Monday, March 31, 2014

Chris Christie Apologizes to Sheldon Adelson for ‘Occupied Territories’ Remark, but will it cost him the nomination?

Jewish Republicans Gasped at Las Vegas Speech
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie apologized to casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, a major GOP donor, for referring to the “occupied territories” in a speech to the Republican Jewish Coalition.
Christie met with Adelson privately on Saturday afternoon in Adelson’s Las Vegas office in the hotel which hosted the RJC meeting, Politico reported, citing an unnamed source.
During his speech on Saturday, Christie spoke of his family’s trip to Israel in 2012. “I took a helicopter ride from the occupied territories across and just felt personally how extraordinary that was to understand, the military risk that Israel faces every day,” he reportedly said.
Several news outlets reported that the crowd of Jewish Republicans at Christie’s speech noticeably gasped at Christie’s use of the loaded term.
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Where It Began ‘Genesis,’ by John B. Judis. The influence of America’s Israel lobby.

A gift for President Truman from David Ben-Gurion, the Israeli prime minister, right, and Abba Eban, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, May 1951.

“I received about 35,000 pieces of mail and propaganda from the Jews in this country,” Harry Truman told Senator Claude Pepper in 1947. “I put it all in a pile and struck a match to it.” The man destined to be canonized by American Jews as a champion of Israel felt exhausted and outmatched by the young but influential Zionist lobby.

Over the course of “Genesis,” John B. Judis recounts Truman’s predicament, trapped between his desire to find a fair and equitable outcome for Arabs and Jews in Palestine and the seeming impossibility of doing so. But Judis is interested in telling a larger story, one that lays a good deal of responsibility on the American Zionist lobby for Truman’s — and America’s — failure to construct a just and peaceful solution.

The influence of America’s Israel lobby has, of course, become a loaded topic in recent years. “Genesis” comes trailing John J. Mearsheimer and Stephen M. Walt’s “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy” and Peter Beinart’s “The Crisis of Zionism,” both of which ignited firestorms that have yet to die out.

Judis approaches his subject from the more distant precincts of history, but make no mistake, that history is served on the tip of a sharp spear. Though he may write of Harry Truman in 1947, it is Barack Obama and contemporary America at which he aims. “The underlying problem,” he says, “remains the same: whether an American president and the American people can forthrightly address the conflict of Jew and Arab in the Middle East, or whether they must bow to the demands of a powerful pro-Israel lobby.” These are clearly fighting words. Nonetheless, Judis, a senior editor at The New Republic, is a careful historian, looking at the origins of the conflict in Palestine, the rise of the American pro-Israel lobby and, finally, the fateful encounter between the lobby and Truman over the three years from his accession to the presidency to the creation of the new nation.

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SACRED AND PROFANE. How not to negotiate with believers. BY MALCOLM GLADWELL

At Waco, the F.B.I. treated a community’s religious claims as a mere distraction.
When Clive Doyle was a teen-ager, in the nineteen-fifties, he and his mother met an itinerant preacher outside their church, in Melbourne, Australia. He was a big, gruff Scotsman named Daniel Smith. The Doyles were devout Seventh-Day Adventists. But Smith was the follower of a self-proclaimed prophet named Victor Houteff, who became an Adventist just after the First World War and parted ways with the Church a decade later. The Doyles listened to Smith’s account of the Houteff teachings until the small hours of the morning and were impressed. “We were taught that if someone comes with a message based on the Bible, instead of trying to fight it, instead of trying to put it down or trying to prove it wrong, we should study the Bible to perceive whether the message is true,” Doyle writes in his autobiography. “Study to see if it’s so.”
The Houteff group held that those in the mainstream Seventh-Day Adventist Church had lost their sense of urgency regarding the Second Coming and would soon face the judgment of God. To the Doyles, however, this presented a problem: where did it leave Seventh-Day Adventists who hadn’t heard the Houteff message? The Doyles knew, for example, that no one had taken the Houteff teachings to Tasmania, off Australia’s south coast. So, in 1958, Doyle quit his job as an apprentice in a cabinet shop, and he and his mother took the overnight boat to Tasmania, where they spent a month trudging around the back roads of the island, going from one Seventh-Day Adventist church to the next. “My mother had borrowed the biggest suitcase she could find,” he writes. “We had packed it full of books because we thought: They’re going to want to know what we believe, so we’ll give Bible studies . . . and we’ll use the Bible to prove our points. I was just a teenager lugging this huge suitcase all over the island. It weighed a ton.”
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Germany: Pro-traditional values parents pelted with feces by gay activists


Parents in two of the few regions of Germany that still retains a sizable demographic of politically and socially conservative minded citizens have found themselves at the receiving end of physical assaults and destruction of private property, to include having feces thrown at them, at the hands of militant pro-homosexual activists, as reported by the traditional family values news portal Life Site News on March 28, 2014.

To further inflame the situation, local police reportedly ordered the estimated 1,000 strong peacefully protesting parents and children to disperse “in order ‘to avoid escalation.’”

