Monday, August 31, 2009

Socialism's Losing Bet

Humans are at their very basic nature, capitalists. We buy and we sell, and when we do that we try to sell at the highest price and buy at the lowest price. Underlying every economic system, from laissez faire capitalism to communism is the reality that the underlying human nature of the people within that system will not change,they will only adapt those same tactics to function within that system. Economic systems may come and go, but people do not change.

When socialism is applied, it does not transform human nature, it is overlaid over human nature. When a socialist system attempts to artificially control the price of a commodity or access to a resource, a black market in that commodity or resource is created. With medical care it can take the form of Canada's illegal health care clinics at one end of the spectrum or the "bribe economy" that is common throughout Communist countries in which people are expected to bribe doctors, nurses and just about everyone within the system to receive even basics such as a change of sheets. In Israel it can take the form of doctors who work in both the public system and see patients privately, doing their best to push patients into paying to see them privately. There are numerous examples throughout the world, but what matters is that all of them represent profiteering behaviors that have adapted to a government health care system. Because once again, people don't change.

The Soviet Union took away land and private businesses. It drastically limited employee salaries and collective workers' access to produce. It drastically centralized the economy and removed individual freedom. What it created as a result was a "Black" economic system in which most of the production and even office resources such as pens and paper, were stolen and sold or bartered on the black market. Soviet diplomats and Olympic athletes returned home with massive amounts of items bought in the West, to be resold on the black market. Decades of executions and gulags, campaigns that worked to convince schoolchildren to inform on their parents, made no dent at all in the problem. Everyone stole, and the reason they stole was that it was the only form of individual economic initiative that was available to them.

Communism is the most extreme example of government nationalization and centralization, and yet it could not control the free market operating within itself. Having made legitimate economic transactions illegal, its entire economy became illegal. The promoters of Communism boasted that it would insure that everyone would have equal access to the same goods and services. Instead goods and services still went to those who could pay for them, through bribes and black market activities, only those activities were no longer taxable. What happens to a government whose economy that is mostly illegal and untaxable? Within two generations the Soviet Union had become dependent on imports for everything down to food and clothing. By contrast China revised Communist dogma to legalize profit seeking behavior, resulting in a massive economic boom.

Socialism is commonly implemented with promises that it will be fairer and make resources available to more people. Yet the two-fold problem with socialism, is that socialist systems actually consume resources inefficiently, thereby limiting the resources that are available, and that government controls actually drive spending into an untaxable and uncontrollable black market.

Setting a price ceiling results in shortages, as numerous socialist systems have demonstrated for us, most recently Chavez's Venezuela. Price controls decrease production incentive and push more goods into the black market, while sharply decreasing the quality of goods available on the legal market.

Attempting to cut costs routinely bypasses the actual "fat" within the system, namely unions, bureaucrats and over regulation, all of which are key parts of a socialist machine, instead targeting producers and consumers. Targeting producers reduces quality and availability. Targeting consumers results in rationing. Either way the end results lead to shortages of vital goods and services.

Socialist solutions promise to extend services, but they can only do so at the cost of cutting quality and creating shortages. Rather than addressing the reality of this, they instead trot out propaganda blaming producers for the high cost of services, resulting in crackdowns that worsen shortages and the quality of the services being provided. The follow-up "Soak the Rich" arguments push for higher taxes, but government spending on social problems will sooner or later outpace even the most aggressive punitive tax revenues, because unlike legitimate income, government spending has natural stopping point except absolute insolvency, and because raising taxes drives out the very people and businesses who are supposed to pay for the programs, killing the golden goose of capitalism, only to find that its socialist parasite can't live without it.

And at the bottom of the whole pile of problems, is the question of who actually needs socialism. Its proponents are usually upper class or upper middle class, who want it to be available for the poor. They want public housing they wouldn't live in. They want health programs they wouldn't use themselves. Public schools they don't want to send their own kids to. And free food they wouldn't eat themselves. Naturally they don't want to pay for the whole thing either. They want the "other rich" people to do it. The bad rich who don't care about poor people, the way they themselves do.

For the upper classes, economic or ecological morality hold the same role that sexual morality does for hypocritical clergy, it's very well and good, and they're happy to sign on to it... for other people. So you'll find the same entertainers demanding higher taxes to feed the poor and clothe the hungry, have their money tied up in complex ways overseas and out of reach. Because they mean for someone else's money to do all those things. Not their own wealth. This makes them hypocrites, but it's also a reminder that human nature doesn't change. Scratch the long-haired musician calling for everyone to give up their money for Africa, and you'll still find a capitalist inside.

On the other hand what the people socialism is meant to serve want is a social safety net, but without compromising social mobility. Because while the upper classes may toss down a few crumbs, what most people on the lower part of the ladder want is to climb up. Because after all they're capitalists too. They want their children to be better off than they were, not simply through social safety nets, but through hard work and effort. And those who don't want to climb up, have been severely damaged by living under a socialist system, to the point that the only thing they want is to live in a box and be taken care of by the government, generating a self-perpetuating social problem for government bureaucracies to gleefully cackle over.

The more government centralization there is, the less opportunities for social mobility remain. Climbing the ladder only has meaning, if there is a ladder. The more small businesses become unfeasible, the less room for social mobility there is. The sons and daughters of hardworking fathers and mothers are instead directed to take exams and climb into the echoing steel womb of the government bureaucracy, where they can look forward to pushing paper around a desk for most of their lives, and possibly earn a little extra on the side, if the situation has become extreme enough for a bribe economy to develop.

Because human nature does not change. Even within a system that bars people from pursuing their own goals, people will find ways to pursue those goals. If the system does not provide legal and socially positive ways to pursue those goals, they will pursue those goals, illegally and with socially negative consequences. Every attempt to control how people behave, creates an equal and opposite reaction. Each step toward greater government control creates a culture of greater illegality opposing it. Not out of some rebellious political statement, but as an inevitable human consequence.

Philosophers and courtiers have spent a long time dreaming of the perfect state, only to generally conclude that it cannot exist. Because people are not perfect. The great socialist dream of a state that will care for everyone and do everything only functions on paper. When it is implemented in real life, the realities of running a large system ripe with bribery, corruption and inefficiency quickly make a mockery of all the paper plans. And the more the system squeezes people, the more it begins working against the people, putting in motion the very social and economic forces that will finally destroy it. There are few inevitable things in life, but human nature is one of them. And if you bet against human nature, you will lose. And socialism, which insists on betting against human nature, will continue to lose.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Real Root Cause of Terrorism

In the conventional political narrative the root causes of Islamic terrorism usually run the class warfare gamut from the generic oppression to outrage at Western foreign policy or more esoteric issues of globalism. And naturally like most people who look into a mirror to find the cause of someone else's anger, their reflection only repeats back to their own agenda.

Surprisingly enough the root cause of Islamic terrorism has very little to do with any of these things, though they are moderately handy talking points when it comes to recruiting future terrorists or touching base with idiot leftist reporters. To understand the root cause, requires understanding the function which terrorism serves in the Arab-Muslim world.

While Western liberals insist on viewing terrorism as a form of political or social activism, within the Muslim world terrorism is a two-sided tool, a way to create friction with an enemy without going to war while promoting the political standing of its leaders and backers. This two-sided concept of terrorism goes back to the nomadic days of bandit raiders that would carry out hit and run attacks that would bring in loot while raising the status of the tribal sheikh and the head of the raiding parties. Given enough time probing the enemy's weakness and raising the stature of the sheikh, such attacks might escalate into all out wars. And while such tactics may seem primitive, Mohammed was able to leverage them to turn his newly created Islamic cult into a major player in the region.

In modern times, the driving ideological force behind Arab-Muslim terrorism has been to recreate a single great state to replace the splintered colonial entities left behind by the destruction of the Ottoman Empire. It was an ancient tribal goal, and one that Mohammed's followers had come closest to achieving in the Arab version of the Thousand Year Reich. Modern versions of this might vary from the Islamic Caliphate to the secular Arab Nationalist version that would be a Socialist dictatorship run by someone like Nasser or Saddam. So while the ideology might vary, the underlying idea was always the same. One great state under one great ruler, who would demonstrate his fitness to rule by subjugating the enemy and thereby bring all of the region under his rule.

Under the ancient raiding codes, showing the most boldness and inflicting the most damage by striking at the enemy demonstrates that fitness to rule. This form of Arab-Muslim internal rivalry routinely spills over into external wars and terrorism, as both sides seek to prove their superiority by killing as many infidels as possible.

So Osama bin Laden's tribal religious conflict with the Saudi rulers was fought with the Soviets and then with America and Europe, more than with the House of Saud itself. Using the pretext of the US troops that the House of Saud had brought in to protect themselves from Saddam, Bin Laden was able to gain religious imprimatur for a war on America to build status for his claim to rule over the holiest place in Islam. The Saudis in turn had been funding a covert war on America for the same reason, as well as to divert wannabe Bin Ladens from trying to seize power.

