Via Matthew Yglesias, this is enough to make a cat laugh. As I’ve argued elsewhere, although the Mearsheimer & Walt “Israel Lobby” does have a referent which is a real and definable set of groups and institutions, this lobby really doesn’t have all that much to do with Israel. Every time this slightly scary bunch of warlike, paranoid and rather right-wing people are asked to make a choice between the national interests of Israel and their own vanity politics, it’s Israel that gets shafted. Any concern over “divided loyalties” or what have you is completely misplaced – the “Israel Lobby” are nationalists of a completely imaginary state, one which has no meaningful politics of its own, no need to compromise with reality and no national interests other than constant war.

Note also that the well-known South Africa analogy, which has been pronounced to be intrinsically bigoted and anti-semitic by the wisest heads outside Israel, is considered normal politics by the head of government of that country. I begin to think that the Israeli state (which has, over the years, played its part in giving these nutters much more prominence and credibility than they deserve) has been lately finding the wingnuttier wing of American “pro-Israel” politics to be more trouble than it is worth. There are all sorts of reasons one might have to be less than happy with the human rights record of the State of Israel, but as far as I can see they don’t deserve to be blamed for the extremely negative contribution made to public debate in English-speaking politics by the political organisation trading under their name.


by Eszter Hargittai on December 4, 2007

I was in Trier, Germany last week, famous for.. among other things, being the birth place of Marx.

I found the store filled with Marx merchandise amusing:


The “opium of the people” quote was only available on a magnet in German, not in English (other quotes were available in English), I’m assuming a conscious choice based on potential interest.

I couldn’t resist getting a copy of the poster that has the entire Communist Manifesto written on it with an image of Marx and Engels coming through from the text thanks to manipulation of the formatting.

I also got a postcard with a cartoon of Marx and the following quote: “Tut mir leid Jungs! War halt nur so ‘ne Idee for mir…”, which Babelfish completely butchers in its translation so I’ll try, but feel free to correct me: “Sorry kids! ‘Twas just an idea I had.”

Boarding a plane to Budapest later in the day added a twist to all this for me. While I can see friends and colleagues in the U.S. understanding why I would’ve picked up those items, I don’t think too many people in the town where I grew up would get why I’d want anything with Marx on my walls.

Guilty as framed

by Henry Farrell on December 4, 2007

John Sides at _The Monkey Cage_ asks whether whites are more likely to support the death penalty when they think black people are being executed, and finds that the answer is yes.

In a 2001 survey conducted by Mark Peffley and John Hurwitz, a random subset of whites was asked:

“Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?”
Somewhat favor: 29%
Strongly favor: 36%

Another random subset of whites was asked:

“Some people say that the death penalty is unfair because most of the people who are executed are African-Americans. Do you favor or oppose the death penalty for persons convicted of murder?”
Somewhat favor: 25%
Strongly favor: 52%

That is a 12-point increase in overall support

See more “here”: (and original paper “here”: