Thursday, July 29, 2010

Southern Jews and the Confederacy by Lewis Regenstein in the Jewish Press

Virginia Governor Robert F. McDonnell's recent proclamation of Confederate History Month provoked a firestorm of criticism, with many accusing him and those who commemorate their Southern ancestors' bravery of ignoring or even defending slavery.

But the cruel and evil institution of slavery was not the sole or even primary reason for the South's secession from the Union, nor was it a significant motivating factor for individual Confederate soldiers.

Yet many of us in the South, including those descended from old Jewish families of the Confederacy, still struggle to expose the truth about why Southern soldiers fought, the courage they showed against overwhelming odds, and the sacrifices they made.

The history of the Confederacy is full of long-forgotten tales of Jewish heroes, warriors, and leaders. This is a story little known today, absent from history books and an embarrassment to liberal Jewish historians ashamed of the prominent role played by Jews in supporting, defending and fighting for the Confederacy. It is a government about which they know little except for its association with slavery.

They find the truth about the war incompatible with their idolization of Abraham Lincoln and his administration - an administration in which anti-Jewish sentiment was rampant, at one point even becoming official government policy and resulting in the worst official act of anti-Semitism in the nation's history.

I know firsthand the ignorance one encounters on this subject because a few years ago I wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution a mild mannered op-ed article discussing why so many good and decent Georgians take pride in their Confederate ancestors.

I explained that we revere our ancestors because, against overwhelming odds, they fought on, often hungry, cold, sick and wounded, to protect their homes and families - not the institution of slavery - from an often cruel invader. Put simply, the heavily outnumbered and undersupplied Confederate soldiers felt they were fighting because an invading army from the North was trying, with great success, to burn their homes, destroy their cities, and kill them.

In response, the newspaper published two letters to the editor. One said my statements "were reminiscent of neo-Nazi apologists denying the Holocaust." The other accused me of defending slavery and "a treasonous movement" called the Confederacy.

My then-84-year-old mother asked me to "please wait until I die before you write any more articles."

Slavery was an important political issue before and during the Civil War, especially to the large plantation holders in the South and the abolitionists in the North. But while the war is often portrayed as primarily a fight over slavery, much more important were the issues of preservation of the Union for the North and the over-taxation of the South in the form of exorbitant tariffs.

In the case of Virginia, to cite one example, it is quite clear that the state did not secede over slavery; it stayed in the Union after seven Southern states seceded and formed the Confederacy. It was only after President Lincoln called for 75,000 troops from state militias to attack the South that Virginia, refusing to wage war on its "kinfolk," left the Union.

* * * * *

Let me briefly recount why I take pride in my Confederate ancestors and the brave men who fought with them. One hundred and forty-five years ago, on April 9, 1865, Robert E. Lee surrendered his Army of Northern Virginia to Union Commander Ulysses S. Grant, marking the effective end of the South's struggle for independence.

It was a fateful day for the South, and in particular for my great-grandfather and his four elder brothers, all of whom were fighting for the Confederacy.

While Lee was surrendering at Appomattox, my then-16-year-old great-grandfather, Andrew Jackson Moses, rode out on horseback to defend his hometown of Sumter, South Carolina, along with some 157 other teenagers, invalids, old men, and the wounded from the local hospital. Approaching were 2,500 hardened soldiers from Sherman's army who had just burned nearby Columbia, and it was feared they were headed to Sumter to do the same. Sumter's defenders, outnumbered 15-to-1, managed to hold off Sherman's battle-seasoned veterans for over an hour before being overwhelmed by the vastly superior force.

That same afternoon, the eldest Moses brother, Joshua Lazarus Moses, was killed a few hours after Lee had surrendered (the news having not yet reached the front). Josh was commanding an artillery battalion that fired the last shots in defense of Mobile before being overrun by a Union force outnumbering his 13 to 1. In this battle of Fort Blakeley, one of his brothers, Horace, was captured, and another, Perry, was wounded.

Josh Moses was one of more than 3,000 Jews who fought for the South and the last Confederate Jew to fall in battle.

* * * * *

More than two-dozen members of the extended Moses family fought in the war, and at least nine gave their lives for what Southerners came to refer to as the Lost Cause.  The best known of the Moses family Confederates was Major Raphael Moses, a fifth-generation South Carolinian who in 1849 moved to Columbus, Georgia, where he was a lawyer and planter. Moses, whose three sons also fought for the South, ended up attending the last meeting and carrying out the last order of the Confederate government - delivering the last of the Confederate treasury, $40,000 in gold and silver bullion, to help feed and supply defeated Confederate soldiers in the Augusta hospital or straggling home after the war.

Major Moses named one of his sons Albert Luria because he wanted to preserve the family name of an ancestor who reputedly was the court physician to Spain's Queen Isabella. Luria was called to duty in Columbus, five miles from home, on Saturday, April 20, 1861. After marching from the armory to the depot, Albert writes, "we were met by an immense concourse of citizens - assembled to bid us 'God Speed.' "

Among the crowd were several members of his family whom Albert was surprised to see. Being observant Jews, they would not ride or work their horses on the Sabbath, and so they had walked several miles into town to say farewell.

Luria, Josh Moses's first cousin, was the first Confederate Jew to be killed, mortally wounded at age 19 during the Battle of Seven Pines (Fair Oaks) in Virginia on May 31, 1862. He died after courageously throwing a live Union artillery shell out of his fortification before it exploded, thereby saving the lives of many of his men.

Luria's brother Israel Moses Nunez, a veteran of many battles, was named after his ancestor Dr. Samuel Nunez (sometimes written Nunes), who arrived in Savannah, Georgia, in July 1733, in a boat from England with 42 Portuguese Jews fleeing persecution. Dr. Nunez is credited with saving the newly established mosquito-infested colony from being wiped out by what was thought to be yellow fever but which was probably malaria.

Another leading Jewish figure of the war was the Moses brothers' mother - my great-great-grandmother - Octavia, a legend within the family and in Sumter.

She was from one of the country's most prominent Jewish families, her father being the well-known Jewish author and playwright Isaac Harby, one of the leading Jewish figures in 19th century America. There was a tradition among members of the family that their name came from a courageous Jewish soldier who fought in defense of Jerusalem against the Romans and who took the name of Hereb (sword), or more likely Ish Hereb (swordsman).

Isaac Harby was proud of the role played in the American Revolution by his father-in-law, Samuel Mordecai, "a brave grenadier in the regular American Army, who fought and bled for the liberty he lived to enjoy and to hand down to his children."

Harby was a leading member of the Kahal Kadosh Beth Elo[k]im synagogue, first organized in Charleston in 1749 and thought to be the oldest synagogue in continuous use in the United States. A Jewish Tourist's Guide to the U.S. notes that "So many Charleston Jews enlisted in the service of the Confederacy that from 1862 to 1866, Beth Elo[k]im found it impossible to obtain a quorum of trustees and could hold no regular meetings."

Octavia Harby and her husband, Andrew Jackson Moses, had 17 children (three died in infancy), the five eldest males of whom fought for the South. Octavia was very active on the home front in support of the Confederacy. As she put it,

When the War broke out like every other Southern woman, I immediately began work for the soldiers: I organized a sewing society, to cut and make garments for them. I made it a point to try and meet every train that brought soldiers through our town, and, with others, frequently walked from my home, sometimes at two o'clock in the morning, to take food to our men as they passed through. We always greeted them with the wildest enthusiasm, and no thought of defeat ever entered our minds . Whenever the boys were fortunate enough to get home on short furloughs, they were the guests of the town - everybody feted them and nothing was too much to do in their honor.
When hospitals were established in Sumter, Octavia writes, "Our ladies, of course, took immediate charge, and the soldiers were fed and nursed with all the means of our command, and all the tenderness of Southern women."

She also showed compassion for the Union troops who had been taken prisoner: "When I heard that the Northern prisoners would be brought through our town and that they were nearly in a starving condition, I immediately exerted myself to obtain a large quantity of provisions to give to them."

Throughout the South, Jews assumed prominent roles in the Confederate government and armed forces; as Robert Rosen puts it in his authoritative book The Jewish Confederates, they "were used to being treated as equals" (an acceptance they had enjoyed for a century and a half).

