Saturday, January 31, 2009

The school that Israel didn't shell

The media love terrorist lies

Every Israeli operation to defend itself has one. And the "bombed school" was the "Jenin massacre" or the "bombed ambulance" hoax of Israel's operation this past month in Gaza. In early January Israel was once again accused of a horrific war crime - an allegation that ran and ran. Some examples:

From Britain's The Independent: "Massacre of innocents as UN school is shelled"

From The Australian: "THE deaths of 42 people in an Israeli attack at a UN-run school in Gaza overnight has finally forced Barack Obama to break his silence over the conflict..."

From The Age: "43 Palestinians in a UN school were killed by Israeli shelling..."

From Iran: "The UN High Commissioner for Rights has also called for independent investigations into possible war crimes after Israel's shelling of a UN school compound which killed 42 people..."

From India: "Israeli tank shells killed more than 40 Palestinians on Tuesday at a UN school where civilians had taken shelter, in carnage likely to boost international pressure on Israel to halt a Gaza offensive".

The key ingredients in this latest "proof'' of Israeli depravity: 43 dead, school attacked, sheltering civilians massacred. Oh, and with no good cause: "The United Nations on Wednesday denied Israeli army allegations that militants were inside a school in Gaza that was hit the previous day by an Israeli strike, killing at least 42 people."

Now for the facts of that January 6 mortar shelling of the Ibn Rushd Preparatory School for Boys, run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. Yes, the 43 people are dead, and that is a tragedy, given many were undoubtedly innocent. But the rest of the allegations? False, false and false. Yet again the media has bought anti-Israeli propaganda, as a Toronto Globe and Mail investigation has found:
Physical evidence and interviews with several eyewitnesses, including a teacher who was in the schoolyard at the time of the shelling, make it clear: While a few people were injured from shrapnel landing inside the white-and-blue-walled UNRWA compound, no one in the compound was killed. The 43 people who died in the incident were all outside, on the street, where all three mortar shells landed....

While the killing of 43 civilians on the street may itself be grounds for investigation, it falls short of the act of shooting into a schoolyard crowded with refuge-seekers....
The teacher, who refused to give his name because he said UNRWA had told the staff not to talk to the news media, was adamant: "Inside [the compound] there were 12 injured, but there were no dead.".

Hazem Balousha, who runs an auto-body shop across the road from the UNRWA school, was down the street, just out of range of the shrapnel, when the three shells hit. He showed a reporter where they landed: one to the right of his shop, one to the left, and one right in front.

UNRWA itself now opening concedes its school was not actually shelled:
John Ging, UNRWA's operations director in Gaza, acknowledged in an interview this week that all three Israeli mortar shells landed outside the school and that "no one was killed in the school." ... The Israelis are the ones, he said, who got everyone thinking the deaths occurred inside the school. "Look at my statements," he said. "I never said anyone was killed in the school. Our officials never made any such allegation."

But the Globe and Mail recalls an earlier Ging quote:
Speaking from Shifa Hospital in Gaza City as the bodies were being brought in that night, an emotional Mr. Ging did say: "Those in the school were all families seeking refuge. ... There's nowhere safe in Gaza."

And a World Health Organization report:
On 6 January, 42 people were killed following an attack on a UNRWA school ...

And a UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs weekly report:
Israeli shelling directly hit two UNRWA schools [including this one]...

So why did Israel lob those three mortar shells into the street outside the school? As Associated Press reported at the time:
In a statement, the Israeli army said an initial investigation found that "mortar shells were fired from within the school at IDF soldiers. The force responded with mortars at the source of fire. The Hamas cynically uses civilians as human shields." The army said two Hamas militants - Imad Abu Askar and Hasan Abu Askar - were among the dead.

Two neighborhood residents confirmed the Israeli account, saying a group of militants fired mortars from a street near the school, then fled into a crowd of people in the streets. Israel then opened fire. The residents, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they feared for their safety, said the Abu Askar brothers were known low-level Hamas militants.

"Within" is not right, of course. But it seems the real story is that 43 people, including at least two Hamas militants, were killed when Israel returned fire from Hamas mortars launched from among a crowd in the street. You might still not like what occured. But it is very, very different to what was so widely alleged, and far more forgivable.

And after the earlier evidence of the media repeating pro-Hamas propaganda and gross exaggerations of the death toll in Gaza, especially among civilians, we need to ask again: how much can we trust the coverage of journalists and welfare groups reporting from territory run by terrorists?



Barack Quixote

Four hundred years ago, Miguel Cervantes described an archetypal delirious fruitcake who wanted to change the world by turning the clock back to the idealized Utopian times that never really existed. Imagine what Cervantes would write today about the futility of his satirical effort, if he were to learn that four centuries later, a whole movement would arise that emulated his loony character and elected one of their kind as the leader of the free world.... Being light on details, Obama's inaugural speech briefly reiterated his views - which we already knew from his previous comments, associations, voting record, and cabinet appointments. Here is a partial list of the windmills he pledges to fight:

Windmill #1: Greed is bad for the economy.

Greed is a known "progressive" code word for the freedom to keep what you earn - the sort of freedom that made the United States the economic wonder of the world. To be fair, during the presidential debates McCain also attacked greed in rather quixotic terms, although next to Obama he sounded more like the simple-minded Sancho Panza.

Windmill #2: Lack of government control is bad for the economy.

The ones out of control here were the Democrat politicians who created corrupt government-sponsored companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, later defending them to the death against Republican calls for stricter oversight. At the same time they overburdened the banking industry with Utopian requirements to give mortgages to people who couldn't pay them back - a quixotic move that sparked the current economic meltdown.

Windmill #3: Partisan discord must give way to "unity of purpose."

A debate between political parties is healthy for a democracy. The trouble is, the debate itself became toxic when Obama's own party was hijacked by leftist radicals whose idea of unity is the suppression of dissent. If we unite with them for that purpose, it will be the end of American democracy. Observe examples of political unity in Cuba, North Korea, and Hollywood. One-party rule was stipulated in the Article 6 of the Soviet Constitution that singled out the Communist Party as the leading and inspiring force of the Soviet people. We know how that ended.

Windmill #4: Wealth creation must give way to wealth redistribution.

"Without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and ... a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous." In real life, free market favors everybody who participates in it. Excessive regulations give unfair advantages to large corporations that can swallow the extra cost while their smaller competitors will choke on it. This stifles competition, reduces economic opportunity, lowers the quality of life, and spreads misery. In the end the elites remain prosperous while everybody else is worse off. Quixotic policies always result in the exact opposite of the original intentions. The only winner here is the growing government bureaucracy.

Windmill #5: Discipline the government bureaucracy.

"And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day." It's what Leonid Brezhnev also said when he figured Khrushchev's liberal reforms had unleashed government corruption that had been previously held in check by Stalin's rule of terror. Let's face it - terror is the only way to run a state-owned economy effectively; that's why Stalin kept his apparatchiks trembling with fear and waking up at night in cold sweat. Without the show trials and executions, to manage an army of sticky-fingered bureaucrats became a gigantic windmill that the country had been fighting for a few decades before it collapsed from exhaustion. The moral here is that, short of the gulag, nothing can control the corrupting powers of an exponentially-growing government bureaucracy. Attempts to fight it will only result in a quagmire. The obvious answer is to stop feeding this monster, by removing the unessential regulating functions; the government will deflate to a manageable size and will become people-friendly again.

Windmill #6: Finance government construction projects by taxing private industries.

Talk about "meeting the demands of a new age." Throw away your computer and grab a shovel - the future is here! Putting government in competition with the private sector helps neither, but corrupts both. FDR tried this on a massive scale; his well-meaning programs turned a recession into a depression, prolonged the suffering, and delayed the recovery by a decade. The subsequent lionization of FDR for this man-made disaster could only occur in a mindset where good intentions mean everything, and the results mean nothing - a classic example of quixotism.

Windmill #7: Ward off the specter of Global Warming.

"We will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet." Nice try bundling terrorism with Global Warming, but no cigar. While the industrial impact on climate cycles remain a questionable hypothesis, its ideological underpinnings are getting more and more visible. Not two weeks ago Obama created the position of global warming czar and gave it to known socialist radical Carol M. Browner, whose solution to any world problem is the curbing of capitalism and shrinking the economy. Swapping Karl Marx's "specter of communism" with a more convenient "specter of a warming planet" may have changed the lyrics, but the song remains the same.

In this light, Obama's promise to "restore science to its rightful place" is merely a code phrase for the politicization of science. In the USSR, where scientific consensus was created by government mandate, politicization of science resulted in a colossal waste of national resources on absurd agricultural hoaxes, while state-appointed "scientists" denounced the emerging cybernetics as a "bourgeois hoax." Every single one of these people acted out of good intentions.

Windmill #8: Global poverty exists because the US taxpayers aren't throwing enough money at it.

"We can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect." If global poverty still exists after trillions of dollars in foreign aid over the decades, shouldn't we already start looking for the root of the problem elsewhere? Say, not in the lack of donations, but perhaps in the despotic quasi-Marxist regimes that cause poor nations to stay poor? A bizarre quixotic-despotic symbiosis has emerged, for example, in Africa, where well-meaning Western activists and politicians are promoting socialist reforms and nationalization of resources - while local despots, who otherwise couldn't care less about Marxism, find this system very useful in maintaining power and keeping populations in economic serfdom.

As long as everything is owned and governed by the state, the head of such a state automatically becomes an absolute monarch, owning and governing the entire land and its people. Such governing typically consists of stealing foreign aid, pilfering the country, looting the neighbors, and fighting off coup after coup, led by an endless swarm of similarly inclined wannabe despots, who want their share of foreign aid, gold, diamonds, or whatever else the educated Western geologists happen to find in that God-forsaken, state-owned land. No such despot will ever step down voluntarily, because that would make him like everybody else in his country - dirt-poor and vulnerable to abuse from the new despot.

Perhaps, in order to eliminate bloody civil wars in Africa and elsewhere, Obama could throw a few billion of our dollars at a posh retirement facility for tinpot dictators that would help them soften the blow and deal with psychological stresses, thus facilitating a peaceful transition of power from one crook to another. A better solution, of course, would be to introduce those countries to capitalism with its freedoms, incentives, property rights, and the rule of law - but apparently this is too ignoble a prospect for a soaring quixotic mind to consider.

More here



Barack Bush? "The White House warned Iran last night that military action is still one of its options despite the "hand of friendship" offered by President Obama. Officials moved to cool fevered expectations - and assuage lingering European concerns - about plans to thaw a 30 year freeze in US relations. Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, reiterated that any talks held with the Iranian leadership would not necessarily be with President Ahmadinejad and would involve careful preparations beforehand. Asked if the use of force was still possible, he replied: "The President hasn't changed his viewpoint that he should preserve all his options." Mr Gibbs added that the US needed to address Iran's sponsorship of terrorism and its threats against Israel, as well as an "illicit nuclear programme".

Destructive economic ignorance coming up?: "Mr Obama may be about to repeat, at the dawn of his presidency, the same historic error that the much derided Herbert Hoover made just before quitting the White House in 1933. In the depths of the Great Depression, he signed into law the innocent-sounding Buy America Act. It required the US Government to use American suppliers in all public contracts. Less notorious than the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, "Buy America" did huge damage. It proved a disaster for US manufacturing exports and the global economy. Other governments followed suit, and it took decades to begin to reverse the closure of markets. Now, prodded by America's mighty steel lobby, a key congressional committee has voted, 55-0, to attach a still more rigorous "Buy America" clause to President Obama's stimulus package. It bars federal funding of any public projects "unless all of the iron and steel used is produced in the United States". [And then other countries will shut out American products, causing yet more unemployment in America]

Voter ID Was a Success in November: "Remember the storm that arose on the political left after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of Indiana's voter ID law last April? According to the left, voter ID was a dastardly Republican plot to prevent Democrats from winning elections by suppressing the votes of minorities, particularly African-Americans. Since the election of Barack Obama, we haven't heard a word about such claims. On Jan. 14, the federal appeals court in Atlanta upheld Georgia's voter ID law. The reasons for the silence about alleged voter suppression is plain. In the first place, numerous academic studies show that voter ID had no effect on the turnout of voters in prior elections. The plaintiffs in every unsuccessful lawsuit filed against such state requirements could not produce a single individual who didn't either already have an ID or couldn't easily get one. Second are the figures emerging from the November election.... The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies (JCPES) found that black turnout in the 2008 election was at a historic high, having increased substantially from 2004. The total share of black voters in the national vote increased from 11% to 13% according to exit polls, with 95% of blacks voting for Mr. Obama."

A visit to Paris: " On the first day of our trip, local news reported that another synagogue was firebombed, a 4th that week, and a man had just been stabbed for wearing a Star of David by the notorious “disenfranchised youths” as the media calls them. Two days prior, there was a “peace” rally which resulted in the burning of dozens of cars, again by those pesky “youths” who for some reason yell “Allah Akbar” while rioting. We did an in studio interview on French radio where I bluntly explained to them that their problems were brought on by their leftist politicians who feel the need to push socialist and other leftist policies which have enabled all this to occur. Unfortunately these policies of open borders, refugee resettlement, welfare, and others, are exactly the same policies that the liberals in congress and the state assembly are constantly pushing here in America."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, January 30, 2009

Grabbing traditions that the Left have not yet managed to destroy

Please forgive me for starting with an enormous cliche but: "Man is a social animal". And that observation underlies some further remarks that I want to make about group belonging and connectedness to others generally. I have of course written at length on that before and pointed out the paradox that conservatives -- who very much respect individualism and individual liberty -- are also the ones who are most at ease with being members of a group -- such as a nation -- where pride in group membership is of course called patriotism. Being human, Leftists too have such a need but their miserable and constant criticism of the world about them normally inhibits their feelings of group membership. So when they do find a group that they approve of they go completely overboard -- as with Obamania or Nazism.

And the constant Leftist accusation that any group loyalty is "racism" has inhibited or even destroyed some of the group loyalties that people once felt. I don't blame my readers for being unaware of it but particularly ethical or generous behavior was in the early 20th century often referred to by the English as "white". "That's very white of you" was once a great compliment and expression of appreciation. Yes. People were once proud of being white. These days that is a huge no-no, of course. Black pride is great but white pride is now allegedly an unmitigated evil. Even though the people who defeated Hitler were in fact overwhelmingly -- white.

And where shreds of the old group loyalties have survived Leftist attack, it is remarkable how popular they are. People need such things so they grab what is left. And I want to give three examples of that -- all largely from my own experience but not solely so.

The first is ANZAC day. ANZAC day is a great Australian tradition. It commemorates the landing of Australian soldiers under British command in Northern Turkey during WWI. Due to typical British military bungling, it was a disaster but the heroism of the troops in their parlous situation was widely reported and admired. And the anniversary of that landing is now Australia's most significant national day. It is the day on which we remember our many war dead and there are traditions about how we do that. A central tradition is the dawn service. The original ANZAC troops went ashore at dawn and at that very time their sacrifice is honoured to this day. A service is always held at a local war memorial or cenotaph at that time. And certain traditional words are said there at that time too.

So who goes to these services? Old guys who still remember their war service? They do indeed. But lots of young people go too. They sense a great national tradition and they grasp it eagerly. And although the original ANZAC troops are now long dead, the crowds at the commemorative services are bigger than ever. It is to this day a great day of Australian pride and undoubtedly Australia's most solemn day of celebration. It goes from strength to strength. There have been Leftist attempts to mock it but such attempts have been like water off a duck's back. A book mocking it was in fact for a time a set text in many Australian schools but even that did not succeed at working the usual Leftist destruction.

And my second example is much more mundane but in a way more amazing. To understand how amazing you need to know what the Scots and the English think of one another. It is not good. Tolerance describes it but there is not much more than that. And sometimes even the tolerance breaks down. Old memories going back to the 13th century die hard, amazingly enough. Yet at my last Burns Night -- an ineradicable and unashamed Scottish celebration of great sentimentality -- I had several English-born guests present -- with attitudes to all things Scottish that were typically English. They didn't even really like the pipes (bagpipe music)! Yet I started the night by distributing the words of "Scotland the Brave" and asking everyone to sing it. It is of course a great patriotic and very sentimental Scottish song so I was mildly surprised that my English guests sang it with as much gusto as anyone else. They "got into it" as well as anyone else.

And that is not just something from my own social circle. It was recently reported that there were in fact this year more Burns Night celebrations -- always highly ritualized and traditional occasions -- in England than there were in Scotland! Such is the need for old customs and unashamed feelings of connectedness and uniting in something significant.

And then there is Australia day. Australia day was for a long time more an official holiday than a people's holiday. Australians are in general patriotic but not ostentatiously so. The day commemorates the first landing of British settlers in Australia on Jan. 26, 1788. Leftists fume about it of course and say it should be renamed "Invasion day" because there were already at the time black people living in Australia. And Greenies think it is a tragedy too -- because of the "damage" the white settlers did to the natural landscape. So on the Australia Day just past there was a call to move the day of celebration to some other date -- a call which our centre-Left Prime Minister firmly rejected. He has good political instincts.

The interesting thing about Australia day, however is that HAS now become a people's holiday. As mainstream Australians have been fed -- in the schools and from the media -- a steady diet of white guilt and how wonderful blacks and Muslims are, the more they have turned to celebrating their own identity and history. And Australia day is an opportunity for that. It is now common on Australia day to see cars on the road with one or more Australian flags fluttering from them. Various organizations actually hand them out for that purpose. That never used to be the case. And even Australians of East Asian origin (of whom Australia has many) sometimes get into the spirit and wear Australian symbols -- such as the flag -- on their clothing. They see no problems with what the British wrought here and are glad to be Australians. So the Leftist attack on Australian patriotism has in fact energized it and made it an occasion for coming together. I gave an extended coverage of the Australia day just past on my AUSTRALIAN POLITICS blog.

Just a very small point to end up with: In my childhood I was often told in tones of awe and reverence that my great-grandfather was in the Black Watch. So what is the Black Watch? Basically, it is just another Scottish regiment in the British army. But it isn't just that. It is the Black Watch and you have to have traditional Scottish feelings and knowledge of history to understand that. Being in the Black Watch is REAL belongingness, a source of pride and honour.

And I DO like haggis! As I have already mentioned, there is a small account on my personal blog of my most recent Burns Night -- for what slight interest it may have.


Some good sarcasm from Taranto

"In an interview with one of the Middle East's major broadcasters, President Barack Obama struck a conciliatory tone toward the Islamic world, saying he wanted to persuade Muslims that 'the Americans are not your enemy,' " the New York Times reports. "The interview with Al Arabiya, an Arabic-language news channel based in Dubai, signaled a shift--in style and manner at least--from the Bush administration."

Obama also addressed Muslims directly, saying, "We respect your faith. It's practiced freely by many millions of Americans and by millions more in countries that America counts as friends. Its teachings are good and peaceful." Can you imagine George W. Bush saying anything like that?

Oh wait, sorry, Homer nods: That last quote was from Bush's speech on Sept. 20, 2001. Still, the pace of change is just dizzying! OK, so it's not so much what Obama said, but where he said it. Bush would never have given an interview to Al Aribiya.

Darn it, we messed up again! The Associated Press reports that "Obama's choice of Al-Arabiya network, which is owned by a Saudi businessman, follows the lead of the Bush administration, which gave several presidential interviews to that news channel." Even so, change is all around us! As the AP notes, the new president's policies are completely different:
Obama's predecessor, former President George W. Bush, launched wars in Iraq and Afghanistan which prompted a massive backlash against the U.S. in the Muslim world.

Bush just went around launching wars for no reason! It's not as if these wars were provoked by an attack on America or an invasion of a neighboring country, or else the AP would have mentioned it. Obama, by contrast, just wants to give peace a chance, as another Associated Press dispatch notes:
Obama is expected to double the number of American troops in Afghanistan this year, as the country becomes one of his foreign policy priorities.

The Washington Post reports that "the change in Washington appears to have rattled al-Qaeda's leaders, some of whom are scrambling to convince the faithful that Obama and Bush are essentially the same." Good luck with that, guys!


Agence France-Presse gives us yet another example of the press's historical amnesia in crediting President Obama with foreign-policy "change":
In an interview with the Al-Arabiya satellite television network on Monday, Obama sought to assure the Muslim world that "Americans are not your enemy" and urged Israelis and Palestinians to return to the negotiating table. Obama has promised to directly address Middle East questions at the start of his presidency rather than waiting for years like his predecessor George W. Bush, but said he did not want expectations raised too high for swift progress for peace, following the Israeli war against Hamas in Gaza.

Did the Bush administration really wait "years"? Let's consult an earlier AFP dispatch:
In an apparent effort to cement Arab support for a US-led global war on terrorism, President George W. Bush said on Tuesday a Palestinian state had always been part of a US vision for Middle East peace. . . . Secretary of State Colin Powell, speaking later after a meeting with his Indian counterpart, echoed that statement. . . .

Since Sept. 11, the United States has waded into to the crisis, pressuring both sides into signing a ceasefire deal last week to allow it to enlist Arab and Muslim states in his world anti-terror coalition. Bush said Washington was "working diligently" to end a year-long cycle of violence and reiterated his strong support for a roadmap to peace crafted by an international panel headed by former US Senator George Mitchell.

The latter dispatch is dated Oct. 3, 2001--8« months after Bush's inauguration. Maybe AFP meant dog years.



No good reason to feel depression

Comment from an Australian economist

You don't need me to tell you, but I will anyway. Yes, we're in for a terrible year. The economy's almost certain to drop into recession. Indeed, we may be there already. That means rapidly mounting unemployment and various businesses collapsing. This will be our first recession in 17 years, which means it will be a novel experience for everyone under about 30. For the rest of us, however, recession is nothing new. And while everyone's busy working themselves into a funk, it's worth reminding ourselves of a few home truths.

The first is that, although every recession is regarded a monumental failure of economic management, capitalist economies move in cycles of boom and bust. Always have; always will. So this isn't the first recession we've had and it won't be the last. That's worth repeating because it's a reminder of something we're prone to forget in the depths of our gloom: this recession will pass, just as every other one has.

A lot of people are saying this will be the worst recession we've experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s. This may prove to be true. After all, it was true of the last recession, in the early '90s, and also the one before it in the early '80s. But no matter how bad this recession proves to be, it's a safe prediction it won't be nearly as bad as the Depression, when the rate of unemployment leapt to more than 20 per cent. So don't let the talk of depression spook you.

In a recession, just about everyone is adversely affected. It's worth remembering, however, that most of us get let off pretty lightly. The great majority of businesses, for instance, won't go out backwards, even if many lay off staff. And consider this: were the rate of unemployment to more than double to 10 per cent, that would still mean 90 per cent of workers had kept their jobs. What's more, the risk of unemployment is far from evenly spread across the workforce. It falls most heavily on young - those leaving education to seek a job - and the less skilled and less educated. There are exceptions, of course, but the higher your level of educational attainment, the lower the likelihood of your being unemployed.

Another factor is that some industries are more susceptible to the business cycle than others. Manufacturing, retailing, advertising and media are always hard hit, whereas the public sector and providers of basic goods and services are largely impervious. We still have to eat, for instance.

I predict that, before the year's out, we'll see letters to the editor proclaiming: What recession? My local restaurant is still full on Saturday nights. Why am I sure we'll see this? Because I hear people saying it in every recession. Remember, too, that contrary to what we first think, the economic news is never all good or all bad. Just as booms are marred by rapidly rising prices and ever-increasing interest rates, so recessions are leavened by falling interest rates, government giveaways and slowing inflation. Interest rates have another couple of percentage points to fall, with the next fall likely next week.

It's a good time to seek out generous discounts. And recessions are a time when the cashed-up and canny buy shares and real estate while they're cheap, setting themselves up for the next boom.

More here


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sarah's back!

Alaska governor Sarah Palin has launched a political action committee to help support candidates for federal and state office. The committee, SarahPac, is dedicated to supporting "fresh ideas and candidates who share our vision for reform and innovation," according to its web site.

Palin catapulted to fame last year as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's running mate and is widely believed to be eyeing a presidential bid in 2012. Aides said SarahPac will help serve as a vehicle for her political activities. According to the web site, SarahPac welcomes supporters of any political persuasion and will contribute to candidates of any party who share her ideas and goals.

But Palin makes special note of the Republican Party on the site, saying it is at "the threshold of an historic renaissance" that should focus on health care, education and government reform.

Aides said Palin will limit her political activity until the Alaska legislative session ends in April. But she planned to travel to Washington on Saturday to attend the Alfalfa Club dinner, an elite gathering of the capital's political and media establishment. Palin was also expected to address the Conservative Political Action Committee meeting in Washington in February.



BrookesNews Update

President Obama gets an economic broadside : The US faces a massive surge in inflation and a run on the dollar if the fed insists on flooding the banks with monopoly money and underwriting Obama's economic illiteracy with colossal checks funded with credit expansion
Obama's fiscal stimulus will fail the US economy: It is a dangerous fallacy that government spending is costless. There is need to emphasize the truism that a government can spend or invest only what it takes away from its citizens and that its additional spending and investment curtails the citizens' spending and investment to the full extent of it quantity
The Great Depression: fact versus myths: The Democrats are falsely arguing that this is the worst crisis since the Great Depression and that it requires a 'New Deal'. But it was Roosevelt's New Deal that kept America in depression throughout the 1930s. This is an important fact that needs to be grasped by the public, despite media propaganda to the contrary. Obama's economic policies are a dangerous mishmash of New Deal quackery, appalling economic and historical illiteracy
Are the Democrats a patriotic party? : Any party works assiduously to bring about its own country's defeat - as did hardcore Democrats with respect to the Iraq War - is surely guilty of treason. And it should not be forgotten that President Obama was one of those Democrats
Bush and the Bush-Haters: Bush is alone at being attacked and denied support from all quarters - even from many members of his own party. No single media source, excepting talk radio, was ever in his corner. Struggling actors and comics revived their careers though attacks on Bush. The very existence of BDS says more about the left in general than it does about Bush. The left are already cranking up their hate machine again Sarah Palin
When will Israel learn to SAY "NO!" : Once the Obama team gets going the situation for Israel could become dire. At least, Bush never announced that he would sit and negotiate with a terrorist organization and give them the credibility of a real state, which is precisely what Obama has done
Obama: bringing Americans change they never imagined: Obama has made it evident that we've stuck ourselves with an extreme leftist ideologue whose brand of 'change we can believe in' is, in fact, 'change we never imagined'. Examples are piling up in terms of the radical pro-abortion polices he's planning to implement, the many-times-failed leftist fiscal policies he's promised to test yet again, and the noxiously naive peacenik policies that have Mahmoud and Osama giggling themselves to sleep at night
The media bring down a curtain of darkness to protect Obama : Obama lied about his contacts with Blagojevich. But he has the media on side. Nothing of what has been previously seen in Western democracies in terms of counterfeiting and news manipulation can compare to this absolute and relentless blockade that the American media has placed on any information damaging to Obama. Free debate and information is the lifeblood of democracy. By acting as Obama's willing censors the mainstream media has again demonstrated why it is an enemy of democracy



Russian military a 'paper tiger': "Russia may be flexing its military muscle once again, sending warships into international waters and dispatching long-range bombers on reconnaissance trips, but the former superpower remains a paper tiger, according to a respected London think-tank. The recent naval manoeuvres in the Mediterranean and Latin America were symbolic gestures - the former maritime giant was able to deploy only a small number of ships, while the rest of the fleet was anchored at home without enough money to keep it at sea, the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) says.... The Navy plans to build six carrier battle groups, but the publication said: "The Russian military has a long way to go to recover from 20 years of mismanagement and neglect. "Only 12 nuclear-powered submarines, 20 major surface warships and one aircraft carrier remain in service with the Russian Navy, the last of which is routinely followed by two tugs in case of breakdown," it added."

17,000 more US troops to get orders for Afghanistan: "ABC's Luis E. Martinez reports: When President Obama visits the Pentagon tomorrow he will be presented with plans that by week's end could see as many as 17,000 additional US troops receiving their deployment orders for Afghanistan. Testifying on Capitol Hill today, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told the Senate Armed Services Committee that there is little doubt that Aghanistan is the greatest military challenge for the US right now."

Democrats' economic plan: Blame the Republicans: "What do you expect Americans to do when President Obama tells us we are in `an unprecedented economic crisis'? Is any one surprised when consumers cut back on buying? When companies stop spending money? Unfortunately, Obama's statements aren't new - he made similar statements during the campaign last year. Democratic political consultants have been all over the media making the same claims about us being in `the most unprecedented economic crisis in history.' Of course, the media have been pounding away at this message also. It isn't just that the claim about the `unprecedented economic crisis' is false - it is absurdly false. But by frightening Americans and causing them to change their behavior, they are causing the economic chaos they claim to want to solve."

What will they do with the draft dodgers?: "The idea of rounding up the nation's youth and forcing them to labor in government-assigned jobs is once again back in the news. Coming from an ethics expert, the latest call for a civilian draft squares to a troubling extent with what Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama's chief of staff, suggested in a 2006 book, and isn't too far off from what the president himself has endorsed. It's hard to avoid wondering if we're seeing the first signs of a coming policy - and what the consequences will be for Americans who say `no.'"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

"Some of my best friends are Jews"

As much as I swear off talking about Jewish matters I still seem unable to stay silent about it for long.

There are some politically active people in the Melbourne Jewish community and I do what I can to circulate their material when I can. One of their movers and shakers, Ralph Zwier, has recently written a small article on the old, old controversy about people saying "Some of my best friends are Jews". That remark is, rather paradoxically, usually interpreted as indicating that the person uttering it is antisemitic. So although Ralph and I have had an amicable and frequent correspondence for some time, you can understand why I would never dare to call him one of my best friends!

But isn't that a bit paradoxical? What are genuinely philosemitic people supposed to say? Are they supposed to say: "None of my best friends are Jews"? There is actually an answer to that in the Bible. I find it in three of the Proverbs of Solomon the Wise: "He who flatters a man spreads a net for his feet" (Proverbs 29:5 R.S.V.); "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; profuse are the kisses of an enemy" (Proverbs 27: 6. R.S.V.); "He who rebukes a man will afterward find more favour than he who flatters with his tongue" (Proverbs 28: 23 R.S.V.). In short, a true friend is CRITICAL, but constructively so. So by that standard I think I stand up rather well, in that I have on several occasions (e.g. here) remarked that Jews as a whole tend to be politically stupid and have endeavoured to point to wiser paths that they might follow.

But that does that wash? I perfectly understand that many Jews might see me as being simply impertinent and ignorant. So is it the case that Gentiles are damned whether they speak either good or ill of Jews? Nearly but not quite. Ralph Zwier's point is that antisemites say things which indicate that they have BENEFITED from Jews. the obvious corollary is that a real philosemite would actually do things the other way around: He would do things that benefit Jews rather than seeking benefits FROM Jews. And I think that is a completely commonsense observation. My way of supporting the Jewish community is to defend Israel in any way I can and to donate to Israeli charities. And, Yes, I do have some Jewish friends whom I value greatly.



Obama hit by Guantanamo reality: "President Obama's plan to close Guantanamo Bay within a year appeared to be unravelling yesterday with the emergence of former inmates on terrorist websites, fierce opposition in the US and a lukewarm response to taking detainees from the European Union. After signing an executive order last week to close the US military prison, Mr Obama has been confronted with myriad obstacles that are making his ambitious pledge look unrealistic. David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary, ruled out the prospect of Britain taking any more inmates, claiming that it had already made a significant contribution. His announcement, at a meeting of EU foreign ministers, came as Saudi Arabia announced yesterday that it had rearrested nine Islamist militants, including former Guantanamo inmates released to the Kingdom who had undergone a re-education programme in Riyadh. Two other former detainees sent home to Saudi Arabia from the prison in November 2007 re-emerged over the weekend on a jihadist website, railing against Britain, the US and Israel and identifying themselves by their Guantanamo detainee numbers. One of the men who appeared on video was Said Ali al-Shihri, now the deputy leader of al-Qaeda's Yemeni branch."

Let 1,000 Republican flowers bloom : "George W. Bush, the leader of the party - and, let's face it, of conservatives - for the last eight years, has only just left town. Fairly or unfairly (mostly unfairly), he ended up a very unpopular guy. It's going to take a while for Republicans to shake free of the Bush effect. And, more important, to shake free of the fact that for the last 14 years, and 26 of the last 28, there's been a Republican president in the White House and/or Republican control of Congress. That's why one has to be careful about what one wishes for. Republicans, newly liberated, need to resist calls to shackle themselves to prematurely announced agendas and already anointed leaders. This is the time for a thousand Republicans to bloom."

Boon or doggle? "Even if government spending in theory could 'stimulate the economy' in a genuine, sustainable way, it would not follow that politicians and bureaucrats would know how to spend the money intelligently. The pressures to do something now and the perverse incentives facing those in charge of the money guarantee there would be more doggle than boon. Government `countercyclical' spending is notorious for kicking in after the recession has passed. The planners' information is necessarily dated, and their capacity to act quickly is overestimated."

No consensus for "stimulus" among economists: "Contrary to claims by the Obama administration, there is no consensus among economists for a 'stimulus' package, much less the trillion-dollar pork-filled 'stimulus' package being crafted by Obama and liberal Congressional leaders. (Many economists oppose it). Even the liberal Washington Post, which has not endorsed a Republican for President since 1952, admitted this today: `Fiscal stimulus is far from a sure-fire remedy.'"

McDonald's posts sizzling 80 per cent profit rise in 2008: "US fast-food giant McDonald's says its 2008 net profit soared 80 per cent from a year, lifted by growing demand from consumers seeking low-cost meals in a deepening global recession. Net profit for the full year totalled $US4.3 billion, compared with $US2.3 billion in 2007, the Oak Brook, Illinois-based company said in a statement. Excluding exceptional items, earnings per share were $3.76, widely exceeding consensus market forecasts of $3.63. The robust annual results came despite a sharp 23 per cent decline in fourth-quarter net profit to $US985 million, from $US1.273 billion in the 2007 fourth quarter. Fourth-quarter earnings per share were 87 cents, above expectations of 83 cents. "2008 was a strong year for McDonald's," chief executive Jim Skinner said in the statement. "Through our strategic focus on menu choice, food quality and value, the average number of customers served per day increased to more than 58 million in 2008."

