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Monday, 16 January 2012
The Respectable Prejudice (Part Two)
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

Anti-Semitism has always been present on the American social scene. But unlike the European brand—a virulent hymn of hate—the American variant sounded in a minor key. To be sure, Jews in America encountered dislike and prejudice—particularly those Jews who emigrated from Eastern Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. But their reception was not notably different from that accorded to other immigrants. The Irish who immediately preceded them experienced similar discrimination. In the long run, the unique character of American society and the American polity operated to the Jews’ advantage. They faced a good deal of informal discrimination, e.g. quotas for the admission of Jews to elite universities, exclusion form country clubs and business groups, etc. But the kind of open legal discrimination that had long burdened the Jews of Europe was never applied to them in America.

 

Up to the 1960s, overt American anti-Semitism was confined to the extreme right wing of the conservative movement: that faction of conservatism that could broadly be described as nativist, xenophobic and isolationist. A notorious example is Charles Lindbergh, whose otherwise respectable opposition to US participation in WW II was tinged with a disreputable attitude toward the Jews. One of William F. Buckley’s many valuable services to conservatism was his ejection of such extremists from the movement, e.g. his 1964 excoriation of the John Birch Society and his firing of the late Joe Sobran from National Review in 1993. Thus marginalized, the denizens of the far Right—the paleoconservatives and some libertarians—have nonetheless continued their flirtation with anti-Semitism, as exemplified by the career of Pat Buchanan.

 

The creation of the State of Israel supplied American anti-Semites with a new twist on their favorite prejudice. From the 1960s onward, the claim that American foreign policy was in thrall to a cabal of Jewish puppet masters gained traction with people like Buchanan and Sobran. A generation earlier, the claim that Jewish financiers dominate Wall Street has been the American Jew hater’s basic article of faith. Now it is claimed in addition that the Jews are running American foreign policy for the benefit of Israel. Ron Paul’s kooky foreign policy views are quite compatible with this paranoid thesis.

 

Anti-Semitism has also found a congenial home on the Left—which may seem remarkable but really isn’t. Karl Marx himself anticipated that the advent of the socialist paradise would solve the Jewish question (as it used to be called in Europe) by eliminating the Jews as an identifiable group. The tribalism that had enabled the Jewish people to survive centuries of persecution would serve no purpose in a worldwide socialist commonwealth, Marx taught. The persistence of a Jewish national identity stood, therefore, in opposition to the goals of the proletariat.

 

The appearance of Zionism—conscious Jewish nationalism—brought the tension between socialism and the Jews to a head, this despite the prominent role played by Jews in the international socialist movement. How the anti-Semitism of contemporary progressivism operates in practice will be the subject of my next post in this series.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:59 AM EST
Updated: Monday, 16 January 2012 11:33 AM EST
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Saturday, 14 January 2012
The Respectable Prejudice (Part One)
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

In his 1945 essay, “Antisemitism in Britain,” George Orwell noted that:

 

It so happens that the war has encouraged the growth of antisemitism and even, in the eyes of many ordinary people, given some justification for it. To begin with, the Jews are one people of whom it can be said with complete certainty that they will benefit by an Allied victory. Consequently the theory that “this is a Jewish war” has a certain plausibility, all the more so because the Jewish war effort seldom gets its fair share of recognition.

 

>snip<

 

Whenever I have touched on this subject in a newspaper article, I have always had a considerable “come-back”, and invariably some of the letters are from well-balanced, middling people—doctors, for example—with no apparent economic grievance. These people always say (as Hitler says in Mein Kampf) that they started out with no anti-Jewish prejudice but were driven into their present position by mere observation of the facts. Yet one of the marks of antisemitism is an ability to believe stories that could not possibly be true.

 

Suitably updated, this would be a reasonable description of the situation in America and Europe today, where in paleoconservative and progressive circles at least, anti-Semitism is clearly on the rise. Scarcely had the dust settled on 9/11 when scurrilous stories about Jewish complicity began to make the rounds. It was alleged, without evidence, that Jews in New York danced in celebration of the attack, or that the whole thing had actually been engineered by the Israeli secret service. In the years that followed, a hardy perennial of the antiwar Left was the charge that George W. Bush was acting at the behest of his neocon puppet masters—“neocon” being a code word for “Jew.” Most recently, anti-Semitic attitudes were well on display at the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations.

