories of miracles. Each account takes on great importance against the background of the earthquake that devastated the Western hemisphere's poorest country.

A baby around 18 months old lies on a bed in intensive care. She was admitted with an open sore and a massive infection throughout her body. The respirator shakes her every time it forces air into her. She has already been resuscitated a few times, and the team is not optimistic.

In the children's ward, located in a tent, is a baby under a year old; someone left him here after he was pulled out of the rubble Sunday morning. He has open sores on his leg and does not make a sound except for a slight chirping when the doctor checks his leg. The doctors say he is in shock.

"His condition is stable and pretty good considering what he's been through. He'll get antibiotics and surgery on the leg - it's a rare case of survival; apparently he was in an air pocket," says Dr. Assaf Amit, who heads the children's emergency department. "When he came here his condition was life-threatening."

His parents aren't here - perhaps they are dead - but the Israeli nurses caress him and give him a warm bottle of milk. "Apparently it's genetic, the ability to survive - he was lying in the rubble without food for five days," says Gali Wiest, the delegation's head nurse.

"We were shocked by the sights, and the nurses here have to cope with providing nursing care - it's a third-world country," she says. "I have four children myself and I was an emergency-room nurse, but the sights here are very difficult and you need a lot of mental fortitude. We've already taken in 87 children, most in moderate to serious condition; there have been a few operations and amputations, and they keep coming."

But no one stays for long. The hospital has a two-week mandate - nothing compared to the time it takes to recover from complex injuries.

"We're all thinking about the fact that we discharge them into the street, in effect, because they have no home," says Dr. Avi Yitzhak. "But you have to make the right decision: Either you take in 40 people and treat them for two weeks or you try to save as many as possible to at least stop the primary injury."

Yitzhak immigrated to Israel from Ethiopia in 1991 and says he feels a special connection to the patients here. He says he knows the problems of practicing medicine in the developing world.

"There's no organized network of clinics here, there's nowhere to discharge them to and we have to treat as many people as possible, as long as it's still possible to save them," Yitzhak says.

"When I went out on rescue yesterday I saw what was happening in the streets, the bodies, the people who didn't know what to do. It's obvious that the work is very intensive and I assume that we could burn out at a certain stage. But for now we're full of energy and we're thrilled by our ability to help."

Willsmith Joseph, 9, had surgery Saturday to amputate his toes, which had developed gangrene. Sunday morning he was in a deep sleep in the children's ward. His older brother knelt beside him. They will have to leave before noon. The nurse gives him two packets of antibiotics and some acetaminophen and tries to explain in English when to take them.

"Where are you going?," I ask the older boy. "We have no place to go. To the tent encampment," he says. "Our house was ruined." Willsmith's face contorts in pain as he walks with his new crutches.

"Had we not amputated his toes the gangrene would have spread and he would have died within days," Dr. Yitzhak explains. "Yes, it hurts, and there's an infection, but he'll live. It's a drop in the ocean, and it's frustrating, but we have to do the maximum to help as many people as possible."

Most of the wounds are infected and neglected - some people were pulled out of the rubble after being trapped for a few days, others simply couldn't get to a hospital or were turned away. Max Darlene Azur, 29, came to the Israeli hospital with open wounds on both sides of her leg. For four days she shouted and writhed in pain in the town square. The bodies of two of her cousins were still inside her home.

"I was in my room, and the wall simply collapsed onto my leg. But now I feel much better," she says.

The hospital also had its first birth Sunday. Jeanne-Michelle was brought in with labor pains and delivered a beautiful boy, her fourth child. Jeanne-Michelle sits indifferent most of the time, but when she says her newborn's name - Israel - a broad smile spreads across her face. "I feel fine," she says. She will be discharged within a few hours, to make room for other deliveries.

"It's very symbolic," Dr. Dar Shir says. "In a place where even without the disaster infant mortality is among the highest in the world and most women don't give birth in hospitals, the best experts in Israel delivered her baby. It's very moving, and balances out a little the things that are happening here, and reminds us that a woman who is ready to give birth will do so even when there's an earthquake. It's what keeps the human race going. Of course it's a problem to discharge them under these conditions, but at least she delivered safely and both mother and baby are in excellent condition."

According to the field hospital's commander, Dr. Itzik Kreis, "Throughout the night we continued to deal with saving lives; we received a number of patients in very poor shape who needed surgery and intensive care.

"For now the other medical teams don't have the ability to provide more than first aid. We are focusing on saving lives," says Colonel Kreis. "Most of the injuries are a result of the earthquake, but in a few days the situation can change and regular patients will start to come in as well."

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Monday, January 11, 2010

"Vast Majority of Residents Are Decent"

On Sunday, the Miami Herald published my letter to the editor regarding Councilman Blynn's racially hostile comments about closing down the basketball courts, available here. I am also publishing a copy of the text here on my blog.

Vast majority of citizens are decent

I grew up in Keystone Point, and always enjoyed using the basketball courts in the park. I'm a white Jewish guy, and the park was one of the only places where people from all over North Miami of different races could play and interact with each other.

I valued that experience as a child, and enjoyed making friends with my fellow North Miami residents, including many African Americans.

One bad apple breaking the law and bringing a gun to the park is no reason to close down the entire basketball court [Official recommends closing court, Neighbors, Dec. 27]. Closing the courts would be a sad and wasteful disposal of community resources, and even worse, it would be motivated by apparently racist intentions. Shame on you, Michael Blynn, for fanning the flames of racial insensitivity and discrimination. Your comments show a deep hostility and disrespect for thousands of North Miami citizens, the vast majority of whom are honest, hard-working, taxpaying citizens of our city. It's disgraceful.



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