Monday, April 13, 2009

The evil of an incorrectly used bus ticket in Britain

If your car is stolen or you are burgled, the politicized British police can't be bothered -- But use your bus ticket incorrectly and you have their undivided attention!

Mostly, I like to be in a trance on the bus, and I was when I found myself next to a guy playing his guitar very loudly. It was not unpleasant but it did mean that when I put my Oyster Card on the machine to pay my fare I don’t know if it beeped. When the inspectors got on en masse (they daren’t do it alone) I was relaxed, but then the transport police hauled me off the bus. My Oyster was topped up but I had apparently breached Rule 4. [The machine must beep]

Do I look like a knife wielder or bomber? No matter. They wanted ID. I produced a credit card, a Press card, a business card for this newspaper and, to top it all, a Matalan card. How amazingly normal could I be? But it wasn’t good enough. By now I was mystified. And late. And annoyed. ‘We want a driving licence or a passport.’

‘Do most people get on the bus with a driving licence?’ I asked. Another guy came over and said ‘Is she being difficult?’ Apparently I was. So the real police had to come and sort me out. My ID wasn’t good enough, though I was checked by the Criminal Records Bureau last year in order to go on a school trip with my own child.

The officers checked me out. I had indeed given my real address, but I wouldn’t hand over the 25 pound fine then and there and made the mistake of saying if they hit me on the back of my legs they had better hope I didn’t have a weak heart. [A reference to a recent killing by British riot police]

‘Not a great week to be a policeman is it?’ If I was going to be difficult, they would have to take me ‘out of this situation’. Right.

Now this was over a 1 pound bus fare but several things were in play here. Policing depends on trust and a certain amount of goodwill from those not committing crimes. Already many different communities feel that the police are not on their side. Photographers at the G20 protests have told me how many of the bussed-in support officers had their numbers covered up. Not because they are all murderers but because these guys were there for trouble.

That’s the truth. What they got were a few window smashers and a lot of extras with camera phones. That’s it. We can never know about supposed terrorist plots, but my Oyster Card mistake hardly signalled red alert.

What most angered me was their idea of what they were entitled to ask for. We do not have or want ID cards. I was doing nothing wrong by not carrying around a passport. But they acted as if I was. The police do not have the right to demand this and a ticket inspector certainly doesn’t. Civil liberties are infringed incrementally, and through ignorance and compliance. Casually, I told one policeman I was a journalist and might write about this. He actually said: ‘Yeah, well, it’s a free country, love.’

But I’m just telling you, it isn’t.


Anti-Semitism and the Economic Crisis

Many people still blame Jews for capitalism's faults

Walking down the street in my solidly upper-middle-class New York City neighborhood the other day was a neatly dressed man angrily cursing into his cell phone about "Jew Wall Street bankers." I was headed in the opposite direction and didn't stop to interview him about his particular grievances, but the brief encounter crystallized for me a foreboding that the financial crisis may trigger a new outbreak of anti-Semitism.

It is a fear that is being articulated ever more widely. President Bill Clinton's secretary of labor, Robert Reich, frets on his blog, "History shows how effective demagogic ravings can be when a public is stressed economically." He warns that Jews, along with gays and blacks, could become victims of populist rage.

In the New York Jewish Week newspaper, a column by Rabbi Ronald Price of the Union for Traditional Judaism begins, "In the 1930s, as Germany's economy collapsed, the finger was pointed at the Jews and the Nazis ascended to power. The famous Dreyfus Affair, in which a Jew was falsely accused of treason in France, followed on the heels of economic turmoil."

At this juncture, the trepidation may yet seem like paranoia, or special pleading akin to the old joke about the newspaper headline, "World Ends in Nuclear Attack: Poor, Minorities Hardest Hit." Everyone is feeling the brunt of the recession; why worry about the Jews in particular? After all, Jews today have two refuges: Israel and America, a land where Jews have attained remarkable power and prosperity and have a constitutionally protected right to exercise their religion freely. In that case, why worry about potential danger to the Jews at all?

One answer is that the historical precedents are exceedingly grim. The causes of the First Crusade, in which thousands of Jews were murdered, are still being debated, but some historians link it to famine and a poor harvest in 1095. As for the expulsion of the Jews from Spain in 1492, the foremost historian of its causes, Benzion Netanyahu (the father of Israel's new prime minister), writes of the desire of the persecutors "to get rid of their debts by getting rid of their creditors." More generally, he writes, "it is an iron-clad rule in the history of group relations: the majority's toleration of every minority lessens with the worsening of the majority's condition."

