Libya’s Revolution

It’s time for my opinion on the hot story of the moment: Libya. This is something I’ve purposely avoided so far because so many of the facts have been blurred.

First off, Gaddafi has to be one of my least favourite despots around, even by the standards of the real dregs the Middle East and Africa regularly churn out. The Gaddafi philosophy has been a mixture of Islamic socialism, pan-Arabism and Afro-centrist nonsense that could be the dream-stuff of a SOAS postgrad student. Interestingly, during an interview with Al Guardian, Gaddafi’s son, Saif, claimed Libya is very similar to Switzerland.

Switzerland it certainly wasn’t. Some of my favourite Gaddafi stories have to include his infamous invite to Jews of Libyan origin to return to their old abodes (Gaddafi had expelled the last Jews of Libya in 1971). His terms were enticing: “If they come as warriors, we will fight them… if they come trading cheese, we will buy cheese”. Another great one came in 1977. As part of his many efforts for Libya to achieve self-sufficiency, Gaddafi decreed that every Libyan family should raise chickens at home. Live chickens were delivered to every home in the country, even to apartments in the inner cities of Tripoli and Benghazi that had no capacity to engage in chicken farming. The smell of cooked chicken wafted over Libyan cities for weeks. The list of ridiculous arbitrary decrees instructing Libyans on what to wear or read have become the stuff of legend, but far too long to list here. Of course, he was also fond of public hangings on university campuses if there was discontent among the young or the intellectuals. It wasn’t always funny under Gaddafi. You just know he’s the type to have a ‘human rights’ award named after him, and that Nelson Mandela and Louis Farrakhan would have it. Shame he wasn’t around long enough for our friend Ezra Nawi to get one.

Gaddafi is a liar. Look at the video above. Sometimes he’s secular, sometimes he’s an Islamist. Oh, and the step-daughter he claimed was killed by Ronald Reagan in an air-strike has turned out to be alive. It was all part of a plot to gain sympathy.

It surprises many that I am very sceptical of the revolution, pessimistic about Libya’s future and have spoken against intervening in Libya since the rescue of Benghazi. This is because, like pretty much all Muslim countries, there is no tradition of liberalism on the ground in Libya. Western societies, like the ones most of my readership are comparatively lucky to live in, were not built from the top-down by powers thousands of miles away. It was a process that took centuries of trade and economic advancement, consensus building, and revolutions in ideas, industry, science and the political sphere. The Muslim world remained largely retarded through most of this. Trying to mould another America out of the devout Muslim country of Afghanistan, which has an 80% rate of illiteracy, and all in about a decade or so, has failed miserably. Muslims in Tower Hamlets and the suburbs of Paris are headache enough, thank you.

It became clear in the very early stages of the revolt that opposition to Gaddafi was as much based on tribal grievances as it was on governing principles. Then there is the Islamist factor. We know Al Qaeda has been involved in the rebellion, and that the rebel stronghold of Bayda has been declared an ‘Islamic Caliphate’ by them. Islamists are behind this in a big way, even if it was not orchestrated by them from the beginning. I for one don’t expect the rebels to have enlightened views when it comes to Jews or other infidels. Not surprisingly, the Libyan Draft Constitution says “Islam is the Religion of the State, and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)”. Oh, here we go.

If Libyans end up with government that represents them better, that is probably for the best. I’d just have preferred we remained more cautious and avoided assisting the rebellion. Aside from the financial commitment involved in the midst of an economic depression, we just don’t know what kind of negative blowback will result. The assistance given to Libya could very well help bring about the death of westerners someday soon. It appears that some of Gaddafi’s stock of 20,000 SAMs have already surfaced elsewhere in the Middle East, including Gaza.

It may even help bring about the deaths of black Africans in Libya. Libya has imported many African migrant workers in recent years as Gaddafi has sought to build bridges with African Union countries (he’s fallen out with much of the Arab leadership). This has proved unpopular with many Libyans. In 2000, there was a pogrom against blacks in which dozens were killed. Now bad news abounds concerning violence against blacks on the part of the rebels.

One of my favourite descriptions of the war came from the great libertarian commentator Ilana Mercer. Referring to the philosophy of interventionism behind the Libyan adventure espoused by the unbearable Irish-American leftist Samantha Power, Susan Rice, as well the Wicked Witch of the White House herself, Hillary Clinton, Mercer dubbed Libya a “war of the womb. A product of the romantic minds of women who fantasize about an Arab awakening. It is estrogen-driven paternalism on steroids… In Libya, the casus belli for war consists of nothing but silly assertions. This “angels and demons” approach befits a children’s Disney production: Once upon a time an evil dictator was killing his noble people. Then Lauren of Arabia rode to the rescue…”

Ouch!

