The Problem with the ADL Global 100 Index of Antisemitism

Global100-feature-logo-380-blue-bgAs a last hurrah for long term National  Director Abe Foxman, the ADL released findings yesterday from its Global 100 Index of Antisemitism.  The overall finding was that 26% of the more than 53,100 respondents evinced the “deep infection” of Antisemitism.  Extrapolating that figure translates to over 1.09 billion of the World’s Population.  The polling was done by a survey contractor over the period from June 2013 to February 2014 via phone and personal interviews in more than 96 languages of the respondents.  An interactive website of the Global Index 100 results by country can be found, here. The ADL news release noted the high prevalence of Antisemitism among Muslim majority countries:

Among Muslims, which comprise 22.7 percent of the world population, 49 percent harbor anti-Semitic attitudes. In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), the number of Muslims holding anti-Semitic attitudes is 75 percent.

The ADL’s survey contractor used a battery of 11 questions to ascertain responses regarding perceptions of Jews and their influence locally and globally.  The ADL News release noted the basis for the Global 100 Index and Foxman’s cherished hope for an enduring legacy:

The overall ADL Global 100 Index score represents the percentage of respondents who answered “probably true” to six or more of 11 negative stereotypes about Jews. An 11-question index has been used by ADL as a key metric in measuring anti-Semitic attitudes in the United States for the last 50 years.

“For the first time we have a real sense of how pervasive and persistent anti-Semitism is today around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “The data from the Global 100 Index enables us to look beyond anti-Semitic incidents and rhetoric and quantify the prevalence of anti-Semitic attitudes across the globe. We can now identify hotspots, as well as countries and regions of the world where hatred of Jews is essentially non-existent.”

However, because of the low average  sample  per country,  approximately 521,  there is a serious question of whether the data base that Foxman hoped for from the ADL Global Index results would  have enough  detail  upon which to base an  enduring legacy to aid in developing prescriptive strategies in ameliorating  Antisemitism.  Antisemitism has existed because of nativist, religious and racial strains that have persisted for more than two millennia.  This despit anniversary , as a bastion and refuge for world Jewry in the heartland of the hate filled Middle East.

The country findings confirm other independent surveys, such as those conducted by the Pew Trust in Muslim countries of persistently high presence of Antisemitism; the highest occurring in the Palestine Authority and Gaza at 93%, and more than 15 other countries in the Muslim nations of MENA.

The Pew Trust Attitude Survey  in 2005 noted the extent of virulent Antisemitism across the Muslim Ummah. It interviewed more than 330,000 respondents in more than 60 countries. Antisemitism which many believe is a product of doctrinal Islamic  hatred towards Jews:

According to the Pew Global Attitudes Project released on August 14, 2005, high percentages of the populations of six Muslim-majority countries have negative views of Jews. To a questionnaire asking respondents to give their views of members of various religions along a spectrum from “very favorable” to “very unfavorable”, 60% of Turks, 74% of Pakistanis, 76% of Indonesians, 88% of Moroccans, 99% of Lebanese Muslims and 100% of Jordanians checked either “somewhat unfavorable” or “very unfavorable” for Jews.[3]

The top Antisemitic countries/territories ranked by the ADL 100 Global Index are:

  • West Bank and Gaza – 93 percent of the adult population holds anti-Semitic views
  • Iraq – 92 percent
  • Yemen – 88 percent
  • Algeria – 87 percent
  • Libya – 87 percent
  • Tunisia – 86 percent
  • Kuwait – 82 percent
  • Bahrain – 81 percent
  • Jordan – 81 percent
  • Morocco – 80 percent

The lowest-ranked countries in terms of Antisemitism  in the ADL Global Index are:

  • Laos – 0.2 percent of the adult population holds anti-Semitic views
  • Philippines — 3 percent
  • Sweden – 4 percent
  • Netherlands – 5 percent
  • Vietnam – 6 percent
  • United Kingdom – 8 percent
  • United States – 9 percent
  • Denmark – 9 percent
  • Tanzania – 12 percent
  • Thailand – 13 percent

However,   there is a problem. The ADL Global 100 Index didn’t address the matter of hatred of Israel, other than the dual loyalty question.   19th and 20thCentury Antisemitism was  evident  in  the Czarist Forgery , The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and earlier the anti-Dreyfusard  French Anti-Semitic political  Publication, La Libre Parole .  They  portrayed Jews as a controlling octopus of influence in international finance, culture and   governments. This, plus racial strains characterizing  Jews as sub-human,  paved the way for Hitler’s Final Solution that resulted in the murder of Six Million Jewish Men, Women and Children in the Holocaust.  The ADL Global 100 Index found that slightly more than half (54 percent) of survey respondents had heard of the Holocaust.  A fore telling that when the last survivors are gone, so will the World’s institutional memory of this genocide committed by the Nazis against European Jews.

The missing question(s) in the ADL Global 100 might have changed the results for respondents in Europe who ironically now consider Israel as the moral equivalent of Nazis for “oppression, and occupation” of the people in the disputed territories, the Palestinians.

What this ADL Index lacks are questions on anti-Israelism that the former chairman of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Dr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, used to derive the extent of European Antisemitism.   His estimate was that fully 150 million Europeans in the EU countries harbor such anti-Israelism/ Anti-Semitic opinions. Opinions that verge on moral inversion: i.e., buying into the Palestinian meta narrative that Israel is the new Nazi state.   Where Israel was once David, it is now perceived as Goliath fighting the Palestinian David.  If the ADL Global 100 Index had posed the anti-Israel questions used by Gerstenfeld in developing his estimate the results for European counties may have been dramatically different. See our NER review of  Demonizing Israel and the Jews by Gerstenfeld.

When we interviewed Gerstenfeld in the  September 2013 NER, Anti-Israelism is Anti-Semitism,  he responded:

Gordon:  How did you arrive at the number 150 million?

Gerstenfeld:  I culled data from four surveys in which people were asked in nine European countries as to whether they agreed with the statement, “Israel is conducting a war of extermination against the Palestinians,” or alternatively, that Israel was behaving toward the Palestinians like the Nazis did toward the Jews.

Those who answered in the affirmative have deeply anti-Semitic views. In seven EU countries, the lowest responses to the first question were in Italy and the Netherlands – around 38% to 39%. Poland’s response was the highest at 63%. In the U.K, Hungary, Germany and Portugal, responses ranged from 40 to 49%. I then did a simple calculation based on the percentage of people 16 years and older in the European Union.  Broadly speaking 80% of about 500 million citizens in the EU are 16 years old or over. There are thus an estimated 400 million ‘adult’ Europeans. I applied a conservative estimate based on the lowest country response to the question about Israel exterminating the Palestinians which was 38%, to the 400 million adult Europeans. That is how I arrived at an estimate of 150 million.

When we noticed single digit responses in the ADL Global 100 survey results for some of the problematic European countries cited by Gerstenfeld, we had in mind his further response in our interview:

Gordon:  Why is anti-Israelism equated with anti-Semitism?

Gerstenfeld:  Hate-mongering by Muslims and others employs the same motifs that Medieval Christians and Nazi hate mongers used. The claim that Israel is exterminating the Palestinians is slanderous because the Palestinian population has only increased in past decades. Palestinian children and babies are cared for in Israeli hospitals. Palestinian patients are treated in Israeli hospitals and so on.

The anti-Israel hate mongers who claim that Israel harvests the organs of Palestinians are promoting a modern mutation of the anti-Semitic blood libel which was invented in England in the 12th century. There are demonizing anti-Semitic statements emanating from the Muslim world claiming that Jews are “descendents of apes and pigs.” This animalization of the Jewish people comes out of the Quran. One problem is that there are so few anti-Semitism scholars in the world that these things have not been properly exposed in great detail. There is no doubt that anti-Israelism is a third major type of anti-Semitism, like religious and ethnic/nationalistic anti-Semitisms were major types. This anti-Israelism has permeated the mainstream in several European countries. We find it for instance in many Socialist or Labor parties, including those in Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, The Netherlands and Belgium.

Gerstenfield’s assessment is confirmed in independent surveys in European countries. Note the results of this Belgian survey of high school students reported in June 2013:

A major survey among Belgian teenagers indicated anti-Semitism was seven times more prevalent among Muslim youths than in non-Muslim teenagers.

Conducted in recent months by three universities for the Flemish government, the survey was published last month based on questionnaires filled out by 3,867 high school students in Antwerp and Ghent, including 1,068 Muslims.

Among Muslims, 50.9 percent of respondents agreed with the statement “Jews foment war and blame others for it” compared to only 7.1 percent among non-Muslims. Among Muslims, 24.5 percent said they partially agreed with the statement, as did 20.6 percent of non-Muslims.

The statement “Jews seek to control everything” received a 45.1 approval rating among Muslims compared to 10.8 approval among non-Muslims. Of Muslims, 27.9 percent said they partially agreed, as did 29.2 percent of non-Muslims.

