Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Change of continent

Oh right. I suppose I should mention that I'm back in North America, viz. the City and State (but not yet the County) of New York. I'll return to more frequent blogging after I find an apartment. If you'd like to help speed that along, please send apartment leads my way.

Future posts:
  • More pictures from Israel, the West Bank, and Jordan
  • More in-depth analysis of the Reform and Conservative teshuvot about 1-day vs. 2-day yom tov (now that we've obtained the full text)
  • Egalitarianism = halacha l'Moshe miSinai, and electricity = kitniyot; or, the other "Jewish continuity" (continuity of Judaism, not of Jews): toward resolving the contradictions between (ethnic) Reform Jewry and (ideological) Reform Judaism
  • "Rooftop": the fugu of davening styles

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Endorsement: Obama in '08

Ages ago, I posted that I voted for John Edwards in the New York Democratic presidential primary, and then, after Edwards ended his campaign, I didn't endorse a candidate in the primary. (Well, none in the Democratic primary anyway.)

As promised, now that the primary is over, and everyone in the reality-based community acknowledges that Barack Obama will be the Democratic nominee, Mah Rabu is ready to make an endorsement:


"We look back on the past [seven and a half] years with hearts nearly breaking." And after all of the destruction that the Bush administration has wrought for America and the world, we have a choice. We can circumvent the 22nd Amendment and extend the Bush administration for another four years by electing a candidate who is indistinguishable from Bush, all the way down to painting himself as a moderate during election season. Or we can elect a progressive who will truly restore honor and dignity to the White House.

Combined with the anticipated massive gains in the House and Senate (with the possibility of a filibuster-proof and even a Lieberman-proof majority in the Senate), electing a Democratic president will provide a window to pass progressive legislation that will shape the country's future for decades, like the New Deal and the Great Society. (And if you're not into government programs, vote for Bob Barr!) John Paul Stevens isn't getting any younger, and electing a Democratic president will ensure that the next generation of Supreme Court justices (and federal judges across the country) will defend our civil liberties; electing McBush to a third term will guarantee more Robertses and Alitos who will sit on the Court for decades to come.

The primary season has been long, but I have to say that I got everything I wished for, along with some things I would have rather done without. I think it's wonderful that voters in all 50 states (and 5 territories) had the opportunity to cast votes that mattered, rather than letting Iowa and New Hampshire decide the nomination for everyone. And it's great that millions of new Democratic voters have registered, and that Democratic infrastructure has been built in all 50 states, including states that the Democratic Party previously ignored. But I do wish the campaign had proceeded with a more productive tone, with each candidate promoting their strengths and aiming the attacks at the Republicans, rather than attacking each other in ways that will be used against them later. With that modification, I'm all in favor of a primary season that reaches as many states as possible before crowning a winner.

The procedures and rules of the Democratic primary will certainly have to be revisited and revised between now and 2012. But I think that's something that we can save for after the election, rather than undermining the legitimacy of the nomination now. But first of all: Smokey, this is not Nam. There are rules. Whatever rules are decided -- superdelegates or no superdelegates, primaries or caucuses, nomination decided by number of delegates or by nationwide popular vote or by rock-paper-scissors-couch -- all of the candidates should be expected to agree in a public forum to the legitimacy of the process, down to all its details, at the beginning of the campaign, and not to challenge the process until it's time to think about 2016. This is a league game. This determines who enters the next round robin. Am I wrong? Furthermore, the dates of the primaries/caucuses/tugs-of-war/whatever should be set from on high by the national party committee (which has members from every state), with individual states having absolutely no say in the timing of their nominating contests (beyond, perhaps, choosing a date from within a very short range of dates dictated to them). This is the only way to avoid anarchy, and an election season that is nasty, brutish, and long. (And I'm not just talking about what happened with Florida and Michigan; I'm also talking about the race for Super Tuesday, and the duopoly of Iowa and New Hampshire.) Any pledged delegates selected at any time outside of the date range decided by the national party will not be seated at the convention, and no appeals will be heard (and all the candidates will agree to this in advance). Mark it zero!

Now that the primary is over, let's unite in supporting our nominee, Barack Obama.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention: This campaign represents a lot of firsts, but among everything else, let's welcome our first president from the South Side of Chicago!!!