Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Gay Men Breaking Ground at a Jewish Seminary

New York Times:

"While the centrist Conservative denomination in its middle-of-the-road way operates with three different policies on ordaining gay men and lesbians — two opposed and one in favor — the facts have been established, probably irreversibly. Even before J.T.S. made its decision, the Conservative movement’s other major seminary, the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies in Los Angeles, had done so.

Conservative Judaism reached a similar juncture a generation ago when it first admitted women as candidates for the rabbinate. Mr. Weininger was born in the same year, 1985, when J.T.S. ordained its first female rabbi, Amy Eilberg. In the months just before he won admission to the seminary, he happened to bump into Rabbi Eilberg at a synagogue in Jerusalem and solicited her advice.

“I encouraged him to remember that since he is a pioneer, some people will project onto him feelings and assumptions that they have about ‘the cause,’ ” Rabbi Eilberg recalled of their conversation in an e-mail message. “As hard as it is not to take others’ criticisms and attacks personally — since they are personal — it is essential to work at remembering that this is about the larger issue.”"

Friday, April 18, 2008

Borowitz on "The Great Debate"

Gibson Trounces Stephanopolous in Crucial Debate

Asks Twice as Many ‘Gotcha’ Questions as TV Rival

In what many considered a must-win contest for the two ABC News personalities, Charles Gibson handed rival George Stephanopolous a resounding defeat in last night’s televised debate.

With over ten million viewers watching, the stakes were high for the two ABC rivals to see who could pepper the candidates with the most so-called “gotcha” questions.

Gibson drew blood first, smothering the presidential candidates with so many trick questions that he immediately seemed to put Stephanopolous on the defensive.

An aide to Gibson later summed up the secret to the ABC anchor’s decisive victory: “He didn’t let the candidates talk too much, and he made sure that this debate would be about Charles Gibson and nothing but Charles Gibson.”

The clear losers: ABC News and the American public.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

“It is customary to blame secular science and anti-religious philosophy for the eclipse of religion in modern society. It would be more honest to blame religion for its own defeats. Religion declined not because it was refuted, but because it became irrelevant, dull, oppressive, insipid.”

Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of Jewish Theological Seminary, quoting Abraham Joshua Heschel

Unintelligible sentence of the week

Carole King, Carly Simon, Joni Mitchell: Sheila Weller’s ‘Girls Like Us’ Weaves a Tapestry of Rock Queens - New York Times: By Janet Maslin
"At long last it’s time to acknowledge that even if women who enjoyed “that glamorous little wedge” of early 1970s feminism — “between the fiercely anti-‘sex object’ early feminism and the so-called padded-shoulder ‘power suit’ feminism of later years” — would have cited Billie Holiday as a great female artist, it was Ms. Simon “whose life and issues more closely matched most of their own.”

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Michelle Obama on Elitism

New York Times Blog:
"HAVERFORD, Pa. — Michelle Obama, appearing at Haverford College, gave a strong response to criticism that her husband’s remarks at a San Francisco fund-raising event were elitist.

“There’s a lot of people talking about elitism and all of that,” she told a gathering of students and townspeople on Tuesday, alluding to controversial remarks that Senator Barack Obama made at a San Francisco fund-raiser. “Yeah, I went to Princeton and Harvard, but the lens through which I see the world is the lens that I grew up with. I am the product of a working-class upbringing. I grew up on the South Side of Chicago in a working-class community.”

Then, referring to her husband’s student loans, she added sarcastically: “Now when is the last time you’ve seen a president of the United States who just paid off his loan debt? But, again, maybe I’m out of touch.”"

For those who have been waiting:

Bruce Springsteen News:
"Dear Friends and Fans:

LIke most of you, I've been following the campaign and I have now seen and heard enough to know where I stand. Senator Obama, in my view, is head and shoulders above the rest.

He has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. A place where '...nobody crowds you, and nobody goes it alone.'

At the moment, critics have tried to diminish Senator Obama through the exaggeration of certain of his comments and relationships. While these matters are worthy of some discussion, they have been ripped out of the context and fabric of the man's life and vision, so well described in his excellent book, Dreams of My Father, often in order to distract us from discussing the real issues: war and peace, the fight for economic and racial justice, reaffirming our Constitution, and the protection and enhancement of our environment."

