Hillary Clinton “On Women” — Now & Then; Here (U.S.A.) & There (China)

  •  aclkSomehow I keep hearing that folks don’t have enough time to listen. Really?  I always have 1 minute and 43 seconds.  Now, if you do a little digging (archives), you will have to listen longer to discover HC’s position on women, girls, and boys.  I also recommend reading.




Posted in Bold, Candidates 2016, Framing Hillary, Gender, HC, Hillary Clinton 2016, Hillary Clinton Watch, Hillary Clinton's Feminist Wave, Womenest | Comments Off on Hillary Clinton “On Women” — Now & Then; Here (U.S.A.) & There (China)

Towards Truly Representational Democracy

Avatar (YY)2008_voting_line_in_Brooklyn

by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien* (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)


You can sure see the professor in President Barack Obama. Whatever will the GOP say now that Obama has momentarily dropped his penchant for executive actions and started rooting for a mandatory-voting law?

Perhaps Obama thinks the GOP will stop claiming that he has a thing for unilateral actions, as he starts advocating for a mandatory, yet unenforceable, law that should please the public since it is, after all, only symbolic?

Mandatory-voting laws like the one in Australia are symbols. They are values laws. Think about it. No politician is going to govern on the premise that her or his constituents must vote, since presumably this would only cause the non-voting “perp” to try to vote you or your party out of office.

No, this is more akin to the anti-flag-burning laws. It’s just a plain patriotic law, but in this case it’s a patriotic law with a punch.

Oddly enough, Americans are the most likely not to cheat on their federal income taxes. We are a rules-bound nation of doers, though not necessarily do-gooders. Similarly, in Australia and all nations with mandatory-voting laws, their citizens vote.

So if this is true, and we supposedly embrace representational democracy, how can a politician be against an unenforceable law that values voting? Now, the figures Obama cites with the 2010 midterm election at 36 percent is nothing new. Midterm congressional elections have been in the mid-30 percent range for more than a century. Similarly, presidential elections have been at a little more than 50 percent participation for this same period of more than a century.

So why would a president with a penchant for executive orders that, unlike laws, can be undone the minute he leaves office start advocating for more unenforceable laws, knowing full well that the GOP will emphasize the mandatory rather than the unenforceable aspect of such a law? Obama’s not power-hungry, but he sure is getting frustrated and impatient. Can you blame him?

The last time anyone altered any kind of participation in a significant way was with the progressives, and I don’t mean those in the 21st century but rather those in the 20th century who were responsible for making parties responsible, and the only thing that happened was that voter participation plummeted from a high of 81 percent in the late 1870s down to the lows we are currently faced with.

So, what Obama is really pointing out is that whether it’s partisan or ideological polarization with a progressive/conservative divide or a separation-of-powers divide with all three branches — the legislative/executive/judicial branches battling it out — our system of politics as we know it has been broken for over 100 years.

We are past due for dramatic changes in voting laws, including the Supreme Court’s recent and current attempts to undermine the Voting Rights Act of 1965. That is, if the United States actually values or wants to put power into more than democratic participation.

YY-PurpleDividerThe practical problems that go along with mandatory voting are numerous. Ruth has mentioned one of these; others include the inevitable proliferation of third-party protest and joke candidates, some of whom would actually win; the criminalization of anyone who has sudden change in plans that keeps them from voting; and the massive increase in line lengths and waiting times at polling places, even in elections where all the races are one-sided (would mandatory voting apply even in off-years? If so, that’s just cruel).

On top of that, union leaders, and other representatives of interest groups, would lose bargaining power because they could no longer threaten to sit out an election. The assumption that bringing a bunch of sullen, uninterested, uninformed voters into the electoral process would lead to better officeholders is questionable. And it’s an odd argument for any law when you list its unenforceability as a point in its favor.

But none of these things matter, because even if mandatory voting would lead to Lincoln vs. Douglas or Roosevelt vs. Wilson in every election, and even if the public’s collective wisdom would cumulate with higher turnout instead of being diluted, it would miss the real issue: The government doesn’t own us. It can require us to serve in the armed forces during wartime and to show up for jury duty, because those are basic functions of government that cannot be done properly without mandatory mass participation. But elections achieve their purpose whether every eligible voter votes or only some of them. That’s why the government can’t make us go to the polls when we’d rather be working or buying socks or sitting on the beach, just to make the turnout numbers look artificially better for a few democracy idealists. Not if we want to call ourselves a free country.

