Category Archives: Politics

Prof. Salaita

In 2013, the American Indian Studies Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign searched for a new professor. Professor Salaita, who teaches at Virginia Tech and has written a number of books, was hired. The appointment letter was issued, contingent on Board of Trustees’ approval, normally a formality. Professor Salaita resigned his position at Virginia Tech and prepared to move. But a few weeks (two?) before teaching was supposed to start this 2014 academic year, the offer was rescinded, or rather the chancellor of Urbana-Champaign made the decision not to forward the appointment to the Board of Trustees. The board routinely approves hires, sometimes retroactively given its rare meetings (three a year, I believe).

What led to this potential violation of professional academic freedom and constitutional free speech, according to many, is the “concern” over the stridency of S. Salaita’s social media comments on Israel’s military actions in Gaza earlier this summer. See his Twitter site.

Strident alright, but clearly part of political discourse and protected freedom of speech. One may strongly disagree with Salaita’s active support of Boycott-Divestment-Sanction (BDS) and his views on zionism, yet defend his rights to express them and to see his appointment at UI-Urbana-Champaign confirmed. In regard to the latter, my only question regarding the judgment by the hiring powers would be: Does and will Professor Salaita engage viewpoints different from his in his teaching and writing? Will he welcome colleagues and students in this broad manner? The American Indian Studies program thinks so (see link below). Prof. Salaita himself addresses that question in the press conference today, at about the 17′ mark of the youtube recording (last link below). To be pursued….


  1. Description of events in article on blocked appointment in Inside Higher Ed.
  2. Vote of no confidence in Chancellor Wise taken by American Indian Studies Program at UI-Urbana-Champaign, with other links.
  3. Illinois AAUP section issued a statement asking that Salaita’s appointment be honored.
  4. Defense of decision by UI’s administration to rescind the offer by Cary Nelson, ex-president of AAUP, who seems to have had Steven Salaita in his crosshairs for quite a while.
  5. Resource guide by UI students. Links to circulating petitions can be found in this guide.
  6. Press conference of Sept 9, 2014, with Professor Salaita, Professor Warrior of American Indian Studies Program at UI/Urbana-Champaign, Professor Rothberg reading the MLA statement regarding the abrogation of due process in Prof. Salaita’s case and more grievously the violation of academic freedom and freedom of expression, students’ statements (including Jewish and Palestinian students), and a period of questions and answers.

Boycott and boycott

Two boycotts are presently targeting Israel. One takes aim at companies and organizations having their operations, or some of them, in the settlements and implantations that have been developing on the West Bank since the seventies. The second boycott, started by the BDS movement (= Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions), made news recently because of the American Studies Association’s announcement of its support of a boycott of Israeli academic institutions.

Supporters of the anti-Palestinian policies of Israel’s present government are trying hard to confuse the public regarding the first one, the limited boycott of companies operating in the settlements on the West Bank, because it has a sound legal and ethical basis. It can really hurt and accelerate peace negotiations. They use boycott number 2, the BDS one, which they know is problematic for most people in the US, as if it were the basis for boycott number 1, the limited one. See for instance yesterday’s NYT article on countering boycotts by Landler, or today’s opinion piece by the foreign editor of Die Welt.

A few words about boycott one, which targets companies and products in the settlements. I support this boycott because these settlements are illegal and “an obstacle to peace” (footnote: this was the diplomatic language used by US Secretary of States until it was dropped by Reagan’s administration. Obama’s went tentatively back to it, at the beginning of his administration). The implantations prevent a negotiation and resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict on the basis of UN Resolution 242 and the Oslo Accords of 1993–95. A solution to the conflict on that basis, with land swaps, is possible. But the settlements’ continuous expansion since the Oslo Accords and especially now, in the face of efforts by the Obama administration to put the peace process back on rails, makes an economic and cultural boycott of these settlements necessary. We’ll see how a recently weakened AIPAC frames the discussion in the days to come. Kerry is to address it on Monday, if the situation in Ukraine, Crimea, and Russia, not to mention Syria, does not need his attention.

The second or BDS boycott is legally and ethically confusing to most people. The three main elements of its platform are: 1) equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; 2) the end to the occupation; 3) the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses. Because numbers 2 and 3 could apply to the state of Israel as a home and refuge for many Jews since 1948, I don’t see how it can be supported.

