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October 21, 2014 / 27 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘us politics’

Don’t Push Too Hard Against Hagel Nomination

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

A final note about the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. I have pointed out in two separate posts that his nomination for this position is troubling. That said I would urge the Jewish community to not make Hagel’s comment about the “Jewish Lobby intimidating a lot of people up here” a self fulfilling prophecy.

It’s one thing to express our opinions publicly about the man, pro or con. But it is another to try and flex any muscle over it. Not that we have any real muscle in Washington. But that is the perception. While it is the right of every American to lobby congress for their legitimate needs, I think our case has already been well made.

In fact, I’m not even sure we had to make our case here. Hagel made it for us. There is sufficient concern among members of Congress from both parties to vet Hagel very carefully before voting for him. Some have already said that they will not support him.

As I have said I hope he won’t be confirmed but I believe he will be. He will give ‘all the right answers’ to questions asked of him.

And although I strongly suspect that he is not a friend of the Jewish people and harbors the kind of soft anti Jewish bigotry that James Baker and Pat Buchanan have, he will not completely abandon Israel’s needs as long as the President continues his present policies with respect to those issues. One can agree or disagree with some of the President’s policies, but over-all they favor Israel’s survival as a Jewish State. Hagel is enough of a patriot to understand that he serves at the pleasure of the President. He may voice disagreement with him, but he knows who is charge.

At this point I think we ought to let Congress do its job. I am very pleased with what I have heard so far from many members of Congress on both sides of the political aisle who were interviewed about him. Putting any more pressure on Congress would in my view be counter-productive along the lines of Hagel’s accusations.

On that level, I applaud the ADL’s approach. Here is what their national director, Abe Foxman said about it in an official statement:

Senator Hagel would not have been my first choice, but I respect the President’s prerogative.

I trust that the confirmation process will provide an opportunity for Senator Hagel to address concerns about his positions, which seem so out of sync with President Obama’s clear commitment on issues like Iran sanctions, isolating Hamas and Hezbollah and the president’s strong support for a deepening of U.S. Israel strategic cooperation.

I particularly hope Senator Hagel will clarify and explain his comments about the “Jewish Lobby” that were hurtful to many in the Jewish Community.

I am not always in agreement with Mr. Foxman. But I think he got it exactly right this time.

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A Bad Pick for Secretary of Defense

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

He’s going to be confirmed. Sadly. Chuck Hagel who was nominated by the President to serve as his Secretary of Defense will eventually be confirmed by Congress for the job. This could in theory spell disaster for the State of Israel.
If you are Jewish or a supporter of Israel – unless you have been hiding under a rock somewhere you have probably heard by now that Hagel cannot under any reasonable interpretation of his past statements be considered a friend of the Jewish people. The most troubling of those statements is the following (from The Telegraph):

“[T]he Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people up here” and “I’m not an Israeli senator. I’m a United States senator.”

I am absolutely convinced that during Congressional hearings he will explain these comments away. He will say that “some of his best friends are Jewish” or some such “reassuring” comment to show that he is not an anti Semite. He will explain that he has no animosity at all toward the Jewish people and was merely expressing the truth about a very powerful lobby… and that he might have used the same language about the gun lobby.

Why did he use the phrase “Jewish Lobby” instead of “Israeli Lobby”? Well… that was just a slip of the tongue. The Israeli Lobby is comprised of Jews. It’s an easy mistake to make. He perhaps might point to “ distinguished” American Jews like Noam Chomsky or Tony Kushner who have been very critical of Israel. He may point to Jewish groups like J-Street who defend him – touting his pro Israel voting record. A record that is selectively cited. A fuller record shows that this support is questionable.

He will defend his beliefs with respect to Israel dealing directly with Hamas and the US negotiating directly with Iran as reasonable. And the truth is that these positions are not necessarily anti-Semitic. They are just radical. And in my view very naïve if not down right stupid. Especially since both of those positions are in diametric opposition to US foreign policy. A policy signed onto by the President himself. And for good reason. But I digress.

Because of answers like these and the apology he gave with respect to his insulting comments about homosexuals, he will be confirmed. Which to me – is very disappointing.

It bothers me that a high ranking official in the government – perhaps the 2nd most important position in the cabinet after Secretary of State is being given to a latent anti Semite.