About 35 percent of Muslims agreed with the statement that “Jews have too much clout in Belgium” compared to 11.8 percent of non-Muslimswho participated in the “Young in Antwerp and Ghent” survey. The results were part of a 360-page report which was produced for the Flemish government’s Youth Research Platform by the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Ghent University and Vrije Universiteit Brussel.

The problem with the ADL Global 100 survey is compounded by translation and differential responses to questions about Jews in countries where there is little presence or exposure, e.g., Laos.  Then there are the responses in Poland, Lithuania, Hungary, Greece and the Ukraine to survey questions regarding a Jewish population virtually destroyed during the Shoah.  Lingering historical  Antisemitism persists in these Eastern European  countries and Greece driving  their responses.

The Global ADL 100 index results masks the independent European responses from both the Gerstenfeld  and independent  analysis that found that Muslim émigrés had upwards of 8 times the Antisemitic responses  of  non-Muslim residents .  Responses from the PA, Gaza and Arab countries in the Middle East and North Africa uniformly reflect the hateful Islamic doctrine of Majority muslim MENA countries who  over 60 years ago drove out their “Saturday people”  Mizrahi and Megrabi  Jews. The MENA countries are presently forcing the expulsion of the indigenous “Sunday people”, the original Christian residents before the onslaught of Jihad 14 centuries ago.  There is the except in MENA. The stunning response in the ADL Global 100 Index that Iranians appear not to be inclined to follow the theocratic Antisemitism hatred of the Shiite Mullahs.  Having spoken with Iranian émigrés here in the US, they had 2,700 years of living in comity with Jews.  This despite the horrible period from the 16th to the 20th Century under the Safayid Empire and the Shiite mullahs. It was only in the 20th Century under the Pahlavi dynasty that indigenous Jews and Persian women flourished as did trade with Israel. That ended with the Islamic Revolution of 1979 that ended liberty for all Iranians. The largest listener audience for Israel’s Farsi language service today is Iranians.

Finally, there is the famous assessment about surveys and polls by that great fictional sociologist, Humpty Dumpty who had this famous exchange with Alice inThrough the Looking Glass:

“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean—neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master—that’s all.”

Thus in the context of the ADL Global  100  Index, contrast the questions about perceptions of Jews  based on  the current US  Index versus those chosen by Gerstenfeld for analysis of Anti-Israelism as Anti-Semitism.  What is the careworn expression about polls and surveys?  You only get responses to the questions you choose to ask. Even then, because of differential negative perceptions of Jews, real or fantasized, you end up with the results reported by Abe Foxman and his team of pollsters.  The ADL Global 100 Index results may not comprehensively identify the roiling problems of Muslim and nativist Antisemitism globally and in the West.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured photo is of graffito in a restroom at the University of Chicago courtesy of The Coffee Shop Rabbi.

Surviving Obama

In many ways, the November midterm elections are about surviving Barack Hussein Obama, the worst President this nation has ever had the misfortune to electing to that high office. His approval rating hovers around 47% and that means that nearly half of the likely voters still think he’s doing a great job.

If history is any guide, Democrats tend to not turn out in large numbers for midterm elections and we can only hope this holds true. Among Republicans, the TEA Party movement has pushed their candidates, incumbents and aspirants, to the right and that is a good thing. We have had our fill of RINOs (Republicans in Name Only).

In a recent La Jolla, California fund-raiser President Obama told the assembled Democrats, all members of the one percent wealthy enough to ante up to $65,000 per-plate to attend, that he thought Americans had developed the “wrongheaded” view that Washington wasn’t looking out for them and blamed conservatives who, he said, told people they’re “on their own.”

Was he including the millions on food stamps? And the millions on Medicaid? Others receiving college loans? Those receiving help paying their mortgage? Those using a free cell phone? Surely he wasn’t including those on Social Security. The benefits of Medicare have been reduced because its funding was cut by billions to fund Obamacare.

Obama blamed Republicans for the plight of the Middle Class, but we know that, other than telling lies, Obama excels at blaming everyone other than himself for the horrid economy that is struggling to recover after six years of his hand on the tiller.

And, please, let’s not mention the $17 trillion in debt he’s managed to run up in the process of wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on everything from his ill-fated “stimulus” to his “investments” in Green energy firms while delaying the Keystone XL pipeline that will generate jobs and revenue without costing taxpayers a dime.

That debt is going to have to be paid by ours and the next generation, but right now his job is to convince more Americans they are suffering from “income inequality.” And, yes, the federal government stands ready to redistribute the money from taxpayers to those who Nancy Pelosi has said should be grateful they don’t have a job so they can devote themselves to their hobbies.

This is the same President who just unleashed yet another report on the climate filled with various doomsday scenarios. Previous reports called “assessments”, largely drawn from the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, were devoted to “global warming” until it became apparent to everyone that the planet was not warming thanks to a 17 year old cooling cycle that is still in play.

So “global warming” became “climate change” and now it is “climate disruption” because we all know how disruptive hurricanes, blizzards, tornadoes, forest fires, and droughts can be or how a rainstorm can spoil a picnic. The weather somewhere is always “disruptive.”

And this just tells you how stupid he thinks most Americans—at least those who still support him—are.

There is a slice of the population who most certainly are stupid. They are called the media and they are the same people who devoted the last six years to ignoring the scandals that keep popping up in an administration more devoted to crushing its political opposition and free speech than to solving the problems of the economy or responding to those it has encountered on foreign shores.

Obama’s solution has been to abandon the rest of the world as much as possible to a point where he is widely regarded by its leaders as spineless and/or totally unreliable. His recent appearance at the White House Correspondent’s annual bash was testimony to their blind love with the exception of those from the Fox News channel whom he referred to, tongue in cheek, as “a shadowy right wing organization.” Well, we hope it was tongue in cheek.

As for Obamacare, the Heritage Foundation recently noted:

  • Obama is backtracking for now on the enforcement of the individual mandate to buy insurance.
  • Obamacare’s higher taxes and its subsidies that drop off if you increase your income are a disincentive to work hard to improve your situation.
  • The employer mandate imposes new costs on businesses that undercut jobs and wages. It has been illegally and unilaterally delayed until after the midterm elections.
  • The Foundation found that, between 2013 and 2014, the number of insurers offering coverage on the individual markets in all fifty states has declined by 29 percent.
  • Obamacare guarantees major premium increases for single and family coverage.
  • Obamacare’s Medicare changes will result in reduced benefits and threaten senior’s access to care.

And that’s just a few of Obamacare’s negative impacts on everyone’s earnings—if they have a job; 92 million no longer do—and on the increased premiums they are required to pay. Three quarters of those that signed up for new coverage are those who had plans that were cancelled!

Surviving Barack Hussein Obama has become the number one priority for all Americans and for the nation.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

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Czech Book Dusting off Tucker (Benjamin, not Jeffrey) by Lawrence W. Reed

The literature of liberty, free markets, and individualism is immensely rich and getting richer with each passing year. Today’s great minds are building on yesterday’s greats. Taken as a whole, liberty’s library constitutes a most incredible collection of inspiration and insight into the boundless potential of human society. The only sad thing about it all is the extent to which those of an anti-liberty, statist perspective won’t tell their acolytes about it. Have you ever noticed how well “our side” knows Marx and Keynes while those on the other only think they know Hayek, Mises, Friedman, or even Smith?

Among the great thinkers of barely a century ago was Benjamin Ricketson Tucker. Critic of corporate welfare and a welfare state of any kind, Tucker edited and published a remarkable journal called Libertyfrom 1881 to 1908. It featured the bylines of many other great minds as well. Tucker was a fascinating advocate of “individualist anarchism,” which he also called “unterrified Jeffersonianism.”

In September 2013, the Foundation for Economic Education cosponsored a conference in the Czech Republic. Our partner in the effort was CEVRO, a private college in Prague devoted to advancing liberty ideas. Among the students in attendance was Lukáš Nikodym. He approached me afterward with a project he and his brother Tomas were contemplating: an online book of selected articles from Tucker’s old journal. “Will you write the foreword?” Lukáš asked. I hesitated not a second.

The book is now available, and I commend it to our readers, along with these related materials:

  1. The Individualist Anarchists: An Anthology of Liberty” (1881-1908)” by Greg Pavlik
  2. Forgotten Critic of Corporatism” by Sheldon Richman
  3. Liberty Fund’s Online Library of Liberty

Download fileDownload the PDF here

20130918_larryreedauthorABOUT LAWRENCE W. REED

Lawrence W. (“Larry”) Reed became president of FEE in 2008 after serving as chairman of its board of trustees in the 1990s and both writing and speaking for FEE since the late 1970s. Prior to becoming FEE’s president, he served for 20 years as president of the Mackinac Center for Public Policy in Midland, Michigan. He also taught economics full-time from 1977 to 1984 at Northwood University in Michigan and chaired its department of economics from 1982 to 1984.

#DoNotRidiculeHashTagDiplomacy

It has come to my attention that #hastagdiplomacy is being actively ridiculed and parodied by right wing, knuckle dragging, Busheois TEA Party neanderthals. Well, this time the joke’s on them.

For a larger view click on the image.

That’s right, #hashtagdiplomacy has a proud history in America and it gets results. For example, this picture of General MacArthur looking concerned after being ordered to leave the Philippines was crucial in pushing the Japanese out of their conquered Pacific territories.

In fact, Emperor Hirohito later said that he was so moved by the picture he couldn’t bear to allow Hideki Tojo to prosecute a war against a people who showed such sensitivity and caring.

“This hashtag sign plus the deployment of two colorful awareness ribbons in August of 1945 convinced me it was time not only to surrender, but to publicly deny my divinity,” said the former emperor in an interview in 1988.

There you have it, comrades, history is on our side.

They ridiculed Reagan for SDI and “Tear down this wall,” and today the same forces opposed to progress ridicule Dear Leader and the State Department. They were wrong about Reagan and history will prove they’re wrong about #hashtagdiplomacy.

Chins up, comrades, and keep a cheery outlook knowing that Dear First Lady will be vindicated!

Kevin Durant: ‘MVP’ Son

Donald Sterling’s racist rant about Blacks last month put a huge amount of focus on professional athletes. Many sports writers and fans have labeled today’s athletes as spoiled, ungrateful, prima donnas who have no appreciation for those who came before them.

You can count me in this group. But, if what I have been seeing over the past two weeks continue, I may become a believer in the fledgling view that some athletes are beginning to “get it.”

First, NBA players made it clear to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver that they would boycott playoff games if Sterling was not banned from the game. The players won. Sterling was not only permanently banned from the NBA, but the league is in the process of forcing him to sell his NBA franchise.

For those who need more convincing that some professional athletes are beginning to “get it;” one need look no further than newly crowned MVP of the NBA, Kevin Durant.

His acceptance speech given last week during the presentation of the award will go down as one of the best speeches ever given by a professional athlete. Watch the speech in it’s entirely:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/kxVAOoQeNJ8[/youtube]

What manner of man is Kevin Durant that he was moved to give such a wonderful speech? He called each of his teammates by name and made a personal comment about each; and ended by giving his mother the best Mother’s Day gift possible. The above video speaks for itself.

The video immediately went viral and has continued to be discussed inside and outside of sports. But, in watching Durant’s impassioned speech, I could not help but notice an alarming fact that I have yet to hear any discussion of regarding his comments—his beginning and ending of his speech.

In the media and on various blogs, I have yet to see one mention of Durant’s public confession of his Christianity. Here is how he opened his speech, “First off, I would like to thank God for changing my life…for letting me realize what life is really all about…basketball is just a platform in order for me to inspire people and I realize that…”

He then closed his speech by saying, “last, I just like to thank God again…he’s the first and the last, alpha and omega. I thank you for saving my life.”

Talking about Durant’s speech without mentioning the role of God in his life is like having a hamburger without the bun; it’s simply just a piece of meat that is not complete. You know as well as I that if Durant had opened and closed his speech with him talking about being homosexual, it would be the lead headline of his whole speech. But because he talked about his belief in God, the media made a conscious decision to pretend it was never mentioned.

This is Exhibit A in the continued secularization of our society. Durant, by all accounts, is a great person on and off the court. He conducts himself in a manner that brings honor to his parents, the NBA, and society at large; and also is an avowed God fearing Christian.

Durant’s mother, Wanda Pratt, instilled these Christian values in him and his brother, Tony. As a single parent, she raised them as if she were a drill sergeant. She didn’t give them choices, but rather gave them direction. She took them to church, not asked if they wanted to go. She protected them with the shadow of her moral values and Christian beliefs. Christian values doesn’t stop you from doing wrong, it just stops you from enjoying doing wrong.

Talking about Kevin Durant without acknowledging his Christian values is like talking about Richard Nixon without discussing Watergate; or Nelson Mandela without discussing Apartheid; it would be an incomplete account of who they were. So, as we Christians celebrate the shining example of Durant’s life, let us not allow the media to edit out the essence of who Durant is — a God fearing Christian.

This is not about proselytizing or “wearing one’s Christianity on their sleeve;” but rather about telling the whole story of who a person is. Homosexual athletes receive praise from on high from the media and politicians when they come out of the closet; they argue that these athletes should not have to hide who they are.

So, why then should Christian athletes who come out as Christians not receive the same accolades from the media and politicians? Why should they hide who they are: The media, with their reporting, has truly shown who they are.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo of Kevin Durant (35) defended by James Harden at the Drew-Goodman game in August 2011 is by Game Face. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Second-Banana Blues: Veep, cringe comedy, and laughing at Washington so you don’t cry by Michael Nolan

Political beliefs are great at ruining dinners, holidays, and family gatherings. In the Washington, D.C., of TV show Veep, they can ruin your career. And even at best, they—to say nothing of a conscience—are irrelevant.

The show’s creator, Armando Iannucci, doesn’t waste our time with fraught meditations on whether itshould be this way. Just keeping up with how it is occupies more than enough time and throws out more than enough opportunities for comedy. This is why he’s playing a different—and better—game than nearly every other fictionalizer of our Bizarro Olympus.

In this version of D.C., the meaning of whatever anyone does or says is determined after the fact, by the context it meets and how it affects the pursuit of and will to power. And it is always subject to revision. That is to say, almost all of the characters (crucially, though, not 100 percent) seem to have literally no selves inside their suits; they are the servants of power, the chief (maybe the only) virtue here.

So far, so what? Literally every show and movie about Washington makes this point. Veep stands out, especially among the power porn that generally defines Washington shows and movies, for using power as a setup for slapstick. And then Veep plays it deadpan, letting bits and jokes build on each other in the same way that every faux pas and errant bit of candor quickly metastasizes until it feels like Godzilla is marching up the Potomac.

That’s not to say, for all the His Girl Friday verbal ping-pong, that everything here is harmless and goofy. Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s Selina Meyer—the veep in question—generally winds up as the butt of every joke. Or at least the big ones, played by fate. When she declares occasionally that “I am the Vice President of theUnited States of America,” it sounds even more like a punchline than pulling rank inherently does anyway. But everyone has to clam up when she says that, particularly those who spend all day feverishly tending an image that not even Selina remotely buys. There are stakes. And for all the foibles, Selina can and will—like anyone with enough rank—destroy you. The threat of destruction and the promise of one day wielding that power drives everything else, from everyone else. You laugh because otherwise the horror is unbearable.

And it also appears to be inescapable, even setting aside that nearly every character here makes his or her own life miserable (or worth living—being a perverse bunch, I doubt even they can tell the difference) as a matter of choice. They all choose to live in and accept the terms of this world. If they didn’t, there’d always be plenty of others willing to take their places, even at the bottom of the totem pole, where all the whippings are handed out.

For example, one of Selina’s nemeses, an Ohio senator named Roger Furlong (played by Dan Bakkedahl, simultaneously starring in FXX’s Legit as an entirely different, half-decent kind of schmuck), manages to be as blatantly moronic as he is loathesome, and almost more vulgar than anyone else. And he relies entirely on his personal aide to complete most of his obscene neologisms, particularly when he wishes to insult said aide. That guy takes it and completes the punchlines. The fact that they’re usually still pretty ham-handed and almost always unwarranted actually adds to the hilarity. Though be forewarned: This isn’t the belly-laugh kind of hilarity; it’s closer to a near-desperate hysteria.

Point being, neither of these guys has to be here, even if Furlong—like everyone else on top—is the one who looks like he’s no good for anything else.

You Don’t Have to Be Awful to Work Here, but It Helps

This point matters, because it limits the amount of sympathy you can extend to any member of the cast. It’s a reminder that everyone here is getting something out of all of this, so how bad can their suffering really be?

The insularity of the Washington depicted here allows the show to keep its focus on relative merit rather than straying into the weeds of broad moral profundity. Expecting this out of people who want careers in politics is what got us here in the first place, after all. Nobody’s “good,” and it’s not clear that “bad” matters here, either. When someone from (more or less) outside this world pops up and says, “You people are monsters,” there’s a pause in which you can more or less see the thought bubbles above everyone else’s heads: Monsters? This guy thinks that matters?

I don’t think for a second that anyone on the show meant that “monsters” comment as an applause line. I don’t even really think it’s a punchline. It’s one of the occasional whiffs of real life that throws this world’s insanity into sharp relief.

What’s more, I was thinking the same thing as the other characters, and it was uncomfortable to realize. But I couldn’t help chuckling in admiration that the writers and cast had made me one of them.

And some people still don’t think of comedy as art.

Probably my favorite line thus far comes near the end of the second season. The context doesn’t really matter; just get a load of this: “There’s going to be difficult choices to make, like Sophie’s Choice choices, except more important because they’re gonna be about me,” Selina tells an aide. That line nearly knocked me out my chair. The way Louis-Dreyfus delivers it—and the way everyone else doesn’t react to it—is why they get to be actors and the rest of us don’t.