One final point. A few commentators such as Mercer and Robert Wenzel of the Economic Policy Journal have pointed out a truly disturbing factor that could alter our understanding of Libya completely. So it’s being ignored by the mainstream media of course. It is interesting to note that (from Mercer):

 In 2009—in his capacity as head of the African Union—Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi had proposed that the economically crippled continent adopt the Gold Dinar… Had a gold revolution engulfed oil-rich African and Persian-Gulf states this would have spelt trouble for the debt-strapped West.

If only symbolically, a gold revolution across Arabia and Africa would have outweighed by far the significance of a democratic revolution

A Gadhafi-driven gold revolution would have… imperiled the positions of central bankers and their political and media power-brokers. The former surreptitiously print away the fruits of the people’s labor; the latter scramble their brains so that they don’t know they are being robbed blind.

Funnily enough, according to Bloomberg, a rebel group known as the Transitional National Council last week released a statement announcing that they have created a Central Bank in Benghazi to control monetary policy in the new regime. They have even appointed a governor to this Central Bank of Libya, temporarily headquartered in Benghazi.

Since when has a central bank been created in just a few weeks out of a popular uprising? How ‘rag-tag’ are these rebels? What help from foreign powers have they been enjoying to organize something as sophisticated as this?

Massacre in Hebron, 1929.

On this date in 1929, violence broke out in the ancient, religiously significant city of Hebron. Huge numbers of Arabs banded together to massacre their Jewish neighbors, an atrocity that resulted in the death of 67 Jews and the flight of the entire Jewish community from the city. The community had existed for centuries.

The Background

The year 1929 saw a significant surge in Palestinian nationalist and Pan-Arabist activity, accompanied by violence. It was fueled by the arrival of an ‘Other’: organised Jewish immigration to the British Mandate, on foot of promises from the British and the League of Nations to facilitate the building of a Jewish homeland. On August 15th of that year, several hundred Jews, including many members of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist Zionist youth movement, Betar, assembled at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for a political as well as religious demonstration. They chanted “the Wall is ours”, raised the Jewish national flag and sang the Zionist anthem “Hatikvah” (“The Hope”), which later became the Israeli national anthem.

At the same time, Arab leader Hajj Amin al-Husseini, the Mufti of Jerusalem, was seeking to increase his political influence. Husseini was fanatically anti-Jewish. He had discovered the Protocols of the Elders of Zion in the early 1920’s and fallen in love with it, eventually sparing no effort to disseminate the notorious work in Arabic. The Mufti would go down in history for being the pioneer of Palestinian Arab nationalism, as well as for collaborating with Nazi Germany in the Second World War.

Hajj Amin made the Temple Mount (or al-Haram al-Sharif in Islam), by the Western Wall, a centerpiece of his hate-mongering and a rallying point for the Arab cause. He began to preach the importance of Jerusalem in Islam, which had been a sleepy backwater for most of Muslim history. Even the Temple Mount complex itself was frequently in a dire state of disrepair.

The day after the Jewish gathering, the Supreme Muslim Council led a march to the area, attacking Jewish worshipers and burning the Jewish prayer books. A Muslim prayer service was held on the Temple Mount on August 22nd, and after that fights broke out between the two communities, which left three Jews and three Arabs dead. In the Arab community, false rumors broke out claiming Jews were engaging in “wholesale killings of Arabs.” The Mufti insisted there was a Jewish conspiracy to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount and replace it with a synagogue. Attacks on Jews began in the Old City of Jerusalem on August 23rd. Shortly afterward it spread to the suburbs, where 40 Jews were killed and 4,000 driven from their homes, which were subsequently looted en masse.

The Massacre

By the same day, the atmosphere of hate had spread to Hebron, 30 kilometers south of Jerusalem. Hebron contains the burial place of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs of the Jewish religion (the Cave of Machpelah), and Muslims revere the site for the same reason. However, when Muslims conquered the area they forbade Jews from entering the burial chamber, relegating non-Muslims to the seventh step of the stairway into the burial complex. Since 1967, that situation has changed.

On 3 PM on Friday, August 23rd, the agitation began. Some of those who returned from the prayer service in Jerusalem claimed that the Jews were killing many Arabs. Arab residents then gathered to stone the yeshiva (place of Jewish religious learning), and an Orthodox Jewish student who tried to leave the building and was stabbed to death. That night, the son of Rabbi Ya’acov Slonim invited any fearful Jews to stay in his family home. Many Jews took him up on this offer, for two reasons: the rabbi was highly regarded in the community, and he possessed a gun. Nevertheless, many would die there. Rabbi Slonim himself was murdered pleading with some attackers to spare the lives of the yeshiva students.

The pogrom began in earnest the next day, when thousands of rioters stormed Jewish residences with mostly melee weapons. The 40-man police force, despite having rifles and pistols, were in no position to control the violence. Only one policeman in Hebron was Jewish, and it and it was soon discovered that some of the Arab policemen were actively involved in the murder and rape. The commander of the Hebron police and the only Briton, Raymond Cafferata, actually recalled a later inquiry how he:

”…shot dead a man who was in the act of committing murder and saw another Arab raising his sword to strike a girl who was already bleeding at the neck. He was about to shoot when the man cried out, ‘I am a policeman’. After a second’s hesitation, Cafferata fired, wounding the man in the thigh”.

