Dusted with grated stupid

by Henry on July 31, 2009

Jennifer Rubin at Commentary leans on the mad research skillz of “Michael Rubin at National Review to slur Presidential Medal honoree Mary Robinson for being an anti-Semite. Or something.

As Michael Rubin pointed out in this 2002 column, in her capacity as president of Ireland, she also happily provided millions of dollars of support to the PLO, which were used in terror attacks:

During the last four years of Robinson’s tenure, the European Union donated large sums of money to the Palestinian Authority. Ireland even held the presidency of the European Union for the second half of 1996. During this time, Arafat siphoned large amounts of European aid money away to pay for terror. Robinson can plead ignorance, but documents seized during the recent Israeli incursion into the West Bank revealed that the Palestinian Authority spent approximately $9 million of European Union aid money each month on the salaries of those organizing terror attacks against civilians. While European officials like Robinson looked the other way, the Palestinian Authority regularly converted millions of dollars of aid money into shekels at rates about 20 percent below normal, allowing the Palestinian chairman to divert millions of dollars worth of aid into his personal slush fund.

The original (Michael) Rubin column implies that Mary Robinson should be charged by the International Criminal Tribunal for this.

I mean seriously. Don’t they have factcheckers at Commentary and National Review? Don’t they even have an intern who could skim the Wikipedia article on the President of Ireland ?

The presidency is largely a ceremonial office, but the President does exercise certain limited powers with absolute discretion.

The Rubins (are they related?) should be advised that none of these powers touch on foreign policy, European Union policy making etc (the President isn’t even allowed to leave the country without the government’s permission). I know that neither the National Review or Commentary is in the business of informing its readers. But I would have thought that they needed to maintain at least a minimal degree of contact with reality for their propaganda to be effective. I seem to be wrong.

{ 53 comments }

1

Alex 07.31.09 at 6:09 pm

Why on earth would you think that, after all these years? One of the more interesting recent discoveries in cognitive neuroscience is that we are measurably influenced by information, even if we know it is false. So HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! is a valid HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! communications HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! strategy HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! – availability heuristic, see?

I mean, if you want to argue facts, there’s the point that the presidency of the European Union doesn’t actually control individual aid disbursements, that the only content in the whole smear is an appeal to uncited, unquoted sekrit documents seized from a certain German Prince’s cabinet noir, that the EU is somehow responsible for the internal accountancy of the PA…but that’s not the point.

This sort of thing – guilt by association, big lie, links ‘n’ ties, accusations of treason – is just what the Rubins do. Because – HITLER! HITLER! HITLER! – availability entrepreneurship works as a propaganda strategy.

By the way, a big hand for Jenny “Whose Kid Are You?” Rubin. WKAY is a fun game with the media for all the family…

2

William Sjostrom 07.31.09 at 6:22 pm

You have a bit of a point, but no more. It is true that officially the presidency is largely ceremonial, but it is also true that much of the controversy in her presidency surrounded her habit of pushing the limits of her office. I do not know how hard Robinson pushed foreign policy issues during her presidency, but it is worth noting that she left the presidency shortly before her term ended to take the UN job, so it seems improbably that she stayed away from foreign policy issues. Otherwise, you are wrong. In the Michael Rubin piece, he specifically states that it is farcical to says that she should be tried. Note that he says “Of course it’s farcical to believe that Robinson will ever be brought before the International Criminal Tribunal, or that she even should be. ” Rubin’s point was specifically the lack of accountability in the EU and other international bodies. Neither Rubin accuses her of being an anti-Semite, so your accusation of a slur is simply false. They do accuse her of being massively biased against Israel, which is hard to dispute, and both Rubins make much of her running of Durban I. Please do not tell me you care to defend her disastrous performance there.

3

Alex 07.31.09 at 6:24 pm

Jennifer Rubin…Michael Rubin….”accountability”….bwaaahaahahaaaa!

4

Alex 07.31.09 at 6:26 pm

Otherwise, you are wrong. In the Michael Rubin piece, he specifically states that it is farcical to says that she should be tried.

“I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him…” You do realise that particular cheap, dishonest rhetorical trick is literally as old as Western civilisation and as old in the English-speaking world as Shakespeare?