Background …

Parents and children in the South and West regions of Baden-Württemberg and Cologne, Germany have organized a peaceful protest march and speakers rally to voice their opposition to the government’s introducing a the new sex-ed curriculum initiated by Baden-Württemberg’s ruling Green Party/Socialist Progressive Democrat (SDP) coalition.

Proponents of the new sexual education courses claim the new classes of instruction “will promote tolerance of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual and intersexual people.”

However, according to critics it will “go beyond the aim of preventing discrimination” and will advocate “the ideology of the rainbow” also known among opponents as the militant homosexual advocacy movement.

According to cited-sources, many parents and teachers were concerned of the early-age indoctrination of children to a governmentally mandated “early sexualization.”
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Conflict and 'boom-bust' explain humans' rapid evolution

Turkana boy
Did conflict in part drive innovations seen in the Turkana boy from Kenya?
What explains the extraordinarily fast rate of evolution in the human lineage over the past two million years?
A leading human origins researcher has come up with an idea that involves aggression between groups and the boom-bust cycles that have punctuated our spread into new environments.
Prof Ian Tattersall said there were few examples to rival the accelerated evolution that led to our species.
He was speaking at this year's Calpe conference in Gibraltar.
"However you slice it, evolution within this [human family] has been very rapid indeed," Prof Tattersall, from the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) in New York, told the conference.
"I think it's fair to say that our species Homo sapiens and its antecedents have come much farther, much faster than any other mammalian group that has been documented in this very tight time-frame."
This phenomenon of accelerated evolution is known as "tachytely".
Among our ancestors, brain size doubled between two million and one million years ago. Then it has almost doubled again between one million years and the present day.
Along with the increase in brain size came a reduction in the size of the teeth and face along with other changes in the skull.
The increase in brain size seems to have coincided with a modern physique characterised by a linear shape, long legs and relatively narrow hips. These features can already be seen in the skeleton of the "Turkana boy" from Kenya, who lived about two million years ago.
This contrasts sharply with the short legs and long arms of the Turkana boy's antecedent "Lucy" (Australopithecus afarensis), who lived in Ethiopia about one million years earlier.
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Sunday, March 30, 2014

TRUE GRIT by Mark Brahmin

True Grit

You know, if you’d have told me 20 years ago. I’d see children walking the streets of our Texas towns … with green hair, bones in their noses … I just flat-out wouldn’t have believed you.
—El Paso Sheriff, No Country for Old Men

The Coen Brothers greatest film is No Country for Old Men. In 2008, The Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences endorsed it as such. I would go as far as saying that No Country is one of the most important films of recent history. So rare is it that a work of popular art explores the most consequential issues of our time: the spiritual, moral, and demographic crisis facing Americans and Europeans around the world. Even its title loudly proclaims the central subtext of the film.

Two Jews, ostensibly of the purest priestly stock according to their namesakes, and a Celt, who named himself after an Irish King, have given this treasure to us, and it is impossible to believe that either party acted unwittingly in sounding these powerful and disturbing themes.


As is well known, the Coen brothers are virtuosos of directing performances, and satire is bred in their bones. Humanizing their protagonists is often contrary to their goals. And though the Coens’ satires run from the broad (O Brother, Where Art Thou) to the relatively more nuanced (Fargo, most often their characters are caricatures.

In fact, it’s hard not to discern a deep misanthropy in their depictions. Whereas a director like Scorsese is sympathetic towards his protagonists (no matter however reprehensible they might be), the Coen brothers seem largely to have contempt for the characters they bring to the screen (except for the humor they provide). At best, the Coen Brothers’ characters are “lovingly” patronized and demeaned.

There are some exceptions to this rule, of course, most notably Gabriel Bryne (Tom Reagan), the protagonist of Miller’s Crossing. But here, Reagan is a cipher and his performance relatively forgettable, as if the directors, irritated by an attractive personality not their own, insisted on blandness and a sort of silence.

More typically, their subjects are regionally accented philistines, quite lacking in the sentience of the urban centers of non-flyover states; at best, they are bestowed with a sort of corrupt slyness or, alternatively, an innocence owed to their utter vacuity. Even the ostensibly lovable and folksy Marge Gunderson of Fargo, played by Frances McDormand, is a glorified bumpkin; she’s “wise” only in the most politically correct, earth-motherly sense of that term.[1]

Indeed, if it were not for A Serious Man and Barton Fink—in which neurotic Jewish intellectuals are lambasted—one might be inclined to perceive a certain spirit of “anti-Gentilism” in the Coen Brothers’ work.[2]

Whatever the case, I’m sure we can relate to the Coens’ send-ups of our benighted brothers (even if we think it should be we who criticize them, constructively).
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Jewish emigres from former USSR hate Putin, support Maidan putsch