That line would be, if someone really meant it, a pretty lousy thing to say and a worse thing to believe. But it’s often a mistake to assume a one-to-one relationship between what’s said and what’s meant; here, italways is. At their least cringe-worthy, these kinds of lines come across as a kind of ritual commiseration, like smart, articulate, harried people handing off a gag gift that’s been making the rounds for decades, but putting a creative, novel touch to the wrapping first. At their worst, they’re unprintable here, but usually still also funny. In every case, they’re transgressive in at least one way. Sooner or later, whoever you are, they’re going to find one that steps on your toes, too.

Mr. Snark Goes to Washington

What I’m grateful for is that show brings cringe comedy into Washington. Veep doesn’t really belong in the same category as shows like Scandal or House of Cards, or even the long-suffering, martyred, back-patting that’s made Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert into, essentially, one-trick ponies (I mean, that’s not a fatal flaw—AC/DC and the Ramones are both one-trick ponies, too). That inures it from the unseemly power-fetishization that drips from everything you hear about the Underwoods.

But cringe comedy—the domain of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, which includes the principality of Larry David—usually has a longevity problem. No matter how brilliantly it’s written, directed, and acted, it gets exhausting if it plays only that note. Even after it stopped just remaking UK episodes with different accents, the U.S. version of The Office remained inferior to the original for much the same reason it was able to earn a far longer run: the probably crazy but also probably crucial belief that everyone’s fundamental decency means things will—and should—work out okay for them in the end. David and company figured out a better way around the cringe problem starting with the second season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Merchant’s current project, Hello, Ladies, hasn’t yet, so you barely get a chance to enjoy it before you have to turn away.

Veep has come up with a solution to this problem that’s entirely its own. Maybe it’s the sheer strength of the ensemble cast. Maybe it’s the occasional reminders that there are real stakes here and at least some of the characters are aware of them (Selina seems genuinely shaken when a hostage-rescue mission she gave the green light to mainly for political capital costs a soldier his leg). Or maybe it’s the sense of a vast, chaotic complexity within nearly all of the characters: When Selina’s daughter shows up and calls bullshit, Selina works her like any other opponent. When her daughter just wants a mother, you can all but see Selina calculating how to “win” this situation in one eye while, in the other, a donnybrook rages between her conflicted desires, a suspicion she might not be up to it, and something that looks a lot like guilt—and the ever-present need to deal with the current crisis. She always manages to disappoint, Selina does. But always in a new way.

Or maybe it’s just that nobody ever wins or really seems to lose, either. The show doesn’t fall into the trap of imagining a fantasy Washington where justice is served and the world is set right again. That said, for all that Veep’s world suits my biases just fine, it does feel from time to time like it’s trotting out one inside joke after another, mainly just showing the types that plague Washington—but that even the creators ultimately find worth putting up with. Or maybe real Washington people are more types than people anyway. This show won’t really help you sort it out.

If it was shooting for sheer realism, that might be a problem. But it would also dilute the comedy. It’s better this way, where power hovers and looms, but never truly alights. It’s as if everyone had the exact same floater in their eyes; the more they try to focus on it, the more elusive it becomes. But as far as they’re concerned, there’s nothing else worth looking at.

ABOUT MICHAEL NOLAN

Michael Nolan is the managing editor of The Freeman.

Looking Beyond Donald Sterling

By now, everyone knows the story of Los Angeles Clipper’s owner, Donald Sterling’s banishment from the National Basketball Association (NBA) for his racist comments captured on audio tape last month. What Sterling said was totally stupid and insulting. Period! I don’t think there is any disagreement from anyone on that issue.

In the past, I have been very critical of professional athletes for their unwillingness to take a public stand on any controversial issues. You can argue whether the NBA players were aggressive enough in their protests, but at least they did protest. The Sterling issue was so bizarre that even Michael Jordan publically denounced him. You’re talking about miracles!

For a generation of athletes who have no idea what real sacrifice is all about, they made me proud. Yes, they know about sacrifice relative to playing their sport (playing through pain and injury); but they have yet to show a willingness to give up their sport, even temporarily, to take a principled stand on anything – until now.

When I think of professional athletes taking a principled stand in sports, I think of people such as Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Tommie Smith, John Carlos, Curt Flood, or Spencer Haywood.

So, to find out that these NBA players told the commissioner of the NBA in no uncertain terms that they were prepared not to play in their upcoming playoff games if Sterling were not permanently banned from the game and he was barred from ongoing ownership of the Clippers; this, indeed, was a historic moment for today’s athlete.

This Sterling situation was about racism, bigotry, and hate; no question about it. Relative to the Black community, there is an issue being overlooked: An alarming rise in the number of people and organizations who have contracted laryngitis when it comes to issues of racism, bigotry, and fairness involving the Black community. But like fools, many in the Black community take up the cause of every other group as their own and then get absolutely no reciprocity when Blacks are treated unfairly.

The Human Rights Campaign is supposed to be the homosexual version of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)—standing up for the equal and fair treatment of those who are homosexual. The National Council of La Raza is supposed to be the Hispanic version of the NAACP—fighting for the equal and fair treatment of Latinos. The National Organization of Women (NOW)—is the largest organization of feminist activists in the U.S. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU)—an organization of 2.1 million members united by the belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide and dedicated to improving the lives of workers and their families and creating a more just and humane society.

I went to each of these groups’ websites and none had issued one statement regarding the Sterling issue since it first broke. Not one word, not one sentence. Yet, liberal Black groups such as the NAACP lose their minds when someone says something considered insulting to homosexuals; or against amnesty for illegals; something deemed misogynistic towards women; or in opposition to increasing the minimum wage.

In fact, many of these Blacks spend more time supporting amnesty for illegals than they do issues devastating the Black community, like double digit unemployment. Black women constantly take on the battle for affirmative action for white women who are the biggest beneficiary of the program. Many of the workers at sports stadiums are Black and also members of SEIU.

All these groups claim to stand for fairness and equality for all, but somehow they never seem to be able to verbalize any support when the Black community is treated unfairly.

What Sterling said was an affront to all Americans, not just Blacks. If these groups hold themselves out to be the moral beacon of America; how then can they selectively show moral outrage when bigotry and racism rears its ugly head?

This type of behavior from other groups towards Blacks has been a consistent occurrence; and the main reason is weak leadership within the Black community.

These groups all know that these media appointed Black leaders will carry their water for them and will never ask or demand anything in return. These groups, with their words, claim to be in solidarity with the Black community; but with their actions, they show that they have little regard for the Black community. The only difference between them and Donald Sterling is that Sterling at least was man enough to say how he felt.

RELATED STORY: Tim Tebow Mocked While Michael Sam Praised

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is by Arnaud Klamecki from Lille, France. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Explicit Lyrics: How the music crusaders of the 80s and 90s lost to the Internet by Chris Kjorness

Recently, artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm released a collection of graphs charting changes in pop song lyrics. These images reveal what many critics of contemporary culture have been saying for years: Popular music has become increasingly crass. Maybe this shift is the handiwork of the usual suspects—greedy corporations, say, or an increasingly godless society. But it’s just as likely an unintended consequence of the kind of political scheming you’d expect more out of TV dramas than out of real life.

In the early 1980s, Tipper Gore, wife of then-Tennessee senator Al Gore, was on a mission. Outraged after overhearing her daughter listening to the Prince song “Darling Nikki,” she took it upon herself to do something about the state of pop music. It resembles a storyline from House of Cards: Claire Underwood had the Clean Water Initiative and her campaign against sexual assault in the military; Tipper Gore had the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), a group of Beltway wives dedicated to preserving the moral integrity of the nation’s children through a national media campaign designed to educate the public about the prevalence of explicit content in rock music. Her husband, a democrat representing one the  most religiously conservative states in the country, had his eyes on a 1988 run for the presidency. Senator Gore was therefore more than happy to accommodate his wife’s family-values crusade.

But the PMRC’s mission went beyond mere education; the organization also sought to re-establish control of children’s cultural environment through stricter regulation of music packaging and retail display. The group hoped that political pressure would compel the Recording Industry Association of America (a trade organization whose members produced more than 85 percent of available records at the time) to take these steps voluntarily.

This incident was not the first time that the record industry had been lobbied to better police raunchy lyrics. Religious groups had been staging protests, writing letters, and burning records since Elvis first shook his hips on the Ed Sullivan Show. And artists and entertainers had been fighting obscenity charges for live performances and records for decades. But suing artists and record companies proved ineffective. To be judged obscene, a work had not only to be offensive but deemed lacking “serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.” A more common strategy for those wishing to clean up music was to push for laws that limited children’s access to questionable material, both through a rating system, similar to the one used by the Motion Picture Association of America, and through restrictions on the placement of certain albums at major retailers.

While record labels bristled at the notion of censorship, most of them carefully monitored and crafted their content to appeal to the broadest audience possible. For example, the first commercial rap record, The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight,” released in 1979, sounds rather wholesome compared even to recordings of the first live hip-hop performances from 1977 and 1978, let alone the gangster rap that caused a stir in the 1990s.

While the labels could ignore the threats of a few random fanatic groups, the PMRC represented something far more intimidating: the United States Senate, which could back up its threats with regulations.

But Congress could protect the industry, as well as regulate it—at least for a while. In the early ’80s, analog dubbed cassettes were eating into record-industry profits, and with Sony developing a digital audio recorder for commercial release, industry executives were looking to hedge their risks through a federal tax on all blank audio cassettes and cassette recording equipment. Not only would the tax increase the cost of home recording, the proceeds of the tax would be given to record producers and artists.

In the meantime, the PMRC was getting its way. The centerpiece of its campaign was the September 19, 1985, congressional hearings before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation on the vital matter of “porn rock.” During the hearings, senators passive-aggressively questioned artists ranging from hair metal singer Dee Snider to folk singer John Denver, suggesting something needed to be done—and that it would be a shame for the government to have to do it. One of the stars of the hearings ended up being Frank Zappa, who vigorously questioned the purported “education, not legislation” agenda of the hearings.

In all truth, the hearings were not aimed at legislation. Prior to the hearings the RIAA agreed to label cassettes and albums with explicit lyrics, as the PMRC had recommended, making the proceedings little more than political theater designed to show that the senators involved were in line with the rising tide of 1980s social conservatism.

Early implementations of music labeling were inconsistent. Labels and artists not only decided what material to label, but what the label in question would say, making the warning label a new medium for expression. For example, the warning label on rapper Ice T’s The Iceberg/Freedom of Speech . . . Just Watch What You Say (1989) read in part, “Parents Strongly Cautioned: Some material may be X-tra hype and inappropriate for squares and suckers.” While proponents of music labeling had called for labeled records and cassettes to be confined to separate rooms in music stores, rooms in which customers would have to show ID before entering, the voluntary labeling of records placed no obligation on the retailer—although many, most notably Walmart, chose not to carry albums with parental advisory labels.

By 1990, a uniform sticker had emerged. Record companies’ concerns that the labeled records would suffer at the cash register proved unwarranted. In an industry that placed a premium on rebelliousness, the warning sticker became a badge of honor among musicians and their teenage fans. The long-held American popular music tradition of coding racy material in symbols and double entendres gave way to overt crassness. Even artists who had largely steered clear of controversy in the past, like Michael Jackson, found themselves purposefully cultivating controversy to remain relevant.

If the PMRC’s aim was to convince the music industry to clean up its act by threatening record labels’ profits, it failed miserably. Not only was the music industry raking in huge profits selling teenagers music more provocative than the Prince song that led to the creation of the PMRC in the first place, but record executives got their music-dubbing tax as well.

The labeling kerfuffle and recording tax were inextricably linked: Hearings on the tax followed the “porn rock” hearings by a couple weeks. The following year, John Danforth (R-Miss.), who had chaired the “porn rock” hearings, proposed a 35 percent tariff on digital recorders sold without an anti-recording chip. Al Gore proposed a similar tax the year after that. Gore’s act was defeated. The industry finally got what it wanted with the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992, which included a tax on all digital recorders, the proceeds of which were filtered back into the record industry.

Songs still needed radio airplay and video plays on MTV, both of which still fell under the FCC’s decency guidelines. Fortunately for record producers, digital recording and editing had significantly lowered the cost of creating multiple versions of a song. Record labels that had once self-censored to reach the broadest possible audience developed an alternative, two-track song model: an explicit version for the album and a cleaned-up one for the radio, allowing artists like Dr. Dre to insult the moral sensibilities of just about anyone while simultaneously getting Top 40 airplay. And it all came from a convenient quid pro quo between an industry looking for favorable treatment and an ambitious politician and his wife.

The music market landscape is very different in the Internet age. Those seeking to rein in raunchy music in 2014 would not be able to confront a single entity like the RIAA. And in the virtual marketplace shelf space is virtually unlimited, so there really is no threat of a recording being kept from consumers by a retailer (though Walmart still carries the torch). More importantly, Internet services and content providers recognize parents’ concerns and offer a variety of mechanisms to filter what their children are exposed to. Parents can pre-scan albums on iTunes or Amazon before deciding to purchase them. Internet radio services like Pandora and Google Play are quickly taking the place of radio for teens and have explicit language filters that give parents the option to weed out explicit content. And contrary to alarmist notions that the relative anarchy of the Internet would send the decency standards of popular culture spiraling precipitously down, lyrics may be getting less dirty.

For example, a search for each of the seven words you can’t say on TV at Rap Genius’s Rap Stats website, which provides an online tool that plots the frequency of appearance of individual words in rap songs from 1987 to the present, reveals that four of the seven are found less often in rap songs released in recent years than in songs released in the late 1990s.

And here House of Cards is instructive in a different way. While initially there were great concerns over explicit content in original television series produced by subscription networks like HBO and Internet content providers like Netflix, all of which operate outside of traditional FCC broadcast content guidelines, television today is not a race to the bottom. The same can be said for the 2012 Supreme Court ruling that threw out fines the FCC levied for fleeting nudity and obscenity on broadcast networks Fox and ABC.

Media consumers don’t want raw pornography; they want great content. If the artistic license to use the F-bomb helps artists create a better show or song, audiences are more than happy to go along with it. It is this understanding among audiences, content providers, and producers that has ushered in what many are calling the second great era of American television.

Today, musicians and music producers’ greatest concern is what copyright and royalties will look like in the age of online streaming. As this debate continues, it is important to keep an eye out for those who would use debates about the delivery and compensation for content as a platform for censoring and shaping the content, as well. We’ve been down this road before.

ABOUT CHRIS KJORNESS

Chris Kjorness is a freelance writer and musician.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of FEE and Shutterstock.

The Real Cost of Healthcare: Questions Not Asked or Answered

A quick review of current literature on healthcare costs and healthcare cost containment is not a very productive use of one’s time.  Within minutes of beginning a review of the published literature, the researcher quickly finds himself so deep into the weeds that it is impossible to make any sense of what is being conveyed.

Throughout the entire public debate over the efficacy of Obamacare, no one seemed to be asking the pertinent questions.  No one has asked, why is healthcare so expensive, and who gets all that money?

I can recall once reading a story in the Philadelphia Inquirer about a Southeast Asian family who arrived in Philadelphia with their infant daughters… Siamese twins joined at the abdomen. Upon examination by a team of surgeons and pediatricians, doctors concluded that it would be possible to surgically separate the twins and that, after a period of recovery, the two little girls could expect to live happy and productive lives.

But then one of the reporters asked the operative question.  The Asian family had no healthcare insurance and very little money, so the question arose, how much would the estimated eleven-hour procedure cost?  The hospital spokesman responded, quite matter-of-factly, saying, “About a million dollars.”

No one batted an eye; no one questioned the estimate and no one asked for a cost breakdown.  Yet, it is necessary to ask, who gets all that money?  How many physicians would participate in the separation procedure?  How many nurses?  What would be the cost of disposable medical equipment?  What would be the cost of post-operative care?  A million dollars is a hell of a lot of money for an eleven-hour surgical procedure and a month or so of post-operative pediatric care.

If we assume five attending physicians… two surgeons, an anesthetist, an obstetrician, and a pediatrician… at $1,000 each per hour for eleven hours, the cost for physician’s services would come to $55,000.  If we assume five operating room and neo-natal nurses at $100 per hour for eleven hours, the cost of nursing care would come to $5,500.  If we assume a cost of $1,000 per hour for the use of the operating theater, the cost of surgical facilities would come to $11,000.  And if we assume a cost of $5,000 for drugs, medicines, and miscellaneous medical equipment, the direct costs accumulated on the day of the separation procedure would come to $76,500.

Then, if we assume a post-operative stay of 30 days for the twins, at $400 each, per day, for a bassinette in neo-natal recovery, that cost would come to $24,000.  And if we assume a cost of $1,000 per day to have surgeons look in on their patients, $500 per day for nursing care, and $500 per day for miscellaneous medicines, food, and diapers, the total cost of post-operative care would come to $84,000.  That would bring the total cost of the separation procedure and the post-op care to $160,500.

All of these estimated costs and daily and hourly rates are admittedly inflated.  So if the hospital prepares an invoice for $1,000,000, who gets the other $839,500?

No one in Congress, the White House, or in the mainstream media is asking the operative question that needs to be addressed.  No one is asking why healthcare is so expensive.  No one is asking, who gets all that money?

A part of the answer to that question was suggested by a recent caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio show.  The caller was a bookkeeper in the finance department of a major hospital; her husband was an orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the same hospital.  The woman explained that each time an orthopedic surgeon performed a hip-joint or knee-joint replacement, he/she was paid a flat rate of $1,250 for their time and talent.  However, when the manufacturer billed the hospital $8,000 for a prosthetic hip joint, the hospital routinely billed the patient, or the patient’s insurance company, $32,000… a 300% markup for the hardware.

Over the past three or four years, a close friend and neighbor has survived a serious bout with cancer.  And although I am unaware of the total cost of his cancer treatments by local physicians and cancer specialists at the M.D. Anderson Clinic in Houston, I am aware that the bill for his bone marrow transplant procedure came to approximately $1.2 million.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually saw him?  How many hours did they spend treating him?  What was the actual cost of a few hours of operating room usage?  How was that $1.2 million split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself?   Who got all that money?