Speaking of idealists, it was revealing when Obama said that mandatory voting would “counteract money.” My first thought was that he had this backwards; if people who don’t care about politics are made to vote, won’t they just pull the lever for whichever side’s advertisements they’ve seen more often? In other words, the side with more money? But of course that’s not how Obama thinks; in his world, there’s “money” on one side and “the people” on the other, and they are inalterably opposed (unless the money comes from George Soros, or Tom Steyer, or Mike Bloomberg, or AFSCME . . .).

Parties and politicians need to earn our votes, to inspire us enough that we’ll make the effort to get out of our chair and go to the polling place. Mandatory voting is a lazy and ineffective shortcut, like imposing price controls instead of taming inflation. The answer to low turnout is not more coercive laws, but better candidates.

Posted in Beyond Polling, Full Text Supreme Court Rulings, Obama's World View, Roberts' Court's Righteousness, Yin-Yang | Tagged , | Comments Off on Towards Truly Representational Democracy

Do American Men (between the ages of 18 and 39) Need Rights?

by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

search-1House_of_Cards_title_cardimagesThe best political line I heard this February was not in House of Cards but in Downton Abbey. Dowager Countess Grantham Maggie Smith said something poignant to the effect that: “Men don’t have rights.”  What Julian Fellowes, creator of the series, really meant was that SLAMs and SCAMs — or, in the American context, men between the ages of 18 and 39 — don’t need rights.

You don’t have (or need) rights if you control the social, economic, and political processes, as the aristocratic class in England did until their Empire’s end.

Even acknowledging the existence of rights puts you in the kind and self-deprecating column, which goes a long way when you want to claim you even understand the need for rights. (That’s code for ahh shucks, SLAMs and SCAMS realizing they are gonna have to share and can’t bully everyone off the playground.)

All identity politics (including Hillary) is first about power, not rights or duties, let alone obligations (the latter, being cultural, social, economic, political and legal, are more comprehensive than a combination of duties and rights). The group that has the power to make the rules does not need rights.

So any time any group starts belittling rights (e.g. conservative commentary on the Selma march, and about using its 50th anniversary to honor the civil-rights movement by marching), beware. And any time any group starts reversing rights, beware. Reversing rights is simply the conservative way of hitting the less powerful the hardest where they live.

Look what happened to Frank Underwood (FU) when First Lady Claire Underwood stood her ground. House of Cards raised many issues this season that involve women, power, and violence — and the season spoiler is: Who will come out on top?

As is the case with most TV shows, it ends with a strand of three — three women – 1) Heather Dunbar (Elizabeth Marvel), FU’s rival for the 2016 Democratic bid; 2) FU gets Rep. Jacqueline Sharp (Molly Parker), who betrayed Claire by backing out of sponsoring legislation against violence against women in the military; and 3) Rachel Posner (Rachel Brosnahan), the call girl FU used to engineer a debased and debauched no-nothing SLAM member of Congress.  FU’s fixer and enforcer, season three’s Chief of Staff, Doug Stamper (Michael Kelly), obsessed with protecting the religious, demure, repentant-lost-call-girl, finally comes to Chief of Staff senses when she nearly beats him to death.  He beats her back, taking his”right”-ful position as FU’s Chief of Staff after not only digging the grave all by himself, but putting the religious and demure Rachel in it personally after she almost tricked him out of it one last time.  Will FU do Claire in; or does Claire control the upper hand to do an FU (making Claire a proxy for HC’s humiliation during BC’s impeachment)?

When groups belittle and reverse rights for protected classes — those who did not historically control the entire political process — and/or reverse rights, there can be only one reaction — violence or the threat of violence against women and all protected others.

When the GOP pokes Hillary, along with all the not-so-properly-blue men who retreat from the Democratic party, she should not react. HC has learned what my boys learned on their very first playgrounds — and that’s that you have to stand there and take it, protect your friends and especially your brother, but don’t poke back. Stand your ground.

And of course this means releasing great reports for CSW, the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women. Hillary must. But this does not mean that HC is framing herself, does it?

Is HC launching her campaign with Women’s History Month? I doubt it was more than a trial balloon now that she’s faced the full blowback while giving her email speech from the UN podium.

Hillary wouldn’t dare do that officially, any more than Barack Obama relied on Black History Month. Obama has to speak for everyone, which pretty much sums up the main frustration of the Obama presidency.

While women account for 51 percent of the population, there is a much stronger argument. But HC knows better than most the perils of being a “first.”