Boycott number one needs to expand if Israel’s government continues to refuse to engage in the peace process.


This is a summary of a paper I gave yesterday on the origins of the apocalyptic mind and literature (Enoch, Daniel, right up to Revelation). It was a standard historical paper, with ethical and political considerations regarding the modern situation not buried too deeply down.

The paper starts by saying that apocalyptic literature—a three-century-something long development initiated in the third century B.C.E.—is the continuation of the sixth-to-fifth century monotheistic reframing of the Yahweh divinity. This reframing and broadening of Yahweh is in great part an explanation of, and resistance to, a succession of three empires. Belief in a single, only divinity was at the same time a listening beyond the fury and chaos of history. This listening to and obeying an inscrutable divine will had been revealed to an interstitial Moses, the story went, not to a king. Listening (in the sense of paying attention as well as a more problematic obeying) remained or became the driving metaphor, rather than seeing and its related political forms. The Mosaic story and law took their present shape together with the new temple in the late sixth-fifth centuries B.C.E.

Apocalyptic takes its cue from the central role played in Judahite society by this new temple and torah. For its own purposes, Achaemenid rule had allowed or encouraged limited, local, non-royal, control for peoples still reeling from the collapse of their monarchy and loss of political center. In this new situation, an original, divinely inspired, constitution had been created—as well as a historical narrative of origins, an explanation of failures, and reasons for hope. And together with the reframing of a catastrophic political history as being the expression of long-revealed divine will, the eventual rebuilding of the divinity’s house proceeded. Both Torah and temple became the sources of renewed strength for a small, beaten, partly dispersed, endangered people.

The lay and soon-dominant priestly elites in Judah, however, were in a paradoxical situation. The authority of both of these groups, in regard to Achaemenid and later Ptolemaic kings, depended on their ability to ensure order and tribute. But from the Judahites’ point of view, it depended on their contiguity or nearness to temple and torah. It was precisely their religious authority (including their eventual creation and placing of the torah at the center), their attached rights to religious tithing, and consequently their local integration and intimate knowledge of economic resources and social situations that enabled them to play an effective role as disguised tax-farmers for the Persian kings. Leaders or protectors of the people and facilitators of a tributary empire at the same time.

This uneasy equilibrium lasted for some time. Two centuries something later, however, two combined pressures came about that could not be managed anymore. One was a particularly oppressive external imperial assault that, in its combination of Hellenistic and eventual Roman competing claims, made overt as well as implicit linguistic, economic, and cultural-religious demands that the people and many among the elites found impossible to meet. The second was a more complicated, local development, marked by the end of the authoritative and uneasy role of the Judahite leadership that was summarized above, of lay elites and priesthood. Part of it was the hardening of the temple as institution, and the torah as canon. The latter was not hermetically closed until long after, but prophetic voices and eschatological thinking were discouraged. The elites’ splits and abandonment of their responsibilities have left traces in some of the later layers of the Hebrew Bible.

This is the situation that apocalyptic responded to and tried to transcend. So, the core of apocalyptic was not otherworldly or devoid of ethical concerns, on the contrary. In the re-mythicized forms it adopted, evil was politically and socially rooted and the writers projected the unseemly and incomprehensible victory of unrighteousness as part of a divine plan revealed to visionaries: the ineluctable and inescapable triumph of an “enthroned glory.” Yet, this enthroned glory was still an absent male patriarch, the absent father of daily life as well as the absent and formidable head of state, the Ancient of Days, a glory before which one could only prostrate oneself.

I concluded the paper with a discussion of Jesus. Was he an apocalyptic thinker (dreamer?) or an anti-Roman peasant revolutionary? I tried to show there is no either/or. Jesus folded the apocalyptic worldview unto the here and now. That is, the grandiose cosmic waiting and near-coming featured in apocalyptic, he took to be the waiting and expectation of the paralytic, the hungry, the woman with a blood flow, disciples, hearers, or those waiting (in the parables) for the master, the landowner, the king, the groom. This announcement that the waiting was over (is permanently over?), however, went directly against the notion of a structured absence we see at the center of the Temple and Torah as well as in much of the apocalyptic literature. Directly against the Roman and Judaean managerial politics surrounding this convenient absence. Jesus continued something long at work in his society since the transformation of the Maccabean revolution into another kingdom yet. He radicalized the logic of those large movements (especially the Pharisees but also the Essenes) and claimed a life in which real bodies and souls could live here and now the promises and hopes of a decentered or dislocated temple and torah.

I did not play a coda that could have gone as follows. The story of this collapse of a cosmic wait onto the mundane here-and-now led to a refocussing of history, on a much larger scale than before, around the vanishing point of a returning Christic figure. It lasted aeons, right up to our seventeenth and eighteenth centuries (and it lives in large groups still around us). Then it transmogrified into the steely and brave-new-worldly dream of the advent of reason, and that too, at the hands of national entities, liberal and/or fascistic, became apocalyptic. Exhausted, we look over our shoulders, deconstruct all of that, and find ourselves at the mercy again of managerial politics, with floating chunks of rationality here and there, though thankfully without mediation of any kind: no temple, church, state, vectorized Hegelian history. The ethics and rationalizations of our managers seem very thin and narrow. Greed and sheer stupidity are well matched. So, here and now we are, pilgrims and explorers again and again.

From TS Eliot, Four quartets, end of East Coker:

Old men ought to be explorers
Here and there does not matter
We must be still and still moving
Into another intensity
For a further union, a deeper communion
Through the dark cold and the empty desolation,
The wave cry, the wind cry, the vast waters
Of the petrel and the porpoise. In my end is my beginning.

Israel-US tension

Israel’s present government is not interested in compromises.

According to unnamed sources quoted in Israeli newspapers since last week, Israel Defense Minister Ya`alon repeatedly attacked Secretary of State Kerry in conversations with Israelis and Americans. Among other things, he reportedly said that Kerry was “obsessive and messianic” and that he (Ya`alon) hoped that “Kerry would obtain the Nobel Prize and leave us alone.” The US government considered these words to be personal attacks that, if true, needed to be disavowed by Israel’s government. See NYT’s article. The rift comes from differences about the security arrangements in the Jordan valley being discussed as part of the peace process. Last month, Likud cabinet ministers formally urged Israel, via a non-binding resolution, to annex the west side of Jordan River Valley. No give.

So excuses were made. A weaker statement by Israel’s Minister of Defense Ya`alon was completely rejected earlier today by the US administration. Israel’s government was asked to dissociate itself from the comments by its Defense Minister. The strength of the US statement was unusual and a surprise to me. There is good reason to think the White House has not forgotten Netanyahu’s ill-advised meddling in the months leading to the presidential elections of 2012.

Now, after a two-hour meeting with Netanyahu, Haaretz reports, a somewhat stronger apology was issued by the Defense Minister’s office and coordinated with Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office: “The Defense Minister didn’t mean to offend the Secretary of State, and he apologizes if the Secretary of State was offended by the words attributed to the Minister.” Passive voice and floating words: the office is apologizing, not quite the man in the office. Netanyahu and NJ’s governor Christie seem to be in a similar situation: encouraging stalling and retribution and working hard at dissociating themselves from the actual results.

The announcement, published in Hebrew and English, also made clear that “Israel and the USA are partners in the effort to move along the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, under the leadership of Secretary of State Kerry. We value the Secretary of State’s many efforts towards that goal.” It does not speak about Kerry’s commitment to Israel’s security, however.

Islamophobia and antisemitism

Interesting, clear, historical overview and pressing conclusions on the subject, especially the need to move away from the recent religious hardening, by Reuben Firestone in Arches, vol. 4, edition 7, Winter 2010. Arches is published by the Cordoba foundation, founded and presided by Anas Altikriti, close to Muslim Brotherhood according to that link. The article was made available on

Boycott Israeli Universities?

The American Studies Association announced last Monday that it voted to boycott Israeli academic institutions by a large majority. There were 1252 voting members, 66% for the resolution and 30.5% against (3.43% abstentions). ASA has about 5000 members. Its National Council previously announced on Dec. 4 that it was in support of the boycott and asked for a vote. This is a first in the US. Here is the text of the Council’s resolution of Dec. 4:

December 4, 2013

Whereas the American Studies Association is committed to the pursuit of social justice, to the struggle against all forms of racism, including anti-semitism, discrimination, and xenophobia, and to solidarity with aggrieved peoples in the United States and in the world;

Whereas the United States plays a significant role in enabling the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the expansion of illegal settlements and the Wall in violation of international law, as well as in supporting the systematic discrimination against Palestinians, which has had documented devastating impact on the overall well-being, the exercise of political and human rights, the freedom of movement, and the educational opportunities of Palestinians;

Whereas there is no effective or substantive academic freedom for Palestinian students and scholars under conditions of Israeli occupation, and Israeli institutions of higher learning are a party to Israeli state policies that violate human rights and negatively impact the working conditions of Palestinian scholars and students;

Whereas the American Studies Association is cognizant of Israeli scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies and who support the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement under conditions of isolation and threat of sanction;

Whereas the American Studies Association is dedicated to the right of students and scholars to pursue education and research without undue state interference, repression, and military violence, and in keeping with the spirit of its previous statements supports the right of students and scholars to intellectual freedom and to political dissent as citizens and scholars;

It is resolved that the American Studies Association (ASA) endorses and will honor the call of Palestinian civil society for a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. It is also resolved that the ASA supports the protected rights of students and scholars everywhere to engage in research and public speaking about Israel-Palestine and in support of the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement.

The news was widely reported. See for instance the article by Sarah Lazare posted yesterday on Juan Cole’s Informed comment. Lazare notes the unusual support by the membership, including the support of intellectuals like Prof. Angela Davis, and the fact it is a first in the US.

As Lazare says, “a mass movement in solidarity with Palestinian freedom is long overdue.” The strangle hold Israel has on Palestinian territories knows few limits. But boycotting Israeli academic institutions is wrong, and not simply because there are “Israeli scholars and students who are critical of Israeli state policies and who support the international boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement…” Israeli scholars who are critical of Israeli state policies and do not support the BDS movement do not pass the moral test?

An international boycott that targets companies doing business in the territories conquered in 1967 by Israel makes sense. And even more sense would be continued political action against what drives the rest above, or condones it, namely our insane US military budget (615b in page 1 of 2014 President’s budget submission). It is the last one we must boycott in the US: that is where it hurts (including our pension funds’ investments in companies supplying the military, and much of the general wealth of our society), and what will bring change in the Persian Gulf, in the Near East in general, and in Israeli policies regarding Palestinians (or Egyptian military junta’s policies). It is all too easy to ride the ethical train and target only Israel and the unjust policies of its successive governments, while going along with resolutions like that of BDS that willingly confuse government(s) and what the state of Israel still represents, namely a home.

Since the resolution mentions the BDS movement, I recopy here the BDS platform (see wiki on: BDS = Boycott, divestment, sanctions):

1) equal rights of citizenship for current inhabitants; 2) the end to the occupation; 3) the rights of unlawfully displaced persons to return to their lands and gain restitution for their losses.

Three things that are basic justice: equal rights, end of occupation, and right of return. But for instance occupation in number 2 is not specified: occupation of territories since June 1967, or since May 1948 and the creation of the state of Israel? The end of occupation on the basis of UN resolution 242, i.e. return of all territories conquered in 1967, with swaps (but no consideration for so-called “facts on the ground,” aka settlements since 1973 especially), or the end of the state of Israel? The BDS movement’s vagueness on this issue should not have fooled the ASA, and perhaps it didn’t. See the controversy between Frank Barat and Norman Finkelstein or Noam Chomsky, easy to find on youtube.

Iran in US news

It didn’t take long before Iran was in the news again. A US drone surveillance plane was apparently fired upon by Iranian planes on November 1. The Pentagon assures the public, after the election, that the drone was flying over international waters at all times. How can we verify this info, given it’s certainly part of a secret program? Ok, we’ll take their word for it. Now, for a moment only, let’s imagine China or Iran having drones over international waters West of San Diego or East of Florida… A nightmare… So, let’s go back to the role media like the NYT play as bed fellows of the Pentagon, as in “embedded” media. Under the politico-rhetorical pretext of questioning the propriety of revealing a bit of delicate military information only after the election, both the Pentagon and the media are showing again how willing they are to keep the war against Iran going. I call it a war, because this is what we’d call it if we ourselves were subject to a punishing financial stranglehold, a commercial and technological blockade, and surrounded by hostile forces (in the Persian Gulf, in Irak, in the Indian Ocean, and in Afghanistan). Iran is an enemy since the hostage crisis of 1979-81. When Iran was under the Shah regime and its police surveillance, an Iranian nuclear program didn’t look like a problem. How will the US back off without losing influence, and especially without denting the basis for its huge military budget?

debate… zzzzz

Question on plan to reduce all taxes in all brackets and eliminate deductions (mortgage, child, education, etc.): what would be your position on those things?

Romney [reaganesque]: Let’s simplify, yes! middle income class people need to see reductions. [Then crocodiles’ tears, and promise of reductions] And tough tax policies on the top incomes, that is, no change. I want to help people in the middle class [oh? what of raising of health fees, education fees? follow up question please?]. And balanced budget plus less taxation on everyone.

Obama responds with essentially the same tune. Attack on tax breaks for the 2%. Attack on Romney and the plan to reduce taxation on top incomes and capital. Top down economics is not going to work.

Romney retorts with: wealthy people will continue to pay high rates [? but doesn’t their income come from financial instruments taxed at 15% max. More crocodile tears on lower class and the poor; if voters swallow that one, good luck to them]. Wants to give a tax cut to the middle class.

Obama: Romney is proposing 8 trillion dollars bleed while proposing a future balanced budget, without telling people where he will cut the budget…

Question: if the numbers don’t add up, would you be willing… [question not completed by moderator, who pretends to be tough but is actually very tame]

Romney: of course the numbers would add up. I’m a magician: Bain, Olympic games in Colorado, etc.

Next question: how do you plan to rectify gender imbalances in the work place?

Obama: I know the problem well. We have been doing it. We’ll continue to push on this.

Romney [sounding more and more like Reagan]: I did work on this as a governor. Flexibility of schedules, I know everything about all of that. Women have been losing jobs, many in poverty [how many times did he use the word by now?], we’ll correct that. I know what a good economy looks like and I know what to do.

Obama: Romney previously was not forthright on this issue. What of health care? contraception? funding for planned parenthood?

Question by undecided voter to Romney: much of US problems and foreign problems due to Bush’s decisions. How do you differentiate yourself from Bush?

Romney: [flip flops and goes to contraception] Says Obama is wrong. Bush and I are different people. My five-point plan is different. For instance, energy security. Trade: I’ll crack down on China. Budget deficit: it was wrong under Bush but Obama didn’t change anything. Small business: I am a small business person [isn’t that the song they all sing?]. My priority is jobs.

Obama: when we came in in 2008-9, we were losing 800K jobs. Now job growth and more are coming. Center piece of Romney’s plan is tax breaks for the rich. Re China: Romney invested in companies that do good business with China. Then some good jiu-jitsu: Bush was different, indeed, but in some ways, re. social policies for instance, Romney is more extreme.

Question: I voted for you (Obama) in 08. What have you done to earn my vote in 12?

Obama: I cut taxes for middle class, stopped war in Irak, got Osama bin Laden, reined Wall St in, created 5M jobs, saved the auto industry. Yet, many are still struggling. So need to support education, control energy, etc. But look at Romney: his plans do not include any of this.

Romney: we can’t afford 4 more years like the last ones. Attacks Obama on health plan, deficit cutting, immigration. [nice touch, coming from a party that paralyzed all action]. 23M still looking for jobs. What of poverty [4th or 5th time he talks about this]? Mentions Reagan’s times. [he is sounding more and more like him: hear the lilt]. Whoa, at the end, cherry on the cake, defense of employment by someone who made money making companies “lean”!!

Question for Romney about immigration policy?

Romney: first a little song on this, a nation of immigrants. My dad born in Mexico [an immigrant? emigrant?]. We should give green cards to people with professional training [in other words, let’s steal people who have cost nothing to this country for our companies here]. No amnesty for those coming here illegally. I’m tough.

Obama: variant on the song, we are a nation of immigrants. And a nation of laws. We need to fix the system. Teaching mode again. Then something about people who are here illegally: only go after criminals. We should make sure we give a path to citizenship to the many. [a real difference between the parties here]

Romney on China becomes a bit heated, good! Makes a mistake in attacking president on his own pension, how it has investments in China. Obama says that he doesn’t look often at his pension which is smaller than Romney’s and segues into a plan on work. Made a point here finally.

Question about Lybia, the tricky question. How come enhanced security was denied a few weeks before the Bengazi incident?