Lest this seem overly crude economic determinism, consider that the Jews have been victims not only of unrest prompted by economic distress but of attempts to remedy such economic distress with socialism. Take it from Friedrich Hayek, the late Nobel Prize winning Austrian economist. In "The Road to Serfdom," Hayek wrote, "In Germany and Austria the Jew had come to be regarded as the representative of Capitalism." Thus, the response in those countries, National Socialism, was an attack on both capitalism and the Jews.

There are ample indicators of current anti-Semitic attitudes. A poll conducted recently in Europe by the Anti-Defamation League found 74% of Spaniards believe Jews "have too much power in international financial markets," while 67% of Hungarians believe Jews "have too much power in the business world." Here in America, the Web site of National Journal is hosting an "expert blog" by former CIA official Michael Scheuer, now a professor at Georgetown, complaining of a "fifth column of pro-Israel U.S. citizens" who are "unquestionably enemies of America's republican experiment." And over at Yahoo! Finance, the message board discussing Goldman Sachs is rife with comments about "Jew pigs" and the "Zionist Federal Reserve."

So will the Jews come under attack? The existence of the Jewish state guarantees refuge for Jews around the world, but it carries with it its own risks. Hezbollah's leader, Hassan Nasrallah, has said that if the Jews "all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them world-wide." It's a comment all the more chilling as Nasrallah's Iranian sponsors are on the brink of making a nuclear bomb.

As for the idea that Jewish professional, political, and economic success in America is a guarantee of security, that, too, has its risks. As Yuri Sleskine recounted in his book "The Jewish Century," in 1900 Vienna more than half of the lawyers, doctors and professional journalists were Jewish, as were 70% of the members of the stock exchange. In Germany, after World War I but before the Nazis came to power, Jews served as finance minister and as foreign minister. Such achievements have a way of being fleeting.

It may yet be that the Jews escape the current economic crisis having only lost fortunes. But if not, there will have been no lack of warning about the threat. When Jews gather Wednesday night for the Passover Seder, we will recite the words from the Hagadah, the book that relays the Israelite exodus from slavery in Egypt: "In every generation they rise up against us to destroy us." This year, they will resonate all the more ominously.


Obama and the Reawakening of Corporatism

By Steven Malanga

In 1970, General Motors was the largest and most profitable company in America. Today, of course, GM is neither. Instead, in 2009 America’s largest company is Wal-Mart, which was still only a regional, privately-held retailer in 1970. Wal-Mart’s rapid rise is not unique, however. Among the 100 largest firms today, a number "including FedEx, Microsoft, Cisco, and Home Depot--didn’t even exist in 1970. So profoundly has the landscape changed that 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies today are different from 1970.

All of this is the result of an entrepreneurial revolution spurred by everything from intensifying international competition starting in the late 1950s, to the lowering of confiscatory tax rates starting in the 1960s, to a series of technological revolutions that gathered momentum in the 1970s, to the taming of inflation in the early 1980s. During that time the corporate team player, the quintessential organizational man, slowly gave way to the dazzling but disruptive entrepreneur whose innovations rapidly reshaped the economy "and the ranks of corporate America "several times over.

But we are entering quite a different age right now, one in which the President of the United States and his hand-selected industrial overseers fire the chief executive of General Motors and chart the company’s next moves in order to preserve it. Conservative critics of the president have said that the government’s GM strategy is one of many examples of an America drifting toward socialism. But President Obama is not a socialist. If his agenda harks back to anything, it is to corporatism, the notion that elite groups of individuals molded together into committees or public-private boards can guide society and coordinate the economy from the top town and manage change by evolution, not revolution. It is a turn-of-the 20th century philosophy, updated for the dawn of the 21st century, which positions itself as an antidote to the kind of messy capitalism that has transformed the Fortune 500 and every corner of our economy in the last half century. To do so corporatism seeks to substitute the wisdom of the few for the hundreds of millions of individual actions and transactions of the many that set the direction of the economy from the bottom up.