We are now set up for season four (the finale) with three women and one ghost while Downton Abbey devolves turns into a feel-good prime-time PBS soap opera with one Dowager Countess making us feel good about how women have collected their “rights.” Don’t think so. No matter what: On February 27, 2016, the new season of House of Cards will set the tone for Hillary’s run against whatever GOP candidate has emerged by February’s end after Iowa: New Hampshire; Colorado caucuses, Minnesota caucuses; New York; Utah; Nevada caucuses; South Carolina; North Carolina; and Michigan have been decided. Prof. #RuthOBrienGC*



Ruth and the dowager countess are correct that if you have privilege (from the Latin for “private law”), you don’t need rights. Custom is stronger than any legislation — until it isn’t. And by the same token, when a privilege decreases or disappears, rights that were created specifically to oppose it should decrease or disappear as well.

To be sure, some privileges don’t go away. People with disabilities, by definition, require accommodation, and they have a right to it (though as my favorite political scientist has pointed out, the best solution is to make “disability rights” universal by recognizing that everyone is a member or potential member of this protected class). Women need more restroom space in public places than men do, and should have it written into the building code; no amount of consciousness raising will change this.

By contrast, consider the Voting Rights Act. When Congress passed it in 1965, the Selma march had taken place just a few months before, and the official ballot symbol of the Alabama Democratic party still contained the slogan “White Supremacy.” Things changed greatly over the next few years, and in the ensuing decades, and now in much of the South, black voter-turnout rates exceed those of whites. Yet the VRA’s burdensome pre-clearance rules and other bureaucratic requirements are still in effect in nine entire states and assorted localities (including New York City) because those places had voting problems back when LBJ was president. And there’s no serious chance that the VRA will be repealed anytime soon: The Democrats won’t let it happen, because that would require admitting that it isn’t 1965 anymore.

And the Republicans? They oppose repeal too, not only because they would be portrayed as racist, but because the VRA effectively mandates the creation of heavily black and Hispanic districts for Congress and state legislatures, to ensure the election of black and Hispanic officials. This isolation of non-GOP voters in a handful of districts works in the Republicans’ favor. The best estimates are that if congressional districts were drawn in a race-neutral fashion, the Democrats would have a dozen more seats.

In other words: If an identity group relies on rights, it will get what the rights require — and nothing more. The best way to eliminate privilege is to make rights universal and apply them equally to all. Editor #FredOBrien**

*House of Cards Season 3 Spoiler alert

**Frederic O’Brien are entirely his own, not reflective of Ruth O’Brien.org CUNY Politics Professor views or those of any campus of The City University of New York(CUNY)

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In Her Own Words, If Not in “A Room of One’s Own” – HC on Juggling Private vs. Public Email

A Room of One's Own


Posted in Framing Hillary, HC Uppity?, In Her Own Words -HC, Yin-Yang | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off on In Her Own Words, If Not in “A Room of One’s Own” – HC on Juggling Private vs. Public Email

Stop Poking Me?!

TellingStoriesBook Avatar (YY)Could someone explain poking on Facebook? Is it similar to winking on Match.com? How can Facebook concentrate on liking, and yet instill poking? Is it a male 8th-grade sensibility?

Remember that piece in the Sunday New York Times about divorce being the one taboo.   We can watch video of “collateral damage,” innocent children, and dictators being killed. But the one thing everyone avoids, not just on Facebook but all social media, is two partners splitting up? Really?

As a couple untwines, they are armed to the teeth against each other, knowing how to sabotage. It’s better than neighbors in Bosnia, or brothers in the Civil War. But no Pinterest. No Instagram.

Why? It’s not because it’s too bitter. (Doesn’t death trump bitterness as something too sordid to see?) No, that’s not why. The why to divorce being taboo has nothing to do with sexism, gender roles, or the best interest of the children. It has to do with arms — people throwing stones from within glass houses. It is mutually assured self-and-collective destruction.

Obviously both sides have their ammunition if you lived together for anything over 3 months. No, what this speaks to is shame. And that’s that men can no longer shame women into silence the way they did before. Or, at least not here in the United States.

No when two sides know everything, they know how to harm each other. And while it used to be that one side could silence the other with shame . . .

–shame through co-optation (the woman takes the money and runs)

–shame with no co-optation (the woman had enough money on her own to run and rescue her children)

or just

–shame on the street (you’re out; you’re fired; you can’t provide for your children)

. . . well, things have changed. Not for everybody, to be sure; and in Manhattan, the statistics remain the same.

And as the Times has told us, public documents work both ways. It’s messy for Silicon Valley, those Frisbee-playing gerks (combination of geek/jerk = gerk).

It turns out that Silicon Valley may be good at hiring women who front the shop and are not entirely white (Asian women and men are there in higher proportions — just look at MIT’s demographics). But this gets to my four questions for the week, to wrap up in one or two blogs:

  1. Does it matter if women are Telling Stories out of Court? (we will see as we follow the ins and outs of the new round of traditional Title VII cases in California)
  2. Should Hillary Clinton be allowed to hide all her documents (email) whereas other similarly situated Secretaries of State had private email accounts, thought they had faith in how we classify documents as a nation.
  3. How will House of Cards end in February 27, 2016, after all the caucuses and primaries that count been decided? (i.e. Iowa: New Hampshire; Colorado caucuses, Minnesota caucuses; New York; Utah; Nevada caucuses; South Carolina; North Carolina; and Michigan.) Does the cliff hanger promote HC, putting Republicans more on the run?
  4. Did American students finally find a way to challenge authority effectively, through freedom of speech that, at UC Irvine, universally bans flag waving?* The operative word is universal, which I would call Spinozan.

Fred and I will yin-yang about this all week. Because in the end, all we can really say is that we will see, we will see. #FredOBrien, FredericDOBrien@gmail.com or raob2006@gmail.com


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Death by Triangulation – why HC should or should not declare her Democratic Candidacy


by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

When a print publication’s most popular foreign-policy headline is “Obama threatened to shoot down Israeli warplanes” and the CPAC straw poll has Rand Paul winning and Scott Walker “surging,” while CPAC attendees would have “walked out on Jeb,” it would have been strategically unwise for the Democratic potential presidential nominee, former New York senator, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to put her toe in the ring. Why would HC endanger not only her candidacy but all the candidacies of the Democrats who want to win in 2016?

If HC sticks her neck out today by declaring her official Democratic candidacy, as Cokie Roberts contends on NPR than HC will be triangulated to death.

HC gives every man in the GOP field (and don’t forget that one woman, former Hewlett Packard President Carly Fiorina) a chance to prove either his foreign-policy creds (which those Governors Jeb, Scott, and Rick sorely lack) or their not-so-wacky Christian, tax fearing Tea Party creds against her.

How do conservatives get away with ¼ truths and absurdities, like the headline above about Israeli warplanes? A few well-placed bald-faced lies about HC’s position on Libya in foreign policy is the triangulation – death by association with something entirely false, such as saying the Obama administration had a military response available to save the diplomats in the consulate in Libya.

Similarly with the Tea Party, fringe conservatives are trying to convince their fellow Republicans that Wisconsin governor Scott Walker could win. Scott’s got all the Tea Party touchstones or creds: He is part of the war on women as well as the entire spectrum of the rainbow refraction coalition. Walker’s against a woman’s right to choose. He’s against same-sex marriage. And not only is he against any form of regulating business, he’s got that impressive public-union-bashing cred. Public unions, like the National Education Association (NEA), represent not just the working and professional class, like teachers, but also women and persons with different identities more than the ever-shrinking, almost-gone unions for the private sector with their Rust Belt history.

So as much as I hate to disagree with Cokie Roberts’ NPR analysis (she is, after all, the author of an interesting book on First Ladies) in this, she’s wrong. Hillary should stay out of the ring until the Republican candidates sort themselves out, at the very least in terms of money. And by money, I mean give me the Koch brothers’ money.* #RuthOBrienGC

*Chances are those brothers are giving all viable candidates money. When you have that much why wouldn’t you. So the better question is who are they enjoying giving their money to the most?


If Hillary has learned the lesson of 2008, she will openly declare her candidacy now. In 2008 she adopted a rope-a-dope strategy, low-keying it for most of 2007 in hopes of landing a knockout blow in the first round of caucuses and primaries. Then along came a charismatic young senator from her native state, and before you could blink, she was so far behind that the race was effectively over by Valentine’s Day. She can’t rely on inevitability again, not with the Democratic base all a-Twitter over Elizabeth Warren.

Hillary’s strengths come under the heading of inside politics: raising funds, building alliances, making deals. Few people are enthusiastic about her; she doesn’t have that once-in-a-generation charisma that we have seen in Obama, Reagan, and Kennedy. The longer she stays out of the race, the more time there is for other candidates to steal her support or create a groundswell in opposition. Her age will also be an issue, and the best way to show she isn’t tired or worn out is to campaign vigorously, instead of reciting her standard speech for $250K a pop before adoring campus audiences or favor-seeking corporations.

Most important, perhaps, starting her campaign early would be the best way to distinguish herself from President Obama, her boss not long ago. Right now she is cautiously waiting to see how popular he is next year before deciding how tightly to embrace him. Again, this leaves the field open for other candidates to run as progressive alternatives to the Obama-Clinton administration.

Waiting until the last minute to declare would make Hillary look exactly like what her detractors say about her: Entitled, above it all, physically fragile, overcautious, a backroom dealmaker who’s not good at mixing it up. She did her best in 2008 after it was effectively over and she transformed into Fightin’ Hillary. This time around, she doesn’t have to wait until it’s too late.  #FredericOBrien

Posted in Beyond Polling, Candidates 2016, Election 2016, Political Characters, Yin-Yang | Comments Off on Death by Triangulation – why HC should or should not declare her Democratic Candidacy

Christie at CPAC after Putting Down Pensions




by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

Being a longtime New Jersey voter, I noticed that Gov. Chris Christie went after the gold standard when it comes to public employees – judges.

If this intimidating governor can take away a judge’s pension, who’s next? Everyone’s vulnerable – from teachers in Wisconsin to social workers taking care of the elderly, who are vulnerable since they do not have grown children in the state to protect them.

Today our Gardener State non-Green Governor Christie insists at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) that he’s the people choice. Huh? Having lived in that state for 20 years plus, I know that Christie reminds most women of your sibling’s husband or former husband. Is that warring on women? No, he’s just the blowfish (i.e. blowhard) every relative wants to avoid. #RuthOBrienGC


Well, he is kind of a blowhard, but that’s never been a disqualifying factor in politics. I think Governor Christie’s biggest problem in chasing the GOP nomination is that he’s just too New Jersey. HIs act goes over well enough in Avenel and Ridgewood and Manalapan, but will it play in Peoria? Or Paducah or Pasco or Pine Bluff? Women will see their overbearing brother-in-law, and men will see The Situation crossed with Tony Soprano.

Truth be told, I was never quite sure what Christie’s justification for reducing the state’s pension payment was (though New Jersey’s heavily Democratic legislature did approve it). The approach described in the Times, in which Christie negotiates with the unions to work out a deal on pensions, seems much more promising and legally sound.

The culprits in these cases are neither the unions (who are only doing their job) nor today’s politicians (who must try any expedient they can to plug ever-greater budget holes). The culprits are the politicians of decades past, who, like New York’s Gov. George Pataki in the 1990s, made rash promises of future gold to secure union support, knowing that they wouldn’t be in office when the bills came due. Conmen like that deserve every bit of scorn their states’ current residents can muster. #FredericOBrien

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Stand By Your Man: Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and the Life of Brian



by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

Am I surprised NBC suspended Brian Williams? Am I surprised Bill O’Reilly is being backed up? Nope.

After growing up Republican in what is now Tea Party territory, I know there is one word for Fox’s Roger Ailes — and that’s “relentless.” There’s also a song sung in Bakersfield – and that’s “Stand by Your Man.”

This said, no one stands by their man if he doesn’t have the proper title of “professional provocateur.” And worse, you must be authentic. And for Bill O/Reilly that can only mean one thing – he practices what he preaches – the Politics of Hate. # Prof. Ruth O’Brien


Wow, Bill O’Reilly’s a blowhard? Who could have seen that coming? It does appear that he has exaggerated and embroidered some events from his past, though perhaps not on the heroic scale we’ve seen from Brian Williams. If O’Reilly were still a reporter, we could expect a reprimand or suspension like the one Williams got from NBC News — not because any degree of honesty is required to read words off a teleprompter, but because news operations like to preserve a pretense of trustworthiness. The thing is, O’Reilly makes no claim to be an impartial or scrupulously honest and thorough reporter. He’s just a political commentator with a gift for oversimplification and inflammatory remarks, like dozens of similar personalities on the left and right. And in that line of work, the habit of overstating things is practically a requirement. # Fred O’Brien

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Court Cultural Clash Round 2: American Anti-Terrorism Act

YingYangSymbolU.S. District Court Southern District of NY120px-Arlington_National_Cemetery_-_William_Howard_Taft_marker_inscription_-_2011



The New York Times called it again — it’s a “huge victory” that will “strengthen Israel’s claim that the supposedly more moderate Palestinian forces were directly linked to terrorism.” The U.S. District Court located in Manhattan found the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority liable for damages in terrorist attacks on American citizens who were in Israel between 2002 and 2004.

We get it . . . in this polarized world in which Rudy (Giuliani) wakes up enough to have the gall to be agnostic or “not know” whether President Barack Obama, the Commander-in-Chief, loves his country, and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin doesn’t know if Obama is “a Christian” or not, we know one thing for sure — it’s complicated, and unintended consequences will abound.