In the same way Hamas and Fatah addressed their rivalry for nearly two decades by competing to see who could kill more Israelis. Hamas' greater viciousness and murderousness won it the support of Palestinian Arabs, allowing them to triumph in elections and seize Gaza. While Western liberal observers have struggled to frame the conflict in terms of Hamas' social services or Fatah's corruption, these were only side issues. The main event was to demonstrate who could inflict more harm on the enemy. An indirect conflict the Arab Nationalist Fatah and the Islamist Hamas for power over the Palestinian Authority cost the lives of numerous Israelis and foreign tourists, and it had next to nothing to do with any of the usual propaganda complaints about checkpoints or the wall of separation or even the desire for a Palestinian State, which the terrorism repeatedly sidelined. It had to do with an internal conflict expressed indirectly, a problem that is the root cause of much of Islamic terrorism.

That problem is also why there are fairly few actual moderate Muslims. When showing strength or inflicting harm against the enemy is key to leadership, moderation is an express train to nowhere. As terrorists have repeatedly demonstrated, every single Islamic religious law and practice can be set aside in the interest of killing infidels. That is because in practice no Islamic virtue is greater than that of defeating infidels and heretics. That singleminded approach allowed Islam to expand from an obscure cult to an empire. If Judaism embraces study and Christianity embraces evangelism as their key attributes, Islam embraces conquest. There would be no Islam without conquest. There can be no Islamic expansion today without it.

Within this framework, terrorism allows different groups to jockey for power by demonstrating that their way is best, when it comes to that fundamental virtue of killing infidels and forcing them to submit to their authority. All the while avoiding an open and outright war, which they are certain to lose. Terrorism allows Arab and Muslim nations to carry on covert wars, and allows for the rise of local chiefs who conduct those wars, from the late and unlamented Yasir Arafat to Osama bin Laden, Nasrallah or Muqata al Sadr. Virtually every part of the world today has such chiefs or wannabe chiefs whose followers carry out bombings and murders in their name.

While the local pretexts may vary, Western observers err by confusing the propaganda with reality. Hitler did not invade Poland for any of the reasons he claimed he did, no more than Japan invaded China to protect the region from Europe. Like the mythical raped Belgian nuns of WW1, propaganda is not motive, and it is startling to note the great eagerness with which supposed regional analysts treat propaganda as motive, rather than pretext at best.

It really does not matter what Israel does, or what America does, or what England and France or Denmark do. Being provocative or not, only affects short term reactions, not the long term reality of the ideological causes of the conflict itself. And that ideological cause remains the dream of a great Islamic state with limitless boundaries, bringing all of the world into the Dar Al Islam. That is the great dream for which Mohammed's warriors rode out with blood red swords, and in succeeding centuries rampaged across the Middle East, Asia and even Europe. It is the post-Ottoman dream as well, and it is behind the diverse Islamic terrorist and guerrilla uprisings across the world today.

But that dream requires leadership, and that struggle for leadership has also indirectly led to much of the terrorism in the 20th century and the 21st, as Arab leaders and Islamic militias have all struggled to define the cause around individuals. Osama bin Laden's videos, like Arafat's infamous speech at the UN, are part of that larger narrative, a story of "personal greatness" weighed by the value of the only coin acceptable in the Middle East and demonstrated through the corpses of innocent men and women who belong to the "tribes of the enemy".

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Behind the Facade of Tolerance

Tolerance is the talk of the West today. You can hardly go a minute without hearing a government congratulate itself on its "tradition of tolerance" or without hearing an agency lecturing others on the importance of tolerance. In the late 20th century and early 21st centuries, tolerance has eclipsed every other moral and social virtue. A child of the first world is far more likely to be taught tolerance, than the value of manners, decency, charity or chastity. And to grow up with very little moral values, except the firm belief that intolerance is a terrible thing.

Yet what is tolerance all about and what's wrong with tolerance? For one thing, tolerance is not equality. It is condescension. George Washington understood that over 200 years when he wrote in his "Letter to the Hebrew Congregation at Newport" that, "All possess alike liberty of conscience and immunities of citizenship. It is now no more that toleration is spoken of, as if it was by the indulgence of one class of people, that another enjoyed the exercise of their inherent national gifts."

What Washington was saying back in 1790 was a truth that modern liberals have worked hard to blot out, namely that tolerance is a statement of inequality. You tolerate people who you do not believe can participate equally in their own affairs or yours, for your own motives. The people you tolerate are second class citizens.

Tolerance toward foreigners can be the product of a degree of mutual respect or mutual interest, in which both sides have an interest in maintaining tolerance. That tolerance however is a long way from equality. It is an exchange of tolerance premised on the idea that neither party wants to join with the other.

But tolerance can be the product of mutual respect or cowardice. When there is no mutual respect from the other party, tolerance reveals itself as mere cowardice and appeasement. Why "tolerate" someone who refuses to tolerate you, unless you're afraid of them?

Europe's Muslims started out being "tolerated" out of condescension. Today they are tolerated out of fear. Europe's politicians have done the math, and for the most part they have accepted the growing Islamic takeover as a fact of life. Aside from taken attempts at smoothing out the worst of the extremism, their only response is to demand greater accommodations in the hopes of meeting the invasion force halfway.

That template is the ugly reality behind the facade of tolerance. It begins as condescension and ends in fear. At no time however is it equal. To tolerate something, whether out of condescension or fear, is to declare it inferior to yourself.

That same idea of tolerance is behind many of the social problems of the First World, in which liberal and socialist parties view minorities as convenient inferiors, a reliable voting bloc and a useful club to beat the conservatives with. The more they cry about the oppression of minorities and treat them as helpless children to be pandered to, the more they reinforce a narrative of protectors for people who cannot progress on their own. Having closed off the top, except for the occasional bit of tokenism, the pressure explodes downward instead. Social problems in a community give way to a broken system and to the triumph of extremist movements. The condescension then quickly turns to fear.

A true democratic system has no room for tolerance, only for civil equality, yet it is the liberal ideologies which reinforce inequality and segregation under the banner of multiculturalism, repeatedly punishing minorities who behave contrary to their political expectations. Tolerance or condescension after all are based on fear. What need is there to "tolerate" people, unless you think there is something intolerable about them. Something dangerous and unpredictable. Something that you agree to tolerate in the name of a greater good.

Such has been the history of liberal tolerance, a story of condescension that began with class... back when progressive ideologues still thought poverty was somehow a genetic inheritance, down to race. A story of corralling oppressed populations on political plantations, exploiting them for violent outbursts, from the French Revolution on down to the race riots in modern day America, keeping them deprived, miserable and frustrated, useful but dangerous tools, all in order to promote a liberal agenda.

In Europe however, its population of guestworkers have shifted from being a handy voting bloc for left wing parties, to becoming the new Europe, a phrase that liberal politicians have enjoyed bandying about, but never took very seriously. They meant a "New Europe" rebuilt in their own image, but the rising green tide of Islam means something very different by it. They mean a European Caliphate run under Islamic law.

Somewhere between Europe and Eurabia lies the compass of tolerance swinging from condescension to fear. The mask of tolerance has slipped a bit, but the left, those among them still capable of reasoning rather than parroting cant and dogma, feel they have no choice but to ride the tiger until it arrives at some congenial destination. They bred the tiger, fed it, nurtured it and if it appears to ride them now, rather than them riding it, they do their best to pay no attention to the shift.

Turning back once more to George Washington's letter, to his statement that there would be no tolerance, only civic equality; we can see once again the wisdom of making civic equality the one and only public test. Even in Washington's time, Tammany Hall and Aaron Burr had begun their work, creating oppressed voting blocks that would help them seize power in New York State, as well as in two national elections. That day had not yet come in 1790 when Washington authored that letter, but it was bound to come. Burr's political heirs would go on to insist on political representation for people they themselves held as chattel and a century hence would swoop on them to declare themselves the new party of civil rights. And the lies would go on being told. Lies told by people who despite what they claimed, only sought to rule over others.

Behind the facade of tolerance are minds oriented on the master-slave relationship, on finding people to rule over, and then to shrink in terror from them when like all master-slave relationships, the slaves eventually rise up. Washington's letter was a declaration that American citizenship should not be based on any form of inferiority. And yet the liberals cry on, tolerance, tolerance, tolerance; enacting their parodies of liberating those whom they themselves have enslaved.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Friday Afternoon Roundup - All The Burials that are Fit to Bury



I usually don't do Friday morning posts, today was one of those exceptions occasioned by the death of Ted Kennedy. As a result this roundup will be shorter than usual.

But I'm not the only one remembering Mary Jo Kopechne today. The Atlantic has a short piece titled, The View From Chappaquiddick;

Next to the bridge, the flag was at half-staff outside the shack run by the Trustees of Reservations: I mentioned the oddness of the half-staff flag to one of the wizened volunteers at the bridge, and he said, "It's for Mary Jo, I guess." That seemed about right.

What also seems about right is Marc Ambinder's analysis of Kennedy's path to redemption, which he calls a specifically Jewish kind of redemption, redemption through deeds. This is not to say that Kennedy was right about everything, not by a long shot, but that he spent the 40 years after the incident on Chappaquiddick trying to save his soul, and did so quite effectively.

The two paragraphs are of course a contradiction in terms. And I'll also thank Ambinder not to credit Ted Kennedy with some kind of Jewish redemption, as if taking an easy paycheck in a job he couldn't be shoved out of, was somehow redeeming.

It's also interesting that so many respond to after-death criticisms by warning that only G-d can judge, to then somehow place themselves in a godlike position by proclaiming that Ted Kennedy did save his soul. A statement that only a higher power can make, not an Atlantic blogger. It's the same cynical game that was on the one hand used to proclaim Bob Novak, as a child of light, and on the other to condemn any critics by warning that only God can judge him. Of you course you can't have it both ways.

The Atlantic piece carries the same uncomfortable ambiguity, that the widely circulated Huffington Post piece that suggested that Mary Jo would be okay with dying in a car for two hours, to enable Ted Kennedy's legacy.

We don't know how much Kennedy was affected by her death, or what she'd have thought about arguably being a catalyst for the most successful Senate career in history. What we don't know, as always, could fill a Metrodome.

Still, ignorance doesn't preclude a right to wonder. So it doesn't automatically make someone (aka, me) a Limbaugh-loving, aerial-wolf-hunting NRA troll for asking what Mary Jo Kopechne would have had to say about Ted's death, and what she'd have thought of the life and career that are being (rightfully) heralded.

Who knows -- maybe she'd feel it was worth it.

It's easy enough to shred the reasoning here to pieces, but it's more interesting to note that like the Atlantic piece this defines the discomfort zone among liberals with who Ted Kennedy was as a person, vs his legacy as a liberal legislator. That same kind of discomfort was present with Bill Clinton, that only truly emerged at the end of his term after the impeachment issue had gone away, and during the 2008 primaries, and with John Edwards, after he was no longer in the running and the story of his adulterous relationship had blown up.

That same kind of discomfort may yet emerge with Obama, when it no longer conflicts with a liberal legislative agenda. We'll see.

Additional ponderings on the topic come from author Joyce Carol Oates who relentlessly praises Ted Kennedy's greatness, only to finally ask the unanswerable question,

Yet if one weighs the life of a single young woman against the accomplishments of the man President Obama has called the greatest Democratic senator in history, what is one to think?

Yes, what is one to think indeed.

At Vanity Fair, Henry Rollins is predictably blunt enough asking, Where's Mary Jo Kopechne's Eulogy?

I am very well known, a United States senator. My family is incredibly powerful. There are allegations that I had been drinking heavily hours up to the time I got into the vehicle with the passenger. I deny this for the rest of my life. That at no point did I make an attempt to call for rescue would probably be considered by many people to be outrageous and horrible, perhaps a crime that would carry a prison sentence. Can you imagine what the parents of the deceased would be going through when they found out that their 28-year-old daughter died alone in total darkness? I serve no time. Not inconvenienced by the burdensome obstacle of incarceration, I seek to maintain my elected position. I am successful and remain a senator for the next four decades. Would any deed I performed in that time, besides going to prison for the negligent homicide I committed all those years ago, be enough to wipe the slate clean?

Clearly people like Oates and many other columnists and pundits, after some hemming and hawing, think that the answer is yes.

Julia Gorin has her own take on it with, God Takes Ted Kennedy, Reluctantly

As news reports profiling his life and career gush on, most of them mention the Chappaquiddick incident and then quickly move on to all the good that he did, in a manner suggesting that such an event might have derailed someone else, but it didn’t derail this crusader. Indeed, to be derailed by such a thing would have required character...

ndeed, it’s very much the Bill Clinton approach: after raping an unknown number of women (at least two that we know of, and probably Hillary, according to Ed Klein’s book), he became an advocate for the poor, the fat, the AIDS-infected, and the weather. Such things always help a person to not look back. Conspicuously, Clinton never set up any rape crisis centers or other violence-against-women outfits — or anything at all related to his crimes. Just as Ted Kennedy never joined Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Go read the entire post. It's worth reading.

Finally to close it off, the video which reveals that Ted Kennedy collected Chappaquiddick jokes.



Who knows, maybe O.J. Simpson collected O.J. Simpson jokes.

To switch gears to another recently deceased fellow, at the Tablet, James Kirchik follows up on Novak's hostile relationship with Israel and Jews.

In 1997, Novak wrote a series of columns attempting to resuscitate the reputation of Louis Farrakhan, encouraging Republicans to give a hearing to the anti-Semitic Nation of Islam Leader, who, he wrote, was “knocking on the GOP’s door.” The brainchild of this effort was Novak’s friend Jude Wanniski, the Reaganite supply-side guru who later became a crank, penning screeds denying Saddam’s gassing of the Kurds and promoting political cultist Lyndon Larouche. Novak believed that a Republican alliance with Farrakhan could have “vast future implications,” fruitful ones. For a man now lauded as one of the most perspicacious political commentators of his era, this was a curious, if not dangerous, assessment.

But Novak’s real provocation of American Jewry waited until after the September 11 attacks, which he blamed on America’s support for Israel. Two days after the attacks, he wrote that “the hatred toward the United States today by the terrorists is an extension of [their] hatred of Israel” and that “the United States and Israel are brought ever closer in a way that cannot improve long-term U.S. policy objectives.” Was this neo-isolationism, befitting of the paleoconservative right to which Novak had a close ideological kinship? If so, he took it a step further when, the following month, he referred to senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud Abu Hanoud as a “freedom fighter” on CNN.

Further there's a piece in a far right magazine that I won't directly link to, that covers some of Novak's other history

On Oct. 20, 1997 Novak shocked many with a column in The Washington Post describing “grave and disturbing questions” raised by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, a distinguished British journalist, who was suggesting mysterious German immigrant Andreas Strassmeir—who had been operating in “patriot” and “white separatist” circles in the United States—may have been an undercover informant moving alongside Tim McVeigh in the days preceding the Oklahoma bombing.

Novak emphasized Evans-Pritchard was “no conspiracy-theory lunatic” but instead “was known in Washington for accuracy, industry and courage” and that he had “offered leads to discovering a pattern of lies and deception after Oklahoma City that, if verified, would approach Vietnam and Watergate in undermining American citizens’ confidence in their government.”

This would suggest that Novak's Trutherism did not begin with his post 9/11 column suggesting the attacks had been an inside job, but dates back to the OKC bombing.

Meanwhile via Gateway Pundit, beloved hatemonger Desmond Tutu is picking up an old theme about the Holocaust and Israel

The lesson that Israel must learn from the Holocaust is that it can never get security through fences, walls and guns," Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu of South Africa told Haaretz Thursday.

Actually that is precisely the opposite lesson of the Holocaust. Which is that those who can't defend themselves will always be victimized.

Tutu has a long history of ugly and anti-semitic statements. After Jeremiah Wright's speech, he claimed that was a universal sentiment. Of course more defining than that, was Tutu's rant at a Jewish luncheon on seeing gefilte fish, about how his mother used to work for Jews.

Lemon Lime Moon has her own take on Tutu here

Meanwhile on the lighter side of socialism, in Cuba there is a grave shortage of toilet paper forcing Cubans to buy copies of propaganda Communist newspapers to use as toilet paper

Cuban officials quoted earlier this month in the official Radio Rebelde predicted ``an important importation of toilet paper'' by the end of the year ``to supply this demand that today is presenting problems.''

The Productos Sanitarios Proa factory in Matanzas province also produces toilet paper, branded ``hygienic and ecological.'' Many Cuban factories have suffered from shortages of imported raw materials and government-forced closings to save on electricity.

But the government-imposed closings of factories and offices to save on electricity may ironically also be helping to resolve the toilet paper shortage, according to the Havana retiree.

Many copies of Granma and other newspapers sent to distribution points for later delivery to factories and offices are not being picked up when the intended recipients are closed, the retiree said, and are being sold to anyone else.

Lots of retirees, he added, are hitting pre-dawn lines at those distribution points to buy 10-15 copies of both daily and older versions of the newspapers for bathroom use, wrapping garbage and other household uses.

The retirees pay 20 Cuban cents per copy -- about .007 U.S. cents -- and re-sell it to neighbors for up to 20 Cuban pesos, or about 71 U.S. cents.

The price of 20 Cuban cents per copy is the same for the day's edition and old copies, the retiree said, ``because they all have the same use.''

Indeed, they all do have the same use. I wonder how long it'll be before Obama supporters are wiping themselves with their Fairey "Hope and Change" posters.

At Pajamas Media, a simple test to determine if you are an Islamophobe

At Israpundit, Ted Belman writes that the Saudi Plan is really the US plan . It's a post worth reading, but this has also been the approach all along, as Arabist diplomats and oil industry execs in the thrall of the Saudi lobby have repeatedly sold the idea that the solution to any problem in the Middle East is... through Israel.

The easiest way to appease the Arabs, it's held, is to feed them some Israel. It's not an original idea. Everyone from Gandhi to the British colonial authorities have pushed it.

Also at IsraPundit, Yoram Ettinger's piece, "Terror State"
The idea that a Palestinian state can lead to enduring peace in the Middle East has become a diplomatic obsession for American policy makers. Bringing such a state into being has become the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail. In fact, however, a Palestinian state would not only fail to bring peace and stability to the region, but would make it an even more dangerous place than it already is. And ironically, given its adamant backing for a government that would have been led by Yasser Arafat and now would be headed by Abu Mazen, U.S. support for the creation of “Palestine,” which would immediately ally itself with and become a client of rivals and enemies of America such as Iran, would harm American, Israeli, and even Arab interests.

The history of the PLO’s Abu Mazen - who is hailed by the US administration as a peaceful leader - tells us something important about the likely character of a Palestinian state. As a graduate of Moscow University (Ph.D. thesis: Holocaust Denial) and a beneficiary of KGB training, he managed the logistics of the Munich Massacre of eleven Israeli athletes in 1972. He was the architect of PLO ties with ruthless communist regimes until 1989 and, since 1993, a series of PLO accords with Hamas. In 1950, 1966 and 1970, he was forced to flee Egypt, Syria and Jordan, respectively, for subversive activities.

During the 1970s and 1980s he participated in PLO attempts to topple the Christian regime in Beirut, which resulted in the 1976 Syrian invasion of Lebanon and a series of civil wars, causing close to 200,000 deaths and hundreds of thousands of refugees. As Yasser Arafat’s confidante and first deputy for over fifty years until Arafat’s death, Abu Mazen is one of the engineers of contemporary Palestinian hate education, which has become a production line for terrorists. In 1990, he collaborated with Saddam Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, despite the Gulf country’s unique hospitality to 400,000 PLO-affiliated Palestinians.

This history is not that of a peace maker, and the PLO’s track record of inter-Arab treachery, non-compliance, corruption, repression and terrorism does not give evidence of peaceful Palestinian state of the future. Since its makeover from a terrorist organization to a semi-independent entity in 1993, the Palestinian Authority, which has been led by PLO graduates of terrorist bases in Iraq, Yemen, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and Tunisia, has become an incubator for terrorist tactics, which have been exported to Iraq, Afghanistan, England, Spain and other countries
.

The entire thing is worth reading, but it's essentially a sketch of the wages of terrorism. The reality is even worse.

Meanwhile at Lgstarr, Obama is to have emergency powers over the internet... just the thing if you've got popular protests being organized via the internet... and it's not like politicians have a history of declaring emergencies when there is no emergency.

Nah.

Meanwhile Van Jones is showing even more of his ugly side, at WND via Islamic Danger to Americans

JERUSALEM – One day after the 9/11 attacks, President Obama's "green jobs czar" led a vigil that expressed solidarity with Arab and Muslim Americans as well as what it called the victims of "U.S. imperialism" around the world.

I actually remember signs like that in New York City. I tore enough of them down myself. But the radicals of the past are now the rulers of the present.

At Israel Against Terror, a Barry Rubin article, Let's Pretend We're Making Arab-Israeli, Israel-Palestinian Peace.

Actually achieving Middle East peace is of no importance. The only thing that is important is saying that progress is being made and that peace will come soon.

I don’t mean that as a statement of cynicism but as an accurate analysis of what goes on in international affairs at present. What’s achieved by pretending there is progress and there will be success? Some very real and—in their way—important things:

--World leaders are saying that they are doing a great job, doing the right things, remaining active and achieving success.

--By saying peace is near, the issue is defused. Why fight if you are about to make a deal?

--Israel (and anyone else from the region who joins in—see below) shows that it is cooperating so others should be patient and not put on pressure.

--Since the West is taking care of business, Arab states supposedly will feel comfortable working with it on other issues, like Iran for example.

Love of the Land has David Wilder's horrifying retelling of the Hebron Massacre

Eighty years ago today, Arabs massacred 67 Jews in Hebron and wounded 70 more. Incited by the grand mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini, and shouting "Kill the Jews!", the perpetrators raped, mutilated, tortured, beheaded, or dismembered men, women, children, and even babies in a two-day spree of violence. The victims were guilty of no crime. Jews had lived there for hundreds of years in peace with their neighbors. But Arab instigators preached hateful sermons and spread malicious rumors that boiled over into bloodshed.

Ben-tzion Gershon, a doctor and pharmacist who treated Jews and Arabs in Hebron, defied his wife's warnings and opened the door to an Arab woman who feigned that she was about to give birth. The woman moved aside, and a murderous mob stormed in and gang-raped his wife. When Dr. Gershon begged them to stop, they answered: "If you don't want to see it, you don't have to" – and gouged his eyes out before killing him, according to the testimony of one of Gershon's daughter.

As British High Commissioner Sir John Chancellor put it: "I do not think that history records many worse horrors in the last few hundred years...."

Three days after the massacre the ruling British expelled the surviving victims from Hebron, leaving the city without a Jewish presence for the first time since 1260.

It wasn't until 1967, following the Six-Day War, that Jews returned to Hebron. They did not occupy a foreign city; rather they came back home, to the first Jewish city in the land of Israel. They returned to worship at the Caves of Machpela, the second-holiest site in the world to Jews, after Temple Mount in Jerusalem. This site had been declared off limits to Jews and Christians for 700 years. Today it is open to all who desire to visit this hallowed burial ground for the Hebrew patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Hebron is not just the source of Judaism. It is the source of monotheism for all peoples of the world.

The only reason that the Caves of Machpela are still accessible to Jews is because there is a permanent Jewish presence in the city. The disappearance of the Jewish community of Hebron would be tantamount to abandoning the founders of our people. Would any American dream of abandoning Philadelphia, Boston, or Mount Vernon to the Taliban or Al Qaeda, "in the name of peace"? Today, I proudly live in Hebron, along with hundreds of other Jews. Despite media reports, our goal is not to expel the Arabs living here. Anyone of any race or religion should be able to live in Hebron.

However, we demand that our Arab neighbors accept the fact that the Jews have an eternal, legitimate right to live in the first Jewish city in the land of Israel. This is our goal: to live normal lives, just as anyone else, anywhere in Israel. Our goal is to ensure that our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren will be able to live in Hebron. Our goal is to make sure that all Jews will have access to the caves, that Jews will never again be told that this holy site is off limits. Eviction from Hebron, the first Jewish city in Israel, would be tantamount to acquiescence that can only be defined as a reward for terrorism, continuing in the footsteps of el-Husseini.

Unfortunately there is a longtime ongoing campaign by the left, in and out of Israel, to demonize Hevron's Jewish residents.

At the Counter Jihad meanwhile, the revelation that NATO is going Dhimmi
NATO's new secretary general reiterated respect for Islam on the first day of his visit to the alliance's only predominantly Muslim member.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen is in Turkey for two days to discuss NATO operations in Afghanistan and improve relations ith the Muslim world.

"Please see my presence here tonight as a clear manifestation of my respect for Islam as one of the world's greatest religions," Fogh Rasmussen said Thursday at an iftar - the evening meal that breaks the fast during the holy month of Ramadan - with Turkey's leaders.

"I have he deepest respect for people's religious feelings," he said.

Fogh Rasmussen became secretary general Aug. 1, after Turkey withdrew its objections to his candidacy. Turkey initially opposed his appointment because, as Denmark's prime minister, he infuriated many Muslims following the publication in 2005 o cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

Somehow Denmark just can't seem to be forced to apologize enough for having free speech.

Finally to close off the weekend roundup, only 4 percent of Israelis think Obama is pro-Israel... down from 6 percent.

Israelis have never been fooled by Obama. Obama's visit to the Western Wall was greeted with protests of "Jerusalem is not for Sale", back when Obama was a candidate.



Israelis for Obama was a scam, as I reported back in the day, with two orgs, one that could not write in Hebrew, and another run by an African-American cult with ties to Michelle Obama and the rabidly anti-semitic Leonard Jeffries.

