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Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Universal Muslim Economic Failure

By On July 31, 2012
If Romney accomplished nothing else during his Israeli visit, he did manage to offend every single Palestinian Arab terrorist group, all of whom, the Palestinian Authority, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP and the DFLP, issued press releases denouncing him. Their American media outlets, on a desperate gaffe hunt, seized on his statement that the GDP Per Capita differences between Israel and the territory under the control of the Palestinian Authority are the result of different values.

The official media narrative is that these differences are the results of eons of oppression, checkpoints and blockades. Fair enough. But then why does the IMF put Israel's GDP Per Capita well ahead of the oil rich kingdom of Saudi Arabia?

Saudi Arabia has no Israeli checkpoints, no Israeli soldiers or planes flying overhead. It has wealth literally pouring out of the ground with a fifth of the world's petroleum reserves. And yet the IMF puts it 13 places behind Israel and the World Bank puts it 8 places behind Israel. The only Muslim countries with a better GDP Per Capita rating than Israel are small monarchies drowning in oil.

The non-oil Muslim countries who are closest to Israel are Malaysia and Lebanon, 32 and 33 places behind Israel. Both countries also have sizable non-Muslim populations. Muslims make up only 50 percent of Lebanon and only 60 percent of Malaysia.

38 places below Israel is Turkey, which until recently was a secular country and actually has a statistically significant atheist population. And that's it. Below that we fall off a cliff into places like Belarus, South Africa and Grenada; all of whom still have better GDP Per Capita rates. No Muslim country without oil has a better GDP Per Capita than a Muslim country that has sizable Christian or Buddhist minorities.

What Romney didn't mention, but should have, is that the Palestinian Authority dealt yet another blow to its economy when it drove out the Christian population. Christians in the territories have traditionally made the best businessmen and the capital of the Palestinian Authority was actually started by Jordanian Christian refugees escaping Muslim persecution. And their decline follows a pattern of Christian communities across the Middle East declining and disappearing under Muslim rule.

Meanwhile Israel is burdened with 1.2 million Muslims inside the Green Line, many of whom work in an unreported black economy, and account for 52 percent of national social benefits. Israel's national  unemployment rate is 5.6 percent. The Arab unemployment rate is 27 percent. Only 59 percent of Muslim men and only 19 percent of Muslim women are officially part of the workforce.  That's compared to 56 percent of Jewish women and 52 percent of Christian women.

The average Israeli family has double the monthly income of the average Arab family. Half the Arab sector officially lives in poverty. According to many NGO's this is due to racism. According to many economic statistics this is due to working for a living and then reporting your income.

The Israeli Jewish GDP is nearly three times higher than the Arab-Israeli GDP. This could be blamed on the usual scapegoat of racism, but the Israeli Arab GDP of $6,750 is actually better than the $5,900 GDP in neighboring Jordan, the $6,540 GDP in Egypt and the $5,041 GDP in Syria. This is the same range in which most non-oil Arab Muslim states are grouped and it is clear that there is no escaping it without a big petroleum reserve. Or like Lebanon with its $15,523 GDP, a whole lot of Christians to actually work for a living.

Again culture is still the determinant. Israel within the Green Line only has about 150,000 Christians and about as many Druze, and both groups perform better economically. Christian Arabs have a higher employment rate and a better rate of higher education than Muslims. 

Apart from that official 1.2 million, Israel is also responsible for the 4 million in the Palestinian Authority (some of whom overlap with that 1.2 million and some of whom are imaginary and exist only to collect benefits from international agencies) who are still Israel's responsibility, according to them and to the world, even though they also continue insisting that they want their own state.

The reason why the GDP in Palestinian areas is so terrible is because its inhabitants live in a giant welfare state. Their income comes entirely from foreign aid. They don't need an economy because the United States and the European Union are their economy. They don't need a state because the UNRWA is their state. Palestinian Arabs were already receiving 725 dollars in per capita assistance. Despite their absolutely terrible GDP, only 16 percent of their population in the West Bank lives below the poverty line. That's a better rate than that of Israeli Arabs, who don't have an entire UN agency dedicated to taking care of them, and do actually have to work for a living.

It's easy to admire Israel for what it has accomplished, but it stands out so much because of the region it's in. Singapore and Hong Kong are less remarkable because they are in a region where countries don't just give up and wait around for foreigners to come and find oil on their land or for the Mahdi to arrive. In Asia, countries make things happen for themselves. In the Middle East, if you're not Jewish or Christian, and you don't have oil, then you have economic problems.

But let's leave the Middle East and head over to Asia. India and Pakistan are divided by a GDP Per Capita difference of almost a thousand dollars. India is naturally in the lead. Within India, Muslims are at the bottom of the economic ladder. Their per capita GDP is lower, their literacy rate is lower and they perform worse than Hindus. And yet the average Indian Muslim annual income at 513 dollars is still higher than the average annual income in Pakistan at 420 dollars. This remains consistent with the higher Arab-Israeli income and lower Jordanian Arab income model meaning that Muslims in non-Muslim countries will earn less than the majority, but more than they would in a majority Muslim country.

In Africa, Muslim Somalia sits next door to Ethiopia and Kenya and its GDP is so small it can't even be registered compared to $1,093 and $1,746 for them. You might try to blame Somalia's civil war, but Rwanda, which experienced a genocide, has a $1,341 GDP. Niger with an 80 percent Muslim population and a $771 GDP sits next door to Chad with only a 53 percent Muslim population and a $1,865 GDP. Next door Cameroon has a 70 percent Christian majority and a $2,257 GDP.

Now let's head over to Europe. In Britain the myth of the hardworking Bangladeshi or Pakistani storekeeper is practically sacred. In reality 70 percent of Bangladeshis and Pakistanis live in low income households, compared to 50 percent of Africans, 30 percent of Indians and 20 percent of the natives. Bangladeshis and Pakistanis not only have dramatically higher unemployment rates than natives, but they have higher unemployment rates than Africans.

If the issue were racism, then their unemployment rates would be in line with far lower Indian unemployment rates. Instead Muslims have the worst economic record in the UK. Pakistani Muslims in the UK are three times more likely to be unemployed than Hindus. Indian Muslims are twice as likely to be unemployed as Indian Hindus.

Again this fits the same model of Muslims from non-Muslim countries being less economically inept than Muslims from majority Muslim countries. The crucial difference between minority Muslims and majority Muslims is culture. Minority Muslims do have their own culture, but no minority group can entirely escape the values of the majority culture. Arab Israelis and Indian Muslims absorb enough of the values of the majority culture to perform better than their neighbors in Jordan or Pakistan. And they even carry on these absorbed values when they move to another country.

We can see the direct consequences of those values in action. In the UK, Muslims have the highest dropout rate and lack of qualifications of any religion. They have the highest male and female unemployment rates. This isn't racism, this is Islamism.

Muslims have the highest unemployment rate in Ireland. In Belgium, Moroccans and Turks have a five times higher unemployment rate of the native population. In Australia, Muslims have twice the unemployment rate of non-Muslims and forty percent of their children live below the poverty line. Muslims also have the highest unemployment rate in Canada, 14.4 percent to a national rate of 7.2 percent.

The response to all these numbers is the usual cry of racism, but racism fails to explain why Muslims fail more comprehensively at home than they do abroad. If Muslims fail in the West Bank, then Israeli checkpoints are to blame. If they fail in Canada, Australia and Europe, then racism is to blame. But if they fail in Pakistan, Somalia and Saudi Arabia-- who is to blame?

It can't be Mitt Romney or Benjamin Netanyahu, because neither of those men run Pakistan or Saudi Arabia. The answer can't be racism, because Saudi Arabia gets everything it wants and it still fails. It can't be colonialism, because these days the Muslim world is doing the colonizing. So what's left?

Responsibility is the missing element. It's the character value without which there can be no economic success. The temptation by leftists and Muslims to respond to Romney's comments and these statistics by finding someone else to blame is revealing and damning. These statistics are only the tip of the iceberg of larger statistics about illiteracy, violence and corruption that account for Muslim economic malaise.  

The same lack of responsibility that manifests itself after a Muslim terrorist attack, when Muslims rush to position themselves as the victims, rather than dealing with the violence in their midst, also manifests itself in the economic arena and in every aspect of life. This lack of responsibility is a failure of values that cannot be escaped or ascribed to racism, checkpoints or the boogeyman.

Muslims have failed to deal with their problems and so we are left dealing with them instead. But just because the Muslim world insists on pretending that the problems aren't there or blames them on third parties does not make the problems go away.

Monday, July 30, 2012

About That Special Relationship

By On July 30, 2012
Romney has landed in Jerusalem and Obama is threatening to visit Israel in his second term. This seems like good news for Americans, but presidential and pre-presidential visits are often bad news for Israelis.

Romney's trip itinerary covering the UK, Israel and Poland is a clever road map critique of Obama's foreign policy. Kerry and Obama both campaigned on a promise to fix America's broken relations with its allies. Romney is subtly doing the same thing, paying a visit to allies alienated by the last three years.

When Obama first visited Israel the contentious Democratic primaries had just wrapped up and Jewish voters and organizations had thrown their support to Hillary Clinton. Obama had Jewish leftists, but he didn't have more middle-of-the-road Jewish Democrats. And additionally paying a visit to the home of the Little Satan was a way of dispelling suspicions about his Muslim roots.

Obama hasn't bothered with a visit to Israel, but he hasn't bothered appearing in person at the NAACP either. And that's all for the best. Israel needs a visit from Obama about as much as it needs more of the "mysterious fires" being set as part of the Arson Jihad.

A presidential visit to most other countries is a formality while a presidential visit to Israel is an unpleasantness. Presidents who visit Israel must also stop off for a visit with the terrorist leaders. Presidents don't just stop by, have a pita, smell the flowers and do some handshakes. Instead they arrive tasked with peacemaking duties and then they task everyone else with their peacemaking.

There is something intriguing, though little good, about Putin's visit to Israel, because it at least has the air of unpredictability. Presidential visits to Israel however are painfully predictable. There is never anything new that comes out of those trips and nothing good either. They are a lot like family reunions, pleasant in theory, but uncomfortable in practice. Both have a special relationship that they can never quite define and the visits always carry with them an aura of disappointment.

A Presidential visit has the air of a boss coming downstairs to check up on a lazy employee. On arrival, there are the customary expressions of a hope for peace. In private whatever Prime Minister is in office will be upbraided for still not having achieved peace. At a joint press conference in a capital that the United States still doesn't recognize,  after the usual formalities about the special relationship and the commitment to Israel's security, the President will tell reporters that more sacrifices are needed for peace.

"And next time I talk to you there had better be peace," is the unspoken message always left hanging in the air.

The pre-presidential visits are less of a chore, but no more significant. Candidates stop by Israel the way that they do any other state. They visit a few significant places, have their picture taken there, get a brief tour from local officials and fly over the narrowest point in Israel's border as a demonstration of just how strategically precarious the situation is.

Like all practiced politicians they are very understanding of the problems that their hosts have, whatever those problems might be. They emphasize that unlike the last guy from the other party, they will not pressure Israel to make more concessions. And then a few years later they are disembarking from an airplane and frowning at the lack of peace on the airport tarmac. "Where is that damn peace already? I ordered it last week."

Israel would be best served if the next American President forgot that Israel even existed or decided that it was a small country like Slovenia or Fiji, and need not be bothered with. A great month would be a month that passed without any State Department statements on Israel or a single question or answer from the White House Press Secretary about that small country wedged in between much bigger countries where frankly more interesting things are going on right now.

Instead no one ever forgets Israel. It's the one country that the Western world and the Muslim world are equally obsessed with. Asia is mystified by that obsession and has been ever since the days when it was being flooded by Nazi propaganda about the Jews controlling the world, even while penniless Jewish refugees were showing up in China and Japan.

The Jews not only don't control the world, they don't even control their own borders or get to name their own capital. And not a day passes by without some pundit putting paws to iPad and pounding out some turgid prose about the hopes for peace that can only be realized when the warmongering Israelis get over the Holocaust and help the terrorist gangs of Fatah and Hamas have their own state.

Other countries have art, science, historical marvels and gleaming beaches. Israel has those things but they don't exist in the official narrative. The backbreaking labor of nearly a century is nothing more than a minor mention in yet another news story about Israeli checkpoints preventing pregnant women and suicide bombers from reaching Jerusalem quickly enough.

The dark cloud of the eternal peace process overshadows everything that Israel is and does. And it defines its relationship with American leaders who on their initial visits may see Israel as a place but on their succeeding visits see it as a problem in need of a Two-State Solution.

The American-Israeli relationship began when the United States began running out of Muslim allies in the Middle East. It began to decline when the United States pulled Egypt out of the Soviet camp. It has gone up and down each time administrations have gone looking for long term relationships in the Muslim world. The American and Israeli governments have been like a couple that had to settle for each other because they have no one else.

Israel lost its French paramour and the United States never found a Muslim Middle Eastern country that was reliably friendly and whose leaders didn't need the US Marines to protect them from their own people. Despite its best diplomatic efforts, the United States has never found anyone else, but that doesn't stop it from constantly lecturing Israel on its shortcomings and reminding it how their special relationship is preventing the United States from getting any of the gorgeous Muslim states it could have had.

Obama was the best bid for landing a special relationship with the Muslim world, but despite his best efforts, no such relationship has materialized. But the blame for that, as usual, doesn't go to Obama, it goes to the Israelis for scaring away all the potential dates. In Washington D.C. the diplomats brood over their latest plans for landing Iran or fixing Egypt so that they can dump Israel for good, and the Israelis try to flirt with China or Russia; but in the end they all have to go home together because there is no one else.

Israel and America are stuck with each other. America needs a reliable partner in the Middle East whose government won't suddenly fall and be replaced by Jihadist maniacs and Israel needs a friend whose leaders don't openly talk about how much they hate it. It's not exactly a match made in heaven, but for two democracies with a certain amount of shared history and shared problems, it's all they have.

There's not much special about the visits back and forth by American and Israeli leaders. Mostly they sound like an old married couple having the same argument for the thousandth time  "Make peace with the Palestinians!" "Do something about Iran or I will." And then with nothing accomplished everyone goes home with gritted teeth.

There are high hopes that a new president will be different and that this time the cycle will be broken but then a few years later we are right back where we started and usually worse off. After a while all the headlines run together in smears of ink, the broadcasts full of earnest reporters standing against some dark background somberly reporting about another blow to the hopes of peace all seem the same no matter how many fashions have changed and how many decades have passed.

The United States expects Israel to fix its problems with the Muslim world by completing the peace process. But the problem with this Two-State Solution is that Israel isn't the source of the problems in the Muslim world. America's problems with Islam come from the same place as Russia's problems with Islam and as everyone else's problems with Islam.

Nevertheless the thinking goes that when Israel finally builds its own special relationship with the Muslim world, the United States will be able to build its special relationship with the Muslim world too. And when every president sits down at the table and is given his briefings, those briefings place Muslim violence in the context of Israel. And Israel becomes the Zionist Knot that has to be cut to untangle the hostility of 1 billion Muslims.

It's easier to cut up Israel than it is to deal with the possibility that Islam's internal conflicts and external hostilities might not be solvable. That they are something that we have to deal with without any easy short cuts through Jerusalem. And politicians are nothing if not fans of the easy way out. Presidential candidates may come and go, they may fly over and look at how narrow Israel is, meet with generals and soldiers in the field, and farmers and ranchers in their own fields, but when they leave then the Jewish State, that small elongated strip of land, becomes the knot that must be cut to make the Muslim world stop the killing and love America.

 (a shortened version of this article appeared previously at Times of Israel)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Invaders from Outer Space

By On July 29, 2012
New York City has been invaded, its buildings blown up and its citizens slaughtered hundreds of times. The invaders come every summer, descending from the sky and under the earth. Sometimes they aliens or gods or monsters. They are, however, never Muslims.

Every summer, for 10 dollars you can see a fantasy version of September 11 reenacted with invading enemies who deserve no mercy and receive none. They come in swarms, buildings fall, people run for cover and then they are beaten back and banished. And then, as summer fades, we pause for that obligatory week in which attention must be paid to commemorating the attacks of September 11 while seeing no connection between the discharges of tension through fictional victories used as an escape mechanism from a war that we dare not fight.

The Dark Knight, the previous Batman film, contained an elaborate analogy to the War on Terror, a shadow version of the real war fought out by men in costumes proving that it was possible to release a big-budget movie supportive of the War on Terror so long as it was dressed up in the right costume.

Since then, and before, New York City has been attacked by meteors, ice ages, mythical skeletons, more costumed criminals, the year 2012, and every possible imaginary scenario that can be dreamed up. It just hasn't been attacked by Muslims because that's something that doesn't happen in movies. Only in real life.

The actual enemy rarely shows up in movies. There have been more movies made attacking the War on Terror than movies showing American soldiers and law enforcement officers fighting terrorists. After ten years of war there have hardly been any movies made about the war in Afghanistan and the most watched movie about the War in Iraq began with an anti-war quote, just so no one made any mistakes about where everyone involved stood. And all of these are a drop in the bucket.

Our cinematic world is a relentless barrage of anxieties; week after week, movie theater screens light up with depictions of civilization collapsing into chaos, overrun by hordes of zombies and monsters, our cities torn down, buildings burning, police and military forces helpless in the face of the enemy. These collective anxieties are packaged up and exported to audiences at home and around the world who sit watching our unacknowledged fears of invasion and collapse play out in movie theaters.

A culture's art, no matter how tawdry it may seem, is also its dreams. They are the stories we tell, and they are full of conscious and unconscious meanings. Legends are created by a culture to battle its unspoken fears. Its great hunters and warriors, whether born of a god, risen from the sea or wearing a cape take a society's terrors and defeat them in a story that is reenacted over and over again to bring courage to the people and remind that all obstacles may be overcome with a strong spirit. 

No matter how degenerate a culture may be, its people still need such legends because they still have fears that need calming. The more troubled the time, the more they have need of such legends and the more they may even escape into them to find comfort against the coming of the long night.

The Islamic invasion is only dealt with through such legends where the enemy is reduced to metaphors, as the Soviet Union and the threat of Communism were in earlier generations. In earlier generations, we saw the Nazi on screen, and he is still a reliable villain, but the Communist is a more elusive fellow and the Islamist is more likely to show up in British movies than in American ones. Instead, the Communist became subsumed in stories of pod people and zombies, in depersonalized bombs falling from the sky and enemies with accents but no ideology. Even brainwashing was distanced as a technological trick in the Manchurian Candidate rather than an ideological practice. 

If Communists occasionally showed up in movies, Islamists are as rare as white elephants. There is plenty of work for Muslim actors portraying unjustly accused men being persecuted by bigoted and ignorant law enforcement officers. But there is hardly any work for them portraying terrorists.  Much as negative portrayals of Communists was Red-Baiting, negative portrayals of Muslims is Islamophobia. And it is better to be afraid of imaginary things than real ones.

Progressives insist that Muslim terrorists are a figment of our imagination, and they replace them with figments of their imagination. Even while a true invasion is underway, they give us imaginary ones to transpose real threats onto fictional threats.

Our political institutions, like our movies, prefer to deal with fictional threats as well. The CDC has issued an emergency preparedness plan for a zombie attack. It's easier to prepare disaster plans for something that won't happen than to prepare them for an Islamic biological warfare attack which might happen, but must not be spoken about.

The world we live in is stranger than fiction. It is a place where imaginary threats are constantly discussed but talk of real threats is silenced. No one complains when the NYPD releases a Zombie Patrol Guide, but a furor ensues when it investigates terror-linked mosques. The more imaginary a threat is, the safer it is to tackle it because there is no Zombie Rights organization to sue, whine and conduct interfaith rallies complaining that zombies are people too.

"With an host of furious fancies whereof I am commander, with a burning spear and a horse of air to the wilderness I wander," Tom O'Bedlam sings. "By a knight of ghosts and shadows I summoned am to tourney. Ten leagues beyond the wide world’s end – Methinks it is no journey."

We are led now by Bedlamites, feigned madmen running a society of feigned madness where it is fashionable to fight zombies and unfashionable to fight Muslim terrorists. A society in which a 100 million dollar movie that depicts Abraham Lincoln fighting vampires was just released. And if it isn't vampires or zombies, then it's monsters or aliens. We need our phantom enemies to fight and defeat; the knights of ghosts and shadows who call us to battle beyond the wide world's end of reality to avoid fighting the all-too-real terrorists of the Jihad.

To fight ghosts and shadows, zombies, aliens and vampires, is no journey at all. It can be done at home or at the movie theater. The lights go down and sound blares, adrenalin levels spike and pupils dilate, and, when the two hours are complete, the experience of confronting and surviving danger has been burned in and all the appropriate chemicals are swirling around in the body. While outside the terror grows.

More than ever, we are glutted on a feast of false victories against false enemies, while the true enemy remains nameless. While moviegoers in Times Square consumed cinematic fantasies about invaders from outer space, a real life invader from Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, was plotting to set off a car bomb. Like so many invaders from outer space, Faisal Shahzad was able to blend in with the locals while plotting to destroy everything around him.

In movies, invaders from outer space escape notice because no one believes in aliens, but in real life invaders from Pakistan, Egypt and Saudi Arabia escape attention because it's unfashionable to believe in Islamic invaders, no matter how many times they have struck in the past. 36 percent of Americans polled believe that aliens have visited earth and 55 percent believe that most Muslims in this country are patriotic citizens. It is still unknown how many believe that little green men in UFO's are also patriots and wave the red, white and blue in between bouts of cattle mutilation.

Reality isn't a consensus, but responding to it is. If enough people stop believing in gravity or if acknowledging gravity as an invention of a bunch of dead white men becomes politically incorrect, then the rate at which objects fall will remain unchanged but the rate at which people jump from buildings expecting to fly will increase. If we don't believe in Muslim terrorists, they will still go on blowing themselves up and taking us with them, but our authorities will courageously go on ignoring them while jokingly issuing zombie warnings.

And yet reality can't be ignored. The very act of ignoring it builds up unacknowledged tensions that must be discharged. The average citizen working through those anxieties sits in a darkened room watching the end of days unfold, sees his cities fall and society plowed under and steps out of the air-conditioned theater into the warm sunshine feeling a temporary lifting of unspoken fears.

With the dollar low, debt high, terror everywhere and freedom nowhere; anxiety isn't hard to come by and even harder to escape. Most of the anxieties are the work of a political and cultural elite that likes to think that it is best fit to govern, when it is actually every bit as inept as the worst Ottoman and Imperial Chinese bureaucracies. It is especially dangerous to speak out against inept elites, because the inept kind are also the most insecure. Instead the anxieties must be sublimated, spoken of only in fantasy critiques of inept governments, corrupt cities, rampaging invaders and bold criminals who can only be restrained by assertive individuals. 

Art is more than aesthetics, it is the stories that a culture tells itself, it is the loves and hates, the hopes and fears, the bright dashes of color and the oppressive tones of shadow, it is the note that lifts and then sinks reenacting the drama of life. It is the space where even the unspoken things can be spoken indirectly. It is a place where hunters slay fell beasts, maidens drown themselves for love and where the tribe reminds itself of its strengths and fears. It is a place of many lies concealing a few dangerous truths. The dangerous truth that our culture's art conceals and reveals is the truth that we are at war.

H.G. Wells' "War of the Worlds" begins by drawing a picture of a complacent world of men who give little thought of what might be out there, who pay no attention to the "envious eyes" of the invaders that "slowly and surely drew their plans against us". We are aware and unaware of being at war, of passing men and women on the street who are slowly and surely drawing up their own plans against us. In the movie theater, we revisit that terrible knowledge that we are engaged in a war with no natural end under a hundred disguises. We recreate September 11 in our ten-dollar nickelodeons every summer and look to the sky. But it isn't aliens we are watching for. It's planes.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday Afternoon Roundup - London Bridge is Falling Down

By On July 27, 2012


ROMNEY IN LONDON

This entire mini-affair is an example of the rules we are playing by. Scandals will be manufactured and transformed into narratives in the blink of an eye.  A Republican candidate either has to be completely robotic or so charismatic and natural that no one cares about any of the attacks made against him.

The narrative is that Romney's London trip is full of gaffes. The reality is that Romney simply commented on actual events. The same events being covered widely in the same British newspapers playing up the story.

"It's hard to know just how well it will turn out," Romney told NBC. "There are a few things that were disconcerting. The stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials… that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Obviously when you have to dispatch thousands of soldiers to fill in for a hole in your security that is not a good sign and there's a long list of problems with the London Olympics.

For that matter here's a story from the Washington Post from ten days ago hitting on the same theme.

“Ten days to the Games — what could go wrong?” a sarcastic headline in Britain’s Guardian newspaper asked Tuesday. The answer, as this Olympic host nation has discovered, is: Quite a lot.

Even as athletes begin arriving in London for the 2012 Summer Games, Olympic organizers are coming under fire over bungled security staffing and other issues that have prompted the British media and opposition lawmakers to already declare the event a “fiasco.”

This is much stronger language than Romney used.

Romney is a candidate making a global trip to show off his diplomatic skills, so he probably should not have commented on the problems with the London Olympics... then again Obama should probably not have compared his bad bowling to the Special Olympics. 

London Mayor Boris Johnson attacked Romney to warm up the crowd, which is understandable, this is the sort of thing that local politicians do. Prime Minister Cameron however reacted in a way that truly is a gaffe.

"We are holding an Olympic Games in one of the busiest, most active, bustling cities anywhere in the world,” the prime minister said. “Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."
That's a rather stupid thing to say considering that he may have to deal with a President Romney next year and it's not as if Romney had said anything offensive about England. Salt Lake City is a good deal smaller than London, it's about the size of York, but dragging them into a completely unnecessary fight is much worse diplomacy.