The good/bad in this federal court’s territorially expansive ruling substantiating the Obama administration’s, the Democrats’, and the Republicans’ (i.e. Americans) support of the American Anti-Terrorism Act is that it gives all Americans (and their relatives) standing to sue if they are victims of international terrorism.

How is terrorism defined? First, it involves violent acts or “acts dangerous to human life” that are against American law. Second, terrorism is used to intimidate or coerce Americans or our government, or make the government alter its conduct. And third, these violent acts are generally outside the U.S.

Given how opposed the United States (Republicans and Democrats alike) has been to signing international treaties, many Americans (particularly law professors) suggest that we should tread lightly on transnational regulation, whether it affects the Internet or the environment, and particularly when it affects us as civilians, not just as civilians within the United States, and when the United States has to act to protect its national-security interests or its interests as a sovereign nation-state.

What this means is – if U.S. private citizens sue as victims of international terrorism, floodgates will open. Now I’m all for open gates. I’m participatory democracy that certainly includes using the courts. That said, how many citizens will these open gates accommodate?

In September 2014, a Brooklyn jury found Arab Bank ($46 billion in assets) liable for “knowingly supporting” terrorism by Hamas in the second Palestinian uprising. We don’t know the damages yet, or how much the 300 victims of 24 separate attacks will be paid, but a quick click onto Osen Law gives you a temperature read on what their litigators will be asking for, and it won’t be a small amount.

Is that good if you’re Zionist; bad if you’re PLO? Yes, for now. The real story, however, will be tracking how this nation-state and any American nationals will be using the American courts to sue foreign nations and foreign private enterprises like banks that don’t necessarily explicitly reflect our nation-state’s national security.

This is an equal-power tool for all citizens. It is a tool for everyone. So the big story is about jurisdiction — and jurisdiction is hard to wrap your head around or understand.

It is something I happen to dabbled in having grounded my last book in a spatial understandings of neotribalism internationally and of Obama’s grounding himself in the use of conservative means or methods for progressive purpose (such as the federalism underlying Obamacare and the bounceback he’s facing before the Supreme Court this June). Further, this has been one of my favorite topics to write about — due process and procedures since my dissertation turned into my first book.

In Workers’ Paradox: The Republican Origins of New Deal Labor Policy, I discovered it was Chief Justice William Howard Taft who not only liked being Mr. Jurisdiction (establish the rules and then gain the power) but relished backing the American Judiciary Act of 1925, which involves one more power-grabbing turn by increasing the federal courts’ discretion in deciding what issues to hear.

When it’s courts fighting nations, it’s all about lines, not identities — about standing (to sue), not sitting (being disengaged and discussing it in the U.N.).

An institution or a country gains power if it can 1) entice the sovereign nations who are battling into its own jurisdiction (think sinkable waters) and 2) sink the right ships in these dangerous waters at the right time.

Now, will this come back to bite the United States as a sovereign nation? Absolutely.

Will one of our frenemies as a nation-state establish moral superiority (e.g. universal jurisdiction that those pesky moralistic nation-states like Spain are adopting to gain the moral high ground against the United States)? Probably.

Do we have the moral authority as a nation to skip recognizing UN treaties such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child. I dunno. Do you?

What a power play in terms of clashing cultural courts on a global scale.


EDITOR FRED*: Despite the entirely justified outcome, conservatives have reason to be uneasy about this case, because if the plaintiffs are allowed to seize the PA’s assets, there’s nothing stopping any other country from putting Uncle Sam on trial and seizing his assets (or Israel’s, for that matter). That’s if they bother with the formality of a trial at all.

It has been suggested that this verdict will make people overseas hate America even more than they already do. I’m not sure I can quite picture that:


“Hey, Abdul, let’s go sign up with the PLO. All the cool kids are joining.”

“I don’t know, Mohammed. I’m actually getting kind of ambivalent about the whole terrorism thing. Sometimes I think it just perpetuates the cycle of violence and makes a fair and equitable solution even harder to negotiate.”

“Wait a minute, dude — check out this case from the Southern District of New York. Raises serious jurisdictional issues, wouldn’t you say?”

“What!? Why, that’s a completely unjustified extension of the principle of extraterritoriality. I feel like strapping on a bunch of explosives and blowing up some tourists!”