5

musical mountaineer 07.31.09 at 6:28 pm

Based on your argument, it seems doubtful indeed that Robinson funneled money to the PLO in her capacity as the President of Ireland, whatever her discretionary powers were. But it’s reasonably plain (not quite plain, just reasonably so) that Rubin is talking about what Robinson did by way of the EU, when Robinson was President of Ireland and Ireland was President of the EU (whatever that means). So that’s the question this post ought to address; the powers of the President of Ireland, as such, don’t get to the point.

Note that Robinson went on to be UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, for which the job description would be something like “funnel money to the PLO”. I’d guess the UN would want someone with experience.

6

P O'Neill 07.31.09 at 6:32 pm

It’s not clear what M. Rubin means in the sentence where he seems to back off from saying that she should be tried at ICC —

With her double standards, amazing ability to look the other way, and her record at the Human Rights Commission, Robinson has done more than any other international official to demonstrate that international courts, commissions, and agencies are more about politics than ethics, human rights, or morality, and therefore should never (sic) the legitimacy of U.S. endorsement.

I read that as him saying that she has a case to answer as a war criminal but because, he says, the ICC is so much of a part of the despised (to him) UN machinery, they wouldn’t convict her.

7

Alex 07.31.09 at 6:34 pm

Until the Lisbon treaty goes into force, the powers of the EU presidency accrue to a national government, not an individual. The Taisoeach is the head of the Irish government, not the President.

That was quick!

However, as above, the whole point is to throw the most obscenely libellous smears at political opponents as frequently as possible with the greatest possible amount of publicity. I note that this is a form of politics amenable to mass production, which may explain its success.

8

Alex 07.31.09 at 6:37 pm

P O’Neill: the point is to say that she is a war criminal and should be tried by the ICT, without actually fulfilling the technical definition of libel. To get it out there. The point is MARY ROBINSON…WAR CRIMINAL…ICT…the rest is syntactically necessary filler and editorially necessary legal get out clauses.

9

P O'Neill 07.31.09 at 6:42 pm

Alex, not to mention the crucial question mark in his title.

10

kid bitzer 07.31.09 at 7:23 pm

“Neither Rubin accuses her of being an anti-Semite, so your accusation of a slur is simply false.”

good point. he didn’t say she’s an anti-semite, merely that she’s a terrorist.

no slurs there, nope.

11

Kevin Donoghue 07.31.09 at 8:20 pm

To be fair, various Resident Scholars, Research Fellows and raving nutcases were equally outraged by some of the other medal recipients.

12

EWI 07.31.09 at 8:26 pm

I ‘ve been waiting for Sjostrom’s head to explode, Scanners-style, once this particular news came out, but I have to say that I’m massively disappointed so far in the response. Can it possibly be that you’re mellowing in your old age, Bill?

13

EWI 07.31.09 at 8:31 pm

Let it also be noted for the record that Mary Robinson has had her own entry from the beginning on Discover the Network.

I can’t seem to get Horowitz’ website to tell me just how Robinson is related to Bérubé, though; can someone help a fellow blogger out?

14

john theibault 07.31.09 at 8:46 pm

I agree with Alex @#1 that I am a bit surprised by your assertion that you “would have thought that they needed to maintain at least a minimal degree of contact with reality for their propaganda to be effective.” The DailyKos poll on Southern perceptions of Obama’s citizenship suggests that having a minimal degree of contact with reality does not have much of a role in propaganda’s effectiveness; tribal associations appear to be much more powerful.

15

john theibault 07.31.09 at 8:57 pm

And considering that among the early recipients of the award under George W. Bush were George Tenet and L. Paul Bremer, it is hard to see how one could complain about any future recipients, even if they were devotees of the PLO.

16

Henry 07.31.09 at 9:04 pm

So Bill – how do you think that Mary Robinson funded Palestinian terrorists as President of Ireland? Or is it only a ‘bit of a point’ that she did not, in fact, fund Palestinian terrorists? This is a very specific factual accusation which you know to be untrue. If you have a jot of scintilla of evidence, please provide it. And when someone quotes approvingly someone else rabbiting on about how her appointment to Columbia “insult[s] Jewish people by hiring these haters of the Jewish state of Israel” why then, yes, we are actually talking about accusations of anti-Semitism.

17

Henry 07.31.09 at 9:06 pm

And musical mountaineer – if you want to keep on commenting here, you really, really need to start knowing a little bit about what you’re talking about. That you don’t in this instance is quite painfully obvious. The President of Ireland has no powers whatsoever over EU actions, whether or not Ireland holds the EU Presidency.

18

EWI 07.31.09 at 9:08 pm

Gah – my link at no. 13 should, of course, go here:

http://www.discoverthenetworks.org/individualProfile.asp?indid=1454

19

Jeff R. 07.31.09 at 9:34 pm

Well, the President of Ireland has the power to resign rather than be complicit, and, for that matter the moral obligation to do so as well, but that’s both fairly weak sauce ans well as being more or less equally condemning for each and every head of state or government in Europe (not to mention the various legislators and tax collectors.)

All in all, it’s a bizarre charge to make. After her record at Durban I, the case against her is airtight, and even if one feels the need to gild the lily the record at the High Comissioner post does that more than qdequately.

20

Ex-PD 07.31.09 at 10:00 pm

Isn’t Bono, by account of being an influential Irishman, just as guilty as Robinson?

And don’t get me started on The Edge, that hat hides something.

21

Bloix 07.31.09 at 10:12 pm

“the European Union donated large sums of money to the Palestinian Authority.”

As did the United States of America, which was the second largest contributor of funds to the PA – $778 million for the period 1994-2005. The UK made contributions independent of the the EU for the same period of $248 million. So maybe we can refer Clinton, Bush and Blair to the ICT too.

Oh, and Musical Mtneer? The UN Commission for Human Rights has nothing to do with funding Palestinians. That’s done by UNRWA, the UN Relief and Works Agency. But hey, why let facts get in the way of a disgusting smear?

Lastly, it’s just astonishing that the discussion here is being conducted by people who apparently have never even heard of Mary Robinson, who does more to alleviate suffering and empower the oppressed and improve the human condition each day than all of us collectively will do in our entire lives. Have some respect, will you, for a person who is better than you are.

22

john b 07.31.09 at 10:32 pm

Bloix – if the neocons had respect for people who were better than they were, then they wouldn’t be neocons.

23

EWI 07.31.09 at 11:11 pm

people who apparently have never even heard of Mary Robinson, who does more to alleviate suffering and empower the oppressed and improve the human condition each day than all of us collectively will do in our entire lives.

Now, hold your horses there – I’ll defend her from insane charges by nutters, but that doesn’t mean that I’ll swallow that guff either.

Just what (outside of the liberal cocktail circuit and the media cameras and the NGO industry) has our Blessed Lady of the Irish Times done to “improve the human condition”? I’ll make it easy; just one, good concrete example will do.

24

kmack 07.31.09 at 11:28 pm

Given the title of this post, passing along this breaking news from AP seems appropriate:

“The U.S. State Department said Friday it was investigating reports that three American tourists have been detained by Iranians while hiking near Iran’s border with the self-ruled Kurdish region in northern Iraq…. U.S. helicopters were buzzing overhead and many U.S. Humvees had moved into the Kurdish city of Halabja to search for the Americans…. The border force official said Iranian authorities apparently arrested the three Americans because they had entered the neighboring country without permission.”

Nameless tourists? Hiking in Iran? U.S. forces searching in a Kurdish city?

Is the AP ‘reporter’ dusted with stupidity? Or are we supposed to be?

25

Chris Dornan 07.31.09 at 11:37 pm

William Sjostrom: Mary Robinson may have visited the Pope in unconventional dress and expressed opinions without getting government clearance, but she certainly didn’t redirect funds to the PLO. Henry is right. Charging the Irish government with this is unhinged enough–that they are being levelled at Robinson? Completely absurd.

26

Bloix 07.31.09 at 11:56 pm

As a member of the Irish Senate, she led the reform of Ireland’s mediaeval laws repressing women. She spearheaded the legislation legalizing contraception; was instrumental in obtaining the right of women to serve on juries; successfully fought for the right of married women to hold civil service jobs.

She was the chief legal advisor to the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform when that organization won a ruling from the European Court of Justice that criminalization of homosexuality was a violation of human rights; in spite of the ruling, the Irish Parliament did not reform the law until she became president, and was able to force the issue.

As President, she worked for resolution of the Northern Ireland question, being the first Irish head of state to meet with the British monarch, and allowing herself to be photographed shaking hands with Gerry Adams. She took a leading role in shining light on a number of human rights issues, meeting with the Dalai Lama and traveling to Rwanda after the genocide there.

As UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (a bully pulpit without any authority), she travelled to Tibet and spoke out against Chinese policies there, and also attacked the US prison at Guantanamo – after which the Bush administration forced her out of the position. Since then she’s been a full-time human rights advocate and head of the organization Realizing Rights.