So the Russian side of the family has immigrant friends, one of whom cast her lot with the Jews and became all but a Jewess herself. So she is a good barometer for what the Jewish community is saying, and she fanatically hates Putin and supports the Euro-Maidan putsch. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet, but when I do I will congratulate her for supporting Europe’s first Nazi government since 1945 and ask her when she decided to accept the Fuhrer as her personal savior.
Interesting that Jews hate Putin. He’s hardly anti-Jewish, but the Jews are probably mad that he arrested Khodorkovsky and he’s not giving homosexuals access to children. So with the Jews, it’s all or nothing.
Yoav Shamir, an Israeli film maker, interviewed Jews in Moscow looking for anti-semitism.
There was an incident where a crazy man attacked people at a synagogue with a knife. The Jews said it had nothing to do with Jew hate, it was just a crazy guy. That was all they could find, and the Jews in Russia debunk the whole idea of anti-semitism. One says that it’s an excuse for someone who does poorly at work; another, a rabbi, says that whining about anti-semitism is the non-religious Jew’s way to practice Judaism.
But the emigres here in the USA seem to have drank the Koolaid of Cultural Marxism and want to eat Putin’s ears. Damned fools that they are, they don’t realize how good they have it, both in the USA and Russia. It can only get worse for them.

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Right exists to be bigots, debate on Australia racism Act hears

Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, backed a comment by attorney general George Brandis that people have “a right to be bigots”. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/ EPA
Australia’s prime minister, Tony Abbott, backed a comment by attorney general George Brandis that people have “a right to be bigots”. Photograph: Daniel Munoz/ EPA
In a debate on repealing part of Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act, attorney generalGeorge Brandis has told parliament that people have “a right to be bigots”.
The Liberal-National government has promised to remove section 18C of the Act, which makes it unlawful for someone to publicly “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or a group of people.
“People do have a right to be bigots you know,” Mr Brandis said, responding to a question from opposition Labor senator Nova Peris, who is Aboriginal.
“In a free country people do have rights to say things that other people find offensive or insulting or bigoted.”
In a joint statement, representatives of the Aboriginal, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Arab, Armenian and Korean communities vowed to campaign against amendments that would “license the public humiliation of people because of their race”.
The background to the current debate goes back to 2011, when News Corp newspaper columnist Andrew Bolt was found to have broken the law over two articles he wrote in 2009 about light-skinned people who identify as Aboriginal.
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The Origins of the Israel Lobby in the US. America's Role in the Creation of the State of Israel.

The immediate precursor to today’s pro-Israel lobby began in 1939 [i]under the leadership of Rabbi Abba Hillel Silver, originally from Lithuania. He created the American Zionist Emergency Council (AZEC), which by 1943 had acquired a budget of half a million dollars at a time when a nickel bought a loaf of bread.[ii]
In addition to this money, Zionists [adherents of “political Zionism,” a movement to create a Jewish state in Palestine] had become influential in creating a fundraising umbrella organization, the United Jewish Appeal, in 1939 [iii], giving them access to the organization’s gargantuan financial resources: $14 million in 1941, $150 million by 1948. This was four times more than Americans contributed to the Red Cross and was the equivalent of approximately $1.5 billion today.[iv]
With its extraordinary funding, AZEC embarked on a campaign to target every sector of American society, ordering that local committees be set up in every Jewish community in the nation [for decades the larger majority of Jewish Americans had been either non-Zionits or actively anti-Zionist]. In the words of AZEC organizer Sy Kenen, it launched “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of Congressmen, clergy, editors, professors, business and labor.”[v]
AZEC instructed activists to “make direct contact with your local Congressman or Senator“ and to go after union members, wives and parents of servicemen, and Jewish war veterans. AZEC provided activists with form letters to use and schedules of anti-Zionist lecture tours to oppose and disrupt.
A measure of its power came in 1945 when Silver disliked a British move that would be harmful to Zionists. AZEC booked Madison Square Garden, ordered advertisements, and mailed 250,000 announcements – the first day. By the second day they had organized demonstrations in 30 cities, a letter-writing campaign, and convinced 27 U.S. Senators to give speeches.[vi]
Grassroots Zionist action groups were organized with more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches. AZEC funded books, articles and academic studies; millions of pamphlets were distributed. There were massive petition and letter writing campaigns. AZEC targeted college presidents and deans, managing to get more than 150 to sign one petition.[vii]
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The Night Salieri Bested Mozart

