Hey, Parishoners! Let's Boycott the Freest Country in the Middle East!

I was tempted to do a full fisking of a recent column appearing in Sunday's local paper. It's by the pastor of the Community Church of Durham (NH), one Rev. David Grishaw-Jones, pictured at your right. He asks the musical question: Should New Hampshire really penalize nonviolence?

You're expected to say "Gee, of course not" at this point.

Let's find out what the Rev is actually talking about:

Again the New Hampshire House is considering a bill to penalize businesses that participate in boycott and divestment campaigns aimed at ending Israel’s illegal campaign of occupation and apartheid in Palestine. For hundreds of years, Americans have valued economic activism as protected first amendment speech (and an important nonviolent tool) in protesting injustice at home and abroad.

More recently, Palestinian activists—with Israeli allies—have insisted that boycotts and divestment represent an important sign of hope for meaningful change in their beleaguered homeland. With SB 439 however, our legislature considers banning participating businesses from receiving state funds and contracts, thereby codifying in NH law an executive order signed by Governor Chris Sununu in July 2023. If you care, says this law, and if you act in a principled way on that concern, the state will make you pay.

We'll ignore the question-begging assertions about Israel. I just want to point out that the legislation is also nonviolent. It's very nature is tit-for-tat: you refuse to do business with Israel, New Hampshire refuses to do business with you.

Governor Sununu's executive order last year made New Hampshire the 37th state to act in opposition to the so-called "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) movement.

I count 18 sponsors of SB439 in the NH Senate. (And there are only 24 senators.) The Rev tries to paint this as an insidious plot, sourced from "extreme right wing think tanks (such as the American Legislative Executive Council)". A check of that sponsor list should debunk the relevance of the bill's provenance; it includes (for example) Democrats David Watters and Debra Altschiller. Are they unwitting pawns of the Great Right-Wing Jewish Conspiracy?

It goes without saying that the BDS effort is entirely aimed at Israel. The Middle East is full of dreary little despotisms. The only one that is rated "Free" by Freedom House is, that's right, Israel.

Rev, if you want to target citizen oppression, there are more likely targets.

The Rev's church is very (um) socially involved. They have a Action Alerts page letting people know where they stand on eight issues. Number One: "Justice for Palestine-Israel". What do you make of this?

For over 73 years, Israel has created and maintained laws, policies, and practices that deliberately oppress Palestinians.

Over 73 years. Why I do believe they are referring to 1948, the year Israel was created.

It appears the Rev's church isn't just opposed to Israel's policies; they are, instead, opposed to the idea of a Jewish state. Real river-to-the-sea advocates. Lets make the entire Middle East unfree!

If that happened, of course, the Rev and his allies might spend a few minutes tsk-tsking about all the violence. (But not without explaining that Israel had it coming.)

Also of note:

  • A backbone of Jello. Eric Boehm explains that Bone Spurs ain't going to make it into an updated edition of Profiles in Courage, describing Donald Trump's Cowardice Over Warrantless Spying.

    In a social media post on Wednesday afternoon, former President Donald Trump delivered an all-caps message to members of Congress. "KILL FISA," he wrote. "IT WAS ILLEGALLY USED AGAINST ME, AND MANY OTHERS."

    Trump was referring to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), which allows intelligence services to scoop up electronic communications between Americans and individuals overseas. Those communications are stored in a massive database—the true extent of which is unknown and perhaps unquantifiable—that is routinely queried by the FBI and other law enforcement agencies, giving them a back door to spy on Americans' communications without a warrant.

    Trump is right to be mad about how Section 702 has been used, and he's also right that he is far from the only target. In 2021, for example, the FBI used its FISA powers to run more than 3.3 million queries through the Section 702 database. A Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court report unsealed in May showed that the FBI improperly used its warrantless search powers more than 278,000 times during 2021—targeting "crime victims, January 6th riot suspects, people arrested at a protest in the wake of the police killing of George Floyd in 2020," and donors to congressional candidates.

    Last week, as Congress was considering the periodic renewal of Section 702, some lawmakers (including some of Trump's closest allies in the House) were pushing for a requirement that law enforcement agencies get a warrant before trolling through the FISA database. That effort failed, 212–212, with Speaker of the House Mike Johnson (R–La.) casting the tie-breaking vote.

    And how did Trump react to all that?

    "I'm not a big fan of FISA," the former president reiterated to reporters after meeting with Johnson at Mar-a-Lago on Friday night. "But I told everybody, 'Do what you want.'"

    I don't know what Nikki Haley's position on FISA reauthorization was, but whatever it was, I bet it lasted more than a few hours.

  • An insightful take. And it's from Jeff Maurer: Comedy Has Gotten More Political Partly Because Opinions are Easy and Jokes are Hard. He recalls the good old days of Conan O'Brien being funny. (Click over to see "Awesome Dave’s Counting Channel" video.

    The reasons why networks can’t or won’t make a Conan-style show are many and varied. I’ve written a lot about how comedy has changed, and I’ll probably write more. But because I’m so definitively in the political/comedy space,1 I can say something that non-political-comedians are usually too polite to say: Writing jokes is a lot harder than writing opinions. And one reason why there’s a lot of political comedy out there is that it’s simply easier.

    Political comedy has been my full-time job for a decade. I’ve had lot of time to think about what hits, what doesn’t, and why. I find there are basically two things that people respond to. One is humor — some of my most popular pieces are goofy things that are barely political at all. And the other thing that people like is — you’ll love how obnoxiously pretentious this is — a statement. Generously interpreted, “a statement” means “a trenchant analysis of important matters.” Less-generously interpreted, it means “some shit people agree with.” But probably the most accurate interpretation is: “a cynical regurgitation of your audience’s beliefs that flatters their self-image, which creates a fucked-up relationship based on mutual puffery that — somehow, some way — ends in you getting money.”


    Not for nothing, there's a Wikipedia page for clapter.

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