27

Kieran Healy 07.31.09 at 11:59 pm

it seems improbably that she stayed away from foreign policy issues.

What’s constitutionally impossible is that she arranged for the PLO to receive any money.

MM’s notions are quite amusing, it must be said. Robinson was President of Europe. Ireland held the Presidency of the EU. By transitivity therefore Robinson was President of Europe. Watertight reasoning there.

28

EWI 08.01.09 at 12:55 am

As a member of the Irish Senate, she led the reform of Ireland’s mediaeval laws repressing women. She spearheaded the legislation legalizing contraception; was instrumental in obtaining the right of women to serve on juries; successfully fought for the right of married women to hold civil service jobs.

She was the chief legal advisor to the Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform when that organization won a ruling from the European Court of Justice that criminalization of homosexuality was a violation of human rights; in spite of the ruling, the Irish Parliament did not reform the law until she became president, and was able to force the issue.

All a little underwhelming – she was only one amongst many campaigning activists on those issues (however much the IT was attracted to her), and we’re talking about a very minor European country. And the independent opinions of UN commissioners don’t make much real-world impact since the plane carrying the last serious UN Gen-Sec (Hammarskjöld) mysteriously fell out of the sky.

I want to get to the “[doing] more to alleviate suffering and empower the oppressed and improve the human condition each day than all of us collectively will do in our entire lives ” bit, if you don’t mind.

29

Neil 08.01.09 at 1:28 am

Alex, I have just one disagreement with your original claim. We did not need to wait for recent cognitive neuroscience to learn that we are measurably effected attitudes. Social psychologists were studying this and related phenomena well before fMRI was even invented. It’s probably not even true that neuroscience has added to our knowledge of the phenomena.

30

mollymooly 08.01.09 at 1:35 am

@Bloix:
The Senate is not a place from which to “spearhead” anything. Robinson opposed both the timid contraceptive laws passed while she was there. The electorate’s gradual embrace of the liberal values she had held for decades was hardly influenced by the modicum of leadership she was in a position to give.

The homosexual law reform was not “forced” by her becoming President in 1990 but rather by the Labour Party going into government after the 1992 election.

Her handshake with Adams was momentous but there were specifically no photographers present.

31

bert 08.01.09 at 1:39 am

EWI, saying “name one thing” was a mistake, but that Bloix passage you’ve now quoted twice is ludicrous. And more than a little cultish.
The attractiveness of Mary Robinson was that she represented a move away from cultishness towards modernity. Instead of plodding along in the old ruts, playing out the cards dealt in de Valera’s agricultural catholic backwater, she was all about engaging with and participating in the shared European mainstream. She took stands, and they tended to be good ones. As Henry pointed out, she had a largely ceremonial role, and her politics was mainly carried out at the level of symbolism. But this allowed her to build up a mass appeal, and added to her effectiveness at that level.
The Clinton campaign last year made fools of themselves when they tried to inflate Hillary’s role as First Lady into that of a top-tier international player. It would be a mistake to attempt something similar with Mary Robinson. Far better to say that she represents much of what’s admirable about contemporary Ireland, and leave it at that.

As for the Rubin nonsense, let’s hope that J Street bears fruit. Effectively marginalising people who reach for this kind of repertoire seems a better approach than endlessly wasting one’s breath in argument.

32

William Sjostrom 08.01.09 at 2:14 am

Henry, we are talking past each other here. I agree that Michael Rubin was in error about Mary Robinson’s role in directing EU money to the PLO to fund terrorism. My guess is that he erred by relying on the High Commission’s website, which gave Robinson credit for her trips to Africa during her presidency. (The claims are still there at http://www.ohchr.org/EN/AboutUs/Pages/Robinson.aspx ) But no matter; Robinson is not the first to puff up her resume. I agree that Rubin should have checked further. He did not, I think, because Rubin was not particularly interested in Mary Robinson. He saw her as a symptom of a corrupt system in which Ariel Sharon will forever be condemned for his indirect responsibility for Sabra and Shatila, but no international bureaucrat will ever be held responsible for funding the PLO’s terror campaigns against Israeli civilians. I further agree that Jennifer Rubin is not fully doing her homework, relying too uncritically on Michael Rubin’s article. Unlike you, I cannot get overly outraged because her performance at the UN, especially in the Durban and Jenin debacles, are more than sufficient to condemn her. I see your point about the anti-Semitism charge, although I am not persuaded. I think Morton Klein was arguing that Columbia was trying to put together a group of people because of their bigotry toward Israel rather than their scholarship, and that is particularly egregious in a school with a large Jewish student population. Sort of like Howard Univ. hiring a bunch of people because they were obsessed with the idea that Nigeria was the source of evil in the world. I don’t buy it myself. Hiring academics for their bigotries rather than their scholarship seems unacceptable to me regardless of the student body. (I offer no opinion on whether Klein’s assessment of Columbia is correct, not knowing anything about it.) In any event, I think that was the point, rather than an accusation of anti-Semitism. If Jennifer Rubin wanted to accuse Robinson of anti-Semitism, she could have said so explicitly, as she has with Joe Klein and Jeremiah Wright.