Obama provides the presidential, incumbent’s answer, a bit of fog about the White House process. Followed by an attack on Romney, the press release issued by the Republican campaign. Look, I delivered what I promised: Irak, Iran, bin Laden, etc. I mean what I say.

Romney: important question. The buck stops at the president’s desk. Feels sympathetic for the families. Goes a little into the detail. Attack on Obama who goes to a money-raising event on the next day. This was an attack by terrorists, for god’s sake, not a demonstration! Look, Syria, Israel, Iran. The president’s strategy is unravelling…. [should be easy to throw out of court but there is no real discussion of what our defense system and diplomacy is doing in that part of the world]

Obama reminds everyone he is the president… [God, do we need to go there?] We go into the detail again, grieving with the families…

Question on AK47 and limits on assault weapons…

19H20 PST: I am ready to give up. Questions and answers are very limited and I don’t see much daylight between the candidates.

Finally, at the very end, we get (almost) to brass tacks. The last question on China triggers a couple of comments not only on fairness and currency manipulations—the usual attacks on China—but on the real reasons for the transfer of manufacturing capacity: cheaper labor! Romney is clear on his old-school capitalist faith and god: we want to create the conditions here that will create good jobs. [read: we want cheaper labor, less health and social security protections, which he actually connected to the topic]. Obama is a new-school capitalist defender: better jobs, more education, the second- and third-tier jobs aren’t coming back from China or India.

debate fix

I’m waiting for the debate. Fixed. Forgeries in ancient history are a side interest, so I’m preparing to track the modern equivalent, fake debates. I listened to Amy Goodman this morning on local public radio—what’s left of it—and learned that the debates used to be organized by the League of Women Voters. Now, it is the highly secretive Commission on Presidential Debates, which is essentially a private organization parading as a public-interest group, supported by the two main parties, dodo and roro, and a variety of private players, like the king of foam, Anheuser-Busch. Read Glenn Greenwald on how fixed these debates are and why the League of Women Voters lost control of the organization of those debates to the two main parties. See, the League of Women Voters wanted genuine debate and was not prepared to eliminate real questions. Now, don’t expect such. On the contrary, expect the sold out moderator to assume we must go to war with Iran (the only question: how, when?), to present Medicare and especially Social Security as being budgetary catastrophes. Assume no questions will be asked about the rationality of our collection of health feudalities, no question on how much defense is presently needed, on civil liberties, on the need for a much higher minimum wage (which can be decided only at the national level), on public education, and of course on the lockout on debates and media organized by dodo, roro, and their friends. Look at the 21-page memorandum of understanding between the two campaigns, signed on October 3. Candy Cowley will be asking only pre-approved questions. But I must go and listen.


How much does a presidential race cost business interests these days in comparison to what it costs the US Treasury? A whole lot more. Circa one billion dollars per candidate according to Joe Nocera in today’s NYT (A 23). And this is without counting super PACs and 501(c)4s, which I (we) can’t even estimate. The latter probably involve several billion dollars more for each presidential candidate (please correct me). Money laundering on a big scale. What do big interests (whose scale is tens and hundreds of billions) get in return for those modest amounts? Well, one of the people mentioned by Nocera is clear on the issue: a product. Bopp Jr. Esq. from Terre Haute speaks of politics as a market. He speaks of spending money as he sees fit as exercising freedom of choice. He, the buyer, is of course discriminating, which he sees as the essence of democracy. The more money, the more discriminating in his choices. Indeed. Democracy as a product, presidents for sale—not only congress—and 47% of us, soon more, as dead weight. The Supreme Court agrees.

The real issues are not debated. The rationality of universal health care, in terms of general budgeting for a nation? Will we spend 20% of GDP soon on health? And how much health, if life expectancy is dramatically dropping for instance for people working for unsecured, temp, low-paid jobs? The answer is given on the same page of the NYT by the new pro-Romney Brooks who giddily applauds the continuation of massive capital transfers to insurance, banking, hospital, and pharmaceutical industry, in the guise of a hypocritical call to moral conscience. Regulation of the banking industry? A better-supported public education? How much defense spending, and what do we call defense? None of this gets debated at all. Health and defense, particularly, are complete irrational constructs at the moment. Yes, they are a most important source of employment and great wealth. But how long can a modern nation sustain this kind of distortions before it all comes crashing down?