Financial crisis claims Icelandic government: "ICELANDIC Prime Minister Geir Haarde announced today the immediate resignation of his Government following massive protests over its handling of the country's dire economic crisis. "I'm here to announce that I and the leader of the Social Democrats have decided that we will not continue with the coalition,'' Mr Haarde said, adding that he would seek a broad coalition with all parliamentary parties. The announcement came just days after Mr Haarde called for snap elections on May 9 in which he would not run due to health reasons, after months of protests in the normally calm island nation calling for the Government's resignation. Many Icelanders blame the Government for the collapse of the country's financial sector in October, which led the state to take control of three major banks as the economy and currency plunged amid huge debts. Iceland's President Olafur Ragnar Grimsson formally accepted the resignation a few hours after Mr Haarde's announcement and said he had asked the Cabinet to stay in place until a new government can be formed." [Sad that Iceland has to take the punishment for the destructive legislation of the U.S. Congress]

UK: Data bill "will wipe out privacy at a stroke" : "Sweeping new laws to allow ministers to release the private details of millions of people to a string of public bodies or private firms have been condemned as being `open sesame to a vast increase in government power.' Opposition MPs joined human rights campaigners in attacking the new powers, warning that they could lead to the widespread release of medical records and other sensitive data."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

For Israel's future, Obama should put support on paper

I've not had the pleasure of meeting Israel's foreign affairs spokesman Yigal Palmor but he became my favourite diplomat after describing recent criticism of Israel as "unqualified bullshit". I wonder what he really thinks?

Since Israel decided that 60 rockets a day was more than any country should have to tolerate, the global media has accused Israel of every evil imaginable. They have been aided and abetted by, supposedly, non-political UN Relief and Works Agency officials who are more extreme in their anti-Israeli venom than Hamas terrorists. The "bullshit" is exemplified by a Sydney Morning Herald headline from last week: "Israel kept UN aid out of Gaza." Israel has been accused of crimes against humanity for refusing to permit the passage of food, medical supplies, oil, electricity (used to make rockets) and other essentials required to destroy Israel. The precedent, undoubtedly, was that set by Britain and the US during World War II. We all know how accommodating they were in ensuring Germany and Japan were well supplied with food and fuel.

There are times when one fears for one's sanity when listening to such rubbish. How many thousands more rockets must Israelis endure before they are permitted to defend themselves? What happens as the rockets become bigger and more accurate? The few who concede Israel has the right to defend itself then argue that the rockets aren't very accurate. Some consolation if you have to run for air-raid shelters 60 times a day. Unlike Hamas, Israel protects its citizens by building air-raid shelters.

Imagine for a moment the reactions of the good burghers of Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney if rockets were fired into their neighbourhood. Contemplate what they would say to Kevin Rudd. "Wipe the bastards out" for openers. That has not been Israel's response. After 10,000 rockets over eight years, it has been remarkably restrained. However, when Hamas resumed attacks Israel decided enough was enough.

When three years ago Israel unilaterally handed Gaza over to the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and Fatah had the opportunity, once again, to negotiate a permanent peace with Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state. Hamas preferred war, bloodshed and martyrdom. Having been democratically elected Hamas claimed a mandate. Israel, it appears, was expected to endorse the mandate that called for its own destruction.

To understand the minds of those Israel is dealing with, consider the statement of Hamas supremo, Khaled Meshaal. From the safety of Damascus, he described the recent war in which 1300 Palestinians and 13 Israelis died, as an "unequivocal victory". And a defeat?

The word in vogue to describe Israel's destruction of rocket sites, weapons stores and Hamas terrorists has been "disproportionate": a word not much used during the London Blitz, which resulted in the deaths of 67,000 British civilians. Arthur Harris, commander-in-chief of bomber command, decided to "proportionally" flatten German cities: 600,000 German civilians died. In the Pacific the US lost 1700 civilians, mostly at Pearl Harbor, while Australia lost 700, primarily in Darwin. The US response was to "proportionately" bomb Japanese cities killing 580,000 civilians. Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki remember it well.

Had Hamas decided not to deliberately place their civilian population, arms and combatants inside schools, hospitals and mosques, far fewer innocents would have been killed and injured.

What happens now? Hamas claims it will continue to bombard Israel while one Israeli soldier remains in Gaza, ignoring the fact that three years ago Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza. The rocket attacks increased. So where to now? The most oft repeated cliche regarding the Israel-Palestine dispute is that it's a very complex matter. I beg to differ. The Islamic world and the Palestinians in particular must accept that Israel will always exist. Not through the next truce or ceasefire but forever.

Israel's critics demand that it negotiate with Hamas, Hezbollah and Fatah, to create a Palestinian state, conveniently forgetting that Israelis have tried repeatedly to do so without success. How do you negotiate with those who, at the end of the negotiations, say:"No matter what we agree to we will destroy you"?

It's a cliche to say that the Arabs can lose a hundred wars and survive while Israel cannot lose one. If the Palestinians are encouraged to believe that eventually they will triumph no one should be surprised that after each defeat they regroup, rearm and plan the next onslaught. Yasser Arafat taught the Palestinians to believe that even if they lost a battle they would win the propaganda war. With their friends in the left-liberal media how could it have been otherwise? They must be convinced they can never destroy Israel.

Since its founding in 1948 Israel's proud boast has been that it has never asked any other country to fight its battles. It has had considerable support from the US but that support has not been one way. Israeli intelligence, military technology and scientific know-how has been Israel's payback. Israel is also the US's only reliable ally in the Middle East. It is almost certain that if Israel were under savage attack and in danger of going under, the US would come to its aid. There is, however, no formal agreement, pact or treaty to support that unstated undertaking. Which suggests the question, "Why not?"

The only way, to deter Israel's enemies is for the US to say unequivocally that it would never allow Israel to be destroyed. Most Westerners find it impossible to comprehend the mind of those Islamic fundamentalists who welcome death and martyrdom, particularly if it is achieved in an attempt to destroy Israel. On the assumption that not all Palestinians want to go to Paradise before the last possible moment, a declaration by the US and a formal agreement that it would intervene if Israel was under serious threat would have sane Palestinians looking for a peaceful solution. It's an idea the 44th President of the US might consider.



An ethical contrast

PALESTINIAN civilians living in Gaza during the three-week war with Israel have spoken of the challenge of being caught between Hamas and Israeli soldiers as the radical Islamic movement that controls the Gaza strip attempted to hijack ambulances.

Mohammed Shriteh, 30, is an ambulance driver registered with and trained by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. His first day of work in the al-Quds neighbourhood was January 1, the sixth day of the war. "Mostly the war was not as fast or as chaotic as I expected," Mr Shriteh told the Herald. "We would co-ordinate with the Israelis before we pick up patients, because they have all our names, and our IDs, so they would not shoot at us."

Mr Shriteh said the more immediate threat was from Hamas, who would lure the ambulances into the heart of a battle to transport fighters to safety. "After the first week, at night time, there was a call for a house in Jabaliya. I got to the house and there was lots of shooting and explosions all around," he said. Because of the urgency of the call, Mr Shriteh said there was no time to arrange his movements with the IDF. "I knew the Israelis were watching me because I could see the red laser beam in the ambulance and on me, on my body," he said.

Getting out of the ambulance and entering the house, he saw there were three Hamas fighters taking cover inside. One half of the building had already been destroyed. "They were very scared, and very nervous . They dropped their weapons and ordered me to get them out, to put them in the ambulance and take them away. I refused, because if the IDF sees me doing this I am finished, I cannot pick up any more wounded people. "And then one of the fighters picked up a gun and held it to my head, to force me. I still refused, and then they allowed me to leave."

Mr Shriteh says Hamas made several attempts to hijack the al-Quds Hospital's fleet of ambulances during the war. "You hear when they are coming. People ring to tell you. So we had to get in all the ambulances and make the illusion of an emergency and only come back when they had gone."




My unwavering support for Israel (despite its crazy politics) and my interest in all things Jewish often puts me in reach of accusations of various sorts. Racists think I am helping to cover up evil Jewish conspiracies and some Jews are uncomfortable when I discuss mistakes that I think some Jews make. So I decided to get off the thin ice recently after I had put up quite a lot of posts about Jewish matters. It seemed to me that I could safely leave discussion of all points of view about Jewish matters in the hands of Jews themselves. But I am incorrigible. On Sunday I hosted a Burns Night and in my memoir about it on my personal blog, I ventured to compare a Burns Night with a passover seder!

Hi-tech made in Israel: "Albit Systems announced Monday that the IDF ordered 40 million dollars of UAVs (Unmanned aerial vehicles) from the company. Albit will provide the UAV Skylark LE I to the IDF ground forces and also be responsible for training the forces to use the UAVs. During Operation Cast Lead the IDF used UAVs manufactured by Albit. The Skylarks help the IDF gather intelligence and maintain coordination between forces."

After less than a week in office, Barack Obama's approval rating plunges 15 points: "Barack Obama might have been in office for less than a week, but the euphoria is beginning to wane. The new President's approval ratings have fallen from a stratospheric 83 per cent to a more modest - although still impressive - 68 per cent. Washington analysts said the scale of the drop in the Gallup poll underlines the immense challenges Mr Obama faces in trying to turn round the U.S.'s battered fortunes. He still remains vastly more popular than his predecessor George Bush - who left office with around 25 per cent approval.

Carter the outcast: ""There they stood, all four living U.S. presidents at the White House, smiling and posing with the soon-to-be newest member of the club, Barack Obama. But at that historic gathering earlier this month, one member of the group, Jimmy Carter, appeared to be cut off from the rest, as if he had crashed the party but could stay if he didn't cause any trouble. `It was fascinating,' said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who said the photo opportunity showed the others as clubby while Carter was a step apart. And there's probably a good reason for that too, Hess said. `He's a person who has stuck his thumb in the eye of every president who has followed him,' he said."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, January 26, 2009

NYT running scared and getting cautious

Obama's lenient policies could lead to another big terror attack on the USA -- as the NYT is warning him. If that happens after NO attacks under GWB, both Obama and the Democrats will be finished

Cognitive dissonance anyone? "Promising to return America to the 'moral high ground' in the war on terrorism, President Obama issued three executive orders Thursday to demonstrate a clean break from the Bush administration, including one requiring that the Guantanamo Bay detention facility be closed within a year," CNN reports. But in its front-page story on Guantanamo today, the New York Times took a drastically different angle:
The emergence of a former Guantanamo Bay detainee as the deputy leader of Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch has underscored the potential complications in carrying out the executive order President Obama signed Thursday that the detention center be shut down within a year.

So wait, you mean those guys are terrorists after all? Go figure! As the Times explains, Said Ali al-Shihri was released to Saudi Arabia in 2007 and went through a "Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists." Thus rehabilitated, he went to Yemen, where he is believed to have been involved in a September bombing of the U.S. Embassy.

What's going on here? Having led the campaign against Guantanamo, and having won at least a preliminary victory, the Times is now preparing its readers for the eventuality that the unlawful combatants being held there will not simply be released, or treated as common criminals:
The development came as Republican legislators criticized the plan to close the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, detention camp in the absence of any measures for dealing with current detainees. But it also helps explain why the new administration wants to move cautiously, taking time to work out a plan to cope with the complications.

Those complications could be extremely dire, in both real and political terms. Whatever President Bush's shortcomings, his antiterror policies were indisputably successful, inasmuch as there has been no major terror attack on U.S. soil since he instituted them.

When Obama and other Democrats were in the opposition, it was easy to complain about insensitivity to civil liberties, or to engage in cant about how Bush's policies actually made us less safe. Now that Obama is president, his most important responsibility is to defend the country. If terrorists successfully strike on his watch, headlines like "Bush's 'War' on Terror Comes to Sudden End" (an "analysis" from today's Washington Post) will come back to haunt Obama, who will be seen as having failed where his predecessor succeeded.

Should this happen, it is possible Obama will end up getting a bum rap. After all, Shihri was released during Bush's presidency, as were the three score or so other Guantanamo detainees who, according to the Pentagon, have returned to the battlefield. But if Bush's policies were too lenient, more-lenient policies from Obama are a step in the wrong direction.

We aren't saying anything that isn't obvious, and no doubt it is obvious to Obama as well, which is why his executive orders provide for time to study the issues and room for alternative policies. Once the new president has put his mark on antiterror policy, there is nothing he will be able to do to escape blame if there is another successful terrorist attack. Whatever his rhetoric about "moral leadership" and civil liberties, preventing another attack must, and surely will, be his top priority.



More BBC deception

What should the BBC do if the new US President's references to global warming in his inaugural speech don't quite come up to expectations? Last night I was reading through the full text of Barak Obama's speech just before the BBC's daily current affairs magazine, Newsnight, came on television. So his words were fresh in my mind when Susan Watts, Newsnight's science editor, presented a piece on the implications of the speech for science in general and global warming in particular. I was surprised when it started with this sound bite from the inaugural speech: We will restore science to its rightful place, [and] roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

I didn't seem to remember him saying that at all. When the program was over, I went back to the text and this is what I found. It would seem that someone at the BBC had taken the trouble to splice the tape so that half a sentence from paragraph 16 of the inauguration speech was joined on to half a sentence from paragraph 22, and this apparently continuous sound bite was completed by returning to paragraph 16 again to lift another complete sentence. Susan Watts then started her report by saying: President Obama couldn't have been clearer today. And for most scientists his vote of confidence would not have come a moment too soon. In the eight years of the Bush presidency, the world saw Arctic ice caps shrink to a record summer low, the relentless rise of greenhouse gas emissions, and warnings from scientists shift from urgent to panicky.

But the `quotation' that she was referring to only exists in a digital file concocted by a sound engineer. (It would be kind draw a veil over evidence that Newsnight's science editor seems not to know the difference between sea ice and an ice cap, but that's another story.)

More here



Britain plunges into recession: "Britain's economy shrank at its fastest pace in nearly three decades at the end of last year, sending the economy into recession for the first time since 1991 as the financial crisis hit even harder than expected. Friday's bleak data piles pressure on Prime Minister Gordon Brown, under fire after massive job losses, banking sector turmoil and a plummeting currency knocked Britons' faith in his ability to deal with the global economic downturn. "The economy entered recession with an almighty bang in the fourth quarter of 2008," said Howard Archer of Global Insight. The Office for National Statistics said the economy shrank by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of last year, the biggest drop since 1980. That followed a 0.6% fall in the third quarter, fulfilling the technical definition of recession."

Obama the bomber? "The CIA's bombing campaign against al Qaeda leadership in Pakistan continued with two more attacks today, an indication, senior officials say, that President Barack Obama has approved the U.S. strategy that has killed at least eight of al Qaeda's top 20 leaders since July 2008. The two attacks today in Pakistan were the first since President Obama took office on Tuesday. Asked about it at his daily press briefing, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said, "I'm not going to discuss that matter." During the campaign, Obama called for cross-border attacks against high-value al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, even before the CIA campaign began."

Excerpt from Sarah Palin's State of the State speech: "First, please join me in thanking those who protect our freedoms that allow us to assemble – our good men and women in uniform – they are America’s finest, our U.S. military. It’s been quite a year since we last gathered in this chamber. Just two days ago we witnessed a shining moment in the history of our country. Millions of Americans are praying for the success of our new president, and I am one of them. His work is cut out for him, but if President Obama governs with the skill, grace and greatness of which he is capable, Alaska’s going to be just fine. We congratulate President Obama. And, for keeping the homeland safe, and being a friend to Alaska, I thank President Bush."

Homosexual MPs Demand Death Sentence for Disagreeing With Them: "No that is not an overstatement. Members of the European Parliament have called for the suspension of all aid to Nigeria following the Nigerian Parliament’s unanimous support for legislation prohibiting marriage between persons of the same gender. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country. Despite recent reforms, it still needs help to overcome violence, poverty, lack of educational, transport and medical infrastructure, etc. A reduction in aid will mean less support for local agriculture, fewer medical resources, reductions in vaccination programmes. People will die. I have encountered the same kind of liberal love and inclusiveness in some church and environmental groups. All the talk is of tolerance and valuing diversity. Until someone actually expresses a divergent opinion."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, January 25, 2009


It's on tonight. I have 25 guests and a whole heap of haggis. So posts tomorrow may be a bit light


There's tax, taxes and moronic taxes -- and that's BEFORE Obama gets started

It just bugs the dickens out of left-wingers, but we still have "private property" in America. The question is, for how much longer? Although the Supreme Court decision on eminent domain in the 2005 Kelo case dealt a heavy blow to private property rights, the bigger threat may come from taxation. Even so, Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes famously opined: "Taxes are the price we pay for civilization". K, but might we be getting more "civilization" than we can afford?

Government in America is a ravenous beast. To feed the beast, We the People get taxed on just about everything, including work, consumption, profit, windfall profit, ownership, gifts, fuel, gambling-even life and death. We are hit by individual and corporate income taxes, payroll taxes (FICA), sales taxes, real estate taxes, property taxes, gasoline taxes, capital gains taxes, estate (death) taxes, you name it. The tax on life itself is levied by the "individual mandate". Heck, they even used to tax voting.

Every expense the government heaps on us can be thought of as a tax, as can our rococo tax system's costs of compliance. And right when you've retired and are beginning to look eternity squarely in the face, the IRS up and complicates your taxes with even more schedules and worksheets. (Can't the IRS just.send us a bill?)

When I filed my 2008 Personal Property Declaration with Jackson County, Missouri, I noticed that most of what the county assesses is modes of transportation-automobiles, motorcycles, RVs, boats, airplanes, and the like. One's declaration is for what one owns on January 1. So if it's late in the year, Missourians will postpone buying a vehicle until after New Year's Day. That way they won't have to pay property taxes for an entire year on a car they owned only at the end of the year. (Buying a new car in late December is something a Kansan ‚migr‚ might do.)

Inspecting my personal property declaration a little further, I noticed in the lower left that I had to list my barrows, gilts, replacement ewes, sows and other livestock.

But why is the county taxing my livestock? Won't sales taxes be paid when I take my livestock to market? Then I read this: "MARKET VALUE OF ALL GRAIN & OTHER AGRICULTURAL CROPS IN UNMANUFACTURED CONDITION".

Now this was just too much-what if I'm not selling? What if I'm farming just to feed my family? Is this some vestige of the New Deal? At least they seem to want to leave my "victory garden" untaxed. Or does that fall under "other agricultural crops"?

The thing is: Jackson County hasn't the means to inspect every farm to see how many calves were dropped or how much grain's on hand. This is especially so if all the inspections were to be conducted on January 1, as noted above. Last time I checked, Jan. 1 was a holiday, as well as a big game day.

Not long ago, the personal property tax in Missouri was even worse, as the state amended its constitution to exempt household goods, such as furniture and apparel. (Better think twice about buying that plasma HDTV; they might re-impose the personal property tax on your household possessions.) Enforcement of this tax must have been interesting, as I don't think folks would have taken too kindly to tax assessors coming to their homes and rummaging through their stuff just to see if their personal property tax declarations were accurate. (Hmm, was this Ethan Allen armoire on the list?)

Latter-day lawmakers never seem to remember that this nation was founded by a bloody revolution caused, in part, by unreasonable taxation. To wit:

Some local governments want to tax e-tail, Internet commerce. Compliance would be a heavy tax on these businesses, if not an outright nightmare to administer. Tariffs are taxes on foreign goods. But tariffs cause price inflation, a hidden tax paid by Americans-think of what America pays for cane sugar. What about cap-and-trade? Whether you approve of cap-and-trade or not, it's a tax, my friend-a carbon tax. (Are we taxing any other elements yet? Molybdenum perhaps?) And don't forget the taxes levied on things that have already been taxed, like gifts and dividends. One enterprising lawmaker tried to impose a "pole tax" for attendees of "gentlemen's clubs".

The actions businesses take to prevent lawsuits-call it "defensive management"-are taxes. Think of the costs of sensitivity training (re-education?) and diversity programs and how they affect the bottom line. What do such government-imposed burdens have to do with the actual products and services of a business? The cost of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act is a tax, and an especially onerous one for smaller businesses. (Are they taxing your patience?)

The government is big on taxing "tangible property". But why stop there? Why not tax the intangible as well, even the ephemeral? Why not tax this idea I have for a rococo opera in the style of Rameau that concerns this poor wretch struggling to comply with the regime's rococo tax laws? It's sure to make a ton of money, and hey, that'll be taxed, too. Just as we have "thought crimes" (e.g. hate crimes), we can have taxes on thought. And since photovoltaic cells are becoming so popular, let's tax sunlight.

But regardless of how many types of taxes they institute, the Keepers of Civilization will still spend more than they take in. And no matter how high they jack up tax rates, it's never enough; the Keepers will still run a deficit. So while we're at it, let's not forget the taxes on vice-the "sin taxes"-such as the tobacco tax.

Tobacco users ought to be plenty miffed about the steep tax on their humble vice as it is supposed to be a dedicated tax. But the revenue from tobacco taxes is often spent on other things, even things outside the purview of health-care. It really shouldn't be spent on anything other than tobacco-related ailments, such as lung and mouth cancers. But the tobacco tax revenue has become yet another government slush fund.

Although aficionados like El Rushbo and the Governator would surely decline, regular tobacco users ought to just "grow their own". Not only so they won't have to pay for the government's fancy trial lawyers-whose fees in the tobacco cases ran to the billions-but to deprive government of its tobacco tax slush funds. (HillaryCare 2.0 and the revamped S-CHIP were to have been funded by new sin taxes.)

It remains to be seen whether, in addition to sin, Congress will tax virtue. If lawmakers do indeed plan to tax virtue, they would do well to take note of a corollary to an Arthur Laffer axiom: If you tax something, you get less of it.



Stockmarket not convinced by Obama's remedies

The stock market provided a rude shock for incoming US President Barack Obama, displaying renewed volatility as investors grew increasingly cautious about prospects for an economic recovery. In the holiday-shortened week to Friday, the blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 2.46 per cent to 8,077.56. The technology-heavy Nasdaq lost 2.4 per cent to 1,477.29 while the broad-market Standard & Poor's 500 shed 2.14 per cent to 831.95.

Stocks plunged as Obama assumed the presidency on Tuesday, as fears grew about the global banking sector and investors remained uneasy about the new administration's ability to spark a recovery from the year-old recession. Lewis Alexander, chief economist at Citigroup, said the economy is caught in a downward cycle that is becoming self-reinforcing. "The outlook for the global economy continues to deteriorate," he said. "A significant contraction in international trade is helping to propagate these shocks around the globe.... There are scant signs that the momentum of this negative cycle is waning."

Kevin Giddis, analyst at Morgan Keegan, said the 44th US president faces "an economy that has too much personal debt, too little personal savings and too few jobs." "It is also an economy that has rotting homes and mortgages attached to much lower stock and bond prices," Giddis said. "Do you really believe that the new administration will be able to just simply float 850 billion dollars back into consumers' hands and make it all better? This will likely take all of 2009 and maybe even some of 2010 to right the ship."

The impact of the crisis became evident in corporate earnings over the past week, with software giant Microsoft announcing unprecedented cuts of up to 5,000 jobs while warning that the global economy and technology spending had "slowed beyond our expectations." "The financial dark cloud has extended over the entire stock market, although it doesn't appear as dark as it did last fall when the credit markets seized up" last year, said Fred Dickson at DA Davidson & Co. Still he said the market is deeply "oversold" and may have already priced in the worst likely economic scenario.

"While we don't see a near-term solution to the huge problems facing the banking system, the flow of money into the economy through the credit markets should provide some stimulus to get the economy moving forward, albeit at a very slow pace," he said. Al Goldman at Wachovia Securities said the change at the White House may help the stock market turn the corner. "How President Obama will handle the inevitable international problems and terrorism are not able to be known at this time, but he enters office on a wave of optimism," Goldman said. "Optimism is another word for faith, and it is critical to the future of the stock market." ....

The bond market faltered despite the troubles for stocks, with investors worried about the ballooning US deficit that is flooding the market with bonds. The yield on the 10-year Treasury bond surged to 2.622 per cent from 2.304 per cent a week earlier, while that on the 30-year Treasury leapt to 3.332 per cent from 2.894 per cent. Bond yields and prices move in opposite directions.




Wow! Keith Burgess-Jackson has really pulled out all stops in his latest demolition of the nasty far-Leftist "philosopher" Brian Leiter. If Leiter has any grounds to do so he will be suing Keith over his remarks. But truth is a defence in American law so I predict no such action from Leiter. That will tell its own story, of course.

The French State does its usual thing: "French President Nicolas Sarkozy pledged to double state spending on adverts in newspapers as part of measures to help an industry losing readers and advertising revenue. Like their counterparts across the world, French newspapers have faced financial problems in recent years as readers desert them in favour of Internet sites and free dailies. They have also struggled with an antiquated distribution system. The measures over three years, based on recommendations from a special commission, include a one-year moratorium on a planned increase in postal charges for newspaper distribution. "It is the state's primary responsibility to respond to an emergency and there is an emergency caused by the impact of the collapse of advertising revenue on the financial position of the press," Sarkozy said. He told newspapers they had to try to save themselves, by looking at their content, editorial innovation and how to find a younger readership. "You can't say there's crisis and not think about what it is you're offering," he said. National dailies from the leftwing Liberation to the conservative Le Figaro and the highbrow Le Monde have been forced to make cuts under the added pressure of economic crisis."

Wisdom from Bibi: Rare for an Israeli political figure, the 59-year-old Mr. Netanyahu is a phenomenally articulate man -- Obama-esque, one might even say -- not just in his native Hebrew, but also in the unaccented English he acquired at a Philadelphia high school and later as an architecture and management student at MIT. True to form, near-lapidary sentences all but trip from his tongue. Such as: "I don't think Israel can accept an Iranian terror base next to its major cities any more than the United States could accept an al Qaeda base next to New York City." Or: "If we accept the notion that terrorists will have immunity because as they fire on civilians they hide behind civilians, then this tactic will be legitimized and the terrorists will have their greatest victory." Or: "We grieve for every child, for every innocent civilian that's killed either on our side or on the Palestinian side. The terrorists celebrate such suffering, on our side because they openly say they want to kill us, all of us, and on the Palestinian side because it helps them foster this false symmetry, which is contrary to common decency and international law.... Mr. Netanyahu mentions that he has met with Barack Obama both in Israel and Washington, and that the question of Iran "loomed large in both conversations." I ask: Did Mr. Obama seem to him appropriately sober-minded about the subject? "Very much so, very much so," Mr. Netanyahu stresses. "He [Mr. Obama] spoke of his plans to engage Iran in order to impress upon them that they have to stop the nuclear program. What I said to him was, what counts is not the method but the goal."

The Gipper trumped Obama: "After the cultural explosion in America that celebrated this week's presidential inauguration, could there be any doubt that this would have been the most-watched inaugural ceremony in history? It wasn't. Despite Obama pictures in convenience stores, non-stop television coverage on virtually every broadcast and cable-TV network before, during and after the event, and enough hype and hyperbole to make a Madison Avenue ad executive cringe, President Obama's inauguration was not the highest-rated presidential inauguration in television history. That honor goes to President Ronald Reagan's inauguration in 1981 which drew millions more viewers than President Obama's (41.8 million versus 37.8, according to Nielsen)."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, January 24, 2009

One small story from Israel

by Ralph Lewinsohn of Kibbutz Kfar Azza

Over the last months, our lives here have been ruled by sirens, and P.A. systems warning of incoming missiles. In addition to that, we receive dozens of text messages on our cellular phones a day, messages about what time lunch will be served in the underground basement of the cultural centre, to warning not to leave our homes, because of an imminent mortar barrage. Yesterday, there was a different type of text message. It was in invite to an impromptu musical evening, in the neighboring kibbutz, called Saad.

The only thing that separates Kibbutz Saad and Kfar Azza, my home, is a wheat field, a road and a small elevated mound. The elevated mound was occupied by dozens of TV crews from around the world, filming the operation in Gaza, the live footage which you see on your TV screens, all around the world.

The musical evening had already started, when I got there. I could hear the songs, even though there was sound of heavy machinegun fire from very near, as there was the sound of helicopters and drones above our heads. The room was cramped, of course again a basement, under the dining room of the kibbutz, the entrance to which was protected by strategically placed concrete blast walls, for protection, in case of a missile or mortar hit.

There was no alcohol, no ties or jackets, no formalities. There were simple plastic chairs, not enough for everybody, some had to stand, but they did not care, because just being there was important. There was no stage lighting, no fancy equipment. But there were musicians, their hearts full of goodwill, who volunteered to create some light, for their brothers and sisters under siege. They succeeded beyond my wildest expectations. In Israel, we call this " Shirat be' zibur ", public singing. But, it is much more than that. The songs are mainly Israeli folk songs, some dating back to the days of the Palmach, some new. Many songs were about the hope for peace. Almost everybody knows them and sings along, swaying and waving arms.

There were people of all ages, from pensioners with walking sticks, to young children. There were left wing kibbutzniks and religious kibbutzniks, there were civilians, there were soldiers. The soldiers were a platoon of young reserve paratroopers, some with white skins, some with black skins, some with blond hair and some with curly black hair.

The atmosphere was intoxicating, so much so, that the soldiers started a spontaneous hora. It was cramped, they could barely form a circle, but nothing could stop them. They danced, religious and secular, men and woman, civilians , officers and soldiers, each soldier, with his assault rifle on his back, smiling and singing.

Then they sang " Am Israel Hai " Now this does not mean much to me, when I hear this at a Jewish wedding in the Diaspora, but here, sung with such conviction, by all my fellow Israeli brothers and sisters, under siege, brought tears to my eyes.

Nobody wanted to leave, but the musicians needed to eventually go back home. We exited the basement bunker, back to reality of the explosions and war. But, my heart was filled with pride and strength. The reality of life in Israel, cannot be measured by a regular yard stick, the dilemmas and emotions are unique.

May God give our leaders wisdom, and strength to the people of Israel, so, that one day, we may find peace in this land.



Norway representative equates Israel with the Nazis

A Norwegian diplomat based in Saudi Arabia has sent out e-mails from her Foreign Ministry e-mail account equating Israel's offensive against Hamas in Gaza with the systematic mass murder of six million Jews by the Nazis. The e-mail, sent out by Trine Lilleng, a first secretary at the Norwegian Embassy in Riyadh, includes a juxtaposition of black-and-white pictures from the Holocaust with color images of Operation Cast Lead. "The grandchildren of Holocaust survivors from World War II are doing to the Palestinians exactly what was done to them by Nazi Germany," the e-mail states. A copy of the e-mail was obtained by The Jerusalem Post.

The 40-plus pictures included as attachments in the e-mail include the famous image of a Jewish boy with his hands raised as a German soldier points his gun at him, next to an image of an Israeli soldier aiming his weapon at a Palestinian boy. Another depicts a German soldier firing his weapon, next to an IDF soldier shooting his, while others juxtapose the barbed wire surrounding ghettos and concentration camps to the fence around Gaza, and the West Bank security barrier. The e-mail asks recipients to forward the message to others.

Reached on her cellphone in Riyadh, Lilleng told the Post she had sent the message to "a few friends" in a "private e-mail," and had not sent any copy to the Post. She would not say whether it was proper for her to use her ministry e-mail account for such a controversial message. "I am not interested in saying anything about that," she said.

The Oslo-based Center Against Anti-Semitism in Norway, which has filed an official complaint with Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Store, said it was appalled by the distribution of "clearly anti-Semitic propaganda" by a ministry official. "The Center Against Anti-Semitism regrets that Norway's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is thus contributing to the intensification of anti-Semitic tendencies, which lately have been quite visible in the Norwegian media, and which have been reproved by both us and by international experts," the center's director, Erez Uriely, wrote to Store. The center noted that the Norwegian government, along with other European governments, has sought to play a role as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as part of an Egyptian-proposed agreement. "We fail to see that the distribution of anti-Semitic pictures is compatible with such a role," the letter states.

The center has asked the Norwegian Foreign Ministry to recall the disseminated pictures immediately and to apologize publicly for the incident. The letter was hand-delivered to the ministry in Oslo on Tuesday. "This demonization of both Israel and the Jews must stop," said group spokeswoman Dr. Rachel Suissa. The Norwegian Embassy in Tel Aviv did not immediately respond when asked for comment on Tuesday.



Leftist bias again: Keep stimulus money away from skilled workers and "white male contractors"

I missed Clintonite moldy oldie-turned-Obama economic adviser Robert Reich's testimony a few weeks ago on how the government should spend federal stimulus money. The Berkeley professor engaged in academic fantasy land talk about getting all the cash out to workers as quickly as possible - a pipe dream debunked by the CBO report I mentioned in my column yesterday.

Even more noteworthy, however, were the comments Reich made about which workers deserve the stimulus bucks most. Reich's proposal exposes the lie that the Obama administration is actually interested in revitalizing basic infrastructure for the good of the economy. No, what Team Obama really wants is to ensure that the least skilled, least qualified workers get jobs based on their chromosomes and pigment.

Reich wrote on his blog:
The stimulus plan will create jobs repairing and upgrading the nation's roads, bridges, ports, levees, water and sewage system, public-transit systems, electricity grid, and schools. And it will kick-start alternative, non-fossil based sources of energy (wind, solar, geothermal, and so on); new health-care information systems; and universal broadband Internet access. It's a two-fer: lots of new jobs, and investments in the nation's future productivity.

But if there aren't enough skilled professionals to do the jobs involving new technologies, the stimulus will just increase the wages of the professionals who already have the right skills rather than generate many new jobs in these fields. And if construction jobs go mainly to white males who already dominate the construction trades, many people who need jobs the most - women, minorities, and the poor and long-term unemployed - will be shut out. What to do? There's no easy solution to either dilemma.