33

snuh 08.01.09 at 4:49 am

My guess is that he erred by relying on the High Commission’s website, which gave Robinson credit for her trips to Africa during her presidency.

my guess is he made it up because he’s a hack.

34

musical mountaineer 08.01.09 at 6:01 am

MM’s notions are quite amusing, it must be said. Robinson was President of Europe. Ireland held the Presidency of the EU. By transitivity therefore Robinson was President of Europe. Watertight reasoning there.

Well, no. That’s why I said “whatever that means”. I’ll admit though, that my crack about the UN High Commissioner wasn’t helpful.

The President of Ireland has no powers whatsoever over EU actions, whether or not Ireland holds the EU Presidency.

Thank you. This information is not so easy to look up (there’s a lot of Google chaff around “EU Presidency”). Rubin’s article strongly implies that Robinson had some kind of authority at the EU; your original post seems to sidestep this point; and it’s important to the argument. As I’m the kind of person who would find Rubin credible, you may as well be glad I’m reading today.

35

Katherine 08.01.09 at 8:28 am

Did he really say “International Criminal Tribunal”? Ain’t no such animal, but I assume he meant the International Criminal Court. And which doesn’t investigate random individuals, but “situations” (and then of course individuals involved in that situation) based on a list of referral conditions (or at the behest of the Prosecutor him/herself, which hasn’t happened so far). Oh, and Israel hasn’t ratified the ICC Statute, and Palestine isn’t a member of the UN, so it would take a Security Council referral to have the situation investigated, and guess who has a veto over that!

So the ignoramus who wrote about this is, well, as ignoramus about the name, purpose and procedures of the ICC. What a surprise!

36

john b 08.01.09 at 9:25 am

As I’m the kind of person who would find Rubin credible

It’s not often that someone admits, in a blog comments section, that they’re a gullible idiot. Hats off to you, sir.

37

peter 08.01.09 at 9:30 am

So, not only are Irish expatriates running the bureaucracy of the European Commission out of all proportion to their numbers (as we learnt the other day), but now the country is also single-handedly setting the EU’s foreign policy and spending Europe’s hard-earned taxes on foreign terrorists, despite the opposition of all the other member-states. Next thing that little pipsqueak of a country will be deciding by itself whether the entire European Union should adopt a new constitution or not!

38

Alex 08.01.09 at 12:07 pm

(I offer no opinion on whether Klein’s assessment of Columbia is correct, not knowing anything about it.)

But this is an objectively insane position. The statement “Columbia University is run by a secret cabal of bigots” is so berserk that even admitting the possibility requires strong evidence that this might be the case.

Similarly, if you wanted me to even consider the possibility that there is a giant squid in my cellar, you’d need to give me very good reasons to even accept that there was any considering to be done, even before you tried to prove the squid was there.

The whole point of this strategy is to legitimise the idea that Columbia is secretly controlled by Nazis, that the Iraqi government shipped its nuclear bomb to France, etc, etc – to manipulate your Bayesian priors.

BTW, regarding Ariel Sharon, may I make a brief suggestion? If you’re a civilian defence minister who isn’t responsible for operational matters, people will believe this much more if you don’t choose to deploy into the field with a mobile headquarters equipped with extensive radio communications. If you spend your time in the barber’s, you will tend to get a haircut. See also Winston Churchill as First Lord of the Admiralty.

