In an earlier post I commented on Dennis Ross’ participation in a Washington Institute conference panel as follows:
FP: I was watching the panel U.S.-Israel Relations in a Changing Middle East in which one of the participants was Dennis Ross, an American diplomat marinated in the so-called peace process since the Reagan administration. Now, Ross is an intelligent, knowledgeable guy who should know everything and everybody related to the Arab-Israeli conflict. And yet he persists in the belief that peace is still possible while the West gives the Palestinians—who are the only obstacle to peace—every incentive to reject peace. It’s as if he is blind to reality.I realized that I did not actually include his specific comment that struck me as defying reality, his knowledge and intelligence notwithstanding.
In order to demonstrate that a two-state solution is still achievable, he referred to two polls, one of Israelis, the other of Palestinians: the former indicates 78% of the Israelis are for it and the latter that 60-70% of Arabs do. Now, you don’t have to be an expert on the conflict to know that, in contradistinction to the Israelis, when the Arabs express their acceptance of a two-state solution they mean it as only a first phase to the ultimate one-state solution. That is precisely why, despite a plethora of Israeli concessions, some of which Ross worked on, the Arabs have never (1) recognized Israel as a Jewish state and accepted its existence (2) renounced the right of return and (3) agreed to terminate the state of war. And, in fact, internal Arab communication are explicit about that.
Now, it is hard to believe that Ross is unaware of that. But it is impossible for Western diplomats to internalize the Arab/Islamic honor-shame culture, with its death cult and genocidal nature, even when they are constantly exposed to it. Whether they realize it or not, they approach the conflict with preconceived Western cultural core notions of self-interest, pragmatism and compromise. Hence the reliance on the polls as equivalent and the Arab exploitation of this delusion, by telling them what they want to hear and reinforcing it.
Of course, if you admit reality you must accept your entire career, vested in the peace process, was based on a delusion, something difficult for any person, let alone a diplomat, who is congenitally incapable to accept that there are circumstances in which negotiations are useless.
CAMERA: BBC Justifies Self Censorship in the Face of Threats of Violence
In an interview on free speech, Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC implies that the threat of violence from religious Muslims influences the BBC's decisions on which shows it airs. His acknowledgement and justification of self-censorship has to be disheartening to all defenders of free speech. The BBC is the world's largest media organization and is sustained by the British government.
Questioned about the conflict between free speech and offending people's religious beliefs, Thompson justifies censorship in criticizing some religious figures [ but not others ] by suggesting that such criticism can be more "heinous" than harming real people.
... they believe that their faith refers to things which have an objective reality. And so, for example, they regard blasphemy as causing objective harm. So it’s not just that a blasphemous statement or act would hurt their feelings or anger them because it went against their opinions; it would do actual objective harm. That offending of an act of sacrilege against the god head or religious figure, actually creates harm in the world as it were and might be as heinous or more heinous than harm to a human being.Thompson then shifts from the abstract to the specific:
I think you have to tread really quite carefully and sensitively because of the character. The point is that for a Muslim, a depiction – particularly a comical or demeaning depiction of the Prophet Muhammad – might have the force, the emotional force, of a piece of a grotesque child pornography. One of the mistakes seculars make is I think not to understand the character of what blasphemy feels like to someone who is a realist in their religious belief.
Interviewer Timothy Garton-Ash: But it is an ace, isn’t it? And a rather nasty ace if people say, “I feel so strongly about that; if you say it or broadcast it, I will kill you.”In more veiled language, Thompson also implies that such threats sway the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Thompson: Well clearly it’s a very notable move in the game, I mean without question. “I complain in the strongest possible terms” is different from “I complain in the strongest possible terms and I’m loading my AK47 as I write.” This definitely raises the stakes. But I think there’s two or three things going on, so manifestly a threat to murder, which by the way is quite rightly a crime, massively raises the stakes.
Ash: What, if I may just interrupt for a moment, what are the areas in your experience, your great experience as a broadcaster, have you experienced threats of violence, threats to murder?Thompson does not spell out who is making the threats. But the penchant for sharp criticism of Israel's government and a pronounced pro-Palestinian tilt in the BBC coverage has been widely noted. That observation, along with the contrast between the unfettered and highly critical Israeli press and the strict media control practiced by the Palestinian Authority, suggest that the threats are coming from the Palestinian side.
Thompson: Well, the coverage of Israel-Palestine, and one or two other conflicts in the world, can lead to and have in my case led to threats of violence. Our editorial decision-making, where someone has come to believe you are not doing it fairly, or maybe likely not to do it fairly, have been threatened once, twice in my career about one or two major conflicts, which have some of the same features: a sense of victimhood, a sense of conspiracy – you know conspiracists who believe everyone else is conspiracist, and so forth – and a sense that the desperation or the circumstance means that the normal don’t apply.
I guess we should be thankful that even this interview passed the BBC censor.
FP: It’s cowardice and dhimmification that induces anti-Semitism and it will burry the West.