Johnson and Cameron welcomed a chance to turn from domestic criticism to xenophobia and the liberal media has hysterically seized on the opportunity. And yet despite all the screams of "Gaffe", no one can quite explain the gaffe.

Here's the narrative...

Elevating his tendency for gaffes to the international stage, Mr Romney said that because of concerns about security, it was “hard to know just how well it will turn out”.

...but where's the gaffe? There isn't one. Just a credible statement of opinion widely reflected in the same papers attacking him for that gaffe.

And this is the same treatment that has been prepped for Romney in every country he visits. Molehills will be turned into mountains and the same will scream GAFFE GAFFE GAFFE until it's hoarse.

(...side note to Brits. If this were being held in New York or Chicago, the way Bloomberg and Obama wanted, I'm sure it would have ended up a complete mess.)




OBAMA'S NEW ISLAMIC WORLD ORDER

Next month, before visiting Cairo and meeting Mubarak, Obama visited Saudi Arabia to pay tribute to King Abdullah. The visit to the Saudi Kingdom before a high profile speech to the Muslim world sent a clear message, just as the visit to Turkey had. Before speaking to the Muslim world, Obama showed off his Islamist influences by paying court to two Islamist regimes.

As Obama bowed his head, the Saudi monarch hung the Order of Abdul Aziz al Saud around his neck. The golden chain of the order that was placed around Obama’s neck was decorated with the crossed swords representing the House of Saud and the House of Wahhab. On the order were the words, “Pioneer of Islamic Solidarity.”

The swords of Islamic solidarity in the region were the Islamist parties that Obama began empowering as he moved from Turkey to Egypt. Erdogan ordered Egyptian leader Mubarak to step down and dutifully that day Obama followed suit. Erdogan gathered up the Syrian National Council in Istanbul, dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, and Obama endorsed the SNC and ordered the CIA to assist its weapons smuggling operation.

When the Islamist Al-Nahda Party took power in Tunisia, replacing a formerly moderate and pro-American government, Obama phoned to congratulate Hamadi Jebali and expressed his support for Tunisia’s “inclusive transition.” A month earlier Jebali had proclaimed at a victory rally, “My brothers, you are at a historic moment in a new cycle of civilization, Allah willing. We are the Sixth Caliphate.”

...that is an excerpt from this week's Front Page article, "Obama's New Islamic World Order"




TO BE OR NOT TO BE A LESBIAN ZULU HAMLET...

Well, there you have it. Theatre's apparent role is now to create a politically correct and racially adjusted history of England. In this, the black population of England did not arrive largely from the 1950s on, but apparently were always present yet invisible because they had been "whitewashed" out.

But that doesn't justify making a black man a medieval noble. Moreover, we know that politico-theatrical agenda at work would never lead to a Japanese or Burmese or Eskimo actor being cast as the Duke of York. And the requisite colour-blindness is mono-directional. No white or Chinese actor may play a black man: Othello, say, or Martin Luther King or Nelson Mandela.

In short, Shakespeare's most rousing play was turned into a vapid gruel by the cowardice of PC dogma. What next? A Zulu Lesbian Hamlet? Macbess? The Merry Gays of Windsor? Romeo and Julius?

...the problem with modern theater is that everything is modern theater now. All theater is modern and modern theater is essentially self-congratulatory. Its accomplishments are entirely in the realm of political correctness and its few interesting productions are in some way politically incorrect because it is the only taboo in the land of Zulu Lesbian Hamlet. Mamet's defection has to be particularly disconcerting since it communicates to audiences that his plays may have been right-wing all along.




GUN CONTROL IS BACK, BABY

Well not really, but the media is frantically pushing for it, celebrities are tweeting for it and Obama has made a halfhearted jab in that direction.

And I, like most Americans, believe that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual the right to bear arms.  And we recognize the traditions of gun ownership that passed on from generation to generation -– that hunting and shooting are part of a cherished national heritage.  

But I also believe that a lot of gun owners would agree that AK-47s belong in the hands of soldiers, not in the hands of criminals -- that they belong on the battlefield of war, not on the streets of our cities

The battlefield of war... I guess as opposed to the battlefield of peace?

But good news. Obama recognizes the right of some Americans to bear some arms. Just not the kind he disapproves of. If he took the same approach to the First Amendment, there would be some serious howls.

Western Rifle Shooters reminds us which of Obama's favorite armies uses AK-47's on the great Battlefield of Peace.

The media push is now approaching a set, of what they think, are clever talking points. The old gun control push wrapped it in grieving family members of shooting victims. That push faltered. The new gun control push is focusing on advocacy from police and military brass.

The idea here is that "bitter clingers" will respond better to authority figures and independents will be more vulnerable to "experts" from law enforcement.

The Atlantic meanwhile comes up with a brilliant reason for pushing gun control...

But it's a myth that there is no longer any audience for gun control. It is, in fact, almost exactly the same audience that President Obama is pursuing with virtually everything else he does. Gun control is deeply unpopular with the portions of the white electorate most hostile to Obama anyway: blue-collar whites and college-educated white men. But among the voters who might actually vote for Obama (particularly minorities and college-educated white women), restrictions on gun ownership still attract solid majority support.

So Obama should back gun bans to win over the voters he already has while destroying even the small percentage of white male voters that he still has.

I like this plan. Please go for it.




BUT WHAT IS HARVEY WEINSTEIN THINKING?

After getting input on gun control from such notable figures as Jason Alexander and Patricia Cornwell, most Americans were waiting around to hear what Harvey Weinstein thought.

"If we don’t get gun-control laws in this country, we are full of beans," the Oscar-winning producer told The Huffington Post by phone from Paris.

Well there you have it. By phone from Paris no less.



WE NEED TO HELP THE REBELS OVERTHROW ASSAD AND WIPE OUT SYRIA'S CHRISTIANS

Stop complaining. It's the Right 2 Protect thing to do.

"There were always Christians in Qusayr -- there were around 10,000 before the war," says Leila, the matriarch of the Khouri clan. Currently, 11 members of the clan are sharing two rooms. They include the grandmother, grandfather, three daughters, one husband and five children. "Despite the fact that many of our husbands had jobs in the civil service, we still got along well with the rebels during the first months of the insurgency." The rebels left the Christians alone. The Christians, meanwhile, were keen to preserve their neutrality in the escalating power struggle. But the situation began deteriorating last summer, Leila says, murmuring a bit more before going silent.

"We're too frightened to talk," her daughter Rim explained, before mustering the courage to continue. "Last summer Salafists came to Qusayr, foreigners. They stirred the local rebels against us," she says. Soon, an outright campaign against the Christians in Qusayr took shape. "They sermonized on Fridays in the mosques that it was a sacred duty to drive us away," she says. "We were constantly accused of working for the regime. And Christians had to pay bribes to the jihadists repeatedly in order to avoid getting killed."

Grandmother Leila made the sign of the cross. "Anyone who believes in this cross suffers," she says.

But pay no attention to an ignorant rag like Der Spiegel. This will all go away once we put the Islamists in power in Syria.





KKK TO GIVE AWAY FREE CHAINS TO BLACK PEOPLE

Visitors to downtown Minneapolis this weekend can pick up an interesting freebie: a hijab.

A young women's Muslim group, along with volunteers from other faiths, plan to hand out hundreds of the traditional head coverings Saturday afternoon along Nicollet Mall.

Can I also get a free traditional Dhimmi garment too?




POLITICAL CORRECTNESS AND THE OLYMPICS

Voula Papachristou was removed from the Greek Olympic team after making one remark on Twitter, but Muslim teams who refuse to in any way compete against Jews are being quietly accommodated.

The BBC , of all places, lends credence to this by mentioning as a genteel aside that the Arab and Muslim members threatened a walk out if the Israeli athletes were memorialized.

The Lebanese Judo team got a wall built to separate them from the Israeli team. But some forms of bigotry are more acceptable than others.



NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE VS NAACP

Speaking of Obama's gun ban blather at the National Urban League, why make an appearance there but not at the NAACP?

Critics point to the perception that the Urban League is much more middle class and “elite” compared to the more grassroots NAACP, thereby continuing a controversial narrative that the President only interfaces with a certain “class” of African Americans.  “The National Urban League is indeed popular among young urban professionals, who are middle class and upwardly mobile.

Obama will appear at a black event, so long as it's the right kind of black event.




THE GORDIS GAMES

One of the more repulsively hypocritical habits of people who engage in activities harmful to the Jewish people is to then clamor that they are being victimized. Or in Gordis' case, his claim that attacking him is the reason for the fall of the Second Temple.