The rivalry between Antonio Salieri and Wolfgang Mozart is well known, being the subject of Alexander Pushkin’s play, Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov’s opera, and most famously today, Milos Forman’s film adaptation of Peter Shaffer’s play, Amadeus. All these incarnations of the story portray the mediocre Italian composer consumed with jealousy, resenting the obvious genius of Mozart, and in the Pushkin and Rimsky-Korsakov versions, poisoning his rival—in the Shaffer version, tormenting unto death the “miracle that God let be born in Salzburg.”
One comes away from these fanciful interpretations with the impression that Mozart always outshone Salieri as they vied for popularity in the court of the Holy Roman Emperor, Joseph II.Amadeus, however, hints that this was not the case by depicting a scene in which Salieri premiers his opera AxurRe d’Ormus, winning the praise of their mutual patron. “It is the best opera yet written,” the emperor declares in the film. It is indeed true that Axur was a hit with Viennese, far surpassing in popularity Mozart’s Don Giovanni, which premiered in the city four months later.
There was one unique night, however—February 7, 1786—on which Mozart and Salieri truly went head-to-head. Emperor Joseph challenged both to write a short opera on a self-referential subject—the personality conflicts in the behind-the-scenes operations of a typical, contemporary opera company. The operas were to be premiered on the same night in the same place, the orangery of the magnificent Schönbrunn Palace, in back-to-back performances. There were stages erected in the front and back of the orangery, with the audience sitting on chairs in the center, so that the guests could watch the first performance on one stage, then turn their chairs around and enjoy the second opera on the other.
Emperor Joseph had designed the unique evening to impress the visiting Governor-General of the Netherlands. The local nobility was also invited. The German-speaking sovereign wished to show off his twin opera troupes, one Italian and the other German, and probably intended the night to be a nationalistic celebration of the singspiel, the “sung play” that was a uniquely German creation and a form in which Mozart had already achieved great success in the emperor’s court, with hisDie Entführung aus dem Serail (The Abduction from the Seraglio) of five years earlier. For this night in the orangery, Mozart composed a one-act singspielDer Schauspieldirektor (The Impresario), which told the story of two feuding prima donnas competing for the lead in an opera who are only placated when the impresario splits the role into two parts.
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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Maria Callas Opera Arias : La Traviata, Norma, Madama Butterfly, Lucia d...

Media Buries Bombshell Turkey False Flag Attack

Higher Culture, Better Politics. Great ideas give political movements the energy and seriousness they need to thrive.

Jerric Ramos / Shutterstock
When a movement neglects culture and philosophy, one can be sure it’s dying. High ideas, art, and literature seem remote from the concerns of political professionals and grassroots activists. But the movements that succeed—or that acquire power, at any rate—tend to be steeped in theory.
This is true on the left, both of the Bolsheviks who seized power in Russia a century ago and of the New Republic liberals who set the stage for the New Deal in the U.S., and it’s true on the right as well. A half-century ago, the conservative movement counted such thinkers as James Burnham, Russell Kirk, and Richard Weaver among its leading lights, even as the grassroots stormed the Republican Party and nominated Barry Goldwater for president.  The success today of the “liberty movement” inspired by Ron Paul and his senator son owes something to the great intellectual preparation carried out by generations of libertarian thinkers.
The ideas never translate easily into policy, however. Again and again ideological movements are frustrated once they find themselves in charge—pure theory never works, and principles must adjust to practice. Thus Lenin early on had to reintroduce micro-capitalism to Russia with his “New Economic Policy,” while the conservatives who campaigned for Goldwater saw only a few of their dreams come true under President Reagan. (The most important of which, of course, was the end of the Soviet regime—though much of Reagan’s success derived from diplomacy and good faith of a sort that Cold War conservatives frowned upon at the time.) 
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A NATION'S ATTEMPT TO SURVIVE ISN'T 'RACISM'. Diana West hails Swiss for tightening immigration, notes opposite trend in America.

It may surprise some Americans to learn that almost one-quarter of the people living in Switzerland are foreigners. Even so, just over 50 percent voted last month to cap immigration, which, unchecked, could leave indigenous Swiss a minority in 50 years. Newsweek’s headline over the story was typical: “Switzerland’s Sudden Fear of Immigrants.”
Fear. Immigrants. The German publication Spiegel Online wrote also about “scaremongering.” The enlightened reader’s thought-bubble is now supposed to register the word “racism.” But was it really “fear of immigrants” – read: “racism” – that drove sufficient numbers of Swiss to the polls to check their own demographic extinction as a recognizable culture and nation-state? Or was it a nearly anachronistic instinct to survive as a recognizable culture and nation-state?
I see it as the instinct to survive – and applaud the Swiss for deciding to limit the influx of Europeans, Slavs, Muslims, Africans and others, whose demographic waves are otherwise sure to transform indigenous Swiss culture into a global multiculture. I also envy them for mustering this basic vital sign, this narrow-edged popular will to control their own borders. It is something that has all but flat-lined in America, where capping immigration – let alone halting it to attempt some measure of assimilation and economic resuscitation – is not even a part of the political debate.
Why isn’t it? In the U.S., the foreign-born population is now estimated to be around 13 percent, and it’s rising every year. This poses truly existential problems, particularly since the concept of “melting” into American culture was junked long ago – along with “American” culture. Meanwhile, that overall percentage, a little more than one in 10, masks the greater density and impact of foreign-born populations in the states and cities where immigrants and illegal aliens congregate.
Take California, a state where waves of mainly Mexican arrivals (legal and illegal) have turned the population 38 percent Hispanic/Latino. In Los Angeles County, the figure jumps to 48 percent. The next largest ethnic group is non-Hispanic white: 27 percent – almost down to one in four. In 1960, not long before I was born in L.A., non-Hispanic whites were 82 percent of the county. What we are looking at is population replacement – and it has taken place well inside the span of one lifetime.
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Is Europe Cracking Up?