The Confederacy's secretary of war and later state was Judah P. Benjamin - the so-called brains of the Confederacy - and the top Confederate commander, General Robert E. Lee, was known for showing great respect to his Jewish soldiers.

Charleston in the early 1800s had more Jews than any other city in North America, and many were respected citizens, office holders, and successful entrepreneurs. The city was commonly referred to as "our Jerusalem," and Myer Moses, my maternal family patriarch, in 1806 called his hometown " this land of milk and honey."

Many Jewish Confederates carried with them to the front the famous soldiers' prayer (which began with the sacred Shema) written by Richmond Rabbi Max Michelbacher, who after secession had issued a widely published benediction comparing Southerners to "the Children of Israel crossing the Red Sea."

* * * * *

In contrast to the South, the North was a hotbed of anti-Jewish bigotry. Much of the political and military leadership of the Union government was composed of men - including such leading figures as generals Ulysses S. Grant, William Tecumseh Sherman and Benjamin ("Beast") Butler - who disliked Jews, openly expressed their feelings, and persecuted Jews when they had the occasion to do so.
The prevailing anti-Jewish attitude resulted in the Union army's committing the worst official act of anti-Semitism in American history - about which I wrote in greater detail for The Jewish Press in "Shame of the Yankees - America's Worst Anti-Jewish Action" (front-page essay, Nov. 17, 2006).

On December 17, 1862, Grant issued his soon-to-be infamous "General Order #11," expelling all Jews "as a class" from his conquered territories within 24 hours.

As a result of Grant's expulsion order, Jewish families were forced out of their homes in Paducah, Kentucky and Holly Springs and Oxford, Mississippi, and several were sent to prison.

On January 4, 1863, President Lincoln had Grant's order rescinded, but by then Jewish families in the area had been expelled, humiliated, terrified, jailed, and in some cases stripped of their possessions.

Bertram W. Korn, in his classic work American Jewry and the Civil War, describes the hardships and persecution suffered by Jewish families subject to the expulsion order:

They still tell stories of the expulsion in Paducah of the hurried departure by riverboat up the Ohio to Cincinnati; of a baby almost left behind in the haste and confusion and tossed bodily into the boat; of two dying women permitted to remain behind in neighbors' care. Thirty men and their families were expelled from Paducah, and according to affidavits by some of "the most respectable Union citizens of the city," the deportees "had at no time been engaged in trade within the active lines of General Grant " Two had already served brief enlistments in the Union army.

There are numerous other documented examples of widespread anti-Semitism in the North (recounted in my aforementioned "Shame of the Yankees" article, which can be accessed on The Jewish Press website). But you will find nary a mention of this persecution in history books, only adulatory praise for the Union and Lincoln.

The Union army that killed my family members was hardly the forerunner of the Civil Rights movement. Indeed, the treatment of Jews by Union forces pales in comparison to other atrocities they regularly committed against civilians, including the destruction of agricultural areas and other non-military targets; the routine burning and looting of cities, homes, libraries and courthouses; and, worst of all, the mass murder of Native Americans in the so-called Indian Wars.

This was the Union Army that descended upon the South and that my ancestors fought heroically in defense of their lives, their families, and their nation. It was a Lost Cause but an honorable one, and it should not be forgotten.

Lewis Regenstein is a writer living in Atlanta.

Copyright 2008

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A Wish List for WikiLeaks

A Wish List for WikiLeaks

BP and the Release of the Lockerbie Bomber

WikiLeaks and the Afghan War

On Sunday, The New York Times and two other newspapers published summaries and excerpts of tens of thousands of documents leaked to a website known as WikiLeaks. The documents comprise a vast array of material concerning the war in Afghanistan. They range from tactical reports from small unit operations to broader strategic analyses of politico-military relations between the United States and Pakistan. It appears to be an extraordinary collection.

Tactical intelligence on firefights is intermingled with reports on confrontations between senior U.S. and Pakistani officials in which lists of Pakistani operatives in Afghanistan are handed over to the Pakistanis. Reports on the use of surface-to-air missiles by militants in Afghanistan are intermingled with reports on the activities of former Pakistani intelligence chief Lt. Gen. Hamid Gul, who reportedly continues to liaise with the Afghan Taliban in an informal capacity.

The WikiLeaks

At first glance, it is difficult to imagine a single database in which such a diverse range of intelligence was stored, or the existence of a single individual cleared to see such diverse intelligence stored across multiple databases and able to collect, collate and transmit the intelligence without detection. Intriguingly, all of what has been released so far has been not-so-sensitive material rated secret or below. The Times reports that Gul’s name appears all over the documents, yet very few documents have been released in the current batch, and it is very hard to imagine intelligence on Gul and his organization, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) directorate, being classified as only secret. So, this was either low-grade material hyped by the media, or there is material reviewed by the selected newspapers but not yet made public. Still, what was released and what the Times discussed is consistent with what most thought was happening in Afghanistan.

The obvious comparison is to the Pentagon Papers, commissioned by the Defense Department to gather lessons from the Vietnam War and leaked by Daniel Ellsberg to the Times during the Nixon administration. Many people worked on the Pentagon Papers, each of whom was focused on part of it and few of whom would have had access to all of it.

Ellsberg did not give the Times the supporting documentation; he gave it the finished product. By contrast, in the WikiLeaks case, someone managed to access a lot of information that would seem to have been contained in many different places. If this was an unauthorized leak, then it had to have involved a massive failure in security. Certainly, the culprit should be known by now and his arrest should have been announced. And certainly, the gathering of such diverse material in one place accessible to one or even a few people who could move it without detection is odd.

Like the Pentagon Papers, the WikiLeaks (as I will call them) elicited a great deal of feigned surprise, not real surprise. Apart from the charge that the Johnson administration contrived the Gulf of Tonkin incident, much of what the Pentagon Papers contained was generally known. Most striking about the Pentagon Papers was not how much surprising material they contained, but how little. Certainly, they contradicted the official line on the war, but there were few, including supporters of the war, who were buying the official line anyway.

In the case of the WikiLeaks, what is revealed also is not far from what most people believed, although they provide enormous detail. Nor is it that far from what government and military officials are saying about the war. No one is saying the war is going well, though some say that given time it might go better.

The view of the Taliban as a capable fighting force is, of course, widespread. If they weren’t a capable fighting force, then the United States would not be having so much trouble defeating them. The WikiLeaks seem to contain two strategically significant claims, however. The first is that the Taliban are a more sophisticated fighting force than has been generally believed. An example is the claim that Taliban fighters have used man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) against U.S. aircraft. This claim matters in a number of ways. First, it indicates that the Taliban are using technologies similar to those used against the Soviets. Second, it raises the question of where the Taliban are getting them — they certainly don’t manufacture MANPADS themselves.

If they have obtained advanced technologies, this would have significance on the battlefield. For example, if reasonably modern MANPADS were to be deployed in numbers, the use of American airpower would either need to be further constrained or higher attrition rates accepted. Thus far, only first- and second-generation MANPADS without Infrared Counter-Countermeasures (which are more dangerous) appear to have been encountered, and not with decisive or prohibitive effectiveness. But in any event, this doesn’t change the fundamental character of the war.

Supply Lines and Sanctuaries

What it does raise is the question of supply lines and sanctuaries. The most important charge contained in the leaks is about Pakistan. The WikiLeaks contain documents that charge that the Pakistanis are providing both supplies and sanctuary to Taliban fighters while objecting to American forces entering Pakistan to clean out the sanctuaries and are unwilling or unable to carry out that operation by themselves (as they have continued to do in North Waziristan).

Just as important, the documents charge that the ISI has continued to maintain liaison and support for the Taliban in spite of claims by the Pakistani government that pro-Taliban officers had been cleaned out of the ISI years ago. The document charges that Gul, the director-general of the ISI from 1987 to 1989, still operates in Pakistan, informally serving the ISI and helping give the ISI plausible deniability.