39

EWI 08.01.09 at 12:15 pm

Obama, the thuggish Chicago machine politician, is disgracing the Presidential Medal of Freedom by giving it Mary Robinson. Her history of gross bigotry and dishonesty toward Israel, from Durban to Jenin, has been gone over repeatedly, in the context of this sham award by the American Thinker and Jennifer Rubin, and in the past by Jacob Gershman, Michael Rubin, and Tom Lantos. It should come as no surprise that she should get an award from a bigot who happily spent two decades with a raving anti-Semitic minister. Two peas in a bigot’s pod. A pox on the pair of them.

http://www.atlanticblog.com/archives/002875.html

“Thuggish”, “gross bigotry toward Israel”, “anti-Semitic”. Now, there’s the Bill Sjostrom we all know.

40

apthorp 08.01.09 at 1:17 pm

Propaganda in contact with reality is pointless as it subsumes the notion that is can be checked and refuted. propaganda must be True and Unquestioned.

Accidental or incidental contact with reality is harmless as long as no one notices.

41

Tim Wilkinson 08.01.09 at 1:48 pm

Two peas in a bigot’s pod See what he did there? Me neither.

On the subject of wit, there’s a bit of a giveaway that the Commentary piece is an instant-opinion cribsheet in the clumsily ironic, resentful ‘Well, isn’t that just dandy’ at the start. The reader snarls agreement – yeah, isn’t it just. Typical of, er something or other. So who is Mary Robinson?

But if we’re going to bother criticising, better avoid focussing on one distortion while others slip by unchallenged.

documents seized during the recent Israeli incursion into the West Bank revealed that the Palestinian Authority spent approximately $9 million of European Union aid money each month on the salaries of those organizing terror attacks against civilians. While European officials like Robinson looked the other way, the Palestinian Authority regularly converted millions of dollars of aid money into shekels at rates about 20 percent below normal, allowing the Palestinian chairman to divert millions of dollars worth of aid into his personal slush fund.

are these claims being accepted except insofar as they relate to Robinson?

The whole thing sounds like the usual combination of exaggeration, distortion and fabrication, all stretched to the limit (well maybe not fabrication), and all in one direction.

The documents (Do they exist? Are they genuine? Do they contain what they are said to contain? Do the concusions drawn follow from what is said to be in the documents?); the numbers (are they based on what was in the documents? How were they derived? Was there any doubt and if so, er, who got the benefit? What is this business about exchange rate differences?); the matter of ‘those organizing terror attacks against civilians’ (Does this in fact mean militias? Are these ‘terror attacks’ a main part of their activities? What is being counted as ‘terrorist attacks on civilians’? The IDF seem routinely to describe military operations against themselves as ‘terror’ attacks, btw).

Is there any evidence that anyone was ‘looking the other way’ – which implies (though can’t of course be pinned down to asserting) they deliberate ignored obvious facts? Is the entirety of this ‘personal slush fund’ assumed to have been paid to ‘terrorists’? Etc.

No doubt each issue (taken in isolation) can in the usual way be claimed to be minor or irrelevant but if so, why is it in there? A further problem – you can hardly even raise one issue without presuming that the context is basically accurate. I dont know the answers to the specific questions above, but it has the appearance of a standard exercise in wholesale mudslinging (and if metanoia works well enough within the space of a sentence, it works even better when the retraction – or a refutation – is piecemeal, much later, and can be portrayed – if acknowledged at all – rather mundane and ‘nitpicky’ – or as ‘a point, but only a bit of one’.)

Last time I checked, the onus of proof fell on those making claims, so if I’m being asked to take on faith a story that can be traced back only to some polemical hack, or perhaps one step further back an unsubstantiated IDF report (‘the documents described here say…’), then I think I’ll give it a miss.

William Sjostrom @36: …trying to put together a group of people because of their bigotry toward Israel rather than their scholarship, and that is particularly egregious in a school with a large Jewish student population careful, or people might start thinking the line about not confating anti-Israel (or rather anti-Crazed Rightwing Israeli Hawks) opinion with anti-semitic racism might not be
in
entirely good faith. (Not that I accept the misdescription of what was actually happening at Columbia…)

42

Henri Vieuxtemps 08.01.09 at 2:07 pm

I believe there was an investigation on the alleged misuse of the EU contributions by the PA and it didn’t find any misuse.

Also, I believe those documents allegedly obtained during the operation “Defensive Shield” are still commonly referred to as “alleged proof”.

43

musical mountaineer 08.01.09 at 2:08 pm

Lastly, it’s just astonishing that the discussion here is being conducted by people who apparently have never even heard of Mary Robinson… Have some respect, will you, for a person who is better than you are.