Matt Taibbi: Austerity Can't Be Just for Regular People
Markets all over the world freaked out over the prospect of having ignorant European voters meddling in the recovery process the geniuses of the high finance world had already painstakingly laid out for them. The model for economic progress in the financial bubble era, after all, is supposed to go something like this:
1. Let banks inflate massive asset bubbles with the aid of cheap or even free government cash, and tons of leverage;
2. Before it all explodes, carve out gigantic sums for bonuses and compensation for the companies that inflated those bubbles;
3. After it explodes, get the various governments to bail those companies out;
4. Pay for it all by slashing services to what’s left of the middle class.
This world view ignores the fact that those "superstar" leaders of "hyperefficient" companies have been sucking up a thousand times as much welfare as those low-skilled workers Brooks is talking about. Here’s how the "superstars" of the banking world sometimes earn their bonuses: they borrow trillions from the U.S. Federal Reserve at zero or near zero interest, then they turn right around and lend chunks of that free money to a place like Greece (ex-FDIC Sheila Bair, in a hilarious editorial on the subject, pegged the ten-year yield at 21%), then they pocket the proceeds and call it capitalism.
Brooks’ analysis of the financial crisis leaves out things like the $16 trillion in emergency loans the banks secretly got from the Fed in the years since the crisis. It ignores quantitative easing, bailouts, and the trillions of dollars of bets Wall Street made on the unreal economy during the bubble years that we all ended up paying for, either through taxes or reduced home values or lowered interest on our savings.
The point is, when people talk about “austerity,” they only ever talk about the pain the general population should voluntarily accept, in the form of reduced services and curtailed “stimulus.” No one ever says the financial services sector should have to cut back on its access to easy money, and there hasn’t been much in the way of serious plans to restore some sanity and prudence to the lending and investing business.
The result of all of this easy money is an endless succession of speculative bubbles that simply shift from one market to another as financial companies run around the globe in search of high yields. It was Spanish real estate yesterday, and Euro sovereign debt before that, and American home mortgages at other times, and then it was wheat and corn and other food commodities last year (which led to the social unrest in the middle East), and it was oil in 2008, oil in 2011, and oil again this year, and so on.
In addition to the direct consequence of huge stunning losses when these bubbles collapse, the insane volatility of all of these markets creates panic in the business community, and puts a brake on real lending to grow real businesses. When you don’t know if oil is going to cost $40 a barrel or $140 three months from now, it’s pretty hard to invest in a new airline, or a chain of supermarkets (as commodities, many food prices will also rise and fall with oil), or anything at all, really. It’s not surprising that no one wants to lend in this environment. [FP: Why Aren’t There More Jobs? Mediocre growth, overly cautious corporations and government cutbacks figure to stifle employment gains until there is some comprehensive economic policy.]
I agree with Brooks, all of this is unsustainable. But if pain’s coming, it can’t just be regular people who pay. Bankers have to find new ways of making money that don’t just involve betting the hot table and taking out instant billion-dollar profits. They have to go back to building real businesses and being content with gradual returns over time. If there’s going to be austerity, it has to be for everybody.
FP: As I keep arguing, we don’t have capitalism but a delusion thereof. When the government facilitates these bubbles and then bails out the financial corporations, where is the free market? Only for the workers, who must compete with slave labor in the third world, because corporations are global and workers are not.
Continue to do the above and you invite this:
Alan Johnson: The New Communism: Resurrecting the Utopian Delusion
A specter is haunting the academy--the specter of "new communism." A worldview recently the source of immense suffering and misery, and responsible for more deaths than fascism and Nazism, is mounting a comeback; a new form of left-wing totalitarianism that enjoys intellectual celebrity but aspires to political power.
The Slovenian cultural theorist Slavoj Zizek and the French philosopher and ex-Maoist Alain Badiou have become the leading proponents of this new school. Others associated with the project are the authors of the influential trilogy Empire, Multitude,&nbs p;Commonwe alth, the American Michael Hardt of Duke University and the Italian Marxist Toni Negri; the Italian philosopher Gianni Vattimo (who recently declared that he has positively "reevaluated" The Protocols of the Elders of Zion); Bologna University professor and ex-Maoist Alessandro Russo; and the professor of poetry at the European Graduate School (and another ex-Maoist) Judith Balso. Other leading voices include Alberto Toscano, translator of Alain Badiou, a sociology lecturer at Goldsmiths in London, and a member of the editorial board of Historical Materialism; the literary critic and essayist Terry Eagleton; and Bruno Bosteels from Cornell University. Most spoke at "The Idea of Communism," a three-day conference held in London in 2009 that, to the astonishment of the organizers, attracted nearly a thousand people willing to pay more than one hundred pounds each. After that event, a companion publishing industry, powered by Verso Books, has grown up to accompany the movement, making it respectable on campuses. Among new communism's most important English-language texts, all published in the last few years, are The Idea of Communism, edited by Costas Douzinas and Zizek, Badiou's The Communist Hypothesis, and Bosteels's The Actuality of Communism.
FP: Of course, in Greece this has also resurrected the right version of fascism. Looks like the West is bent on self-destruction.
And as Europe goes down, add Islamofascists to the equation:
Charles Hawley: Salafists and Right-Wing Populists Battle in Bonn
Germany's right-wing populists are fond of insulting Islam in order to attract attention. On Saturday, violence prone Salafists took the bait, resulting in a riot that left 29 police injured. Despite the clash, however, the anti-Islam party can continue to display their anti-Islam caricatures, a court has decided.