Though startling, the charge that Islamabad is protecting and sustaining forces fighting and killing Americans is not a new one. When the United States halted operations in Afghanistan after the defeat of the Soviets in 1989, U.S. policy was to turn over operations in Afghanistan to Pakistan. U.S. strategy was to use Islamist militants to fight the Soviets and to use Pakistani liaisons through the ISI to supply and coordinate with them. When the Soviets and Americans left Afghanistan, the ISI struggled to install a government composed of its allies until the Taliban took over Kabul in 1996. The ISI’s relationship with the Taliban — which in many ways are the heirs to the anti-Soviet mujahideen — is widely known. In my book, “America’s Secret War,” I discussed both this issue and the role of Gul. These documents claim that this relationship remains intact. Apart from Pakistani denials, U.S. officials and military officers frequently made this charge off the record, and on the record occasionally. The leaks on this score are interesting, but they will shock only those who didn’t pay attention or who want to be shocked.

Let’s step back and consider the conflict dispassionately. The United States forced the Taliban from power. It never defeated the Taliban nor did it make a serious effort to do so, as that would require massive resources the United States doesn’t have. Afghanistan is a secondary issue for the United States, especially since al Qaeda has established bases in a number of other countries, particularly Pakistan, making the occupation of Afghanistan irrelevant to fighting al Qaeda.

For Pakistan, however, Afghanistan is an area of fundamental strategic interest. The region’s main ethnic group, the Pashtun, stretch across the Afghan-Pakistani border. Moreover, were a hostile force present in Afghanistan, as one was during the Soviet occupation, Pakistan would face threats in the west as well as the challenge posed by India in the east. For Pakistan, an Afghanistan under Pakistani influence or at least a benign Afghanistan is a matter of overriding strategic importance.

It is therefore irrational to expect the Pakistanis to halt collaboration with the force that they expect to be a major part of the government of Afghanistan when the United States leaves. The Pakistanis never expected the United States to maintain a presence in Afghanistan permanently. They understood that Afghanistan was a means toward an end, and not an end in itself. They understood this under George W. Bush. They understand it even more clearly under Barack Obama, who made withdrawal a policy goal.

Given that they don’t expect the Taliban to be defeated, and given that they are not interested in chaos in Afghanistan, it follows that they will maintain close relations with and support for the Taliban. Given that the United States is powerful and is Pakistan’s only lever against India, the Pakistanis will not make this their public policy, however. The United States has thus created a situation in which the only rational policy for Pakistan is two-tiered, consisting of overt opposition to the Taliban and covert support for the Taliban.

This is duplicitous only if you close your eyes to the Pakistani reality, which the Americans never did. There was ample evidence, as the WikiLeaks show, of covert ISI ties to the Taliban. The Americans knew they couldn’t break those ties. They settled for what support Pakistan could give them while constantly pressing them harder and harder until genuine fears in Washington emerged that Pakistan could destabilize altogether. Since a stable Pakistan is more important to the United States than a victory in Afghanistan — which it wasn’t going to get anyway — the United States released pressure and increased aid. If Pakistan collapsed, then India would be the sole regional power, not something the United States wants.

The WikiLeaks seem to show that like sausage-making, one should never look too closely at how wars are fought, particularly coalition warfare. Even the strongest alliances, such as that between the United States and the United Kingdom in World War II, are fraught with deceit and dissension. London was fighting to save its empire, an end Washington was hostile to; much intrigue ensued. The U.S.-Pakistani alliance is not nearly as trusting. The United States is fighting to deny al Qaeda a base in Afghanistan while Pakistan is fighting to secure its western frontier and its internal stability. These are very different ends that have very different levels of urgency.

The WikiLeaks portray a war in which the United States has a vastly insufficient force on the ground that is fighting a capable and dedicated enemy who isn’t going anywhere. The Taliban know that they win just by not being defeated, and they know that they won’t be defeated. The Americans are leaving, meaning the Taliban need only wait and prepare.

The Pakistanis also know that the Americans are leaving and that the Taliban or a coalition including the Taliban will be in charge of Afghanistan when the Americans leave. They will make certain that they maintain good relations with the Taliban. They will deny that they are doing this because they want no impediments to a good relationship with the United States before or after it leaves Afghanistan. They need a patron to secure their interests against India. Since the United States wants neither an India outside a balance of power nor China taking the role of Pakistan’s patron, it follows that the risk the United States will bear grudges is small. And given that, the Pakistanis can live with Washington knowing that one Pakistani hand is helping the Americans while another helps the Taliban. Power, interest and reality define the relations between nations, and different factions inside nations frequently have different agendas and work against each other.

The WikiLeaks, from what we have seen so far, detail power, interest and reality as we have known it. They do not reveal a new reality. Much will be made about the shocking truth that has been shown, which, as mentioned above, shocks only those who wish to be shocked. The Afghan war is about an insufficient American and allied force fighting a capable enemy on its home ground and a Pakistan positioning itself for the inevitable outcome. The WikiLeaks contain all the details.

We are left with the mystery of who compiled all of these documents and who had access to them with enough time and facilities to transmit them to the outside world in a blatant and sustained breach of protocol. The image we have is of an unidentified individual or small group working to get a “shocking truth” out to the public, only the truth is not shocking — it is what was known all along in excruciating detail. Who would want to detail a truth that is already known, with access to all this documentation and the ability to transmit it unimpeded? Whoever it proves to have been has just made the most powerful case yet for withdrawal from Afghanistan sooner rather than later.

"This report is republished with permission of STRATFOR"

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Giving Lousy Teachers the Boot: From the Wall Street Journal

Michelle Rhee

Donald Trump is not the only one who knows how to get attention with the words, "You're fired." Michelle Rhee, chancellor for the District of Columbia schools, has just done a pretty nifty job of it herself.

On Friday, Ms. Rhee fired 241 teachers—roughly 6% of the total—mostly for scoring too low on a teacher evaluation that measures their performance against student achievement. Another 737 teachers and other school-based staff were put on notice that they had been rated "minimally effective." Unless these people improve, they too face the boot.

The mass dismissals follow a landmark agreement Ms. Rhee negotiated with the Washington Teachers Union (WTU) at the end of June. The quid pro quo was this: Good teachers would get more money (including a 21.6% pay increase through 2012 and opportunities for merit pay). In exchange, bad teachers could be shown the door.

At the time, many gave the teachers union credit for approving this deal. Here's how another New York-based newspaper described the contract:

"Teachers' unions around the country are realizing that they can either participate in shaping reforms or have others' reforms forced upon them. The latest example comes from Washington, where the union has wisely negotiated and ratified a contract that gives the city greater leeway to pay, promote or fire teachers based on performance."

The danger, of course, was always that the taxpayers would make good on the money, but the promised accountability would never materialize. In this case, however, the accounting has begun. Apparently Ms. Rhee is a lady who means what she puts her name to.

The same cannot be said for the other side. WTU President George Parker told the Washington Post that the union would appeal the firings—and he threatened to file an unfair labor practice complaint with the District. Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, accused Ms. Rhee of "stubbornly adhering to the destructive cycle of 'fire, hire, repeat.'"

Jeanne Allen, president of the Center for Education Reform, a national voice for charters and school choice, says the responses from union leaders show they are not used to dealing with a chancellor willing to call their bluff. "The union has been given so much credit for 'coming to the table,'" she says. "But if you really believe what you signed, you don't then announce to the local paper you are filing a grievance when the other side tries to make good on that contract."

Now, getting good teachers in the classroom and rewarding them for their work has always been a key aim of reformers. Alas, that also requires getting the dead weight out of the classroom and off the payroll. That's not so easy to do in big-city school districts, as reformers like Joel Klein, New York's school chancellor, have found.

So why has Ms. Rhee succeeded where others have come up short? One huge reason is the advance of school choice and accountability throughout Washington. Though reform has come fitfully to D.C., today 38% of the district's students are in charter schools. Until the Democrats killed it, there was also a voucher program for a few thousand more. The result of all this ferment is that the teachers union is feeling pressure it has never felt before.

Maybe that's why, unlike so many in her position, Ms. Rhee has not been afraid to speak up for more choice and more competition. "I'm a huge proponent of choice," she told The Wall Street Journal three years ago, "but I'm also an unbelievably competitive person, and my goal is . . . to create schools within the system that I believe are the most compelling choices."