That’s right. I think he is an anti Semite. Even if he doesn’t think he is. There is no way anyone who uses the term Jewish Lobby in the pejorative way he did is not in some way anti Semitic. He may not want to ship all Jews in America into death camps. In fact I would be willing to bet he would be willing to fight a war over such a notion. But that does not mean he doesn’t have a softer but still bigoted view of us.

From that kind of statement it can be seen that he thinks “the Jews” have too much power in the US. That’s what a phrase like “Jewish Lobby” has come to mean. It is a favorite phrase of every fringe group in the world who hates Jews. Like the Neo-Nazis or the KKK. It suggests images of a “Zionist conspiracy” and a “Zionist occupied government.” It hints at the suggestion that the Jews are running the country… and that he – Hagel – stands alone as a bulwark against the Jewish Lobby as an “American” senator. Not an “Israeli” senator. This kind of talk makes him hero to those fringe groups.

It is also a fact that the Israeli Lobby is not comprised of just Jews. Evangelical Christians are as much supporters of Israel as Jews are. More in fact. These Christian Zionists are more pro Israel Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is.

Jewish Lobby indeed! This was not a mere slip of the tongue. This was his true thinking being exposed in an unguarded moment of candor.

It isn’t only me who feels that Hagel’s comments are troubling. It isn’t even only Jewish interest groups like the ADL that thinks so. It is also the view of many of America’s most distinguished senators that think so. On both sides of the political aisle. Like Republican Senator Lindsey Graham and Democratic Senator Chuck Shummer. And they are not even Christian Zionists. Are they part of the Jewish Lobby too? As Senator Graham said:

Mr Hagel “would be the most antagonistic secretary of defence towards the state of Israel in our nation’s history.”

I am disappointed in the President. No… I still believe that he is in not in any way an anti-Semite. I think he has chosen Hagel for his Defense Secretary simply because he likes the guy. He worked with him when they were together in the Senate and they became friends. They both opposed the Iraq war, the key issue of the day then. He sees Hagel as a principled patriot. A man who served his country heroically as an enlisted soldier in Vietnam earning two purple hearts. He likes the idea of having a Republican on his team… making it more bi-partisan. At least in name.

President Obama is no anti-Semite. He has proven that to me in many different ways. In fact he will probably choose an observant Jew, Jack Lew, for the position of Secretary of the Treasury, perhaps the 3rd most important position in the cabinet. One might even argue that in the current economic climate – it is the most important cabinet position. And then there is the unprecedented US financial and military aid to Israel… and the unprecedented intelligence cooperation between the two countries.

Anyone who suggests that Obama is an anti Semite is just blinded by pure hatred for the man in my opinion. It is demonstrably untrue. I should add that anyone who suggests that the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had anything to do with Obama’s policies on Israel or his choices for who will serve in his cabinet is truly living in a fantasy world.

This makes it all the more perplexing as to why he would choose Hagel for the job. Even if he likes him personally. Why would he want to antagonize American Jews with such a pick? Why would he choose to antagonize Congress – many members have already said that they are troubled by this man and will not have an easy time voting to confirm him? Why spend political capital on such a controversial pick when he needs allies in the coming battle over the budget? It’s not like it was smooth sailing in that department recently.

Pundits are saying that he is sticking with Hagel because he had to back down with Susan Rice as his choice for Secretary of State. He doesn’t want to back down again and show weakness.

What a mess. I don’t like Hagel. I think he has animosity towards Israel and I firmly believe that he is no friend of the Jewish people.

I can just hear it now. I fear that if Israel ever faces existential danger such as that threatened by Iran, Hagel might just say that he is the Secretary of Defense of the US… and not the Defense Minster of Israel. He would argue that he has seen the horrors of war and does not want to spill one drop of American blood in yet another foreign war… and while he is sympathetic to Israel’s plight, bottom line is that Israel is not our concern.

It’s too bad the President has chosen this man for this job. As I said, he will probably be confirmed. All he needs is a simple majority of congress. He’ll probably get it. (Although I still hope he doesn’t)

I wish he had chosen Susan Rice or even Colin Powell. Compared to Hagel they are a Zionists.