 

In his essay, Orwell opined that anti-Semitism is a neurosis supported by arguments of varying plausibility. I believe this to be true. Anti-Semitism is the father of all race prejudice, the great original, tracing its ancestry back to the early days of Christianity. Over the centuries it has taken various forms: the Jew as Christ-killer, the Jew as alien, the Jew as exploiter, the Jew as sinister puppet master. These various strands came together in the eliminationist anti-Semitism that arose in turn-of-the century Central Europe and culminated in the Final Solution. And though the horrors of the Holocaust made anti-Semitism unfashionable, it was not stamped out.

 

Ironically, the foundation of the State of Israel gave anti-Semitism a new lease on life. Today’s anti-Semite typically claims that he has nothing against Jews, but opposes the existence of Israel, which he characterizes as illegitimate, racist and imperialist. He supports the Palestinians in their demand for a state of their own. Anti-Semitism is thus rationalized as a simple call for justice.

 

But the claim that one can oppose Israel without hating Jews collapses upon close examination. For to deny the legitimacy of the State of Israel is to deny the Jews something that is conceded, in principle at least, to all the other peoples of the world: a national homeland. It’s one thing to debate the rights and wrongs of the conflict between the Jews and the Palestinian Arabs. It’s something else entirely to demand a solution that entails the destruction of the Jewish state.

 

In Part Two of this series, I'll discuss where and how anti-Semitism expresses itself in America today.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:26 AM EST
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Friday, 13 January 2012
Organizer Man
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

One of the entries in Barack Obama’s curriculum vita is “community organizer”—in Chicago during the 1980s. Those tiresome people who decide that their mission in life is to make the world a better place have to start somewhere. For Obama, it all began in the Windy City.

 

Now I lived in Chicago for seven years. As big cities go, it’s not a bad place. But I shed no tears when the time came to pack my bags and flee the People’s Republic of Illinois for the relative sanity of Granger, Indiana. Even in genteel Hyde Park where I had my apartment, there was no escape from the annoyances of city life: screaming arguments in the parking lot directly under my window at two in the morning, loud music blasting away in the adjoining apartment, crazy street people and panhandlers all over the place, the ever-present threat of crime (e.g. a murder in my building).

 

Every weekend in Chicago people are killed in drive-by shootings, stabbed, beaten to death, etc. Not infrequently, the victim is some little girl or boy who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. The police department is corrupt and not very efficient. The mayor and city council are more interested in playing race-based politics than they are in suppressing crime. The bureaucracy is bloated. The school system reeks. Despite state, county and city taxes on everything in sight, Chicago is teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

 

So I’m wondering: What kind of a mark did Barack Obama make on Chicago? What problems did he solve? Did he leave the city a better place than he found it? Nah—Chicago simply shrugged Barry off. And a good thing, too. “From bad to worse,” perhaps translated into Latin, would make a fine motto for the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of Community Organizers.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:03 AM EST
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Thursday, 12 January 2012
Hold the Champagne!
Topic: Decline of the West

 

Here's evidence that the euphoria produced by last month’s decline in the unemployment rate is unlikely to last long: “U.S. jobless claims rise sharply to 6-week high”

 

The story, from Reuters, goes on to say that the number of Americans applying for first-time jobless benefits jumped to 399,000 last week. That reverses a recent trend in which first-time claims were inching down. Reuters also notes that some economists believe that the recent decline in the unemployment rate was caused by discouraged people dropping out of the labor market altogether.

 

Told you so, didn't I?


Posted by tmg110 at 4:21 PM EST
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Debbie Does Civility
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

Why the Democratic National Committee should choose as its chairperson a complete doofus is a good question. But there it is: the DNC’s fearless leader is none other than Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a gaffe machine in pumps. Today she added to her long list of greatest hits with a call for civility in politics—immediately followed by an attempt to link the Tea Party movement to the 2011 shooting of her House colleague, Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.

 

Just to review, the Giffords shooting (which left six people dead and twelve wounded) was carried out by a lone gunman who had nothing to do with the Tea Party. Jared Lee Loughner was an obsessive head case with a longstanding, albeit irrational, grudge against the congresswoman. Despite the Left’s best efforts, the attempt to link him to the Tea Party was went nowhere. Loughner was eventually found mentally incompetent to stand trial.

 

Given these well-established facts, why has the DNC chairperson made another clumsy attempt to make a connection where none exists? Personally, I incline to the simplest explanation: DWS is just as dumb as a box of rocks. Hey, Debbie, since when does “civility” include an exemption for slander?


Posted by tmg110 at 4:03 PM EST
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Wednesday, 11 January 2012
The High Priest of Race Hatred
Topic: Liberal Fascism

 

I rather enjoy receiving Nation of Change via email. It’s a perfect little Petri dish of progressive thinking—if that’s the word for the slop dished out by NoC, e.g. “James Cone’s Gospel of the Penniless, Jobless, Marginalized and Despised.” Here we are tutored on the hitherto unremarked similarities between the Crucifixition of Christ and the lynching of blacks in the Jim Crow era. Who knew?

 

That the comparison is beyond ridiculous seems hardly necessary to point out. In its way, this is as crude a formulation as the most fundamentalist, literal interpretation of the Bible. To accept it is to agree that any unjust death is pretty much the same as the Crucifixition. And I suppose that in some vague, cloudy, metaphysical sense this may be true. But in Cone’s formulation, it’s nothing more than a vicious expression of race hatred, directed in this case by a black “theologian” against white people.

 

I place his professional title inside quotes because it seems incongruous to describe this unsavory racist as a man of God. Cone is the founding father of what is sometimes called black liberation theology, i.e. Afrocentric racism dressed up in the vestments of Christianity. That his teachings inspired Barack Obama’s sometime spiritual mentor, the Rev. Jeremiah “God Damn America” Wright will come as no surprise. Check out this fawning review of Cone’s latest book, wherein the Crucifixition/lynching connection is laid bare. It's worth a laugh—or a grimace.

 

Nation of Change touts itself as the voice of the 99%. You’d be surprised, though, and probably disgusted, by the rogue’s gallery of latter-day Leninists who purport to speak for you in its pages.


Posted by tmg110 at 1:13 PM EST
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Postmortem: Newt Gingrich
Topic: Decline of the West

 

For months, the former Speaker of the House was thought to have no credible shot at the GOP presidential nomination. Then he broke out of the pack as the latest not-Romney candidate. Up, up and away like a beautiful balloon went Newt. There followed a flurry of positive polling, a blizzard of attack ads from Romney and others, and a prompt return to earth. He finished nowhere in Iowa. He finished nowhere in New Hampshire after launching a series of scathing attacks on Romney—from the left! In the end he looks like a sore loser, more intent on damaging Mitt Romney than he is on beating Barack Obama in November.

 

Oddly, Gingrich prospered when people thought he had no chance. In the early Republican debates he frequently supplied the voice of reason and maturity, castigating the bias of the mainstream media and reminding his rivals that their real foe was Barack Obama. But success went to his head. And when he became the focus of his rivals’ attacks, Gingrich reverted to the eccentric behavior that wise observers had insisted all along would be his undoing.

 

There was a moment when I thought that Newt Gingrich, mellowed by age and experience, might actually be the conservative alternative to Romney. Alas, I was wrong. Let’s just hope that he doesn’t break too much china before he’s escorted out of the shop.


Posted by tmg110 at 10:13 AM EST
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It's Mitt
Topic: Decline of the West

 

After winning the New Hampshire primary with nearly 40% of the vote, Mitt Romney seems all but certain to be the Republican Party’s presidential candidate.

 

Here we have yet another demonstration of the perils of punditry. I was just plain wrong when I opined that Romney’s Massachusetts health care insurance reform would sink his candidacy. In retrospect it’s clear that it could have sunk him—but only in a scenario where he was faced with a credible conservative challenger. And no such challenger emerged. Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich—they all got their shot at the title and all, for various reasons, failed to make the grade. Perhaps Rick Santorum could have filled the bill, but he be emerged from the rear ranks at too late a stage to derail Romney.