Another way of putting that is this: Ms. Rhee is smart enough to know that when she negotiates with the unions, the shift to charters and choice in the district gives her more leverage for the reforms she needs.

When I emailed a spokesman for Education Secretary Arne Duncan asking if the administration supported Ms. Rhee's decision to fire the teachers not measuring up, the answer came back that "we have not weighed in on D.C. specifically but we support the use of student achievement as one factor in teacher evaluation." When asked if I could say that meant the secretary supports Ms. Rhee, the answer was "No," because "we do not know the facts." Two emails later, the clarification: "This is basically a staffing decision executing on their new labor agreement—something that is happening all across America—which is a local issue."

So goes the Obama administration. On the one hand, it deserves credit for contributing to a climate that challenges the status quo and supports certain initiatives. On the other hand, when a brave reformer such as Ms. Rhee actually makes a tough decision, it can be shy with the backup.

The good news is that Ms. Rhee isn't waiting for it.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Memory Song

I was going to write something in my blog, but I forgot what.  Perhaps this song will help figure out why:

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

TAX THE RICH! Yeah, Right...

Here is another example of the hypocritical liberal democrats. 

In the day that Charlie (tax-tax-tax) Rangel was charged with breaking House ethic rules and with failure to disclose financial interests, we also find out that senator John (more ketchup, please) Kerry is mooring his 76 foot yacht Isabel in Rhode Island, rather than Massachusetts, where his vacation mansion is.  The reason for this is that Rhode Island has repealed The Boat Sales and Use Tax, thus allowing the first family of ketchup and mustard to save almost half a million dollars.

What Kerry has done is not different from what thousands do around the country.  Multi-million dollars yachts of residents of south Florida register in Bermuda and the Cayman islands avoiding Florida taxes.  Every increase in this type of taxes leads to less revenue and more loopholes for those who can afford creative accountants. 

If I could, I would do the same thing Kerry has done.  Marry a billionaire's widow, and then look for places where to avoid taxes.  In the spare time, be a senator and demand that the "rich" pay their taxes.  By rich the democrats mean a teacher married to a cop in New York city.

By the way, the yacht was designed in Rhode Island, but built in New Zealand.  I wonder why.

Half a million here, half a million there; before you know you are talking serious money.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Worth Reading

Congress Ranks Last in Confidence in Institutions

In case you need more evidence that the government keeps encroaching on our liberty and freedom to pursue our lives without the interference of bureaucrats, the government has enacted a law designed to track purchases of gold coins and bullion.  This law and many others that we will find out about as time goes by, was inserted into Section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of Obamacare.  Is this chutzpah or what?  Our health is protected by tracking the gold we buy. 

Do wonder why we are losing confidence in Congress!

A major oil spill in China is threatening wildlife and sea life along the Yellow Sea.  I guess the Chinese should emulate Washington and fight this ecological disaster by blaming the Republicans, Bush and Cheney.

Read Article

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Andrew Breitbart on the NAACP and the Sherley Sherrod controversy.

The White House and the NAACP have been backpedaling on the Sherley Sherrod controversy and are using again the "out of context" excuse to defend the indefensible. But as Andrew Breitbart explains, Ms. Sherrod at the end of her comments explains that eventually she learned that it was not about black v. white but have v. have not. In other words; poor v. rich.

However one point made by Breitbart is crucial.  The giggling and approving black NAACP audience seemed to enjoy the narrative about the black woman screwing the white farmer.  They voiced their approval as Ms. Sherrod says that she didn't do  all she could have done for the white farmer.  They approve when she says that she took him to see a white lawyer so that "one of his kind" would help him. 

The audience had no idea that she would learn a lesson from from this case.  They enjoyed and approved of the black bureaucrat screwing whitey.

When Ms. Sherrod talks about "one of his kind" she is not taken out of context. There is no context where this description would fit except within a racist narrative.

For too long blacks and lefties have been saying that blacks cannot be racists because they lacked the power needed for racism to exist. Well, Ms. Sherrod had the power.

Watching the video of Ms. Sherrod's speech disturbed me because it ends up justifying the fears of all those of us who want a limited government. She explains how the white farmer came to her for help. Wrong, Ms. Sherrod. He came to the government for help.

Imagine under Obamacare a Sherrod having to determine the benefits of a white patient.  Let's not fire Ms. Sherrod.  Let's fire the government that allows the black and white Sharrods among us in positions of power.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Rashid Khalidi to Challenge Israeli Blockade of Gaza

As reported by Campus Watch, Rashid Khalidi, professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University, has sent an appeal for funds to outfit a ship that would challenge the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Honoring his friend Barack Obama, the ship will be named The Audacity of Hope.

The appeal letter can be read at

Khalidi promises that the ships will join ships from around the world that will sail to Gaza in October.

The opening statement in the appeal has the usual canards about Gaza and the suffering of the Palestinian residents of that region. Here is an example:
This is an important moment in history. In the aftermath of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla massacre and increased world-wide scrutiny of Israel's blockade of Gaza, the Israeli government has mounted a huge public relations campaign spreading the lie that by letting a few more items into Gaza the blockade has been lifted. This is not the reality. Gaza is still under siege, vital building materials and other supplies are banned, exports of goods from Gaza are denied and neither ships nor people can travel without permission from Israel, permission which Israel will not give. Gaza is essentially an open-air prison under a U.S.-backed Israeli blockade.
Khalidi, who used to be the spokesman for the PLO, has a long history of anti-Israeli and anti-American bias, as do the other signatories in the petition.

Yesterday I posted a video documenting the “misery” of life in Gaza.

Monday, July 19, 2010


Stoned in Iran

Justice in the Islamic Republic.

If an Iranian prosecutor has his way, a 43-year-old mother of two will soon be taken from her cell in Tabriz prison, wrapped in a white shroud, buried up to her chest in a dirt pit, and stoned to death. In accordance with Iran's penal code, the rocks pelted at her head will be big enough to inflict pain, but not large enough to kill her immediately. It will take time—maybe half an hour—for her to die.

Welcome to Iranian justice, where the testimony of a woman is worth half that of a man, and gays are hanged in the public square.

The Islamic Republic insists that the crimes of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani are manifold. A poor Azeri who speaks little Persian, Ms. Ashtiani was first found guilty by an East Azerbaijan court in May 2006 of having "illicit relationships" with two men. For this, she was lashed 99 times.

In another trial several months later, she was sentenced to stoning for alleged adultery with the man accused of murdering her husband. Last Sunday the head of the East Azerbaijan Judiciary told the Islamic Republic News Agency that, in addition to these sexual crimes, Ms. Ashtiani was also convicted of the murder itself.

Following a campaign by her two children, the Western press and various politicians and celebrities, the Iranian embassy in London issued a statement last week saying the stoning was suspended. Yet Ms. Ashtiani's fate remains unclear. Her lawyer, Mohammad Mostafai, says that the stay is ambiguous and that there's a "very serious chance" of execution by other means, like hanging.

The chief of the judiciary in her province confirmed that "whenever the respectable head of the judiciary [Sadeq Larijani] finds it expedient, the execution of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani will be carried out." Tehran has banned newspapers and TV stations from reporting accurately on Ms. Ashtiani's case. Most Iranians don't even know her name. Meanwhile, we hear that her 22-year-old son Sajad has been summoned by the Tabriz intelligence ministry. Our calls to him went unanswered.

Ten other Iranians accused of adultery (seven women and three men) currently await the same medieval punishment for their "crime against God," according to Amnesty International. The silver lining in all of this is that the public outcry is making a difference. If only the Obama Administration understood this lesson.

Reprinted from The Wall Street Journal

Friday, July 16, 2010

The Taliban War on Women Continues by Rachel Reid

(Kabul) - Beware Taliban revisionism. You're going to hear much more of it in the coming months as policy makers from Kabul to Washington seeking to reintegrate Taliban fighters try to explain why the enemy isn't so bad after all. Bombs that slaughter civilians, acid attacks that disfigure school girls, assassinations of women in public life-all of this will be swept under the carpet.