The commission ruled, however, that the murderous rampage was “not premeditated”. A list compiled by the authorities, confirmed by the city’s two surviving rabbis, identified 19 Arabs who assisted the Jews during the pogrom. Yet literally thousands participated in the violence and looting.

The massacre lasted the entire weekend. The surviving Jews were escorted out of their home city and resettled mostly in Jerusalem. Most of those who survived had taken refuge with sympathetic Arab families or in the police station, yet even that was stormed. Rape was widespread, and many of the Jewish bodies were so completely dismembered as to be unrecognizable. Some Jewish families tried to re-establish themselves in Hebron, but any Jews still there by the beginning of the Arab revolt in 1936 were removed by the British authorities.

Aftermath

One of the most significant changes after the violence of 1929 was the re-organization and development of the Jewish paramilitary organization, the Haganah. This group, eventually coming under the effective control of David Ben Gurion, became the nucleus of the Israel Defense Forces. Prior to this it was a loosely affiliated group of Jews defending their local communities. Now the Haganah began to acquire foreign arms and trained to become a capable underground army.

133 Jews were murdered following the August events. 116 Arabs were killed in clashes with both the police and Jewish residents. Following the riots, the Arab leadership ordered a boycott against Jewish-owned businesses. Anti-Jewish boycotts would become a regular occurrence whenever tensions with the Arab leadership rose, but they had varying degrees of success and support from the Arab community. The British began to plan on limiting Jewish immigration in order to placate the Arabs, as was recommended by the later Hope-Simpson Royal Commission, though very strict limitations would not come into effect until the White Paper was approved by the British Parliament in 1939.

The Escalation Of Violence In Israel: A Timeline

Israel's 'Iron Dome' missile-defense system in action

Nobody is sure where the recent events will lead us, so here is a timeline of events so far.

Thursday, August 18th.

Shortly after 12:00 noon, three terrorists ambushed an Egged bus about 20 km (12 miles) north of Eilat,

As rescue forces were responding to the first attack, a roadside bomb was detonated alongside an IDF patrol 20 km (12 miles) north of the scene of the first attack.

At about 12:40, a mortar shell was fired at a private vehicle along the Egyptian border north of the second attack.  The shell exploded by the side of the road, and no one was injured.

In the fourth stage of the attack, another terrorist cell ambushed a bus and a private vehicle not far from the scene of the first attack.  They sprayed both vehicles with gunfire and launched an anti-tank rocket at the bus.  The rocket hit the car instead, murdering all of its occupants.

A precision Israeli air strike hours after the atrocities has killed at least two high-level leaders of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), an Islamist group independent of Hamas.

Friday, August 19th.

06:27 – Following the terror attack on Israeli civilians by terrorists from Gaza, the Israel Air Force targeted terror sites in Gaza

07:02 – A short while ago, rocket launched from Gaza landed in southern Israel

07:43 – It was announced that overnight approx. 15 Gaza rockets were launched into Israel, targeting civilians. Iron Dome, the Israeli missile-defense system, was activated three times

09:00 – Israeli city Ashdod under rocket attack: One rocket struck synagogue rooftop, injuring three, and another landed next to children’s school

09:15 –  Home Front Command releases safety instructions

15:00 – IDF Announcement: IAF Targets Terror Sites in the Gaza Strip

16:00 –  2  rockets landed in southern Israel

18:20 – A short while ago, another Gaza rockets landed in southern Israel

18:45 – Another Gaza rocket landed in southern Israel

19:56 – IAF Targets Rocket Launchers in three separate incidents

21:59 – 2 more Gaza rockets landed in southern Israel; More than 25 rockets landed over past 2 days

Saturday, 20/8

04:10 – IDF Announcement: In Response to Terror Attack, IAF Targets Four Sites in the Gaza Strip

05:45 – Overnight, a total of ten Gaza rockets struck major population centers in southern Israel

05:45 – Terrorists from Gaza strike city of Ashdod; three people severely injured from the rocket attack

13:10 – Two more Gaza rockets landed in southern Israel; More than 45 Gaza rockets over past 48 hours

15:04 – In the past hour, six Gaza rockets were launched into Israel; 5 struck southern Israel cities and one was intercepted by Iron Dome System

15:40 – IDF Announcement: IAF Targets Terrorist Squad in the Northern Gaza Strip

17:25 – More than 20 Gaza rockets were launched at southern Israeli cities today injuring five civilians

18:09 – Another Gaza rocket struck southern Israel community, Neve Eshkol Regional Council

19:42 – A short while ago, two Gaza rockets struck and damaged the Israel-Gaza Erez Crossing. Five additional Gaza rockets struck southern Israel communities

Sunday, August 21st.