Corporatism periodically re-emerges precisely because it is an appealing political formulation, seeking as it does to present a middle-of-the-road alternative to socialism on the one hand, and capitalism on the other. It was the search for just such a third way that prompted Pope Leo XIII to outline the notion of corporatism in his 1891 encyclical, Rerum Novarum (Of New Things). Leo confronted a world in transition, like ours, in which technological advances had created an industrial revolution that was reshaping society, setting off mass migrations and creating wealth and pockets of new urban poverty at the same time. The Catholic Church worried about the rise of socialism--an ideology that rejected religion and preached seizing private property (a particularly distasteful notion to Europe’s biggest property owner) in response to the industrial revolution. But the Church was also distrustful of capitalism, with its overtones of survival of the fittest. That the most successful capitalist countries of the time were overwhelmingly Protestant didn’t reassure Leo XIII either. His corporatism was not rule by capitalists, but rather enlightened guidance from medieval-style guilds and associations or other such collaborative bodies.

Variations on Leo’s ideas soon became a common part of the political discourse. We see hints of corporatism in America’s Progressive Reform movement of early 20th century America, with its notion that the country could be governed by an enlightened, technocratic, nonpartisan elite, which culminated in the presidential election of Woodrow Wilson--a political scientist who specialized in the study of public administration.

But a version of corporatism also emerged in the 1920s in Fascist Italy, where Mussolini conceived of syndicates in numerous industries composed of labor leaders and businessmen helping direct the Italian economy in the service of Fascism. Hitler’s solution was more thorough, to eliminate those organizations and associations within Germany that opposed him and to smother individualism by instituting a corporatist regime of forcible coordination among trade unions and business groups.

As chilling as these authoritarian versions of corporatism sound today, in the 1930s they found admirers in the U.S., where the ravages of the Great Depression provoked public longing for a safer, more thoroughly planned economy without as much resistance and debate from recalcitrant business leaders or opposition party members who opposed the New Deal. Even today one occasionally hears a longing for a benign version of this elaborately planned economic world in phrases like “getting the trains running on time,” or in a recent column in the New York Times which suggested that Hitler’s wartime buildup amounted to a successful government stimulus in Depression-era Germany.

Today, some American conservatives will argue that we never put aside the corporatism of the U.S. during the New Deal. They can point to any number of initiatives, from Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society to Richard Nixon’s wage and price controls, as evidence of continued drift. Progressives, by contrast, will argue that America has been governed over that same time by a corporatist regime of big business conspiring with government against the middle and lower classes so that only the rich benefit.

The facts belie both versions. If corporations have been running our economy for their own purposes, or in tandem with big government, they haven’t been doing an awfully good job of protecting their interests, considering how quickly U.S. firms rise and fall and how the Fortune 500 turns over. And if only the rich are getting richer someone needs to tell Bill Gates, a kid from a middle class background with no college degree, or Warren Buffett, who grew up working in his grandfather’s grocery store, that they need to return the billions they’ve somehow acquired to the Rockefellers, the Astors, the Vanderbilts and other once-rich families whose fortunes have long been in decline.

Still, great economic dislocations bring out the corporatist, which is why we now have a government board overseeing General Motors, and the Treasury Department has issued the first car warranty program in its history. It’s why some banks were pressured to accept bailout money they didn’t need and have been pressured not to return it to get out from under federal micromanagement. And it’s why the federal stimulus package contains such chestnuts as money to build out our broadband infrastructure, which comes with all sorts of strings attached by the Federal Communications Commission, because we somehow can’t rely on our phone, cable or internet companies to provide customers with the bandwidth they demand in networks that will suit our economy.

Corporatism is especially attractive to politicians, public intellectuals who serve as policy makers, and Nobel Laureates because it is ultimately a world managed by the few, the elect, through the state. If we are told enough times that nothing, even technological innovation, is possible anymore without significant contributions and directions from the state, maybe we’ll eventually come to believe it, although the inventors of the printing press, the steam engine, the light bulb, the telephone, and internal combustion engine and other game-changing technologies might wonder how they accomplished what they did without government.

Corporatism is not about regulating capitalism better as markets evolve. It is several steps beyond. It is instead about those who believe in “the beauty of pushing a button to solve problems,” as the economist Paul Krugman recently described his attraction to the social sciences. Some people worry about what happens when the regulators take charge of our economy. But the real concern is what happens when the button pushers take charge, for the button pushers are the corporatists.


The Two-State Solution for Israel is 87 Years Old

In 1920, Great Britain was given the responsibility by the League of Nations to oversee the Mandate over the geographical territory known as Palestine with the express intention of reconstituting within its territory a Jewish National Home.

The territory in question stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the eastern boundary of Mandatory Palestine, which was a border that would separate it from what was to become the future state of Iraq.

The League of Nations created a number of articles, which were in line with the original intent of the Balfour Declaration of November 29th, 1917. At the last minute, however, a new article was introduced by the British Colonial Office: article number 25.