And finally to dispose of the fiction that Rahm Emanuel has any status with Israelis, here's a video from Israel, "Rahm Emanuel, the Musical." It's not subtle but Israeli political satire or comedy for that matter, does not lean to the subtle. Next time someone tries to claim that Rahm Emanuel means anything to Israelis, show them this video.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Ghosts of Chappaquiddick

When Senator Ted Kennedy was first diagnosed with a brain tumor, I wrote a piece titled, "No Tears for Ted", now with the media awash in salty tears for the departed Ted Kennedy, I can only reaffirm what I wrote then, "Still, No Tears for Ted."

Ted Kennedy was no great statesman. Like his brothers, he was the product of privilege and born to power. Unlike his brothers, he could not even be bothered to maintain the charade of the statesman. If JFK and RFK could pose for Dorian Gray portraits, flashing sunny smiles, delivering impressive sounding speeches and maintaining the appearances that covered up the underlying Kennedy corruption, Ted Kennedy didn't bother much.  Or need to.

The Kennedy family were the closest thing America had to royalty, and like many of the younger brothers of kings, Ted Kennedy felt free to wallow in his disgusting appetites, to do his worst, confident that the memory of his martyred brothers would serve as a shield for his worst excesses and crimes. And the worst thing about it all, was that he was right. The tearful eulogies, the heaped baskets of praise and the shameless use of his death as a political rallying cry demonstrates one ugly thing, that for self-proclaimed royalty there are neither morals nor law. La roi est mort. Now is the cue to shed your tears.

Ted Kennedy outlived not only John F. Kennedy, but his son as well. He outlived scandal after scandal. He outlived his own relevance. And now he is to be buried with the honors fit for a great leader. A foreigner passing by might wonder, has America lost another Lincoln or another Roosevelt, no it has only lost another Kennedy, and we unfortunately have no shortage of those.

The worst crime of the Kennedy family was not in their almost supernatural corruption, or a past rife with bootlegging and Nazi sympathizing... but in their dogged determination to imprint themselves as mythical figures across the face of American history. Not because of anything they did, but by transforming the name Kennedy itself into a brand, crossing it with Camelot, to create the illusion of nobility where there was none, and the myth of a great era cut short.

The myth of the Kennedy family is completely disconnected from reality. What if anything have they done to merit that myth, besides dying tragically before their time? The short answer is nothing. JFK was considered a disaster while in office. That side of his presidency is a legacy mainly left at the feet of LBJ, because he lived, while John Kennedy did not. Both brothers left behind a legacy of nepotism mixed with hearty dollops of voter fraud, racism, not to mention two areas that liberals would go on to fervently hate, Vietnam and McCarthyism. But the Kennedy myth applied rose colored glasses so that the brothers are not remembered for anything they actually did, so much as for a phrase or two from their speeches, and the tragic myth of a new generation's dream cut short by assassin's bullets.

Obama would self-consciously lift Kennedy's tactics, from the Chicago voter fraud that arguably made JFK America's second illegal President (after Hayes, Obama would be the third), to more importantly the style over substance approach that enabled Kennedy to triumph by connecting with a clueless youth vote. But it was the Kennedy family that made the mold, that created a brand that became myth. A myth they could not have originally intended, but one that had very effectively served Ted Kennedy's ugly career.

Ted Kennedy is dead now, as is John and Robert, but the power of the Kennedy myth lives on. That same myth nearly moved John's completely unqualified daughter into a Senate seat, purely on the strength of her name. That name is what made Ted Kennedy famous. It is what let him leave a drowning girl to die, change into an outfit and spend time chatting with his lawyers, while her corpse rotted in the lake. Any ordinary man after that would have spent a term in prison, followed by a quiet career of drinking and panhandling. His own death would not have been accompanied by a farewell tour. Any ordinary man, not a Kennedy.

Any Senator who repeatedly experienced bouts of public drunkenness, once nearly running over a policewoman, would have been out of office. But not a Kennedy. Any Senator who tried to collaborate with the KGB on influencing an American election, would have been condemned as a traitor. Never a Kennedy though. And that is the problem.

After nearly eight decades, Ted Kennedy has finally passed on, and while he missed dying before his time, his death is somehow being treated as tragic after all. Perishing in his late seventies, Ted Kennedy more than twice outlived Mary Jo Kopechne, who died in his car at only 29. Somehow that isn't fair. And all the fuss, the pomp and ceremony, and the tearful eulogies over his dead body.. cannot help but remind me of the girl he killed whose death was attended by no one. Now Ted Kennedy belongs to the ages, and Mary Jo Kopechne is a footnote in his life. His life, not hers.

When Cain slew Abel, G-d placed a mark upon him, the Mark of Cain, so that all would know him when they see him. Today we do not see the Mark of Cain anymore, or hear the cry of the murdered. We place our Cains in great coffins heaped with roses. We weep over them. We worship them. And even those who know better, bow our heads and let the funeral train pass. To hell with that. If you want to weep for someone, weep for a woman drowning inside a car, not for the man who lived to a ripe old age, and died surrounded by friends and family, with all the honor of the land at his feet. In our time, there is no shortage of those who weep for the Cains, whether they are Kennedy's or Al Queda's. Let us turn from the Mark of Cain and remember the Abels instead.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Family vs The State

Throughout history there have been two fundamental human institutions. The first is "the family" in the form of the basic family unit as well as the extended family and the tribe. The second is "the state" in the form of any overarching institution that claims total authority and control over every aspect of the lives of those who live under it.

The family and the state represent two incompatible structures. It is why the goal of such a state is almost always to disrupt and pervert the family unit. The Soviet Union taught children the virtues of informing on their parents, mandating that their loyalty must be to the state above their parents. Nazi Germany planned to replace the family with eugenics under the control of the great father figure of the Fuhrer. The modern left gained a great deal of its power from teaching children to sneer at and rebel against the values and beliefs of their parents.

The clash between the family and the state is not that of a battle between democracy and tyranny, or any such thing. The tribal middle east is filled with totalitarian dictatorships, and while they are brutal regimes, they do not seek to supplant the family unit. Instead they are a product of the family unit, with rule passing from father to son, families held hostages for the good behavior of individuals. Nor is the state necessarily overtly totalitarian, in the West it is often be socialism with a human face, a vast network of bureaucracies with smiley faces pasted over them.

Rather it is a battle between two different systems, the traditional family unit and the postmodern power of the state. And that battle has defined the culture wars and the Islamic invasion of Europe, among many other critical issues, which is why it is vital that we be aware of it. Because where the state gains power, the family declines. Birth rates drop, the institution of marriage begins to vanish, culture descends into the sewer, and amoral and sociopathic behavior begins to rise among children. All these are connected together by a single thread, and that thread is the balance of power between the family and the state.

The family is the root of most human institutions. The Bible begins with a recitation of families, a man and a woman joining together to create the human race, on and on through dynasty after dynasty, family after family. For thousands of years, invasions and migrations came and went, blending together through the family unit to create the modern day nations. Angles, Saxons, Normans, Jutes, Goths, just to name a few, becoming one.

The modern state however has sought to replace the family unit with itself. Its proponents, both on the right and the left, have believed that a scientifically managed system of government could perfect human institutions, bringing an end to human misery and chaos. By surrendering all power to the state, the state would have the ability to mold and shape every one of its citizens into an ideal form.

Liberals have invested more in this belief than any other group. The perfect state has long been a pet project since the French Revolution's newborn Republic created its own calendar, its own religion and holidays-- all in honor of itself. The Soviet Union would recreate that same self-worship of the state tenfold, with cults of personality for its leaders, holidays dedicated to itself and total control of the population right down to their thoughts. The more benign forms of socialism in Europe and North America used social justice to build support for collective institutions and new value systems under the power of the state.

Within the system of the state, the family unit is an obstruction. Within the family unit, parents educate their children how they see fit, rather than how the state sees fit. This has always been a problem, as the state believes that shaping and molding the minds of the "Citizens of Tomorrow" is a vital part of their great social project. Like virtually every social benefit, free public education has been a key tool for placing children under the power of the state.

The family unit also directs loyalty to itself above the state. This is one of the first things the state attacks, by demonstrating to children that their parent's beliefs and values are wrong or outmoded. This is meant to remove credibility from parents and transfer it to the state. The state seeks to repeatedly demonstrate to children as they grow, that everything they need, from medical care to food to knowledge to jobs, they receive from the state. And therefore that the state should command their primary loyalty.

As the cultural shift takes effect, popular culture begins portraying families routinely as "bad" and government employees or liberal advocates, e.g. police officers, reporters, lawyers... as more appropriate role models than parents. Father Knows Best gives way to Social Role Model Knows Best.