Senior Hamas Official: Palestinians Don’t Come from Palestine
Hamas Minister of Interior and National Security, Fathi Hammad recently said that Palestinians actually came from Egypt, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. In an interview he gave to Al-Hekma TV, an Egyptian network, he discussed the necessity of Arab-Muslim solidarity and the support the Gazans need from the Egyptians to continue with their Jihad efforts. He declared that: “Al-Aqsa and the land of Palestine represent the spearhead for Islam and for the Muslims. Therefore, when we seek the help of our Arab brothers, we are not seeking their help in order to eat, to live, to drink, to dress, or to live a life of luxury. No. When we seek their help, it is in order to continue to wage Jihad”.
In an attempt to gain Egyptian sympathy, he said that all Palestinians have Arab roots, blood ties in various countries on the Arabian Peninsula and Egypt. Hammad said that half of his family was Egyptian and over thirty large families are named Al-Matzri, from Egypt. Half of all Gazans came from Egypt; the other half came from Saudi Arabia and Yemen. He repeated and clarified: “Who are the Palestinians? We have many families named Al-Matzri, whose roots are Egyptian. Egyptians! They came from Alexandria, Cairo, Dumietta, the North, from Aswan and Upper Egypt. We are Egyptians. We are Arabs. We are Muslims. We are a part of you”.
These statements stand in stark contrast to the common perception that the Palestinian Arabs have lived within the borders of the State of Israel from “time immemorial”.
FP: This is old stuff, already admitted by the so-called Palestinian leaders before. What is new is that the West is so gullible and has become so hostile to Israel, that they are no longer concerned that stating this publicly will damage their cause. In fact, the Arab Naqba lie has become so entrenched as truth that evidence to the contrary is ignored and avoided.
Debbie Schlussel: Hey, Another “Peaceful Muslim” Underwear Bomb Plot: Would’ve Evaded TSA Security Theater
Hmmm . . . I thought President Obama said the War on Terror is over. Well, it is–but only on our side. The other side is the Energizer Bunny. And I thought President Bush said that terrorism isn’t Islamic so he wouldn’t use the two words together. Well, guess what? Another underwear bomb plot was discovered by the CIA and the plot wasn’t a Wiccan terrorist plot. Or a Zoroastrian one. Nope. It was yet another ISLAMIC terrorist plot. Who’d a thunk it? Oh, and it was a totally non-metallic underwear bomb that would have passed completely through TSA screening, groping, and molestation undetected. All that, while you continue to have to remove your shoes, throw out liquids, and see your 90-year-old granny treated like a sex object. Watch the video, below, and hold your nose as the visage of Chris Matthews inspires an anti-thrill up your leg.
Well, the ghost of Bin Laden is still having the last laugh because we’re still treated like the terrorists at airports across America. Meanwhile, terrorists sail through security.
Homeland Security Concedes Airport Body Scanner ‘Vulnerabilities’
Federal investigators "identified vulnerabilities in the screening process" at domestic airports using so-called "full body scanners," according to a classified internal Department of Homeland Security report.
DHS has spent nearly $90 million replacing traditional magnetometers with controversial X-ray body scanning machines that are intended to detect items that could be missed by a metal detector.
Exactly how bad the body scanners are is not being divulged publicly, but the Inspector General report made eight separate recommendations on how to improve screening.
The news comes as authorities are examining an underwear bomb, allegedly seized by the CIA in Yemen as it allegedly thwarted an Al-Qaida plot to destroy a U.S.-bound airplane, according to The Associated Press. Authorities are now looking to determine if the bomb could have passed through airport screeners without being detected.
FP: No comment necessary.
The Ph.D. Now Comes With Food Stamps
That's how she feels compelled to start a conversation about how she, a white woman with a Ph.D. in medieval history and an adjunct professor, came to rely on food stamps and Medicaid. Ms. Bruninga-Matteau, a 43-year-old single mother who teaches two humanities courses at Yavapai College, in Prescott, Ariz., says the stereotype of the people receiving such aid does not reflect reality. Recipients include growing numbers of people like her, the highly educated, whose advanced degrees have not insulated them from financial hardship.
Her take-home pay is $900 a month, of which $750 goes to rent. Each week, she spends $40 on gas to get her to the campus; she lives 43 miles away, where housing is cheaper.
Ms. Bruninga-Matteau does not blame Yavapai College for her situation but rather the "systematic defunding of higher education." In Arizona last year, Gov. Jan Brewer, a Republican, signed a budget that cut the state's allocation to Yavapai's operating budget from $4.3-million to $900,000, which represented a 7.6 percent reduction in the college's operating budget. The cut led to an 18,000-hour reduction in the use of part-time faculty like Ms. Bruninga-Matteau.
FP: There is a profound double problem here. I am fairly certain that the most common reaction to this would be “Who cares about the humanities, she should have studied some skill more in demand”. This is directly related to my argument that Western education has been replaced with vocational training.
It spells lost generations and decline.