People can be trained relatively quickly for these sorts of jobs, as well as many infrastructure j0bs generated by the stimulus - installing new pipes for water and sewage systems, repairing and upgrading equipment, basic construction - but contractors have to be nudged both to provide the training and to do the hiring.

I'd suggest that all contracts entered into with stimulus funds require contractors to provide at least 20 percent of jobs to the long-term unemployed and to people with incomes at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. And at least 2 percent of project funds should be allocated to such training. In addition, advantage should be taken of buildings trades apprenticeships - wich must be fully available to women and minorities.

Reich made similar comments in his Jan. 7 congressional testimony on economic recovery.

More here



There is a rather fun little guessing game here. You have to guess how old the person in the picture is. You can even add your own picture. I don't think I will add mine though. I am 65 but have often been told I could easily pass for 70!

How to Save $40 Billion: "President Obama said in his Inaugural Address yesterday that government must spend to rebuild roads and bridges, but that those "who manage the public's dollars" must also "spend wisely" and "reform bad habits." With that ambition in mind, here's an idea to save tens of billions of taxpayer dollars in the months ahead: Repeal Davis-Bacon superminimum wage requirements for construction projects. We're referring to the 1931 law that requires contractors on all federal projects to pay a "prevailing wage." In practice, this means paying the highest union wage in every part of the country. Over the years nearly every analysis -- by the Congressional Budget Office, the Government Accountability Office and Office of Management and Budget -- has concluded that Davis-Bacon tangles projects in red tape and inflates federal construction costs."

Big tax breaks would give a stimulus that works: "So how do we stimulate the economy without increasing the already large current-account deficit? It's not easy, but here is an idea: Create the incentive for people to take more risk and move their savings from government bonds to risky assets. There is no better way to encourage this than a temporary elimination of the capital-gains tax for all the investments begun during 2009 and held for at least two years. If we fear this is not enough, we can temporarily increase the size of the capital loss that is deductible against ordinary income. This will reduce the downside of new investments and increase the upside. More savings need to be invested, and firms need an incentive to invest in order to help aggregate demand in the short term and promote long-term growth. The best way to do this is to make all capital expenditures and research and development investments done in 2009 fully tax deductible in the current fiscal year. A large temporary tax incentive may be just enough to jolt investors from their current paralysis to take action"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, January 23, 2009

Images of bloodshed in Gaza obscure truth

HAMAS is to blame for the destruction in Gaza but few condemn it

Many friends have berated me about Israel's "crimes" in Gaza during the conflict between Hamas and Israel. I understand how they felt. When I saw the images of women and children, victims of that war, I couldn't help, still can't, but feel a profound sense of loss. At the same time, however, my friends only saw the international media hysteria against Israel, which was predictably exactly the same as in past conflicts. But consider this: it was Hamas that formally declared all peace agreements with Israel null and void, which formally ended the ceasefire on December 19, 2008, after having violated it with the firing of thousands of rockets on the southern Israeli populations prior to Israel's invasion of Gaza.

I did not notice any media hysteria about these attacks on southern Israel, in fact, barely a mention. What country in the world would allow 3500 missiles to be fired during a 12-month period on its civilian populated areas and not retaliate? Some commentators have said that the rockets fired by Hamas claimed only a few Israeli victims, as if this somehow justified the attacks. I was in the southern Israeli town of Sderot last June when the Australia Israel Cultural Exchange screened the opening film of our annual Australian Film Festival there as a mark of solidarity with the local population.

Given its proximity to Gaza, Sderot had until recently been the main target for Hamas's rockets. The reality on the ground there is this: the population had stopped breathing for over a year. In order to protect civilian life from the Hamas rockets, extraordinary measures are taken. Shopping is planned like a military operation and taking kids to school becomes an operational nightmare. The siren alarm system gives people less than 30 seconds to reach the nearest shelter. The people of Sderot, and now Ashkelon, Ashdod and Be'er Sheva, observe this rule with great discipline. This duty of care to protect civilian life by the Israeli state and their local civic leaders explains why there are so few casualties on the Israeli side. The psychological trauma of living with the anticipation of the next rocket attack and the threat of danger, day in day out, is the real definition of the word "terror" for these people.

What is so galling and paradoxical to average Israelis, is the consistent call for Israel to be apologetic for the fact that it puts the welfare of its citizens first and seeks to minimise civilian casualties on both sides, despite the thousands of rockets hurled at its towns by Hamas. In contrast, Hamas's stated aim is to kill Israeli civilians, yet they are virtually exempt from criticism in regards to these acts. Some media outlets even go so far as to justify Hamas's targeting of civilians as a legitimate form of resistance.

Sure enough, some television programs did invite a token Israeli guest who tried to explain Israel's case. But the answers given seemed to be presented as propaganda, and the implication was that the only story to be believed was the Hamas narrative. If Israel has learned the lessons of the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas has learned from that war too. Hezbollah was able to use the southern Lebanese population as human shields, and get away with it. You would think that such a crime would be denounced by humanitarian groups, by the UN and by Western media.

Alas, the strategy has worked for Hamas: it produced the images that screamed from the front pages of newspapers and TV screens, pushing the buttons of people across theworld. Emotions cloud the context; the result is a circus. It is mind-boggling that barely any media outlet outside Israel has consistently denounced Hamas for using Palestinian women and children as human shields. By forgetting the context, voluntarily or not, much of the Western commentators have implied this: it is permissible for terror groups to use civilians as human shields, but not fora legitimate country to mistakenly kill civilians in the course of battling an enemy. The latter is being portrayed as a crime against humanity. However harsh it is to lose civilians, this logic isabsurd.

French philosopher Bernard-Henri Levy said recently that you must not confuse the intentional act of shooting rockets on civilian populations with the clear intention of killing them (a crime against humanity) and the fire that is aimed at the enemy combatant that mistakenly kills civilians (however unacceptable and heartbreaking the loss of civilians always is). After all, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that Hamas has built an infrastructure of bunkers and tunnels that were located under the most populated areas of Gaza. These were not for the benefit of the civilian population, but for Hamas's own leaders to smuggle arms and hide.

The Hamas leadership had even taken refuge at the Shifa Hospital, the largest in Gaza, and at the UN Relief and Works Agency, which normally provides humanitarian and health services. There has been a lot of ranting by the UN regarding the attacks on UNRWA. It is interesting to note how the UN places the blame on Israel but does not place any responsibility on Hamas.

The rocket shootings against southern Israel take place from the buildings where civilians live. Mosques and schools are used as ammunition caches and arms depots. Hamas combatants had taken off their military fatigues from the start of the Israeli invasion and were wearing civilian clothes, surprising Israeli soldiers by mixing with civilians. In such an environment, it is no wonder civilians were caught in the crossfire. The only surprise is the low number of civilian casualties in an area where 1.4 million Palestinians live. This is a result of the care with which Israel has operated.

Israel says 12 per cent of casualties are civilians, Hamas say 40 per cent. Whatever the percentage, it is a tragedy. But citing numbers and showing images while forgetting the context creates one more casualty: the truth. Immediately after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert unilaterally declared a ceasefire on Sunday, accepting the Egyptian plan, Hamas fired eight rockets on southern Israel.




Fiat and Chrysler enter into strategic alliance: "Chrysler has reached across the Atlantic Ocean for help in a move that could foreshadow more consolidation in the automotive industry this year. The smallest and most endangered of Detroit's three major carmakers, Chrysler forged a major alliance Tuesday with Fiat, in which Chrysler grants the Italian automaker a 35 percent ownership stake. The partnership promises to help the storied Chrysler brand name survive - something some analysts saw as doubtful without an alliance or merger. The deal will help Chrysler bring more fuel-efficient cars to market, plugging a big gap in its product line. And it will help the most domestic of America's Big Three to become more global." [And all this with no taxpayer bailout? How can that possibly be??]

They don't know how to put Humpty Dumpty together again (1) : "Remember when Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson warned us, back in September, that the economy was about to collapse unless Congress immediately authorized him to spend $700 billion on `troubled assets' held by banks? Remember when he said banks would never lend again as long as they remained saddled with these bad investments? You do remember? So it's not just me. I was beginning to think I had dreamed the whole thing. In November, Paulson said the Treasury Department would not be buying any troubled assets after all. Instead it would use the $700 billion to buy the banks themselves, which I could almost swear Paulson had said was a bad idea a couple of months before."

They don't know how to put Humpty Dumpty together again (2): "It's difficult to make the case that the first $350 billion bailout of Wall Street - so-called `TARP I' - fulfilled its goals, unless one argues that the Street would have imploded without it, which is pretty much what Hank Paulson is saying these days. And since it's impossible to prove a counter-factual, especially when the Treasury was never clear about TARP I's goals to begin with, Paulson may have a point. But the easier and probably more correct argument is that American taxpayers wasted $350 billion. No one knows exactly where it went - at least two recent reports reveal that the Treasury had no idea - but we do know the money did not go to small businesses, struggling homeowners, students, or anyone else needing credit, which was the major public justification for the bailout."

AK: Icy Gore depiction unveiled by critic: "A critic of global warming is responsible for the icy glare Al Gore is giving this Alaskan community. Local businessman Craig Compeau on Monday unveiled an ice sculpture of the 2007 Nobel Prize winner and leader in the movement to draw attention to climate change and global warming. The 8 1/2-foot-tall, 5-ton bust of the former vice president dominates a downtown street corner from its perch on the back of a flatbed truck. Compeau says he's a `moderate' critic of global warming theories. He used the unveiling of the sculpture to invite Gore to Fairbanks to explain his global warming theories. He says it will stand through March unless it melts before then. It was 22 degrees on Monday."

Jail for British animal rights extremists who waged six-year blackmail campaign: "Seven animal rights extremists who waged a campaign of blackmail and intimidation, seeking to close down Huntingdon Life Sciences, were jailed yesterday. The ringleaders, Gregg Avery, 41, his wife Natasha, 39, and Avery's ex-wife Heather Nicholson, 41, were described as "veteran, fanatical animal rights activists" likely to return to extremism on release. Sentencing the members of Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty to up to 11 years in prison, Mr Justice Butterfield called for a change in the law to allow blackmailers to be detained indefinitely. He said the campaign group was a "vehicle used to terrorise ordinary decent traders carrying out perfectly lawful businesses" with the sole aim of closing down Huntingdon Life Sciences and its Cambridgeshire laboratory. Hundreds of people whose employers did business with the firm received hoax bombs, sanitary towels allegedly contaminated with the HIV virus and letters threatening violence against their children, and were visited by vandals. Their neighbours were sent letters warning that they lived close to a paedophile, and victims were told the persecution would continue until their company severed links with Huntingdon Life Sciences. More than 270 businesses gave in."

Toyota overtakes General Motors as biggest carmaker: "Toyota has become the world's biggest carmaker for the first time, knocking General Motors off the top slot after a 77-year unbroken period in pole position. The Japanese group had been expected to take the lead a year ago after pushing ahead in a much stronger global market than the current one, but GM confounded car industry experts by holding on by a slim margin. Yesterday, however, the American company said that its global sales had fallen 11 per cent the previous year to 8.35 million vehicles, which allowed its rival to overtake it. This week Toyota said that it had sold 8.97 million cars last year, a fall of only 4 per cent. Both carmakers played down the shift in positions, coming as it did in one of the bleakest car markets for many years, although GM had said previously that it had been important for it to keep the top slot for corporate pride".


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Can anyone help? Arbitrary treatment of Polish immigrant

Below are two comments left on my IMMIGRATION WATCH blog that point to very poor treatment of a legal immigrant by the notoriously arbitrary U.S. immigration bureaucracy. I have a special feeling for the heroic people of Poland (How would YOU like to be the ham in the sandwich between Germany and Russia?) so I find this story quite upsetting. The comments can be found on this post

Debra Antoniak said on November 14, 2008

My husband, Robert Antoniak, came to the US legally. He made application for green card with his then wife, Christina. The marriage did not last and Rober and I were married Jan 2007. He has been a wonderful husband and father to my two children, one of which is severely disabled. His application for a permenant green card was denied in July 2008 based upon the opinion of a woman who appeared to be an immigrant herself. She told my husband off, took his green card and stamped "NO" on his folder. She would not allow him to speak (and he speaks perfect english) or to show her any of the documentation we had brought with us. In fact, she told me to sit "like a dog" and stay - I'm a US Citizen - I was born here.and I was shocked at how he and I were being treated. Now that she took his green card - he is unable to work. She told us we were to wait for a letter in the mail and that we could go before the Judge. It is now November and the letter has yet to arrive. My husband has been forced to leave the US and go back to Poland in an effort to find work to at least provide support to us. He left yesterday and I've been in tears. We love him so much. I'm trying to figure out why Poland is subject to obtaining a visa to enter? Perhaps I'm missing something? I sure hope that someone out there takes the time to fix this problem so I can have my husband back.

Debra Antoniak said on January 21, 2009

It is now January 20, 2009. My phone rings off the hook from bill collectors, they came and took Robert's truck and my car is next. I've had to make application for food stamps and any other welfare program I can find. Robert supported our family. Caring for my disabled daughter makes it impossible for me to find and keep a job. I'm trying to keep the mortgage payments up to date, but my money has run out. Robert is not fairing well in Poland either, so he can not send money back to us. It is middle of winter there and not much construction work going on. So, I mailed letters to every politition I could think of last week. No response yet, but I'm hopeful - I have nothing left but hope. I pray that someone with importance/influence will find and read our story. We love and miss you Robert.


I've been trumped!

In my recent onomastic post I remarked that blacks and whites in America tend to give their children different names -- something that I imagine is well-known to almost every American. A reader has subsequently alerted me to what those hilarious villains at The Onion have to say about the matter:



There is an amusing "translation" of Obama's inaugural speech here

The inaugural speech: "There were few truly memorable pieces of phraseology - no Kennedyesque, or Rooseveltian quotations for the ages. He laboured hard to echo the tone and cadence of his biggest campaign performances. And there was more than a hint of a self-conscious echo - distractingly - of the speeches of his hero and fellow Illinoisan, Abraham Lincoln. The language in particular sounded decidedly 19th century in parts - all those commands to "know" some or other intent of US policy, all those glancing biblical references. But it wasn't up to Lincoln's standards - which perhaps is asking too much. In fact, it may not have been really memorable at all. It's unlikely that most people will remember a phrase from it a few weeks from now, let alone a century. In fairness it was a speech more obviously measured to the practical enormity of the immediate challenges. It was directed at two audiences: a hopeful but anxious one at home, and an uncertain but hopeful one overseas."

A new era?: "In his campaign and during the transition, Obama didn't have many kind words for the free market economy. In his speech, however, he did. `Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched,' he declared. He praised `the risk takers, the doers, the makers of things.' Okay, Obama didn't get carried away about the joys of capitalism. He said the economy needs `the watchful eye' of government to keep it from spinning `out of control.' Still, as one who wondered if Obama understands why free markets are so important, I was mildly, though perhaps only momentarily, relieved. I suspect some Republicans were as well."

US Stocks slide in Dow average's worst Inauguration Day drop: "U.S. stocks sank, sending the Dow Jones Industrial Average to its worst Inauguration Day decline, as speculation banks must raise more capital sent financial shares to an almost 14-year low. State Street Corp., the largest money manager for institutions, tumbled 59 percent after unrealized bond losses almost doubled. Wells Fargo & Co. and Bank of America Corp. slumped more than 23 percent on an analyst's prediction that they'll need to take steps to shore up their balance sheets. The Dow's 4 percent slide was the most on an Inauguration Day in the measure's 112-year history, according to data compiled by Bloomberg and the Stock Trader's Almanac."

That dress: "There was fanfare, a bit of a stumble over the oath, a suitably inspiring speech, but for fashionistas the big question is: What about the dress? Michelle Obama made a bold choice for the inauguration of her husband with a a pale gold dress and matching coat by Cuban-American designer Isabel Toledo. [You can't expect Nordic taste from a black, I guess. My personal reaction is that it looks like something the dog brought up. A sad comedown from the impeccable Laura Bush. Below is my favourite picture of a formally-dressed political lady. It is Vigdis Finnbogadottir, a former President of Iceland. Much more dignified and restrained]

An Anglo-Saxon White House? "The club that Barack Obama now joins has traditionally been far more exclusive than just all white and all male. There has never been an Italian, Hungarian, Lithuanian, Russian, Greek, Spaniard or Hispanic elected to the White House. No descendent of the great waves of immigration from southern and eastern Europe that washed over this country in the 19th century has ever made it. . In more than 200 years there has never been a Jew, and only one Catholic, John Kennedy. The genealogical background of presidents has been conspicuously narrow. Many are distant relatives of each other. The Bushes are allegedly related to 16 presidents and Franklin Roosevelt to 17."

On false unity: "One of the big themes of the upcoming inauguration, and indeed Obama's administration (if media reports about his agenda are to be believed) is a concept of `unity.' All Americans, we learn, are to unite around a `common purpose.' There's just one problem - it's not so much `unity' as `collectivism.' And sorry, Obama, but I'm not interested. And fortunately, neither are millions of other Americans. First, there's the little problem that `unity' isn't really what these guys are interested in. Oh, sure, they'll invite Rick Warren (but not David Duke) to show that even people who dislike other groups and use laws to attack their fellow citizens are part of the Great Patriotic Union. But if you're in an unfavored group, you're still lacking basic access to various legal statuses. `Unity' for you means, 'sit down and shut up.'"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

BrookesNews Update

Bernanke and Obama's advisors are wrong: deflation did not threaten the US economy : It is now impossible to discuss Obama's 'economic policy' without referring to the Great Depression, and that is as it should be. But if the lesson of the 1920s and the 1930s had been properly understood there would be no financial crisis today and no Obama. As he is clearly ignorant of these events, and the controversies they gave rise to, and has no apparent inclination to learn, I fear the US and the rest of the world is in for a very interesting four years
The economy is in recession and it's getting worse : That our economic commentariat is still wondering whether Australia will "go into recession" is proof positive just how clueless they are. The recession is here and it's going to get worse. And all they can do is harp on about wage rates. No wonder our economic commentary is so bad
Industry fails on the wages and jobs: Government's Fair Work Bill is a recipe for permanently raising the unemployment rate. The response of the Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to this destructive legislation was feeble and lacked substantial economic understanding of the of the ruinous consequences of this bill
Hollywood leftists, their blacklist and their treason: There is also the little matter of the Hollywood leftwing blacklist, the one we never hear about. Those who were on this list were anti-communists who suffered for their beliefs. Things are no better today. The Hollywood left is not only as every bit as vicious as it was in the 1930s it is now more powerful than it has ever been
Obama's coming green tsunami: Obama is going to unleash a green tsunami across America even though there is now compelling scientific evidence suggesting the earth is on the brink of entering another Ice Age. The Belfast Environmental Minister stated flatly that 'Spending billions on trying to reduce carbon emissions is one giant con that is depriving third world countries of vital funds to tackle famine, HIV and other diseases'. Good. As far as the greens are concerned, the less people the better
Israel's farcical election war : Israel is able to end terrorism within the country quite easily. However, the biggest problem Israel has is the Israeli government and its chronic unwillingness to deal with the core source of the problem: Israel has lost its vision
Why does there need to be a 'Palestinian' state? Part I: It is simply a historical fact that there was no Palestinian Arab socio-political-cultural distinction in all the twelve centuries since the Arab conquest in the Seventh century. The birthplace of the Jewish people is the Land of Israel. A significant part of the Hebrew's long history is recorded in the Bible. Their cultural, religious and national identity was formed in the land now known as Israel and their physical presence has been maintained through the centuries



New law could keep books away from children: "A federal law that will soon go into effect could have some startling consequences, including the possible banning of children from libraries unless certain books are pulled from the shelves. The law is called the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act and it is designed to protect children all over the country from the dangers of lead.Experts said there could be trace amounts of lead in books because of the ink. That's why the government wants all books, old and new, tested for lead. . The law goes into effect on Feb. 10. After that day, all products for children under 12, including books, games, toys and even clothing, must be tested for lead.Critics argue lead testing is expensive. For a book it could between $300 and $600. `We just can't afford to do that, and most of the tests would destroy the books. So, we just think this is crazy,' said Emily Sheketoff, of the American Libraries Association."

Whose money is it, anyway? "Barack Obama claims that the House of Representatives' new stimulus plan is needed to save the economy. Democrats promise to be `creating or saving of four million jobs.' News media report in all seriousness: `The democrats vow no earmarks or special projects will be attached to the bill. The focus is on jobs.' Also `more than 90 percent of the jobs created are likely to be in the private sector.' Unfortunately, though, the $825 billion 'stimulus' package has nothing to do with creating or saving jobs - it has everything to do with moving jobs from industries that Democrats don't like to industries that they do. The 'stimulus' package is just a wish list of every government program that liberal Democrats have long wanted. As Rahm Emanuel, Obama's Chief of staff, announced after the election last fall: Rule one: Never allow a crisis to go to waste. They are opportunities to do big things."

"Decider" or "dissident?" "In 2007, Bush made the surprising comment to an Egyptian pro-democracy activist that he, too, often felt like a `dissident' in Washington. His bureaucracy, he said, was not responsive to his policy of promoting democracy. `Bureaucracy in the United States does not help change.' As Presidential Command chronicles, Bush was not the only president in the modern era who believed his government to be unresponsive to his wishes. Like Jimmy Carter during the Iran crisis, Bush came face-to-face with the reality that execution of policy is in the hands of the permanent government."

A congressman makes sense : "Have I stumbled upon an alternative universe? There is a congressman actually making sense. Well, to be more precise, he's not yet a congressman, he's Congressman-Elect Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado. Polis is a supporter of voter initiatives and has personally been involved in state ballot measures. He says the initiative process in Colorado and elsewhere `doesn't work perfectly' but that it is `far better that we have one than that we don't have one.' That's certainly true."

Carter not so bad????: "Carter is the most underrated modern president - in fact, he usually gets bad reviews. Yet people have trouble remembering many specifics about why he was so awful. You cannot have prosperity and liberty if you are always at war. Whereas other recent presidents have seemed oblivious to this fact, the Vietnam experience seems to have made Carter realize it. Carter consciously used military power reluctantly and only as a last resort. The founders would have been pleased. He also gave the Canal Zone - a U.S. colonial chunk of Panama - back to its rightful owners. On the domestic front, Carter did make some mistakes, but he also inherited stagflation caused by the Vietnam War and past presidents' poor economic policies. At first, he made it worse but then nominated Paul Volcker as Chairman of the Federal Reserve. Volcker restricted the money supply and drove inflation out of the economy; and this tight-fistedness contributed greatly to the prosperity of the Reagan and Clinton years. (Regrettably, it was disastrously abandoned in the George W. Bush era.) In addition, Carter was able to reduce government spending as a portion of GDP and increase economic efficiency by deregulating the transportation, communication, energy, and financial services industries."

The minimum wage, discrimination, and inequality : "One of the things that first attracted me to economics is that its logic leads us sometimes to counterintuitive conclusions. A perfect example of this is the regulated workplace. The minimum wage raises incomes for some workers and lowers incomes for others. Workplace safety regulations advantage those who are very risk averse at the expense of those who are willing to accept higher risks in exchange for higher incomes. Laws against `child labor' benefit the relatively well off at the expense of the needy."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Names, names, names

Personal names are rather an interest of mine. I find them revealing. They tell me a lot about people's background. When I hear surnames like Kerkorian or Krikorian or Khachaturian I know, for instance, that the person is of Armenian origin. And a Hryniuk or a Gavrishchuk is of Ukrainian origin etc. The "ian" or the "uk" endings tell the story.

So it bugs me a little when people change their surnames. I think a Robert Zimmerman who calls himself Bob Dylan is perpetrating an imposture, for instance. Why pretend to be Welsh when you are an Ashkenazi American?

OK. I know that there are sometimes good reasons to change your name. I knew a guy of Greek origin once whose surname was Drakakis. He changed it to "Drake" on the grounds that his original name sounded like something you got on your shoe if you walked along the street without looking where you were going. Greeks in fact seem to the the keenest name changers. Spiro Agnostopoulos became Spiro Agnew before he became vice-president of the United States and Jennifer Aniston would be Jennifer Anastassakis except for a name change. I actually don't mind Greek surnames. "Haralambopoulos" sounds delightfully absurd (I wonder what it means?) and I had a thoroughly admirable friend years ago named Panayotis Kokkinidis. Can you get more Greek than that? He somehow seems to have ended up in Vietnam these days, of all places. They are lucky to have him.

Another interesting thing is what Christian names say about social class. American blacks, for instance often devise quite "creative" names for their children in an apparent effort to say something good about the progeny concerned. But it doesn't. Such names simply say "black" -- and, with all due apologies, that is NOT prestigious.

In British and Australian circles, the most authoritative arbiters of good taste are of course the Royal Family and, with names like Charles, Edward, Andrew, Anne, Margaret, Elizabeth, Harry and William, I think the message is clear -- that they prefer traditional names. In the circumstances I note with some satisfaction that an old friend of mine named his sons Tom and Bill -- and my son is Joe. There is a similar message about Christian names here, in an article from "The Times" of London.

I must admit, however, that my mother got a bit carried away. She named her sons John and Christopher, which is fine, but she named her daughters Jacqueline and Roxanne -- French names. But the Australian love of abbreviations defeated any grand ambitions. My late sister Jacqueline was always known in the family as "Jack" and the fine husband of my gorgeous sister Roxanne generally refers to her as "Rock"!


Calling Off the Boston Tea Party

by Burt Prelutsky

I'm sure that most of us have heard the inspiring story of the Boston Tea Party. At least when I was in school, they were still relating the tale of a handful of American patriots, including Samuel Adams and Paul Revere, who, weary of taxation without representation, dumped large amounts of English tea into Boston Harbor. Well, if I could include time travel among my many talents, I just might go back to 1773 and try to persuade them to reconsider.

"Boys," I'd say to them, "I understand your frustration. But you have no idea what this is going to lead to down the road. I know that King George is as crazy as a loon, but a couple of hundred years from now, your great-great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandchildren are going to have to answer to Ted Kennedy and John Kerry. Compared to them, King George looks as wise as King Solomon and as congenial as Ben Franklin."

I mean, when you start adding up what it costs the typical taxpayer to keep councilmen, aldermen, mayors, assemblymen, state senators, governors, congressmen, U.S. senators and the president -- not to mention their legions of secretaries, assistants, consultants, pollsters and assorted mistresses -- clothed, housed, fed and pensioned, the colonists were getting off dirt cheap. I'd gladly pay a few extra cents for a cup of tea if it meant that these thousands of freeloaders would be forced to leave their cushy fiefdoms and go find honest work.

The bottom line is that taxation without representation is bad, but taxation with representation is worse.

Speaking of politicians, in a letter to the editor, a reader of the New York Times grumbled: "It's amazing that Andrew Cuomo, who owes his whole career to his dad, may not get the Senate seat of Hillary Rodham Clinton (who owes her whole career to her husband) because David Paterson (who owes his whole career to his dad) may give it to Caroline Kennedy (who owes her whole career to her dad). You would think a state as large as New York could find someone who deserves something on his or her own."

This merely points out how far America has come in recreating a monarchy of our own. But instead of our kings and queens relying on the European rule of progenitor to inherit their crowns, they have chosen to adopt the Hollywood version, better known as nepotism.

As I sit here, nobody is certain who is going to be the senator from Minnesota. That hasn't prevented Al Franken from claiming victory with a margin of 225 votes, in spite of the fact that in at least 25 precincts, there were more ballots than voters!

I am of course hoping that Norm Coleman manages to convince the court that it would be embarrassing, to say the least, to have an election decided by ballots miraculously turning up in car trunks and cellars cast by voters whose last known address was the cemetery. At the very least, Chicago would likely sue over copyright infringement.

On the other hand, there's that devilish little rascal lurking inside me that would like to imagine those other Democratic senators having to put up with the surly, ignorant, arrogant, ill-tempered, unfunny Sen. Franken for the next six years.




Michael Darby now has a new website here, covering all his many interests but with a stress on his affiliation with the Christian Democratic party, a minor Australian political party of distinctly conservative bent.

The Secular Saint: "Flying back to Los Angeles yesterday afternoon, I happened to look over at the news coverage my airplane seat-mate was watching, thus seeing it with the sound off. What was striking were the images being touted by NBC/MSNBC of the upcoming Obama inauguration. To see the screen (minus the sound) was to be bombarded with television shots that were obviously striving for "iconic" status. Coupled with the teasers I saw later last night, one would think that we are witnessing not just a presidential inauguration, but the canonization of a secular saint. The joyous faces of the anchors, the repeated invocation of the word "historic" -- coupled, of course, with the images referenced above -- reflect a quasi-religious ecstasy, and do nothing if not suggest that a magnificent event of unrivaled proportion is about to unfold before us. Just as secularists have global warming to stand in the place of a religion, they now also have Barack Obama to serve as their all-purpose object of adoration. Obviously, a lot of those on the left and in the media (same difference, for the most part) have taken seriously Obama's hype about this being the moment the "oceans began to fall. And the planet began to heal." [The disillusionment is going to be great fun to watch!]

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, January 19, 2009

The Clintons: Rich White Trash

At approximately 12:30 PM on Tuesday, January 20, 2009, the first members of Barack Hussein Obama's official staff will walk up the sidewalk from the parking area between the White House and the Old Executive Office Building and enter the north entrance of the west wing. They will find the offices neat and clean, the desks and file cabinets all empty, the supply cabinets well stocked, the floors and carpets freshly cleaned, and telephones, computers, and FAX machines all in place and in working order, ready to be put to use.

When Obama, himself, enters the White House following the inaugural parade, he will be better prepared to begin serving than any president in history. His predecessor, George Bush, has seen to that. The president and every departing member of his staff have leaned over backward to make the transition as smooth and seamless as possible. Bush has even gone so far as to ask the Congress to release the remaining $350 billion of the $700 billion in Toxic Asset Recovery Program (TARP) funds so that Obama can have a pot of money to spend immediately... and later place all the blame on George Bush when it turns out to be money wasted.

Contrast this transfer of power, from Republicans to Democrats, with the last presidential transition, from Democrats to Republicans. January 20, 2001 was a cold dreary day, rainy and foggy with temperatures in the mid-30s. But the coolness of the day could not compare to the chill that the Bush people felt when they entered the White House that afternoon. According to news report of the day, one of Bush's first acts as president was to order an investigation into what appeared to be "a systematic disabling" of White House communications equipment and a general "trashing" of the White House, the people's house, by members of Bill Clinton's staff.

As news stories described the scene, White House telephone lines were cut and voice-mail messages were rerecorded with lewd and obscene greetings. One Bush staffer's grandmother called from the Midwest and was "horrified" by what she heard on his answering machine.

White House communications were extremely difficult because many telephone lines had been rerouted to the wrong offices. Desks were turned upside down, rubbish was scattered across the floors, file cabinet drawers were glued shut, pornographic photographs and obscene slogans were found in computer printers, and lewd graffiti messages had been scrawled on walls with magic markers. Hundreds of computer keyboards were found to be missing the letter "W". In some instances the `W' keys had been taped to walls above the doorways, twelve feet above the floor. Others were found attached to the walls with superglue.

Offices in Vice President Cheney's quarters were found in what was described as a "complete shambles." When told of the vandalism, the former vice president's wife, Tipper, confessed to being "mortified" by the actions of her husband's staff and issued a personal apology to Cheney. The extent of the vandalism was so great that Bush staffers were ordered not to speak publicly about the trashing of the White House by the departing Clinton people.

In a March 11, 2001 op-ed column, liberal commentator Chris Matthews put the Clintons and the Clinton Administration into context. In discussing the blatant selling of pardons by the Clintons in the final hours, Matthews said, "The junior senator from New York reminds me of the drug dealer's wife in (the movie) `Traffic.' She makes it her business not to know her husband's."

A cocaine smuggler from California won a Clinton pardon after paying a $200,000 fee to Hillary's brother. Four Hasidic Jews defrauded the federal government out of $11 million by applying for funds for a school that didn't exist. Following an Oval Office meeting between Bill and Hillary and leaders of the Hasidic community, their sentences were commuted. The Hasidic community of New Square, NY later voted 1400 to 12 for Hillary. And, of course, everyone knows the story of the pardon granted to the fugitive financier, Marc Rich.

Matthews tells us that, amid the rush of 11th hour presidential pardons, Mrs. Clinton admitted to innocently "passing envelopes" from the pardon-seekers to the White House counsel's office. He goes on to say, "What convenience of mind! She only attended a `meeting,' only heard `rumors,' only passed `envelopes.' Admitting the fact of her behavior, she denies its purpose. She admits what is provable, denies what is not."

Republicans and Democrats are vastly different, morally and ethically. But there is no doubt that the power couples of the Democratic Party, as represented by the Clintons and the Blagojevichs, are like Chevrolet and Pontiac headlamps... totally interchangeable. In describing the Clinton's impact on the country, Matthews opines, "Before this, we laughed at poor little countries that drug dealers and international crooks could buy. We mocked the Third World capitals where a little money in the fingers of a certain family member would open doors or close eyes. "Thanks to Bill and Hillary Clinton, we have now forfeited that small national vanity. The next movie about international drug dealing... may well feature not a Mexican police chief but an American president as the bag man."

Given that our incoming president, Barack Obama, is the candidate of unknown foreign interests who have successfully purchased the presidency for him, and given that he is married to a racist woman who is proud of her country "for the first time," it is clear that Matthews has hit the nail on the head. If the Clintons were willing to pardon 16 Puerto Rican terrorists who murdered innocent Americans in 120 terrorist bombings, in exchange for Puerto Rican votes for Mrs. Clinton's senate campaign, who knows what mischief the Obamas and the Clintons might be capable of now that they've teamed up.

The only difference between the Clintons and the Blagojevichs is that Rod and Patty are still trying to make their fortune, while Bill and Hillary have already cashed in on their government service. They are rich white trash.



A New Menace to the Economy: 'Zombie' Debtors

Zombies. Seen one lately? If not, you may soon, because they are about to menace the U.S. economy. In financial lingo, zombies are debtors that have little hope of recovery but manage to avoid being wiped out thanks to support from their lenders or the government. Zombies suck life out of an economy by consuming tax money, capital, and labor that would be better deployed in growing companies and sectors. Meanwhile, by slashing prices to generate sales, zombie companies can drag healthier rivals into insolvency.

Sometime in the past few months, zombies went from being a latent risk to a genuine threat-one that is likely to increase in the months ahead. The Bush Administration has already ladled out billions of dollars in assistance to weak banks and automakers. As the economy goes into what may become the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, the Obama Administration will come under even more pressure to prop up sick financial and nonfinancial companies to save jobs. The debate will center on wounded giants such as Citigroup (C), General Motors (GM), and insurer American International Group (AIG). Other sectors with their hands out include steel, airlines, retail-and homeowners, who may be the scariest zombies of all.

Hard choices lie ahead, so it's important to have a sturdy framework for making them. The right approach, say those who have studied the matter, is to prop up a company if its core business is healthy but its financing sources have temporarily shut down. Otherwise, let it go. Postponing the decision by supporting sick and healthy alike will only make the eventual pain greater and reduce growth. "If an institution is poorly managed and does not have a reasonable plan for working out its problems, they ought to go ahead and shoot it," says William M. Isaac, a former Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. chairman who now heads bank consultancy Secura Group.

Japan was plagued by zombies during its lost decade of slow growth in the 1990s. Weak Japanese borrowers used the proceeds from new loans to pay interest on old ones-a process called "evergreening" that kept banks from having to acknowledge losses. In the '80s, the U.S. airline industry was pulled down by Eastern Airlines, which was allowed to keep flying (and charging low fares) while in bankruptcy court. That doesn't help anyone. "At some point, you need to wake up and accept the fact that, 'Oops, that's not going to work,' " says Stephane Teral, an analyst with Infonetics Research who tracked the demise of scads of telecom carriers in the early 2000s.

Protecting zombies can stunt long-term growth by blocking what economist Joseph Schumpeter called "creative destruction"-the painful but necessary reallocation of resources from declining companies and sectors to rising ones. That turns out to be crucial. In the U.S. manufacturing and retail sectors, a huge share of productivity gains have come from such reallocation, says economist Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Case in point: the growth of hyperefficient Wal-Mart (WMT) at the expense of mom-and-pop shops, which were allowed to die. The absence of such reallocation could slow productivity growth.

The problem with the current bailout is that the government may be giving money to companies that don't have a long-term future: zombies. On paper, for example, the Treasury Dept. says it invests Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) money only in "healthy banks-banks that are considered viable without government investment" because "they are best positioned to increase the flow of credit in their communities." That's the right idea. In practice, though, the criteria aren't so stringent.

More here



Notoriously Conservative is a blog with a rather light-hearted and satirical touch -- with a lot of cartoons.

The usual BBC lies: "Yet again, journalistic professionalism is thrown out of the window in the BBC's desperate attempts to attack and sully Israel. A story claiming that IDF soldiers have fired on Gaza civilians attempting to leave their homes - in some cases carrying white flags - is based on totally unverifiable and unsubstantiated claims. The article states that "BBC journalists in Gaza and Israel have compiled detailed accounts of the claims." Who are these BBC journalists in Gaza? On the basis that foreign press have not been allowed access to Gaza, one can only assume that these supposedly neutral observers are, in fact, Palestinians. This seems to be confirmed by a footnote in the story: "Research and reporting by Hamada Abu Qammar in Gaza and Heather Sharp, Fouad Abu Ghosh and Raya el-Din in Jerusalem."

Good politics but poor strategy: "Israel declared a unilateral cease-fire in the Gaza Strip on Sunday meant to end three devastating weeks of war against Hamas militants, but just hours later militants fired a volley of rockets into southern Israel, officials said, threatening to reignite the violence. No one was injured in the assault in which five rockets were fired and four landed. But shortly afterward, security sources in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun reported an airstrike that wounded a woman and her child. The Israeli military had no comment. In another incident after the truce took hold, militants fired small arms at an infantry patrol, which directed artillery and aircraft to strike back, the military said. "Israel will only act in response to attacks by Hamas, either rockets into Israel or firing upon our forces," government spokesman Mark Regev said. "If Hamas does deliberately torpedo this cease-fire, they are exposing themselves before the entire international community as a group of cynical extremists that have absolutely no interest in the well-being of the people of Gaza." Regev would not say what level of violence would provoke Israel to call off the truce."

Why Norm Coleman Will Win : "Norm Coleman won on election night and he continued to lead throughout the administrative canvassing process that followed. In the next stage - the administrative recount - Minnesota law restricted what the state Canvassing Board could consider, and in the end the Board certified numbers that are premature, inaccurate and not valid. Minnesota election law specifically leaves these and other unresolved issues for the contest phase, which is just getting underway and will be tried before a three-judge panel at the end of January. During that contest, Al Franken's lead will disappear and Norm Coleman will be declared the winner when the following errors are corrected..."

Queer soup? "Many people aren't aware that when their school participates in Campbell's "Labels for Education" program they are supporting a company that has openly come out in support of homosexual marriage, and it has no intentions of stopping that support. "Labels for Education" provides equipment for schools in exchange for proofs of purchase from the family of Campbell's brands. Many of the schools that participate don't know that Campbell's supports the homosexual publication The Advocate with advertising. The Advocate is a leading promoter of same-sex marriage. AFA asked Campbell's to be neutral in the culture war. Campbell's refused and said it would continue to support The Advocate. The Media Daily News reported that a Campbell spokesman was quoted as saying: "Our plans for the Swanson brand [a division of Campbell's] include additional placements in The Advocate." To show their commitment to same-sex marriage, Campbell's sought out and featured two "married" lesbians and their son in one of the ads."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, January 18, 2009

A sad day

The loss of a great entertainer

British writer John Mortimer, creator of the curmudgeonly criminal lawyer Rumpole of the Bailey, has died at 85, his publisher said. Mortimer combined a career as a lawyer with a prolific literary output that included dozens of screen and stage plays and radio dramas. Among his most famous creations was Horace Rumpole, the cigar-smoking, wine-loving barrister who appeared in a television series and a string of novels and stories.

"It's hard to think he's gone," said Tony Lacey, his editor at publisher Viking. "At least we're lucky enough to have Rumpole to remind us just how remarkable he was."

Born on April 21, 1923, and educated at Oxford University, Mortimer qualified as a lawyer in the 1940s and worked as a barrister in the British courts. A lifelong supporter of the Labour Party - sometimes dubbed a champagne socialist by his critics - Mortimer took up several freedom of speech cases. He defended Penguin, the publisher of Lady Chatterley's Lover, against obscenity charges in the 1960s, and later represented the radical magazine Oz at an obscenity trial.

He combined legal and literary careers, writing early in the morning before heading off to court, and produced novels and radio plays from the 1950s.



Leave the New Deal in the History Books

Cut corporate taxes to zero and create real jobs.

When Barack Obama takes office on Tuesday, his first order of business will be a stimulus package estimated to be close to $1 trillion, including $300 million in tax cuts and the largest new government spending program for infrastructure since Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Sages nod that replicating aspects of FDR's New Deal will help pull the country out of a recession. But the experience under FDR largely provides a cautionary tale.

Mr. Obama's policy plans are driven by the conventional economic wisdom that the New Deal economic programs ended the Great Depression. Not so. In fact, thanks to New Deal policies and programs, the U.S. economy faltered for years longer than it might otherwise have done.

President Roosevelt came to office much as Barack Obama will, shouldering an economic crisis that began under his predecessor. In 1933, Roosevelt's first year, unemployment hit nearly 25%, as people lost jobs and homes in towns across the country. Believing that government played a key role in restarting growth, FDR, within his first 100 days as president, created an alphabet soup of new agencies that mandated actions or controlled public spending and impacted private capital flow within the U.S. economy.

At first, it seemed to be working. After four years of FDR's policies, joblessness declined to 14.3% -- still very high but heading in the right direction. Then things turned for worse again: By the fall of 1937, the U.S. entered a secondary depression and unemployment began to rise, reaching 19% in 1938. By 1939 Roosevelt's own Treasury secretary, Henry Morgenthau, had realized that the New Deal economic policies had failed. "We have tried spending money," Morgenthau wrote in his diary. "We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. . . . After eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started. . . . And an enormous debt to boot!"

The problem was that neither Roosevelt nor President Herbert Hoover before him grasped the essential nature of the crisis, which was not the stock-market crash, but global deflation. At the end of the roaring '20s, an overhang of intergovernmental war debt from World War I, coupled with falling commodity prices and a currency crisis, had started the decline. Weak credit structures and European banks hurt by wartime inflation worsened it. When the Austrian Creditanstalt Bank failed, it ignited a global banking crisis that slashed across the international financial system cutting down everything in its path. Deflation went into full howl.

The same perils are now confronting President-elect Barack Obama, as the risk of deflation casts a long shadow over the economy. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson have been correctly focused on shoring up financial institutions to prevent a collapse of the financial system, and stave off a severe decline in the general price level. If that were to occur, the unspoken fear has been that the U.S. and global economy could go into a deflationary death spiral that would cause the collapse of the international financial system.

As a short-term matter, the moves of the Fed and other central banks have been correct, but in the long term a return to growth will depend on dynamic job creation by American business -- not the U.S. government. Under a two-year plan designed to create three million to four million jobs, Mr. Obama's plan would have the federal government begin distributing funds for public-works projects carried out by the states. With government already spending 20% of GDP, federal government, not private enterprise, will become the growth industry. The effect of these policies, like FDR's, will be to lengthen the pain.

Early on, Roosevelt's economic thinking was that laissez-faire competition drove prices and wages down, resulting in unemployment, which in turn collapsed demand for goods and services. To remedy this, his administration passed laws such as the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA) that encouraged business to collude and raise prices without fear of antitrust prosecution. The hope was that this would allow business to raise wages.

By the time NIRA was found unconstitutional a few years later, the damage had already been done. For example, the Department of the Interior complained that over two years it had received 260 bids from different steel companies that were identical to the penny and 50% higher than foreign bids. The policy had put chains on every normal free-market instinct and price feedback mechanism needed to restore economic growth. Roosevelt himself rued the decision in the late 1930s as a secondary depression was gripping the economy. "The disappearance of price competition," he said, "is one of the primary causes of the difficulties."

In addition to New Deal spending programs, a series of new taxes were introduced that crushed the innovation, risk taking, and growth plans of entrepreneurs, corporations and investors. From 1930 to 1940, the top marginal income-tax rate rose to 79% from 25% while the corporate income-tax rate doubled to 24% from 12%. In addition, Roosevelt tacked on an excess profits tax and undistributed profits tax. He imposed an excise tax on dividends. Even the new Social Security payroll tax added 2%. As a result, the New Deal forced the allocation of money away from the private sector. As economist Henry Hazlitt wrote back in 1946, New Deal programs prevented the creation of the types of jobs which have the multiplier effect of successful businesses. Creating "work" prevented innovation and new jobs that would create other jobs.

The quickest way to strengthen the credit system and begin the end of this crisis is to get money into the economy for true job creation, and not into government work programs. The way to do this is to slash taxes. The U.S. corporate tax rate, currently the highest in the world, should be cut to 0% (corporate income would still be taxed, of course, when distributed to shareholders as dividends). The capital-gains tax should be cut further.

The positive impact on corporate-credit markets, the stock market, the attractiveness of the U.S. to foreign investors, and the willingness to take business risk and create new jobs would be immediate. Capital-gains tax collections would rise. Capital flows would be in the hands of those who are driven to build businesses and permanent jobs efficiently instead of pushing that capital through a government pipeline with endless amounts of friction. If the U.S. is to lead the international economic community out of this crisis, this is the place to start.

Mr. Obama will come to office next week with plenty of political capital and the faith of a majority of Americans that he can help pull the country out of its economic woes. As he takes over the reins, his success will be judged not on rhetoric but on the numbers his policies can generate. The best thing he can do is leave the New Deal in the history books.



The Blue Dogs: Moderate Democrats may hold the balance of power in the Obama presidency

Sitting in his office a stone's throw from where the festivities will take place, I ask about his role in the big transformation coming to Washington. He's one of the leaders of a gang of moderate Democrats called the Blue Dogs. They're meeting their first Democratic president in a while, and Mr. Cooper may have a big effect on the agenda. He smiles gently and says, "If we were to ally with the Republicans, we could swing any vote in the House of Representatives." He hastens to add, "We don't want to do that, we aren't planning on doing that."

With the victories of a number of conservative Democrats in the last election, the Blue Dogs have grown to 51 in number from 46, with more applications pending. "For a long time we had to limit our numbers because we actually need to be able to fit in one room," he tells me. "So it's been an increasingly popular, and I think influential, group."

Indeed, the way the Blue Dogs flex their muscle may become one of the defining issues of the Obama administration's opening months. If they are inclined to wrangle with Nancy Pelosi and the more liberal contingent in the Democratic Party, they will drive policy, especially as a check on spending. "Ideally the White House will see things our way, so they will present legislation on the Hill that we find acceptable," Mr. Cooper says. "If they stray too much from that or if a certain part of Congress strays too much from that, then we may have to object."

So far, however, the Blue Dogs seem to believe that Barack Obama is one of them, a fiscal reformer, and their last best hope for true change on entitlement spending and economic responsibility. Mr. Obama has announced he will convene a fiscal responsibility summit in February to bring together Blue Dogs and other folks to discuss the long-term problems of the economy, including entitlement spending. "We've kicked this can down the road and now we are at the end of the road," the president-elect told the Washington Post this week.....

The problems of the deficit are staggering, and have been Mr. Cooper's long preoccupation, as well as the essence of his Blue Dog soul. He was among a number of members who once left signboards outside their offices in the Longworth office building tracking the share of the national debt per capita including unfunded Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security costs (now around $180,000). "Then they banned signage," he grumps. "I think it's a free speech issue but they say it's a fire safety issue."

It's even worse than most people think, he says, because of dodgy accounting used by the federal government. While we've been warned about the trillion-dollar deficit Mr. Obama is facing, accrual accounting and properly audited numbers from the U.S. Treasury Department would show the deficit last year was $3 trillion, according to this former Rhodes scholar and investment banker. "The U.S. government uses cash accounting," he says. "That is illegal for any enterprise of any size in America except for the U.S. government. Every for-profit business, every not-for-profit business, every state and local government has to use real accounting except for Uncle Sam." .....

One item likely to hit the agenda during Mr. Obama's early weeks that the Blue Dogs can be instrumental on is health care. Here Mr. Cooper has some history of his own. Back in 1992 and '93, when HillaryCare was in full throttle, he came up with an alternative plan that attracted wide bipartisan support -- eventually garnering 58 co-sponsors in the House and earning him Mrs. Clinton's wrath. Now, the moment for real reform has arrived. He feels Mr. Obama is in a position to get what would be "the signature achievement of a half-century" done in his first few months.

The plan Mr. Cooper favors is the Wyden-Bennett bill -- named after Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden and Utah GOP Sen. Bob Bennett -- which he says would basically give everyone in American the same coverage Congress has. "There has never been a bill with so much bipartisan support before the swearing in of a new president," he says. "The challenge now for Democrats is whether we let the best be the enemy of the good. There are many Democrats who want a single-payer program."

It's hard to teach old Democrats new tricks. But Mr. Obama didn't campaign on single-payer; he campaigned on a mixed system. Incoming Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Daschle has said in confirmation hearings that he wants a 70-vote majority or better for health-care reform, and not just to squeak by. "Every day we wait risks the end of the honeymoon and failure of this grand initiative," Mr. Cooper advises.

More here


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, January 17, 2009

There is also a conflict between Arab nationalists and Islamists being played out in the M.E.

In Iran, elements from within the regime are reportedly offering a $US1 million ($1.5 million) reward for the assassination of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak because of his opposition to Hamas in the Gaza Strip. In Lebanon, the leader of Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, merely calls for the Egyptian Government's overthrow.

In response to this, the editor-in-chief of the Saudi newspaper Al-Sharq al-Awsat, Tariq Alhomayed, describes Hamas as Tehran's tool and argues: "Iran is a real threat to Arab security." Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit agrees, and he is not alone. When Arab states met to discuss the Gaza crisis, Saudi Arabia vetoed any action. Even the Palestinian Authority blames Hamas for the fighting. Activists in Hamas's Palestinian rival Fatah, which runs the authority, make no secret of their hope that Hamas loses the war.

Welcome to the new Middle East, characterised not just by the Arab-Israeli conflict, but by Arab nationalists versus Islamists. Recognising this reality, the Palestinian Authority and virtually all the Arab countries other than Iran's ally Syria, want to see Hamas defeated in the Gaza Strip. Given their strong interest in thwarting Islamist revolutionary groups, especially those aligned with Iran, the Arab states are not inclined to listen to the "Arab street", which is far quieter than it was during previous conflicts, such as the 1991 war in Kuwait, the 2000-04 Palestinian uprising or the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war.

Today's Middle East is very different from the old one in many significant ways. First, the internal politics of every Arab country revolves around a battle between Arab nationalist rulers and a radical Islamist opposition. In other words, Hamas's allies are the regimes's enemies. An Islamist state in the Gaza Strip would encourage those who seek to create similar entities in Egypt, Jordan and every other Arab country.

A tremendous price has been paid in lives and treasure for this nationalist-Islamist conflict. The violence has included civil wars among the Palestinians and Algerians, massive bloodshed in Iraq and terrorist campaigns in Egypt and Saudi Arabia. In the Palestinian case, after winning an election victory and making a deal with Fatah for a coalition government, Hamas turned on its nationalist rivals and drove them out of Gaza by force. In return, the Palestinian Authority has been repressing Hamas in the West Bank.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah has been trying to bully its more moderate Sunni Muslim, Christian and Druze rivals into submission. And because the Arab states confront an Iran-Syria alliance that includes Hamas and Hezbollah, in addition to the internal conflicts there is a regional battle between these two blocs. A major aspect of this power-struggle is that the largely Sunni Muslim-led states face a largely Shia Muslim-led competitor for regional hegemony. These two struggles pose far greater dangers to the existing states than does any (largely fabricated) Israeli threat, and the region's rulers know it.

On the other side of the divide, Iran and its allies have put forward the banners of jihad and "resistance" to the US and Israel. Their platform includes Islamist revolutions in every country; Iran as the region's dominant state, backed up by nuclear weapons; no peace with Israel, and no Palestinian state until there can be an Islamist one encompassing all of Israel as well as the West Bank and Gaza Strip; and above all the expulsion of Western influence from the region. This is a highly ambitious program and probably impossible to achieve. Nevertheless, it is a prescription for endless terrorism and war. Both pro-Iranian and anti-Iranian Islamists believe that because God is on their side and their enemies are cowardly, they will win -- and they are quite prepared to spend the next half-century trying to prove it.

Although this seems to be a pessimistic assessment of the regional situation, the radical Islamist side has many weaknesses. Launching losing wars may make Islamists feel good, but being defeated is a costly proposition, because their arrogance and belligerence antagonises many who might otherwise be won over to their cause. And the situation provides a good opportunity for Western policy makers.

The emphasis should be on building coalitions among the relatively moderate Arab states threatened by radical Islamist forces, and on working hard to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons, a goal that is in the interests of many in the region. The worst mistake would be to follow the opposite policy, making an inevitably futile effort to appease the extremists or seek to moderate them. Such a campaign actually disheartens the relative moderates who, feeling sold out, will try to cut their own deal with Tehran.

The crisis in Gaza is only one aspect of the much wider battle shaking the region. Helping Hamas would empower radical Islamism and Iranian ambitions, and undercut the Palestinian Authority and everyone else, not just Israel. Arab states don't want to help their worst enemy, so why should anyone else?



The difference


Obama the Bushite

By Charles Krauthammer

Except for Richard Nixon, no president since Harry Truman has left office more unloved than George W. Bush. Truman's rehabilitation took decades. Bush's will come sooner. Indeed, it has already begun. The chief revisionist? Barack Obama. Vindication is being expressed not in words but in deeds -- the tacit endorsement conveyed by the Obama continuity-we-can-believe-in transition. It's not just the retention of such key figures as Defense Secretary Bob Gates or Treasury Secretary nominee Timothy Geithner, who, as president of the New York Fed, has been instrumental in guiding the Bush financial rescue over the past year. It's the continuity of policy.

It is the repeated pledge to conduct a withdrawal from Iraq that does not destabilize its new democracy and that, as Vice President-elect Joe Biden said just this week in Baghdad, adheres to the Bush-negotiated status-of-forces agreement that envisions a U.S. withdrawal over three years, not the 16-month timetable on which Obama campaigned.

It is the great care Obama is taking in not preemptively abandoning the anti-terror infrastructure that the Bush administration leaves behind. While still a candidate, Obama voted for the expanded presidential wiretapping (FISA) powers that Bush had fervently pursued. And while Obama opposes waterboarding (already banned, by the way, by Bush's CIA in 2006), he declined George Stephanopoulos's invitation (on ABC's "This Week") to outlaw all interrogation not permitted by the Army Field Manual. Explained Obama: "Dick Cheney's advice was good, which is let's make sure we know everything that's being done," i.e., before throwing out methods simply because Obama campaigned against them.

Obama still disagrees with Cheney's view of the acceptability of some of these techniques. But citing as sage the advice offered by "the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history" (according to Joe Biden) -- advice paraphrased by Obama as "we shouldn't be making judgments on the basis of incomplete information or campaign rhetoric" -- is a startlingly early sign of a newly respectful consideration of the Bush-Cheney legacy.

Not from any change of heart. But from simple reality. The beauty of democratic rotations of power is that when the opposition takes office, cheap criticism and calumny will no longer do. The Democrats now own Iraq. They own the war on al-Qaeda. And they own the panoply of anti-terror measures with which the Bush administration kept us safe these past seven years.

Which is why Obama is consciously creating a gulf between what he now dismissively calls "campaign rhetoric" and the policy choices he must make as president. Accordingly, Newsweek -- Obama acolyte and scourge of everything Bush/Cheney -- has on the eve of the Democratic restoration miraculously discovered the arguments for warrantless wiretaps, enhanced interrogation and detention without trial. Indeed, Newsweek's neck-snapping cover declares, "Why Obama May Soon Find Virtue in Cheney's Vision of Power." Obama will be loath to throw away the tools that have kept the homeland safe. Just as he will be loath to jeopardize the remarkable turnaround in American fortunes in Iraq.

Obama opposed the war. But the war is all but over. What remains is an Iraq turned from aggressive, hostile power in the heart of the Middle East to an emerging democracy openly allied with the United States. No president would want to be responsible for undoing that success.

In Iraq, Bush rightly took criticism for all that went wrong -- the WMD fiasco, Abu Ghraib, the descent into bloody chaos in 2005-06. Then Bush goes to Baghdad to ratify the ultimate post-surge success of that troubled campaign -- the signing of a strategic partnership between the United States and Iraq -- and ends up dodging two size 10 shoes for his pains. Absorbing that insult was Bush's final service on Iraq. Whatever venom the war generated is concentrated on Bush himself. By having personalized the responsibility for the awfulness of the war, Bush has done his successor a favor. Obama enters office with a strategic success on his hands -- while Bush leaves the scene taking a shoe for his country.

Which I suspect is why Bush showed such equanimity during a private farewell interview at the White House a few weeks ago. He leaves behind the sinews of war, for the creation of which he has been so vilified but which will serve his successor -- and his country -- well over the coming years. The very continuation by Democrats of Bush's policies will be grudging, if silent, acknowledgment of how much he got right.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, January 16, 2009

Solve the Arab refugee problem and you solve the conflict

The most insightful article posted in the last week is Ending the West's Proxy War Against Israel which is subtitled Stop funding a Palestinian youth bulge, and the fighting will stop too. This article, from the WSJ Europe, focuses on the disease and not the symptoms.
The reason for Gaza's endless youth bulge is that a large majority of its population does not have to provide for its offspring. Most babies are fed, clothed, vaccinated and educated by UNRWA. UNRWA is benevolently funded by the U.S. (31%) and the European Union (nearly 50%) - only 7% of the funds come from Muslim sources. Thanks to the West's largesse, nearly the entire population of Gaza lives in a kind of lowly but regularly paid dependence. One result of this unlimited welfare is an endless population boom.

Between 1950 and 2008, Gaza's population has grown from 240,000 to 1.5 million. The West basically created a new Near Eastern people in Gaza that at current trends will reach three million in 2040. Within that period, Gazans may alter the justifications and directions of their aggression but are unlikely to stop the aggression itself.

The West pays for food, schools, medicine and housing, while Muslim nations help out with the military hardware. Unrestrained by such necessities as having to earn a living, the young have plenty of time on their hands for digging tunnels, smuggling, assembling missiles and firing 4,500 of them at Israel since 2006.

The current situation can only get worse. Israel is being pushed into a corner. Gazan teenagers have no future other than war. One rocket master killed is immediately replaced by three young men for whom a martyr's death is no less honorable than victory. Some 230,000 Gazan males, aged 15 to 29, who are available for the battlefield now, will be succeeded by 360,000 boys under 15 (45% of all Gazan males) who could be taking up arms within the coming 15 years. As long as we continue to subsidize Gaza's extreme demographic armament, young Palestinians will likely continue killing their brothers or neighbors.

So it really doesn't matter how much the IDF beats up on Hamas, or controls the Philidelphi Corridor or disarms Hamas, the long term problem remains. Of course the more it does, the more the short term problem of rockets is dealt with. And we can forget about expelling the Arabs from Gaza because they could only flee to the Sinai and Egypt would go to war against Israel to prevent it. Nor will the rest of the world be more amenable to accepting Gazans as refugees. Who among them has offered to take in the inmates in Guantanamo Bay?

Even creating Palestine is not an answer. It would serve to relocate a million "refugees" to Palestine thereby increasing the problem. The problem being that the policies of the West are instrumental in supporting a population explosion which vastly exceeds the creation of jobs. Is the world that stupid or do they have a different agenda.
And yet, despite claiming that it wants to bring peace to the region, the West continues to make the population explosion in Gaza worse every year. By generously supporting UNRWA's budget, the West assists a rate of population increase that is 10 times higher than in their own countries. Much is being said about Iran waging a proxy war against Israel by supporting Hezbollah and Hamas. One may argue that by fueling Gaza's untenable population explosion, the West unintentionally finances a war by proxy against the Jews of Israel.

I am not so naive. UNRWA and Palestine, are intended as a war against Israel. David Gelernter suggests in The answer to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.and I agree with him
"The problem will be solved as soon as the world stops trying to solve it. When the international community moves on to fresh causes, so will the Palestinians."

The problem can only be solved by the U.N. replacing UNRWA and with UNHCR whose mandate it is to resettle refugees. This of course means that the Arabs and the West have to take such refugees in.
[..] it (the West) may consider offering immigration to those young Palestinians only born because of the West's well-meant but cruelly misguided aid. In the decades to come, North America and Europe will have to take in tens of millions of immigrants anyway to slow the aging of their populations. If, say, 200,000 of them are taken from the 360,000 boys coming of age in Gaza in the next 15 years, that would be a negligible move for the big democracies but a quantum leap for peace in the Near East.

Why not take all of them in and then some. Solve the refugee problem and you solve the conflict.



Deranged NYT hatred of the military

As usual for the Left, any lie will do

In a front-page article on Jan. 2 of this year, The New York Times took a brief respite from its ongoing canonization of Barack Obama and returned to its series on violent crimes committed by returning GIs, or as I call it: "U.S. Military, Psycho Killers."

The Treason Times' banner series about Iraq and Afghanistan veterans accused of murder began in January last year but was quickly discontinued as readers noticed that the Times doggedly refused to provide any statistics comparing veteran murders with murders in any other group. So they waited a year, hoping readers wouldn't notice they were still including no relevant comparisons. What, for example, is the percentage of murderers among veterans compared to the percentage of murderers in the population at large -- or, more germane, in the general population of young males, inasmuch as violent crime is committed almost exclusively by young men? Any group composed primarily of young men will contain a seemingly mammoth number of murderers.

Consider the harmless fantasy game, Dungeons and Dragons -- which happens to be played almost exclusively by young males. When murders were committed in the '80s by (1) young men, who were (2) Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts, some people concluded that factor (2), rather than factor (1), led to murderous tendencies. Similarly, for its series about how America's bravest and finest young men are really a gang of psychopathic cutthroats, the Times triumphantly produced 121 homicides committed by veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars in order to pin the blame for the murders on the U.S. military.

Perhaps the Times' next major expose could be on how a huge percentage of murderers are people who won't ask for directions or share the TV remote.

Let's compare murders by veterans to murders by other 18- to 35-year-olds in the U.S. population at large. From 1976 to 2005, 18- to 24-year-olds -- both male and more gentle females -- committed homicide at a rate of 29.9 per 100,000. Twenty-five- to 35-year-olds committed homicides at a rate of 15.8 per 100,000. Since 9/11, about 1.6 million troops have served in either Iraq or Afghanistan. That makes the homicide rate among veterans of these wars 7.6 per 100,000 -- or about one-third the homicide rate for their age group (18 to 35) in the general population of both sexes.

But fewer than 200,000 of the 1.6 million troops who served in Iraq and Afghanistan have been women, and the murder rate for the general population includes both males and females. Inasmuch as males commit nearly 90 percent of all murders, the rate for males in those age groups is probably nearly double the male/female combined rates, which translates to about 30 to 55 murderers per 100,000 males aged 18 to 35. So comparing the veterans' rate of murder to only their male counterparts in the general population, we see that Iraq and Afghanistan veterans are about 10 times less likely to commit a murder than non-veterans of those wars.

More here


BrookesNews Update

Obama's public spending program will bea very expensive farce: Sound economics and the lessons of history do not support Obama's claim that government spending is the cure for recession and unemployment. Nevertheless, his ignorant slavish supporters in the media will continue to pump out his dangerous nonsense as the right medicine
The Reserve's fallacious monetary theory got us into this mess : We have a financial crisis and a deepening recession because central banks really do not have a sound monetary theory. They do not even have a grasp of the true nature and power of money. The result is the present mess in which ignorant grandstanding politicians like Obama promise to do the impossible
Labour markets, economic growth and journalistic stupidity : America and Australia are facing a renewed union bureaucracy whose economic fallacies are destructive of capital and jobs. The only way to deal with its politically motivated claptrap is to make the public aware of just how dangerous it is to the country's economic welfare
Carbon Tax: The lesser of two evils : Greenie thugs and their political allies successfully intimidate Exxon Mobil into accepting the economically destructive carbon tax to curb 'global warming' - even as Europe and much of the US freezes. (A cultist is someone who is oblivious to any facts - even when they are physical and stand in plain view - that contradict his fundamental beliefs)
Wow! Israel is back! : Israel finally strikes back at Hamas barbarism - and about time. No matter what, Israel shouldn't give any credence to what the world has to say when it comes to the Jewish state defending itself . I know what would happen if the residents of Tijuana would suddenly start lobbing rockets into San Diego
Castroism at 50 : The Castro gang took over, Cuba, one the world's most prosperous countries, and turned it into a gigantic slum. They drained political prisoners of their blood before murdering them, they shot children, they built a Gulag, they funded terrorism and tried to start a world war. And these murderous sadists are adored by the media and Hollywood intellectuals. The left is well and truly diseased
Blagojevich scandal exposes the Democrats' hypocrisy : The Blagojevich scandal is a running sore that reveals systemic corruption in the Democratic Party and its utter contempt for genuine Democratic principles. If the US mainstream media were not itself utterly corrupt it would have long ago exposed the depraved state of Chicago's Democratic politics and the politicians like Obama to whom it gave birth"
Obama's stimulus plan heading for trouble before it even starts : By completely misunderstanding economic history Obama has come to believe that state spending is the road to prosperity - never mind the lessons of history, especially the embarrassing fact that this policy failed Roosevelt and also recently failed in Japan. And yet this 'brilliant man' and a leader of the 'reality-based community' genuinely believes otherwise


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Gaza-Egypt Smuggling Tunnels Must Be Closed


When Israelis look back on what caused the current conflict in Gaza, they point to their government's decision in September 2005 to leave the narrow "Philadelphi Route" that runs along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt's Sinai Peninsula. More than Israel's disengagement from the Strip as a whole, the abandonment of this strategic area made full-scale war inevitable.

The 1994 Gaza-Jericho Agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization placed this 100-meter wide corridor, which separated the Egyptian side of the town of Rafah from the Palestinian side in Gaza, under Israeli military control. (The Israeli army gave it the code name "Philadelphi.") By 2000, local Palestinians, many of whom worked with Hamas, dug underground tunnels between the two halves of Rafah. The tunnels allowed for a lucrative smuggling trade that included weapons.

Admittedly, there were rocket attacks on Israel before the Gaza pullout (the first Qassam rocket was fired in 2001). However, the scale of the attacks totally changed after the withdrawal. Rocket attacks increased by 500% (from 179 in 2005 to 946 in 2006). The range of Hamas's rockets also increased following the withdrawal. Locally manufactured Qassams, which could reach targets seven kilometers away, gave way to Grad/Katyusha rockets supplied by Iran that can hit as far as 20 kilometers. These were first used in 2006. During 2008, rockets with a 40-kilometer range came through the Gaza tunnels and into Hamas's weapons cache.

At the same time that the tunnels facilitated weapons smuggling, they also allowed hundreds of Hamas operatives to leave Gaza for Egypt, where they caught planes to Iran and underwent military training with the Revolutionary Guards at a base outside of Tehran. When Israel controlled the Philadelphi Route, its special forces waged a constant battle and kept the number of tunnels low. But by 2008, with Israeli access to the Philadelphi route cut off and measures against the tunnels halted, the number of tunnels proliferated into the hundreds.