The devaluation of the family leads to fewer marriages and lower birth rates. Careers become more important than marriage. The marriages that do happen are delayed and routinely end in divorce. Fewer and fewer children are born. More children grow up in single family homes. Parents become disposable. Socialization takes place through state education and popular culture, which due to the decrease of the influence of the family has sunk down to the lowest common denominator, leading to a rise in gang violence, sociopathic behavior by children at increasingly younger ages.

This is a pattern that holds true across different nations and cultures. Falling birth rates for example are not purely a Western problem, nor are they purely the result of economic prosperity. The cases of Japan and Eastern Europe and Russia disprove two sides of that formula. It is not economic prosperity that lowers the birth rate, or else Saudi Arabia would have a far lower birth rate than Latvia. Instead the situation is the reverse. The Western and non-Western countries that suffer from low birth rates generally suffer from one thing in common, socialism to at least some degree.

If the state is more important than the family, why bother with children at all? And who has time when you're working for the benefit of the state. It isn't after all as if the children will care for you when you're old. That is an outmoded notion. The state does that. It's not as if they will carry on in the family business. The odds are against it. Have children so they can carry on the family name? Their name is more likely to wind up being Sayid or Gonzalez in a generation or two, no matter what.

To strike the final blow to the larger family that is the nation itself, to compensate for the lowered birth rate, immigration radically accelerates population transfer, destroying the remaining institutions, both religious and secular. The quieter European and North American socialist version of the war on religion and nationalism waged more overtly by the French Revolution and the Soviet Union.

In the end, the state itself proves to have feet of clay and falls. The family that is the nation is overwhelmed and destroyed by the corruption of their own culture and the outside invasion. That is the final formula for the confrontation between the family and the state.

In destroying the family, the state ultimately destroys itself. That is a lesson that Russia learned the hard way, and no amount of frantic effort to revive the Russian birth rate, both during and post the USSR, has changed the numbers. By 2050 Russia is set to lose nearly a third of its population and Islam is set to back the dominant religion. The picture looks no brighter for Europe, where fitful attempts by the state to encourage parents to do what they have done naturally for thousands of years once again misses the point. The family is not something that the state can turn on or off. With its ascendancy, the state has suppressed the family. The only way to change that is for the state to step back and once again place the family at the center of the nation's life and institutions.

Barring that the tragic decline will continue, and the victory of liberals over the family will prove to be a Pyrrhic one indeed.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Big Israel Lie

There are two interconnected lies that reside at the heart of any American discussion about Israel. The first lie is that the road to peace in the Middle East lies through Israel. The second lie is that Israel controls American policy toward itself. Those lies are not the product of ignorance or misunderstanding, they are the product of an effective propaganda campaign by the unofficial suit and tie spokesmen of the Saudi lobby who dominate American policy in the Middle East. The goal of that campaign has been to make Israel seem like the axis on which the Middle East and America turn, in order to put Israel on the firing line. And it is a campaign that has been wickedly successful up until now. 

Let's take a moment to examine those lies now.

Within the Middle East, Israel is physically insignificant. At 8500 square miles, Israel could not just fit comfortably into Pennsylvania, it is 1/5th the size of Jordan, 1/8th the size of Syria and 1/12th the size of Egypt. Simply put, Israel is smaller in land and population than every country that borders it. If you looked at the Middle East from space, you could easily put a fingernail across all of Israel.

Israel has beaten all of these countries in wars and has the best military in the region, but that is because if it didn't, it wouldn't exist. Israel's military is not the product of a will to conquer, but of an attempt to maintain its own territorial integrity and protect its citizens from attack. Israel's neighbors have never needed to work as hard or spend as much to maintain their own armed forces, because they don't truly need them. For them a strong army is not a survival strategy, it is optional.

All those who rant endlessly about Israel's settlements in the West Bank and Gaza as proof of Israel's desire to seize land, forget that Jordan annexed the West Bank only two years after its forces captured it in the 1948 War of Independence. Israel has not annexed the West Bank even after more than 40 years, and has continued to offer it in peace negotiations year after year. That is not the policy of an aggressive land hungry regime. It is not the behavior of a country that keeps its neighbors up late at night. While Israel's leaders have spent over half a century staying up late at night worrying about a war, Israel's neighbors know that war is their choice.

But what this means in practice is that Israel has very little influence beyond its own borders. With a small size, no expansionist program beyond its own territory, and as one of only two non-Arab states and the only non-Muslim state in the region... Israel's impact on the rest of the Middle East is surprisingly limited. To get a proper picture of Israel's role in the Middle East, imagine plopping Singapore in the middle of a wartorn part of Africa. It can be attacked, it can fight back, but it cannot have any real local influence.

That is why Israel remains an outsider in the political trends and turmoil of the region. The shift between Arab Nationalism and Islamism, the coups and the bloodletting between Shiite and Sunni, are all events that Israel watches from a distance. Israel is not a political participant in the ideological conflicts of the Middle East, because it does not share a common religion or ethnicity or much of anything with its neighbors. Its diplomatic relations are primarily formal, not intimate. As a result Israel has very little political influence on the Middle East, and what little influence it has, is on its immediate neighbors, such as Lebanon and Jordan, who are fairly small on the scale of the Middle East as well.

Furthermore Israel and its neighbors are in part of the Middle East that has become largely irrelevant because of its lack of oil. While Egypt and Jordan were once considered major regional players, both have long ago been sidelined by the oil rich Saudi Arabia, Iran and the UAE. None of these countries share a common border with Israel. While diplomats and pundits obsess over the West Bank and Gaza, what happens there has virtually no impact on what happens where the oil and power lie.

Not only does the road to peace in the Middle East not run through Israel, it doesn't even run anywhere near Israel.  A quick look at a map shows you just how off the beaten path Israel is when it comes to the true token of global power, oil. And it is not some Elders of Zion fantasy of the Israel lobby that defines global power to the Middle East, it is who has the oil. And  while Israel has plenty of olive oil, it has none of the kind of oil that the world is interested in.

Since the 70's, the Middle East's real power struggle has shifted to the oil rich states, to Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states. Iran and Iraq chose to build up their armies, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states instead built up their political influence in Washington D.C. and let the United States fight for them. This strategy paid off in the Gulf War and Operation Iraqi Freedom when Kuwait was liberated and Saudi Arabia got Saddam's boot off its throat. Israel was never at risk of anything more than bomb blasts and rocket shelling from Saddam. By contrast Saudi Arabia and Kuwait had their survival at stake.

With Saddam gone, Iran and Saudi Arabia are funding Sunni and Shiite insurgencies within Iraq in order to seize Saddam's oil. As a fallback position in case Iran manages to swallow Iraq and then moves on to them, the Sheiks and Princes continue buying huge stakes in American and European companies and property, in case they suddenly find themselves having to take a quick plane trip away from the region.

Remove Israel from the region, as so many diplomats and pundits would like to, and this picture remains exactly the same. How influential is Israel in the region then, and why does the path to Middle Eastern peace run through it? The answer is that it doesn't. Some diplomats choose to blame America's alliance with Israel for its image problems, but alliances are dictated by interests. American's alliance with Israel, much like Saudi Arabia's alliance with America, are the products of interests, not emotions. Iran's hostility to America is the product of religious hostility, historical animosity and its own desire to grab as much of the Middle East for itself as it can.

Let's turn to Washington then. The myth of the All-Powerful Israel lobby has been extensively marketed for decades. But let's actually take a look at how powerful this lobby is.

If the so-called Israel Lobby is so powerful, why after all these decades, has the United States failed to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital? Presidential candidates routinely visit AIPAC to promise that Jerusalem will be recognized as Israel's capitol. Bill Clinton did it, Bush promised that it would be one of his first acts in office, Obama implied it. And once in office, not only did they not keep the promise, but they routinely signed waivers to prevent Jerusalem from being treated as Israel's capital.

There is only one nation whose capital is not recognized by the United States. That nation is also the one who the wisdom of the mainstream media and many of the suit and tie unofficial members of the Saudi lobby, would have you believe controls America. The narrative of the powerful Israel lobby before whom everyone in D.C. trembles cannot be reconciled with this simple fact, or with many others.

For example, in every peace agreement completely under US mediation, Israel has given up land and never gained any permanent territory. If Israel were as expansionist and as in control of the United States government, should it not have been the other way around? Yet at Camp David, Carter pressured Begin into turning over land that was several times the size of Israel. Carter did not pressure Sadat to turn over land to Israel. The last four US administrations have pressured Israel into a peace process with the PLO that required Israel to transfer a sizable portion of land to their control. At no point in time were Egypt and Jordan expected to do the same. Does this sound like the product of an all-powerful Israel lobby.