The bad guys deservedly lost in this case, and of course they merit the most severe punishment possible. Still, the interests of maintaining America’s global position, and its need to follow international norms, must predominate, even when dealing with perps as abhorrent as these. It’s far from clear whether the plaintiffs will actually be able to recover anything, but enforcing a court order against the government of a sovereign nation — or even (as in this case) the quasi-government of a quasi-sovereign quasi-nation — could well be considered tantamount to war, and at the very least would invite reprisals. It would also undercut the United States’ case against submitting to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court, or to courts in places like Belgium and Spain that claim “universal jurisdiction” over what they deem to be human-rights violations.

The trial had undeniably positive aspects. It established beyond a reasonable doubt that the PA and PLO are terrorist groups. And since, as the article notes, these organizations have settled two prior terrorism cases on confidential terms, the victims may get some relief after all. To be sure, courts should not be vehicles for making statements, and international relations are normally best conducted through diplomacy. But with something as extreme as terrorism, lawfare does have a role to play, and if the victims of these horrific acts can get a measure of both compensation and vindication, the trial can be considered a success.

*Frederic D. O’Brien’s views are entirely his own.  They  do not reflect The Graduate Center at the City University of New York or The City University of New York.




Posted in Blog-alysis, Cultural Court Clashes, Federal Courts (NY), Full Text Supreme Court Rulings, Open Gates, Roberts Court, Writing Politics | Comments Off on Court Cultural Clash Round 2: American Anti-Terrorism Act

More Danish than Dutch

YingYangSymbolAfter a friendly tolerant discussion about different European nation-states at the in-house publishing dinner-time discussion, we’re making the following argument adjustment (i.e. developmental editing).  We deleted one sentence from last Friday’s blog deciding it’s more Danish than Dutch.

Stay tuned for “Potential Presidential Characters (e.g. Hillary vs. Jeb or Scott); and/or Clashing Court Rulings — as Fred and I continue to Yin & Yang on Mondays.

Posted in Blog-alysis, Freedom of Press, Writing Politics, Yin-Yang | Comments Off on More Danish than Dutch

Re-Educating Muslims, Nederlander (Dutch)-Style



by Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

Could you get more moralistic? Don’t forget the Golden Empire, or The Embarrassment of Riches, as Simon Schama called it in a culturally sensitive and astute book that captured the character and personality of the nation. Could you get more patronizing (the key word here is patron)?

Well the Dutch could. Those supposedly blond, blue-eyed stoop-sweepers have started a new magazine, DeMoslimkrant, which might be roughly translated as the demos or citizens’ newspaper. The name of this magazine indicates that it is doing no less than re-educating the Muslims about their own society, culture, and religion.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I got informally educated quite extensively in Holland, so much so that a few people in the nuclear family speak fluent Dutch. Still, although the Nederlanders are moralistic, they are also bound and determined to make things “right.” And by right, I mean the world (think globe-turning) for sure. Not only does it pay to look at Schama’s The Embarrassment of Riches, but also to take a second look at Spinoza’s excommunication, and where he was imprisoned by the Dutch.

But is a magazine-reading education ever so wrong? Well, of course that depends. As long as they are culturally sensitive, and even more importantly, as long as they are using education for real reasons (i.e. authentic), it should be all right.

Authentic education is to say not imposing the white, blond-blue-eyed’s own agenda, as patronizing behavior does. With this in mind, take a look at their columnists. Looks a lot more diverse than most American newspapers, no?

Authentic means that they cannot impose their agenda the way they did back in that good old golden 17th century. This means no state- or religious-sponsored merchants picking up spices, snatching tea, or stealing silk off any roads, mind you. Then, education — particularly public education, like The City University of New York — can be read up to 1 million strong.

Public education, particularly of the print kind, can only be a good thing. A thing, in other words, that could promote peace, tranquility through gender-free dignity (e.g. not neotribalism), and tolerance on our global colliding-social-spheres scale.

Prof. Ruth O’Brien


Since neither one of us has seen a copy of this publication, I’m not sure how much scope for disagreement there is, but if De Moslimkrant is meant to help Muslims adapt to Dutch culture, it will take some doing. Just as Islam has many strict rules governing daily life, so do the secular but moralistic Dutch, and the social pressure to conform can be just as great.

A friend who has spent time in the Netherlands provides numerous examples of the nation’s libertine-busybody ethos, in which Christianity is mocked or forgotten, drugs are openly available, and gays are universally accepted, yet neighbors go to elaborate lengths to spy on each other. Strict yet unwritten social codes abound: In a koffiehuis, you eat a single piece of chocolate, no more, with each cup; entire neighborhoods take their summer vacation at the same time; the nation sits down to dinner at 6:30 pm sharp, and if you knock on someone’s door at that hour, you are assumed to be a moocher.