At first the sudden addition of this article was not a cause for alarm but gradually it became apparent that its inclusion directly enabled Great Britain in 1921 to tear away all the territory of geographical Palestine, east of the River Jordan, and give it to the Arab Hashemite family; the territory to become Trans-Jordan and led by the emir Abdullah.

Britain presented this gift to Abdullah, the son of the Sherif of Mecca, as a consolation prize for its awarding of the Hedjaz territory and Arabia, which included Mecca, to the rival Saud family: That vast territory is now Saudi Arabia.

British officials also claimed that the gift of Mandatory Palestine east of the Jordan River was in gratitude to the Hashemites for their contribution in helping defeat the Turks. However, even T.S. Lawrence later described in derisory terms the Hashemite role as "a side show of a side show."

This was the first partition of Palestine and created a brand new entity 87 years ago covering some 35,000 square miles or nearly four-fifths of the geographical territory of Palestine. Immediately Jewish residence in the territory was forbidden and it became in effect judenrein - the German term for the ethnic cleansing of Jews from a territory.

This betrayal by none other than Winston Churchill, the Colonial Secretary at the time, was a devastating blow to the Jewish and Zionist leadership, which now saw the promised Jewish homeland reduced to the remaining narrow territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan - an area barely 50 miles at its widest.

Shortly after, in 1923, the British and French colonial powers also divided up the northern part of the Palestine Mandate. Britain stripped away the Golan Heights (ancient biblical Bashan) and gave it to French occupied Syria.

The Balfour Declaration issued by Lord Balfour, British Foreign Secretary, never envisaged that the Jordan River would be the eastern boundary of the reconstituted Jewish homeland. Indeed, the Zionist leadership had put forward in February 1919 its first submission that the eastern boundary would run well east of the Hedjaz railway. The incorporation of the railway would be an economically essential requirement for the Jewish community living east of the River Jordan as well as providing it with vital security.

The squabbling by the French and British colonial powers over the final frontiers of the Palestine Mandate had earlier led the London Times to urge Paris to accept sensible and rational frontiers in both the north and east of Jewish Palestine. As early as September 19th, 1919 it had thundered in an editorial:
"The Jordan will not do as the eastern frontier of Palestine ... Palestine must have a good military frontier east of Jordan ... Our duty as Mandatory is to make Jewish Palestine not a struggling state but one that is capable of vigorous and independent life ... "
But Jewish aspirations inevitably were dashed as a new British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, took the place of Lord Balfour. This new British official within weeks of succeeding Balfour made it clear that Britain was intent upon separating Transjordan from Palestine: the first two-state solution.

The succeeding history of the remaining one fifth of the original territory promised to the Jewish people by Lord Balfour and the British government was one of continuing British betrayal as each successive Mandatory administration displayed pro-Arab and anti-Jewish policies.

During its administration up until 1947, Britain severely restricted Jewish immigration and purchases of land while turning a blind eye to massive illegal Arab immigration into the territory from neighboring Arab states.

Britain's sorry record of appeasement of the Arabs, at the expense of Jewish destiny in the remaining territory, culminated in the infamous 1939 White Paper, which limited Jewish immigration to just 75,000 souls for the next five years. This onerous and draconian policy, coming as it did on the eve of the outbreak of World War 2, was a death blow to millions of Jews attempting to flee extermination by Nazi Germany.

Britain's mismanagement of the Mandate finally led to the United Nation's Partition Plan of 1947. The Jewish Agency reluctantly accepted this additional dismemberment of what was left in Mandatory Palestine of the promised Jewish National Home.

They did this in order to provide a refuge for the surviving Jewish remnants of the Holocaust and for the growing numbers of Jewish refugees being driven out of their homes throughout the Arab world. In contrast, the Arab regimes rejected the Partition Plan. Then, as now, they worked against the existence of an independent Jewish state.

Israel was officially re-born as a sovereign nation in 1948 and its 600,000 Jews fought to survive the massive Arab onslaught, which was intended to wipe out the Jewish state.

In 1948, Trans-Jordan, renamed the Kingdom of Jordan since 1946, had joined the other Arab nations in invading the Jewish state, illegally annexing the Biblical and ancestral Jewish heartland of Judea and Samaria and renaming it the West Bank. Only Britain and Pakistan recognized the annexation.

The war ended in tortuous armistice lines resulting in an Israeli border a mere nine miles wide at the most densely populated area, which stretched from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordanian occupied West Bank. Israel's late Foreign Minister, Abba Eban, described these dangerously vulnerable armistice lines as the Auschwitz borders.