 

So barring the political equivalent of a comet strike, it’s Mitt. What this means for the GOP, President Obama and the nation remains to be seen. But never fear! Despite my recent stumble, I’ll be in there  punching and punditizing. And yeah, yeah: I know that’s not really a word…


Posted by tmg110 at 8:40 AM EST
Updated: Wednesday, 11 January 2012 9:57 AM EST
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Tuesday, 10 January 2012
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs?
Topic: Decline of the West

 

The December 2011 jobs report, showing that the economy added some 200,000 jobs while unemployment dropped by a tenth of a percentage point, was greeted by many Democrats and progressives with cheers and applause. Finally, they cried in glad accents, the Obama Administration’s economic policies are beating fruit! The recovery is gathering steam! Let the good times roll!

 

Who can blame them for their giddiness? Up to this point, Obama's management of the economy—if a president can be said to "manage the economy," a dubious proposition—has been something less than stellar. In fact it’s been dismal. Trillions have been blown on fancy schemes like “green jobs” to little discernable effect. Things got so bad that Democratic Party grandees were reduced to arguing that extending unemployment benefits would create jobs—600,000 according to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. They were desperate for good news, and now it looks like they’ve gotten it.

 

But not so fast. Though 200,000 jobs sounds like a big number, it’s actually no big deal. As Jay Cost explains in this article for the Weekly Standard, overall job growth in 2011 failed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. In round numbers, the economy must generate 140,000 jobs per month to cover labor force growth. At best, as the year ended, the job market was bumping along the bottom of the deep chasm into which it plummeted in 2008.  In 2011, the average monthly job growth figure was 137,000. As for the December number, it includes anywhere from 40,000 to 100,000 temporary holiday jobs. Some of these will convert to full-time employment, but most will not. In other words, the economy isn’t creating enough jobs to lower the unemployment rate.

 

But wait—the unemployment rate did drop in December! Well, yes it did, but this was due largely to the fact that the workforce—the percentage of adults either employed or actively seeking unemployment—has hit a 30-year low. Since Obama took office, it’s declined from 65.7% to 64%. Why? Because people are giving up looking for work and dropping out of the labor force altogether. The unemployment rate doesn’t count these people. It’s based solely on workforce participation: those employed versus those unemployed but still in the labor force. Those who’ve dropped out become unpersons so far as the unemployment rate is concerned. And perversely, the more dropouts, the better the unofficial unemployment rate looks. But if they were counted—by calculating unemployment based on the 2009 workforce participation number—the unemployment rate would be 11%.

 

Finally, as Cost points out, the prospects for 2012 are not very bright. Most economists expect growth to remain anemic: in the vicinity of 2%. that’s nowhere near enough to generate real job growth, boost incomes, etc. Moreover, there are significant threats to the US economy out there, particularly the prospect of a deep recession in the Eurozone.

 

Of course, the spin doctors of the Democratic Party will do what they can with every particle of seemingly good news. But there’s nothing they can do, really, to spin away the millions of Americans who feel so pessimistic about the economy that they’ve dropped out of the jobs market. Indeed, too much giddiness about tenth-of-a-percent declines in the unemployment rate could even be counterproductive. People who’ve been unemployed or under-employed for years may not appreciate being told that prosperity is just around the corner.


Posted by tmg110 at 12:24 PM EST
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Monday, 9 January 2012
Bill Bails on Barry
Topic: Decline of the West

 

Hmmm. After less than a year on the job, White House Chief of Staff William J. Daley (brother of former Chicago mayor Richard M. Daley) has decided to call it quits after less than a year on the job. He gave President Obama his notice after returning to Washington from Christmas vacation. According to the Los Angeles Times, Obama was “taken by surprise” and asked Daley to take a day to think it over. The Chief of Staff did so and confirmed his resignation to the President the next day.

 

There are two possible reasons for Daley’s resignation: (1) Obama was dissatisfied with his performance; (2) Bill thinks that Barry’s a goner and doesn’t want his name associated with a 2012 electoral debacle. Take your pick.


Posted by tmg110 at 3:34 PM EST
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