In its place, a new narrative will be trotted out, one in which most of the fighters are "ten-dollar Talibs"-just in it for the money-or modern-day Robin Hoods fighting the injustices of their local government. While money or politics may indeed be the motivation for many low-level fighters, that doesn't change the fact that too many Afghan women are experiencing the same kind of oppression today they faced under Taliban rule.

"We as Taliban warn you to stop working . . . otherwise we will take your life away. We will kill you in such a harsh way that no woman has so far been killed in that manner. This would become a good lesson for women like you who are working." When Fatima K. received this letter she was terrified and left her job. Such messages-called night letters, since they are delivered after dark-are a common means of intimidation used by the Taliban.

When 22-year-old Hossai received similar threats by phone from a man saying he was with the Taliban in Kandahar, she refused to be bullied. She loved her job at the American development company DAI, and her salary supported her family. But one day in April Hossai was shot by an unknown gunman as she left her office. She died from her wounds.

A few days later another woman in Kandahar received a night letter. It demanded that she give up her job, or else she "will be considered an enemy of Islam and will be killed. In the same way that yesterday we have killed Hossai, whose name was on our list." This woman has since stayed home.

These stories are seldom heard, but it's not because they are rare. The victims are often too terrified to report such attacks to the authorities, or have little hope that anything will be done if they do. They can expect little or no protection from their government, which seems more willing to provide patronage to senior insurgents who switch sides than assist women at grave risk. When high-profile women are assassinated, their cases are not given the priority they deserve and their killers are rarely brought to justice. While men who run afoul of the Taliban are also attacked-particularly in Kandahar, where the murder rate in recent months has reached unprecedented heights-the situation for women is worse.

The reassurance offered by the Afghan and U.S. governments is that those Taliban who lay down arms through reintegration or reconciliation programs must accept the constitution, which enshrines equal rights for men and women. But given how often President Hamid Karzai has himself ignored the constitutional protections afforded to Afghan women-as when he approved the highly restrictive Shia family law in 2009-it is not clear why Taliban who return to the political mainstream would have any motivation to respect the rights of women.

Many women activists would prefer to see explicit guarantees put at the heart of negotiations with the Taliban. There are some rights that should be nonnegotiable: the right to work, to participate in political life, and to send their daughters to school. But when I spoke to Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef, a founding member of the Taliban and its former ambassador to Pakistan, he did not inspire confidence that this would be possible.

Zaeef, who now resides in Kabul after a stint in Guantanamo, explained in our May meeting why he believes the freedoms won by Afghan women in recent years are "corrupting" them. "If you put a young adult man and woman in one room for some time, of course there will be some interactions, which is against Islam. This is like a virus here and it will spread," he said to me.

I emerged from my conversation with Zaeef uncorrupted. As for my questions about what gender segregation might mean for mixed work environments, like the Afghan parliament where women make up 25% of the members, I got no straight answer.

The Afghan government should have women's rights at the center of the reintegration programs. But the experience of the past nine years has been one of hasty deals and impunity for serious crimes. And with the need for an exit strategy weighing heavily on the minds of U.S. policy makers, there's a strong chance that justice and principle will once again be sacrificed.

American officials are often tempted to deny their own influence by claiming that this will be an Afghan process. But since the U.S. will pay for most of it, this is not a credible position. Worse still, it flies in the face of repeated U.S. commitments to help protect and promote the rights of Afghan women. The U.S. should make clear that if reintegration and reconciliation results in less freedom for Afghan women and girls, American taxpayers will not foot the bill.

Ms. Reid is the Afghanistan researcher for Human Rights Watch.

Worth Reading

A new Israeli poll shows that 46% of Israelis consider Obama pro-Palestinian, 10% pro-Israel and 34% consider him neutral.  The headline to this article should have been "44% Of Israelis Are Morons."

Read Article

Celebrating the passing of the Financial Reform Bill

The Financial Reform Bill has passed and the noose around the necks of the American taxpayer has gotten a little tighter.  I will opine more as the intricacies of the new law are revealed.  In the meantime we can can just ponder about a bill designed to prevent another financial meltdown, that does not even mention Fanny and Freddy.  The bill however contains provisions to ensure fairness and access to loans for minorities.  Yes; this will prevent another financial crisis.  By the way, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. 

Read Article

Charles Krauthammer has another brilliant analyss in his column today.  I am posting the whole article, since the Washington Post requires registration:

Obama's next act

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, July 16, 2010; A19

In the political marketplace, there's now a run on Obama shares. The left is disappointed with the president. Independents are abandoning him in droves. And the right is already dancing on his political grave, salivating about November when, his own press secretary admitted Sunday, Democrats might lose the House.

I have a warning for Republicans: Don't underestimate Barack Obama.

Consider what he has already achieved. Obamacare alone makes his presidency historic. It has irrevocably changed one-sixth of the economy, put the country inexorably on the road to national health care and, as acknowledged by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus but few others, begun one of the most massive wealth redistributions in U.S. history.

Second, there is major financial reform, which passed Congress on Thursday. Economists argue whether it will prevent meltdowns and bailouts as promised. But there is no argument that it will give the government unprecedented power in the financial marketplace. Its 2,300 pages will create at least 243 new regulations that will affect not only, as many assume, the big banks but just about everyone, including, as noted in one summary (the Wall Street Journal), "storefront check cashiers, city governments, small manufacturers, home buyers and credit bureaus."

Third is the near $1 trillion stimulus, the largest spending bill in U.S. history. And that's not even counting nationalizing the student loan program, regulating carbon emissions by Environmental Protection Agency fiat, and still-fitful attempts to pass cap-and-trade through Congress.

But Obama's most far-reaching accomplishment is his structural alteration of the U.S. budget. The stimulus, the vast expansion of domestic spending, the creation of ruinous deficits as far as the eye can see are not easily reversed.

These are not mere temporary countercyclical measures. They are structural deficits because, as everyone from Obama on down admits, the real money is in entitlements, most specifically Medicare and Medicaid. But Obamacare freezes these out as a source of debt reduction. Obamacare's $500 billion in Medicare cuts and $600 billion in tax increases are siphoned away for a new entitlement -- and no longer available for deficit reduction.

The result? There just isn't enough to cut elsewhere to prevent national insolvency. That will require massive tax increases -- most likely a European-style value-added tax. Just as President Ronald Reagan cut taxes to starve the federal government and prevent massive growth in spending, Obama's wild spending -- and quarantining health-care costs from providing possible relief -- will necessitate huge tax increases.

The net effect of 18 months of Obamaism will be to undo much of Reaganism. Both presidencies were highly ideological, grandly ambitious and often underappreciated by their own side. In his early years, Reagan was bitterly attacked from his right. (Typical Washington Post headline: "For Reagan and the New Right, the Honeymoon Is Over" -- and that was six months into his presidency!) Obama is attacked from his left for insufficient zeal on gay rights, immigration reform, closing Guantanamo -- the list is long. The critics don't understand the big picture. Obama's transformational agenda is a play in two acts.

Act One is over. The stimulus, Obamacare, financial reform have exhausted his first-term mandate. It will bear no more heavy lifting. And the Democrats will pay the price for ideological overreaching by losing one or both houses, whether de facto or de jure. The rest of the first term will be spent consolidating these gains (writing the regulations, for example) and preparing for Act Two.

The next burst of ideological energy -- massive regulation of the energy economy, federalizing higher education and "comprehensive" immigration reform (i.e., amnesty) -- will require a second mandate, meaning reelection in 2012.

That's why there's so much tension between Obama and congressional Democrats. For Obama, 2010 matters little. If Democrats lose control of one or both houses, Obama will probably have an easier time in 2012, just as Bill Clinton used Newt Gingrich and the Republicans as the foil for his 1996 reelection campaign.

Obama is down, but it's very early in the play. Like Reagan, he came here to do things. And he's done much in his first 500 days. What he has left to do he knows must await his next 500 days -- those that come after reelection.

The real prize is 2012. Obama sees far, farther than even his own partisans. Republicans underestimate him at their peril.

I Am Back!

Just took a few days off, and went to Atlantic City. I was as successful at the casinos as everybody else. Meaning that I won and lost 150 dollars. Net result, I broke even. Actually this makes me more successful that the average gambler, who leaves his money to Donald Trump or Steve Wynn.