Nineteen years later the Arab states declared again their imminent intention to destroy Israel. In the June 1967 Six Day War Israel liberated Judea and Samaria from Jordan in a defensive war. Israel offered to give away the newly liberated West Bank to the Hashemite regime in Jordan and the Gaza Strip to its erstwhile Egyptian occupiers in return for a full and lasting peace. But the Arab League, meeting in Khartoum in August, 1967, delivered the infamous three No's: No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.

It is within the narrow territory remaining for the Jewish state, if one includes Judea and Samaria, that the world now demands the establishment of yet another Arab state. Hamas controlled Gaza would be included in this future state to be called Palestine; a state which has never existed before by that name in all of recorded history - certainly not as an independent Arab state.

Gaza has already been given to the Arabs and they have turned it into a terror base from which they have launched a lethal missile blitz against Israel numbering to date over 10,000 rockets.

Israeli leaders should never have accepted even one missile fired from Gaza at its citizens in southern Israel. To let thousands fall with relative impunity for so many years led the world to believe that it was acceptable. After all, if Israel wasn't interested in safeguarding its own civilians, why then should the world be. It was accepted as business as usual.

The Gaza War thus came as a surprise to the world community and, just as the Second Lebanon War, it was launched by Israeli leaders too late and ended too soon, leaving both Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon free to wreak future havoc upon the Jewish state.

The disputed West Bank, which is the ancient biblical heartland of Israel, is now the territory U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, is pressuring Israel to give away to the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians. This is the present day so-called two - state solution and will dismember what is left of Israel and drive some 250,000 Jewish residents from their homes and farms. Why? Because just as in Jordan, Jews will not be permitted to live within Arab territory, while Arabs can remain free to live within Israel.

It is instructive to remember that upon the granting of the Palestine Mandate to Great Britain, an eminent British celebrity and supporter of Zionism, Josiah Wedgwood, addressed a Jewish crowd of thousands at the Royal Albert Hall in London in which he urged the audience to stand up for Jewish rights in its homeland.

According to the late Shmuel Katz in his groundbreaking biography of the great Zionist leader, Vladimir Ze'ev Jabotinsky, titled The Lone Wolf, Wedgwood said:
"... This lesson I want the new Jewish nation to learn and to get by heart: Stand up for your rights. Let us have more of the spirit in the Jewish movement of my good and gallant friend Jabotinsky."
Sadly, Israeli governments have become notoriously fearful of rejecting outright the deadly trap inherent in the so called two-state solution. Their muted responses have merely encouraged world leaders to repeatedly breathe new life into the discredited plan. The searing tragedy is that the two-state solution may presage for the Jewish people another Final Solution.

Perhaps the Secretary of State prefers to remain oblivious to the stark fact that the Arabs, whom she embraces and who today call themselves Palestinians, are as committed as their parents and grandparents before them to destroy the Jewish state; whatever size or shape its borders. The fact is that this is not a dispute over borders; this is a religious war and the Arabs, so long as the overwhelming majority remain Muslim, will never accept the existence of a non-Muslim state in territory previously conquered in the name of Allah -whatever the size or shape of its borders.

Only just recently, Muhammad Dahlan, speaking on behalf of Fatah and the Palestinian Authority, declared on PA TV that the PA will not recognize Israel -- one of the primary demands made upon the Palestinian Arabs in the Oslo Peace Accords. Indeed, Dahlan admitted that the only reason they meet with Israelis at all is in order to continue receiving the immense flow of international funds.

Is Ms. Clinton aware of this Arab charade? Or does she dismiss it and care not for the absence of a sincere and honest Palestinian Arab peace partner and the inevitable plight of the quarter of a million plus Jewish residents who will become displaced refugees by enacting the next two-state solution. Perhaps she cares little for the resulting takeover of Judea and Samaria by Hamas and the inevitable missile blitz that will be launched by the Palestinian Arabs upon the rest of Israel.

Incidentally, what irony when the homes of Peace Now members living in Tel Aviv become daily targets of missiles launched from the very areas they campaign for their fellow Jews to be expelled from.

One wonders if Secretary Clinton knows that eighty seven years ago an original two-state solution was enacted in infamy. If she does, it is unlikely that she cares - anymore than the rest of the Obama Administration or State Department cares.

And what of those Jewish Americans who serve the Secretary and sadly will be in the forefront of destroying Jewish patrimony in the Land of Israel. Will they have a conscience or feel shame for the calamity they create? I think not.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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