Monday, April 14, 2008

Iran Says Blast at Mosque Could Be Accidental


Officials said that the blast, which injured more than 200 people and killed a dozen others in Shiraz could have been an accident caused by ammunition left at the site.

Interesting. Any spare ammunition hanging around your church, synagogue, mosque, or retreat center?

Friday, April 11, 2008

Mead Releases New Grad-School-Ruled Notebook

The Onion
RICHMOND, VA—After decades of only offering ruled notebook paper suitable for college-level education and below, school-supply giant Mead introduced its new grad-school-ruled notebook Monday, which features lines twice as narrow as college-ruled paper...

According to Mead's website, the ruling lines in the grad-school-ruled notebooks will be placed 3.55 millimeters apart, making them "infinitely more practical" for postgraduate work than the 7.1 millimeter college-ruled notebooks. In addition, the standard 1.5-inch top margin normally provided for dates and headers will be halved, and the left-hand margin will be eliminated entirely.

"Just think: If you are writing a dissertation on elements of thanatopsis and necromimesis as they relate to cacaesthesian themes of mid-20th-century Irish literature, do you really want your notebook lines to be more than seven millimeters apart?" Luke said. "Of course not."

"When you're in grad school, every millimeter counts," he added.

To know, and not to do, is not to know.
--Ralph Nader, quoting a Chinese proverb.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Martin Marty on Pastor Wright

Prophet and Pastor -
"In the end, however, Jeremiah was the prophet of hope, and that note of hope is what attracts the multiclass membership at Trinity and significant television audiences. Both Jeremiahs gave the people work to do: to advance the missions of social justice and mercy that improve the lot of the suffering. For a sample, read Jeremiah 29, where the prophet's letter to the exiles in Babylon exhorts them to settle down and 'seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile.' Or listen to many a Jeremiah Wright sermon.

One may properly ask whether or how Jeremiah Wright — or anyone else — experiences a prophetic call. Back when American radicals wanted to be called prophets, I heard Saul Bellow say (and, I think, later saw it in writing): 'Being a prophet is nice work if you can get it, but sooner or later you have to mention God.' Wright mentioned God sooner. My wife and I recall but a single overtly political pitch. Wright wanted 2,000 letters of protest sent to the Chicago mayor's office about a public-library policy. Of course, if we had gone more often, in times of profound tumult, we would have heard much more. The United Church of Christ is a denomination that has taken raps for being liberal — for example for its 50th anniversary 'God is still speaking' campaign and its pledge to be open and affirming to all, including gay people. In its lineage are Jonathan Edwards and Reinhold and Richard Niebuhr, America's three most-noted theologians; the Rev. King was much at home there."

Sunday, April 6, 2008

The Shape of the Race to Come

New York Times:
"And an experienced Democratic operative e-mailed: “Finally, I think [McCain’s] going to win. Obama isn’t growing in stature. Once I thought he could be Jimmy Carter, but now he reminds me more of Michael Dukakis with the flag lapel thing and defending Wright. Plus he doesn’t have a clue how to talk to the middle class. He’s in the Stevenson reform mold out of Illinois, with a dash of Harvard disease thrown in.”

In a close race, that “dash of Harvard disease” could be the difference."

This from William Kristol, a Harvard Ph.D., in a NYT op-ed.

I consider Kristol's column utterly worthless, and the decision to hire him a low point in the history of The Times. I've written several letters to The Times making this point in relation to particular Kristol columns. Unlike William Safire, Kristol's writing is pedestrian at best, he does no real reporting (this column is a joke), and seems utterly incapable of fresh thinking or insight on any issue. I have yet to discover a single redeeming feature. (Safire, the object of a Kissingerian wiretap during his time in the Nixon White House, had the good grace to care about personal privacy of others in subsequent years).

There are, of course, numbers of conservative thinkers and writers doing interesting, well-written, and usefully provocative stuff, who would deserve a place on the rather valuable real estate on the NYT op-ed page and provide a real service to its readership. It is said that the selection of Kristol is due to The Times' publisher, who has been on a rather extended losing streak of late. The publisher can't be fired, but maybe it is time for a nice extended vacation.

And speaking of "Harvard disease", if Obama has "a dash", Kristol is a source of mortal contagion. What a pompous windbag.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Althouse: Wisconsin citizens seem to have demonstrated their liking for conservative state supreme court justices.

Althouse: Wisconsin citizens seem to have demonstrated their liking for conservative state supreme court justices.