 06:56 -4 more Gaza rockets struck southern Israel in recent minutes.

07:20 -Iron Dome intercepts 3 rockets launched from Gaza into Israel

10:00 -7 rockets hit Israel in last couple of hours

12:00 -2 rockets hit south of Ashkelon, Israel, threatening 112,900 Ashkelon residents; city Pop. = 1/3 of Florence, Italy

14:03 – On Thursday Israel sent 263 truckloads with goods and gas into the Gaza Strip for the Palestinian population and is sending more in the coming hours

16:40 – Fifty Gazans entered Israel for medical treatment while 22 rockets landed in southern Israel

17:02 – IDF Announcement: In Response to Rocket Fire, Israel Air Force Targets Terror Sites in the Gaza Strip

17:15 – Another Gaza rocket hit Ashkelon, which is approximatly 11 miles north of the Gaza Strip, threatening the lives of 112,900 Ashkelon residents

19:27 – Hamas-run Gaza rocket hit southern Israel communities near Israel-Gaza border. A total of 31 rockets struck Israel today

19:45 – Hamas launched a mortar shell with phosphorus which hit Kerem Shalom today. Hamas broke international law which states it illegal to use the substance in inhabited areas

21:33 – A short while ago two rockets fired from Hamas-run Gaza fell near Eshkol Regional Council

21:59 – Following the terror attacks emanting from the Gaza Strip, the Israel Defense Forces’ soldiers helped in moving babies to protected wings in the hospital

23:14 – Three more Gaza rockets just struck southern Israel

Monday, August 22nd.

 01:14 – Hamas-run Gaza rocket struck southern Israel community

08:00 – Time of last rocket fired from Gaza this morning

17:30 – This afternoon has been quiet

23:59 – A rocket fired from northern Gaza exploded in an open area at the Hof Ashkelon Regional council. No injuries or damage were reported.

Notable Casualties

Rocket attacks against Israel are still occurring as of this update (Wednesday 24th). I am finding it difficult to piece the times together, but I can confirm at least five struck Israel today as of 9PM Israel time.

I will now look back in more detail on the casualties so far.

On August 18th, an Israeli air strike very soon after the terrorist attacks in Israel killed the leader of an armed Palestinian faction, a top lieutenant and three other members in the southern Gaza Strip. The group itself has confirmed this.

The organisation in question is the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC), a faction that often operates independently from Gaza’s Islamist Hamas rulers. They identified their dead leader as Kamal al-Nairab and said their military chief, Immad Hammad, had also been killed.

A sixth fatality in the attack on Rafah town was a nine-year-old boy who had been in the same house as the militants, according to local Palestinian sources.

Over the last night, the IDF targeted what they are calling a ‘ticking bomb’ Islamist fighter, Ismaeel Zadi Ismaeel Samer, apparently involved in planning terror activities against Israel from the Sinai.

Obama’s Perplexing Past

There has been much talk of Presidential elections on this blog of late, so it feels strange to have not mentioned the political theatre in the United States at all.

I happened to be really enjoying the Republican race, up until Rick Perry climbed aboard. Before him, it seemed some real anti-Establishment types were the big stars in this competition. Ron Paul has to be my favourite for his long-time promotion of the Austrian School of Economics, but it was fantastic to see another great libertarian, Gary Johnson, in the running. That said, I’ve had a bit of a forbidden love for Michelle Bachmann (she reads Ludwig von Mises at the beach, you know), and it’s been heartening to see her and Ron crushing some big established names like the nasty Newt Gingrich. The American people are clearly tired of the same old Washington elites that seem to never go away, and no wonder.

Of course, whoever wins the Republican race will have to face Oh Bummer, which has been a very dangerous activity for some people to say the least. Barack Obama has a somewhat unusual electoral history that remarkably hasn’t managed to raise the eyebrows it really should.

For instance, Obama’s competition in the Democratic nomination for the Illinois Senate race in 2004 was the wealthy entrepreneur, Blair Hull. Hull is a highly intelligent man, who has an academic background in mathematics from the University of California, possesses an MBA, and he attended the Harvard Business School. His famously innovative trading company was bought by Goldman Sachs in 1999 for $531 million. Blair Hull always came off as modest, even meek to some, but he was clearly the favourite to win the nomination. His lead in the polls over Barack Obama varied between 20% and 80%.

Blair Hull, right.

Then it all went very wrong for Blair Hull.

Out of the blue and shortly before the nomination date, Blair Hull’s divorce papers leaked to the public somehow. The formerly secret papers contained details of allegations from his ex-wife of serious physical abuse against her. I have met people who know Blair Hull. Not one actually believed Hull was the kind of guy to engage in this sort of behaviour. While a lot of people in the know didn’t find the allegations at all credible, sensational stories spread and Hull could not handle it. He was cut out for equations, not the political cesspool.

Obama was.