Today, Israelis are concerned that even if Hamas is defeated militarily, its stocks of rockets will be fully replenished by Iran in a matter of months unless the tunnels under the Philadelphi Route are addressed. That is precisely what happened with Hezbollah after the 2006 Lebanon War. The United Nations Security Council cease-fire, Resolution 1701, failed to deal adequately with the rearming of the Lebanese Shiite group. Today, Hezbollah has more rockets threatening Israel than it had prior to the 2006 war. In the case of Hamas, there is an added concern that Iran will supply rockets that reach well beyond the 40-kilometer range. In the next war, Hamas could strike Tel Aviv from inside the Gaza Strip.

How can Israel cut off the smuggling routes? In 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice proposed border controls for the Rafah area. This completely failed because the European Union monitors deployed in Rafah ran away the moment there was an escalation of violence. Today the idea of a new EU monitoring force -- a proposal Western diplomats are discussing -- does not engender much confidence on the Israeli side. Others are hoping that Egypt will take seriously its obligations to close off the smuggling routes from its side. Egypt has failed to do so since 2005. Why should we expect a change now?

If these options fail, Israel may be left with no choice but to enter the Philadelphi Route and continue to destroy these tunnels in the future. Anticipating the end of the Gaza war, there is already talk about the next stage of the Arab-Israeli peace process. Some hope that the peace process can simply be picked up where it was left off and pursued with new determination. But the crisis over the Philadelphi Route has taught Israel a bitter lesson about relinquishing critical territory: It was a cardinal error to leave this strategic zone at the perimeter of Gaza, even if Israel wanted to get out of the Strip in its entirety. Israeli leaders including Yitzhak Rabin have warned that Israel must never leave the Jordan Valley, the equivalent perimeter zone in the West Bank.

Ariel Sharon saw the Jordan Valley as an integral part of Israel's claim to "defensible borders," a term used by President Bush in an April 2004 letter to Israel, that was overwhelmingly backed in special legislation by bipartisan majorities in both houses of U.S. Congress during June 2004. President-elect Barack Obama publicly recognized Israel's right to "defensible borders" at the annual American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) policy conference last year.

The strategic stakes involved in this issue are enormous. Were Israel to be stripped of the Jordan Valley, it would undoubtedly face a massive escalation of weapons smuggling into the West Bank. Should the scale of the smuggling reach the same proportions as in Gaza, it is doubtful that even the Jordanians, motivated by the best of intentions, could bring it to a halt. Moreover, a steady stream of weapons smugglers and Islamist volunteers crossing the kingdom would undermine Jordanian security.

Diplomats are working feverishly to seal off the Philadelphi Route and bring an end to the current Gaza conflict. Let's hope they remember the critical importance of securing Israel's other borders -- for the sake of Israel's security, and for the stability of its neighbors.



United under the swastika in Canada

Critics of Israel are often quick to insist that they're not anti-Semitic-just anti-Zionist, anti-"occupation," or something along those lines. But not these guys: at a protest against Israel in downtown Calgary on the weekend, the Nazi group, the Aryan Guard, showed up to march alongside the Muslims. Of course, the Aryan Guard is honest enough to admit they just plain hate Jews, not bothering to strain themselves with arguments of nuance. They fit right in on Saturday with their posters of Israeli flags defaced with the accusation "Terror State." As Darcey at Dust My Broom notes, the 150 "anti-racists" who came out in force to protest an Aryan Guard march in downtown Calgary last year didn't complain this time. In fact, they marched right along with the Aryans, united under the swastika: the Arabs and Communists labeling the Jewish State a "Nazi" regime; the skinheads hoping to resurrect the Real McCoy.

Event organizer Shadi Abuid-who last made news a few years back as a university student when he brought to Calgary Norman Finkelstein, the popular anti-Israel author of "The Holocaust Industry"-told Canwest Global he was impressed with the "various groups uniting under one voice." He explained that he had "directly told" the neo-Nazis that he'd prefer they didn't join the march. "But in these demonstrations you can control the crowd but you can't control the emotions . . . you can't deny people's right to walk," he shrugged.

That's true. Except, many of the same organizers behind Saturday's march attempted to deny the freedom-to-demonstrate of an Israeli supporter just the other week. At a protest in front of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's constituency office in southwest Calgary January 2nd, Gazan supporters called the cops to complain when one man showed up waving an Israeli flag. There were 150 pro-Palestinian protestors, but the single Israeli supporter was told by police that he must leave or be charged with "inciting civil disorder," according to this account (with photos). Protestors reportedly cursed at and threw shoes at the man.

The anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-whatever protestors should indeed get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to accusations of being Jew-haters. But attempting to suppress the rights of Israel's supporters, while standing up for the rights of Nazis to march alongside them arm-in-arm, can only make drawing that distinction a lot more difficult.




Punditarian and I are still having an enjoyable debate about Jewish questions -- but on his blog rather than here. He shows a surprising depth of interest in the Christian scriptures and, like me, takes that all the way back to the original Greek. We are both language freaks, basically. It's something to think about that one of the NY Ashkenazim and an atheist of Scottish Protestant background in a backwater on the opposite side of the globe actually get on very well. I am glad to have made his acquaintance. We don't entirely agree, of course, but it would be boring if we did. From Hegel on, only Leftists glorify marching along in lockstep. Conservatives value the individual.

There is a new rather intellectual blog up called Symbol Pond that readers who have time to spare may enjoy.

Dick McDonald is back online, fighting the good fight against America's corrupt Social Security system. The time will come under the present arrangements when even the elderly will have to work -- with only the sick and the disabled excused.

German police chief apologizes over flag incident: "After the Duisburg police removed an Israeli flag during a demonstration against Israel, there was an uproar. The Duisburg police chief has described the action as wrong. On Sunday the action was brought up in the State parliament. Duisburg's Police chief Rolf Cebin apologized on Sunday for the removal of an Israeli flag in the context of a demonstration against the Gaza war. "I deeply regret that the feelings -- particularly of Jewish citizens -- were hurt". Several police officers broke down a door in Duisburg on Saturday in order to access a dwelling where several Israeli flags were hanging out the window. The house was on the route of a demonstration against the military action of Israel. The demonstrators felt provoked by the flag and threw stones and lumps of ice at the building, said the police. In order to prevent property damage and the escalation of the situation, the police leadership present decided to remove the flag" [Translation by JR. An original report of the action is here]

Obama's Recession Remedy: Tax the Poor! : "Everybody's going to have to give," President-elect Barack Obama warned over the weekend. And some people will have to give more than others -- starting with low-income smokers. Democrats are rushing this week to impose massive tax hikes of at least 61 cents on every cigarette pack sold in America, in addition to new increases on other tobacco products. The money will fund a long-plotted federal expansion of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP). Yes, this is Dr. Big Nanny's prescription for recession: punitive tax increases on the poor to feed a universal health care Trojan horse. Obama and his liberal Democratic colleagues sure have a funny way of demonstrating "progressive" values, don't they? Health surveys show that smokers are more likely to be blue-collar workers, minorities and have less than a high-school education

Regulation gives people a false sense of security: "The $50-billion investment scam allegedly pulled off by Wall Street insider Bernard Madoff has ignited predictable calls for more regulation. The "massive fraud ... was made possible in part because the regulators who were assigned to oversee Wall Street dropped the ball," said President-elect Obama. Notice the disconnect. Regulation failed, so we need more regulation. I see it differently. Regulation failed, so let's try free markets. That would be a change. Regulation did indeed fail. "An executive in the securities industry, Harry Markopolos, contacted the SEC's Boston office in May 1999, urging regulators to investigate Mr. Madoff. Mr. Markopolos continued to pursue his accusations over the past nine years," The Wall Street Journal reported. We've always been told that regulation of financial markets protects the least knowledgeable investors. Sophisticated people know what they are doing and can fend for themselves. But Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme is fascinating precisely because it caught some very knowledgeable people. They knew Madoff. Everyone trusted him, including the regulators.

Netanyahu: Hamas must be toppled: Former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday that Israel must remove Gaza's Hamas rulers from power to ensure victory over "terror." He expressed full support for his country's punishing, 18-day offensive against the militants _ even though it is being conducted by politicians who are running against him in Feb. 10 elections. "At the end of the day there will be no alternative but to bring down the regime of Hamas, a terrorist organization pledged to our destruction," Netanyahu told foreign reporters in Jerusalem. Netanyahu, a top contender to become prime minister in next month's vote, said toppling Hamas would not necessarily have to be part of the current offensive, but would eventually have to happen.

Obama's Math Doesn't Add Up : "Even economists who agree with Barack Obama that we need another stimulus are questioning his exuberant predictions that his spending plan will produce or save 3.7 million jobs. That number was contained in the upwardly revised job-creation figures that economic advisers Jared Bernstein and Christina Romer came out with this week in an effort to boost congressional support for Obama's costly stimulus package amid growing skepticism that it will work.

Obama's death tax deadly for jobs: "The news today that Obama and Senate Democrats will move to block the death tax from phasing out as scheduled under current law flies in the face of everything they've been saying about not raising taxes during an economic crisis. It also will undermine their promise to help create jobs, because the death tax destroys as many as 250,000 jobs every year by forcing family businesses to liquidate their assets to pay the tax. These forced liquidations also contribute to the decline in asset values. When we should be lowering barriers to capital formation to cushion the blow of the credit liquidation cycle, it looks like Obama and Senate Democrats are doing the opposite, because they just can't let go of their anti-growth, anti-jobs, tax-the-rich impulse when it comes to the death tax.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A defender of hopeless causes?

I think there is a saint for hopeless causes. I will have to look him up and shoot him a prayer. I think I need him.

My mother told me once that when I was a kid and she asked me if I had done something naughty I would always admit that I had. She said that I was so honest that she never had the heart to punish me. I sometimes wonder if that honesty is a curse. It sure gets me into a lot of trouble. I am always blowing the whistle on popular beliefs that I can see to be wrong -- as my GREENIE WATCH and FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC blogs attest. If I went with the flow, I would have a lot more fame and fortune, I think. But I do pretty well anyway. My latest bit of skepticism is:

"Some people even believe that William Zantzinger killed poor Hattie Carroll"

And I am sure that we can all remember Bob Dylan (aka Shabtai Zisel ben Avraham) singing that accusation in his nasal voice. But as far as I can see, Zantzinger was innocent. "Zantzinger" is a marvellous name to conjure with (Dylan even invented a "diamond ring finger" to rhyme with it) so no wonder Dylan was tempted but even Dylan's biographer says that the song was a libel:
The Dylan song followed him around his whole life, though he steadfastly refused to talk about it with reporters. In 2001 Bob Dylan biographical Howard Sounes actually got a quote out of him. "[Dylan] is a no-account song a bitch," Zantzinger said. "He's just like a scum bag of the earth. I should have sued him and put him in jail. [The song is] a total lie." Clinton Heylin - perhaps the world's authority on all things Dylan - seems to agree. "Dylan's concern was not the fact themselves but how they might fit with his preconceived notions of injustice and corruption," he wrote in Behind The Shades. "That the song itself is a masterpiece of drama and wordplay does not excuse Dylan's distortions, and 36 years on he continues to misrepresent poor William Zantzinger in concert."

What actually happened seems to be that Zantzinger was drunk after a celebration and did insult the lady and tap her on the shoulder with a toy cane but that did not kill her. She died several hours later of her chronic medical condition: hypertension, arteriosclerosis and a burst cerebral aneurism -- a "stroke" in popular parlance. Zantzinger was convicted of manslaughter because his actions were deemed to have brought on the stroke but that is speculation. Clearly, if the woman had been in normal health, nothing would have happened. So the light sentence Zantzinger received reflected his very low level of culpability rather than anything more sinister. If the court had really been "racist" or even fair, it would not have convicted him of anything at all. And Zantzinger's continued good standing in his community can also be seen as a judgement about his innocence rather than as evidence of "racism" Who among us has not committed indiscretions while drunk?

Hey! Aren't the Lefty whiners who monitor me going to love this one! I wrote the last sentence above ("Who among us...) with them in mind. They will surely use it as a summary of what I say about Zantzinger. Leftists love to quote out of context. The whole truth is generally too destructive of their simplistic ideas. I should have mentioned previously that my fellow Brisbane conservative blogger Leon Bertrand gives the whiners concerned a hard time occasionally.


Olmert has balls after all

Israel will hit Hamas with an "iron fist" if the Islamist movement does not halt its rocket fire against the Jewish state, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned on Monday. "We want to end the operation when the two conditions we have demanded are met: ending the rocket fire and stopping Hamas's rearmament. If these two conditions are met, we will end our operation in Gaza," Olmert said in a speech in the southern town of Ashkelon. "Anything else will meet the iron fist of the Israeli people, who are no longer ready to tolerate the Qassams (rockets)." "Will it take time? Let it take time. We will continue as long as necessary in order to remove this threat," the premier added.

Israel launched a massive operation against the Hamas-ruled territory on December 27 with the declared goal of halting the near-daily rocket fire from Gaza against southern Israel, which has killed four people since the start of the offensive. Israel has conditioned the end of the operation, which has claimed the lives of more than 900 Palestinians, on a complete halt to rocket fire and arms smuggling from Egypt into Gaza. Ashkelon, a port city situated around a dozen kilometres from Gaza, has been hit by dozens of Qassams since the start of the offensive.



Prof. Barry Rubin sums up the present situation, writing from Israel:

Israel's resolve is unbreakable. May I point out that it took far less than seven years from September 11 to the election of Senator Obama. Three thousand dead civilian Americans did not sustain majority support for a war against terrorism all that long. From Le Monde's "we are all Americans" to its "we are all anti-Americans" (actually it took about a month). You can depend on Israel but can we depend on you (I speak nationally not of you as individuals, of course.).

We have some of our staff fighting in Gaza at this moment. Volunteering for combat units is at incredibly high levels and I know--because they told me so--that my children are ready to follow this tradition. We are putting in 17-hour workdays to try to combat the lies. Many families like us have volunteered to take people from the south into our homes to live with us if they want to leave to avoid the rocket fire. But guess what? Hardly anyone has agreed to leave their homes despite the rockets being shot at them. Except for a handful of extreme left academics and writers for Haaretz (who naturally have the op-ed columns of American and European newspapers opened to them) the country is united. It has no illusions about radical Islamism or Iran. It will be ready, if necessary, to attack Iranian nuclear installations (unless President Obama talks Tehran out of it, which gives you some sense of the outcome).

So please don't underestimate Israelis and their resolve, especially while our people are fighting thirty miles from where I am writing this. This is not your conception of Israel as of, say, 1995. A huge majority supports the war--and that's not just verbal but putting their lives on the line. One month from today Israelis will elect Bibi Netanyahu--not Senator Obama or Nicholas Sarkozy--as leader of the country. So please keep in mind where the criticism should be put, even as the secretary-general of the UN who embraced Iran's president compares Israel to Nazi Germany and when we don't know whether we can even depend on the United States to support us ten days from today.


Guess Who Cares about Dead Palestinians? Jews!

For those individuals -- such as nearly all members of the world news media -- who, in light of Israels invasion of Gaza -- see moral equivalence between Israel and the Palestinians, here are some clarifying thoughts. First, it would be difficult nearly to the point of impossibility, to find Israeli or other Jews who celebrate the deaths of Palestinian civilians. Jews both within and outside of Israel cringe when they see pictures of dead Palestinian men, women, and children in Gaza. For thousands of years at their Passover seders, Jews have removed wine from their cups to ceremonially weep for the Egyptians -- their erstwhile slave owners for 400 years -- who died during the Jews exodus. Jews have never stopped weeping for enemies.

The opposite is the case with the large majority of Palestinians. It would be quite difficult to find many Palestinians who do not celebrate the deaths of Israeli Jews or non-Israeli Jews. This is not only reflected in Palestinian polls that show majority support for terrorism -- and terrorism means killing innocent Jews -- it is also reflected in Palestinian media, Palestinian schools, and Palestinian mosques that routinely glorify murderers of Jews, and refer to all Jews as monkeys and the like.

Take for example, Palestinian reaction to the 2001 Palestinian terror bombing of a Jerusalem Sbarro pizzeria in which 15 Jews, five of whom were two sets of parents and their children, were murdered and an additional 130 people were injured, some permanently maimed. As reported by the Associated Press, a month later, Palestinian university students opened an exhibition that included a grisly re-enactment of that mass murder. The students built a replica of the Sbarro pizzeria, with fake blood, splattered pizza, a plastic hand dangling from the ceiling, and a fake severed leg wearing jeans and a bloody black sneaker. The exhibit also includes a large rock in front of a mannequin wearing the black hat, black jacket and black trousers typically worn by ultra-Orthodox Jews. A recording from inside the rock calls out: O believer, there is a Jewish man behind me. Come and kill him, paraphrasing a verse in the Koran. It became a popular tourist attraction for Palestinians, to which Palestinian parents took their little children.

Here's the question: Can anyone even imagine Jews, in Israel or anywhere else on earth -- no matter how right-wing they are politically or religiously -- doing something analogous to celebrate the death of Palestinian civilians? I have spoken to Jewish groups on both U.S. coasts since the Israeli invasion of Gaza, and when the subject of Palestinian civilian deaths is mentioned, all I hear is regret and sadness.

This moral chasm that separates Israel from its enemies, and separates the Jews from their enemies, merely confirms what Hamas repeatedly says about itself: We love death more than the Jews love life. This motto is so true that Hamas not only doesnt weep for dead Israelis, it doesnt weep for dead Palestinians. It uses living Palestinians as human shields and uses dead Palestinians as propaganda. The moral disequilibrium is such that Jews weep for dead Palestinian far more than Hamas does.

The second point to be raised is about perspective. If during World War II, Western news media had reported German and Japanese civilian casualties in the same detail and with the same sympathy they report Palestinian civilian casualties in Gaza, it is doubtful that the Nazis and the Japanese militarists would have lost that war. Certainly, at the very least, the anti-Nazi, anti-Fascist war effort would have been severely compromised.

The analogy is entirely apt. Hamas is on the same moral level as the two World War II enemies. Do those who condemn Israel for its attacks on Hamas fighters that have tragically resulted in hundreds of civilian Palestinian deaths also condemn the Allied bombings of German and Japanese military targets that resulted in far more civilian deaths? I suspect not since most critics of Israel still regard World War II as a moral war. The overriding issue, therefore, is whether fighting Hamas is moral. If it is, then the unintended death of Palestinian civilians is a tragedy, not an evil (except on the part of Hamas, because it situates its fighters and its missiles among civilians, including schools).

Third, if Hamas had the same ability to bomb Israel as Israel has to bomb Gaza, would the number of Jewish civilians be in the hundreds? Or would there be the Holocaust in Israel that Hamas and its Iranian sponsors dream of? The answer is so obvious that this consideration alone renders moral Israels war to destroy Hamas. In a short period of time Hamas will have more accurate missiles and longer-range ones. One of them could kill a thousand or more. Another one could destroy passenger planes coming into Ben-Gurion Airport, thereby causing foreign airlines to stop flying into Israel. It is that inevitability that Israel is fighting to prevent. But in the morally confused world we live in, only with thousands of Israelis dead, would Israels invasion of Gaza be proportional, and therefore acceptable. But Israel is more interested in living with world condemnation than in dying with world sympathy.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Jews and I

I must be a madman to have embarked on a series of posts about "Who is a Jew?" That question is probably the most widely debated one among Jews themselves and the various answers to it have on occasions led to shouting matches in the Knesset. So what makes me think I can add anything to it? I actually never did think that I was making any original contribution. All I did, as far as I can see, was boil down the Orthodox view to one sentence ("You are a Jew either because of your own religion or the religion of one of your recent forebears"). But boiling down anything theological is a peril, of course.

Anyway, I think I am going to have to put a stop to it. While I have had an excellent and enjoyable correspondence with Jewish readers about the matter, I fear that I might be boring my Gentile readers to death. So I have decided that I will cease and desist from such posts for the foreseeable future.

I have always been favourably impressed by what I read about Jews and have at times thought it would be good to be one. I am too attached to a part of my anatomy to do anything about it, however. So when my son turned 13 I asked him if he would like me to arrange a version of a bar mitzvah for him. He replied firmly that No, he wanted to remain a kid as long as possible. I understood completely. When I was his age I thought that going out and working for your living looked too hard. I would much rather be looked after by someone else. I grew out of that in due course, as has my son. Those who don't grow out of it we call Leftists.



A very special man: "On December 8th an F/A-18D Marine Hornet fighter jet crashed into Dong Yun Yoon's home while he was at work and killed his wife, mother –in-law and his two baby girls. The pilot of the fighter jet was able to eject and parachute to safety just before the crash. On that day, Dong Yun Yoon held a press conference. Mr. Yoon did not announce a lawsuit; he did not complain about flight patterns or military air bases or lash out at the world as many people would. Mr. Yoon prayed for the Marine pilot. Mr. Yoon said "I pray for him not to suffer for this action," "I know he's one of our treasures for our country." I don't have any hard feelings," "I know he did everything he could." Having just lost three generations of his family, Mr. Yoon, a Christian, and a devout member of the Korean United Methodist Church in San Diego found room in his heart to worry about the pilot. I wish I were a better writer. I wish I had the ability to express the impact Mr. Yoon's words had on me. In his terrible sorrow, Mr. Yoon gave us a glimpse of the light. I saw the light and I was ashamed." [See also here].

Pandering to racism in Germany: "German cops, worried that an Israeli flag in an apartment window might incite vile, racist scumbag demonstrators, solve the problem by breaking into the apartment and removing the flag. There are only two possible explanations for this. First, these German cops want to suppress expressions of support for Israel. This strikes me as a bad public relations and an offense to international human rights law. Now, I have little good to say about international "human rights" law, but Europeans claim to venerate it. Go figure. Second, the Germans have such contempt for the ability of the Muslim demonstrators to control their emotions that they do not trust them to respond non-violently even to such a benign symbol as a flag in a window. Not only are these German cops pandering to the racism of the protestors, but they themselves are racist in their obvious assumption that Muslims will resort to violence at the slightest provocation".

The race card returns: "We live in hopeful times - we are Americans after all - and we should be thinking hopeful thoughts. On the historically depressing topic of race relations, we've been in a particularly hopeful place in the wake of the last election. But if you need a gauge of exactly how anomalous Obama and his campaign were in the context of race, all you have to do is watch the chaos that now surrounds the process by which he will be replaced in the Senate. Roland Burris will be, and rightly so, the next senator from Illinois. Despite all the bluster, the law and the politics are on his side, and the Senate will eventually have to seat him. The Democratic leadership has essentially conceded as much, but from the moment Gov. Rod Blagojevich named Burris, the fog of blatant, heavy-handed racial politics was going to be the insurance policy that would guarantee Burris, Obama's seat."

Britain as a land of fear: "It seems to have taken just over 50 years for the reach of the state to become near ubiquitous. There's little any of us do now that does not involve the parasitic actions and attitudes of it; ultimately we have a malignant monkey on our backs. We have become servile in our acceptance of state actions, but recently (partly as a response to the heavy handed reaction to terrorism and its presumption of all citizens being equally guilty) the heavy fisted approach has spread further."

A new circus comes to town : "Is it too soon to talk about the failed Obama presidency just because Obama isn't president yet? That depends upon how quickly Barack Obama is able to apply the lessons he's learned from Management Secrets of the Illinois Governors. So far he's not doing very well. He has allowed America's current number one jackleg, crackpot, smut-mouth, slime-licking politician to give the Obama Senate seat to a lovable old African-American doofus whom no one has the heart to execrate. Roland Burris will be the kind of ornament to this year's Senate that the broken plastic Rudolph with its antlers missing was to last year's Christmas tree. Then Obama took Bill Richardson - one of his earliest important supporters and among the smartest, most experienced, and, certainly, most affable of Washington insiders - and put Bill at the Department of Commerce."

The problem, informally stated : "I see that our president-to-be has told George Stephanopoulos that: `Everybody's going to have to give. Everybody's going to have to have some skin in the game.' It would appear to be news to Mr. Barack Obama that `ordinary' Americans are already being f*cked to death and screwed 500 ways to Sunday, all to support the ruling class in its inordinate wealth and power. But what the hell: `everybody' is going to be screwed all over again. Not, however, the ruling class. On that point, you may be absolutely certain."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, January 12, 2009

Are Jews a nation?

I am feeling rather ill today so may not post as much as usual but despite that I am immediately drawn to renew my discussion with Punditarian -- who has just written a long post in support of his contention that Jews are a "nation". I am at something of a loss to know why that seems important to him -- "ethnic group" is the normal appellation -- but I will comment nonetheless. "Ethnic group" is certainly vague and uninformative.

I have been careful thoughout all I have said on this matter to avoid placing any importance on race, for what I hope are obvious reasons. But I hope I might be forgiven for using another "dangerous" word: Volk. Punditarian strayed into Latin and Greek in his comments so I hope I can be forgiven for straying into German. And I think Ashkenazi Jews could be seen as a Volk. Volk is a "dangerous" word because it was a central concept for Hitler. Though the old East German Communists used it a lot too. Contrary to what many seem to think, it does NOT mean race. The German word for race is Rasse and Karl Marx in fact simply used the English spelling: "race", even though he was writing in German. So when Hitler described Germans as a Herrenvolk, he was calling them a "master PEOPLE", not a master race. Yet Volk means rather more than the English word "people". I have written rather extensively here on the translation of the word but let me try to summarize here by saying that it does overlap a little with the concept of race in that it describes a group of interrelated and interconnected people, a sort of extended family. And I think that their weak endogamy does make Ashkenazi Jews a Volk in that sense. It seems a pity that, despite their extensive borrowings from other languages, the English never seem to have found a use for Volk, even though it is in various spellings found in quite a few European languages. It is both a very ancient and a very useful word.

And the word comes into its own in describing two groups that Punditarian mentions. He argues that throughout the 19th century Italians and Germans were "nations" even though they were not under any kind of central rule until late in that century. There were many small German-speaking states but no Germany as a single political entity, for instance. I would argue however that Germans were always a Volk but only became a nation in the 1870s. Volk is certainly the word that Germans of the time used for themselves. The words "nation" and "national" are identical in English and German and are used similarly. And what Germans wanted to do for most of the 19th century was to unite their Volk into a single Nation. And under Bismarck, they just about managed it -- though Bismarck's strategic omission of Austria from the new German nation was grumbled about by many as a Kleindeutsch (little Germany) solution. A later German leader remedied that omission to much acclaim, of course.

Punditarian raises the case of Nigeria, with its disparate tribal mix and says that Nigeria is not a nation because of the hostility between its composite tribes. I am going to be a bit cheeky here and remark that by that standard Israel is not a nation either, with its Sephardim, Ashkenazim, Druze, Arabs etc. Without an external threat Israel would fly apart in a trice. But be that as it may, I think Volk again clarifies the situation. Nigerians are not a Volk but they ARE normally called a nation. And Israel too is a nation composed of several Voelker. The Ashkenazim and the Sephardim are certainly not a single Volk, though they could become one through intermarriage.

A final point which Punditarian touches on is however very important. Christians define their religion in terms of accepting certain BELIEFS. Jews tend to define their religion as accepting certain PRACTICES -- practices set down in halacha (Jewish law). So in that way even an atheist could be a Jew in good standing as long as he kept kosher etc. And I think that gives power to my contention about the centrality of religion in defining Jewishness. As Punditarian himself argues, Jews have remained Jews by way of their distinctive practices, and those practices define a religion.



California's Gold Rush Has Been Reversed: "After more than 150 years of being a destination, California is becoming a place entrepreneurs, investment capital and the hardy workers who made it a global leader in agriculture, technological innovation and scientific research are fleeing. This exodus is the marker of something deeper than a national recession. It's a sign that the attempts by state leaders to spend their way back to prosperity are killing California... Citizens are burdened by all manner of state regulations. To mention just one example, this year a new law enacted by ballot initiative bans cages chicken farmers use on the grounds that it is inhuman to put birds in cages that prevent them from spreading their wings. Complying with the new law will cost farmers hundreds of millions of dollars, which will force many to leave the state. And that will force us to buy our eggs from other states and, possibly, others nations, such as Mexico. And just as a fallen tree can divert the flow of water in a creek, bad economic policies divert the flow of investment. Entrepreneurs and investors, seeking the path of least resistance, leave when it becomes easier to make a living in more business-friendly states. In 2000, according to the state's Department of Finance, about 150,000 people moved into California. But in the years that followed the in-migration slowed, and in 2005 it reversed, when a net 52,000 people moved out. In 2008, the outflow topped 135,000 people."

Eyeless in Gaza, Heartless at Home: "Creeped out: That's the best way I can describe my response upon stumbling into an anti-Israel protest one recent Sunday in Manhattan. Ranting picketers carried signs that made light of the Holocaust, children dressed up as Hamas militants dotted the crowd. I wanted to have a more profound response, a deeper analysis, but "creeped out" is how I felt walking away from it. Days later, a colleague, military historian Victor Davis Hanson, expressed a similar reaction to accounts of way too many similar scenes: We're living in "creepy times," he wrote on National Review's Web site.

Aggressive British peaceniks: "Protestors clashed with hundreds of riot police in central London as an anti-war demonstration turned violent. One officer was knocked unconscious and two others received facial injuries as the mood turned sour at what had been a mainly peaceful protest. A small group of protestors turned on mounted police and riot officers on foot, throwing missiles and smashing windows in Kensington, close to the Israeli Embassy. A crash barrier set up to help control the crowds was hurled through the large windows of a Starbucks Coffee shop. Police were forced to charge at the group, mainly made up of young men, in an attempt to disperse them. But sticks, stones and shoes were thrown back before the crowds were brought under control. Thousands of people took part in the huge rally and march through to protest against Israel's continued attacks on the Gaza Strip. A heavy police presence lined the route of the march from Hyde Park to the Israeli embassy as demonstrators chanted "free, free Palestine. " [Mostly Muslims, presumably]

Harry Reid’s Land Grab : "It’s hard to pinpoint the worst part of the public lands legislation bill Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is calling up for an under-the-radar Sunday vote tomorrow. The 1200-page, pork-laden, $10 billion proposal locks up millions of acres of energy-rich property by designating it as environmentalist-friendly “federal wilderness” area where not even as much as a bicycle would be permitted to travel across the land. Many of these areas recently became available when the ban on domestic drilling in Western states expired last fall and the liberal left couldn’t muster the courage to keep it in place due to rising energy prices. Now Democratic leaders are using different legislative strategies to put a new kind of ban in place."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, January 11, 2009


I am taking a break from Gaza today. I am sure Israelis wish they could do the same

Although we never normally think of him that way, Dickens may be the second most influential Leftist after Marx. His storytelling ability enthralls us to this day and is for almost all of us the only picture we have of the 19th century -- and a dismal picture it is. Dickens portrayed the worst of his times, not the average or the typical but we tend to accept his verbal pictures as typical. And the the situations that Dickens described were so bad that the word "Dickensian" has come to mean oppressive, uncaring and inhuman. His novels were, however, political propaganda. Surprisingly, England in the Victorian era had a social welfare system that was both fairly comprehensive and independent of the government.

Even in the modern era of universal government welfare payments we can still find people living in "Dickensian" conditions -- for one obvious instance, the Australian Aborigines. All systems have some weaknesses and concentrating on the worst cases tells us nothing about how well the system works as a whole. A modern-day Dickens could equally well describe terrible situations caused by the actions of heartless government employees. See SOCIALIZED MEDICINE for just some examples of that. So let us now look briefly at what history tells us about the Victorian system rather than at what the novels of Dickens tell us about it:

There were two main sources of social security in Victorian England: The parish and the Friendly Societies. The parish system is the one Dickens concentrated on but it was in fact the Friendly Societies that were more important. We still have many of the Friendly Societies with us to this day. Most Australians will have heard of Manchester Unity, The Oddfellows, The Druids and various other societies. These days just about all they provide is health insurance but in the Victorian era their functions were much broader. They also provided unemployment insurance, widows benefits, funeral benefits and various social functions. In the Victorian era a skilled worker would normally join a Friendly Society associated with his work, his town or his religion. If no other Society suited him he could join the Oddfellows. When he joined, he signed up to pay a weekly subscription to the society out of his wages. In return the Society covered him for most of the problems of daily life. If he got sick he went for free to the Society's doctor or a doctor that the Society had an agreement with. If he got really sick he could be admitted for free to a hospital run or approved by the Society. If he became unemployed he would receive a weekly payment from the Society to keep him going. If he died, his widow would be looked after. So ordinary workers in the Victorian era in fact had quite a high level of social welfare benefits -- all privately provided without any involvement by the government.

Some people, however, fell outside the Friendly Society system by reason of being too poor or too foolish to join. For these there was the parish system of poorhouses and workhouses. This was a system whereby the local parish of the Church of England gave charity to the poor so that nobody need be without shelter or food. It provided only the most basic food and shelter and did nothing to make poverty comfortable but it did make sure that everybody was provided for in some way. It was in that system that Oliver Twist was portrayed by Dickens as asking for "more please", implying that the people in it were not well fed. About that, though, we read:
Doctors writing in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) say they have uncovered the gruel truth behind the Victorian workhouse. Charles Dickens, they contend, was exaggerating when he portrayed Oliver Twist and other orphans driven to the brink of starvation by a miserly diet of watery porridge. In fact, the food provided under 1834 Poor Law Act, which set up workhouses for the destitute poor in mid-19th-century Britain, was dreary but there was plenty of it and the diet was nutritious enough for children of Oliver's age, their paper says.

In Oliver Twist, Dickens wrote, the orphans were given "three meals of thin gruel a day, with an onion twice a week and half a roll on Sunday." On feast days, according to the novel, the inmates received an extra two and a quarter ounces (64 grams) of bread.

Four medical experts, with skills ranging from nutrition to paediatrics and the history of medicine, say such a diet would have killed or crippled the children, inflicting anaemia, scurvy, rickets and other diseases linked to vitamin deficiency. They took a closer look at the actual historical record, sifting through contemporary documents and even replicating the gruel that workhouse children most likely had.