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Hollow Men in a Hollow Earth

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

We still think of idealists as men in worn coats sleeping on cots in cold basements. Those sorts of men can still be found, but the basements are the old digs of an evicted Latino 7th Day Adventist Church with the paint scraped off to expose the fashionably bare brickwork and go for $2,500 a month on the wrong side of the Williamsburg Bridge strewn with cots from IKEA and kept cold as a statement about Global Warming. Their shivering denizens work profitably at an environmental non-profit as social media managers in the great national and international network of the Left.

Five years later they’re living in a posh bedroom community in Jersey as the heads of some shell organization aimed at young people that’s funded by mysterious family foundations and angling for a job in D.C. advising a Senator or a Cabinet member on the environment. If not they’ll have to settle for a gig at some Green consultancy telling old timey corporations on how they can get sustainable to win over the kids and score some sweet tax breaks.

If they’re truly lucky, the dedicated idealist may even earn a chance to ghostwrite Al Gore’s next book about the environment. At parties, they’ll take out a pristine copy of the New York Times bestseller, a status it achieved through the efforts of social media managers who coordinated mass buying efforts followed by mass returns for zero net profit but maximum status, whose cover features Gore gazing contemplatively at the Earth, and whisper to the person they’re trying to impress. “I wrote that.”

Idealism is a brand now, and few men have profited from it as thoroughly as Albert Arnold Gore Jr. Where former presidents Carter and Clinton dashed to different philanthropies around the world, Gore, true to his stodgy unimaginative image invested in one brand of idealism. Environmentalism. Carter could have his houses and Clinton could sit in luxurious hotel rooms in Haiti counting all that aid money, but Gore, like the intrepid tobacco farmer he was, bet everything on the whole planet.

In the 90s, environmentalism was just one of many stocks in the rainbow market of liberalism, alongside AIDS, racism, sexism and world hunger. A good MTV VJ could manage to incorporate all five into a hope for world peace, followed by a grunge band, a rap video and a series of seizures. And environmentalism was still limited to saving cute animals and being angry at oil companies for being all about the oil.

Al Gore’s environmentalism seemed as boring as everything else about him. It was fitting that a man with the bearing and personality of a tree would spend all his time yammering on about trees. But then a series of Mayan tablets predicting the destruction of the North Pole by 2007 or 2012 or 2092 came into the possession of a humble former Vice President and everything changed.

Racism was bad, but it wouldn’t kill everyone. Neither would AIDS. World Hunger was something for the Africans to worry about. But Global Warming brought back Armageddon in a big way. Like the Cold War, cold basements or bungee jumping, it reminded the numbed children of privilege that they could die at any moment. And it stroked their egos by telling them that, just like in all their favorite Saturday Morning Cartoons, only they could save the world.

Al Gore, like many a bearded prophet, had gone to his mansion in the wilderness of Belle Meade (median income $194,016) and returned with pie charts and cockamamie theories made up by other people that would make him extremely rich. Idealism was a brand, and unlike Clinton, Gore seemed sincere, if only because he came off as too unimaginative not to be.

With luxury goods, the brand is also the product, and environmentalism is the ultimate luxury good. Luxury products are at their most profitable when marketing intangibles. Flying over calf leather from Italy is expensive. Giving American leather a fancy name is cheap. Environmentalism is much the same. The real commodity being sold is particular a state of mind and membership in an exclusive club.

Capitalism made luxury hard work by making everything cheap. Suddenly it wasn’t enough to just lie in bed and order the butler to bring you exotic pomegranates from the Orient and champagne from the vineyards of France. Those things could be found in any supermarket courtesy of the jet plane. Status stopped being a lazy man or woman’s game and became a frenzied rat race. Fat was out and hyperactive workouts were in. Anyone could afford good art, so those with discerning taste chose bad art. Anyone could vacation abroad, so they bought old farm houses, restored them and painted bad art while trying to grow their own food.

Status itself became a sign of a lack of status. Anyone could buy a suit, so the occupations of the rich became those where you did not have to wear a suit, where you could become very wealthy while wearing jeans, a hoodie and sneakers. The grandsons and granddaughters of the nouveau riche relearned the old lessons of the upper crust that displays of wealth were vulgar and status lay in a self-conscious lack of it. When everyone has cars, you ride a bike. When everyone can afford steak, you buy a thimble cup of 200 dollar organic magic beans. When everyone wants things, you show how little you need things by convincing everyone to go Gandhi and give up things.

Environmentalism was the ur-brand of philanthropy. A philanthropy as big as the planet for a cause so generous that it was completely anti-materialistic. And like all luxury, it was also hugely and obscenely profitable.