In recent weeks, Dr. Tom Coburn has announced that he will retire from the U.S. Senate with two years remaining on his current term.  Dr. Coburn is one of the two or three finest members of the U.S. Senate and his departure will be a great loss to Oklahomans and to the country.  Unfortunately, Dr. Coburn suffers from cancer and is undergoing treatment at M.D. Anderson in Houston.  What caught my attention was a recent statement by Dr. Coburn, saying that each time he has a consultation at M.D. Anderson, he is billed for $32,000.

Again, how many physicians and nurses actually see him on each visit?  How many hours do they spend treating him or evaluating his condition?  What is the actual cost of the tests he undergoes?  How is that $32,000 split up between a few doctors, a few nurses, a few lab technicians, and the clinic itself for just a few hours of their time?   If the same team of doctors, nurses, and technicians see even as few as eight patients a day, the total income generated would come to $256,000.  Who gets all that money?

Those who work in the healthcare industry… in hospitals, clinics, and doctors’ offices… always have a ready answer.  They claim that it is the cost of high-tech equipment and facilities that runs up the cost of healthcare.  Baloney!  There are few hospitals or clinics in the country that cannot obtain the most expensive items of diagnostic equipment, such as MRI machines, through local philanthropy.

And those large portraits of distinguished-looking men and women hanging on the walls of hospitals and surgical wings?  Those are not oil portraits of the hospital’s “Employee of the Month.”  No, those are the portraits of the men and women who have shared their wealth by donating millions of dollars to build a wing onto the local hospital and whose names are enshrined in concrete and marble over the front door.

What is needed is a complete understanding by all concerned… especially those of us who pay the bills… of how a single dollar bill makes its way through the healthcare system and how it is divvied up at the end of the day.  To do so, it would be necessary to conduct a complete micro-economic study of a select number of major medical facilities, identifying over a specified period of time the source of every dollar that comes in the front door, and the recipient of every dollar that goes out the back door.

In other words, in any overhaul of our healthcare system, our first order of business should be to figure out exactly who is bilking the system… who is getting rich, and who is being bankrupted in the process.  Compared to the actual direct cost of healthcare, the price that consumers are asked to pay is far out of balance… perhaps by a factor of as much as four or five.  So who gets all that money?

Early in his first term, Barack Obama promised that he and congressional Democrats would reshape the American healthcare system.  They promised to insure 40 million uninsured, to substantially reduce the cost of healthcare for everyone, to save the average family as much as $2,400 a year in out-of-pocket healthcare costs, to increase the quality of healthcare for all Americans, and to do it all without increasing the number of doctors, nurses, and hospitals.

No one with an I.Q. larger than their hat size would believe they could do what they promised.  But enough low-information Kool-Ade drinkers fell for Obama’s false promise and they elected him.  Now they have to live with what he, Nancy Pelosi, and Harry Reid have produced.  When the small company and large company extensions granted by Obama expire sometime in 2016, or before, everyone will be able to see the disaster that Obamacare is.

It is likely that, beginning in 2015, a Republican-controlled House and Senate will be left with the task of cleaning up Obama’s mess.  And when they do we can only hope that they will be wise enough to begin by asking the question, who gets all the money that pours into the healthcare system?  Until we confront that question, real healthcare reform will be nothing more than an impossible dream.

Where is the Rehabilitation for “Racists”?

For decades liberals have lobbied against punishment and for rehabilitation. The argument was that a mugger or murderer was just a victim of his environment, someone caught in the crosshairs of bad nurturing and neighborhood. Accountability is unwarranted because the person bears no responsibility: he knew not what he did. And so successful was this movement that our penal system was largely reorganized based on the rehabilitation model. Why, I’ve even argued with people who insisted that “punishment doesn’t work” (apparently, they’d never heard of Singapore, caning and virtually zero crime).

So, question: where are the calls for rehabilitation, as opposed to punishment, for “racists” such as Clippers owner Donald Sterling?

And the rehabilitation mentality’s absence isn’t just apparent in the social ostracism and career destruction visited on those accused of the One Liberal Deadly Sin of “racism”*. (*Some exceptions may apply.)

It isn’t even just apparent in the social persecution of supposed “haters” in general, from Brendan Eich to the Boy Scouts to devout Christians.

Just consider leftism-disgorged “hate-crime” law. It proves ever so explicitly that, somehow, liberals have discovered the utility of punishment; after all, they will justify this legislation by saying that since some crimes target whole communities, they’re so destructive that a message must be sent. It appears that when their own ideological ox is being gored, the people who authored the atheist version of “the Devil made him do it” want Devil’s Island.

A good example is Donald Sterling. It’s not enough that he has had his reputation destroyed, been fined $2.5 million and been “banned for life” by the National Bolsheviks Association. There are people who want newspapers to stop accepting his ads. And the bigoted Al Sharpton — proving hypocrisy knows no bounds — had actually said that the Clippers should be disbanded. Yes, and maybe we should adopt the North Korean model of purging Sterling’s family and friends, too. But how much punishment is enough? How many pounds of flesh will sate the rapacious and blood-stained leftist palate? Would only a gulag and a long, slow, painful death suffice for the world’s Sterlings?

None of this is a surprise if you understand that liberals don’t operate based on principles, but feelings; in keeping with this, liberalism isn’t an ideology. It is a process. Even Marxism has a vision for how society should be (unrealistic though it is), but liberals do not. The only consistent definition of liberalism is “a desire to change the status quo,” which means there will always be, without a guiding vision, directionless, unprincipled change and action. Liberals are the children who ever fight the parents simply because that is the nature of the brat, and they do this even when yesterday’s liberals have become the parents.

How does this relate to punishment? A person operating on principle, on a vision, will try to tame his emotion and say: here’s the crime, here’s what justice dictates, so here is the proportionate punishment. But with liberals there is no justice — it’s “just us” as they’re governed by the shifting sands of convenience. Their feelings tell them that they hate the transgressor and that they want revenge, and it’s never enough to satisfy them viscerally. It’s as with the feeling of hunger: no matter how much you eat, there’s always another appetite mere hours away.

This governance by emotion helps explain why “*Some exceptions may apply.” It sheds light on why liberals haven’t made a federal case out of Bellville, NJ, Democrat mayoral candidate Marie Strumolo Burke, who lamented proposed tax-rate changes and was caught on audio exclaiming, “This is gonna be a f*****g n****r town!” It illuminates why they did nothing when then NBA owner Jay-Z threw a 2010 party in which no whites were allowed. It even explains why Sterling, whose views were long known, received not only a special dispensation but also acclaim and awards from the left. As part of their political phalanx, liberals don’t hate Burke; they don’t hate bigoted blacks such as Jay-Z; they don’t even hate rich, old white men who pay their dues and pay off the cause. And disconnected from Truth and thus having “situational values,” it’s easy for libs to live in a world of rationalization. Just give them plausible deniability in their own minds, so, as Mark Cuban once said about Sterling, they can shrug off the sin as the eccentricities of a fellow who “plays by his own rules.” But don’t you dare out yourself if you’re a white guy. Don’t become a liability to the cause. It’s as if the mistake isn’t the act (at least if you’re one of the initiated) — the mistake is getting caught.

But with those who aren’t part of their phalanx, liberals will hate, hate, hate; they will hunger for vengeance and, since vengeance never eliminates hate (only forgiveness does), there is never an end to their retribution.

To be clear, I’m not saying that outrage over “racism” is always mere artifice. Sometimes it is. Sometimes it’s reminiscent of medieval heresy accusations, which could be leveled against an individual by vindictive people with an axe to grind. But much of the time if not most, the anger is real.

It’s just selectively triggered.

In rare cases, the transgression itself may be enough to induce the emotional response. Most of the time, however, it’s some combination of transgression+transgressor+situation. Transgressor can negate transgression, as when a black person makes a bigoted remark; or transgressor can magnify transgression, as when a white Republican makes a corresponding remark. If a white Democrat or Democrat enabler does, transgressor status plus a situation in which you somehow maintain that plausible deniability gets you by. If it’s a wealthy, powerful black man whose success is necessary for the cause, as with Barack Obama, well, then you’re bulletproof. Then again, if you’re a wealthy, powerful white man whose failure is necessary for the cause, as with George Allen and “macaca,” you’re history.

This isn’t to say that most liberals are fully conscious of what animates them. Self-awareness is often lacking among man, and this is especially true among philosophically dysfunctional men (who we today often call liberals). All most leftists know when spewing venom at a supposedly “racist” conservative is that they hate the person, and they assume it’s only because of his transgression. Living situational lives where everything is compartmentalized, they generally don’t know what truly drives them or consider, at the moment they’re wallowing in hatred, that in the past they’ve reacted very differently to liberals in the same boat.