My esteemed colleague Ann Althouse (currently in Brooklyn) is blogging up a storm on the recent (in my view, horrific) judicial election in Wisconsin. We have been trading lively postings on an internal faculty list at UW Law School, and my practice is not to quote those communications (other than my own, with quotations from others deleted) "out of school." But I have now made a couple of postings on Ann's blog, and don't see any reason not to reproduce them here [with some editing appropriate to change in context]. Many of Ann's fans are politically conservative, and my remarks are, in part, directed to their comments as well as to Ann's own.

AJW Comment 1:

Ann: "I am only saying that, given the Wisconsin voters taste for conservative judges, we deserve top-quality conservative candidates."

Actually, it would seem to me, the evidence of the past two elections, at least, is [equally consistent with the proposition] that Wisconsin voters (or the relatively few of them participating in judicial elections), and those financing the bulk of unaccountable third party ads, prefer ethically-challenged nonentities.

I see no evidence that they would respond favorably to "top quality" candidates. Which would suggest to me that the sitting Chief Justice--widely recognized as one of the most outstanding and hardest working jurists in the country--may be in real trouble. [Her re-election campaign is next year.]

Given that an important role of the judiciary is to enforce counter-majoritarian constitutional rights--which virtually by definition will be highly unpopular on many occasions--why on earth should justices be popularly elected--even more so given the increasing role of unaccountable and irresponsible money in these campaigns?

AJW Comment 2:
Pretty much all judicial candidates (short of a Robert Bork, and there haven't been many who haven't learned from his experience) read from the same script when describing their judicial philosophies and approaches to interpretation. Once secure in their lifetime tenures [not applicable to many state court judges], a few may go so far as to be slightly revealing of their relative priorities among agreed relevant considerations (one can, for example, meaningfully compare the judicial philosophies of Justices Scalia and Breyer based on their speeches and extra-judicial writings, as well as their decisions).

When it comes to appraising actual performance, much (including the attachment of such content-deprived and typically misleading labels as "activist" or "liberal" or "conservative") is in the eye of the beholder, and it is quite easy to mischaracterize particular decisions by being "highly selective" in contextualizing facts, legal questions presented, consequences, and how the decision fits in with pre-exiting precedent. Of course, the typical 30 second attack ads provide an ideal setting for fully and fairly presenting all of this in a careful and comprehensive fashion. (Yes, I am being ironic here.)

And, of course, we have seen how judicial election campaigns present a careful evaluation of the full range of issues likely to confront state Supreme Court Justices. You have noticed, perhaps, the amount of attention that Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce ads devote to the candidates' positions on deregulation of business and protection of business interests from liability based on injuries resulting from their unsafe practices? And owned up to the degree to which these considerations (rather than the purported safety of Wisconsin families from criminal intrusions) bear on their spending commitments in taking over these judicial campaigns?

Just so we can understand the true meaning of the proclivity of well-informed Wisconsin voters to favor "conservative" judicial candidates.

More Than 1,000 in Iraq’s Forces Quit Basra Fight

New York Times:
Published: April 4, 2008

BAGHDAD — More than 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen either refused to fight or simply abandoned their posts during the inconclusive assault against Shiite militias in Basra last week, a senior Iraqi government official said Thursday. Iraqi military officials said the group included dozens of officers, including at least two senior field commanders in the battle."

Time to send Hillary. She, at least, is not a quitter!
Or, for that matter, McCain. He will stay and fight for another 100 years.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

A Note to Hillary on Jerusalem Disunited

The American Prospect: By Gershom Gorenberg

An open letter to Hillary Clinton, telling her what life is really like in Jerusalem and informing her that her stand on uniting the city isn't half the plan her husband proposed in 2001.

Dear Hillary,

A colleague alerted me to your recent position paper on Israel, with your promise of support for an 'undivided Jerusalem.' I appreciate the warm feelings, but I admit I was confused by your description of my city. Since you are a careful, wonky candidate, I figured you must have details at your disposal. So this morning I called a Palestinian cabby friend, and together we went looking for the 'undivided Jerusalem.'" ...

Let me suggest a more honest and more honorable position on Israel: The greatest contribution that America can make to Israeli security is to help it reach peace with the Palestinians, and as president you will resume that effort where it was abandoned in 2001. If asked about Jerusalem, say that the sides will have to come to an agreement, and you are committed to help them do so. The Clinton parameters are still a good basis for that. If you don't take this position, I hope that your Democratic rivals do. It would make me more hopeful about the future of my fractured city.

