Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why oh why do a few Jews make it hard for Jews generally??

Once again I am going to go out on a limb and half cut off the branch behind me. But I seem to be one of the few who is ready to speak the unspeakable so I think I should take up that burden again.

Jews are overall exceptionally generous givers. They donate large amounts to charities and to causes that they see as worthy. I gather that around 50% of the funding for Mr Obama's election campaign came from Jews, despite the fact that Jews are only a small fraction of the U.S. population. You may question the wisdom of those donations (I do) but you cannot fault the generosity of them.

Sadly, however, that is good news and one look at any newspaper will tell you that it is bad news that people are interested in and take note of. And bad news about Jews will, sadly, be particularly noted. Jews are just too prominent in the community for it to be otherwise. And one set of foul deeds can negate a large set of good deeds.

So I come to Mr Anthony Steen (Stein) above. He is one of Britain's most well-known Jews. He has been a member of parliament since 1974 and in that time has served on many public bodies. His appalling behaviour has been noted on several occasions -- abusing a secretary who did not know who he was, parking his car in disabled zones etc. And he has always been impenitent about his misdeeds, though an apology usually gets forced out of him eventually.

In his latest performance he has however excelled himself. He is one of the many British politicians who have been caught up in the scandal of misused personal expense allowances. Most of those caught have shown embarrassment and been penitent to some degree but Steen was at his most impenitent when he was confronted and refused to admit to any wrongdoing at all. You can read the whole sorry story here. Rather than admitting any fault for his large and improper expenses claims, he went on the attack and said that his critics were just jealous of his large house -- which of course put pictures of his house into most British newspapers. See above.

It is hard to convey how offensive all that would have been to most Brits. The British are characterized by a self-effacing culture. If you inadvertently tread on a British man's foot, HE will usually apologize, despite being the injured party. Arrogance, ostentation and boasting are about as un-British as you can get. And yet here is a well-known Jew flaunting all those characteristics in public.

Perhaps there are occasions when that would not matter but Britain now is not one of them. Antisemitism has in recent years become acceptable in conversations among Britain's educated classes. And Steen will be seen as a graphic confirmation of all those opinions.

To be a Jew is to be in the public eye and given all the accusations that have been levelled at Jews over the years, people will be alert to bad Jewish behaviour. It may not be entirely rational but that is the way it is. One foul man can destroy the good work of thousands. It is the bad news that will be noted, not the good.

The only reason I am writing this at all is that I am aware that there is a certain cohesion among the Jewish community in a given area. If they do not see one another at shul, they see one-another at charitable functions etc. And it is my probably vain hope that the wiser members of such communities will press other Jews to avoid public displays of arrogance and ostentation. Perhaps that already happens to some degree but I think it should be carried to the point of shunning any offenders who do not reform. That way, if someone like Anthony Steen comes to public notice again, members of the local Jewish community can say: "We do not recognize him as one of us. We deplore his behaviour as much as you do".

That could be a big help.


The arrogant Obama

ADMIRAL Mike Mullen has some unusual credentials for the highest ranking military officer in the US.... Mullen was one of the Bush appointees kept on by Barack Obama but the idea that he gives fearless advice to the new President was called into question at the weekend during an appearance on the political talk show This Week with George Stephanopoulos.

Pressured on issues ranging from Guantanamo Bay and the withdrawal timetable for Iraq to rising soldier suicide rates and the military ban on gays, Mullen blurted out a kind of apology.

"I'm not a policy and a strategy guy," he said. "I'm - you know, the military basically supports what the President wants, the decisions that he makes. And he has done that, he has done that in Iraq, he has done that in Afghanistan and in Pakistan. And I find that to be - to be a method that gives the military the kind of focus it needs for where we're going."

The comments reinforced perceptions of Obama as a supremely confident President who knows what he wants and often just goes through the motions of taking advice. This ego factor first became clear in a New Yorker article last year, where the Obama campaign's political director Patrick Gaspard recounted his first conversation with the then candidate.

Obama said: "I think that I'm a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I'll tell you right now that I'm gonna think I'm a better political director than my political director."

The New York Times columnist David Brooks has been alarmed by the extent of Obama's self-confidence and by an Obama administration that allows only "certain intellects" to be fluorescent. Therein lays a problem the Obama administration seems destined to confront.