Of course, another factor is that liberals don’t view these transgressions the way a normal person would. They often “feel” — “think” would be the wrong word because, again, leftists generally operate emotionally — that a black’s or liberal’s uttering of a racial remark is of a very different moral species than when a white conservative does so. A black has a right to such sentiments because of the “legacy of slavery.” As for a white liberal, it was perhaps just a weak moment, a slip of the tongue; after all, the person has proven his credentials with his public face as a good leftist foot soldier. If a white conservative says the same thing, however (which never seems nearly as common), it just reflects the deep-seated bigotry that you have to know resides in his dark soul.

Going even deeper, understand that this accords with liberals’ favored reality-denying modern isms. Nominalism states there is nothing that objectively makes both a tiger and a buff tabby “cats,” categorically speaking — we just happen to view them that way. Likewise, a normal person may see two bigoted statements or two acts of punishment as occupying the same category, but there is, objectively speaking, no such thing as a category called “bigoted statements” or “acts of punishment.” Such classifications only exist in our minds, so we can assign these labels as we see fit. And in deference to relativism, which boils down to the notion that there’s no right or wrong, neither punishment nor rehabilitation can be inherently good or bad, and consistency can be no better than inconsistency.

At bottom, this is how devout leftists view the world. Subscribing to the Protagorean proposition “Man is the measure of all things” and the apocryphal one “Might makes right,” when they win culture wars and take control, they make themselves the measure of all things. Perhaps the best characterization of their philosophy is occultist Aleister Crowley’s formulation, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law.”

And what they wilt do is persecute you. Remember that, nice-guy conservatives, the next time you want to fight them using Queensbury Rules.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

EDITORS NOTE: The featured photo is courtesy of Ardfern. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Worst of Times, the Best of Times

I suppose that throughout history men and women have asked themselves if they were living through either the worst or best of times. The times between wars are most surely the best of times and the times leading up to and during a war qualify as the worst.  They are, however, rather quickly forgotten. It only takes about two generations—sometimes less—to move on from such events.

May 8, is “VE Day” celebrating the U.S. victory in Europe in World War Two. I suspect that most of our younger generations, including some of the Boomers, have no idea what the “VE” stands for.

World War Two ended seven decades ago, but not only have most Americans moved on from the horror of September 11, 2001, but it would appear that even the killing of an American ambassador and three security personnel in Benghazi, Libya on September 11, 2012 doesn’t arouse much anger even as we learn of a White House cover-up that utterly debases their sacrifice and loss. “Dude, that was two years ago,” said one White House staff member; as crass and crude a dismissal as one can imagine.

From a perspective of more than seventy and a half years, my mind flashes back to the Watergate scandal that began in June 1972 and concluded with President Nixon’s resignation in August 1974. That was a long two years as the attending events unfolded.

Forty-three people in the Nixon administration went to jail for their participation in the cover-up. The current Attorney General received a Contempt of Congress citation for his failure to provide information about one of the administration’s many scandals and during a recent speech to the National Action Network, a group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, asked “What Attorney General has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” Does the name John Mitchell ring a bell? He was Nixon’s Attorney General.

Holder apparently believes that the charges hurled at him and President Obama are mostly based on the color of their skin. We live in a nation that has a black President, a black Attorney General, and a black member of the Supreme Court, to name just a few Afro-Americans who have made it to the topmost circles of power. There are 43 black members of the House and one in the Senate. I grew up in a nation where blacks could not eat in certain restaurants, get a room at a hotel, and even had separate drinking fountains. I witnessed the Civil Rights era and these, for black Americans, are the best of times in the long history of our nation.

For nearly all Americans, however, these are far from the best of times. In 1981 President Reagan pulled the nation out of a recession and set it on a path of prosperity that lasted well in the Clinton years. A financial crisis occurred in the last year of President Bush’s second term. If President Obama didn’t want to “inherit” that, he should not have run for office, but he spent his entire first term blaming the economy and everything else on Bush to the point where he made himself look foolish. And then he was reelected!

We are now two years into Obama’s second term and failed economic and national security policies that include the shrinking of our military power to the levels of pre-World War Two years. Domestic policies are having their effect on failed foreign policies. There are some 90 million Americans out of work or who ceased to look for it.

Peace, some say, is the period between wars and there is great truth in that. Most of my life was spent in the last century, starting in the latter years of the 1930s. There were thirty-two wars, large and small, somewhere in the world during the last century, including a Cold War from 1945 to 1991 between the U.S. and the then-Soviet Union.

So far as the U.S. was concerned, our military saw action in World War One (1914-1918), World War Two (begun in 1939, we entered in 1941-1945), the Korean War (1950-1953), the Vietnam War (begun in 1959 with initial U.S. participation in 1961. We would abandon the conflict in 1973). In 1990 the U.S. led the Persian Gulf War to drive Iraq’s Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait. We would invade Iraq in 2003 to depose Hussein. In the wake of the 9/11/2001 attack, our forces were dispatched to Afghanistan and are in the process of withdrawing.

War is the way nations tend to settle their differences. Despite the creation of the United Nations after World War Two ended, the U.S. has been engaged in wars and their deterrence. The rest of the world during the last century pursued wars in places that included Mexico, Russia, China, Spain and the rest of Europe, the French Indochina War, the French-Algerian War, the Soviet-Afghan War, the Iran-Iraq War, the third Balkan War, the Rwandan genocide, and the wars that Israel has endured over the more than sixty years of its existence.

This is why many are inclined to think, not only in terms of the U.S. economy, but in response to events beyond our borders—once again in Europe—that the conflict in the Ukraine may metastasize into World War Three if NATO is forced to confront a Russia behaving like it did before its former government collapsed.

I would, however, suggest that the greatest threat of war is staring the entire world in the face and that is an Iran with nuclear weapons.

We have a President who has displayed virtually no knowledge, nor understanding of the history briefly detailed here. Instead, he has pursued a deal with an Iran that has hated the U.S. (and Israel) as the heart of its foreign policy since 1979, As one former senior intelligence official was recently quoted as saying, “The fear is that the Iranians are going to pretend to give up their nuclear weapons program—and we are going to pretend to believe them.”

The only outcome of that would be an attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities by Israel for whom a nuclear Iran would be a second Holocaust. Israel destroyed a nuclear reactor in Iraq in 1981 and in Syria in 2007.

In a broader context, we and the rest of the world are living in an era in which Islam is challenging Western, modern civilization with precepts that embrace beheading, amputation, stoning to death, and other forms of violence, often against women, that must be confronted and defeated.

So, if these are best of times, they could rapidly turn into the worst of times…again.

© Alan Caruba, 2014

Son of Martian running for President of the United States

Marco Cruz, a Martian, landed in the U.S. in 1970, met a woman named Stanley and she gave birth to a son they named Marco Cruz II in 1971.

Father Marco didn’t stay long in the states and returned to his native tribal area on Mars only to return briefly once years later.

Qualifying for affirmative action young Marco wasted no time in attending the finest universities in the country on the taxpayers dime and immediately upon graduation jumped into the political world seeing that as a honeypot for amassing great wealth.

Marco said what ever was necessary to get elected telling young inexperienced voters he promised them “Out of this world” stuff if elected which always got great applause.

Today Marco is a U.S. Senator and has his eye on becoming President which is the largest honeypot in the political world.

Fearing he would not qualify as a Natural Born Citizen which he was taught required a child to born to parents who are both citizens at the time of birth as a requirement to be president, Marco met with Jack Maskell, the Legislative Attorney of the Congressional Research Service who gave Congress cover for the current President Obama whose father was not a U.S. citizen.

Maskell assured Marco he would write the same type of nonsensical report politicians never bother to read giving him cover as a Natural Born Citizen even though only his mother is a citizen.

He said “I gave Obama cover and no one has impeached him yet for not being a Natural Born Citizen and his father never was a citizen. I provided the same for Ted Cruz and his father was not Naturalized until 2005. I can do the same for you and I’m sure you will be an out of this world president!”

Soviet Socialism in the 21st Century Part 7: Knowledge is Power

The old saying “Knowledge is Power” is not a cliche, it is a reality of our life. I have an impression that knowledge has escaped the Obama Administration. Don’t the officials know that evil exists? Why they are not fighting it effectively? Do they have a cohesive view of what to do and what is their strategy in Ukraine this particular time? Considering the predicament, they either have no needed knowledge or they do not want to fight Evil… None of three rounds of the Obama weak and toothless sanctions will stop Russian aggression. Moreover, Russia is responsible for all the troubles in the world, including Ukraine, but the West fundamentally misunderstands Russia.

Annexation of Crimea is a beginning of the monumental offensive against Ukraine. Crimea has no drinking water, it was provided for two million people by the Ukrainian government. Russia has no other means to to do that, but the further occupation of the Ukrainian territory. The offensive will continue from different sides, South, North, West, and East. For your information, a former Soviet Republic Moldova can be a decisive point in this war. After the Warsaw Pact ceased to exist, all its military equipment had been brought to Moldova in town Kolbasnoe. Look at the map of Ukraine and see the strategic location of Moldova, which has pro-Russian enclave of separatist-Kazaks there. But don’t be confused–the storage of arms doesn’t mean only a military Russian offense.