This seems like politics as usual, but it gets even fishier when it comes to the actual race for the Senate. The GOP had elected the popular Jack Ryan, who was formerly married to actress Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager, Boston Public, Shark). Guess how Jack Ryan’s campaign was ruined? A court ordered his divorce papers to be released to the public, papers that contained some embarrassing allegations from his ex-wife, that’s how. Details and rumours of these documents had been circulating since Ryan first went for the nomination, and the media were making demands on the couple and Ryan’s campaign. The big story from the papers turned out not to be physical abuse, but pressure Jack Ryan had supposedly put on his wife to get her to perform at live sex shows with him in New Orleans, Paris and Amsterdam. Those specifically embarrassing papers were not expected to be released, due to a mutually agreed request by the couple. The courts had agreed prior to this not to release such information for the benefit of the Ryan’s only child, so the whole thing is quite perplexing. Obama ended up running against the less popular Alan Keyes after Jack Ryan resigned from the race.

Barack Obama always liked to portray himself as a person not born into money, and outside the political establishment. Some outside the mainstream media have made other suggestions. For one, there appears to be a fascinating connection between Barack Obama’s mother and Timothy Geithner’s father, Peter Geithner.

Peter Geithner was head of the Ford Foundation’s microfinance program in Asia for a period in the early 1980. The microfinance programs were developed in Indonesia by Ann Dunham-Soetoro, Barack Obama’s mother. The Ford Foundation says “they met at least once in Jakarta”. Many have claimed the Ford Foundation in Asia was historically ‘honeycombed’ by the CIA, and there is some suspicion that Peter Geithner was an agent. In a new book released this year called ‘A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother’, it is written that the Obama’s mother actually worked for a period at the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia when Barack Obama was very young, something which was not at all to her liking.

 I’m no expert in this history, but I would love to know more. There is no ‘smoking gun’ when it comes to proving an extensive relationship between Obama’s mother, Geithner and other heavyweights. I can find no evidence positively fingering Peter Geithner (or Obama’s mother, for that matter) as a CIA asset.

The question must still be asked however: was Obama being groomed for the Presidency for a very long time?

Crown Heights, 1991

Today happens to be the 20th anniversary of an infamous series of riots and a sectarian murder in New York, something unfortunately still relevant to us today.

Crown Heights is a predominantly black sector of Brooklyn, yet particularly famous for its Hasidic Jewish community. The Crown Heights area is home to the headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement of Hasidim, at 770 Eastern Parkway. 770 was the residence of the famed last Rebbe of the dynasty, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

On August 19th, 1991 the Lubavitcher Rebbe was being driven home from one of his weekly visits to his wife’s grave. A car in the Rebbe’s entourage struck two black children, killing the seven-year old Gavin Cato.  Cato was treated by the volunteer Jewish ambulance service Hatzolah, and transported to a hospital before he died.

Three hours after Cato’s death in hospital a gang of up to 20 black men assaulted and stabbed to death a visiting Australian student, Yankel Rosenbaum. For three days afterward, blacks rioted throughout the neighborhood shouting ‘death to Jews’, looting stores and intimidating the Orthodox Jewish population. The photo of the wounded man and his son above made the front page of the New York Post. Many others easily identifiable as Jews were similarly injured by projectiles or beatings on their way to work, study or prayer.

Several factors along with the sectarian rioting itself incensed the Jewish community. New York’s increasingly unpopular black mayor David Dinkins initially refused to increase the police presence in the neighborhood, and he was slow to recognize or acknowledge the anti-Semitic nature of the riots. The killer of Yankel Rosenbaum, Lemrick Nelson, was freed by a majority black jury despite strong evidence against him. This included his own confession, possession of the murder weapon and the fact a dying Rosenbaum identified Nelson in a line-up. Some of the black members of the jury actually attended a party honoring Nelson as a hero after the trial. Finally, black leader and professional kvetcher Al Sharpton was accused of stoking the flames by making reference to ”diamond dealers” and using similar anti-Jewish rhetoric while eulogizing at the Cato funeral. There was even a prominent banner at the service proclaiming ”Hitler did not do the job”. Such hatred was not displayed against Italian Americans after the notorious murders of black youths at Howard Beach and Bensonhurst by members of that community not long before.

The incident played a large part in the downfall of Democratic Mayor Dinkins and the election of the tough-on-crime Republican candidate Rudy Giuliani. Giuliani was first Republican to hold the office since Fiorella La Guardia in the 1940’s (though John Lindsay was elected as a Republican with Liberal support in 1965, he later switched parties). It also led to one of the most fantastic pieces of television ever. Below is the full appearance made by Al Sharpton on the Jackie Mason Show. Sharpton faces a hostile crowd of New York Jews and representatives of the Korean community, who also had complaints against the man for launching a boycott against Korean stores in Flatbush. That boycott had massive racist overtones and was characterized by criminal behavior among black hoodlums, reflecting the racial tensions in  New York at the time. They don’t make TV like this anymore. Look out for the appearance of Curtis Sliwa, the founder and CEO of the Guardian Angels, a group of volunteer anti-crime patrollers. Sliwa certainly schools Sharpton in the debate. The Guardian Angels earned much praise for stepping into Crown Heights when the mayor would not, and Sliwa became a New York City hero for many residents.