While his rival was getting tangled in Iraq, Al Gore was becoming the Giorgio Armani of environmentalism. And environmentalism was much bigger than men’s coats or women’s shoes. It was a lifestyle, a cause and a movie deal. It was everything.

Causes are like copyrights. A company that believes in a cause, donates money from its profits to the cause. Sometimes that’s explicit, as with the Red label, mostly it happens behind the scenes. But the green label is everywhere, on the product and behind the scenes. It’s the lifestyle that says you like to buy things, but you also care about the planet. It says that you’re a modern sensitive person who loves the peasants of Guatemala and the ice of the South Pole. And just like buying a silver vest covered in diamonds, it says that you shouldn’t be allowed out of the house with money.

But environmentalism is bigger than all this. It’s not just green toilet paper and recycled rubber shoes, washing machines that don’t work and recycling carts with usage meters on them. It’s numbers. And the numbers are really big.

Money used to be gold, now it’s numbers. The digitization of all things, art, poetry and music are just drops in the great numbersphere. The flood is in the financials where everything is imaginary and has value until the economy is one great numbers game. Environmentalism is one more layer of numbers in a numbers game where social justice sells homes that people can’t afford and then sells the debt and then the debt of the debt.

In the post-modern economy everything is stripped down to its definitions, monetized, hollowed out and resold as an investment to funds and persons scrambling to outrun inflation by investing in consensually real unreal investments. Environmentalism, like all idealism for hire, sells out the one thing that it stands for…  the right to pollute.

The right to pollute is not a small thing in a world where exhalation is pollution. The right to pollute means the right to drive a car, build a factory, buy non-local produce, eat a burger, fly to Miami and exhale. It is nothing less than the right to live.

Communism criminalized commerce and then legalized it on its terms. Environmentalism criminalizes life and legalizes it on its terms. The terms are paying a tribute to one of the many green companies owned wholly or partially by Al Gore and his merry band of green investors who steal from the rich and give to the even richer, and steal from the poor and give to the Gore..

Idealism is a commodity and when the investment comes due, you sell out in exchange for power and profit. One minute you’re standing in front of a spreadsheet of a quarter ton of cow farts a minute being emitted by the livestock of New Zealand which, you claim, spells imminent doom for all the ice on the planet, and the next minute you’re opening a business to sell pollution indulgences to the environmentally minded who want to fly to Fiji on a first class moral ticket.

One minute you’re warning about fossil fuels and the next minute you’re selling your news channel  to a Middle Eastern oil tyranny for 500 million bucks. And you’re doing it because idealism is a commodity to be cashed in for a tidy profit right before tax season. The longer you allow your idealism to appreciate, in the eyes of others, the more money you can make cashing it out.

Al Gore sold access to China and made campaign calls from the White House because there was no legal controlling authority that said he couldn’t. He claimed that he invented the internet because there was no one, except a million comedians, to say that he didn’t. He claimed that his relationship with his wife inspired Love Story, because when you lie all the time,what’s one more lie?

The Gore lost the election, went into the wilderness of Belle Meade and came out with the revelation that it’s time to drop all the little lies and stick to one big one. Forget claiming that you invented the comma and the cocoa bean while on a conference call with Isaac Newton and just focus on warning everyone that the planet is about to explode. A lie as big as a planet. A lie that was too big to fail.

Gore monetized that lie, he took it to every bank on the planet and then he took it to every cable company and convinced them to give him access to 40 million American homes so that he could tell them that the planet was about to blow up. And just as he had at the White House, Al Gore cashed out that access and sold it to an enemy nation.

There are idealists who sell out and become hollow men, and there are hollow men who pretend to be idealists. Gore is a hollow man selling someone else’s alarmist hollow earth theory so he can make it to the next stage of a career that has no meaning or purpose. Like most professional idealists, Al Gore cares for nothing except money. Having sold out so many times, his only idea is to keep doing it again and again.

The professional idealist is a hollow man. A soulless man who is tasked with convincing everyone of the existence of the thing that he does not have. The Left has created an endless number of professional openings for such soulless men, for paid liars and faithless tricksters, who live only to convince the world that they believe just long enough for them to sell out one more time.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

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Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/daniel-greenfield/hollow-men-in-a-hollow-earth/2013/01/08/

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