Christmas Sale
By Patrick J. Buchanan
A week ago, in the St. George’s Hall in the Kremlin, Russia’s elite cheered and wept as Vladimir Putin announced the re-annexation of Crimea. Seven in 10 Russians approve of Putin’s rule.
In Crimea, the Russian majority has not ceased celebrating. The re-conquest nears completion. In Eastern Ukraine, Russians have now begun to agitate for annexation by Moscow.
Ukrainian nationalism, manifest in the anti-Russia coup in Kiev, has produced its inevitable reaction among Russians.
While praising the Ukrainians who came out to Maidan to protest peacefully, Putin said that those behind the decisive events “resorted to terror, murder and riots. Nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites executed this coup.” The Kremlin erupted in cheers.
But not only in Ukraine is ethnic nationalism surging.
“National Front Vote Stuns Hollande” was the headline on the Financial Times’ story about France’s municipal elections Sunday.
Though the FN of Marine Le Pen, daughter of party founder Jean Marie Le Pen, did not field candidate in many cities, it won the mayoral race outright in Henin-Beaumont and ran first or second in a dozen medium-sized cities, qualifying for run-off elections on March 30.
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Israeli embassy pressured Amnesty to cancel launch of ‘apartheid’ book — Ben White

Author Ben White speaking at the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in New York City. (Image via
Ben White recently published a new edition of the book, Israeli Apartheid: A Beginner’s Guide. The title was launched in the UK last night. But the Israeli embassy tried to scuttle the event.
White writes in The National, “Israel fears the apartheid label as it reveals its gruesome tactics.”
I marked the publication of my book with a well-attended launch event last night at Amnesty International UK, chaired by David Hearst, former chief foreign leader writer for The Guardian.
In the weeks before the event, the Israeli embassy itself directly contacted Amnesty UK to ask them to cancel the launch, and also pressured Mr Hearst to withdraw his participation.
In targeting my book launch, Israeli diplomats in London resorted to crude smear tactics, the sort that are familiar fare for lobby groups, but rather more extraordinary coming from senior embassy officials. Thankfully, neither Amnesty UK nor Mr Hearst gave them the time of day, but the clumsy efforts by Israel’s official representatives to make certain topics “off limits” only drew attention to the issues my book is intended to address.
White also writes about the attempted cancellation at Middle East Monitor:
Israel’s diplomatic staff in London directly contacted the human rights organisation to demand the cancellation of the event. Amnesty UK naturally refused, pointing out that their building is a space where a diverse range of activists can meet, engage and debate issues relating to social justice and the promotion of human rights.
But it wasn’t just Amnesty who the Israeli Embassy pressured – they also contacted David Hearst, who has kindly agreed to chair the event. Hearst, now Editor of Middle East Eye, told me about the “dramatic” change in tone in the embassy’s communications with him:
“One minute [embassy official] Yiftah Curiel was professing that he would love to get some coffee or lunch with me to talk about the new website, and plying me with exclusive invitations to the Ambassador’s House for a discussion with the author Ari Shavit. The next he was shocked and horrified to learn that I had agreed to chair the launch of the second edition of your book.”
And when Hearst didn’t fold? “Pathetically, Curiel withdrew the invitation to the Ambassador’s house.”
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Male university students in North Korea are now required to get the same haircut as their leader Kim Jong-un, it is reported.

Kim Jong-un with soldiers
The state-sanctioned guideline was introduced in the capital Pyongyang about two weeks ago, Radio Free Asia reports. It is now being rolled out across the country - although some people have expressed reservations about getting the look.
"Our leader's haircut is very particular, if you will," one source tells Radio Free Asia. "It doesn't always go with everyone since everyone has different face and head shapes." Meanwhile, a North Korean now living in China says the look is actually unpopular at home because people think it resembles Chinese smugglers. "Until the mid-2000s, we called it the 'Chinese smuggler haircut'," the Korea Times reports.
It seems that haircuts have been state-approved in North Korea for some time - until now people were reportedly only allowed to choose from 18 styles for women and 10 for men. Earlier, North Korea's state TV launched a campaign against long hair, called "Let us trim our hair in accordance with the Socialist lifestyle".
However, there are conflicting reports over the haircut mandate, with the NK News website reporting that recent visitors to Pyongyang did not notice a change in hair styles.
Late leader Kim Jong-il, who ruled North Korea for 17 years, sported a bouffant hairstyle, reportedly in order to look taller.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story said, according to reports, the haircut guideline applied to men rather than university students.

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Friday, March 28, 2014

The Journalist and the Masquerader: Walter Kirn’s ‘Blood Will Out’

With its lurid title and bloodstained cover, Walter Kirn’s latest book is bound to be shelved in the crime section. But it’s actually about class. A novelist, journalist and memoirist, Kirn is his generation’s aspirational Midwesterner, a boy who goes East and sneaks into the magic circle of the American aristocracy. But no matter how close to the center he gets, he still feels like the little match girl, nose pressed against the window.

Continue reading the main story

Open Book: Reading Into a Murky PastMARCH 6, 2014

In “Lost in the Meritocracy: The Undereducation of an Overachiever,” Kirn wrote about his knack for acing tests and sucking up to teachers and rich people in his native Minnesota, and how he parlayed it into a fairly successful college career at Princeton — until he had a nervous breakdown. This new book, about the killer con man Christian Gerhartsreiter, a.k.a. Clark Rockefeller, is in many ways a sequel to Kirn’s college memoir. In this smart, real-life psychological thriller, the fake Rockefeller is a zombie Gatsby and Kirn the post-apocalyptic Fitzgerald, chronicling upper-crust America in free fall.

Christian Karl Gerhartsreiter, who spent years posing as a Rockefeller heir. Credit Walt Mancini/Pasadena Star-News, via Associated Press

“Blood Will Out” opens in 1998. Kirn, now in his mid-30s, has collected his marbles and has embarked on a serious writing career (albeit on Ritalin). He’s living in Montana, twitchily awaiting the birth of his first child with his young wife — since this is Kirn, not just any young mom but the daughter of the literary lion Thomas McGuane and the actress Margot Kidder. Kirn is a success, but he has never lost his merit scholar’s craving for affirmation. Naturally, that’s how the man who calls himself Clark Rockefeller reels him in.

Christian Gerhartsreiter arrived in America as a teenager, at a point when the country was veering away from hippie populism toward a renewed obsession with capital. Phony Beatlemania had bitten the dust. Now it was time to figure out how to get some money, how to make it grow and how to look as if you’d always had it. It was the 1980s, at the beginning of the Reagan era, and the nation was newly fascinated with the mystique of privilege. The culture bible for a certain kind of striver was Lisa Birnbach’s in-joke “The Official Preppy Handbook.”

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Freedom for Me, But Not for Thee BY ANDREW NAPOLITANO

Initially, I was gratified to learn that Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, was unafraid to take on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) over the issue of domestic spying.

The CIA is limited by its charter to stealing secrets from foreigners outside the U.S. However, in a recent dust-up, Feinstein took to the Senate floor to accuse the CIA of spying on staff members of her committee while they were examining CIA documents in Virginia. This may be the first acknowledgment by any senior government official who walks the halls of the intelligence community that the CIA engages in domestic spying.

For five years, the Senate Intelligence Committee has been examining classified CIA materials involving CIA use of torture during the Bush administration. It is doing so because a now retired CIA official admitted destroying evidence of torture. We may never know what torture the CIA was authorized to engage in, but we can conclude that along with its counterpart in the House, the Senate Intelligence Committee has either looked the other way or expressly approved CIA behavior that well transcends its charter. This unlawful behavior includes not only torture, but also killing Americans via the use of drones, and small-scale unpublicized warfare.

So, you can imagine the glee this defender of personal freedom and the rule of law initially felt when I learned that the CIA’s erstwhile champion had had what appeared to be a change of heart. Feinstein surely is the most effective defender of the intelligence community on Capitol Hill. Until last week, she publicly supported and shielded but never criticized the massive spying on Americans by the National Security Agency (NSA), the CIA’s cousin. She must have supported the CIA’s torture, killings and warfare — but something about the torture caused her to induce her committee to engage in a full-scale investigation of the Bush-era torture her committee must have approved.

I say “must have” because, in this weird post-9/11 world, Congress does not review the CIA’s behavior or expand its powers; these two congressional committees do. Because Congress chartered the CIA, and because the CIA charter does not contemplate behavior beyond stealing foreign secrets, and because only Congress can change federal laws, any expansion of the CIA’s duties not authorized by Congress is unconstitutional — and yet aside from the point I address here.

The point I address here is that Feinstein’s outrage was directed at CIA domestic spying for the wrong reasons. She not only expressed no outrage over NSA spying, including upon her 37 million California constituents, but she approved it. The CIA behavior that she condemns is the unapproved or unreported torture and the domestic spying on a dozen persons in another branch of government. The NSA behavior that she approves is spying on all Americans all the time. All of this behavior goes to the heart of personal liberty in a free society.

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Pew: White majority over, next generation more than 50% non-white

For the first time in American history, non-whites will make up half or more of the next generation, likely pushing Washington toward a bigger government — and the GOP better tone down their anti-government rhetoric if they want to win them, according to a top polling outfit.
At a briefing for congressional aides hosted by the moderate Republican Ripon Society, Pew Research Vice President Michael Dimock said that the trend among younger Americans is support for government programs and acceptance of Democratic Party policies.
“Their tendency is more liberal, their tendency is bigger government,” he said of so-called “millennials” born between 1979 and 1995. They will likely set the trend for the still-unnamed next generation.
“This is a generation that is 41 percent non-white; the generation behind it is likely to be close to 50 if not more than 50 percent non-white, and the anti-government kind of tone is one that really doesn’t resonate with that non-white sector in particular,” said Dimock at the Ripon retreat.