 

Keynesians Inspired By The Twilight Zone

Submitted for your approval… a small town orders all young men to dig ditches…

Paul Krugman serves up destructive economic nonsense with a smile. Remember, this is the man who actually proposed that the US Government create a housing bubble, in order to make up for the dot com crash and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.

Now he preaches how wonderful war and fear of war is for the economy – and not just the undertakers – making reference to a classic TV series.

How can presumably decent and intelligent men do stupid and evil things? Taking up Keynesianism appears to be one way.

Transcript:

Krugman: If we discovered that space aliens were planning to attack and we needed a massive buildup to counter the space alien threat and really inflation and budget deficits took secondary place to that, this slump would be over in 18 months. And then if we discovered, oops, we made a mistake, there aren’t any aliens, we’d be better.

There was a Twilight Zone episode like this in which scientists fake an alien threat in order to achieve world peace. Well, this time…we need it in order to get some fiscal stimulus.

Michael D. Higgins: Galway’s Gombeen Man?

I received some fascinating information today concerning past misdeeds on the part of Michael D. Higgins, and have since heard the story is causing quite a stir online.

The gist of this drama is that in 1994, Michael D. Higgins faced questions in the Dáil over letters from his government department sent to constituents in Galway containing promotional material for a Labour candidate in the European Parliament elections. Higgins said that it only involved a tiny number of recipients, and was due to a clerical error. The reply from an opposing TD was that his own branch chairman got one, which would imply that it involved far more than a tiny number. Hence the question: did Higgins lie when he said it was just a clerical error and a tiny number?

There is also the related issue of Higgins sending out letters to his own constituency in which he seems to be trying to take some of the credit for their applications for housing grants having been accepted. This sounds like fairly typical gombeenism in Irish politics, something which Michael D. Higgins has strongly condemned in the past.

Here is the relevant link:

http://debates.oireachtas.ie/dail/1994/04/28/00025.asp

In 1994 Fine Gael TD Padraic McCormack raises a question about Labour literature turning up in envelopes from a government department that informed successful grant recipients:

Mr. McCormack: I raise a very serious abuse of his position by the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht. I hope I have done him a favour by highlighting this abuse and that the practice has now ceased. I was pleased to facilitate the Minister by agreeing to postpone the matter until he could be present.

This matter was brought to my attention by a number of alert constituents in the Gaeltacht area of west Galway.

Is é seo an saghas litir a bhfuil an tAire ag seoladh amach gach seachtain go mhuintir Gaeltacht Chonamara.

I will read a translation of the letter:

A Chara,

About your application for a grant under the Gaeltacht Housing Act, you will be glad to hear that a grant of £2,300 is granted in your case.

My Department will send you an official letter shortly.

Sincerely,

Michael D.

McCormack then goes on to point out how Michael D Higgins had previously criticised Fianna Fáil for this practice, and highlights how this type of clientelism had been roundly condemned by Higgins himself:

The extraordinary aspect of the letter is that the Minister sent it to people who never contacted him in the first place. It is obvious he uses inside information to write to people whom he feels might be convinced he is in some way influential in getting them a grant. It is incomprehensible that he would send out in the same prepaid envelope an accompanying slip asking the people to vote for a Labour candidate in the European elections. This states “Please Vote — No. 1 GALLAGHER, Ann”. So much for the candidature of his colleague, the Minister of State at the Department of the Gaeltacht, who is also a candidate in Connacht-Ulster for the European Parliament.

It is unbelievable that the Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht should engage in this and similar tactics on joining Fianna Fáil in Government. In Opposition he strongly condemned such practices and often castigated politicans engaged in lesser types of clientelism or gombeen politics. He has surpassed Fianna Fáil in his practice of attempted deception of the electorate.

Where are the ethics in government of the Labour Party? Where is the Deputy Michael D. whom we all knew, and some loved? Where is the Michael D. who wrote the pamphlet on “Clientelism in Irish Politics”? I read a copy of his booklet and it is unbelievable that one who so abhorred and condemned such practices should now become a master of the art. He should read again his own publication. I have found many suitable quotations from his work which would condemn his present pursuit of gombeenism in Irish politics. There are many notable quotations one could use from the Minister’s own publication, if time permitted. I will make it available to any interested students of political clientelism but I will quote only two small passages. On page 121 he states:

Clientelist politicians in the opinion of the author rarely objectively influence a decision. They create the illusion of assistance however.

In the last paragraph on page 138 he says:

I am convinced that the clientelist approach seriously sells as short and distracts attention from the real basis of economic exploitation, political domination and ideological manipulation in Irish society.

This flowery language is a direct quotation from The Limits of Clientelism — towards an assessment of Irish Politics by Michael D. Higgins.

Those were the days my friend, I thought they would never end. I hope I have achieved some good in correcting the Minister in the error of his ways and perhaps nipped this serious matter in the bud.

Higgins tries to offer a robust defence:

Minister for Arts, Culture and the Gaeltacht (Mr. M. Higgins): Dírim aire aird an Teachta McCormack ar an bhfeagra a thug mé sa Teach ar an ceist seo uaidh faoin ábhar chéanna ar an 26 Aibreán 1994.

As I stated then arrangements are in place in my Department whereby individuals, committees or organisations are informed of decisions in regard to grants which have been approved as a result of applications submitted by them. I have made inquiries with regard to the reference the Deputy has made to canvassing material for the European elections and I communicated this to him in the reply to his parliamentary question, which he now chooses to ignore. It appears that during Easter when I was absent from my office due to illness, a member of my staff inadvertently included in a small number of letters referring to departmental matters a canvassing card for Ann Gallagher. A small number of letters were inadvertently placed with letters addressed to members of the Labour Party and as I was absent she signed them on my behalf.

And the devastating response:

Mr. McCormack: My branch chairman got one.

Does Al Guardian Have Something Against Jews?

“In general, we do not publish someone’s race or ethnic background or religion unless that information is pertinent to the story. We do not report of the race of criminal suspects unless their ethnic background is part of a description that seeks to identify them or is an important part of the story (for example, if the crime was a hate crime”

– Editorial Code, Al Guardian

Al Guardian's Paul Lewis

In its coverage of the rioting across the United Kingdom, Al Guardian lived up to its editorial code quoted above, with one notable exception. Paul Lewis, who has penned much of Al Guardian‘s coverage of the ongoing national disgrace, produced thirteen articles and over 12,000 words on the rioting, all of which refrained from mentioning the ethnic or religious background of any participants. That is, until an 1800-word August 7th piece with the headline: Tottenham riots: a peaceful protest, then suddenly all hell broke loose.

Two versions of the report exist. You will see why in a moment. The original August 7th article stated:

“The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10….But families and other local residents, including some from Tottenham’s Hasidic Jewish community, also gathered to watch and jeer at police.”

How odd (well, not really) of Al Guardian to single out elements of the Jewish community in reporting the riots, yet at the same time, painstakingly avoid referencing any other racial, ethnic or religious community represented among those doing so much damage to this city.

It seems some people made a fuss. The story has since been edited:

The make-up of the rioters was racially mixed. Most were men or boys, some apparently as young as 10.

But families and other local residents representative of the area – black, Asian and white, including some from Tottenham’s Hasidic Jewish community – also gathered to watch and jeer at police.

HERE is a screen capture of the original report, and HERE is the new one. It may be a small example of Al Guardian‘s world famous bias, but keep in mind the cumulative effect of hundreds of such reports per year. After the United Kingdom, America and China, by some measures the Jewish State is the most reported country on this ‘newspaper’. I believe this is a chilling reminder that Al Guardian‘s anti-Jewish agenda extends beyond those Jews living in Israel. This ‘newspaper’ is simply hate and bigotry repackaged in a form unfit to wipe one’s tuchus.

The Independent Apologizes for Robert Fisk’s False Reporting

I noticed an interesting correction appearing in The Independent while skimming it in a supermarket (you don’t think I would actually buy that thing, do you?).

In his Friday essay on 15 April 2011 (“The Arab Awakening – a long time coming”) Robert Fisk quoted from an order said to have been issued by the Saudi Minister of the Interior, HRH Prince Nayef bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud on 11 March, in which he alleged that Prince Nayef ordered his security forces to show no mercy and to use live rounds on unarmed demonstrators.

Although the essay was published in good faith, we now accept that the “Order” in question is in fact a forgery, and that Prince Nayef did not issue any such order. We apologise sincerely to Prince Nayef for the damage and embarrassment which our reporting of it has caused him.

I’m no fan of the Saudi Monarchy, but I hope this starts a trend. Unfortunately, not everyone has the resources of the Saudi Prince Nayef, who apparently fought a vicious court battle for the retraction and won substantial undisclosed damages. I’ve always said the ‘reporting’ of Middle East ‘expert’ Robert Fisk makes lying into an elegant art form. Sometimes, however, Fisk (whose face is also being sued by a tomato for breach of copyright) lets his guard down and pens the absolutely ridiculous. In October 2006 Fisk made the front page of The Independent claiming Israel had used uranium-based weapons in the Second Lebanon War that summer. Days later, an investigative panel of people who actually knew something about uranium-based weapons found no evidence of this, but The Independent never retracted the story. It says something about The Independent when they will placate the Saudis far quicker than they would ever apologize to the Israelis constantly demonized in their paper.