This makes for something of a potential culture clash with praying five times a day, fasting during Ramadan, and making the hajj to Mecca. As in any nation where two or more distinct cultures coexist, something’s got to give. The two may occupy separate sectors, as in Canada, Belgium, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, etc.; or they can mingle freely, with some merging of cultures and concomitant loss of cultural cohesion. The latter doesn’t seem very Dutch, but neither does the alternative of French-style banlieues.

But if the Dutch think they have a problem with people taking their religion too seriously, the solution is simple: Just adopt it as an established church, and — as in England or Norway — pretty soon everyone will ignore it.

Editor Frederic O’Brien

Posted in Intersectionality of Ideas, Neotribalism, Rainbow Refractions, The Vortex or Ideational ntersectionality, Thought Leaders + Thought Leadership | Comments Off on Re-Educating Muslims, Nederlander (Dutch)-Style

Reverse, Reverse Discrimination Re: Presidential-Religious Leaders’ Holidays?

YingYangSymbolMLKDay GeorgeWashington Abeby Professor Ruth O’Brien & Frederic D. O’Brien (a.k.a. Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

My, my. It is Presidents’ Day again. February is that kind of month—polarized, that is, and I’m not talking about needing goggles or glasses (ski or otherwise). Nor am I kvetching about the vacuousness of that truly silly civil holiday—Groundhog Day (Bill Murray made that one boring, no?). Nor am I making any oblique 1970s or ’80s references about ice storms or polar climates in our polarized or bipolar world. Rather, I’m comparing apples to oranges, or religious-rights leaders to presidents, and it does seem that the former (surprise, surprise) comes up short in the recognition department.

On one hand, George and Abe get to merge and create a faceless yet stronger four-day weekend. On the other hand, Martin Luther King gets short-shrifted.

To be sure, MLK gets mean name recognition and a catchy acronym. Yet not only was this holiday not enjoyed in all states (such as Arizona) for many years, and not only is the holiday merged in several southern states with one for Robert E. Lee (born January 19), but even in states that embrace it completely, it depends on your workplace whether you will get the day off.

What I know is that MLK, as a stand-alone in mid-January, is short-shrifted, given that we have had 40-plus white male presidents and only one prominent religious-rights leader, even though we’re supposedly a predominantly Christian state?*

Is this reverse discrimination? Or is it reverse-reverse discrimination if you were part of the religious police? (I’m thinking of the Hobby Lobby Roberts Court here.)

I can’t imagine what this Court would say, but I can imagine what the Log Cabin Republicans might say about all these twists and reverses. But then again, would I want to be at either president’s or religious rights leader’s parties on any Friday or Monday?

by Professor Ruth O’Brien

*In-house development editors found a small logical leap.  Find it if you can. 

Well, it’s difficult to quantify whose shrift is shorter, but remember that Presidents’ Day is shared by two men, whereas King gets a day all to himself (except in those few Southern states Ruth mentioned that bring in Lee, thus borrowing the civilian civil-rights hero–plus–slaveowing general template from Presidents’ Day). In fact, if you consider Presidents’ Day to be a day for all presidents, then Washington and Lincoln have to share their glory with 41 others, most of whom are distinctly low-rent in comparison.

Moreover, George and Abe have long since been conscripted as pitchmen for holiday sales at appliance dealers, whereas the respect accorded King because of his inherent dignity (and his heirs’ zealous guarding of his personality rights) has kept him in the public mind as a hero instead of a kitschy figure.

But perhaps the biggest factor working against King’s holiday is the timing. It falls in the fallow period after the Christmas/Kwanzaa/New Year’s bacchanalia, leading to a general attitude of “What, another holiday?” Not to mention the weather—which is just as bad for Presidents’ Day, to be sure. Perhaps the solution is to celebrate important winter birthdays on an arbitrary day in summer, as the British do with Queen Elizabeth.

There’s a case in favor of restricting birthday holidays to presidents and Revolutionary figures, to keep them from multiplying too greatly. Yet even if you accept this, the unique status of slavery and its aftermath in American history would argue in favor of making an exception for King. Washington, Lincoln, and King all risked (and two of them lost) their lives to create and preserve freedom for Americans. But comparisons are futile; their lives and achievements speak for themselves, far above our poor power to add or detract with ski holidays and blockbuster weekend sales events.

Frederic O’Brien​ (a.k.a Fred Schwarz, Deputy Managing Editor, National Review)

Posted in Plutocrat Power Plays, Running Republicans | Comments Off on Reverse, Reverse Discrimination Re: Presidential-Religious Leaders’ Holidays?