Excess self-confidence and intellectual elitism don't generally help when policy gambles fail and there's a need to adapt to a new strategy quickly. In times like these, governments need honest and timely advice. The worry with Mullen and others is twofold: are they willing to deliver a stern message when needed and, if they are, do they have the ability to be heard?




Pelosi dodges human rights on China visit: “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, long a fierce critic of Beijing, toured China’s financial capital on Monday on a visit focused on environmental issues rather than human rights, though her presence emboldened protesters. Pelosi took a low-key approach as she prepared for meetings in Beijing just days ahead of the 20th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square democracy protests.”

Hilarious! One resolution ignored so let's have another: “The U.N. Security Council swiftly condemned North Korea’s nuclear test on Monday as ‘a clear violation’ of a 2006 resolution and said it will start work immediately on another one that could result in new sanctions against the reclusive nation. Hours after North Korea defiantly conducted its second test, its closest allies China and Russia joined Western powers and representatives from the rest of the world on the council to voice strong opposition to the underground explosion.”

Well-run banks to pay for the misdeeds of badly-run banks: “The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. on Friday voted to charge U.S. banks a one-time assessment of 5 cents per every $100 of assets to replenish the Washington, D.C.-based regulator’s insurance fund, depleted by compensating for bank failures across the country. … Earlier this week, Congress passed legislation to increase the FDIC’s borrowing authority with the Treasury Department from $30 billion to $100 billion with a proviso for emerging funding up to $500 billion.”

Microsoft aims big guns at Google: “Microsoft has used attack ads to go after Apple, and now it has Google in its sights. The software giant is set to launch an $80 million to $100 million campaign for Bing, the search engine it hopes will help it grab a bigger slice of the online ad market. That’s a big campaign — big compared with consumer-product launches ($50 million is considered a sizable budget for a national rollout) and very big when you consider that Google spent about $25 million on all its advertising last year, according to TNS Media Intelligence, with about $11.6 million of that focused on recruiting. Microsoft, by comparison, spent $361 million. Certainly Google has never faced an ad assault of anything like this magnitude.”

France: Scientology on trial: “The Church of Scientology could be dissolved in France if it is convicted by a Paris court of organised fraud and illegal pharmaceutical activity. In a trial that opened yesterday, the group — which is considered to be a sect, not a religion, in France — will see seven of its French leaders stand trial, more than a decade after one of the three plaintiffs originally filed a complaint. A guilty verdict could shut down the group’s activities in France, and see the Church of Scientology fined 5 million (£4.4 million). … Investigating judge Jean-Christophe Hullin has spent years examining the group’s activities, and in his indictment criticised practices he said were aimed at extracting large sums of money from members and plunging them into a ’state of subjection.’” [It has always appeared clear to me that they are little more than a money-making racket, though they do appear to be of help to some people]

CA: Crisis spurs spike in “suburban survivalists”: “Six months ago, Jim Wiseman didn’t even have a spare nutrition bar in his kitchen cabinet. Now, the 54-year-old businessman and father of five has a backup generator, a water filter, a grain mill and a 4-foot-tall pile of emergency food tucked in his home in the expensive San Diego suburb of La Jolla. Wiseman isn’t alone. Emergency supply retailers and military surplus stores nationwide have seen business boom in the past few months as an increasing number of Americans spooked by the economy rush to stock up on gear that was once the domain of hardcore survivalists. These people snapping up everything from water purification tablets to thermal blankets shatter the survivalist stereotype: they are mostly urban professionals with mortgages, SUVs, solid jobs and a twinge of embarrassment about their newfound hobby.”

NATO disarms suspected pirates in Gulf of Aden: “A NATO warship from Canada intercepted two boats carrying suspected pirates in the Gulf of Aden, seizing a large amount of firearms, rocket-propelled grenades and hook ladders. The Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg chased the boats and eventually boarded them, releasing the suspected pirates after confiscating the equipment, the alliance said Monday. NATO does not have an agreement with Kenya to hand them over for trial.” [Once upon a time they would have been made to walk the plank. I am pleased to hear that Canada today has at least one warship, though]


List of backup or "mirror" sites here or here -- for readers in China or for everyone when blogspot is "down" or failing to update. Email me here (Hotmail address). My Home Pages are here or here or here


The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialist) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party" (In German: Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei)


No comments: