Friday, October 20, 2017

America and Zion



America's Great Game: The CIA’s Secret Arabists and the Shaping of the Modern Middle East, by Hugh Wilford.

Americans had ventured into the Arab world for many decades prior to the end of World War Two.  Much of this time, the interaction was driven by private means: missionaries, universities, archeologists, charitable organizations.  For those Americans exposed to this world, the overwhelming description that could be applied would be to label these as Arabists: understanding and appreciating both the Arab people and the Arab culture.

This was even true in the early years of official US government intervention in the region.  In many ways, it couldn’t be otherwise: the early “official” Americans – for example, the cousins Kim and Archie Roosevelt – were introduced into this Arab world by the Americans who were already there, those already sympathetic to the Arab people: the missionaries, university presidents archeologists, and leaders of charitable organizations.

So what changed?  This is to be explored next by Wilford.

The excuse began with communism.  President Truman formally announced the beginning of the Cold War in March 1947, announcing that the United States would provide aid to those countries threatened by communism.  With this came the Marshall plan, the establishment of a permanent civilian intelligence agency, and the National Security Act.  But the story begins earlier.

What about Palestine, Arabs, Jews and Zionists?  Historically the US stayed out of this issue, leaving it to Britain and their 1922 League of Nations mandate.  During this mandatory period: Jewish immigration, Arab revolts, Jewish terrorist acts…the tension was ever-increasing and the British appetite for continuing on – not to mention their financial wherewithal – was waning.

In the meantime, Zionists in America – supported by a faction of Christians who saw the creation of the state of Israel as bringing the world one step closer to their desired Armageddon – were making headway.  Newspaper advertisements, Jewish survivors from Europe, lobbying congress: a focused effort to gain support from the US government to the Zionist cause.

The Roosevelt administration was reluctant to support the Zionist cause.  This reluctance was based on the view of the Middle East experts in the State Department – they were primarily Arabists at the time; the entirety of American experience in the Middle East until this time was in support of and sympathetic to the Arabs.  Support for a Jewish state would turn the Arabs away from America, toward the communists. 

Further, many of the Jews that were lobbying for a Jewish state were socialists themselves – imagine…the US government supporting Zionist socialists in order to turn the Arabs into socialists in league with the Soviets! 

To say nothing of the oil: as one State Department analyst described the Saudi oil fields, “the greatest single prize in all of history.”  Lend-Lease dollars were flowing into Saudi Arabia after FDR declared the country of vital strategic importance in 1943.  And the king of this vitally strategic country had a strong opinion on the topic at hand:

…Ibn Saud was implacably opposed to Zionism and deeply suspicious of American intentions in Palestine.

The Saudis were secretly approached with development money to support the Jewish cause; he rejected the proposal “angrily, as an attempted bribe.”  (My, how times have changed.)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Libertarian Road to Nowhere




We're on a road to nowhere
Come on inside
Takin' that ride to nowhere
We'll take that ride

I'm feelin' okay this mornin'
And you know
We're on the road to paradise
Here we go, here we go

-        Talking Heads

Sheldon Richman has written a piece addressing secession: “TGIF: Is Secession by Referendum Libertarian?  I call it the libertarian road to nowhere, but this is standard fare and to be expected from many who self-describe as left-libertarians.

Living in the vacuum of theory or in some libertarian fantasy world (both of which happen to be places where many libertarian thinkers live), the answer to Richman’s question is a resounding “no.” 

I have concerns about secession by referendum. Individual secession, of course, is no problem; that’s simply libertarianism.

My concerns about group (not individual) secession are over the process of peaceful separation, namely, the referendum. Libertarians have long criticized political democracy — that is, the settling of “public” matters by majority vote either directly or through so-called representatives — as inherently violative of individual rights. By what authority does a majority lord it over a minority?

Well, doesn’t this critique apply to referenda on secession?

Richman asks: why should the minority – those who may prefer to stay within the old system – be forced to secede?  It is a fair question.  If you want pure theory, a political vote is not libertarian as a minority is forced to the will of the majority.  I agree with this wholeheartedly.

With this preamble out of the way, let’s get to the meat of Richman’s piece:

Does this mean we libertarians have no remedy for people who wish not to live under the central government of a large nation-state?

Great!  Let’s have Richman’s solution:

Of course we have: anarchism, in which each individual is sovereign and free to contract with market firms for security and dispute resolution.

So…since libertarians cannot support secession by referendum, we are left with convincing seven billion people of the value of political, individual anarchy.  They will all just opt out at the same moment – no pushback from the state or even their neighbors.  All of them, simultaneously, having this “aha” moment.

This is Richman’s solution.

Expanding on this idea, he cites Roderick Long:

The concept of panarchy comes from an 1860 work of that title by the Belgian botanist and political economist Paul Émile de Puydt (1810-1891). The essence of his panarchist proposal is that people should be free to choose the political regime under which they will live without having to relocate to a different territory.