One important source for their research was a treatise by a physician, Jonathan Pereira. He wrote it in 1843, five years after Dickens completed "Oliver Twist" and ignited a furious debate about the workhouses. Pereira found that the local boards of the guardians of the poor had a choice of six "workhouse dietaries", one of which they could choose according to the circumstances of each establishment. On the basis of Pereira's figures, using a recipe for water gruel taken from a 17th-century English cook book, the authors calculate Oliver would have had around three pints (1.76 litres) of gruel per day, comprising 3.75 ounces (106 grams) of top-quality oatmeal from Berwick, Scotland. Far from being thin, the gruel would have been "substantial," the authors say.

This would not have been the only source of food. Pereira details "considerable amounts" of beef and mutton that were delivered to individual London workhouses. "The diet described by Dickens would not have supported health and growth in a nine-year-old child, but the published workhouse diets would have generally met that need," the BMJ paper says. "Given the limited number of food staples used, the workhouse diet was certainly dreary but it was adequate."

The authors add a caveat, saying that this assumption is made on the basis that inmates actually received the quantity and quality of food prescribed, but Pereira's book suggests this was generally the case.

Such a system was sometimes no doubt heartless and could be abused and it was episodes of heartlessness and abuse that Dickens portrayed -- and which he moved his middle-class readers to "improve". Attempting to improve the Victorian system, however destroyed it. As one commentator acerbically observes:
In effect, the bourgeoisie declared war on their underlings, and tried to improve them out of existence. Their weapons in this war were 'a national system of education, a state system of welfare, public housing schemes and, later on, a state system of hospitals, a comprehensive system of National Insurance and much else besides.' These might not all sound like unmitigated evils to LRB readers, but Mount does a spirited job of pointing to the ways in which all of these structures were imposed on top of previously existing working-class vehicles for self-help. In one of the most original sections of Mind the Gap, he evokes a thriving culture of schools, Sunday schools, reading rooms, Nonconformist religion, collective insurance and trade unions. 'It is not too much to say that the lower classes in Britain between 1800 and 1940 had created a remarkable civilisation of their own which it is hard to parallel in human history: narrow-minded perhaps, prudish certainly, occasionally pharisaical, but steadfast, industrious, honourable, idealistic, peaceable and purposeful.'

And then this civilisation was dismantled. To take only one of a number of Mount's examples, the extensive culture of privately run working-class schools was destroyed by the board-schools founded by the 1870 Education Act, which were not free, but were effectively subsidised to a point where they put their private competitors out of business. All of this was part of a process in which 'the working classes are firmly tagged as the patients, never the agents.'

So any system can be abused and can fail and there is no doubt that the present system of government welfare that we have is also often heartless and is also often abused. The main difference between then and now is that the present system is more generous. Our unemployed get more spent on them. Our society today is however much richer than the England of Victorian times so the more generous provisions of the present era would probably have occurred under any system.

Child labour
The plight of child labourers in Victorian Britain is not usually considered to have been a happy one. Writers such as Charles Dickens painted a grim picture of the hardships suffered by young people in the mills, factories and workhouses of the Industrial Revolution. But an official report into the treatment of working children in the 1840s, made available online yesterday for the first time, suggests the situation was not so bad after all.

The frank accounts emerged in interviews with dozens of youngsters conducted for the Children's Employment Commission. The commission was set up by Lord Ashley in 1840 to support his campaign for reducing the working hours of women and children.

Surprisingly, a number of the children interviewed did not complain about their lot -- even though they were questioned away from their workplace and the scrutinising eyes of their employers.

Sub-commissioner Frederick Roper noted in his 1841 investigation of pre-independence Dublin's pin-making establishments: "Notwithstanding their evident poverty ... there is in their countenances an appearance of good health and much cheerfulness."

A report on workers at a factory in Belfast found a 14-year-old boy who earned four shillings a week "would rather be doing something better ... but does not dislike his current employment". The report concluded: "I find all in this factory able to read, and nearly all to write. They are orderly, appear to be well-behaved, and to be very contented."


So once again we see that the Dickensian portrayal of something is at least questionable.

Happy people?

It is notable that contented, successful people (Podsnap, Gradgrind) are portrayed most unfavourably by Dickens. This too is Leftist. As noted conservative historian Russell Kirk quoted Bagehot as saying: "Conservatism is enjoyment". The converse is however more familiar: Leftists are miserable sods always complaining about something. They have a pervasive hatred of the world around them. And that, presumably, is why Dickens and many other literary figures are Leftist. Just as newspapers do well on accounts of disasters, so tales of suffering, unhappiness and escape from oppression sell novels. As Bagehot also said: "All the best stories in the world are but one story in reality - the story of escape. It is the only thing which interests us all and at all times, how to escape." Conservatives, of course are not so driven. They see plenty to criticize in the world but are generally content just to get on with their own lives rather than constantly striving to tear down "the system". (More brilliant Bagehot quotes here)

Let me say just a few words about Mr Podsnap (in "Our Mutual Friend"). Read how Dickens describes him here. It is a classic piece of Leftist poison, where Mr Podsnap's contentment with himself and the world about him is completely transmogrified. Podsnap can literally do nothing right. Even his patriotism is portrayed as ignorant -- something that anticipated modern Leftism. And Podsnap's success in business seems to be just somehow accidental -- with no suggestion that Podsnap may work hard and intelligently at what he does. The Leftists of academe whom I know so well think exactly that way about business to this day. And even Mr Podsnap's furniture is ridiculed. And there is of course no suggestion that solid citizens like Mr Podsnap keep the world on an even keel. Leftists don't want the world kept on an even keel. Their ideal is revolution -- with all the hate-driven indifference to human life that that normally entails.

So let us not get a false picture of the evil capitalistic 19th century from Dickens's brilliant propaganda. The 19th century was in fact second only to the 20th century for the improvements it brought to the lives of ordinary English people.

I mentioned recently a minor Australian Leftist blog that seems to have a devotion to listing my "sins". If they ever read the present post they will no doubt add breathlessly to the list that I criticize the great Dickens. Horror! How imbecilic I must be to challenge such a conventional hero!

Leftists tend to think of themselves as iconoclastic (even though they have said little that is original since Marx) but they put up very effective mental barriers against real iconoclasm (such as my critique of Dickens). They just see real iconoclasm as too far beyond the pale to contemplate. That is certainly the commonest reaction I get from Leftists when I point out that Hitler was a socialist. Their low level of intellectual curiosity makes them very conventional thinkers. Only the simplest of propositions (e.g. Bush = Hitler) get past their mental portals.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, January 10, 2009

The virtues of Christianity -- one tiny example

There are lots of people -- atheists, Leftists, foolish Jews etc. -- who say horrible things about Christianity. And I find that very unbalanced.

In my early life I was steeped in Christianity so I think I know a little about it. And although I have been an utter atheist for all my adult life (I am now 65), I still enjoy reading my Bible on occasions and I still have a lot of time for those whom I once called "brothers". So I think I do have some standing to defend Christianity.

Social scientists and statisticians hate it (and I am of that ilk too) but for most people examples are more persuasive than generalizations and averages so I just want to give here one tiny example of why I still heart the Protestant faith into which I grew up.

My old church in Brisbane is Ann St Presbyterian. In the 60s I was a communicant member there. Nowadays I pop in very rarely, maybe at Easter or some other day of special significance. And I always feel most at home there and love singing the old hymns.

But what I want to mention on this occasion -- at peril of embarrassing him -- is one of the elders there. Presbyterian churches are very democratic and are governed by elected elders rather than by Bishops and suchlike. And whenever I walk into my old church for a service, the elders are there by the door to greet people as they arrive -- a thoroughly admirable custom in my view.

And one of the elders who seems always to be there must have been -- in my guess -- a butcher at some stage. He has lost most of his fingers on his right hand. Butchers regularly sacrificed fingers to the bandsaw in the old days and I guess some still do. So is the elder concerned embarrassed to do what elders do -- shake hands with people as they arrive? Not at all. He holds out what is left of his hand with perfect good cheer and we are all glad to shake it. He always looks as spruce as can be, dressed in an old-fashioned but immaculate suit, and is an example to us all not to be ground down by adversity.

The church has given him a respected role and self-esteem and he has given back inspiration and a lesson to all who shake his hand. How can I not respect a faith and a church that has done that? Maybe I am just a sentimental old fool but I will take that risk.


Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza

Israel is significantly weakening Hamas - with Palestinian help

It seems that most of the West's news reporters and pundits agree with Islamists everywhere that an Israeli victory in Gaza is impossible. They decry Israel's defensive attack on Hamas, prophesying an inevitable strengthening of Islamism among Palestinians and a dark future for the Jewish state. How do our commentators come to this conclusion? They point, most frequently, to Israel's war with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006, and echo Hezbollah's claim that it won a great victory. Indeed, this narrative goes, in launching their rockets at Israel, Hamas leaders were imitating Hezbollah's winning strategy.

In fact, Hezbollah was thoroughly shocked by the Israeli bombing campaign, and its supporters, who mostly live in southern Lebanon, are not likely to tolerate another wave of destruction caused by another Hezbollah attack. Even the inconclusive Israeli ground actions in Lebanon, which never involved more than six companies (roughly 600 men), resulted in the loss of some 400 Hezbollah fighters in direct face-to-face combat while Israel suffered only 30 casualties.

Of course, none of this prevented the Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah from claiming that he had won a great victory for God. Had his victorious claims actually been true, Israel should have been deterred from attacking Hamas. And by his logic, Israel would have cowered in fear of thousands of more rockets from Hamas, and the even more powerful rockets that Hezbollah would launch in tandem. Nasrallah certainly encouraged Hamas to attack Israel in language that implied he would intervene if a war ensued -- a credible promise had he really won a victory in 2006.

But as soon as the fighting started in Gaza, Nasrallah reversed the terms of his declarations -- threatening Israel if it attacked Lebanon (which of course nobody in Israel would want to do). When three rockets were fired from inside Lebanon on Thursday, Hezbollah wasted no time assuring the Israelis that it had nothing to do with it, and that it did not even have that type of rocket in their inventory. This is a familiar trope of the Palestinian experience. There is always some extremist leader ready to instigate the Palestinians to fight, implicitly promising his valiant participation -- until the fighting begins and the promises are forgotten in fear of Israeli retaliation.

Another familiar Palestinian experience is that the extremists can always prevail politically over the moderates, but in so doing they split Palestinian society. A key metric of this disunity is, in fact, the success of Israel's current war against Hamas. Consider: According to Gaza sources, until the ground fighting started some 25% of the 500 dead were innocent civilians. The Israelis claimed that 20% of the casualties from the aerial attack were civilians. Either way, this was an extremely accurate bombing campaign. (Even in the 1991 and 2003 U.S. air campaigns against Iraq, when most of the bombs were already precision-guided, gross targeting errors killed many civilians.)

A targeting accuracy of 75% -- by the lowest estimate -- cannot have been merely obtained by overhead photography from satellites or reconnaissance aircraft, because few Hamas objectives were classic "high-contrast" targets such as bunkers or headquarters. Most targets were small groups of people in nondescript civilian vehicles that blend in with traffic, or inside unremarkable buildings. Nor could telephone intercepts have yielded much intelligence, because all Palestinians know that the Israelis have long combined voice recognition with cellular-grid location in order to aim missiles very accurately at single vehicles in traffic, or even at individuals standing about with their cellphones switched off.

So how did Israel do it? The only possible explanation is that people in Gaza have been informing the Israelis exactly where Hamas fighters and leaders are hiding, and where weapons are stored. No doubt some informers are merely corrupt, paid agents earning a living. But others must choose to provide intelligence because they oppose Hamas, whose extremism inflicts poverty, suffering and now death on the civilian population for the sake of launching mostly ineffectual rockets into Israel. Hamas completely disregards the day-to-day welfare of all Gazans in order to pursue its millenarian vision of an Islamic Palestine.

Some in Gaza must also resent Iran's role in instigating the barrage of rockets fired on Israel. And all must know that the longer-range rockets are supplied by Iran along with money for Hamas leaders, while ordinary Palestinians languish in poverty. Senior Hamas leader Nizar Rayan, killed on Jan. 1, was a poorly paid academic, yet he died with his four wives and 10 of his children in spacious quarters. He obviously had enough money to heed the Quranic injunction against marrying more wives than one can afford. That too must arouse bitter opposition among poor Palestinian civilians, inducing some to help Israel target Hamas. Perhaps these informers include Fatah members, further antagonized by persecution. Last week alone, some 50 were reportedly tortured by Hamas.

Hamas won the 2006 election because it was the only available alternative when a majority of voters were disgusted by Fatah's blatant corruption. Since then, many nonfundamentalist Palestinians have been oppressed by the puritanical prohibitions imposed by Hamas, while all Gazans have been greatly impoverished. There is no evidence that support for Fatah has therefore increased, or that its surviving leaders could still rally their followers. This reality sets an upper limit on what Israel can achieve by ground combat -- it cannot change the regime.

What Israel can do is weaken Hamas further in its current ground operations by raiding targets that cannot be attacked from the air -- typically because they are in the basements of crowded apartment buildings -- and by engaging Hamas gunmen in direct combat. Simply reducing the combat strength of Hamas is crucial, as it was in 2006 against Hezbollah, because while many like to parade dressed in the robes of martyrs, when there is actual fighting enthusiasm rapidly wanes.

With few exceptions, Israeli ground forces are not advancing frontally but are instead mounting a multiplicity of raids. If their target intelligence remains as good as it was during the air attack, they will run out of targets in a matter of days. That is when a cease-fire with credible monitoring would be possible and desirable for both sides as the only alternative to renewed occupation. Hamas will claim a win no matter what happens, but then so did Hezbollah in 2006. And yet, for the most part, Hezbollah remains immobile and the Israeli northern border with Lebanon remains quiet. If Israel can achieve the same with Hamas in Gaza, it would be a significant victory.




Public works only exacerbated the Great Depression : "Contrary to common misconception, interference did not begin with Roosevelt's New Deal but rather with Herbert Hoover, who took office in March 1929. As one historian put it, Hoover, an engineer by profession and part of the Republican Party's progressive wing, was not the last of the old presidents but the first of the new. In previous depressions, the federal government typically cut spending and taxes and let the market liquidate bad investments. As a result, the depressions were relatively brief. This time around Hoover moved quickly to raise government spending and taxes of all kinds (the top marginal income-tax rate went from 24 to 63 percent); subsidize banks, railroads, industries, homeowners with mortgages, local governments, and farmers; and sign the infamous Smoot-Hawley Tariff. Even with the tax increases, the budget deficit ballooned to record levels. Hoover urged the nation's governors to increase public-works spending substantially and had the federal government join the effort. He favored new rounds of inflation, but the Fed's efforts were offset by factors beyond its control. Egregiously, Hoover personally pressured major corporations not to cut wages. (As commerce secretary, he had long been an advocate of government-business-labor "partnership," i.e., cartelization.) When wages are rigid while all other prices are falling, unemployment goes up. The result of Hoover's program? Unemployment went from 3.2 percent in 1929 to over 25 percent in 1933. It remained in double digits until 1941, a year after the military draft started. GNP shrank 44 percent from 1929 to 1932."

Change is coming, to benefit trial lawyers: "Obama promised change, and it's already happening, at the expense of the poor, consumers, and small business. `Regulations set to take effect next month could force thousands of clothing retailers and thrift stores to throw away trunkloads of children's clothing.' That's the result of a law championed by Obama and trial lawyers, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which imposes draconian requirements and penalties on sellers of childrens' toys and clothing. As a result, used clothing stores for poor kids, like Kid to Kid, are going out of business. Price increases in children's toys and clothing will also likely result."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, January 9, 2009

How Israel is making progress

Israel has already demonstrated that it has learned the principal lessons from the war with Hezbollah. It did not wait too long to begin the ground campaign. It resisted the lure of a premature cease-fire, engineered by others. It did not promise ambitious goals at the war's outset only to walk away from them amid military and diplomatic complications.

On the contrary, the stated goal of a "quiet" border with Gaza has the dual advantage of suggesting a degree of restraint while allowing Jerusalem to preserve its options as the battle unfolds. "Quiet" does not require the destruction of Hamas. But neither does it exclude it.

In other words, instead of being forced publicly to ratchet its aims downward, as it did in Lebanon, Jerusalem can now ratchet them upward, putting Hamas off-balance and perhaps tempting it to cut its losses by accepting a cease-fire on terms acceptable to Israel. Doing so would not quite amount to a defeat for Hamas. But it would be an unambiguous humiliation for a group whose greatest danger lies in its pretension of invincibility. Burst balloons aren't easily reinflated.

It is precisely for this reason that Hamas will likely fight on, in the hopes that Israel will flinch. Critics of military action point to this damned-if-Israel-does, damned-if-it-doesn't scenario as evidence of the folly of the war.

Yet by no means is it obvious that the Israeli army needs to walk directly into a Gaza City G”tterd„mmerung in order to achieve its military aims. Hamas has been able to arm itself with increasingly sophisticated rockets thanks to a vast network of tunnels running below its border with Egypt. Israel found it difficult to destroy that network prior to its withdrawal from Gaza and will not easily do so now. But by bisecting the Strip, as it has now done, it will have no trouble preventing these rockets from moving north to their usual staging ground, thereby achieving a critical war aim without giving Hamas easy opportunities to hit back.

Israel also has much to gain by avoiding a frontal assault on Gaza's urban areas in favor of the snatch-and-grab operations that have effectively suppressed Hamas's terrorist infrastructure in the West Bank. A long-term policy aimed squarely at killing or capturing Hamas's leaders, destroying arms caches and rocket factories, and cutting off supply and escape routes will not by itself destroy the group. But it can drive it out of government and cripple its ability to function as a fighting force. And this, in turn, could mean the return of Fatah, the closest thing Gaza has to a "legitimate" government.

All this will be said to amount to another occupation, never mind that there are no settlers in this picture, and never mind, too, that Israel was widely denounced for carrying out an "effective occupation" of the Strip after it imposed an economic blockade on Hamas. (By this logic, the U.S. is currently "occupying" Cuba.) If Israel is going to achieve a strategic victory in this war, it will have to stand firm against this global wave of hypocrisy and cant.

Israel will also have to practice a more consistent policy of deterrence than it has so far done. One option: For every single rocket that falls randomly on Israeli soil, an Israeli missile will hit a carefully selected target in Gaza. Focusing the minds of Hamas on this type of "proportionality" is just the endgame that Israel needs.

More here


Stop This Vicious Slaughter! England Must Stop Waging War On The Nazis!

Dateline: January 3rd 1944

Fury continues to mount worldwide about the senseless loss of civilian life in Germany caused by England's callous bombing of German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden. As of today many innocent German women and children have died in these utterly brutal bombing missions. And now there are ground offensives starting on mainland Europe.

The English have claimed that they are merely retaliating against the V-1 flying bombs being launched indiscriminately by Nazis at their civilian population in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry and other cities. The English point out that their enemy is sworn to its utter destruction and has used the missiles and flying bombs against its civilians without any regard to English loss of life. Moreover it makes the case that their own bombing missions are specifically directed to military targets that the German army has intentionally planted in the heart of civilian populations to try and deter English counter-attacks.

These points may of course be true - but they are utterly besides the point. Of course England has a right to exist. Of course England has a right to defend itself. But it should ensure that its responses are PROPORTIONATE. Since many more Germans are dying than English - the English should either tone down the success and accuracy of their bombing - or allow the Germans to catch up on the death count. To be honest - if more English women and children were dying - we wouldn't feel quite so bad about the number of Germans dying. But it's just so UNFAIR that more Germans are dying...

Perhaps some English people could arrange to kill themselves to match the number of Germans dying as a result of the English retaliation bombing? It would be so considerate - and it might help England's critics feel less miserable about the number of Nazis dying. Something that is causing them so much concern. It would also put paid to that wretched proportionality argument.

Alternatively, perhaps the English could arrange to be less effective in their bombing? Or only bomb military targets that are nowhere near civilians - even though the vast majority of the V-1 rockets are intentionally being launched from the heart of civilian population centers.

Now the English will argue that the Germans have INTENTIONALLY positioned all their launch pads for the V-1 rockets in the middle of civilian populations to inhibit the English from bombing those launch sites. Well - tough noogies to the Brits! Sorry - but if the Germans are smarter or more skillful at cynically using their civilians as human shields than you - tough luck!

You can't have it both ways. If you truly wish to save your nation from being annihilated by Nazi missiles you'd better stop looking to win a popularity contest. The Nazis are waging this war to win and to utterly destroy England. If all you Brits care about is popularity - then you may as well resign yourself to speaking German...

It's about time that little nations who wish to defend themselves wised up to their responsibilities. Otherwise the same stupid complaints will be made at some point in the 21st Century when some little nation finds itself under constant attack from rockets fired at its civilian population by a terrorizing enemy that has sworn to destroy it....



BrookesNews Update

Obama's stimulus plan heading for trouble before it even starts: By completely misunderstanding economic history Obama has come to believe that state spending is the road to prosperity - never mind the lessons of history, especially the embarrassing fact that this policy failed Roosevelt and also recently failed in Japan. And yet this 'brilliant man' and a leader of the 'reality-based community' genuinely believes otherwise
Economic commentators still clueless about the recession: Manufacturing is drowning and the economic punditry blame consumption. The real problem is the manipulation of interest rates by the central banks and how this affects the production structure and relative prices. It is the manipulation of interest - and this alone - that is at the root of the business cycle
Even now the outgoing US Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson cannot get it right : Hank Paulson is a depressing reminder of how deeply rooted many economic fallacies are. According to him the fault for the financial crisis does not lie with domestic monetary policy but with those lousy Chinese who insist on saving instead of whooping it up on over-extended credit cards. That the fed's criminal monetary policy had something to do with never occurred to this genius
Government spending makes recessions worse : Laissez-faire economic ideas are currently out of favor but the fact remains that the Krugman and Keynesian policies of bailouts, deficit financing, and public works have never really worked. They didn't work in the U.S. in the 1930's; they didn't work in the 1990's in Japan
Communist Cuba: 50 Years Of Failure : After 50 years of socialism the Castro brothers' gangster regime has succeed in turning Cuba, once one of the world's most prosperous countries - into a slagheap that self-opinionated, callous, Hollywood intellectualoids like Soderbergh, del Toro, Robert Redford, Ed Asner, Oliver Stone, etc., can gloat over while they excoriate America
America tolerates preaching overthrow of government; we didn't before : American tolerance for even the sort of dissent that calls for the violent overthrow of the government and for racial hate is unique. If Americans want to preserve independence and freedom, they better wake up and recognize Islam for what it is; it's not a religion of peace
Green fanatics vs. genetic science: The real Frankensteins are greens fanatics and their media mates who have tried to create a monster out of a life-saving technology so they can get it banned. What does this say about them? Plenty, is the answer
Obama's spending spree won't rescue the US economy from recession: By setting his face against this policy of expanding capacity and to rely entirely on monetary expansion to promote recovery while at the same time promising higher energy prices in the future and a huge tax hike in 2010 or 2011 Obama will be fuelling uncertainty as well as inflation


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Who Are the Real Nazis?

by Jonah Goldberg

"Go back to the oven! You need a big oven, that's what you need!" This is what one young woman thought passed for acceptable discourse during an anti-Israel rally last week in, of all places, Fort Lauderdale, Fla. Other chants were similarly unlovely. You can watch it on YouTube if you like.

But why bother? The Fort Lauderdale outburst is just one window on the upside-down world of Israel hatred. Across the Islamic world, and in too many points West, it is still considered a penetrating and poignant insight to call Zionists the "new Nazis." For instance, in Sunday's Gulf News, Mohammad Abdullah al Mutawa, a sociology professor at United Arab Emirates University, penned an essay titled "Zionists are the new Nazis." He began: "Today, the whole world stands as a witness to the fact that the Nazi Holocaust was a mere lie, which was devised by the Zionists to blackmail humanity."

At a Saturday protest in New York against Israel's military assault on Gaza, some carried signs that read: "Israel: The Fourth Reich," "Holocaust by Holocaust Survivors," "Stop Israel's Holocaust," "Holocaust in Gaza" and "Stop the Zionist Genocide in Gaza." Type "Israel" and "Nazi" into any news search engine and you'll be rewarded, or punished, with a bounty of such statements from just the last week or so. Gaza is the new Auschwitz, the Israeli Defense Forces are SS troops ... I find myself tempted to simply write "et cetera" because it's all so familiar by now. But to do that is to dismiss, and therefore accept, such grotesqueries as trivialities, when in fact such charges are deeply revealing -- just not about Israel.

First, let us note that if supposedly all-powerful Israel is dedicated to exterminating the Palestinian people, it is doing a bad job. The Palestinian population has only grown since 1948. There are more Arab citizens living in Israel proper today than there were in all of Palestine the year Israel was founded.

Perhaps one reason Israel fails at genocide is that it isn't interested in genocide? That would explain why Israel warned thousands of Gazans by cell phone to leave homes near Hamas rocket stockpiles. It would clarify why, even amid all-out war, it offers aid to enemy civilians. It would even illuminate the otherwise mysterious clamor from Israelis for a viable "peace partner." But no. For millions of Israel haters, the more plausible explanation is that the "defiant" Palestinians have miraculously survived Israel's determination to wipe them out.

Meanwhile, calls for the complete extermination of Israel are routine. The Hamas charter, invoking the fraudulent "Protocols of the Elders of Zion" as justification, demands the destruction of Israel. Hamas exists solely because it is dedicated to the complete obliteration of the "Zionist entity." Remove that "principle" and Hamas is meaningless.

A sick mixture of Holocaust envy and Holocaust denial is the defining spirit of Hamas. Indeed, Holocaust denial passes for a scholarly pursuit not just in Gaza but throughout much of the Arab and Muslim world. The head of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, literally earned a doctorate in it. His doctoral thesis became a book, "The Other Side: the Secret Relationship Between Nazism and Zionism," in which he denounces "the Zionist fantasy, the fantastic lie that 6 million Jews were killed." In Hamas' eyes, Abbas is an incorrigible moderate. It's Palestinian Islamists who have ideological and political ties to Nazism stretching back to the days of "Hitler's Mufti," Haj Amin al-Husseini, a happy warrior for the Nazi cause.

So why the obsession with casting the Israelis as the new Hitlerites? One answer is surely that critics know such charges are painful to a country largely born of the Holocaust and marked by its scars. It also grabs attention, galvanizes radicals, vents legitimate frustrations and anger, and helps demonize the enemy and, hence, justify the murder of "Zionists everywhere," as Hamas often declares in its communiques.

But I think the desire to cast the Israelis as Nazis is fueled, deep down, by the haters' need to see their own hatreds and ambitions mirrored in their enemy's actions. Hamas has an avowedly Hitlerite agenda. The only way to make such an agenda defensible is to convince yourself and others that the Israelis deserve it. Hence, Hamas and its allies insist that when they aim rockets at grade schools and playgrounds, they are resisting the "new Nazis." It brings to mind Huey Long's reported prophecy that if fascism ever came to America, it would be called anti-fascism. Well, with Hamas, Hitlerism comes to the Middle East wearing the mask of anti-Hitlerism.



Chicago comment



The bombed "school": "Allow me to propose a metric for evaluating whether a journalist is behaving responsibly or not: If he reports that Israel bombed a UN school and killed 30 civilians, he is irresponsible. If he reports that Hamas used a UN school as a weapons cache and base of operations for launching mortars at the IDF, and the IDF's return fire killed the Hamas cell along, tragically, with a yet-unspecified number of civilians, then he is behaving responsibly. If he wishes to be particularly scrupulous, he might additionally note that Hamas had rigged the school with explosives which detonated after the IDF took out the mortar team, killing a large additional number of civilians. And he might add that you can go to the IDF's Youtube channel to view footage from 2007 of Hamas using the very same school as a mortar-launching base. Journalists who abjure reporting the vital details of this story should be called what they are - activists masquerading as reporters."

Krugman deceit: "We are certainly used to the fallacious Keynesian `economics' that pours forth from most of Paul Krugman's New York Times columns. That's bad enough. But dishonesty too? What's the excuse for that? In a recent column called `Fifty Hebert Hoovers,' Krugman expressed fear that the nation's governors would follow in the footsteps of Hoover, with devastating consequences for the economy. And what did Hoover do that has Krugman so concerned? . Krugman here leads his readers to believe that Hoover tried to balance the budget by slashing spending. In fact, Hoover did not reduce spending. On the contrary, he increased it."

Speeding? You'll pay higher "taxes": "Watch out, leadfoots: Many strapped cities and towns are trying to fix their budgets by stepping up traffic enforcement. . Cities, counties and other government agencies have found that there's lots of money to be made in stepped-up traffic enforcement. . The simple fact is this: Governments have an incentive to write more tickets, says Thomas Garrett, an assistant vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, and a co-author of a recent study, `Red Ink in the Rearview Mirror: Local Fiscal Conditions and the Issuance of Traffic Tickets.'"

Reminder from 2004: FDR's policies prolonged Depression by seven years: "Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years. `Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump,' said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. `We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies.' . `The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes,' Cole said. `Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened.'"

The long road to recovery: "In geopolitics, as in life, things are seldom as bad or good, easy or hard, as they appear at close range. The incoming Obama administration should keep this in mind as it takes the helm of America's ship of state. A swath of Asia stretching from Pakistan and Afghanistan west to Iran and Iraq will likely require the most attention. With some 4,800 American troops dead, eight times that number wounded, and the region still shaken by aftershocks of America's full-scale intervention after September 11, it is hard to say that things are good in Southwest Asia. But it is fair to say they are headed in a better direction than they were eight years ago."

To the dumpsters, go: "We have all heard of `dumpster babies,' abandoned newborns left to die by unfit parents. And now, courtesy of Nebraska's not-too-careful legislature, we have `dumpster teens' - near-adult youngsters left with the state of Nebraska by their parents, following last July's loosening of the state's child neglect statute. The legislature, trying to prevent dumpster babies, weakened penalties to irresponsible parents who at least show the tiniest responsibility by not leaving infants in dumpsters, or the like, to die, but rather leaving them at hospitals for someone else to take up care. Little did they expect parents to abandon growing children, including teenagers."

A brewing storm in Russia: "A year ago, Russia was in an odd place between oppressive stagnation and a glimmer of possible change. The ruling party, United Russia, had just consolidated its hold on the parliament in a rigged election; the presidential transition was revealed as the farcical anointment of a handpicked successor to Vladimir Putin - the docile Dmitry Medvedev, who quickly promised to make Putin prime minister. Yet some Russian liberals, and sympathetic Westerners, harbored at least modest hopes that Medvedev might prove more liberal than Putin and that the division of power between president and prime minister might weaken Russia's neo-autocracy. Today, the winds of change in Russia are blowing again - harsh winds that may yet turn into a storm."

Humans as livestock: "Stefan Molyneux has put out a remarkable video that takes a look at the human condition. It explains why many of us have been feeling like we are being treated like livestock lately. Human society is a farm, with the ruling class as the farmers and the rest of us as cattle. Outside of a quibble about his treatment of religion, I think he has hit the nail on the head. The ruling class may well look at us as cattle; but on the other hand, we look at the ruling class as parasites, don't we?"

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Gaza campaign so far

A view from Israel

The first stages were done by the air force, in a pattern first used by the Americans in Iraq in January 1991, but adapted to the conditions of Gaza. The first stage was to kill as many Hamas men as possible, in as many sites as possible. The goal was to throw Hamas into immediate confusion and never allow it to recuperate. Hundreds of dead and many hundreds of wounded - the majority not innocent bystanders, of course - taxing the hospitals, sowing panic and demoralization or at least its potential, disrupting any type of public order, forcing the leadership underground, hopefully severing some of their command and control capabilities.

On the second day we also destroyed some of their tunnels, effectively cutting off, or at least significantly reducing, their logistic hinterland.

By the third day the initial wave of airborne successes had been achieved, and David Grossman, assuming we were still in 2006, called for a halt: the air force had done its best, and from here on there wasn't much left for it to do other than rearrange the rubble and kill civilians. Better to call it a victory and stop. In hindsight, arguably this may have been true by the end of the first week, but it wasn't true on the third day. On days 3 through 7, the air force did something many of us hadn't thought of: it pulverized the middle level of the Hamas fighting machine. The head had been confused frightened and forced underground on day one; the fighting units, to the extent Hamas has them, and the 15,000-some armed men, were mostly unscathed. During those days, however, their immediate hinterland was targeted and apparently seriously hit. These were the dozens of homes of senior Haman figures pulverized, mostly while they were empty of people but still full of weapons. And tunnels. By destroying them, the IDF seriously crimped the ability of the Hamas units to function except where they already were. They couldn't be moved or regrouped. They can't be resupplied. They are where they are, armed as they are, period. They cannot be relieved. They probably have intermittent connections with their commanders at best.

This was achieved with limited loss of Hamas lives, and very few of civilians. True, someday the international media will enter Gaza freely, and they'll show endless footage of destroyed buildings, but by then it won't make much difference, will it. They'll be preaching to the believers, and anyway there will be a new story, somewhere else.

The next stage of the attrition focused on the barriers to a land invasion. The myths told about this stage were endless, even in Israel, and I'm not going to repeat them, but the general idea was that Hamas had created a series of fortifications, barriers and impediments to the advance of IDF ground forces. The Hamas leadership seems to have believed this, too, witness their proclamations as recently as three days ago that the ground forces will never come because the cowardly Israelis know they'll be cut down if they ever try.

In spite of the total fog of war that first evening, it was clear within about three hours that this probably wasn't what had happened. On the contrary: the IDF forces sailed through those lines of defense with very little action, few casualties, and, one might add, not very many dead Hamas fighters, either. My explanation for this is that for an army to slow down an invader on a fortified line, it has to be an army: with training, weaponry, command and control systems, reinforcements on their way, and so on. (The Israeli failures on the Golan and Suez on October 6-7th 1973 demonstrate this, and that IDF was always much more formidable than Hamas). Hamas would never have been able to stop a concerted effort of the IDF to get in, but it expected to bloody them. The attrition of days 3-7 prevented that.