Defenders of the "Israel Runs Washington" meme will argue that the US should have pressured Israel to do much more. As if Israel could do anymore without committing suicide. But then why hasn't the United States pressured Turkey to stop its occupation of Cyprus or demanded that Spain create a state for the Basque? Either the Turkish Lobby or the Spanish Lobby is far more powerful than the Israel Lobby, or Israel is singled out because of pressure from a much stronger lobby, the Saudi Lobby.

What the "Israel Lobby" mainly deals with is the back and forth arms trade between the United States and Israel, partially packaged as foreign aid, and non-binding congressional resolutions that have as much force as a municipal resolution naming Tuesday, Global Twig Day. Most congressmen identify as Pro-Israel, mainly because it's easy, costs them nothing and lets them pick up a few votes here and there. It is easy enough to vote on or co-sponsor the occasional pro-Israel resolution that does nothing but gather dust in the record cabinets, because it has no actual application. It is so ridiculously easy that even Barack Obama has done it. And it's so meaningless that no President takes them seriously. Any measure that actually has legislative force is routinely crafted so that the President can waive it or set it aside if it interferes with administration policy. Which is exactly what happens much of the time.

As a result most congressmen can mention a pro-Israel bill that they voted on or co-sponsored around election time to gullible Jewish audiences who fail to understand that the 2012 Israel Friendship Act or the 2043 No Money Given to Terrorists, We Really Mean It This Time Act, has as much practical utility as a cell phone in the Sahara. And few of these same congressmen are actually pro-Israel when it matters. They're pro-Israel when it's an exercise in public relations. That is not what a powerful lobby's grip on a government looks like. If you want to see that, take a look at the lobbyists for the pharmaceutical industry or the cable industry. Or the Saudi lobby, which doesn't waste time holding rubber chicken dinners for politicians, but instead has built a massive contact base of unofficial suit and tie lobbyists, former politicians, diplomats and journalists who are expert at peddling the Saudi agenda.

To determine the power of a lobby, you look at what it can do when it matters, and when the odds are against it. The one direct collision between the Pro-Israel lobby and the Saudi lobby over the AWACS sale to Saudi Arabia, ended with a Saudi victory, despite overall public and congressional opposition to the sale. The Pro-Israel lobby was vocal and public. The Saudi lobby was in control behind the scenes. And just as it had when Saudi Arabia took over ARAMCO, and forced the United States to pay for it too... the Saudi Lobby won.

That is what a lobby that controls Washington D.C. does. It doesn't put out a nameplate. It doesn't waste time on rubber chicken dinners. It instead funds a host of organizations officially headed up by Americans with influence and power in Washington D.C. It gives them the funds to cultivate ties, to build think tanks and to build relationships behind the scenes. It doesn't care whether it's dealing with Republicans or Democrats. Come one, come all. We can put you to use too. And it makes sure that nobody pays very much attention to what is going on. Instead it dips into well worn propaganda to spread the idea that the Jews control Washington D.C., knowing that there will be plenty of eager takers to polish and pass on the meme.

If you look at what some of the most powerful people in the last few administrations had in common, the simple answer is oil. Saudi oil. The woman in control of foreign policy in the second half of the Bush Administration, Condoleeza Rice, did not have her name on an Israeli oil tanker, but a Chevron oil tanker, the former parent company of ARAMCO. The man quietly dominating US foreign policy under Obama, James L. Jones did not serve on the board of directors of Manischewitz, he served on the same Chevron board of directors that Rice had formerly served on. And Rice did everything but outright appoint him as her replacement.

But of course no one could possibly believe a wild conspiracy theory like that, not when the obvious answer is that the Israel Lobby controls Washington D.C. and keeps demanding that administration after administration force it to hand over land to its worst enemies. And for some reason forces successive administrations to not recognize its own capital city, encourages them to constantly threaten it and prevent it from defending itself.

The Pro-Israel Lobby is a charade, a showpiece for people with too much time on their hands and too little subtlety. If half the claims about the Israel Lobby were true, Israel would be four times the size it is today, with secure borders and no terrorist problem. Instead Israel has been pressured like no other country has, to appease and accommodate terrorists at the expense of the lives of its citizens, its national security and even its survival... by a foreign policy crafted to fulfill Saudi interests.

The Big Israel Lie is that Israel is powerful in Washington and mighty in the Middle East. The real truth is that Israel is a tiny country that commands emotional affinity from a limited percentage of Jews and Christians, whose diplomacy abroad is clumsy, and whose regional influence is small, whose military is handicapped by liberal handwringing and whose leaders would rather negotiate than fight... until there is no other choice.

This lie is meant to make Israel seem strong, in order to place it at the center of every problem and turn it into the nail that needs to be hammered down for everything to stand straight. But the easiest way to clear up the lie is to simply look at the reality of the Middle East and see that Israel vanishes beneath a single fingernail.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The Inhumanity of Being Humane to Terrorists

Most people who have gone to the movies think they know General Patton's famous speech to the Third Army. They think they know it but they don't, because the speech was too harsh and obscene for the eponymous film and was censored so that it could receive a PG rating. But war, real war, is not rated PG. It has no rating at all.

"When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a German will get to him eventually. The hell with that idea... My men don't dig foxholes. I don't want them to. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. And don't give the enemy time to dig one either. We'll win this war, but we'll win it only by fighting and by showing the Germans that we've got more guts than they have; or ever will have. We're not going to just shoot the sons-of-bitches, we're going to rip out their living Goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We're going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket. War is a bloody, killing business. You've got to spill their blood, or they will spill yours. Rip them up the belly. Shoot them in the guts... I believe in the old and sound rule that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder WE push, the more Germans we will kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that."

If you recoiled at this excerpt from Patton's uncensored speech, congratulations, you may safely consider yourself a child of the postmodern West. A West that no longer understands that war is an ugly thing, that it must be fought hard and relentlessly to achieve victory. The uncensored speech is just one of the many relics of World War II that would not pass muster today. While reporters pay tribute to the mythology of the "Greatest Generation", the actual war itself has long ago been smeared, tarred and feathered, from both the left and the right, who decry the firebombing of Tokyo, the bombing of Dresden, the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki as monstrous war crimes. Unfortunately this historical revisionism did not begin last week, hardly had the shooting died down in occupied Berlin, than Communist sympathizers like John Dos Passos rushed in to declare that the military occupation was amoral and that the only way we could redeem ourselves was to withdraw as quickly as possible, while Nazi sympathizers like McCarthy did his best to lynch the military over the rough interrogations of SS officers who had massacred American troops at Malmedy.

One by one the major figures who had helped win the war, McArthur, Curtis LeMay, Patton, Sir Arthur Harris, were dismissed as terrible men with no concern for human life. In the modern moral lexicon, Hiroshima and Dresden came to seem as awful as Auschwitz, the Adreatine caves, Bromberg, Nanking, Iwo Jima, Katyn Forest and the Blitz. In the moral weakness that came after, the atrocities of the perpetrators of WW2 faded, while the measures used to force them to surrender were highlighted in stark colors. History, which is normally written by the winners, was instead written by the losers, and the men who understood how the war had to be fought and won became its villains. WW2 itself was celebrated but the men who commanded the operations that won it were viewed as butchers. And all too few stopped themselves to ask how a moral war could be won immorally.

And where has that gotten us now?

Almost exactly 60 years after Patton made his speech to the Third Army, the British Army found itself faced with militia attacks by the Mahdi Army in the Iraqi city of Basra. The army withdrew, dug itself into virtual foxholes and when asked about the requests of the Basra residents for help, a Major Ian Clooney replied with words almost as deathless as Patton's. "I can understand what the Iraqis are saying, but confronting violence with violence is not going to work."

Major Clooney's remarks are as important as Patton's, perhaps even more so, because they signify where the Western idea of arms is at now, as opposed to where it was some sixty years ago. We have gone from greasing the wheels of our tanks with their guts, to believing that confronting violence with violence is not going to work. And if violence is bad and never solves anything, then why bother having an army at all? A great many people are confused about that same subject as well. And that confusion is what has cost more lives than anything else.

The fundamental truth of war is that to win it, you must kill the enemy. You must crush them and break them in order to destroy their morale, shatter their ranks and end any threat that they pose. And if you are not willing to do that, then even if you possess greater strength and numbers, sooner or later you will lose the war, as yesterday's soldiers become tomorrow's insurgents, and the wars you thought you won are reborn as tomorrow's conflicts.

Can we do that today? What a silly question. There is not one single country fighting Islamic terrorism that can even define the problem as being Islam. Certainly not England or America, both of which insist that Islam is the Religion of Peace. Not Russia, which still believes it can use Muslim terrorists as pet cobras, or China, which is a good deal more nervous about its own violent Muslim Uyghurs, than about the non-violent Tibetans. Not Israel, not Australia, not Canada. No one.