Ripon provided Secrets with a video of his recent presentation. In it, he said that younger voters are both pro-government and pro-business, split over gun control, back abortion and believe welfare does more good than harm. What's more, they are not angry voters and are still politically diverse.His advice to the GOP: “Try to take as much of the anti-government rhetoric out.”
“I think he confirmed what a lot of Republicans already know, that the party has a lot of work to do with younger Americans, who view the GOP as politically rigid and ideologically out of step. If there’s a bright spot, it’s that millennials are increasingly untethered to either party, which means there’s a chance for Republicans to win them back,” said Ripon’s Lou Zickar.
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Is the US counting too much on the shale boom to fix the economy? byJames Pethokoukis

Image Credit: Shutterstock
Calling the shale gas and oil boom an “energy revolution” is no overstatement. Between 2005 and 2013, US production of natural gas increased by 33% and liquid fuel 52% thanks to advanced drilling technology. But I get the impression that some people — particularly on the right — see fracking as a sort of magic bullet for America’s economic stagnation. Well, that and the repeal of Obamacare.
But I urge caution in equating an America energy revolution with an American economic revolution. It’s a big economy, after all. And it’s tough for any one thing to make a dramatic, overwhelming impact. For instance: the McKinsey Global Institute has projected that so-called unconventional energy production could support 1.7 million jobs by 2020. IHS Global Insight takes its forecast out to 2035 and sees a gain of 2.4 million jobs. Those are big numbers, of course, but they seem less impressive when you consider that total US employment by then might be 160-170 million jobs.
Similarly, people may be overestimating the direct impact of oil and gas product on the US economy in recent years. Goldman Sachs estimates that the sector added roughly one-tenth of a percentage point per year to growth over the past decade. The bank also estimate that “core oil and gas employment and employment directly supported by oil and gas” accounts for less than 1% of total US employment and just 3% of the jobs added since the Great Recession.
The spillover effects from the shale boom, at least so far, also seem to fewer than generally believed. Goldman:
There is little evidence of significant “induced” employment growth in downstream manufacturing industries. Similarly, cap-ex in energy-intensive sectors that might be expected to benefit most from the shale boom has not outperformed cap-ex in other sectors during the recovery, although it did decline by less during the recession. Researchers who expect a large macroeconomic impact from shale often cite the cost advantage it will give to businesses in the US over those in other regions. Access to cheap energy might therefore influence the plant location decisions of both US and foreign businesses. … [Now] there has been a spike in FDI inflows into energy-related sectors in the last few years. … [But] the magnitudes involved are modest. FDI represents only a tenth to a quarter of total investment in these industries in the US. While the spike in energy-intensive FDI is impressive, at its peak it represented about $50 billion in extra investment per year, less than 3% of US investment spending.
Goldman’s bottom line:
Whether shale becomes a true “game changer” for the US in the long-run depends on a number of highly uncertain factors, including technological innovation and the level of investment in downstream industries. In the shorter-term, however, we see only a modest boost to aggregate macro outcomes rather than a revolution.
Now that report is from late last year. But I suddenly thought of it when reading a new report— whose numbers I use above — on the shale revolution over at VoxEU. From the summary:
Our analysis suggests that commentators and policymakers need to better distinguish between the ways in which the US shale gas boom constitutes a ‘revolution’ and the ways in which it does not. The US unconventional energy boom has reversed the decline of domestic production, significantly lowered oil and gas imports, reduced gas costs for consumers, and created a political space for tougher regulations on coal-fired power plants.
But it is not a panacea. Even if current estimates of production turn out to be accurate, the benefits to the US economy in the long run are relatively small, and the benefits to manufacturing competitiveness in most sectors are even smaller.
Supporting the shale boom is an important element of pro-growth public policy. But this welcome windfall shouldn’t preclude creative thinking about other ways to fix the sputtering American growth machine.
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Half a Loaf by Steve Sailer

William Goldman’s fantasy tale The Princess Bride made famous the saying “never get involved in a land war in Asia” (it was purportedly advice General Douglas MacArthur gave to President John F. Kennedy regarding Vietnam). But historically the costs of a land war in Europe have been even more horrifying, which is why it’s important to comprehend the various psychological processes that have been driving us toward World War G.
One force is the general tendency of triumphalist powers to press onward until they’ve backed their rivals into a corner. It’s hard for winners to declare victory and go home. It’s more fun to keep the game going, even if the conceivable gains are rapidly diminishing.
In domestic politics, for instance, the National Rifle Administration followed up its heroic 1990s triumphs defending basic Second Amendment rights with a series of extravagant legislative initiatives in part intended to provoke a liberal backlash to keep the NRA relevant.
Similarly, the gay-rights movement, fearing the boredom of victory, has extended its demands for domestic privilege to ever-tinier minorities such as individuals who demand public approval for having their genitals mutilated (World War T). Internationally, homosexual activists such as Masha Gessen, the US government’s former head of propaganda in Russia, and Jamie Kirchick have gone looking to pick a fight with Russia (World War G).
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

What happened to the WASPs?