By noon after the invasion Gaza had been bisected, with powerful forces sitting on the hilltops (such as there are in Gaza), or tall rooftops, and lines of supply back to their rear echelons. Casualties can be evacuated, supplies can get in; in the rear, meanwhile, new brigades are carefully and purposefully preparing themselves for battle: the reservists. Experienced veterans of previous campaigns, who flocked to their units when called up two nights ago, irrespective of how inconvenient it was in their regular lives.

Where are we now? The next line of Hamas defense, and its main one, was always the inevitable weakness of an attacking army in an urban environment. Even the most brutal and ruthless armies invade cities at their extreme peril: think Red Army in Berlin, April 1945, taking more than 100,000 casualties (the number of dead Berliners was, of course, much higher). Keep in mind, however, that the commanders of the IDF know that; they don't need to be informed by the media. Keep in mind also that Hamas has to be hit, as explained above. Ergo, a way had to be found, and prepared, trained and prepared for.

I'm no more informed than the rest of you, but allow me to suggest what may be happening (this is pure conjecture). As described above, at this stage of attrition the Hamas men are almost on their own, perhaps in small groups. They're tired and frightened, or at least, tired and very tense. They've been under fire for ten days, most of which were filled with frustrated anticipation: even assuming they've been raring for a fight the whole time, it has been slow in coming and doesn't appear all that imminent even now. Their leaders are out of sight, their closer commanders may also be gone. They realize that the tunnel they intended to use to resupply has been bombed, nor are many reinforcements likely to come. All this would still be alright if only the IDF infantry would walk into their carefully prepared traps. But the IDF isn't doing that. Instead, it's inching forward. Its infantry seems to have excellent intelligence about each building; instead of racing forward like an elephant into a booby-mined trap, it fights for a building, kills some of the defenders but captures others, interrogates them about the other buildings on the street and only then moves forward to the next one.

More here



Israel, Hamas and I: "When one is bombarded with selective, nearly haphazard information about events around the globe, events that are one's only source of understanding who is doing what to whom and how is it all justified, there is not much one can do but listen very carefully and determine who is making logical mistakes - who is equivocating, who is being evasive and vague, who is being clear and answers relevant questions directly, without obfuscation. By that criterion I have to say that my provisional assessment of what is reported from the Middle East leaves me with the impression that Israel is less responsible for the recent mess than Hamas. That's as well as I can do with the immediate information at hand. Maybe more detail, more history will lead me to alter what I think about the matter but for now I am pretty sure that Hamas is the bad guy here, while Israel, as so often in history, is the victim."

Gaza is not Lebanon: "The conventional wisdom about the incursion by Israeli ground units into Gaza, mirrored in Sunday's Washington Post, is that `Israeli leaders run the risk of repeating their disastrous experience in the 2006 Lebanon war, when they suffered high casualties in ground combat with Hezbollah.' Apparently, reporters and pundits are even more prone to refighting the last war than generals: Gaza is not Lebanon; Hamas is not Hezbollah and, most critically, Israel now is not Israel in 2006. To begin with, the physical and geographical differences between southern Lebanon and the Gaza strip could hardly be greater. And while Hassan Nasrallah and the Hezbollah leadership were under air attack in the outskirts of Beirut in 2006, the Hamas leadership has far fewer places to hide in Gaza city and elsewhere in Gaza."

Pointless peace proposals: "Circumstances change, and so do the names of the leading players. Peace negotiators come and go, and so do the details of their agreements. But in the end, there is one aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that always remains the same: When all else has failed, you can be absolutely sure that someone, somewhere, will issue a statement calling for peace. . the trouble with all of these peace efforts, peace conferences, peace initiatives, and peace proposals is that none of them recognize the most obvious fact about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: It's not a peace process; it's a war. At least at the moment, both parties are still convinced that their central aims will be better obtained through weapons and military tactics than through negotiations of any kind."

Don't cheer Obama's "tax cuts": "Cutting, and ultimately eliminating taxes, is dear to the Libertarian's heart. After all, since taxes are expropriated under the threat of violence, they are in essence State sanctioned theft. Unfortunately, unless tax cuts are accompanied by a concurrent cut in government spending, the tax break is simply accounting magic. In a fiat currency system, if taxes are cut but spending isn't, the government covers the revenue gap by printing money, shifting the burden from direct tax collection in the present to indirect future collection in the form of inflation. (Borrowing the money is no better as it forces future taxpayers to pay not only the principle on the initial program but also interest on the bond.) This explains why I am less than enthusiastic about President-elect Obama's `American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan,' although it includes over $300 billion in tax cuts. These tax cuts are not cuts at all. Taxpayers still pay for the government programs, but the cost is hidden from them."

Will Panetta turn the CIA into Obama's secret police? "In a nation already suspicious of its intelligence agencies, is it wise to appoint a former Clinton crony as Director of Central Intelligence? Well, two Democratic officials leaked the story that President-elect Barack Obama has chosen former Clinton White House chief of staff Leon Panetta to run the CIA, according to Los Angeles' newsradio KNX. Panetta is a surprise pick for the post, with no experience in the intelligence world and a reputation as a `dirty-tricks' maven when he worked for President Bill Clinton."

Life in the clown-car fast lane: "Can you believe it? Barack Hussein Obama II hasn't even been inaugurated yet and he's already been interviewed by federal prosecutors in the ongoing Blago mess; he's seen Bill Richardson immolate himself rather than stand the federal grand-jury scrutiny that would have come with his appointment as Commerce Secretary; his boy Rahm Emanuel is both en pointe, having resigned the House seat that was previously warmed by Hot Rod and Dan Rostenkowski, and, apparently, on Patrick Fitzgerald's tapes too; and he's facing the prospect of the Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, standing like a homunculus George Wallace in the schoolhouse door, ready to deny entrance to a black man when Roland `We Are the Senator' Burris tries to take Bambi's hardly-even-used seat tomorrow. And here we Democrats thought the Clinton administration could never be topped!"


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

A good day to be an Australian

It's always a good day to be an Australian but some days feel better than others and the day just gone by was one of those. That thought came to me while I was reading the official transcript of a Prime Ministerial press conference. Anyone who reads government press releases probably belongs to the legion of the lost, if not the legion of the damned, so my only excuse is that I don't do it very often. But with the situation in the Middle East being at such a turning point at the moment it makes all of us who admire and support the heroic nation of Israel (as heroic in restraint as they are in action) unusually anxious to monitor relevant events. And Australian Prime Ministers of both parties have a track record of firm support for Israel.

Before I found the remarks of Prime Minister Rudd on Israel, however, I also found some other remarks by him in his press conference that also pleased me greatly. In the sidebar of some of my blogs, you will find a statement that I have had there for some time. I repeat it below:
As well as being an academic, I am an army man and I am pleased and proud to say that I have worn my country's uniform. Although my service in the Australian army was chiefly noted for its un-notability, I DID join voluntarily in the Vietnam era, I DID reach the rank of Sergeant, and I DID volunteer for a posting in Vietnam. So I think I may be forgiven for saying something that most army men think but which most don't say because they think it is too obvious: The profession of arms is the noblest profession of all because it is the only profession where you offer to lay down your life in performing your duties. Our men fought so that people could say and think what they like but I myself always treat military men with great respect -- respect which in my view is simply their due.

I am conscious that the concept of a military career as a high calling would not be endorsed by all and the concept that a military man wears the uniform of his country would also be seen as objectionable by some. The Left, in particular, would generally mock both ideas. So I was pleased that the Center-Left Prime Minister of Australia endorsed both ideas. From the transcript:
I am deeply saddened to learn of the death of an Australian soldier in Afghanistan. This brave soldier, wearing the uniform of Australia died the field of duty wearing his nation's uniform and wearing it with pride. On behalf of the Government, I extend my condolences to his family and to his friends and to his loved ones. Our prayers and those of the entire nation are with his family and his friends and his loved ones on this most tragic of days....

I've said before that there is no higher calling for any Australian than to wear the uniform of Australia. And on a difficult and tragic day such as today, we are reminded of the cost of wearing that uniform - and that is to ultimately surrender your life for your country. And that is what has happened.

Hear hear!

But now back to Israel: Mr. Rudd and his deputy have both made a point of always mentioning the rockets raining down on southern Israel every time they mention the conflict. Today was no exception:
Australia is deeply concerned by continued violence in Gaza and in Southern Israel. Australia recognises Israel's right to self-defence, while we call on all parties to avoid any actions which result in unnecessary suffering or increased suffering on the part of innocent civilians. The escalation in the conflict, following the incursion by Israeli ground forces, underlines the absolute importance of bringing about an effective diplomatic solution.

Any solution, any diplomatic solution, must find a way of bringing a halt to rocket attacks against Israel by the terrorist organisation Hamas. Any diplomatic solution much also bring about a halt of arms shipments into Gaza.

Furthermore any diplomatic solution must form part of a longer term compact involving Israel and Palestine, based on a two-State solution.

Mr Rudd has a reputation for speaking gobbledegook at times but I think his words above are plain enough.

And from the Conservative side of Australian politics: The Melbourne Jewish community held a rally on Sunday supporting Israel's obligation and responsibility to protect and defend her citizens. Below is a speech given to that rally by coalition Senator Mitch Fifield:
Firstly can I congratulate you all for coming out on a Sunday to stand up for your beliefs. I was talking to Malcolm Turnbull [Leader of Opposition] on the phone just before the rally and he asked me to convey to you all his very best wishes.

Israel is under attack. Not from the Palestinian people. Not from the Palestinian Authority. But from Hamas. A group known by many names. But we here today know exactly what they are. They are extremists. They are terrorists. And Israel has every right to defend itself against them.

Today is a rally in support of Israel. But today is also a rally for her neighbours and the right of all to live in peace. Today we rally for democracy. We rally for freedom. We rally for the rule of law. It is important that we remind the international community that Israel is being attacked from within the borders of a territory that it did not occupy. That Israel is being attacked from within a territory over which it makes no claim.

Hamas in Gaza cannot claim to have been resisting an occupier. Let us remember that Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005. Despite this, Israel has come under attack on an almost daily basis from rockets fired by terrorists linked to Hamas. More than 3,000 rockets in 2008 alone.

Hamas care nothing for civilian populations on either side of the border. Hamas fire missiles randomly at population centres in Israel. Hamas intentionally puts the residents of Gaza in danger by hiding weapons in civilian areas. But if you listen to some commentators you could be forgiven for thinking that Hamas was some sort of benevolent religious organisation - a kind of Salvation Army with weapons. The truth is that Hamas seeks neither peace nor prosperity for Gazans.

Some believe that Israel, as the stronger military entity, should just sit back and absorb the rockets, the casualties and the deaths. That somehow every nation except Israel has the right to defend itself in line with Article 51 of the UN Charter. What lies behind such a view is the belief that Israel doesn't have a right to exist and deserves whatever it gets. The State of Israel has the right to defend herself. But more than that, the Government of Israel has an obligation to protect its citizens. To fail to do so would be a dereliction of its duty.

We should mourn all civilian deaths on both sides and hope and pray for a quick resolution to this crisis. The objective should be a sustained end to hostilities. What should not be accepted, however, is a one way ceasefire that just leads to further attacks on Israel. The rockets must stop. Israel's right to exist in peace with its neighbours must be accepted. Israel is a beacon of hope and liberty in the Middle East. It is a great and robust democracy. The people of Israel are free and always will be. And Australia will stand by them.

I am most pleased to be so well represented by Australia's political leadership in the matters discussed above.

And I think that is all that I want to say here today. Shalom.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Monday, January 5, 2009


By Prof. Barry Rubin

A major problem in debating about international issues nowadays is that it is so often hard or even impossible to respect our adversaries. It is quite possible to disagree with someone but to be impressed with their ability in constructing arguments, their grasp of logic and facts, their getting things partly right to the point that it makes you adjust your own thinking. Yet nowadays one is so often confronted with deliberate lies, huge factual errors, and just totally illogical claims.

When I am attacked for something I have written-which happens far more rarely than I expected, I am almost always shocked and genuinely perplexed at how very secondary points are chosen for vicious denunciation. The latest example is one sentence, out of a full article, in which I say that Hamas is worse than the Germans in World War Two because the Nazis did not use their people as involuntarily human shields and place ammunition dumps in residential buildings.

Although I didn't mention this in the article, there was a very specific reason for my making that point. I am writing a book on my family and their town during World War Two. I was reading an account by a Soviet army partisan about a military action in which his unit attacked a small town in eastern Poland. The Germans had taken over the Polish Catholic church and fortified it as a defense post.

The battle happened at night and there were no civilians in the building when the partisans attacked it. Still, for a moment I was taken aback because of my own democratic and moderate upbringing and education. After all, the Germans had massacred thousands of Jews in these villages. And I had just read how they had burnt down a Polish family's home-with the family inside-because the peasant husband had given two partisans some water to drink that day. Yet to use a church as a military fort struck me as a bit shocking.

Then I reflected that this very day a mosque had been bombed by Israel's air force after being identified as a Hamas weapons' depot. I had previously written that Hamas wanted civilians to be casualties because this provided good media coverage and international sympathy. And it is notable that as Hamas goaded Israel into war it made no provision for shelters or civil defense for its own people.

Palestinian Media Watch has reprinted a speech made by Fathi Hamad, one of the top Hamas leaders, on the movement's own Al-Aqsa television station from February 29, 2008. He stated:

"For the Palestinian people death became an industry, at which women excel and so do all people on this land: the elderly excel, the Jihad fighters excel, and the children excel. Accordingly [Palestinians] created a human shield of women, children, the elderly and the Jihad fighters against the Zionist bombing machine, as if they were saying to the Zionist enemy: "We desire death as you desire life.'"

How can one explain that the Nazis never behaved in such a way? This is actually an interesting question and one that tells us something very important about the contemporary world. German soldiers fought bravely and German civilians bore up under tremendous sacrifice mainly because they were patriotic. While their cause was unjust, they supported Hitler mainly out of a belief that Germany should be "over all," as the old national anthem put it. They felt victimized by the victorious allies in World War One.

A secondary motive was in the more specific aspects of Nazi ideology: its view of the Germans as a master race, fighting a global battle with the Jewish enemy, and so on.

As nationalists, though, they had to love their country, at least in their own interpretation of it and excluding all the Jewish citizens of course. They wanted prosperity, happiness, and empowerment for the German people. Consequently, the German army and government viewed it as their duty to protect the people. And if they were the master race, all the more need to protect them.

And that is why-if they had ever thought of it-the Nazis would not have deliberately exposed their people to even more suffering by using them as human shields or stockpiling bombs and bullets in their residential buildings. However chauvinistic and inhumane extreme nationalism can be to others, by definition it has to believe itself to be serving those who it identifies as its followers, constituency, and even subjects.

Of course, Hitler led his people to disaster and in the end inflicted tremendous suffering on them. When they realized this fact, the great majority concluded that their ruler had failed them and surrendered or concluded that they had been wrong and the regime was a mistake.

But radical Islamism is different. Its goal is not to exalt its people-Palestinians or Muslims, as such-but to implement God's will. God is above the people. And the deity must be served no matter how many of the people, even Muslims, die or suffer. Thus we see the massive bloodshed in the Algerian civil war and the terrorist attacks against other Muslims in places like Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Even an anti-Israel demonstration in Iraq was hit by a suicide bomber recently.

Thus, there is this tireless emphasis on martyrdom, and people can be martyred even if they don't choose that for themselves. What is startling-and like so many significant facts gone unnoticed in much of the world-is that Hamas never had any program for social development, quality education, improved health, or anything else but warfare for the Gaza Strip. Its only concern was to wage a war of extermination on Israel, no matter how much time and how many lives it cost.

In this same point, we have a very important clue for the international-albeit greatly exaggerated-reaction against Israel. Unable to comprehend that people would behave in this way, many Westerners assume that Hamas really wants a nice, peaceful state in which Palestinian children play happily. As is often said, doesn't everyone want a good life of material prosperity and happiness for their kiddies?

Yet right at the start, on the success of the Iranian revolution almost thirty years ago, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini warned us that anyone who thought the Islamic revolution was about lowering the price of watermelons understood nothing.

And that is the problem with our adversaries in the Western debate. True, they hate us-meaning Israel or America or the West in general-and despite the very principles and institutions that have brought them freedom and a comfortable life. This is, of course, the basis for a political battle. What is truly disconcerting, however, is that they understand so very little about the world, common sense, logic, honest debate, the nature of democracy and dictatorship, and the nature of the real adversary against-irony of ironies-we are protecting them.



By Prof. Barry Rubin

When you actually hear what the anti-Israel, anti-American and anti-Western forces say, it reveals just how inaccurate is their analysis, often allowed to be given without contradiction in much of the media. Here are two quotes from Yahoo coverage of anti-Israel demonstrations:

1. Paul Mukerji, 42, from Birmingham, acknowledged Israel had security reasons but called its action disproportionate. "The best way for peace for Palestinians and Israelis is to end the occupation," he said.

Yep! End that occupation and all the shooting will stop. As you know, it was Israel's end of occupation in south Lebanon that led to attacks by Hizballah. And Israel's end of occupation in the Gaza Strip that led to attacks by Hamas. And Israel's agreement with the PLO and withdrawal from part of the West Bank raised the level of terrorism there (at least for about half of the last 15 years). No doubt if Israel withdrew completely from the West Bank....

But in logical terms, of course, if you believe that "occupation" causes violence--rather than, say, revolutionary Arab nationalist and Islamist movements that sought total victory--you MUST argue that these are defensive reactions. Of course, they are aggressive ones.

2. Ali Saeed, 24, from Luton, said Western governments had failed to condemn Israel's actions. "What's going on in Gaza is not right ... It's not a coincidence that it's going on in Iraq, in Chechnya, in Kashmir. It's just about going on everywhere. It's almost a direct insult to every single Muslim," he said.

Iraq: Saddam Hussein has repressive dictatorship, Saddam attacks Iran, Saddam attacks Kuwait, terrorists today kill mostly other Muslims in a Sunni-Shia battle. Yes, so why blame America?

Chechnya: One could argue that this is an occupation issue--the Russians have been there for about 150 years-- but the Chechnya rebels have deliberately targeted Russian civilians and killed their own moderates who tried to work out a deal. At any rate, one can contrast Russian methods-leveling the capital city and killing many thousands of civilians-with Israel's, with Hamas admitting 85 percent of the casualties in the current campaign are its soldiers and most of the rest victims of its policy of turning civilians into involuntary human shields.

Kashmir: Radical Islamists backed by Pakistan murder Indian civilians and carry out terrorism in India. To my knowledge, the Indians never used harsh repression in Kashmir, certainly not before the start of a terrorist war there.

And how about:

Massacres of Christians in Indonesia; of Christians and Buddhists in Thailand; of Christians in the Philippines; and of Christians and Shia Muslims in Iraq; and of Christians and Druze and Sunni Muslims in Lebanon; and of fellow Muslims in Algeria and Egypt and Saudi Arabia; and of course al-Qaida attacks including September 11; and the London subway bombings, and the Bali bombing; and the Spanish commuter train bombings; and the Mumbai attacks; and the murder of animists and fellow Muslims in Sudan; and so on.

Once upon a time in the West there were institutions which challenged and corrected a factually ludicrous world view. Now, alas, they often further it. And of course, this isn't the first time-even in living memory-that the world has faced such movements, such falsehood, such places:
"But ideas can be true although men die,
And we can watch a thousand faces
Made active by one lie:

"And maps can really point to places
Where life is evil now:
Nanking; Dachau."

"In Time of War," W.H. Auden, 1939

And now: Kabul, Tehran, and Gaza under Hamas rule. But common sense does prevail. The truth is that the demonstrations have not been impressive in Europe and America, both in size and in the ability of the anti-Israel forces to mobilize non-Muslims in any serious numbers.



Fortunately only some Europeans, mainly Leftists -- but the media amplify their voice. But as Pamela Geller says below, it is hard to believe that ANY Europeans can support a second holocaust -- which is what HAMAS and their ilk aim at

It is hard to believe that while Shoah victims and holocaust survivors still walk among us, that we would witness an evil so severe and grotesque that it would make the rhetoric of the Third Reich look mild. Yes, the Nazis killed millions -- that was the obvious monstrous result of their campaign.

We have not yet witnessed the "final solution" of Islamic jihad -- but there are incontrovertible facts that are blinding. The Nazis hid their crimes. The Nazis pretended to be doing one thing while subversively carrying out its "extermination" of Jews, gypsies, "undesirables", etc. They engaged in rhetoric and obfuscation.

This time is different. The Muslims are not engaging in rhetoric. They are not pretending. They want the Jews dead and they exult in their wild screams of blood lust. Such joy, such happiness at their Jew hating chants from a joyless people.

The Germans went to war, conquered countries and with the help of those weak governments and people annihilated the Jews. The Holocaust was a German initiative subsequently carried out by every nation the Nazis conquered in Europe, with the exception of Denmark. It's not a national initiative this time. It's global........... a wave of evil has washed over this earth like a veritable tsunami and it has colored everything.

I expect this barbarity and Jew hatred from the Arab/Islamic world. It's what they do and what they have always done. But what was the lesson that Europe learned after the holocaust? It was not that evil is bad and that they behaved like monsters, but, as Caroline Glick said in our interview, that " rather that everything was caused by nationalism and therefore what we really need to do is have a European Union that will obviate our need for nationalism so that we can become this transnational gobbletygook and we'll all get together and therefore we won't have another Auschwitz". But really the lesson the Europeans should have been is that "we were evil and we have to be good. And that is the lesson we have to learn and and we have to be able and willing to make moral distinctions and stand up for the good and fight evil and that is something the Europeans refuse to do."

Once again Europe chooses to embrace madness and evil as its central unifying characteristic. And this time England is leading the way. I believe good will triumph over such overwhelming odds and numbers. I know it in my bones, but one has to look at the global landscape and say, at what cost?
Thousands of chanting, banner-waving demonstrators marched in cities across Europe on Saturday to demand a halt to Israeli bombing in the Gaza Strip. Protests were held or scheduled in Britain, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain as the Israeli offensive entered its second week. Kuwaitis also took to the streets, a day after bigger Middle East rallies.

In Paris, police said more than 20,000 demonstrators, many wearing Palestinian keffiyeh headscarves, marched through the city center chanting slogans like "Israel murderer!" and waving banners demanding an end to the air attacks. Similar protests were planned in some 30 other towns.

London police said more than 10,000 people staged a noisy march and rally to urge an end to an Israeli offensive against Hamas militants that has killed at least 435 Palestinians.

In many European cities people waved shoes -- recalling the action of an Iraqi journalist who hurled footwear at U.S. President George W. Bush in Baghdad last month in a symbolic insult. British demonstrators threw dozens of shoes into the street as they passed the gated entrance to Downing Street, where Prime Minister Gordon Brown lives, and shouted angrily at a line of 40 police officers on guard there.....

Paul Mukerji, 42, from Birmingham, acknowledged Israel had security reasons but called its action disproportionate.

Who dictates the proportion? The jihadis?
"The best way for peace for Palestinians and Israelis is to end the occupation," said Mukerji, who said he had spent six months working with Jewish and Palestinian peace groups.

What occupation? There has not been an Israeli toenail in Gaza since 2005. All lies, lies lies.
Ali Saeed, 24, from Luton, said Western governments had failed to condemn Israel's actions.

Failure to condemn self defense? The will to live?



Creepy Times

There is something especially nauseating about the latest Middle East war - scenes of worldwide Islamic protests with photos of Jews as apes, protesters (in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida of all places!) screaming about nuking Israel and putting Jews in ovens, parades of children dressed up with suicide vests and fake rockets, near constant anti-Semitic vicious sloganeering, Gaza mosques stuffed with rockets to be used against civilians - all to be collated with creepy Hamas rhetoric about the annihilation of Israel. This is the world in which we now live.

Almost no other issue in recent memory has illustrated the moral bankruptcy of much of the international community. Hamas has no pretensions, like the PA, of being a governing authority; it used violence to rout the PA and then bragged that its charter pledging the destruction of Israel remained unchanged. Israel evacuated Gaza; Gazans in response looted their own infrastructure, alienated both the PA and Egypt,and then sent off more than 6,000 rockets against Israeli civilians, while eagerly becoming a terrorist puppet of theocratic Iran.

Nothing could be more clear: either the fact that a constitutional republic was trying to avoid civilian casualties while a terrorist organization was intent on killing Jewish civilians as it used its own citizens as shields to protect mostly young male terrorists; or the world's craven reaction to all this.

Again all very creepy - the stuff of Tolkien's Mordor. It is now clear that the so-called and much praised "international community," the hallowed U.N., the revered EU, all pretty much are indifferent to the survival of a democratic Israel, or are actively supportive of its terrorist Hamas enemy. Only the U.S. (for now) stands by a constitutional state in its war against a murderous terrorist clique, with annhilation its aim and religous fascism its creed.



List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Sunday, January 4, 2009

On the Ground in Gaza

Prof. Barry Rubin has emailed the article below with a request for immediate publication

Israel didn’t want to attack the Gaza Strip from the ground or from the air. Hamas, which had long broken the ceasefire, canceled it altogether. Then it began large-scale attacks on Israel. This is a war of defense. And it is being conducted just 30 miles from here, Israel’s main city.

According to the just-released Israeli government statement on the offensive:
“The objective of this stage is to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of the Hamas in the area of operation, while taking control of some of rocket launching area used by the Hamas, in order to greatly reduce the quantity of rockets fired at Israel and Israeli civilians.

“The operation will…strike a direct and hard blow against the Hamas while increasing the deterrent strength of the Israel Defense Forces, in order to bring about an improved and more stable security situation for residents of southern Israel over the long term.”

Even as the 2006 war was continuing, the Israel Defense Force was evaluating the mistakes made in Lebanon—helicopters needed better short-range munitions, improved air-ground coordination, care in using tanks unsupported by infantry, and so on.

But contrary to the insistence of armchair strategists now, it would not be easy to seize control of all the Gaza Strip and govern it for an extended period of time. Hamas is not going to go away. International support for Israel is limited. Fatah and the Palestinian Authority will not react strongly to try to take Gaza back for itself. There are about one million people in the Gaza Strip and Hamas will make every attempt to ensure there are civilian casualties—and pretend there are even more.

So “total victory” is not easy, if it is even possible. The irony is that Israeli policy is based on the idea that there is no military solution to these issues. But since there is no diplomatic solution either, force must be used to protect Israel and its citizens.

It should be remembered that Israel withdrew completely from the Gaza Strip, dismantled all settlements, and wished the Palestinians good luck. The Palestinian Authority (PA) was not up to the challenge. It could and would not change its corrupt and incompetent ways. U.S. policy insisted that Hamas be allowed to run in the elections, even though it did not meet the standard of accepting the 1993 Israel-PLO agreement. Hamas won.

But Hamas invoked the radical Islamist policy of “one man, one vote, one time.” It staged a coup and kicked out its PA and Fatah rivals. Rather than focusing on economic development or even maintaining peace to build up its own power, Hamas pursued its strategy of permanent war against Israel. Children’s programs taught the kiddies that they should grow up to be suicide bombers and kill Jews. Hamas soldiers, or their junior allies, fired rockets and mortars at Israel. And of course Hamas staged a cross-border raid and kidnapped an Israeli soldier.

In spite of this, many in the West think Israel has some kind of choice in this matter, that diplomacy was an option, that Hamas could be reasoned with. Those people have clearly never heard a Hamas leader speak or read anything on the group’s Arabic-language websites. In a real sense, Hamas is more extreme than Usama bin Ladin, who periodically offers his enemy the chance to repent. Hamas’s goal is genocidal.

This has nothing to do with being dovish or hawkish, left or right. For those who are the biggest peaceniks—and this is true in Israel—know that Hamas must be defeated if Israel is ever to make peace with the PA. Even the PA knows it, and that’s what they say in private, no matter what they say in public.

The offensive is only going to last so long. It would be nice to believe that Hamas will be overthrown, less extreme Palestinians will take over, or Israel will just sit in the Gaza Strip for months or even years to come without any major problem. These are not real options.

Hamas wants nothing more than to be able to organize an underground to launch daily attacks on Israeli patrols going through the center of refugee camps. It should be remembered that, for better or worse, it was the Israeli military—not the politicians—who wanted to withdraw from the Gaza Strip for tactical reasons. It was easier to hold a defensive line in strength than to play into Hamas’s strong points by trying to control all the territory.

Clearly, this didn’t take into account the rockets but it is easy to think that if Israeli forces had been in the Gaza Strip every day since the withdrawal, Israeli casualties would have been a lot higher while Fatah and Hamas would be fighting side to side against Israel, and international diplomacy would have been far more hostile to Israel.

No one should have any illusions that this conflict is going to go away. The peace process era, 1993-2000, taught us that Iran, Syria, Hamas, Hizballah, and radical Islamist groups meant what they said. They will never accept peace with Israel. Israel will be involved in a struggle with these extremist groups for decades.
Yet that does not mean Israel cannot—and does not—prevail. It prevails by maintaining good lives for its citizens, developing its economy, and raising living standards, progressing in technology and science and medicine.

In this context, Israel will not listen to those many who counsel it to commit suicide, but it also has no illusions of a victory, of a war that will end all wars. And in a real sense that is Israel’s true strength: it is not naïve about either concessions or force. If you have realistic expectations, if you aren’t disappointed, then you never give up.

Often, nowadays, it seems as if all history is being rewritten when it comes to Israel. In World War Two, allied air forces carpet-bombed cities even though there were no military bases in civilian areas. In France alone, tens of thousands of civilians were killed by allied bombs that fell on their intended targets.

Even the Nazis didn’t put ammunition dumps in houses and use human shields. And up until now the blame for doing so would fall on those who deliberately and cynically sought to create civilian casualties in order to gain support for themselves
Up until now, a country whose neighbor fired across the border at its people and even staged cross-border raids had the right of self-defense.

Up until now, there has been a capability of understanding which group is inciting hatred, trying to turn children into robotic terrorists, calling for the extermination of another people, and committing aggression.

Many people, many journalists, many governments, and even many intellectuals still understand the most basic principles of right and wrong as well as of the real world. Unfortunately, too many don’t or at least don’t when Israel is the target.

Finally, it is of the greatest importance to understand that this is not an issue of Gaza or of Israel alone. The great issue of our era, of our remaining lifetimes, is the battle between radical Islamism—whether using the tactic of terrorism or not—and the rest of the world. To isolate this question as merely something about Israel is to misunderstand everything important about the world today.

"Fudging" and treading on dangerous ground

"Fudging" is of course what the English do in order to avoid treading on dangerous ground but I have enough independence in me to be rather un-English about that. I mentioned yesterday some of the points made by Punditarian. One point I did not mention, however, was his comment about "fudging". He cautiously mentioned that Jews are rather good at that too. He must be Jewish as I cannot imagine a gentile daring to say so. It could feed the stereotype of Jews as being devious and dishonest.

So let me start out by saying that Australians do a bit of fudging too. And we even call it that. I imagine that fudging occurs from time to time in a lot of places. An essential point however is that British fudging is primarily used to avoid upsetting community or political applecarts. It is used to keep everyone involved reasonably happy. So whether Jews often do that sort of thing from time to time I will leave unanalysed. My point about the matter is that modern-day Jews certainly overlook large opportunities for doing so -- and overlook such opportunities at considerable loss. The example I gave of a way in which Jews could do some good British fudging still seems to me to be valuable: Jews could declare that fundamentalist Christians are after all just another Jewish sect. Like all fudges, that is only partly true but it would surely warm relationships greatly nonetheless. And the importance of warm relationships between modern day Christians and Jews was the whole point of everything I have recently written on the topic.

An omission:

I note that although I have defined "Jew" in what I think is the most reasonable way, I have not defined "English". As an academic, I see that as a regrettable omission and I think it may have led to some confusion. So: As with the Jews, a number of definitions are possible but not all are equally good. Some sort of rough racial description could perhaps be managed, for instance, but for my present purposes, all I need to do is to define the English as the LINGUISTIC group that first came to England c. 1500 years ago and who still live there in the persons of their descendants -- descendants who still speak an evolved version of the same language. That makes no racial claims and in fact what I say is heavily dependant on a cultural claim, as we will see in a moment.

And the descendants of the original German tribes of 1500 years ago have of course received heavy genetic input from other groups: Particularly the previous Celtic inhabiants of what was once Britannia and various Norse invaders (Danes and Norwegians). So racial purity is in their case, as usual, a fantasy. It is however true that the physical and cultural differences between the three major groups were slight so have left little difference that is now detectable.

What is important, however, is the large cultural change brought about by the last (Norman) invasion of England in 1066. Before that event England was getting invaded all the time, with the previous invasion being only a couple of weeks before, in fact. The Normans represented racial groups (Celts and Norse) that were already well represented in England so the change they brought was not a racial one. What the Norman rulers brought to England was a much larger and cannier political perspective and, for one reason or another (due in part, no doubt, to the Norman struggles for independance from France), that perspective hardened rapidly into the alliance-orientation that has characterized the English ever since. And so it still is. Tony Blair sent 15,000 British troops into Iraq not because Britain had been attacked but because America had been.


Crush Hamas and brave the backlash

CNN International's coverage of the weekend's fighting in Gaza concluded with a rush of images: mangled civilians writhing in the rubble, primitive hospitals overflowing with the wounded, fireballs mushrooming between apartment complexes, the funeral of a Palestinian child. Missing from the montage, however, was even a fleeting glimpse of the tens of thousands of Israelis who spent last night and much of last week in bomb shelters; of the house in Netivot, where a man was killed by a Grad missile; or indeed any of the hundreds of rockets, mortar shells, and other projectiles fired by Hamas since the breakdown of the so-called ceasefire.