By the way, I never saw a casino owner gamble. I wonder why.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

FOX: Fair and Balanced

Since most of my readers don't watch FOX, I have here an illustration that demonstrates that this network is actually fair and balanced, and not afraid of dealing with topics that other networks don't dare show. 

Friday, July 9, 2010

Charles Krauthammer: Brilliant as Ever

The selective modesty of Barack Obama

By Charles Krauthammer
The Washington Post
Friday, July 9, 2010; A19

Remember NASA? It once represented to the world the apogee of American scientific and technological achievement. Here is President Obama's vision of NASA's mission, as explained by administrator Charles Bolden:

"One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math; he wanted me to expand our international relationships; and third and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science and math and engineering."

Apart from the psychobabble -- farcically turning a space-faring enterprise into a self-esteem enhancer -- what's the sentiment behind this charge? Sure America has put a man on the moon, led the information revolution, won more Nobel Prizes than any other nation by far -- but, on the other hand, a thousand years ago al-Khwarizmi gave us algebra.

Bolden seems quite intent on driving home this message of achievement equivalence -- lauding, for example, Russia's contribution to the space station. Russia? In the 1990s, the Russian space program fell apart, leaving the United States to pick up the slack and the tab for the missing Russian contributions to get the space station built.

For good measure, Bolden added that the United States cannot get to Mars without international assistance. Beside the fact that this is not true, contrast this with the elan and self-confidence of President John Kennedy's 1961 pledge that America would land on the moon within the decade.

There was no finer expression of belief in American exceptionalism than Kennedy's. Obama has a different take. As he said last year in France, "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." Which of course means: If we're all exceptional, no one is.

Take human rights. After Obama's April meeting with the president of Kazakhstan, Mike McFaul of the National Security Council reported that Obama actually explained to the leader of that thuggish kleptocracy that we, too, are working on perfecting our own democracy.

Nor is this the only example of an implied moral equivalence that diminishes and devalues America. Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner reported that in discussions with China about human rights, the U.S. side brought up Arizona's immigration law -- "early and often." As if there is the remotest connection between that and the persecution of dissidents, jailing of opponents and suppression of religion routinely practiced by the Chinese dictatorship.

Nothing new here. In his major addresses, Obama's modesty about his own country has been repeatedly on display as, in one venue after another, he has gratuitously confessed America's alleged failing -- from disrespecting foreigners to having lost its way morally after 9/11.

It's fine to recognize the achievements of others and be non-chauvinistic about one's country. But Obama's modesty is curiously selective. When it comes to himself, modesty is in short supply.

It began with the almost comical self-inflation of his presidential campaign, from the still inexplicable mass rally in Berlin in front of a Prussian victory column to the Greek columns framing him at the Democratic convention. And it carried into his presidency, from his posture of philosopher-king adjudicating between America's sins and the world's to his speeches marked by a spectacularly promiscuous use of the word "I."

Notice, too, how Obama habitually refers to Cabinet members and other high government officials as "my" -- "my secretary of homeland security," "my national security team," "my ambassador." The more normal -- and respectful -- usage is to say "the," as in "the secretary of state." These are, after all, public officials sworn to serve the nation and the Constitution -- not just the man who appointed them.

It's a stylistic detail, but quite revealing of Obama's exalted view of himself. Not surprising, perhaps, in a man whose major achievement before acceding to the presidency was writing two biographies -- both about himself.

Obama is not the first president with a large streak of narcissism. But the others had equally expansive feelings about their country. Obama's modesty about America would be more understandable if he treated himself with the same reserve. What is odd is to have a president so convinced of his own magnificence -- yet not of his own country's.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Let's Tax Dumb Ideas

In 1696, King William III of England imposed a tax on windows.  The rational being that the richer a person, the bigger their house and the more windows it would have.  We can see that the idea behind this revenue enhancement program was to have a "progressive tax."  Of course, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and the result was that houses were built with bricked up windows.  Here is such a building, built before the repeal of the tax in the 19th century:

I was reminded of this tax when I read that Representative Chaka Fattah (D-Pa.) has introduced legislation that would charge a penny for every dollar of your money drawn from an ATM machine and other financial transactions.

It does not take a financial genius to realize that a 1% tax would only motivate people to keep money for daily use under the mattress, and create a cash economy, just like command economies led to black market and underground economies.

I think that something more productive would be to impose a tax on dumb ideas emanating from Washington. The national debt would be eliminated in no time, and for the first time Democrats, as providers of such ideas, would be at the forefront of closing the deficit.

CNN Fires Octavia Nasr

CNN, has fired Octavia Nasr over her Twitter post.  For those of us who have been complaining for years about the anti Israel bias at this network, the Twitter post by Nasr represents a vindication of our views.   

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CNN editor sad over ayatollah's death

From the Jerusalem Post:

CNN’s senior editor of Middle East affairs, Octavia Nasr, posted a message on her Twitter account on Sunday in which she expressed sadness at the death of Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, described by terrorism analysts as the spiritual mentor of Hizbullah.

“Sad to hear of the passing of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah... One of Hezbollah’s giants I respect a lot,” Nasr wrote.
This summarizes why I watch Fox News.

NASA: From Space Agency to Social Work Clinic

In an interview with al-Jazeera, Charles Borden, current NASA administrator, had the following to say:

When I became the NASA Administrator — before I became the NASA Administrator — [Obama] charged me with three things: One was he wanted me to help re-inspire children to want to get into science and math, he wanted me to expand our international relationships, and third, and perhaps foremost, he wanted me to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science, math, and engineering.
So NASA, who like third world nations, cannot place anymore anything in orbit without help from other nations, was charged with the role of a social worker and become an inspirational agency for Muslims.  Let's contrast this with another speech by a former president:

Those who came before us made certain that this country rode the first waves of the industrial revolutions, the first waves of modern invention, and the first wave of nuclear power, and this generation does not intend to founder in the backwash of the coming age of space. We mean to be a part of it–we mean to lead it. For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond, and we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace. We have vowed that we shall not see space filled with weapons of mass destruction, but with instruments of knowledge and understanding.

Yet the vows of this Nation can only be fulfilled if we in this Nation are first, and, therefore, we intend to be first. In short, our leadership in science and in industry, our hopes for peace and security, our obligations to ourselves as well as others, all require us to make this effort, to solve these mysteries, to solve them for the good of all men, and to become the world’s leading space-faring nation.

- John F. Kennedy
Rice University
September 12, 1962.


This article first appeared in 2002.  It is still relevant today.


I'm not Jewish. Nobody in my family died in the Holocaust. For me, anti-Semitism has always been one of those phenomena that doesn't really register on my radar, like tribal genocide in Rwanda, a horrible thing that happens to someone else. But I live in a small town outside of Munich on a street that until May of 1945 was named Adolf-Hitler-Strasse. I work in Munich, a pleasant metropolitan city of a little over a million inhabitants whose Bavarian charm tends to obscure the fact that this city was the birthplace and capital of the Nazi movement. Every day when I go to work I pass by the sites of apartments Hitler lived in, extant buildings in which decisions were made to murder millions of innocent people, and plazas in which book burnings took place, SS troops paraded and people were executed. The proximity to evil has a way of concentrating one's attention, of putting a physical reality to the textbook narratives of the horrors perpetrated by the Germans.

Then the little things start to happen that over a period of time add up to something very sinister. I'm on a bus and a high school boy passes around Grandpa's red leather-bound copy of Mein Kampf to his friends who respond by saying "coooool!." He then takes out a VCR tape (produced in Switzerland) of "The Great Speeches of Joseph Goebbels." A few weeks later I'm at a business meeting with four young highly educated Germans who are polite, charming and soft-spoken to say the least. When the subject matter changes to a business deal with a man in New York named Rubinstein, their nostrils flair, their demeanors attain a threatening mien and one of them actually says, and I'm quoting verbatim here: "The problem with America is that the Jews have all the money."

They start laughing and another one says, "Yeah, all the Jews care about is money."