Its a shame that there are many experts on the Middle East, the Muslim world and Israeli history far superior to Robert Fisk that remain virtually unknown in Britain and Europe. There is the fierce critic of US foreign policy Eric Margolis, for instance, who very rarely appears as a talking head on CNN or FOX. I would fiercely disagree with Margolis on many some of his criticism of Israel. Yet the man does have a deep knowledge of military matters, something which should be required of Mid-East commentators but is most often missing. I blame that on the leftist domination of the field. Many of these people who wouldn’t send their kids to the scouts for fear they are too militaristic. Then there is the Israeli revisionist historian Efraim Karsh, who professionally demolishes myths about Israel’s War of Independence, Islam and the quality of Robert Fisk’s writing. If only these people wrote regularly for The Independent, while Robert Fisk performed a more useful function by serving up shawarma in Beirut. I still can’t think of any responsibilities a sensible person might give to Johann Hari.

Jack Cafferty tells the truth on the ‘Debt-Ceiling’ ‘Deal’

I don’t have a television. When the one in my living room developed a problem a long while back I made sure not to fix it. Television lures you into thinking you have ‘free time’. You don’t. Recreation time is important, but that isn’t the same thing. My advice is to dump your television, or give away a small amount of money for every show you watch.

CNN’S Jack Cafferty might just be one of the few news presenters that could make me change my mind on getting a TV back, but only if CNN were to give him a couple of hours a day for his own show. There’s a reason why the man is only given a few minutes every day under the careful scrutiny of Wolf Blitzer. Turning vehemently against the Iraq War, he still earns the hatred of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee for talking straight from the gut on primitive barbarism in the Arab world. He shocked Soledad O’ Brien with his very un-CNN like levels of testosterone when he described American liberalism as being synonymous with Communism, but he still loathes Sarah Palin like no other.

Now he says it like it is on the American ‘debt-ceiling’ (how many ceilings just keep getting higher and higher like this one can?) and the Washington spin.

TRANSCRIPT:

“The government is selling snake oil – again.

Look closely and this so-called ‘deal’ on the debt ceiling crisis is a triumph of sleight-of-hand over substance.

Sunday night it was, ‘We will cut a trillion dollars in the first 10 years.’ By this morning a trillion had become $917 billion, which means we lost $83 billion in cuts overnight. Makes you afraid to go to bed.

In the first three years of the Obama presidency, the deficits will total about $4.2 trillion. Cutting $917 billion over 10 years, or $91 billion a year, is chump change.

Then there’s the commission, another one. Remember the commission President Obama ordered to come up with answers to this stuff last year?

They did. Their report was full of a lot of good ideas. It was ignored by the president and Congress. But they want us to believe this commission will be different.

Baloney. There has been no attempt to address tax reform or entitlement reform. That will be left for ‘The Commission.’ My guess is they won’t touch it anymore than the current crop of folks tackled it. And without those two things, we are doomed.

Supposedly there will be triggers in the legislation that will require additional cuts totaling $1.4 trillion across the board if the committee and Congress cannot agree. Color me skeptical.

We are facing more than $61 trillion of unfunded liabilities from Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and other obligations – $61 trillion.

There is no money to meet those obligations and our government knows it. But they have the unmitigated gall to march out Sunday night as though they had found a cure for cancer and expect us to break down in uncontrolled adulation. They make me ill.”

Finally, mainstream media doing its job. Maybe Cafferty will earn abuse and be compared to mass murderers too. Oh, wait: Joe Biden already called Tea Party people in Congress ‘terrorists’. Great to see the Democrats engaging in violent political rhetoric as soon as Gabrielle Giffords comes back to Washington.

Commentator Charles Burris calls on the Tea Parties to answer this monstrosity:

”Rather than sulk in resigned despair over yet another stab-in-the-back betrayal by the D. C. elites in the debt ceiling scam, now is the time for the Tea Party millions to immediately go on the offensive and recapture their vim, vigor, and vitality heroically displayed during the ObamaCare town hall gatherings. From coast-to-coast, at every constituent meeting of every Democrat or Republican representative or senator who voted for this monstrosity, throngs of enraged Tea Partiers should amass and loudly chant, “Judas, Judas, Judas,” while shaking little bags of thirty quarters. The time for complaisance and passivity is past. Let the establishment know that the revolution has begun in earnest. Under the leadership of Speaker John Boehner, the Republican Party has become morally impotent and intellectually bankrupt. The GOP deserves to join the fate of their Whig predecessors, thus fulfilling the artistry of cartoonist Thomas Nast when he depicted these two gangs of murderers, liars, and thieves symbolized as the mules and the mastodons, one sterile and the other extinct.

The “Judas, Judas, Judas” chant and shaking of the coins should fire up the evangelicals in the Tea Party. This gesture is consciously reminiscent of the hundreds of thousands of Czech demonstrators in the 1989 Velvet Revolution in Czechoslovakia shaking their car keys, signaling the Communist Party elites that it was their time to go”.