As I discussed in a previous article, Daniel Gordis signed on to a letter from an Anti-Israel group attacking the Levy Report rejecting the occupation myth. The Levy Report has been accepted by the Israeli government. Gordis could present no rational explanation for attacking it or for joining with an Anti-Israel group except an editorial in Haaretz full of twaddle about not giving up hope.

Rather than discuss the issue, Gordis chose to write a self-righteously self-pitying article trying to connect the criticisms of him for that decision to Tisha Ba'av and the fall of the Second Temple.

Such cynical exploitation of Jewish history would be repulsive enough on its own, but it's doubly disgusting by Gordis who is doing it in defense of his letter which actually undermined Israel's claim to Jerusalem by demanding that Israel ignore the Levy Report and go on maintaining the current myth.

Gordis is essentially arguing that to criticize him for undermining Israel's claim to Jerusalem is tantamount to destroying Jerusalem. The levels of self-contradictory absurdity in that are almost staggering.

"Sinning Against Each Other" is the title of Gordis' article, but what he really means is that he is the one who has been sinned against.

"On my list of worries this Tisha B’Av: Iran, Egypt—and the ugly ways we Jews talk to one another" is Gordis' touching subheader. And naturally Gordis follows this touching concern by attacking his critics in ugly ways.

After complaining that Yisrael Medad's blog post about him had a "derisive tone" and about how distressed he was about "the blatant hate speech that some have no qualms using", he got down to derisively and hatefully insulting people.

Gordis calls the talented and passionate journalist Giulio Meotti a plagiarist in the second paragraph of the next page. Clearly by this point Gordis is no longer worried about the Ninth of Av. Or perhaps Meotti is not a Jew and Gordis has no problem speaking of him in an ugly way. Or getting his attack material against a pro-Israel journalist from Max Blumenthal whose hatred for the Jewish State is second to none.

Then Gordis gets to me.

The third issue, and perhaps the most distressing, was the implicit attitude behind all of these accusations: “You’re either with us, or against us.” Daniel Greenfield, a widely read blogger taken seriously by some people I take seriously, tweeted, “Daniel Gordis loses all credibility by signing on to pro-Hamas group Israel Policy Forum’s letter.” Even if we ignore the absurdity and incitement of calling the IPF “pro-Hamas,” there’s an important issue here: If a person makes one move with which you disagree, must they immediately “lose all credibility”? For some, apparently so.

I like the incitement part, especially since Gordis had dragged out Rabin's corpse on the last page raising his "People Like You Destroyed the Temple" with "People Like You Killed Rabin".

In Israeli terms this is the equivalent of playing the race card. It's an accusation that threatens to create a great deal of trouble for anyone accused of it in Israel. 

But let's get to the "Absurdity" part.

The Israel Policy Forum has called for negotiating with Hamas and repeatedly clamored that the peace process would not work without Hamas in it.

We're talking about a group that actually put out a press release "IPF Welcomes Subtle Shift in American Policy Toward Hamas."

“Israel Policy Forum welcomes the subtle but noteworthy shift in American policy toward Hamas and the Obama administration’s reported request of Congress for changes in U.S. law that would permit aid to Palestinians to continue even if Hamas members become part of a unified Palestinian government."

We're talking about a group formerly directed by M.J. Rosenberg who was kicked out by Media Matters for being too Anti-Israel. A group whose current sugar daddy also underwrites anti-Israel hate site, Open Zion, where BDS is advocated.

Let's skip past the Levy Report for a second. Let's assume that the Levy Report was the devil's bile. Gordis signed on with the devil in opposing it. He lent his credibility to IPF and to its agenda. That is why he loses credibility.

If you join hands with a group whose only goal is undermining Israel, how do you then have credibility as a pro-Israel spokesman?

And how do you talk about Jewish unity while throwing in with one of the most divisive groups around? And then when you are criticized for taking part in a divisive attack on Israel, how do you then accuse your critics of divisiveness?

Again the levels of absurdity here are staggering.

But let's get back to the Levy Report. "Really? Asking the prime minister to ignore a report is tantamount to urging “ethnic cleansing”?" says Gordis.

As Gordis knows quite well, the current state of affairs makes every Jew living in the territories and even Jerusalem, vulnerable to ethnic cleansing at any time. The Levy Report provided a legal defense against it. This is not just a hypothetical issue.

Go ask the families who have been thrown out of their home. Go ask the widow of Major Roi Klein, a war hero who threw himself on a grenade to save his men, who was targeted for expulsion from her home by the same groups supported by IPF and J Street who daily advocate and demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the territories.

This is all empty theory to Gordis, but it's daily life to people who build homes, put money into them, raise families, and risk their lives driving home every day, and on top of that have to worry that one day they'll be thrown out of their homes, their homes will be bulldozed and they'll be living in a trailer.

Do you want the Ninth of Av? Go look at the demolished homes of Jewish families. Homes that were torn down because there were Jews living in them. Then tell us how "derisive tones" concern you.

I have very little regard for passive aggressive calls for civility over the rubble of Jewish homes. I don't believe in "Isms" or dogmas and purity tests. I believe in practical things you can see like homes and countries. I believe that you either stand in defense of those things or you sell them out. Unlike selling out an ideology, it is very easy to tell when a home has been sold out. When it is demolished, then it has been sold out.

Israel does need allies. It may even need even weak allies who are so liberal and open-minded that they take every position on every side. But they cannot be allowed to set the tone and they cannot be allowed to define what being pro-Israel means. Nor can we maintain a policy of demolishing Jewish homes so that we don't offend anyone who is offended by Jewish homes.

That is how we got into this mess in the first place.

Despite the language in this extended note, this is not an attack on Gordis. I don't care a great deal about him and I don't care about personalities in general. I care about outcomes. I care about homes.

If the Ninth of Av truly means something to Gordis then perhaps he will consider that the fall of the Second Commonwealth was not some abstract failure of civility, but the destruction of countless Jewish homes at the hands of Israel's enemies and those Jews who were willing to ally with them. Jews who realized too late the price of that alliance and all its compromises.



I'M SORRY HE'S JEWISH TOO

It’s not every day that an Arab government is forced to apologize for publicly embracing a pro-Palestinian peace activist. But Ofer Bronchtein’s peculiar offense is that he’s a Jew.

Long known as one of the Arab world’s most moderate states, Morocco stunned the world by electing the Islamist Justice and Development Party (known by its French acronym “PJD”) last November

...lest there be any suspense PJD is also Muslim Brotherhood. And yes I'm sorry that Ofer is Jewish too.



CORPORATE UNPERSONHOOD

This is the flip side of the left's rants about corporate personhood.

“By definition,” the Justice Department claimed, “a secular employer does not engage in any ‘exercise of religion.’”

“Hercules Industries has ‘made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business,” DOJ told the court. “Any burden is therefore caused by the company’s choice to enter into a commercial activity.”

When you run a company then you have no more legal or civil rights.



ROMNEY IN ISRAEL

The NJDC is frantically trying to hit Romney and protect Obama on Israel. The always unintentionally hilarious David Streeter sent out a list of 10 questions for Romney.

The 3rd question is the most desperate of the list.

#3. Governor Romney, if Russia is indeed the United States' "number one geopolitical foe," what do you make of the growing closeness between Israel and Russia -- particularly vis-à-vis stopping Iran? Perhaps you could provide your answer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres, who recently hosted Russian President Vladimir Putin.

There is no closeness on Iran. Russia supports Iran. But Putin has visited Israel and extracted some concessions from Israel.

But the NJDC is so confused that it's trying to argue that being critical of Russia is bad for Israel.

That said, I've said before and I will say again, lower your expectations. From a pro-Israel standpoint, the best thing about Romney is that he isn't Obama. Romney hasn't even bothered to make a pledge to move the embassy to Jerusalem. That is not a good sign, but good or bad, the signs don't matter.

Let's flip back to Ronald Reagan who scored a historic 39 percent of the Jewish vote against 45 percent for Carter. In the previous election, Carter had beaten Ford on the Jewish vote 71 to 27.

A large reason for the vote shift lay in Carter's hostility to Israel.

Then in 1982 Reagan, after consulting with Saudi Arabia, but not with Israel, delivered a speech laying out a proposed "peace plan" for a Palestinian authority, and delivered the following damning lines.

When our administration assumed office in January of 1981, I decided that the general framework for our Middle East policy should follow the broad guidelines laid down by my predecessors.

Which is to say that Reagan's Israel policy would be Carter's Israel policy. And Carter quickly popped out to endorse the plan. The plan went nowhere since back then the Muslim terrorist groups were dumb enough to reject it, but a later variation under Clinton has all but brought Israel to its knees.