The next Crimea’s peculiarity is its demography and history; both are intertwined in a dangerous knot of contradictions and antagonism. Crimea has many different ethic groups, yet only one can be called the native Crimean–Crimean Tatars, the part of really peaceful Muslims. Fifteen thousand of them had already left Crimea as the refugees: they remember the past and do not want to live under Russian regime. To know the tragedy of their deportation by Stalin and his “Russification policy” implemented in the country, please read Baltic Winds. History provides you with the modus operadi of Stalinism, you have already seen in Ukraine: subversive activities, provocations, and cover ups used by Russia.

Here is the report about the event taking place in the Eastern Ukraine: “World leaders and Jewish groups condemned a leaflet handed out in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk in which Jews were told to “register” with the pro-Russian militants who have taken over a government office in an attempt to make Ukraine part of Russia, according to Ukrainian and Israeli media.Jews emerging from a synagogue say they were handed leaflets that ordered the city’s Jews to provide a list of property they own and pay a registration fee “or else have their citizenship revoked, face deportation and see their assets confiscated,” reported Ynet News, Israel’s largest news website, and Ukraine’s Donbass news agency.”

Confusion has overwhelmed America. Who could do that in the 21st century?? ? History is the best teacher in all foreign and domestic affairs. We, the former citizens of the socialist countries know that history and know who committed that act, because we know Russian mentality, the KGB modus operandi , and the meaning of the term Spez. (special) Operation. The crises in Ukraine is not a mini-version of the Cold War, it is a military Spez. Operation, the continuation of WWIII, I have already described in the preceding articles. Russia is an anti-Western country with all the negative consequences of that for the world, while Ukraine wants freedom and a good relationship with the West. Current Russia is a cursed land, its agenda now to prevent the peaceful election in Ukraine. Please remember that.

Those who think that Putin is not a Soviet apparatchik are very wrong. Since the time he came to power, the liberties implemented by Yeltsin in the 1990s have been slowly but surely disappearing in Russia–the propaganda-machine of the past was reinstated. Putin is a devoted disciple of Andropov and Stalin–this is the crux of the matter in his strategy and agenda. The agenda hasn’t changed since the Stalin’s time and that is the task of this series to introduce the history of Soviet Socialism and the ideology design by Stalin. It was Stalin , who planned One World Government under the Kremlin auspices. I have already dedicated a lot of pages to him, and his activities as the Commissar for Nationalities, implementing bigotry, hate, racism, and aggression. This is an additional page.

I am not only a child of Stalinism, I am also a former Soviet defense attorney, who attended law school with some future members of the KGB and I continued a friendships with them after the graduation . Being an American citizen now, I am concerned about the state of affairs in my country America, because of what is going on in Ukraine is somewhat similar to the events going on in America. Don’t be surprised by my statement, I am intending to prove it by the comparative point… I have already started doing that on the Chapter 7, WWIII: Recruitment and Drugs, Infiltration and Assassinations, in my book titled What is Happening to America? The Hidden Truth of Global Destruction, Xlibris, 2012. It is time for you to read what Stalin had predicted for America seven decades ago:

Living in the Stalinist Russia under the predicament of constant lies and promises we knew the way Stalin would implement his agenda. Pay attention to Stalin’s targets–he concretely identified them. They are:the American “patriotism, its morality and its spiritual life.” When I heard Obama speaking about Benghazi my pulse went up–I knew, he was deceiving us, I knew about his partnership with Putin and Russian agenda in the Middle EAST. Several decades of WWIII, introduced by me earlier , also effected our foreign policy–the Stalinist offense is acting in many different fronts, in variety of forms and shapes to achieve that. It has also fundamentally effected and changed the political agenda of the Democrat Party, for the last decades.

Don’t you noticed a tremendous shift in our culture? The statements of the Democrat leaders in the Senate calling the Tea Party–the racist and terrorists are also an attempt to deceive, mislead us and to change our value system, our morality (watch Harry Reid.) The Tea Party is neither of the two. Like in Russia, the propaganda and a Spin Zone has occupied the Senate, ran by the Democrats, followed their leaders. So, let’s go to the history, comparing the events in Stalinist Russia with a contemporary America:

Truth was the main target of Soviet Socialism! Needing to defend its ideology and lacking trust in society, the system “invented” a new notion of Socialist Morality, which fundamentally affected traditional Russian culture. Socialist Morality was uniforming everything for conformity and control. This new “value” system changed the country and dehumanized its people, turning one against another, brother against brother and child against parent. Living in an atmosphere of constant fear and distrust had a profound influence on us and shaped us to a new reality.

Socialist Morality confused and cowed people. I saw it with my own eyes over the years, in the stories of thousands of people who visited my office looking for help. I could assist some of them, but there was nothing to be done for many others. We actually were forced to take part in building “the bright future of Communism.” A new, rigidly enforced set of rules and regulations in our collective society acted to discourage an individual from acting independently for fear of the consequences. Socialist Morality reigned supreme.

The Stalinist system was built on an enormous bureaucracy, and the mammoth security apparatus was an integral part of it. To safeguard the ideology and preserve Socialist Morality, Soviet Socialism created several institutions that kept us in a constant state of fear. One of them was the institutionalization of the informant system. Every office and enterprise had its cadre of informers. There were approximately 25 million informers in the country of 300 million people in 1980s. The concentration of informers was particularly intense in the intellectual fields of activity — in the educational system and especially within the media. Their numbers decreased in other fields. The informers did their “job” extremely well—the Gulag’s forced labor camps and mental institutions were filled to overflow with those who complained, criticized or dissented.

Another method of safeguarding Stalinist ideology and imposing Socialist Morality was the manipulation of religion. It made no difference if the faith was Christianity, Judaism, Islam, or some other sect. Priests, rabbis, imams and other prelates could function only under the supervision of the KGB. Every house of worship was registered and subordinated to a respective local KGB office. Those priests or rabbis who refused to cooperate were sent to the Gulag or to mental institutions. The congregants themselves were watched and often harassed, especially if the believer was among the younger generation. It was hardly worth the trouble of going after elderly believers, but ideological deviancy among youth – the country’s future – was intolerable.

The informant system and the manipulation of religion were only two methods among many for controlling the human psyche, but they were the most effective ways to enforce ideological orthodoxy. The use of violence, intimidation, deception, and the certainty of reprisal against ideological heresy kept the Russian people downtrodden and, most importantly, silent. The instruments of fear and violence did the job they were intended to do. That was our life under Soviet Socialism–we have been trapped in total Government’s control.

We are terrified to see patterns of Stalinism in our America the Beautiful today. I call a social model of Stalinism–Soviet Fascism.

To be continued www.simonapipko1.com

Cinco de Amnesty and other glorious news from the Cube

Cinco de Amnesty!


Once and Future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (S-CA) took the opportunity of Cinco de Mayo to call on House Republicans to get behind Amnesty. She exhorted her colleagues across the aisle to “emulate the bravery demonstrated in the battle of Puebla” to find the courage to pass a comprehensive amnesty measure.

The Battle of Puebla, which took place on 5 May 1862, was a major victory for the Mexican army over the French. The French had invaded Mexico contrary to Mexican law and refused to return to their own country, citing the excellent employment opportunities in Mexico, and claiming Mexico owed them compensation for past wrongs.

Although it is not celebrated as a national holiday in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo has proved a boon to American beer distributors.

In case you missed this weekend on the People’s Cube:

Rutgers: a bold stroke for freedom of our type of speech

Offline

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney Debuts New Hat Look

Interstate Tolls: New Sliding Scale

Goodlatte tells Hollywood: Immigration “Grand Bargain” coming

Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), however, would not predict during the interview when such amnesty legislation would pass.”My job isn’t to predict when it’s going to happen. My job is to build the consensus that we need to have immigration reform,” Goodlatte said.

Chair Goodlatte, I suggest you do what the large majority of American CITIZENS want and that is for Congress to fulfill the promises made when the first amnesty was made. The promises never fulfilled to this day are:

  1. SECURE THE BORDER AS WE DO IN KOREA.
  2. MANDATE E-VERIFY SO ALL WORKERS ARE LEGAL
  3. NEVER HAVE ANOTHER AMNESTY.

If Congress would have done that in 1986, 31 years ago, today you wouldn’t be bloviating about a “GRAND BARGAIN.” It might also help the dismal opinion WE THE PEOPLE have of you in Congress. Instead, Congress has passed six additonal amnesties or amnesty adjustments from 1987 to 2000 yet never a word is mentioned about them. Chair Goodlatte, do you know the meaning of insanity?

Chair Goodlatte, are you aware  20% of all immigrants in the world are in our country yet the senate voted to double the yearly number to 2 million a year! Our poverty rate is stuck at 15% even though you in Congress have thrown over 15 Trillion in the past 40 years, nearly equaling our current national debt, but ti won’t decrease.

Do you think the reason our poverty level won’t go down is the large majority of those brought into the country since 1965 are uneducated and unskilled and so long as you continue the madness of importing poverty it won’t decrease?

EDITORS NOTE: The feature image is courtesy of NBC News.