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Start the New Year Right

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Why You're Fooling Yourself About 'Fake News'

"Fake News" is now the bright, shiny object of the post-2016 election America, referring to everything from Russian propaganda and for-profit, Macedonian bullshit farms to the more familiar "Fox News", willfully tendentious right-wing propaganda from Fox, Drudge, Limbaugh and more. The topic has ranged out from the world of politics to big think discussions in the worlds of journalism, the technology industry, the advertising industry and more. We know it's truly arrived as a conceptual artifact because the right is now adopting it as its own cudgel against what it's long called the "liberal media." But in the narrow frame of political activism, I think many of us are indulging in our own form of wishful thinking or self-delusion when it comes to "fake news".

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All Coming Together

There was some news of this already. But now it's coming together. The neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer is organizing an armed march against Jews in Whitefish, Montana.

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Dylan Matthews has an interesting, illuminating discussion of the "border adjustment" tax which is a major part of the House GOP's corporate tax reform plan, as I discussed here a few days ago. (Sounds like a total policy bore-fest; but actually it sounds like a pretty big deal.) Matthews's piece gets at, while not really resolving (because it may not be resolvable), the big mystery about the policy in my mind. It's one of two things. It may be a de facto tariff which will hit importers' profits heavily, as well as raise prices for lots of goods middle class families buy all the time, while also creating incentives for domestic manufacturing. Or it really may have no effect on the balance of trade one way or another and basically amount to a quasi-VAT tax which will shift taxes from corporations to consumers.

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Thoughts on The UN Resolution

Yesterday the Obama administration chose to abstain from a UN Security Council Resolution condemning the on-going growth of Israeli settlements past the so-called 'green line' as illegal and a threat to the possibility of a future two-state resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (It also condemned Palestinian violence, incitement and reaffirmed support for a 'two-state solution'.) This has been denounced as a betrayal by the Israeli government in the fiercest terms. Many right-wing American Jews have condemned the decision in no less vitriolic terms, not to mention virtually all Republicans. I should add though that even many American Jewish supporters of a genuine two-state solution have reacted with at least discomfort and in some cases anguish and anger at President Obama's decision.

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More Confirmation of the Story out of Lancaster, PA

Since I wrote this post last night trying to reconcile the conflicting accounts about that Jewish family in Lancaster County, PA I've done a couple 'Late Updates' in the post itself. The gist is that the local paper stood by its original story. But since they were unable to get in contact with the family again after the ADL press release, they shifted the emphasis of the piece from 'fleeing' the area to taking their child out of the school. Meanwhile, Mark Joseph Stern of Slate got in contact with the ADL and learned, as we suspected, that they had no reason to doubt anything about the harassment detailed in the story. Their entire issue was with the word "fled." In my mind that still puts the ADL (in this case I believe a regional office of the ADL) in a very bad light, since the clear import of their press release was that the entire story was false.

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Two Cheers for Obama: US allows the UN to Condemn Israeli Occupation

Since 1972, the United States has vetoed 40 United Nations Security Council resolutions critical of Israel. Most recently, in February 2011, the Obama administration vetoed a resolution declaring Israel’s occupation of the West Bank to be illegal and calling for it to “completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.” But today, the administration abstained and allowed to pass by 14 to zero virtually the same resolution. By doing so, the US didn’t actually support the resolution – that’s why it gets only two cheers in my book – but it declared that it would no longer shield Israel from criticism by the Security Council.

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