I’ll give you this: such criticisms of Robinson as I can find online do rest on facts that are somewhat overstressed.

44

Tim Wilkinson 08.01.09 at 2:33 pm

Yeah, ‘Defensive Shield’, wasn’t it! Protesting a trifle too much?

BTW Links @41 were broken – nothing earth-shattering anyway; originally assembled in response to the Highly Circumscribed Dershowitz Challenge ($15,000 to anyone who can find ‘a statement by a prominent Jewish leader [?] equating criticism of Israel with Anti-semitism’ – but I can’t afford the time, expense and potential costs award of a transatlantic lawsuit, even as litigant in person – though it would be fun): not be in entirely good faith

45

Kieran Healy 08.02.09 at 12:02 am

I can’t seem to get Horowitz’ website to tell me just how Robinson is related to Bérubé, though; can someone help a fellow blogger out?

As President, Robinson met my uncle a number of times. Does that get you there?

46

Eimear Ní Mhéalóid 08.02.09 at 1:41 am

musical mountaineer, imagine Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II being described as an EU official. Then recall that the position of President under the Irish constitution was specifically designed to have less political power in Ireland than QEII has in Britain. She has two actual powers: one is to refuse a dissolution of the Dáil (unlike the Queen she cannot summon the leader of the Opposition and invite them to form a government) and the other is to refer any Bill to the Supreme Court for Constitutional vetting. The second power has been used a number of times, the first one never.
Otherwise her role is entirely ceremonial and symbolic.

47

Z 08.02.09 at 1:52 am

As President, Robinson met my uncle a number of times. Does that get you there?

The network is far more powerful than we imagined!

48

musical mountaineer 08.02.09 at 3:35 am

the position of President under the Irish constitution was specifically designed to have less political power in Ireland than QEII has in Britain…her role is [almost] entirely ceremonial and symbolic

Yes. I might have saved trouble if I’d clicked the link Henry provided earlier, instead of trying to figure out what is the EU Presidency and work backwards from there. It is a little disorienting to an American to read about a Presidency which isn’t a supreme executive power, and in this case we have two (three, if you count the new office being contemplated for Tony Blair).

49

peter 08.02.09 at 6:41 am

“It is a little disorienting to an American to read about a Presidency which isn’t a supreme executive power,”

How terrible to have been disoriented so often and for so long ! (USSR 1922, Eire 1937, India 1947, FR Germany 1949, Austria 1955, etc).

50

mollymooly 08.02.09 at 9:34 am

“It is a little disorienting to an American to read about a Presidency which isn’t a supreme executive power”

Also, she was a Senator before being President, and Irish Senators are almost as powerless as Irish Presidents, and have much less symbolic influence. She was a high-profile lawyer, though. The closest analogue might be Cherie Blair, if Cherie Blair’s husband had been a cartoonist.

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Alex 08.02.09 at 2:46 pm

France up to 1958; come to think of it, I reckon an actual majority of democracies have a nonexecutive presidency (or a constitutional monarchy, which is much the same thing but with ponies). The only notable executive presidencies I can think of are the US, France since 1958, Russia, if you accept it as a democracy, Ukraine before the office was recently cut down to size and if you accept it as a democracy, and Lebanon, if you accept that it is a democracy.

The South African president is a chief of state as well as a head of government, but is chosen by parliament. Mind you, indubitably a democracy, so I’ll count them. That’s 3, I don’t consider Russia a democracy, and I’m going to give Ukraine and Lebanon each half a point – Ukraine because the presidency is being dismantled, Lebanon because the national convention isn’t quite democracy.

Mind you, Latin America has some fairly significant presidencies; wikiing, Brazil and Argentina both have an executive president. So less rare than I thought, but still hardly obvious.

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iolanthe 08.03.09 at 1:15 am

Getting a bit off topic here, but to follow up Alex’s point, not only do a majority of democracries have a non exec presidency, but very few (USA and France?) have managed to stay democratic with an executive presidency. It’s no coincedence that the first thing most African leaders did after independence was to get rid of the ceremonial presidency and assume the position themselves.

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ajay 08.03.09 at 10:11 am

“It is a little disorienting to an American to read about a Presidency which isn’t a supreme executive power,”

Yes, we know – witness the commentary on Ahmedinejad for the last four years, in which a lot of Americans professed to believe that he was the Big Boss of Iran, rather than, basically, the Prime Minister (domestic affairs).

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