You could have knocked me over with a feather. I half expected one of them to start talking about the historical veracity of The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. Here were four young, charming, well-educated Germans spewing forth anti-Semitic bilk that would have made Julius Streicher proud. I found that this type of anti-Semitic reference in my professional dealings with Germans soon became a leitmotif (to borrow a term made famous by Richard Wagner, another notorious German anti-Semite). In my private meetings with Germans it often happens that they will loosen up after a while and reveal personal opinions and political leanings that were thought to have ceased to exist in a Berlin bunker on April 30, 1945.

Maybe it's because I have blond hair and my last name is of German origin that the Germans feel that I am, or could potentially be, "one of them." It shows how much they understand what it means to be an American. Whatever the reason, the conversations generally have one or more of these components: (1) It was unfortunate that America and Germany fought each other in World War II because the real enemy was Russia. (2) Yes, the Nazis were excessive, but terrible things happen during wars, and anyway, the scope of the Holocaust has been greatly exaggerated by the American media, which is dominated by Jews. (3) CNN is controlled by American Jews and is anti-Palestinian. [Yes, I know it sounds incredible, but even among the most highly intelligent Germans, even those with a near-native fluency in English, there is the widespread belief that the news network founded by Fidel Castro's best friend Ted Turner, who until recently was married to Hanoi Jane Fonda, is a hotbed of pro-Israeli propaganda.] (4) Almost all Germans were opposed to the Third Reich and nobody in Germany knew anything about the murder of the Jews, but the Jews themselves were really responsible for the Holocaust. (5) Ariel Sharon is worse than Hitler and the Israelis are Nazis. America supports Israel only because Jews control the American government and media.

For the first time in my life, then, I became conscious of anti-Semitism. Sure, anti- Semitism exists elsewhere in the world, but nowhere have the consequences been as devastating as in Germany.

Looking at it as objectively as possible, 2002 has been a banner year for anti-Semitism in Germany. Synagogues have been firebombed, Jewish cemeteries desecrated, the No. 1 best-selling novel, Martin Walser's Death of a Critic, is a thinly-veiled roman à clef containing a vicious anti-Semitic attack on Germany's best-known literary critic, Marcel Reich-Ranicki ( who is a survivor of both the Warsaw ghetto and Auschwitz), the Free Democrat Party has unofficially adopted anti-Semitism as a campaign tactic to attract Germany's sizeable Muslim minority, and German revisionist historians now are beginning to define German perpetration of World War II and the Holocaust not as crimes against humanity, but as early battles (with regrettable but understandable excesses) in the Cold War against communism. The situation is so bad that German Jews are advised not to wear anything in public that would identify them as Jewish because their safety cannot be guaranteed.

How can this be? Isn't this the "New Germany" that's gone 57 straight years without a Holocaust or even a pogrom, where truth, justice and the German way prevail amidst economic wealth, a high standard of living that is the envy of their European neighbors, and a constitution guaranteeing freedom for everyone regardless of race, creed or national origin? What's changed? The answer is: absolutely nothing.

My thesis is quite simple. While Germany no longer has the military power to enforce the racist ideology of the Nazis and while all extreme manifestations of Nazism are officially outlawed, the internal conditions--that is, the attitudes, worldview and cultural assumptions--that led to the rise of Nazism in Germany are still present because they constitute the basic components of German identity. Nazism was not an aberration; it was the distillation of the German psyche into its essential elements. External Nazism may have been utterly defeated in May of 1945; internal Nazism, however, remains, and will always remain, a potential threat as long as there exists a political and/or cultural entity known as Germany.

Now hold on a second, I hear many people saying. You can't possibly claim that Germans are as anti-Semitic today as they were during the years 1933-1945. It is true that Germany today is much different than during the Third Reich. What is different is that due to its total defeat by the Allies, Germany today is a client state of America and must do its bidding. That means repression of overt anti-Semitism. It's bad for business.

The other thing that has changed is that, even though Hitler lost World War II, he was phenomenally successful in carrying out his ideological agenda. Germany, indeed virtually all of Europe, is essentially "Judenfrei" (free of Jews) today due to the efficiency and zeal of the Germans as they perpetrated the Holocaust during the Third Reich. In fact, a very convincing case can be made that Nazism is one of the most successful political programs of all time. It accomplished more of its goals in a shorter amount of time than any other comparable political movement and permanently changed the face and political structure of several continents. Germany is wealthy, stable, relentlessly bourgeois and for all intents and purposes, free of Jews.

Yes, there is a tiny minority of Jews mostly centered in Berlin, and yes, there have been a number of Jews from the former Soviet Union who have emigrated to Germany, but most of the immigrants from Russia are not practicing Jews and do little if anything to promote a unique Jewish-German identity. The result of all this is that Germans today are able to reap the benefits of Hitler's anti-Semitic policies while paying lip service to the "need to remember."

Young Fritz doesn't have to be overtly anti-Semitic today because his grandfather's generation did such a bang-up job of the Holocaust. There just aren't that many Jews left to hate any more, and besides, the Germans have their old buddies, the Arabs, to do their hating for them. You might call the overwhelming German support for the Palestinians to be a form of anti-Semitism-by-proxy.

The German government has made cash payments to the State of Israel, as well as to individual Jews, to settle claims of murder, torture, false imprisonment, slave labor and genocide. Talk to most Germans and you'll soon discover that they think that the score has been settled between Germany and the Jews, that somehow the return of just a portion of what the Germans stole from the Jews is fair recompense for the deliberate murder of millions of people. If you think the Germans are truly sorry for what they did to the Jews, think again. There's never been an official "tut mir leid" offered by the Germans to the victims of the Holocaust and their descendants because that would admit culpability. Germany GmbH has paid off all claims against it without acknowledging responsibility in the same way that the Ford Motor Company engages in recalls of automobiles. It's all done to avoid liability.

German dialogue about the Holocaust is largely done in the subjunctive, passive mood: "Mistakes were made." But never: "We were wrong." The reason for this, I believe, is the myth of German superiority, overtly stated during the Nazi years, but still a major component of the German psyche.

Why is it that the Germans believe they are superior to all other nationalities? It is true that there have been many great German (and especially Austrian) composers, but Verdi is every bit as great a composer as Wagner. Literature? Yes, Goethe is one of the most important writers of all time, but as a dramatist he is a pale shadow compared to Shakespeare, and as a novelist he hardly compares to Dostoevsky and Tolstoy. Engineering and science? Perhaps, but making good-quality cars is not on the same level as sending men to the moon and returning them safely. And we all know who figured out first how to make an atomic bomb. Cuisine, lifestyle, architecture? Now you've got to be kidding. Just think France and Italy.

No, the German belief in their superiority is a form of self-delusion and is based upon pretty thin gruel. Ironically, it may be that bad boy of German philosophy, Friedrich Nietzsche himself, who supplied the reason for this phenomenon. Nietzsche believed that moral systems and notions of national chauvinism were largely the result of ressentiment, that is, the members of a politically weak people band together in their resentment of their more powerful neighbors and convince one another that, while they may be politically weak, they are somehow "morally superior" to their competitors. This could very well explain the German superiority complex in the face of political weakness from the time of the Roman Empire to the Wilhelmine period beginning in the 1870s. It surely goes far to explain present-day German notions of superiority in the face of their devastating military defeat in World War II and subsequent relegation to second-tier status among the community of nations.

I have peviously mentioned that Germans overwhelmingly support the Palestinians as opposed to the Israelis, and that this overwhelming support represents a form of anti-Semitism-by-proxy. Germans may claim to be supporting the Palestinians because they think they are an "oppressed people," but let's be honest -- they are supporting the Palestinians and their Arabs handlers because the Palestinians and Arabs share the same ideals as the Nazis.

There's a long-standing history of German co-operation with the Arabs. In 1942 Hitler personally assured the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem that as soon as German forces conquered Great Britain, the Jews in Palestine (which was then under control of the British Mandate) would be exterminated. We should also keep in mind that the Arab terrorists who perpetrated the 9/11 atrocities did their planning in Germany. There are several reasons for this. The first is the well-known bungling and decentralized chaos of the German federal bureaucracy where literally the "links" hand doesn't know what the "rechts" hand is doing. The second is that Arab terrorists can count on a substantial number of Germans who share their anti-American and anti-Semitic views. The former members of the SS and Hitler's praetorian guards, along with their neo-Nazi supporters, who gather weekly in Munich beer halls, made Osama Bin Laden an "honorary Aryan" after the 9/11 attack.