Under panarchism, individuals could in effect secede, but their next-door neighbors need not. Problem solved! This may not satisfy nationalists big and small, but it would protect individuals.

That’s it, lickety-split!  “Problem solved!”  Seven billion people will simultaneously grasp the concept that they do not have to live under the same governmental jurisdiction as their neighbor!

I have not taken leave of my senses. I realize that panarchism is not on today’s agenda. But it will never be on it if we never talk about it. With secession and conflict in the news, what could be a better time?

I am fully supportive of talking about ideas and especially ideas supportive of decentralization.  Does this support for discussion therefore exclude the possibility of supporting an action that helps bring a decentralizing idea one step closer to fruition?

Let’s Compare

Richman’ road to nowhere: somehow, after we talk about it for a while, seven people will spontaneously decide to secede – to break from their current, forced, political bonds and form new, voluntary bonds.  They will all simultaneously grasp the idea that they do not have to live under the same governmental jurisdiction as their neighbor.

bionic’s road to somewhere: libertarianism in theory is decentralization in practice.  We will not get from something less than 200 political units to seven billion or 1.5 billion (one per household) or even a few thousand without getting to 201 first.

The libertarian solution for those within a seceding unit who do not wish to secede is to support the next secession and the next one and the next one.  But we won’t get to the fourth secession (or four-hundredth or four-thousandth) without supporting the first one.

The western world is handing libertarians the solution to all of our pontificating on a silver platter, yet too many libertarians (and Richman isn’t alone) are unable to grasp this.  There is not a country in the western world that is immune from this reality today – current polities are fracturing. 

Libertarians such as Richman are perfectly acceptable to those who support the status quo.  They are harmless; they are “safe” to the regime; they pose absolutely no danger.

Libertarians such as these are on a road to nowhere. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

More on Hurricane Harvey



A few more bits and pieces on Harvey Weinstein, the Clinton clan, and democrats in general.

I am shocked- shocked- to find that gambling is going on in here!

Clinton, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria as part of her ongoing book tour, said she was "sick" and "shocked" when she found out about the sexual assault allegations…

She’s shocked – shocked.  Apparently so shocked that she was in a coma or something for five days after hearing the news:

Clinton's initial silence -- it took her days to release a statement -- was perplexing to some Democrats, with even some longtime advisers privately questioning the decision not to quickly weigh in.

She is ready to do her part now; she will donate an amount equal to what Weinstein has given to her past campaigns – supposedly all of $13,000:

"What other people are saying, what my former colleagues are saying, is they're going to donate it to charity, and of course I will do that," she said. "I give 10% of my income to charity every year, this will be part of that. There's no -- there's no doubt about it."

Wait a minute…she gives 10% every year anyway, and this $13,000 will be part of the 10% this year?  I guess it really is true – government accounting is different than normal accounting (do yourself a favor – take thirty seconds to watch the video).

But the best bit of news is hidden in this little gem:

The two were also personally close: In 2015, the Clintons rented a home next to Weinstein in the Hamptons.

Yes, that’s right.  Bill and Harvey as neighbors; that must have been quite a party.

No Background Check?

Malia Obama, 19, landed an internship at the Weinstein Company right after her dad left office earlier this year…

Now I know that this internship was after Barack left office, but gee…you would think that a former president could still pull a few strings at the FBI, especially since they were still working for him in any case.  But, really, the stories were already pretty well known.

I mean, really – it was just their teenage daughter going to the other side of the country – why worry about it?  After all, Harvey was a good friend – just ask Michelle, who said in 2013: “He is a wonderful human being, a good friend and just a powerhouse…”

Oh…I forgot to mention…it also took Barack and Michelle five days to make a statement on the Weinstein affair.

Hillary, We’ve Tried to Get You to Shut-up for Almost a Year

One might wonder why all of this is coming out now.

I have heard some speculation about the reason that this Weinstein episode has become an issue at this time – and keep in mind, stories about him and others in Hollywood acting the same way have been around for decades.

Many democrats have been trying to get Hillary to go away ever since she lost to Trump; maybe the Clintons will not be able to run away from this connection. 

Keep in mind, the initial story on Weinstein was put forward by the New York Times.  The same New York Times that sat on the same story in 2004.  And outlets like CNN are making sure to tell us that Hillary took five days to make a statement.

There Goes the Neighborhood

Harvey Weinstein -- who more than anyone defined and shaped the sharp-elbowed art of Oscar campaigning -- has been expelled from the group that presents the Academy Awards.

I suspect about half of the members of this group deserve similar treatment.

The Hypocrisy of the Left

Chapter 1,256,723

You don’t get much more left than Hollywood, Clinton, or Obama.  You don’t get much more left than denouncing those who treat women as nothing but playthings.  You don’t get much more left than denouncing Trump for using locker room talk while ignoring people like Bill and Harvey.

Put it all together and you get your typical modern-day liberal.

A Bit on the Non-Aggression Principle

“If you want this job, you have to have sex with me.”

No violation.

“But bionic, all we need is for people to respect the NAP; nothing more is necessary.”

Sure.  You send your daughter out to live in that world.  Are you sure that that’s the world you want?

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Harvey Weinstein: The Back Story



You know the story:

The New York Times last week broke the story of Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein’s long record of sexual harassment.

This had been going on for thirty years or more.  How could no one know the story?

But of course people knew about Harvey Weinstein. Like the New York Times, for instance. Sharon Waxman, a former reporter at the Times, writes in The Wrap how she had the story on Weinstein in 2004—and then he bullied the Times into dropping it. Matt Damon and Russell Crowe even called her directly to get her to back off the story.

See, Weinstein was protected.  Two things brought him down.  First, Weinstein owned significant resources in the journalist community, resources that were looking to stay on good terms with a major producer; through this, he was greatly able to control the story:

It’s because the media industry that once protected him has collapsed. The magazines that used to publish the stories Miramax optioned can’t afford to pay for the kind of reporting and storytelling that translates into screenplays.

It is because the best reporting is coming from bloggers, from the internet.  No one is paying for the privilege of reading so-called “news” put out by the gatekeepers.  So-called “fake news” is winning the day.

But this is nothing.  Second:

Rebecca Traister says the stories are coming out now because “our consciousness has been raised.” Between Bill Cosby and Roger Ailes, Bill O’Reilly, and Donald Trump, argues Traister, people are now accustomed to speaking and hearing the truth about famous, sexually abusive men.

This is wrong. It has nothing to do with “raised consciousness”—or else she wouldn’t have left off that list the one name obviously missing.

Yes, this is wrong, and it is wrong because the name left off of the list points to the primary reason that a) Weinstein has remained protected, and b) why he no longer is:

Which brings us, finally, to the other reason the Weinstein story came out now: Because the court over which Bill Clinton once presided, a court in which Weinstein was one part jester, one part exchequer, and one part executioner, no longer exists.

A thought experiment: Would the Weinstein story have been published if Hillary Clinton had won the presidency? No, and not because he is a big Democratic fundraiser. It’s because if the story was published during the course of a Hillary Clinton presidency, it wouldn’t have really been about Harvey Weinstein. Harvey would have been seen as a proxy for the president’s husband and it would have embarrassed the president, the first female president.

Bill Clinton offered get-out-of-jail-free cards to a whole army of sleazeballs, from Jeffrey Epstein to Harvey Weinstein to the foreign donors to the Clinton Global Initiative.

Conclusion

Perhaps this is one of the main reasons that Hollywood is so up in arms about Clinton losing, Trump winning, and Putin.  Sleazeballs, every single one of them; sleazeballs that would see us in a nuclear war before giving up their corrupt and empty lifestyles.

Hillary did not need to look across Middle America to find the deplorables; she needed only to look at the tool next to her…and to look in the mirror.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Libertarianism and the “Alt-Right”



Annually Hans Hoppe and his wife Gulcin host a conference of the Property and Freedom Society, in Bodrum, Turkey.  From the “About” page:

The Property and Freedom Society stands for an uncompromising intellectual radicalism: for justly acquired private property, freedom of contract, freedom of association—which logically implies the right to not associate with, or to discriminate against—anyone in one’s personal and business relations—and unconditional free trade. It condemns imperialism and militarism and their fomenters, and champions peace. It rejects positivism, relativism, and egalitarianism in any form, whether of “outcome” or “opportunity,” and it has an outspoken distaste for politics and politicians.

Ever since this year’s conference, I have awaited publication of Hoppe’s speech from the conference; the title of this post is also the title of his speech.

Hoppe is at his best in this speech (but I cannot point to a speech he has given when he wasn’t).  He weaves a narrative through the co-opting of the terms liberal and liberalism, the current co-opting of the term libertarian, a strong critique of left-libertarians (including less-than-flattering words for Jeffrey Tucker).

He identifies the alt-right movement as beginning with Pat Buchanan in the early 1990s.  He draws the connections between the alt-right movement and libertarianism. 

He focusses on two questions: How to maintain a libertarian order once you have achieved it?  How to attain a libertarian order from a non-libertarian starting point?  To answer these questions, in addition to libertarian theory you need to understand human psychology and sociology.  While holding a coherent theory, many libertarians are blind to this reality of humans being human.

Alternatively, the alt-right better understands human psychology and sociology, yet has no coherent underlying theory; Hoppe describes the several positions of the alt-right that are contrary to libertarian theory.  Yet, the alt-right has brought to the surface the questions that libertarians (other than those like Hoppe) have been unable, or even impotent, to answer.

As must be obvious to anyone reading this blog for any period of time, I walk along a similar path…albeit about seven light-years behind Hoppe.

The video of his speech can be found here.  I understand a transcript will soon be available.  When it is, I will write a more extensive post.