Instead of pushing forward, we pull back. And when some of our men presume to push forward, we drag them out for trials, we wail about the inhumanity of being inhuman to terrorists and get down on our hands and knees to look around for the moral high ground we are so sure that we have lost. And just to be certain that we are being noble enough, we can drag out the CIA interrogators who helped break captured Al Queda terrorists into the spotlight and put them on trial, because they pushed them too hard. And while we can forgive downed airlines, burning towers and thousands of dead Americans-- putting bugs on a captured terrorist, that my friends is one thing we cannot forgive.

The CIA interrogators mind you did not behead captured terrorists, the way the terrorists beheaded their Western captives. They did not insert rubber balloons inside them and inflate them, as Hizbollah terrorists did to a CIA station chief in Beirut. They did not replicate Saddam Hussein's rape rooms, which he neglected to show off to Sean Penn or Dan Rather, when they paid their supportive visits to him. All they really did was extract that extra "ounce of sweat" which saved gallons of blood in the field.

But we don't believe that violence solves anything anymore. Not even threatened violence. That is why Osama bin Laden survived long enough to plan and executive the attacks of September the 11th. That is why he may still be alive today. Just as during WW2, German POW's received better treatment than African-American enlisted men-- so too today, Al Queda terrorists receive better treatment than the murdered Americans whose ashes are left to the landfills and to annual commemorations by a government unwilling to do everything possible to find and execute their killers.

There are volumes written on our inhumanity to the terrorists, few of those same people writing those volumes want to hear about the inhumanity of the terrorists toward us. And there is good reason for that. In order to fight for the rights of terrorists, one must also believe that their lives have the same worth as ours.

A leading animal rights activist was once famously asked if she was driving and saw a boy and an animal on the road, leaving her with the choice of swerving to hit one, in order to miss the other. She replied that she was unable to make the choice. They were both equal in her eyes. In the eyes of those who worry over being inhumane to terrorists, the boy and the terrorists are equal. They could not make the choice between one or the other. And this universalization lifts them beyond any allegiance to a country or a citizenry, only to a definition of common humanity that has no meaning in war.

A pig is not a dog and a boy. A terrorist is not a criminal or an American. To equate them all is to render all national allegiances null and void. And on those grounds to reject violence as a force that cannot solve anything, for in the eyes of the universalists, a terrorist has just as much right to live as we do. And for as long as and wherever such a view prevails, the war on Terror cannot be won, it can only be prolonged, as we dig into our foxholes and wait for the next attack against an enemy we dare not push, for fear of losing that shiny medal we pin to our chests, the highest civilian honor, the gleaming fool's gold, of the moral high ground. Until we can say that the life of a single one of our children is worth all the guns to the head and bugs on and bullets in the bodies of terrorists, we will go on losing this war.

Is it more inhumane to be inhumane or humane to terrorists? It is a question that too few enjoy asking because it sets out a clear choice. We can coddle the terrorists, or we can push them. We coddled them for years until 9/11 happened. Now we have gone back to coddling them again. But there will be more than only a moral price to pay for that, but a bill presented written in the blood of Americans. Because those who focus on the inhumanity of being inhumane to terrorists, choose instead to be inhumane to their country and their fellow citizens.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Who's Afraid of a Health Care Debate?

The union packed town halls, the boycotts organized against Glenn Beck and Whole Foods, and the entire  smear campaign against critics of ObamaCare demonstrates all too clearly that it is the Obama administration and its allies that are afraid of a real debate on health care. After all people who aren't afraid of a real debate don't need to try and force critics off the air or boycott an entire chain because its CEO ran an op-ed pointing out what's wrong with ObamaCare.

The Obama administration tried to peddle ObamaCare as an infomercial product, promising that it could do everything, while refusing to actually address the details, the contradictions and the problems involved with rolling out a national health care program. The administration was betting that the public would forget or ignore that the administration had botched every initiative to date, that the budgeting was being contradicted even by the Congressional Budget Office, and that despite a tanking economy, everyone would be eager to see the government climb untold hundreds of billions deeper into debt. They were wrong.

Peddling government centralization of health care under the misnomer of "Health Care Reform", the Obama administration has relied on anecdotal horror stories about health care today, often revolving around HMO's. The problem is that the modern HMO is itself the product of a Democratic congress and the Nixon administration which in the 70's salvaged a dying industry by using government grants and imposing requirements on any business with more than 25 employees to offer HMO coverage to their employees. The term HMO itself was coined by Dr. Paul Ellwood, a liberal supporter of big government health care programs.

If the HMO is an abusive monster, as liberal health care reformers claim, then it's a monster that they themselves created through government intervention and mandate. And any larger big government health care program will only further centralize those same faults. Reformers who blast HMO's over their cost reduction plans that deny health care services to patients, seem to have no problem with similar health care rationing so long as it is implemented by "ethicist" and government health care advisers such as Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel, who has dedicated a good deal of energy to exploring various health care rationing models based on age, degree of illness and even civic participation.

The sad HMO horror stories being trotted out in defense of ObamaCare are an emotionally manipulative shell game that ignores the fact that under ObamaCare there will be more rationing, not less. And for every HMO horror story "reform" advocates dole out, there are just as many from across the Canadian border or from the United Kingdom, not to mention Cuba, whose health care system Michael Moore has shamelessly celebrated.

And the best response to ObamaCare proponents is to paraphrase Churchill by saying that America's health care system is the worst in the world... except for all the others that have been tried. Yes there are no shortage of problems with the health care we have today, but it is also the system that offers the most options and the most possibilities. The "reformers" who promise the American people health care redistribution for everyone are selling a lie. And it's a lie that the people have seen through very quickly.

The Obama administration and its congressional allies have tried to sell the public on health care pie in the sky, only to find that the public had suddenly grown wary and was watching their wallets. Simple questions such as "How are we going to pay for this", "What kind of limits will there be", and "What kind of rationing can we expect" have toppled the system, and while the media has done its best to make anyone asking such questions look ignorant or crazy, the skepticism toward ObamaCare has only grown.

That is because the numbers don't add up on a common sense level. After all how is anyone supposed to believe that the government will offer more health care with triple the bureaucracy for more people and with more access... without running up a tab that will make Social Security seem lightweight. From the man on the street to the Congressional Budget Office, the premise never passed the smell test.

Government social welfare programs are usually billed as kinder and gentler wealth redistribution programs that turn out to redistribute the wealth on a ratio of 30 percent to those in need and 70 percent to the massive government bureaucracy administering them. As dubious as wealth redistribution may be, the socialist practice of it is to use the pretext of social needs to seize it to expand the size of government.

Communism may well be the extreme example of that, as under the pretext of giving the people, "Land and Bread", the Commissars took away everyone's land and everyone's bread, and after taking the best portion of the nation's agricultural production for themselves, redistributed the crumbs along an echo of the same old system, with the best remaining products sold on the black market, the medium products sold in Moscow, followed by poorer products sold in other cities, followed finally by the collective farms themselves who received the worst of the worst.

While the USSR may be an extreme example, government centralization and resource redistribution is a model that reproduces the same results over and over again, with radical reductions in available resources, followed by the wealthy buying the resource on the sly, the middle class straining to use whatever available disposable income they have to get their share, and those on the bottom of the ladder once again being stuck with the worst of the worst.

That is because human beings are natural capitalists. Resource shortages will not prevent the wealthy from getting the best, because there will always be someone to sell it to them. In the case of health care that can mean Canadian style illegal clinics and trips to the United States for operations, as in Communist health care systems it means skipping the line through bribery. What government centralization and administration does is limit the available health care resources, thus driving up the price on both legal and illegal health care.

Government administration cannot increase available health care resources, instead it can only decrease them. When the cost of the administrative bureaucracy is piled on top of existing health care costs, the bureaucrats will naturally try to squeeze medical providers, resulting in a diminished quality of health care, and patients, resulting in diminished access to health care resources. The one part of the triangle that will never be squeezed or cut back, is the administrative bureaucracy itself, which will continue growing and growing, until like a weed it strangles the life out of both health care providers and patients. Or as it's better known, the Public Option.

The socialist solution is good for government, and bad for everyone else. It is government intervention that created the system of HMO's, that advocates of government intervention now condemn for being unfeeling bureaucracies that only care about profit. And then instead of hundreds of unfeeling bureaucracies that care about nothing but cutting costs in order to maximize profits, we can look forward to one single unfeeling bureaucracy that cares about nothing but cutting costs in order to keep their jobs-- and to which there will be no legal alternative.

The health care reform being offered today would magnify every problem with health care today, be completely financially unfeasible and do nothing in the long run except create government administrative jobs. The American people know that. And that is why its advocates are afraid of a real health care debate. It is easier to pack the Town Halls with purple shirted union goons, to try and force Glenn Beck off the air or intimidate the CEO of Whole Foods into retracting his criticisms of ObamaCare-- then it is to have an honest and open health care debate.