Pfoo on Yoo

There is a lively debate on Lithwick's column going on at Slate's The Fray. I've made my own posting, and replied to a number of others. Take a look.

Plausible deniability, and other reasons why warfare by midlevel legal memoranda is a really bad idea

By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine:

Pop quiz for the law junkies:

1) Name the lawyer in the Bush administration who was sanctioned, sacked, or prosecuted for anything related to the firing of nine U.S. attorneys last spring.

2) How about the attorney fired for allowing the destruction of thousands of White House e-mails or the CIA torture tapes?

3) The guy dismissed after advocating for warrantless wiretapping in violation of the FISA law?

4) Disciplined for gross civil rights violations through the misuse of National Security Letters?

Can't think of anyone? Me neither. Someday, when we look back at the Bush administration's "war on terror," we'll be unable to point to the "bad guys" because they will turn out to be a bunch of attorneys in starched white button-downs, using plausible-sounding legal analysis to beat precedent and statute and treatise from ploughshares into swords. And not one of them will be held to account. ...

Goldsmith [Harvard Prof. Jack, who took over as heard of Justice's OLC and rescinded the torture memos of his classmate and (former) buddy, John Yoo] argues that when government actors are hemmed in on all sides by domestic and international laws, they become immobilized and fearful. As he notes, "It is unimaginable that Francis Biddle or Robert Jackson would have written Franklin Roosevelt a memorandum about how to avoid prosecution for his wartime decisions designed to maintain flexibility against a new and deadly foe."...

In short, the Bush solution to the paralysis of lawfare seems to be to hire lawyers who don't believe in the law. ...

With Yoo's legal "analysis" in hand, and the accountability for it diffused among many government officials, the system of legal memos promises to give cover to everyone at the top. As Rosa Brooks so wonderfully put it in the /Los Angeles Times/, it takes a village to adopt a torture policy. But accountability should not evaporate just because a lawyer wrote a memo at the start of the chain. ...

By most accounts, John Yoo is, in person, a really sweet, nice guy.
I hope the judges take that into account when he is finally hauled before an International Criminal Tribunal, somewhere outside US borders.
One hopes Boalt Hall will use his vacated faculty slot more wisely.

In case you were wondering...

Good sexual intercourse last minutes, not hours, therapists say

March 31, 2008 | Erie, Pa. – Satisfactory sexual intercourse for couples lasts from 3 to 13 minutes, contrary to popular fantasy about the need for hours of sexual activity, according to a survey of U.S. and Canadian sex therapists.

Full Details

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Big political news!

For those who think they can handle it:

A "Scholar for Peace" in the Middle East

In Gaza, Hamas’s Insults to Jews Complicate Peace - New York Times:

"The chairman of the Palestinian Scholars League, and a Hamas legislator, Mr. Abu Ras is popularly called “Hamas’s mufti,” because he is ready to give religious sanction to Hamas political structures.

Last month, he criticized Egypt for closing the Gaza border at Israel’s request. He complained, “We are besieged by the sons of Arabism and Islam, as well as by the brothers of apes and pigs.”

... “The Israelis can’t accept criticism. They overreact, like any guilty person.” ...

Then he spoke of his son, who tried to volunteer to fight the Israelis at 17. “I convinced him to wait, he had no weapon, until 20,” Mr. Abu Ras said. “Now he’s a member of Qassam,” the Hamas military wing, “and an example for young people.”"

Very sadly, Israel has its warmongers and its racists, as do most peoples of the earth. Some are found among the rabbinate and the extreme religious observant community. They have a greater role in Israeli political life than I would prefer. But they do not speak for the majority of Israelis, or of Jews, and their blood curdling cries for generational or genocidal warfare, to the limited degree to which that may exist, is not celebrated by the wider culture. Indeed, explicitly racist ultranationalist political parties have been disqualified from participating in Israeli elections.

I have been a supporter of the Israeli peace camp for nearly forty years. I have always believed that Palestinian Arabs, like Jews, should have the opportunity for democratic national expression on some part of their historic homeland. I see the century-long turmoil in historic Palestine/Eretz Israel as a battle between two rights, in which some form of compromise, with both sides giving up some part of their maximal aims and historic claims as the only morally acceptable and politically achievable solution.

The challenge to Israel's peace camp is that the Arab World, including but not limited to the Palestinians, will never accept a permanent non-Arab, non-Muslim society in their midst. On this view, Arab offers of compromise are purely tactical, in the service of eventual subjugation, expulsion, or worse, of virtually all Jews, and any form of Jewish sovereignty, from Eretz Israel. Not just from Jenin, but from Jerusalem. Not just Hebron, but Haifa. And Jaffa. And Acre. And Tel Aviv. Proposals for territorial compromise (various formulations of "land for peace") avoid the enduring reality of implacable hostility to a Jewish sovereign presence, and mistake a temporary ceasefire for the prospect of enduring peace, under less advantageous geo-political and military terms.

Steven Erlanger's richly reported piece in today's Times fills in some of the realities underlying these fears. Many in the West prefer to blink, to avert their eyes from this unpleasant piece of the truth. Erlanger makes that avoidance somewhat more difficult, shoving some grim realities before our face.

The problem, I think, is that an exclusive focus on this piece of the truth--a focus characteristic of both some Jewish political groups (such as ZOA and AIPAC) and some scholars (such as Daniel Pipes and Ruth Wisse, author of the recent Jews and Power)--is that they leave supporters of a secure and flourishing Jewish and democratic Israel with no place to go, with no positive vision, with no basis for hope, for change, for constructive action toward a better future for both Jews and Arabs in their shared historic homeland.

Perhaps that is the reality, and there is nothing to be done about it.

I prefer to believe that some change is possible--but certainly not guaranteed. Over forty years of post-1967 occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, both Israel (as the occupying power) and the Palestinian leadership have done far too little to nurture the delicate seeds of growth toward a shared vision of a shared land, one in which parents do not train their children for lives as martyrs, or glory in their "heroic" deaths, on battlefields or in schools or restaurants.

A stable and enduring peace will require dramatic changes in attitudes and behaviors that will take generations to flower fully, not merely the drawing of lines on maps or the signing of formal documents. It is way past time to embark on such commitments, and for political and cultural and religious leaders to look past the tactical considerations of the moment to the transformational efforts that will be necessary. Anwar Sadat understood this, as did Yitzhak Rabin. Their assassinations cut short promising efforts in the right directions, and powerfully reminded us of the brutal obstacles posed by religious and ultranationalist zealotry, that must be overcome if either people is to live in peace.

If not now, when?

Adventures of Chelsea Clinton

Were Bill's excellent Oral Office adventures with Monica strictly a private matter for the Clinton family?

It is beyond tacky to raise the issue with Chelsea, but if she does go out on the campaign trail, is that an adequate response? I'd prefer a simple acknowledgment that it is not a subject she wishes to discuss, perhaps adding (as she did, properly) that its relevance to her mother's qualifications for the Presidency escapes her.

Unfortunately, it may not escape others, who are not eager to see the return of her father (with his various pecadilloes) to that particular stage.

BTW, does this sort of posting belong on this blog? I'm not sure myself, and may delete it.

On US News law school rankings

Professor Brian Leiter, late of Texas Law, now at University of Chicago, is circulating an open letter to US News critical of its methodology in ranking law schools. [Link above] Leiter has long been an influential critic of these ratings, and has given more thought to the subject than most. I agree with many, although not quite all, of his points, but would raise some fundamental additional points. Here is a slightly edited version of an email I just sent to my UW law colleagues on the subject:

I find much to agree with in Leiter's specific comments and criticisms, but would go beyond them (as he probably would as well--we all have our priorities and areas of focus).
Perhaps a broader discussion among legal academics would be constructive...

For example: is it realistic, or constructive, to believe that all law schools try to do (let alone succeed in doing) the same thing? In its undergraduate ratings, US News differentiates national universities from national liberal arts colleges from various regional categories. In its medical ratings, US News distinguishes research-based programs from primary care programs (many schools are rated separately on each). US News' ratings of hospitals recognize that the best place to get a liver transplant is not necessarily the best place for a cosmetic procedure, or for emergency care. Is it time to also recognize parallel differences among legal institutions?

Is it realistic to believe that faculty at leading national law schools (or perhaps anywhere else) can make meaningful distinctions among, say, the bottom 125-150 (out of 184) ranked law schools? On the basis of what? (One presumes prior US News reports--the "echo chamber" to which Leiter refers?)

Are there many judges or practitioners out there (among the relatively few who return US News surveys) who have more than slight anecdotal experience with programs or graduates of more than a few dozen schools? What is the basis for their rankings of other institutions?

The gradations in scores of schools between about 25 and 50 are very fine, and these ratings tend to bounce around a fair bit from year to year, with significant ripple effects (see public relations releases, news stories, firings of Deans, etc.). Is there any reason to believe these are more than random fluctuations--or the results of the various gaming strategies to which Leiter makes reference? Can anyone really be confident that a difference of even ten slots in this range reflects anything consequential to the educational opportunities of students, or that the consequences of such differences in where students attend, or where they are employed, correspond to anything real?

Is it clear to anyone that the criteria applicable in differentiating meaningfully between slot #83 and slot #157 are the same criteria one would want to apply to ranking the top 10, or 15, or 20 schools?

To get more fundamental still--and this is a point on which I differ from Leiter--how clear is it that reputational differences as measured by citation analysis have anything much to do with the educational experience of students at many or most particular schools (or, for that matter, differences relevant to students following different professional paths in the law and adjacent fields--not everyone wants to be a highly paid wage slave at a legal factory)? Might one perhaps think that curricular emphases, styles of teaching and evaluation, emphasis on practice skills, clinical experiences, etc. have more to do with the quality of professional training than levels of pay for support staff (although those are not irrelevant, to the extent that undervalued and demoralized staff can affect the learning environment for both students and faculty)?

Might a more fundamental debate about such questions prepare the way for something better, and potentially more meaningful to students, and less destructive of other pedagogic values in what we try to accomplish as law teachers and as a law school? ...

Comments are welcome.

Fascinating take on a difficult parasha

Two Kinds of Holy Light: Tazria

By Rabbi Phyllis Berman *

As we read from different passages of Torah -- especially from the book of Leviticus -- we confront some of the most difficult concepts in Torah: tahor and tamei.

In many English translations, those words have been translated as "pure" and "impure," or "clean" and "unclean," signifying that one is all good and one is all bad. Understood that way, the Torah has seemed to be condemning menstrual blood, semen, the birthing process - as impure. For many years I felt horrified, offended, every single time I came across the words.

The Tazria portion teaches me a new way to understand the words.

The first eight verses (Lev. 12: 1-8) deal with what happens to a woman who has given birth to a male or a female child -- how much time in each case she is to be separated from the community as tamei, before she rejoins the community as tahor.

Out of my experience as a mother, I remember very clearly that indeed there is a period of time right after you've given birth that you want and need to be separated from the community. Your community narrows down to the baby right in your arms and at your breast and there isn't, for some period of time, another world except for that child.

Then I began to think about other moments in our lives when that kind of close focused attention happens as well: when we're lucky enough to fall in love; when we're taken over by the ruah ha'kodesh (holy spirit); when we're utterly captivated by a creative process.

So I began to think that indeed there are two different kinds of holiness. There is the holiness of such complete concentration and narrow focus - like a laser beam of light - that we can't look out into the larger world, and there is the holiness where we are so at balance that we can see a much broader reality, handle multiple worlds simultaneously.

Then I began to understand a little bit more about these words, tahor and tamei. I began to think that tahor refers to those holy times in our lives when the focus is broad, when we can see the whole picture, and tamei is about that holy time when the focus is narrow and we can see only the immediate concern that's right at hand for us. ...

Barack Obama has gotten past affirmative action. Have we?

By Dahlia Lithwick - Slate Magazine:

"Students at the University of Chicago, where Obama later lectured on constitutional law, don't recall him taking a hard line there, either. Erika Walsh, who graduated in 2002 and took Obama's Equal Protection and Due Process class, says she came away with no idea about Obama's personal views on affirmative action or any other hot constitutional issue. 'The way he conducted the class, he wanted you to talk, and he would be provocative,' she says" ...

[out of sequence]:In an interview last May on ABC's This Week With George Stephanopoulos, he was asked whether his own daughters should someday receive preferences in college admissions. His response was unexpected: "I think that my daughters should probably be treated by any admissions officer as folks who are pretty advantaged." He added, "I think that we should take into account white kids who have been disadvantaged and have grown up in poverty and shown themselves to have what it takes to succeed." His comments lit up the blogosphere with speculation that as president he might spearhead a major policy change, shifting the basis of affirmative action from race to class disparities.