One of my challenges is not making the blog depressing. What is occurring in our political and financial world is dark stuff, both now massive and growing kleptocracies. What our government has evolved in to is really not surprising; it is the nature of government to steal form its people, the only variable is degree.* When government is small there is less to steal, engendering less corruption and a higher quality of "public servant." It was never a possibility that U.S. federal expenditures could reach $3.8 trillion without corrupting the political system to its core. Then there is the financial system, which as has been covered here the past five years is a nest of government sponsored fraud run by banker Mafioso too powerful to criminally prosecute. It is all overwhelmingly depressing and I tire of writing about it as much as I tire of observing it. So I thought I'd take a break to discuss this dearth of morality in the context of Gaza, which has become the site of the Olympics of moral judgment and which has resulted in a ubiquitous condemnation of Israel for its military conduct there.
Governments are inhabited by politicians and bureaucrats; there isn't a government I don't detest and that includes Israel's. I also oppose all foreign aid and Israel is not exempted from that. Among the things that make Israel different from the United States though is that its government has no time or room for the type of global mischief making the United States practices. Israel is in a constant state of war-readiness or outright war and it has been that way for its over six decades of existence. The country has its share of corruption and the attendant ethical lapses engendered by "government service," yet given its necessarily militarized mind set and in the face of constant threats and terror attacks from hostile populations on all sides, Israel maintains perhaps the least immoral government in the world.
The media drumbeat referencing the "innocent civilian" casualties incurred under Israel's air strikes in Gaza is a bit off the mark. Yes, they are civilians and yes, the children among them are certainly innocent but the adults are hardly clean-handed. For it was Gazans who in free elections in 2006 (agreed to by Israel under the 1993 Oslo Accords) chose Hamas to lead their government (which in turn promptly rejected the Accords agreed to by its predecessor, the PLO under which it formally recognized Israel). That these civilians now find themselves used by their chosen government as human bait (the term "human shield" also misses the mark) to draw Israeli bombs should come as no surprise to the Gaza populace which has in effect been drafted by its chosen leadership into a perverted form of military service. Hamas was a known quantity when Gazans rejected the more moderate PLO in favor of a dedicated terrorist organization whose very charter calls for the destruction of Israel. Hamas has not disappointed. It has reigned terror upon Israeli and far more upon its own people.
Yet the civilized world and the mainstream media that informs it has forgotten that relevant piece of history or chosen to overlook it. This amnesia actually extends back much farther when it comes to the history of Israel and its hostile neighbors. Media hyperbole abounds as Israel's use of defensive force is spun to a largely ignorant world as excessive. Among the preferred measures of moral equity thrown about is the disproportionate number of Gaza civilian casualties compared to Israel's. Thomas Sowell recently nailed the absurdity of this calculus by wondering if these body counters were "aware that vastly more German civilians were killed by American bombers attacking Nazi Germany during World War II than American civilians killed in the United States by Hitler’s forces?" There is far more inhumanity unfurled upon the Muslim world by other Muslims on a daily basis than has been inflicted by Israel in its sixty plus years as a nation.
And that for the most part is the way the media presents and its audience reacts to Israel's response to attacks on its own civilian populations -- no context -- no history. Then there are the Hollywood stars and starlets who decide to share their self-imagined insights with us. In one ironic open letter a trio of Spaniards determined that their country's sordid history of Jew hatred should not inhibit them from displaying their vapidity. Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodóvar signed the letter published in the Spanish newspaper, Eldario and elsewhere accusing Israel of genocide. Subsequent to the letter's publication Ms. Cruz issued a "clarification" which read in part: "I’m not an expert on the situation and I’m aware of the complexity of it." And therein lies the problem with so many in their rush to condemn Israel -- they are admittedly clueless.
Among the most remarkable features of the Israel bashing is that a good deal of it is coming from the liberal Jewish intelligentsia in the U.S. It is my strong suspicion that much of this is a result of a discomfort with Israel's tough culture; it conflicts with their liberal sensibility of how Jews should behave. Israel is a war hardened country formed in the immediate aftermath of the Holocaust. There are no tougher people on earth. When we are starkly reminded that ultimately this tiny country will do what it needs to do to defend its people -- that it will only tolerate unprovoked rocket attacks on its own civilians for so long before it responds with deadly force -- some of us stand tall, some retrench.
So I take this opportunity to say what an insufficient number of people dare mention. This conflict is not between Israel and Gaza's Palestinians but between Muslims and Jews. It amounts to but a footnote in a centuries-old Muslim hatred of Jews (not reciprocated) that is perpetuated in Muslim culture because Muslim culture offers so little else. When ignorance is a culture's currency it fills that vacuum with the worst type of leaders, resulting in one in which the ignorant are victimized not by imagined enemies but by their own hatred. Islam is a primitive and destructive culture devoid of healthy factions; if it had any you would be hearing from them. What Israel has done in Gaza it has had to do. Will it end the cycle of violence? Certainly not. The dearth of voices condemning Hamas from whatever sane corners of Islam may actually exist is Exhibit A. But Israel's defense of its people will make nothing worse for Israel and it has made itself more secure in the short run. World opinion? Israel has done what it must and will let the chips fall. But where they fall will in the end not alter Israel's imperative to protect itself. Born from the ashes of the Holocaust, it knows that it can rely on no one else to do so. Moral clarity? Here's moral clarity: Every death in Gaza -- every civilian, every child dead or mutilated in the rubble that Gaza has become was brought on by the people of Gaza. It taunted Israel with rockets fired at Israeil civilian populations and allowed its leadership to place rocket launchers in homes where their own children slept. Shame on them.