A recent NY Times article about Kevin McCrary, the son of Tex McCrary and Jinx Falkenburgh, drove home what's happened to WASPS in this country. McCrary, born into social aristocracy, is now a hoarder, and, like all hoarders, completely unable to control his compulsion to accumulate bric a brac. (The article was mostly about how he has turned his apartment into a fire hazard, and is about to be evicted.)

That, in microcosm, is what's happened to the Anglos in this country: they've disappeared into a million little corners, surrounded by outdated knickknacks, bereft of power and, in some cases, their sanity.

Where did they all go?

They've become homosexuals, and disappeared into the homosexual ghetto. Or they immerse themselves in a sport, and that sport becomes their passion and life's calling. If you're not into that sport yourself, those types are basically invisible. They become hippies (or their modern day variants, New Agers.)

They go into blue collar professions -- policemen, firemen, ironworkers -- the backbone of this country. But as such, they become background noise to the chattering classes. Or they join the military -- the real backbone -- and become nothing but a collective symbol, the individuals rarely seen by anybody other than people in their branch of the service.

Or they become schizophrenic, or anorexic, or bulimic, or autistic, or bipolar. Or, they just let their neuroses get the better of them.

The WASPs have simply scattered off in a million different directions, having completely forgotten that they're part of a greater whole -- Europeans. As a race, they are dysfunctional.

Anglos help their children, and their close personal friends. But beyond that, they pretty much subscribe to an every-man-for-himself ethos. A nice Jewish lady once told me, when I was at a Club Med, "You probably think of yourself as a man first, then maybe after that as your occupation, then after that as your ethnicity. What you don't understand is that Jews think of themselves as Jews first, second, and third."

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Oops: The Texas Miracle That Isn’t. Conservatives say the Lone Star state’s recent record of growth validates their economic agenda. That record crumbles upon inspection.

Is Texas our future? The question got kicked around during the last presidential campaign when Texas Governor Rick Perry was briefly riding high. Everywhere Perry went he appealed to Republican primary voters by describing what he called the “Texas Miracle.” As Perry told conservative talk show host Glenn Beck, “Since June 2009, about 48 percent of all the jobs created in America were in Texas. Come add to it.” In his stump speech Perry would click off what he said were the four major reasons his state had come to lead the nation in job creation—without ever forgetting a one of them. They were, he said, low taxes, low regulation, tort reform, and “don’t spend all the money.”
Perry’s prospects in that political season quickly faded, of course, after that moment—instantly viral—when he froze during a debate while trying to remember which three federal cabinet agencies he had vowed to eliminate. Neither his cringe-inducing exclamation of “oops” nor his subsequent explanations that he had experienced a “brain fart” while distracted by Mitt Romney’s smile were enough to save his candidacy.
But the debate over whether Texas has anything important to teach the rest of America has continued to build. One reason is that even though Perry didn’t get to replace Barack Obama in the White House, he has continued to boast about his Texas Miracle, including in radio ads that have caused an uproar everywhere they’ve aired across the country. “Building a business is tough, but I hear building a business in California is next to impossible,” Perry intones in one, before pitching California businesses to move to Texas. In another, he announces, “I have a word of advice for employers frustrated by Illinois’s shortsighted approach to business. You need to get out while there is still time. The escape route leads straight to Texas.”
When Perry launched a similar radio campaign attacking New York for excessive regulation and inviting its businesses to “Go Big in Texas,” he inspired the comedian Lewis Black to strike back with a “Don’t F*** with NY” video that aired on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. “You say we got too much regulation,” Black countercharged. “We’ve got Wall Street. They break the law for a living and never get punished.”
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College Diversity: Poor Whites Need Not Apply

We hear a lot about ‘diversity’ these days—especially with regard to colleges. The Center for American Progress, so influential in the Obama presidency that Time wrote after the 2008 election that “President-elect Obama has effectively contracted out the management of his own government’s formation” to its founder, has a post titled “10 Reasons We Need Diversity On College Campuses”, and the influential US News and World Report ranks colleges on diversity, implying, as always, that more is better. The Harvard Gazette trumpets the “gains from diversity”, Yale holds annual conferences on diversity, and just about every college has at least one diversity office—and sometimes more.
But what sort of diversity is this? What do they mean by it?
Thomas Espenshade, a Princeton sociologist, and Alexandria Radford decided to investigate this: they gathered data from the National Study of College Experience, a survey of over 245,000 applicants to eight highly competitive colleges.
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