This was CNN at its unprincipled worst, grossly skewering its coverage of a complex event and deceiving its viewers. Yet Israel should not have been surprised. Over the past few weeks, as the tahdiyah ("period of calm" in Arabic, the term similarly preferred by the Hebrew press) unwound and finally dissipated, Israel's policy has been to refrain from responding militarily to Hamas rocket fire. Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni went to Egypt and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert appeared on al-Arabiya TV to bear the message that Israel did not want war with Hamas; instead, Israel was committed to renewing the tahdiyah. The purpose was to build up a moral case for retaliating against a recalcitrant Hamas and limiting the international fallout that invariably follows any Israeli attempt at self-defence.

But the tactic has never really worked and failed this time as well. Within minutes of the first Israeli air strike, the Arabs were screaming "massacre" and the media had all but forgotten the serial assaults that provoked it. The press once again attached the word "disproportionate" and the term "continuing cycle of violence" to describe a supremely justified and largely surgical (the targets were exclusively military, the victims overwhelmingly Hamas gunmen) operation. At the time of writing, the UN Security Council is meeting and will no doubt find Israel and Hamas equally guilty for disrupting the ceasefire and demand its immediate restoration.

One wonders why Israel even bothers. Instead of undermining the Zionist ethos of defending Jewish lives at all costs irrespective of bad publicity and perilously broadcasting weakness to its enemies, perhaps Israel should simply declare that the slightest violation of the ceasefire - a single Qassam - will precipitate an immediate and disproportionate response. Since it's going to be condemned for it anyway, why shouldn't Israel smash Hamas promptly and massively and reap the benefits in terms of self-respect, deterrence, and a respite for its embattled citizens?

More here


Moral Clarity in Gaza

Late Saturday, thousands of Gazans received Arabic-language cell-phone messages from the Israeli military, urging them to leave homes where militants might have stashed weapons.

Some geopolitical conflicts are morally complicated. The Israel-Gaza war is not. It possesses a moral clarity not only rare but excruciating. Israel is so scrupulous about civilian life that, risking the element of surprise, it contacts enemy noncombatants in advance to warn them of approaching danger. Hamas, which started this conflict with unrelenting rocket and mortar attacks on unarmed Israelis -- 6,464 launched from Gaza in the past three years -- deliberately places its weapons in and near the homes of its own people.

This has two purposes. First, counting on the moral scrupulousness of Israel, Hamas figures civilian proximity might help protect at least part of its arsenal. Second, knowing that Israelis have new precision weapons that may allow them to attack nonetheless, Hamas hopes that inevitable collateral damage -- or, if it is really fortunate, an errant Israeli bomb -- will kill large numbers of its own people for which, of course, the world will blame Israel.

For Hamas, the only thing more prized than dead Jews are dead Palestinians. The religion of Jew-murder and self-martyrdom is ubiquitous. And deeply perverse, such as the Hamas TV children's program in which an adorable live-action Palestinian Mickey Mouse is beaten to death by an Israeli (then replaced by his more militant cousin, Nahoul the Bee, who vows to continue on Mickey's path to martyrdom).

At war today in Gaza, one combatant is committed to causing the most civilian pain and suffering on both sides. The other combatant is committed to saving as many lives as possible -- also on both sides. It's a recurring theme. Israel gave similar warnings to Southern Lebanese villagers before attacking Hezbollah in the Lebanon war of 2006. The Israelis did this knowing it would lose for them the element of surprise and cost the lives of their own soldiers.

That is the asymmetry of means between Hamas and Israel. But there is equal clarity regarding the asymmetry of ends. Israel has but a single objective in Gaza -- peace: the calm, open, normal relations it offered Gaza when it withdrew in 2005. Doing something never done by the Turkish, British, Egyptian and Jordanian rulers of Palestine, the Israelis gave the Palestinians their first sovereign territory ever in Gaza.

What ensued? This is not ancient history. Did the Palestinians begin building the state that is supposedly their great national aim? No. No roads, no industry, no courts, no civil society at all. The flourishing greenhouses that Israel left behind for the Palestinians were destroyed and abandoned. Instead, Gaza's Iranian-sponsored rulers have devoted all their resources to turning it into a terror base -- importing weapons, training terrorists, building tunnels with which to kidnap Israelis on the other side. And of course firing rockets unceasingly.

More here


Of Bailouts and Boondoggles: The UAW's Ignominious Anniversary

On this week in 1936, United Auto Workers' members occupied a General Motors plant in Flint, Michigan, staging a "sit-down strike" that resulted in the beginning of a thoroughly destructive exclusive labor agreement between the company and the union. With the eager acquiescence of corporate management, the UAW union bosses quickly set out upon a decades-long policy of bleeding the competitive life out of General Motors (and Chrysler and Ford). That policy helped the union emerge as an unrivaled political force and eminently wealthy special interest. But, the relationship was, if anything, parasitic.

Like a parasite devouring its host organism, the union thugs have finally ended up slaying the goose that laid their golden eggs. In this case, however, it must be noted that the goose willingly laid its head upon the chopping block.

Bowing to each and every union demand with slavish obsequity, the Big Three management all but abandoned even the appearance of focusing on long-term viability rather than the next quarter's profits. As Noel Tichy, Noel Tichy, a University of Michigan business professor and author who ran General Electric Co.'s leadership program 1985-87 and once worked as a consultant for Ford, recently wrote, "There has been 30 years of denial. They did not make themselves competitive. They didn't deal with the union issues, the cost structures long ago, everything that makes a successful company."

And as was all but inevitable, soon, both the union and the host will begin to disappear beneath the waves of a free market reality that American politicians can't bail them out of - no matter how much taxpayer money they throw at the problem.

More here


Obama will try to fix Africa and will fail

Because he will be ineffectual and irrelevant most everywhere else, one place Zero [Obama] will focus his foreign policy on will be Africa. We could call this drama Zero in Africa. He is going to be spending a lot of our money and risking many of our soldiers' lives in Africa. After all, that's where his alleged father is from. It's what the entire liberal elite expects of him. And it won't do any good.

Endless wars, bottomless corruption, disease, tyranny and dictatorship seem standard operating procedure for Africa. Out of the over 50 nation-states on the continent, one can point to the mild success story here and there - but these are exceptions to Africa's being the bottom of humanity's barrel. The coup last week in Guinea is a fine example.

The former French colony has the world's largest bauxite reserves, lots of iron ore, gold, and diamonds, lots of rich farmland. Most of its 10 million people live on less than $1 a day, it was ruled by a thug for the last 25 years until he died, whereupon some completely unknown army captain staged a coup and took over the country. Guineans are hailing him as "Obama Junior."

Africans will be looking to Zero to end their paleolithic poverty and violence, and he won't be able to - because of a fundamental fact he cannot change. The American Psychiatric Association classifies people with an IQ of 70 or below as mentally retarded. The average IQ of sub-Saharan Africans is 67.

Of course, there are plenty of very smart individual Africans. But the majority population of the entire continent of Africa (excluding North African countries such as Morocco and Egypt, and the whites of South Africa) is suffering mental retardation - or, put another way, has the mental faculties of a pre-teenage child. The average IQ in Guinea is 63.

The world's foremost researcher on IQ is Richard Lynn, professor of psychology at the University of Ulster in the UK. His exhaustive research over 30 years has been compiled in monumental studies entitled IQ and the Wealth of Nations and Race Differences in Intelligence: An Evolutionary Analysis. His latest study is The Global Bell Curve: Race, IQ, and Inequality Worldwide.

Sifting through 168 national IQ studies covering 81 countries and published in peer-reviewed scientific journals, analyzing the entire body of scientific psychometric (psychological measurement) research for the last 100 years, Lynn has determined that:

*East Asians (Hong Kong, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, South Korea, but not China) have on average 5 IQ points higher than Europeans and European-Americans.

*East Asian mean IQ is 105, China excluding Hong Kong is 100 (Hong Kong is 107, the world's highest), European/European-American is 100, Inuit Eskimo is 91, American Indian is 87, Mexican is 87, American Black is 85, South Asian (e.g. India, Pakistan) is 84, Middle East/North Africa Arab is 83, Sub-Saharan African is 67, Australian Aborigine is 62. The world average IQ is 90.

The key words are "on average." For while the average East Asian is smarter than the average European or American, the latter have greater variability. Which means, especially for Americans whose culture allows for more flourishing of intelligence, there will be a lot more really smart folks, super-smart individuals with IQs above 130 among them. It is these geniuses of science and business that have enabled our culture, that of Western Civilization, to prosper far beyond any other.

And it is just these folks, the brightest and most talented, that Zero will stifle and sacrifice on his altars of Equality, Fairness, and Redistribution. So a lot of them will give up or leave the US - they will shrug, as we discussed last month in Atlas in America.

More here. (Excerpt from post of 02 January 2009)


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Saturday, January 3, 2009

Jewish and English history

Punditarian has some comments on my recent posts about Jews. We appear to be in substantial agreement -- with the main problem being that he has completely missed my point when I compared the English and the Jews. I was not at all interested in the question of what the future holds for the English. I was merely trying to extract what lessons we can learn from their rather distinguished history to date. How did the English do so well from the 11th to the 20th centuries? I think the answer to that could have lessons for Jews. And there is nothing in that answer that is at all threatening to Jewry or Judaism. Quite to the contrary. Jews have survived for 3,000 years amid great suffering. I believe that there are ways to reduce that suffering. It has been said that when we stop learning we die so I do hope that Jews are still capable of learning some things. If so, I believe that the English are one group who could teach most people something.

I think the only area where Punditarian and I disagree is fairly trivial. He wants to call Jews a nation. I have no strong feelings about that at all. My only point is that Jews are not a race and he seems to agree with that. Nonetheless his use of "nation" is a bit peculiar. In ordinary usage, "nation" refers to the people of a particular place under a single government. So Israel is undoubtedly a nation but Jews generally are not. Whether you call Jews a nation, a people or just a group, however, the only really interesting question, it seems to me, is how they are defined. It is of course an old question that has been debated for many years and Israel itself has effectively thrown up its hands over the matter and declared that you are a Jew if you think you are. Being one of those pesky social scientists, however, I still strive to bring a bit of order out of chaos so I still like my definition that you are a Jew either because of your own religion or the religion of one of your recent forebears.

In an earlier post, Punditarian conflated geneology with genetics in discussing one of my statements but I concede that the statement concerned was unclear enough to enable that. I could not see how any modern day Western Jew could trace a GENEOLOGICAL connection to the Israel of 2,000 years ago but Punditarian took me to be referring to a GENETIC connection. There is of course no doubt (as we see here) that some Western Jews derive some of their genes from the Middle East and, hence probably from ancient Israel. Overall, however, Jews are racially very mixed. I trace some of my ancestry to Scotland but that does not mean that I am a Scot.

One point made by Punditarian that I rather liked, however, was his point that Jews have always been only weakly endogamous. As he notes, the Bible itself records plenty of examples of marrying "out". The book of Ruth is in fact all about one such episode.


"I'm keeping Kosher for Christmas"

A rather fun video about Jews and Christmas below. Definitely no suicide bombers involved. But it does look like the Yiddisher Momma has won most of the battles. But the video link was afer all sent to me by a real Yiddisher Momma!

She also sent me An interview with God that has some good thoughts in it.


Has Israel learned its lesson?

ISRAEL'S 2006 WAR against Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed terrorist army based in Lebanon, was a disaster -- an ill-planned operation that did more damage to Israel's military reputation than to Hezbollah's resolve and influence. Now, as it fights Hamas in Gaza, Israel seems determined not to repeat the mistakes it made 2« years ago. This time, Israeli prewar preparations were much more meticulous. Months were devoted to gathering detailed information on scores of Hamas targets, including training camps and offices, rocket launchers, underground bunkers, weapons-making sites, tunnels from Egypt, and the homes of terrorist commanders. Israel's military and political operations appear better coordinated than in 2006, and Israeli diplomats are making use of online weapons -- launching a dedicated YouTube channel, for example, and conducting a live citizens' press conference via Twitter -- to get its message out.

But it remains an open question whether Israel's leaders have learned the most critical lesson of all: that genocidal jihadists and other mortal foes cannot be wheedled, negotiated, bribed, or ignored into quietude. In a war with enemies like Hezbollah and Hamas and the PLO -- enemies explicitly committed to Israel's destruction -- goodwill gestures beget no goodwill, and peace processes do not lead to peace.

The proximate cause of the fighting in Gaza was the sharp increase in rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli civilians after Hamas refused to extend its tenuous cease-fire with Israel past Dec. 19. But the deeper cause was the transformation of Gaza into an Iranian proxy and terrorist hub following Israel's reckless "disengagement" in 2005. Israelis convinced themselves that ethnically cleansing Gaza of its Jews and handing over the territory to the Palestinians would reduce violence and make Israel safer. It did just the opposite. In 2000, Israelis had similarly believed that a unilateral retreat from southern Lebanon would deprive Hezbollah of any pretext for continuing its war against the Jewish state. But far from extinguishing Hezbollah's jihadist dreams, it inflamed them.

There are heartening indications this week of a more realistic and unsentimental approach. Defense Minister Ehud Barak described the offensive against Hamas as a "war to the bitter end" and told an American interviewer, "For us to be asked to have a cease-fire with Hamas is like asking you to have a cease-fire with al-Qaeda." Both leading contenders in the upcoming Israeli election, Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu and Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister and head of Kadima, promise to make it a priority "to topple the Hamas regime" if elected prime minister. Israel's UN ambassador, Gabriela Shalev, has said that the operation in Gaza will last "as long as it takes to dismantle Hamas completely."

More here



Obama Promises Bush III on Iran: "President-elect Barack Obama has promised major changes in U.S. diplomacy and repeatedly criticized the Bush administration on both substance and style. On Iran, also for over five years, Mr. Bush has endorsed vigorous European diplomacy. The Europeans offered every imaginable carrot to persuade Iran to drop its nuclear program in exchange for a different relationship with Europe and America. This produced no change in Iran's strategic objective of acquiring deliverable nuclear weapons. The only real consequence is that Iran is five years closer to achieving that objective. It now has indigenous mastery over the entire nuclear fuel cycle. The Obama alternative? "Present the Iranian regime with a clear choice" by using carrots and sticks to induce Iran to give up its nuclear aspirations. What does Mr. Obama think Mr. Bush and the Europeans have been doing? Does he really think his smooth talking will achieve more than Europe's smoothest talkers, who were in fact talking for us the whole time? Neither North Korea nor Iran is prepared to voluntarily give up nuclear or ballistic missile programs. The Bush policy was flawed not because its diplomacy was ineffective or disengaged, not because it was too intimidating to its adversaries, and not because it lacked persistence. Mr. Bush's flaw was believing that negotiation and mutual concession could accomplish the U.S. objective.... Mr. Obama's handling of the rogue states will -- at best -- continue the Bush policies, which failed to stop nuclear proliferation. Get ready for a dangerous ride."

The need for votes ensures centrism: "Anyone looking for an example of the genius of American politics, and how Barack Obama exemplifies it, need go no further than the just-announced program for Inauguration Day: Aretha Franklin, the queen of soul herself, will sing; the Rev. Rick Warren will deliver a surely purpose-driven prayer; Yo-Yo Ma will play the cello and Itzhak Perlman the violin; a certified professor of African American Studies will contribute the inaugural poem ... and so eclectically on."

There is a new lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc.


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Friday, January 2, 2009

The Nigerian strategy comes to America








********************** update

Obama's spending spree won't rescue the US economy from recession : By setting his face against this policy of expanding capacity and to rely entirely on monetary expansion to promote recovery while at the same time promising higher energy prices in the future and a huge tax hike in 2010 or 2011 Obama will be fuelling uncertainty as well as inflation
Manufacturing contraction will deepen the recession : Once again the Reserve has put us on a monetary roller-coaster. But will it be enough to pull us out of recession? I for one think it highly unlikely. As we are already in recession, I expect it to get much worse. This leave one vital point that needs to be continually stressed: It is central bank monetary policy that is causing these economic crises in the first place
The psychopathology of Bush hatred : Hatred of Bush has been relentless and pathological in its intensity. The Left and the media act just like the lynch mobs of old. Listen to their voices and you'll hear the ancient roar of the mob. There are no words to describe just how despicable this mob is
Are price controls on the way? : Bernanke's willingness to flood the economy with money in a futile attempt to give the economy a 'jolt' has convinced many economists that the US could find itself in an inflationary spiral
The big three bailout: Disgusting political humbug: What would Obama, a combination of messiah and male model, know of the auto industry. Any involvement he might have in the matter would be governed exclusively by political expediency, and hence can hardly be expected to promote the auto companies' long-term economic viability and the interests of the economy as a whole
Obama and Hollywood's hatred of conservatives: American patriots are in Jessica Lange's debt. She helped reveal the totalitarian thinking that lurks beneath the surface of Hollywood's leftwing activists. Their hatred of alternative views and their unspoken belief that all Republican administrations are illegitimate and do not have a moral or legal right to exist. This is Lange's real message and it is one that patriotic Americans should never forget
A trillion here, a trillion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money : It used to be, before the age of reason expired, that government spending was more or less in line with government income. Since most people paid taxes back then, the idea of raising their taxes was not popular. Today however when not all people pay taxes, the idea of raising taxes sounds pretty good to a large number of voters, citizens or not, because they are on the receiving end of government handouts
Baal and the gods of liberalism : Does there exist a gruesome and honest analogy between the liberals' fanatical support of abortion in all its forms the ancient Canaanite cult of Baal?



Israel's Response Is Disproportionate : " I condemn Israel's disproportionate attack on Hamas because, so far, it has only lasted four days and I would like to see a proportionate response that terrifies Hamas for seven years, the years that have filled Sderot and neighboring towns with nightmares, death, amputations and trauma coming from rockets and mortars fired from Gaza. Perhaps a proportionate response would have Gaza's leaders fearful of being killed every day for the next two years, as Gilad Shalit has been terrified of torture and death every day for the last two years in his solitary Gaza dungeon. A proportionate response would so intimidate Hamas that they will grovel and, as a "gesture," send cocoa and jam into Sderot, the way Israel has groveled in response to rockets from Hamas, sending cocoa and jam into Gaza. Imagine Churchill sending cocoa and jam into Berlin as a humanitarian gesture after - during - the bombing of London. A proportionate response would be one that will convince Hamas there is no military solution, no solution but surrender. They can then call surrender a "peace process," if they like, just as the mostly unanswered attacks on Jews have convinced some Jews that there is no military solution but surrender to any and all demands."

Congress targets philanthropy: "Congressman Xavier Becerra (D-Ca.) thinks he's discovered a new source of political treasure: the money inside private and community foundations. The tax exemption foundations enjoy, says Mr. Becerra, is a `$32 billion earmark.' As he explains: `I have an obligation to make sure that those $32 billion that would have gone to the federal government are used for a . public good.' Unless foundations reprogram money in the direction of Mr. Becerra's preferences, he'll start proceedings to dismantle their tax exemption."

Palin, populism and potential: "Sarah Palin was, at least in part, an antidote to the Democrat stranglehold on populist rhetoric, and Democrat Party operatives recognized that. They had to discredit her and render her ineffective as quickly as possible or she might have stolen the election. In many respects, this anti-Palin campaign manifested in the minds of many of her supporters as `hate,' and given the attitude that many hard left Democrats have demonstrated during the last quarter century; that anyone who does not share their beliefs has no legitimate right to be heard, this belief is reasonable. Also, the fact that Sarah Palin manifested as an antidote to the Democrats' false populism, as a someone who can capture a significant following leads us to an important conclusion; that there is a market for Conservative Populism in the American Electorate, if it has the right candidate to follow. What should also be clear is that Sarah Palin has provided Republicans and Conservatives with a roadmap."

Hank's Deals on Wheels : "Hurry to your local GM dealer, because Hank Paulson has a deal for you. Within hours of receiving a $5 billion lifeline from the U.S. Treasury on Monday, GMAC -- the financing arm of General Motors -- slashed its car-loan rates and lowered its lending standards to help GM sell, sell, sell. As of Tuesday, GMAC was offering 0% financing on several models -- hey, if 0% is good enough for Ben Bernanke, it's good enough for you -- and said it would extend credit to buyers with credit scores as low as 621 -- right on the edge of subprime territory. The median credit rating is 723. Once Washington got into the business of owning car makers, it was only a matter of time before Hank Paulson & Co. started trying to sell cars too. It's now the American public's investment in Detroit that's on the line, after all."

The UAW's Money-Squandering Corruptocracy: "Nero fiddled while Rome burned. The UAW golfed. While carmakers soak up $17 billion in taxpayer bailout funds and demand more for their ailing industry, United Auto Workers bosses have wasted tens of millions of their workers' dues on gold-plated resorts and rotten investments. The labor organization's money-losing golf compound is just the tip of the iceberg... In February 2000, the union poured $14.7 million into Pro Air, a Detroit start-up airline that, well, didn't get off the ground. Plagued by safety problems, the feds shuttered the company less than a year later. The union didn't fare much better in its venture with a liberal radio network. "

Palin: Future son-in-law is no high school dropout : "Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin says her future son-in-law is not a high school dropout as the press is reporting. The former Republican vice presidential candidate also issued a statement about the birth of her first grandchild. Palin told The Associated Press on Wednesday that 18-year-old Levi Johnston is enrolled in high school through a correspondence program. Palin said some media outlets also are erroneously reporting that her 18-year-old daughter, Bristol, is a high school dropout. The governor said her daughter is enrolled in regular high school and has taken correspondence courses."


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


Thursday, January 1, 2009


To all those who come by here


The interregnum

We are at the moment in a sort of interregnum -- in between the election of the Lightbringer and his enthronement on Jan. 20. I am using that time to explore a little more than usual those issues which transcend the issues of the day. So I have been writing a bit lately on the issue that most transcends time: The Jews. Being part of such an issue is of course often uncomfortable for individual Jews so I do admire the courage and resolution of those who continue to claim a Jewish identity. And I expect that I will continue to touch on that identity for a little while yet. I think I have so far managed to generate an unusually frank dialogue on the matter so that does encourage me to continue.

Below is an email recently received from a Jewish friend that questions one of the points I have made so far. It is in fact not directly about Jews at all but traces back to my comparison of Jews with the English. It challenges in part my description of the English as having survived the last 1000 years "in style". It does not challenge the external achievements of the English but does point to internal problems. I follow that challenge with some more comments of my own.
I wish to add some objections to your core thesis that agues that the English have survived in style for the last millennium and a half.

While on the surface this carries with it an apparent truism it overlooks the fact that English history, despite a popular misconception, has not been in and of itself peaceful. Looking at the period after 1066 (the time when England was last successfully invaded) Albion has witnessed on local soils rebellions by the Saxons against Norman Feudalism, the Baron Wars, Peasant Rebellions, the War of the Roses (which really spanned the era between Richard II and Henry VII), the English Civil War, the Jacobite War and the insurrection of Monmouth. If one adds in the American Revolution (which for all intent of purpose can be looked at as an internal struggle between English speaking people) it is evident that the English have had a long history of warring amongst themselves.

In addition if you add in the numerous English lives (mostly commoners) that have been lost in the pursuit of Empire on a global basis -not to mention those lives foregone in conflicts with Spain, the Netherlands, France, Scotland, Denmark, the United States etc - the idea of surviving with style, at least how it reflects down to the bulk of the populace, is found wanting.

Now I will not deny the fact the English have been very successful in transmitting their culture on a worldwide basis. The dominance of the English language and systems of education and governance attest to this phenomenon but it has come at a price which I believe cannot be swept so easily under the proverbial rug.

The English are a very admirable people (I have been somewhat of an anglophile for most of my life although my enthusiasm has waned as of late as British institutions which I once respected continue to shed ground to the Stealth Jihad) but the accident of geography that has afforded them island status clearly played a large role in their success (yes the Scots and Welsh could harass the English but by sheer force of number were unlikely to ever win the upper hand..).

Winston Churchill was correct in arguing that the island situation was an advantage that could not last forever and that Britain would need to work on establishing alliances to ensure survival. This was not a novel idea at the Empire level (regional alliances with the Iroquois, the Basuto, the Sikhs were common) but in the more critical area of European politics it was particular loathsome to the English mindset. After the Napoleonic Wars and the obvious realization that the European Powers (Russia, Prussia and Austria) were intent on turning back the forces of liberalism and nationalism (via the Concert System) Britain retreated into a type of 'splendid isolation' where it focused on growing its Empire alone without outside interference. With the possible exception of the Crimean War this attitude characterized British geo-politically thinking up to the Second Anglo Boer War. It was only after the South African conflict, where British resources were stretched to breaking point by the guerilla tactics of well organized militia that the need for global allies would become a necessity. In fact one can pinpoint this change in policy to the signing of the Anglo-Japanese Agreement of 1902, a framework that set the foundation for the Entente Cordiale with France and the Anglo-Russian Entente.

However even in this regard the Brits were slow to the post, for one the Triple Alliance of Germany, Austria-Hungary and Italy was already well established. Germany also had cultivated an ally in the Ottoman Turks. One could even argue (with hindsight) that Britain's decision to enter into a system of alliances and thereby join the trend was ultimately what caused the weakening of the Empire by forcing London to engage in a vortex of events leading to the disastrous Great War (although I suspect that you will argue otherwise using the pretext that the growing influence of German Naval Power made war inevitable).

I believe that the success of the English people resides with a combination of factors. They are a very resourceful people (their pragmatic creativity during the First Industrial Revolution and beyond bears this out) but so does a commitment to the free inquiry. The former has its structural origins in the English Reformation, but was further augmented by the battle against autocracy during the Civil War and the Hanoverian transfer of power during the reign of George I. These changes were not as forthcoming amongst Britain/England's continental rivals who were forced to delay the coming of modernism to the Enlightenment Period.

However what has most served the English is their ability to adapt - to take the best from the outside and make it somehow English. They did this with the Roman system of laws, Grecian Rationalism, Judeo-Christian Ethics, Stoicism and Iberian naval proficiency. It is this same characteristic that the family branch of the English, the Americans, have utilized with remarkable success today (Another island nation, the Japanese, are similar to the English in this regard).

It is this adaptation that has created the illusion that the English have resisted invasion. While no army since William the Conqueror have overwhelmed the English on the home front since the 11th century (although the Hungarians humbled the English football team at Wembley in the 1950s) it is equally true that the English monarchy has resided in the hands of foreigners since then. The Normans were of a Franco/Norse stock, the House of Plantagenet, and its spin offs in Lancaster and York were all Gallic, the Tudors were Welsh, The Stuarts - Scottish and Hanover, Saxe-Coburg and Windsor were/are all German. Yes not since the ill-fated Harold Godwinson (aka Harold II) has England had a monarch of English ethnicity and before that power was invested for some time with Danish kings such as Canute and Hardicanute.

What is most remarkable though is that within a short period the English turned these foreigners into extensions of England that their ethnicity is more a matter of historical detail than anything else.

However with each addition and influx of change a point of saturation is neared. Changes are rarely neutral with respect to key factors. The utility of adaptation carries with it a double-edged outcome. At what point in a series of changes is the system or the people no longer English?

British Internationalism, the overriding policy of adaptation, that dominates the nation in 2008 is a consequence of this underlying tendency, however in subjecting itself to the relativism of multiculturalism the Brits seem to have shot the bolt and traded away the base in one foul swoop. Could it be that the English will simply wither away? Over-adapted themselves to death? Maybe there is a grace in this style but I am at a loss to find it.

Phew! Where do I start there and where do I finish? The argument is too detailed for most readers to judge so I think I should content myself with some fairly general remarks in reply. I am inclined to make remarks along the lines that that the Jacobite wars were fought mainly in Scotland and that the Monmouth rebellion was trivial but that would just move the debate too far afield.

A major point above, and one I had been waiting for someone to make, is that, although there has been no foreign invasion of any moment, the English have at times fought amongst themselves -- and the Scots also got a bit far South on some occasions.

And I do not for a moment deny the savagery of some of England's internecine wars. There were large areas of civility in the wars concerned but there were some nasty incidents too. My point, however, is simply that foreign invasions would have made things much worse and England managed to avoid those. The English have never had a magic wand that insulates them from all harm but they have done better than almost anybody (Yes. I know about Iceland and Japan) at keeping out foreigners. Internecine wars are regrettably common just about everywhere -- see for instance pre-Tokugawa Japan and the numerous wars that for so long consumed the German states. And see Renaissance Italy and classical Greece for that matter. So the English did little better than others on the internecine front but they did wonders on the foreign front. Life in England would have been a lot nastier and much more destructive if foreign troops had marched through England's "green and pleasant land" as well.

And I will be a little pesky and point out that England's internal strife came to a halt a remarkably long time ago. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 terminated England's internecine wars. Since then there have been lots of nasty internecine wars in other places: Two of them in America in fact. So the English even got the internecine problem under control earlier than most. I can already hear a few roars about my mention of America, though.

I think the next point made above by my friendly critic is that lots of English troops have died in England's wars abroad. That is of course true. EVERY nation has lost sons in foreign wars. But, again, the English have generally got off pretty lightly. In WWII, for instance, English losses were piffling compared to the losses of men (and population generally) suffered by Germany and Russia. Britain's alliance with the Soviets was unpleasant but, as with most of Britain's alliances, it did succeed in getting lots of foreigners to die for English liberty. Clever? You judge.

So I think at this point I will make a concession to my critic above: I may have given an impression of complete tranquillity in England and that would certainly not be justified. But nearly a thousand years of freedom from foreign invasion was still a major achievement and it sure beats almost anything elsewhere. And that seems worth study.

We now move into an area that is a bit fuzzier. How consistent has been Britain's seeking of alliances? I have not the slightest problem in saying that their seeking of alliances has waxed and waned. The seeking of alliances was simply an English tendency, not some rule laid down from on high. So I will not spend too much time on each era of English history. My critic does descry, however, a period in which the enthusiasm for alliances was low but admits that the Crimean war took place during that period.

I cannot let the magnitude of that pass unremarked. In the Crimean war (against Russia), the English were allied with the FRENCH! The enormity of that can hardly be understated. Perhaps a small anecdote will help. Since Norman times, the French have always been England's chief enemy. And when the allied generals in the Crimea were discussing strategy to be used against the Russian enemy, the English generals had the unfortunate tendency of referring to the enemy as "The French"! That did not go down too well with their French allies, of course. So the English propensity for seeking allies was strong enough at that time to cause them to enter into the most unlikely and unpopular alliance which was at that time conceivable. So I don't think that the English enthusiasm for alliances was too far submerged in that era either.

This post is already way too long so I will finish by making a tiny point about the many late 19th century alliances that were negotiated in Europe. It is true that Britain was not an enthusiastic participant in them but there was a good reason for that. The prime mover in the alliances concerned was Germany's brilliant Otto von Bismarck and Bismarck kept playing musical chairs with Germany's alliances as a way of keeping everyone off balance and thus preventing the rest of Europe from ganging up on the new Germany and thus igniting a hugely destructive war. So the British were rightly deeply skeptical of all those manouvres. And when Bismarck was gone we see how right he was about the dogs of war that lay in wait for Europe. Without his mercurial diplomacy to prevent it, Europe entered WWI.

And it is true that I think the German fleet was the main reason for Britain coming in on the side of France in WWI. The battle of Jutland showed that the German fleet was rightly feared. But that is all another story. The rest of my critic's observations I broadly agree with.

By the way: Most readers here will know that I am Australian, not English, but I want to make that clear for any new readers. Thanks to our British forebears, Australia is the only nation that has an entire continent to itself -- which is exceptionally neat. And Australians are probably even more devoted to alliances than the English are. Wherever British or American troops are fighting, Australian troops will normally be there too lending a hand. And in the more than 200 years of our history, we have not seen the campfires of an invader either. Nor have we had any civil wars. So Australia really has had a tranquil past -- lightyears more tranquil than the history of the Jews over the same period. And Australia is a pretty tranquil place today too.



Russian says USA is doomed: "For a decade, Russian academic Igor Panarin has been predicting the U.S. will fall apart in 2010. For most of that time, he admits, few took his argument -- that an economic and moral collapse will trigger a civil war and the eventual breakup of the U.S. -- very seriously. Now he's found an eager audience: Russian state media. In recent weeks, he's been interviewed as much as twice a day about his predictions. "It's a record," says Prof. Panarin. "But I think the attention is going to grow even stronger." Prof. Panarin, 50 years old, is not a fringe figure. A former KGB analyst, he is dean of the Russian Foreign Ministry's academy for future diplomats. He is invited to Kremlin receptions, lectures students, publishes books, and appears in the media as an expert on U.S.-Russia relations."

Another doomster gets it wrong: "Henry Kaufman, the former Salomon Brothers chief economist whose bearish views decades ago earned him the nickname "Dr. Doom," lost several million dollars with Bernard Madoff, making him one of the most prominent Wall Street figures to emerge as a victim of the alleged Ponzi scheme. Mr. Kaufman, 81 years old, had the money in a brokerage account with Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities for more than five years, he said in an interview Tuesday."

Baubles instead of thrift not wise: "At Society Hill Loan, a pawnshop in a middle-class neighborhood here, a steady rain fell outside as a fashionably dressed young man parked his Cadillac Escalade outside. Looking around warily, he came in to speak with Nat Leonard, co-owner of the store. The visitor was a 29-year-old engineer who was laid off earlier this year from one of the local chemical companies. Since then, he's been cleaning planes at the airport for less than half the salary he was earning a year ago. Now he needs a $2,500 loan on his watch -- a Movado Fiero with a diamond bezel -- to pay his mortgage note. "I want to help," said Mr. Leonard. But unlike Rolex and a few other brands, "there's no market" for Movado in his pawn universe. The young man, who didn't wish to give his name, left the store disappointed. "I'm not sure what I'm going to do," he said."

Leftist hatred identified by one who knows: "An `Untouchable' in India's caste system has changed his mind. Chandra Bhan Prasad, an Indian writer and activist, was once the worst kind of socialist. According to a profile in the New York Times, he had been the kind of Maoist revolutionary who `carried a pistol and recruited his people to kill their upper-caste landlords.' Now Prasad says the best way to lift low-caste members of society out of poverty is to increase economic freedom, let capitalism flourish. He accuses hardcore leftists of `hatred for those who are happy.'"


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The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)