Mein Kampf is also a best seller in the Arab world, especially in Saudi Arabia, America's putative "friend." Indeed, there is very little difference between the anti-Semitic rantings of Hitler and those of the so-called "spiritual leaders" of Al-Qaeda, Hamas, and Al-Fatah. The Arabs also owe Hitler and the Germans big time. Hitler killed off the Jews, and Konrad Adenauer and his "democratic" descendants replaced them with the Turks. Yes, the Turks aren't Arabs, but they are Muslim, and although Turkey is a member of NATO and has foreign relations with Israel, many Turks identify and support their radical Arab co-religionists. Turkey remains as fragile a democracy as Weimar Germany during the 1920s. It wouldn't take much for Turkey to fall into the dark side of Muslim extremism.

The end results of Muslim immigration into Germany have been twofold: (1) It allows the Germans to feign liberalism and being open to freedom and diversity; and (2) By replacing the Jews they murdered with Muslims, who for the most part are as viciously anti-Semitic as were the Nazis, the Germans have cynically assured that those few Jews who remain in Germany will be unable to reassert political power even in a minority role.

German politicians have now begun to express anti-Semitic viewpoints as a means to curry favor with Germany's substantial Muslim minority. The most notorious example of this is Juergen Moellemann, the Jew-baiting second-in-command of the Free Democrat Party, the political faction that is most closely identified with business interests (favoring policies such as lowering taxes and reducing government expenditures) and other issues of a libertarian slant. Moellemann's strategy is quite simple. In a parliamentary system like Germany's where seats are awarded by proportional voting and in a party like the FDP which seldom garners more 10% of the vote, making an extremist anti-Semitic appeal to racist Muslims is an attempt to gain 1% or 2% of the vote which could result in the FDP becoming the minority partner in a coalition government if the Christian Democratic Party as expected wins the national elections in Germany in September. What is particularly worrisome here is that in CDU/FDP coalition governments in the past, the post of foreign minister has traditionally gone to the FDP. If this occurs again, Germany could shortly have the most anti-Semitic foreign policy since the days of Joachim von Ribbentrop.

A final point that I would like to make concerning the reasons for the resurgence of anti-Semitism in Germany is one that many will find at odds with the prima-facie evidence, or even appear to stretch the boundaries of common sense. Yet, I ask you to consider carefully my line of reasoning.

In many respects Germany got away with the Holocaust without paying much of a price. Yes, many Germans died as a result of German perpetration of World War II and the Holocaust, and yes, there was much physical destruction in the country, but the situation is like the little boy who steals a cookie from the tray when it is cooling on the kitchen table. For his efforts he may have gotten his hand slapped by his mother, but the stolen cookie remains eaten nonetheless.

After having committed the worst crimes in the history of humankind, the Germans were allowed to regain their sovereignty after only ten years, their infrastructure was completely rebuilt thanks to the generosity of the American people, and relatively few Germans were brought to trial for their monstrous crimes. Even those who were tried and convicted received relatively short sentences or had those reduced or commuted in general amnesties. For example, some members of the Einsatzkommandos, those Germans who, before the construction of the death camps, hunted and murdered Jews by the hundreds of thousands, received sentences of as little as five years imprisonment.

If there were true justice in the world, Germany would no longer exist as a separate country, but would have long ago had its territory divided up and dispersed among the Allies. It was an unfortunate historical coincidence that the Cold War began just as Germany was at last being brought to task for its many crimes and atrocities extending back to the First World War. The new threat of the Soviet Union took precedence over a just settling of accounts with Germany. The tragic result is that many of the countries raped and despoiled by Germany, such as the Czech Republic and Poland, are just now coming out of decades of economic decline, while Germany--fat, sassy, arrogant, self-satisfied, and essentially Judenfrei--has enjoyed four decades of undeserved economic prosperity.

We can't turn back the clock to redress all of the historical wrongs that have been committed by the Germans, but there are a number of things that can be done to assure that Germany can never again be in a position to threaten the rest of the civilized world. First and foremost is the realization that, while not all Germans are anti-Semitic, there is an anti-Semitic tendency within German culture that extends back to the time of Martin Luther. Germans are instinctively anti-Semitic in the same way that Americans are instinctively freedom loving. Anti-Semitism has been and unfortunately remains the default ideology of the German people. All things being equal, Germans will instinctively support the enemies of the State of Israel. Therefore, America will need to monitor closely and be ready and politically willing to intervene at a moment's notice in German affairs when it appears that Germany is back-sliding into anti-Semitism.

Additionally, it should be a goal of American foreign policy to oppose and to accelerate the dismemberment of the European Union. We must not allow German domination of the EU to accomplish through parliamentary maneuvering and brokered deals what Hitler and the Germans were unable to accomplish during the Third Reich. Given Germany's resurgent anti-Semitism (and that of France as well), a strong, German-dominated EU that tolerates and even benignly encourages anti-Semitism and is diplomatically allied with the Arab world, is potentially the greatest threat to Judaism since Nazi Germany and a major threat to the United States as well. The enemies of Israel are the enemies of the United States. Let all Jews and Americans stand united as we proclaim never again to both the Holocaust and 9/11.

William E. Grim is a writer who lives in Germany and is a native of Columbus, Ohio. He may be reached at and you can read more by and about him at The Official William E. Grim Web Site.

Monday, July 5, 2010

The Radicalism of Obama

Dr. Richard L. Rubinstein, author of "Jihad and Genocide", Harvard Phd, Yale fellow, "Distinguished Professor of the Year", and Harvard Phd, states that president Obama's intention is to "correct the historical mistake of the creation of the state of Israel." Dr. Rubenstein states that president Obama due to his family heritage is extremely pro Muslim - to the point of "wanting to see the destruction of Israel."

Robert Byrd: KKK Member

"He once had a fleeting association with the Ku Klux Klan, what does that mean? I'll tell you what it means. He was a country boy from the hills and hollows from West Virginia. He was trying to get elected," former President Bill Clinton said of Sen. Robert Byrd.

"And maybe he did something he shouldn't have done come and he spent the rest of his life making it up. And that's what a good person does. There are no perfect people. There are certainly no perfect politicians," he added.
I am such a fool. To think that till now I considered KKK members racist trash. Thank you Mr. Clinton for setting me right and letting me know that KKK membership was a form of political strategy designed merely to help poor Southerner boys get elected.

Let's see, the Nazis were simply "following orders,", Stalinists had the NKVD and gulags simply as a tool for industrialization and achieving a future workers paradise, and West Virginia had the KKK as an affirmative action tool for poor white boys who later on would bring home the bacon and have dozens of buildings and highways built as monuments to pork, and to immortalize the Byrds, after whom these monuments were named. 

This excuse by Clinton, who is another poor white boy who was "helped" in his political career by the racist William Fulbright.  For the youngsters among you, Fulbright was a senator and  opponent of Brown v. Board of Education, the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and the Civil Right Act of 1964, and a virulent denouncer of Israel and American supporters of the Jewish state. But, what the heck, if it can help you get elected, you have nothing to worry about. As long that you are not a Republican.

And so it is that the "venerable" New York Times headlined the obituary for Byrd in the following manner:  Robert Byrd: Respected Voice of the Senate, Dies at 93.  Let's contrast this words with the obituaries of Strom Thurmond and Jessy Helms; another two segregationists who differed from Byrd only in their party affiliation.  Thurmond's obituary was: Strom Thurmond, Foe of Integration, Dies at 100, and Helms's obituary included in the third paragraph : "Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator whose courtly manner and mossy drawl barely masked a hard-edged conservatism that opposed civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday. He was 86."  You had to read 19 paragraphs in the NYT obituary of Byrd before his past affiliation was mentioned.

And so it goes.  Democrats can be racists and segregationists, Al Sharpton can talk about white interlopers in Harlem, Jessee Jackson can talk about Hymietown, Black Panthers can intimidate voters in  Philadelphia, but they don't really mean it.  They are just trying to help poor boys get elected.

Saturday, July 3, 2010