Finally, Pat Condell is a Catholic born -- British comedian, writer and open atheist. Watch this. You won't regret it -- unless you suffer from Judeophopia.
Upon landing in the Middle East to negotiate a cease-fire Secretary of State John Kerry announced a $48 million "humanitarian Aid" package for Gaza -- virtually none of which will end up benefiting the Gazan people. The terrorist tunnels Hamas has built into Israel cost a reported $3 million apiece. This "aid" money will be used in three ways -- for tunnels, rockets and to line the pockets of Hamas leaders -- and all at the pleasure of the American taxpayer. Foreign aid you will recall, is the process by which the working people of rich countries transfer their money to the rich people of poor countries
The media's persistent anti-Israel media bias could not be better illustrated than in this hit piece, featuring UK television's Jon Snow playing the role of a pretend journalist. At the end of what is supposed to have been an interview of an Israeli spokesman Snow insults his subject with this accusation: "You don't have the courage [to speak to Hamas]!" Charles Krauthammer on the other hand sets things straight as to Hamas' real agenda in Gaza.
Writing in the current issue of The New Yorker, Ruth Margalit presents the rather plausible notion that Hadar Goldin, the Israeli soldier missing and feared captured by Hamas (and later declared dead by the Israeli Defense Forces) was in fact killed by I.D.F. I endorse none of the implied subtext in Margalit's reporting; I pass it on only because it is if nothing else, interesting. Code-named "The Hannibal procedure" and de-classified in 2003, Israel has had a policy of killing its own soldiers as a last resort, in order to prevent their capture by the enemy: TheNewYorker: Hadar Goldin and the Hannibal Directive
The drumbeat of anti-Israel/Palestinian sympathetic articles and photos plastered all over the New York Times is neither coincidence nor novel. Arguably the world's most powerful self-loathing Jewish family, the Sulzbergers have controlled The New York Times since 1896. The paper has a long and dark history of anti-Israeli bias in its reporting and as this remarkable high school student documents in this TED presentation, its record of having suppressed reporting on the Holocaust is unambiguous and shameful. Anna Blech won first prize at the New York City History Day competition for her research paper, “Downplaying the Holocaust: Arthur Hays Sulzberger and The New York Times.”
Forget the media -- in less than three minutes this video neatly sums up the Gaza conflict.
Some former Cold War evangelists are actually among today's most reasoned and insightful critics of the Obama Administration's cavalier and dangerous provocations of Russia. Pat Buchanan has written a number of thoughtful pieces on the President's juvenile playground antics: Is Putin Worse than Stalin?
"[W]hat motivates those on our side who seek every opportunity to restart the Cold War?...Who is the real problem here?"
And the Editorial of the Year Thus-Far Award goes to Germany's Handelsbatt, which takes uncharacteristically sharp aim at President Obama's aimless sanctions and unproductive attacks on Vladimir Putin.
Prominent hacker Jonathan Zdziarski is warning that the NSA has a "back-door" to every iPhone. Anytime it chooses, you've got company: Forensic scientist identifies suspicious 'back door' running on every ios device
Traders compete in an arena that they understand is zero-sum. So it is somewhat of a wonder how large banks report consistent profits and near perfect results at their proprietary trading departments when -- if only by virtue of the large number of people manning these desks -- it is statistically impossible that these institutions employ such an abundance of geniuses. So what gives? Welcome to the world of front-running, inside information and high-frequency trading theft: Perfect Pilfering -- A detailed exposé on how the market is rigged from a data-centric approach
What's missing from this headline and the substance of media reports about the gold and silver fixings is that the manipulation is constant and not limited to the London fixings. Yes, the twice daily fixes are fraudulent rip-offs a-la Libor but the lock-down of precious metals is a 24/7 (Fed hosted) major bullion bank operation: Bloomberg: Deutsche Bank, HSBC Accused of Silver Fix Manipulation
* Mencken referred to elections as "advanced auctions on stolen goods." It is among the reasons I refuse to vote, an activity I've described as placebo for the masses in which participants buy into the illusion that they are choosing something. I've been on the receiving end of political shakedowns and I know how the game is played. If it is ever necessary for me to "participate in the political process" I'll either need to deliver cash, a check or the bundled checks of others. It's that simple. That reality is as good a reason as any to avoid the throngs of poorly groomed piereced and tattooed Americans waiting in line at polling places to pull levers, in the same way they line up for the buffets on cruise ships.