Wednesday, August 29, 2012

1960-1980 Gap in GOP Platform Even More Shocking than 1980-2012 Gap

The New York Times today pointed out the major shift rightward from the 1980 GOP platform, which at the time was seen as a major victory for conservatives. I decided to see what the 1960 GOP platform looked like, and the results are, to say the least, utterly shocking.

On Israel

In the Middle East, we shall continue to support the integrity and independence of all the states of that area including Israel and the Arab States.
With specific reference to Israel and the Arab Nations we urge them to undertake negotiations for a mutually acceptable settlement of the causes of tension between them. We pledge continued efforts:
  • To eliminate the obstacles to a lasting peace in the area, including the human problem of the Arab refugees. (emphasis mine)
  • To seek an end to transit and trade restrictions, blockades and boycotts.
  • To secure freedom of navigation in international waterways, the cessation of discrimination against Americans on the basis of religious beliefs, and an end to the wasteful and dangerous arms race and to the threat of an arms imbalance in the area.

Economic Policy

... To that end we favor: Use of the full powers of government to prevent the scourges of depression and inflation.

Labor (Yes, they actually had a plank on that)

Republican action has given to millions of American working men and women new or expanded protection and benefits, such as:
  • Increased federal minimum wage;
  • Extended coverage of unemployment insurance and the payment of additional temporary benefits provided in 1958-59;
  • Improvement of veterans' re-employment rights;
  • Extension of federal workman's compensation coverage and increase of benefits;
Seven past years of accomplishments, however, are but a base to build upon in fostering, promoting and improving the welfare of America's working men and women, both organized and unorganized. We pledge, therefore, action on these constructive lines: ...
  • Upward revision in amount and extended coverage of the minimum wage to several million more workers.
  • Strengthening the unemployment insurance system and extension of its benefits.
  • Improvement of the eight-hour laws relating to hours and overtime compensation on federal and federally-assisted construction, and continued vigorous enforcement and improvement of minimum wage laws for federal supply and construction contracts
  • Continued improvement of manpower skills and training to meet a new era of challenges, including action programs to aid older workers, women, youth, and the physically handicapped.
  • Encouragement of training programs by labor, industry and government to aid in finding new jobs for persons dislocated by automation or other economic changes.
  • Improvement of job opportunities and working conditions of migratory farm workers.
  • Assurance of equal pay for equal work regardless of sex; encouragement of programs to insure on-the-job safety, and encouragement of the States to improve their labor standards legislation, and to improve veterans' employment rights and benefits.
  • Encouragement abroad of free democratic institutions, higher living standards and higher wages through such agencies as the International Labor Organization, and cooperation with the free trade union movement in strengthening free labor throughout the world.

Various Other Issues


We are confronted with major problems in the field of environmental health. We pledge:
  • Strengthened federal enforcement powers in combatting water pollution and additional resources for research and demonstration projects. Federal grants for the construction of waste disposal plants should be made only when they make an identifiable contribution to clearing up polluted streams.
  •  Federal authority to identify, after appropriate hearings, air pollution problems and to recommend proposed solutions. 


Republican conscience and Republican policy require that:
  • The annual number of immigrants we accept be at least doubled.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Long History in GOP of "Legitimate Rape" Victims Don't Become Pregnant

Now, in addition to being unbelievably offensive for implying that there's such a thing as rape that's not "legitimate rape", Todd Akin also seems to be quite wrong on the science. The most recent study (admittedly slightly at odds with previous studies on the subject) found rape victims are twice as likely to become pregnant as women having consensual unprotected sex.

But this "'actual' rape victims don't get pregnant" idea has a long, long history in the GOP.