"Put not your faith in princes," Tehilim says and it's true enough. Romney is not going to roll back any Obama era policy on Israel. It's doubtful where any administration has really done that, though Bush II came closest. But hopefully he will be less intense and hostile about pushing those bad policies.



UNION COMES OUT AGAINST OBAMA...

But worry not. It's the one union that Obama hates because it's doing a job that he won't do by trying to enforce the law against all those people doing the jobs that Americans won't do.

"Prosecutorial discretion for dreamers is solely based on the individual's claims. Our orders are if an alien says they went to high school, then let them go," he said at a press conference with GOP senators. "Officers have been told that there is no burden for the alien to prove anything."

I wonder if ObamaCare mandate enforcement will be just as loosely checked? Right.




WHY DID CHINA BOOT AL JAZEERA?

A few months ago puzzled Western media outlets began wondering why China closed Al Jazeera's Beijing bureau and kicked out their hired woman, Melissa Chan. Theories were offered involving Melissa Chan's "journalism".

Sorry Al Jazeera doesn't do journalism. Its employees are hired guns for the Qatari royal family. Why did China do what America should have done?

Probably because the People's Republic of China noticed Al Jazeera's role in fomenting the Arab Spring uprisings and became concerned that the propaganda arm of the Qatari government was beginning to tamper with China in support of its Muslim Uyghurs.

China just did what Egypt should have done and what the United States should do. Al Jazeera is not a news network. Its reporters are actually agents of a foreign government bent on undermining other countries.

An Al Jazeera reporter is no different than an employee of any other intelligence service, whether or not they are aware of their function.

China had every right to kick out Melissa Chan, for the same reason that countries kick out foreign intelligence agents posing as journalists and diplomats all the time.




SPEAKING OF PROPAGANDA...

From RT, Putin Propaganda TV to hosting Huffington Post videos. It's almost too good to be true, except it is. So Huffington Post video now consists of Cenk Uygur and an enemy propagandist.




NO FLY DOESN'T MEAN NO PILOT

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told lawmakers today that, historically, her department has chosen not to vet U.S. citizens against the no-fly list before they take flight lessons at American flight-training schools because the law that deals with screening such people is unclear.  

So the No-Fly list only applies to people flying as passengers. Not to those flying the plane. Clearly we've learned the lessons of September 11.



A JUDO TEAM THAT NEEDS A BARRIER IS A JUDO TEAM THAT SUCKS

The Lebanese judo team forced International Olympic Committee officials to erect a barrier between themselves and the Israeli judo squad, Friday afternoon in London, just hours before the Games’ opening ceremony

I'm thinking that the Lebanese judo team doesn't have much faith in its judo skills.



ENOUGH SAID...

If you want to hit that business even harder, mention to any that will listen that said business discriminates against legal CHL citizens. Liberals looove that word.




Finally...

A word from Jews for the Preservation of Firearms Ownership



"… Body armor is basically a defensive tool. If somebody has threatened your life, then body armor is a really good idea."

"[Savage] also mentioned 'assault weapons.' Let me clarify this once and for all: 'Assault' is a kind of behavior. It is not a kind of hardware. Bill Clinton introduced that term in 1994, a magnificent leftist use of the language. They kill us with language all the time."

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Great Muslim Cover Up

By On July 25, 2012
Over in Toronto, a Muslim cleric with the unwieldy name of Al-Hashim Kamena Atangana had a great idea. Al-Hashim's idea was for Toronto to pass laws forcing women to wear Burkas. "Cover up or get raped", was the implied message. Toronto only has an estimated 5.5 percent Muslim population so the Toronto Taliban probably won't be getting their way until they have higher double digit numbers, but they can wait.

Meanwhile in Egypt where the population is 90 percent Muslim and the other 10 percent are running for their lives, a new TV channel represents a brave new frontier in Islamic feminism. Maria TV features women giving lifestyle and makeup tips while wearing the Niqab, which covers their faces and leaves only their eyes exposed. According to some Saudi clerics who think that women are only allowed to leave one eye exposed, this makes them either a bold feminist experiment or shameless strumpets.

In a country where Tahrir Square has become synonymous with sexual assault; the Al-Hashim paradigm is taking hold. There are photos of female students at Cairo University from the 60's and 70's that showed them dressing like women did in the 60's and 70's. But by the time Obama showed up to praise Cairo University as a great representative of Islamic civilization, the cover-up had begun. The question is where will the cover-up end and what will the Cairo University class of 2020 look like? They probably won't have faces, but will they even have eyes?

You can attend a university with your head covered, even with your face covered, but it gets harder to attend class when your eyes are covered. If the trend means anything in a decade Muslim feminism will mean fighting for the right to keep one eye open in a religion that wants everyone to keep their eyes shut.

The liberal West has reacted to the Islamic cover-up with its own cover-up. The Western liberal will run through the gamut of his own civilization's sins before reluctantly admitting that some parts of the Muslim world may not be an ideal place to be a woman, but he immediately reaches for a rolled up copy of the New York Times and uses Tom Friedman's latest report from an airport's luxury lounge in Dubai or Kuala Lumpur as proof that the reforms are coming.

Indeed if you read anything from Tom Friedman, who is expert at writing books about how the world is becoming a global village because it's so ridiculously easy for him to fly anywhere on his frequent flyer miles, that is all he can talk about. Saudi Arabia is constantly being reformed. Why in 1962 it abolished slavery and recently the Saudi king has agreed to let women vote in municipal elections in 2015. This is naturally a big deal in an absolute monarchy that has been ruled by the same family for longer than it had oil companies.

There is no question that King Abdullah is a great feminist. If you doubt that just ask any one of his 13 wives. It may be true that women in Saudi Arabia are not allowed to drive or leave the country without permission from their husband and have their lives controlled by a male guardian; but so long as Tom Friedman has a comfortable seat and an alcohol-free drink whenever he flies to Saudi Arabia, the reports of reforms will keep on coming about this cheerful outpost in our global village.

Outside of an airport there is no such place as a global village. International travel hasn't flattened the world. It may be possible to fly to a remote location in twelve hours, disembark into a luxurious modern terminal designed by British architects and constructed by slave labor, but it can take you another twelve hours just to make your way through a city that may be ornamented with the occasional noveau riche skyscraper but is still built on a plan designed to defend desert tribes from nomadic raids. Travel twelve hours out of that city and you will encounter millions of people living in actual villages who don't think that globalism is flattening, but do think that the world is flat.

Jet setting is exciting, but not transformative. Tom Friedman in Jeddah is still the same man he is on Fifth Avenue. The only difference is that there's more sand in his shoes and sweat under his mustache. And the Saudi whose great-grandfather grew up in one of those villages, fought the Ottoman Empire, bought children from Syrian traders and kept them as slaves or concubines, and taught his children that living this way is what convinced Allah to open up some oil wells under the desert, is still that man even when he's having lunch with Tom Friedman on Fifth Avenue.

We all live in villages. Our village is a place where women are considered human beings, but in the village that is an ocean and a desert away, women are considered property. For all the ridiculous noises about Islamic feminism and all the reforms coming out of Riyadh, a proper Muslim can no more consider a woman his equal, than he could consider a sheep or an African slave his equal.

The problem is that lately our two villages have been overlapping thanks to the heap big magic of the airport. Americans travel to Saudi Arabia, where they are told to cover themselves up and respect the local customs, and Muslims travel to Canada where they tell the city of Toronto that it needs to cover up its women or they won't be responsible for the consequences. Our village just can't seem to win.

This is not the sort of stuff that you put in tourist brochures, this is the sort of stuff you cover up, and these days our nations exist as long tourist brochures covering up the problems and extolling the virtues of all these people who visit, move in, learn to fly planes and ram them into buildings because a medieval warlord claimed that a fellow named Allah wanted him to conquer the world, but didn't provide him with any transportation more reliable than camels and a flying horse.

Our tourist brochures say, "Diversity", but diversity is another one of our village's unique virtues. It's not a virtue when you reach Saudi Arabia, and it's not a virtue when Saudi Arabia reaches us. Our noble commitment to diversity leads us to diversify by investing in multiculturalism, but many of those villages full of men with thirteen wives and sharp knives are not interested in multiculturalism.

The Taliban showed us what they thought of multiculturalism when they blew up Buddhist statues and the Islamists in Mali are showing us what they think of multiculturalism with a rampage directed against Sufi shrines. The Muslim Waqf in Jerusalem is continuing its vandalism of the remains of the Second Temple. All of them are following in the footsteps of Saudi Arabia which has waged a campaign of destruction against the cultural artifacts of every other culture.

In India, Hindus had the temerity to sing in their own country during the month of Ramadan, which ended in violence as furious Muslims tried to explain their views on multiculturalism with big rocks. In that same spirit, Al-Hashim Kamena Atangana, like so many other Muslim clerics, is trying to explain to us that while in our village it may be the custom to treat women as human beings, in his village it is the custom to treat them as property.

Common sense says that our village means our customs, but diversity says that our village is on the shores of the global village which is moving into our village and insisting that it's now their village. This is a problem, but only for those of us who are Jews, Christians, Hindus, Atheists, Zoroastrians, Wiccans, Buddhists, Sikhs and Bahai. Not to mention female or in any other way differing from the Muslim male that runs the other village and is trooping through our airport with thirteen wives in tow.

It used to be that when in Rome, you did like the Romans. Now it's when in Toronto, you do like Al-Hashim says. Because his voice is the booming echo of  diversity and like all the voices of diversity, it isn't promoting multiculturalism, but a single culture. Their culture. One Ummah, one Caliph and one Burka.

The Muslim Brotherhood succeeded in changing Egypt through the twin expedients of propaganda and violence. 70 years after educated Egyptians wanted to be more Western, the Brotherhood is in power and Westerners are told to want to be more Muslim. The Al-Hashims bellow that Western women should act more Muslim and Western feminist groups encourage their members to try on Hijabs as gestures of tolerance and servitude. That great Islamic feminist, King Abdullah and his thirteen wives, whose kingdom spends billions on such propaganda, no doubt approves, and wishes they would move on to not driving cars as another gesture of tolerance for our new wonderfully diverse village.

The Hijab is the gateway to the Burka and both are just forms of mobile Purdah, the segregation that requires a woman to stay at home. And if she can't stay in her tent, then she can only go out while wearing a big black tent that goes everywhere she goes. The cover-ups function like a cattle brand informing other Muslim men that this is someone else's property. That was the ancient function of the garment when bands of Muslim raiders were collecting slave women and some distinction had to be made between married women who couldn't be raped and slave women who could.

Under the Burka, the Muslim woman is still locked up in her room in her husband's house even when she's out and about in the marketplace. It is a liberal concession that allows her to occasionally leave the house while still being locked up in the house. And this brilliant bit of Islamic feminism, this reform which says that women can occasionally leave the house and shouldn't be raped so long as they're wearing a tent that makes it look like they're still in Purdah, is just one of the ways that Islam is enriching our multiculturalism with its monoculturalism. To say nothing of all the Muslim rapes of women who refuse to walk around wearing tents.

Western liberals respond to the problem with the same methods as Middle-Eastern Islamists. Their solution to everything is the great cover-up. Muslims cover up women, Western liberals cover up the Muslim abuse of women. Muslims are afraid of dealing with the idea that women are more than mobile property and Western liberals are terrified of dealing with the idea that this is what Muslims actually believe about women.

Sunlight is the best disinfectant, whether it's for the bacteria that thrive under full body robes or the kind that thrive in ideologies which try to control everyone. No matter how many cover-ups are made and how many cloaks, Hijabs and Burkas are thrown over the truth, sooner or later the cover-ups have to end and the truth has to shine forth.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Romney Can Win This Election

By On July 24, 2012
Let's skip over the issues for a moment and get back to the basics. Elections are transactions in which we buy the services of a candidate for four years. Like any other business deal, closing comes down to salesmanship.

There are two basic elements when buying a product or service.

1. Practical. "I need this product."

2. Emotional. "This product makes me feel good."

Smart shoppers will make a practical decision, but not everyone is a smart shopper. And even smart shoppers employ emotional elements. Many people will buy a product because of their associations with this brand, even if the brand only exists as a logo stamped on products by workers in Shanghai. Most people want to feel good about the product that they're buying, they want to feel comfortable with their purchase.

This is where the media plays its most insidious role, providing reassurance to Obama buyers that they are doing the right thing and damping their unease, while doing just the opposite for Romney buyers. The media can't compel someone to vote one way or another, but it can encourage bad decisions and discourage good decisions by providing false levels of confidence through their reporting.

Romney has the same problem as a company with a good product, but bad media coverage. The way to counter that is on two fronts, by providing practical consumers with the specifications to help them make informed decisions, and providing emotional consumers with the reassurance that they can count on him. 

Practical buyers have built-in confidence about their buying decisions because they carefully research a product and match it to their needs. Emotional buyers, however, lack confidence and shop as a means of boosting their own confidence. Products have to project confidence for them to buy them. They don't buy products that lack a confident image, because they don't make decisions that make them feel more insecure than they already are.

In an insecure time, people buy the most confident brand. A brand that exudes confidence and which is recommended by others. Obama projected a false confidence, that some mistook for charisma, and used a media consensus to bring in these voters in the last election. Most of those voters are still worried and nervous, but they haven't made the change because they don't feel enough confidence in the alternative.

Attack ads can partly sway them by diminishing their confidence level in the existing product, but they have less effect than positive ads that make them feel good about the other product. An attack ad is just as likely to make them sit out the election as it is to make them vote the right way.

The secrets of the 3 two-term Republican presidents of the 20th Century is that they projected that confident sense that they knew what they were doing. Bush and Reagan both had it. Eisenhower had it to a lesser degree. Teddy Roosevelt had it in spades and nearly won a second term as a third-party candidate. Two-term Democrats like FDR and Clinton had the same skill. Regardless of their abilities and the consequences of their actions, they projected a confidence that swayed voters.

No matter how badly Obama performs, a sizable number of emotional voters are not going to drop him because he still makes them feel better about the future. Those voters may well be the difference between victory and defeat.

To win, Obama has to project confidence while his media apparatus sows doubt. The combination is lethal and toxic. It may not be as effective as it was four years ago, but it doesn't have to be. It just has to be effective enough.

Romney won by running a mechanical campaign that was heavy on attack ads. He ended up crossing the finish line on the sole positive of being the "most electable candidate". But voters in a general election are not going to elect him because he is electable, that's an internal strategic calculation. If they elect him, it will be because he makes them feel more confident about the future. And that's a tall order.

To win, Romney is not just going to have to attack Obama, he is going to have to make emotional voters feel good about going with him. It is possible to do both at the same time. Reagan did it well. Scott Brown just ran a commercial that does it pretty well too.



What makes the ad work is that it's an attack ad whose dominant theme is optimism. Rather than spending 2 minutes whacking away at Obama and Warren, it frames Brown as an American brand that transcends ideology, and frames Obama and Warren as small, bitter people who don't understand America and have no vision. The ad begins with optimism and ends with optimism. It implies that Obama and Warren are aberrations in the American journey. It links their pessimism to the poor economy. And it does all this subtly without having to spell it out. 

Attack ads are weakening. They diminish the candidate making them. The best attack ads don't just diminish confidence in an opponent, but boost confidence in a candidate. The best attack ads are innately optimistic, they demonstrate fitness, rather than just unfitness. And that has to be the theme of a winning campaign.

To win, Romney is going to have to be that American brand. And it won't be easy. It's hard to argue with someone who has more airtime than you. The amount of money that Romney has raised is deceptive, because Obama will have a thousand times more free airtime from a government-media complex that does nothing but sing his praises.

Romney can run 30 percent more ads, but all the airtime in between will be unacknowledged ads for Obama. And not just on news networks or newscasts. Obama's people don't understand economics, but they do understand branding. Their goal once again will be to make Obama into the most familiar and recognized brand. They will embed him in every possible forum. When he isn't making personal appearances, cast members will mention him. If they aren't mentioning him, they'll be picking up talking points bashing Romney and his V.P. or volunteering for his campaign. A few months from now, that is what half the entertainment news will be about.

The goal of all this activity is to present a manufactured consensus in favor of Obama. That consensus boosts confidence in buying Obama because it's what everyone is buying.

Romney is not going to have a consensus on his side. Very few Republicans running for the big chair do. Only when their candidate is hopelessly weak and inept does the media shrug its shoulders and accept the inevitable. And only some of the time. But he's also going to have to resist the temptation of going negative all the time.

People already lack confidence in Obama. Even most Obama voters are not particularly confident or optimistic. What they need is to have confidence in Romney. And that is doable. The narrative already exists. The template has already been used by two Republican Presidents to win two terms within recent memory, and against overwhelming media hostility. But it requires optimism.

Even when all the facts are set out before them, people still need to believe. Optimism can give people the confidence to leap the buying hurdle. Optimistic people are more likely to buy. People are more likely to vote for someone who makes them feel better, rather than someone who makes them feel worse. Obama understood that in 2008, and he's still reasonably confident that this will work for him now. And it might.

Obama's optimism is fake, but in bleak times, people will take the ersatz flavor if they can't get the real thing. This election won't come down to policy debates. It will come down to Obama's failures and Romney's ability to sell enough voters on his plan for success. Much of it will come down to trivial things. It will come down to feelings.

Romney is not an insurgent candidate. That is not the way that the voters decided to go. He is not there to shake things up. He will win or lose on the strength of his ability to  make voters feel that he can make things better. And to do that he will have to find ways to avoid getting bogged down in the attacks and sell that simple message.

Deep down most people want a change. What they need is the reassurance that they are making the right decision. If they get it, Romney will be in office for the next four years. If they don't, the next four years will be even worse.

It's not just about what Romney will do; it's also about how we approach the topic. It can be easy to fall into anger and impatience with people who don't seem to get it. But few people were ever swayed by being yelled at about their mistakes.

It is just as important to be optimistic about Romney as it is to be pessimistic about Obama. People are more likely to be influenced by hope balanced against fear, rather than fear pitted against hope. Most people, regardless of their political orientation, want things to get better. The message that will win is that they can make things better if they make the right choice.





Monday, July 23, 2012

Israel's War of Words

By On July 23, 2012
If you read the headlines, the biggest issue in Israel isn't Iran's nuclear program or Syria's chemical weapons falling into the hands of Hezbollah or the Muslim Brotherhood; it's how to draft  Haredim, widely referred to as Ultra-Orthodox Jews, into the army.

Until recently, the Israeli left was feverishly complaining about the surplus of Religious Nationalist Jews in the army and the threat of religious fanaticism. Now it's back to complaining that there aren't enough Ultra-Orthodox religious fanatics in the army, after spending last year complaining that the ones in the army were too fanatical and the ones on buses were even worse.

Religious Nationalists in the army are a problem, because many of them are patriots and not too enthusiastic about giving up land to terrorists. The Ultra-Orthodox don't care about the country or how much land it has, which makes them ideal recruits from the left's point of view. Unfortunately, they don't actually want to join the army.

The left's ideal recruit doesn't care about the country and mechanically follows orders to ethnically cleanse Jewish towns and villages. But, unfortunately, that ideal recruit would rather be playing guitar in Tel Aviv or studying the Talmud in Jerusalem than patrolling the frontier and fighting terrorists. The leftist sons and daughters of the idle rich want to protest at checkpoints in between parties, not serve at them, and, while Haredim will mechanically follow orders, those orders won't come from the military, its political generals or an activist Supreme Court.

No one really wants Haredim in the military all that much, but it's fashionable to suggest that they aren't pulling their weight. Which indeed they aren't; but neither is much of the country.

The left rants about the money going to Haredi children out of one side of its mouth, while the other side screams that the children of African migrant workers should be allowed to remain in the country and given full benefits. Leftist tabloids act disgusted when Haredim send out children in yellow stars to protest but have no similar compunction about using Holocaust analogies and iconography when protesting against the deportation of migrant workers.

And let's not forget the Muslim sector. Israeli Arabs form 20 percent of the country, but consume 52 percent of its social benefits. It would be illegal to call them parasites, the way that Haredim are often called parasites. An election commercial showing a mob of Muslims clinging to the legs of an Israeli voter pleading for more money would result in criminal charges. But a similar commercial featuring Haredim was filmed and broadcast by a prominent leftist third party, the son of whose scion is now also aspiring to major third party status on the same program of social justice and Haredi-bashing.

But so long as Haredim don't serve, they are a useful political weapon in a country where everyone is justly convinced that they are being screwed over by powerful interests. Men in black hats and beards are alien enough to be a useful target, and their isolation has allowed them fill the traditional role of the Jew in exile as a scapegoat for national frustrations.

The Haredim are expected to stay in their ghettos, for the same reason that Jews were kept there. The ghettos create a permanent scapegoat while the few ways out require assimilation. And that system suits both those running the ghettos and the state. It's the middle ground of change that would allow Haredim to participate in public life without losing who they are that both sides fear and restrict.

The Israeli left has never known any political mechanism besides "divide-and-conquer" politics and it set up the very divisions that it agitates against, enshrining Arab and Haredi political separatism from the start, assigning different levels of benefits for different immigrant groups and then stirring up social protests against the monopolies that its crony capitalism put into place.

The left agitates against Haredi benefits, but it set up a system where the Haredim would do nothing but vote in exchange for benefits, in the same way that it set up a similar system for the Arab sector. It complains about oligarchs, when the left is structured as an oligarchy funded and manned by the well-connected and the wealthy. It complains about settlements, when it derives most of its foreign funding on a pledge to fight them. If the so-called settlements went away, a lot of the professional left would suddenly have to find real jobs.

The Israeli left, like its international counterparts, is an elitist movement clinging to the myth of an egalitarian past. It spreads hate and suspicion because it knows that a united electorate would never pick it. And it plays on issues that it only pretends to care about to feed national resentments while promising a better way.

According to the left, Israel has no peace because of the settlers and has no fair distribution of benefits because of the Haredim. The Mizrahi members of its lists will tell their communities that the Russians are stealing the benefits that should be theirs. The Russian members of its lists will tell their communities that the Orthodox Jews are stealing their benefits. The Arabs on the list will tell their communities that the Jews are stealing all their benefits (but not vice versa as that would be illegal.)

Everyone will troop out for a social protest overseen by the left's NGO's with money that it solicited from foreign donors on a promise to fight settlements, but after a week or two, there will be a Muslim terrorist attack which will interrupt the momentum of the social protest, and the organizers will fold up their expensive tents, bought with money from the European Union and American leftists, and do the same thing all over again next month.

The Israeli left has become a pathetic and degenerate creature that feeds on this sort of hate. It rarely identifies itself in elections anymore, camouflaging its parties as centrist and mainstream. Its social protests may be stage-managed by the sort of people who parade around with red shirts and Palestinian flags in their real protests, but the social protests are masked as centrist protests,  exploiting people with real grievances so that the grievance-makers may once again take power.

In the long run, the Haredim are needed in the workforce and the military, but getting them there would require changing the system, rather than the system that relies on them politically using them as scapegoats when politically convenient.

The National Unity Government came together and split not over the Haredi draft, but its cynical use as a political football in the game of coalitions that defines Israel's political life. No one really wants to draft the Haredim, but no one, besides the Haredim, wants to appear not to want to draft them either. Haredi service, unlike food and apartment prices, is a stable grievance commodity. A political party that promises to draft them has its hand on the brass ring of Israeli grievance politics.

Israel's fragmented immigrant cultures, its political system of ethnic and religious parties, that represent groups rather than neighborhoods, make this sort of game all too easy to play. Every faction and group breaks down into myriad splinter groups and divisions, all of them animated by a fervent belief that they are getting the short end of the stick. Even its political parties consist of microscopic coalitions welded together by a few influential figures for temporary periods of time.

All that chaos can temporarily coalesce together in the face of a crisis, but the crisis is usually a war. Iran's nuclear program and the threat of nuclear annihilation haven't done it yet. Instead a temporary unity government between Likud and Kadima was built on both sides playing the other over the Haredi draft in a display of incredible political cynicism.

But there is psychological safety in ignoring real problems. Bashing Haredim on the dole is easy; but doing the same thing to the Muslims, who don't report income or pay taxes, is dangerous because it comes too close to a real national problem. Going on about your children being shot at because of the settlers (who nevertheless are a dominant presence in the military) is safe, but talking about the destructive political interests that ceded portions of the West Bank and Gaza to Islamic terrorists is a dangerous topic. Like the Muslim benefits topic, it's dangerously close to being illegal because it deals with an actual grave national problem.

Israel's existential problems have to be ignored because solving them is too difficult and requires challenging the entire system of authority and its embedded assumptions. Internal warfare is safer than fighting external enemies, in the way that all family squabbles are safer than pushing back against the outside world. The Schorim, the Ultra-Orthodox black sheep, are the safest target because they are unfamiliar enough to be alien, but close enough to still be family.

The New Middle East of friendly Muslim neighbor states turned out to be a mirage. Now Israel has a choice: it can either deal with the reality of its place in an eternally hostile region or it can deny that reality by fighting more civil wars while ignoring the foe at its gates.

Having a large military is not useful in and of itself. Not if it is as badly equipped and prepared as it was in the Second Lebanon War. Not if the political leadership allows American pressure to tie its hands behind its back, as during the Yom Kippur War. And not if the soldiers and officers have been chosen for their willingness to obey orders from the Supreme Court, rather than an awareness that they are fighting for their land and their people's survival.

Israel's true war does not require a draft, so much as a determination to face the future, because at some point the red line will be reached and its enemies will make a final bid for its destruction. That war will depend less on the number of men that Israel can put in the field and more on its willingness to fight for its survival.





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