It has also shown up in letters to the editor

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Talmud Censorship and Variation in Berachot 7

I have decided to attempt learning Daf Yomi, and I hope to at least get through the first tractate (and hence the first Order, since only the first is part of Daf Yomi, as there was no Gemara written in the Babylonian Talmud for the rest of the Order Zeraim [Seeds, which deals largely with laws of Agriculture which largely applies only to the Land of Israel]. Today's daf (page) is page 7 (both sides) of Berachot (blessings). Until I get back to Atlanta, at which point I may begin ordering the new Koren Talmud, I have been learning it by listening to Rabbi Eliyahu Fink's shiur while following along on a printout of Shas Neharda (Moznaim Publishing, 2008), which is primarily as far as I can tell the Vilna Edition of the Talmud with some extra commentary both on the sides of the pages (in particular, when the Talmud references part of the Tanach (24 books of Hebrew bible), it quotes the entire verse with vowels) and presumably in the back as well.

Anyway, I was on the first side, about two thirds of the way down, when I ran into something that confused me. On the paper in front of me it said:

א"ר יוחנן משום ר' יוסי שלשה דברים בקש משה מלפני הקב"ה ונתן לו בקש שתשרה שכינה על ישראל ונתן לו שנאמר הלוא בלכתך עמנו בקש שלא תשרה שכינה על עובדי כוכבים שנאמר ונפלינו אני ועמך ונתן לו בקש להודיעו דרכיו של הקב"ה ונתן לו שנא' הודיעני נא את דרכיך

R. Yochanan further said in the name of R. Yosi: Moses requested three things from the Holy One, Blessed Be He, and He gave them to him. He requested that the Divine Presence would remain among the people of Israel and it was given, as it says, "Is it not that you go with us." He requested that the Divine Presence would not remain among the idolaters [literally: worshippers of the stars], as it says "So that we are distinguished, myself and your people". He asked to know the ways of the Holy One, Blessed Be He, and He gave it, as it says "Show me the ways"

However, Rav Fink read the bolded section as

בקש שלא תשרה שכינה על אומות העולם שנאמר ונפלינו אני ועמך ונתן לו
He requested that the Divine Presence would not remain among the nations of the world, as it says ...

I was confused, but then I remembered that manuscripts of the Talmud has more variants in the text than the Masoretic text of the Tanach (where they even tell you when something is supposed to be read as if it was spelled differently than the way it is printed). In fact, Googling the phrase as he read it led me to the Yalkut Shimoni, (see Wiki page) a medieval rabbinical compilation of aggadot on the Torah (difficult to translate, but legends/stories/exegesis on the text rather than halachot [laws]), quotes this section of the Talmud, with "nations of the world" instead of "idolaters." This version seems to present a somewhat more narrow version of things. By excluding only idolaters from having the Divine Presence among them, the Muslims, Sikhs and (possibly) the Christians [presumably at least the Unitarians] may still merit it, but by excluding the nations of the world, it would seem that only the Jewish people merit it.

But it may have been more than a variation. By this, I mean that fear of, or active participation of the non-Jewish censors may have played a role. An edition of the Babylonian Talmud printed in Amsterdam in 1714 has the bolded section as

בקש שלא תשרה שכינה רק על ישראל שנאמר ונפלינו אני ועמך ונתן לו
He requested that the Divine Presence should not stay anywhere except on the Jewish people" ...

An edition from Prague in 1728 has

בקש שלא תשרה שכינה אז רק על ישראל
He requested that the Divine Presence should not stay anywhere then except on the Jewish people" ...
This is interesting because it seems like they're saying it only applied then and didn't apply to the time it was printed (this was almost certainly the censors/out of fear.

And the first printed edition (there are older hand-written manuscripts but I don't think those can be found online although I could be wrong), by Daniel Bomberg in Venice in 1523? It has אומות העולם (nations of the world), just like in whatever edition Rav Fink was using. Unfortunately, I can't seem to find it in an edition he could plausibly be using; perhaps it's not in the Hebrewbooks library? Update: Hebrew U has apparently scanned a whole bunch of Talmud manuscripts (site itself is Hebrew navigation only) in their Online Treasury of Talmud Manuscripts. Awesome!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Is Harry Reid's Source a Mormon High-Ranking Official?

It makes sense. They're angry because Romney didn't tithe the proper amount to the Mormon church and so an official leaked it to fellow Mormon (who I'm sure is 100% paid up on his tithing) Harry Reid. This explains why Reid won't reveal his source. Anyway, that's the rumor going around ;)