FBI seized Trump’s passports; Mar-A-Lago board game; Afghanistan one year after

(a) Tim Pool reports that the FBI, during their bizarre search at Mar-A-Lago, they confiscated three passports.

Apparently, passports can be seized without a warrant if the subject is deemed a “flight risk”.

So was this a fishing expedition, where under the pretext of looking for “missing” archival material they were looking for something, anything, that could be used in the Congressional J6 show trial?

Or, as Tim speculates (not in these words), “poisoning the well” for the November midterms — “don’t vote for the people Trump endorsed, he’s a spy, because FBI raid”.

Or is it a distraction from the Biden bubatron‘s ever more disastrous imploding (p)residency?

How about “all of the above”?

Victor Davis Hanson, normally quite measured, speaks of “Soviet tactics to crush political opponents”, and adds:


We’re afraid in the short-term, but in long-term they believe they’re morally superior to America and therefore any means necessary or justifiable for their morally superior ends. Right now, we don’t have the rule of law in Washington.

Will these tactics backfire, as people will identify with Trump’s quote: “They’re not after me but after you — I’m just in the way”.

(b) Humor is the best defense? Seen on Facebook:

Garvey Russ2d  

It may be hot outside, but it’s not too early to think about Christmas. Here’s a great gift idea for the kids. The official Mar-A-Lago FBI Raid Set comes complete with dozens of secret places to hide classified documents, plus over 30 FBI agent action-figures to kick in doors & plant incriminating evidence, and 12 news reporters to get the story wrong…… It’s both historical & educational.

(c) And meanwhile, one year after the beyond-pitiful, beyond-shameful, beyond-shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan, AP reports at length on how people are hungrier than ever… without even once mentioning the five-letter word “Biden”. AntiDemocrat Party [AP] operatives with party bylines.

(d) And via NotTheBee, a very interesting sign of the times.

Electoral shake-up in Israel projected to lead to… more gridlock

I haven’t been following Israeli political developments much recently: while there is always a lot of noise about them in our media, the signal-to-noise ratio seemed smaller then ever.

For the past few days, we were at a (semi)private medical center for elective surgery on Mrs. Arbel. In the break room a TV was blaring that I couldn’t ignore: most of the content was obituaries to one of the founding fathers of Israeli rock and pop: singer, pianist, and songwriter Zvika Pick z”l, who had suddenly and unexpectedly died of cardiac arrest. (He had had a stroke several years ago that forced him to relearn Hebrew from scratch — not many people here understand his first language, Polish — but had recovered well enough that he again could perform live.)

Then the subject changed. I had somehow missed that two of the “anti-Netanyahu coalition” parties — the centrist “Blue and White” (kachol ve-lavan)led by former IDF Chief of Staff and current Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and the Likud breakaway slate “New Hope” (tikva chadasha) led by Justice Minister Gideon Saar) had merged. Now in addition, another former IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot [*], has joined them and the new list will be called HaReshima HaMamlachtit, which would be most accurately translated as “the statesmanlike list” but which briefly went by the English-language moniker “the State Party”, before they settled on the National Unity Party.



PR image quoted from JPOST article

According to the latest polls (caveat emptor/buyer beware) commissioned by the various Israeli TV channels, the pro-Netanyahu bloc (including the “ultra-Orthodox” parties Shas and United Torah Judaism) will be the stronger, yet fall short of the 61 Knesset seats required for an absolute majority: they would need to either attract the moderate-Islamist Ra`am of Mansour Abbas (sitting with his secular Arab nationalist and “Jewish” “former” Communist competitor the Joint List would be electoral suicide for either bloc) or get a party to defect from the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

Conversely, the latter is only predicted to poll about 51 MKs without Ra`am, and 56 including it. Naftali Bennett quit politics; his party, now led by his secular-nationalist female counterpart Ayelet Shaked, is predicted not to cross the electoral threshold (de facto 4 MKs). The latter accounts for most of the difference.

If Netanyahu were to retire tomorrow, there would be a Likud-led government pretty much the day after tomorrow. But none of the former Netanyahu associates now leading the anti-Netanyahu factions still trust a single word that comes out of his mouth.

So I expect more gridlock after a pointless election. One trial balloon being floated was a rotating prime ministership, with either Yair Lapid (currently caretaker PM) or Gideon Saar going first and Netanyahu as alternate PM, then changing places after 2 years. Such rotations have a history in Israel: after Menachem Begin’s “I cannot go on” nervous breakdown[**], Shimon Peres (for Labour) and Yitzchak Shamir (for the Likud) alternated as PMs for a national unity coalition.

More recently, Netanyahu and Benny Gantz were supposed to go first and second, respectively — then Netanyahu triggered early elections by forestalling the passing of a budget before the deadline, so he would not have to keep his promise.

Interesting times ahead…

ADDENDUM: unrelated to the above, Putin wants closer relations with North Korea. I mean, how cartoonish can he get?

[*] Being an amateur linguist, I couldn’t make sense of a name that in German literally would mean “iron dung”. As it turns out, his parents actually immigrated from Morocco and the real family name is Azencot, which means “deer” in the Amazigh (“Berber”) language — but they affected the pseudo-German spelling so the name would look more Ashkenazi… (An alternative would have been to Hebraize it to Tzvi, ben-Tzvi, or Naftali.)

In case you wonder what it is with deer, lions, wolves, and bears in Jewish names: these derive from the dying blessing of Jacob to his twelve sons (the patriarchs of the twelve tribes) in Genesis 49. The lion (Aryeh) is Yehuda/Judah, the wolf (Ze’ev) is Binyamin/Benjamin, the deer (Tzvi) is Naftali. Issachar was originally a “donkey, bearing strong burdens” — but because of the other associations of the said animal 🙂 a bear (Dov) was substituted over time.

[**] Only part of the reason for Begin’s (z”l) breakdown was the First Lebanon War turning into a quagmire after — so his son Benny Begin would claim — Ariel Sharon z”l turning what was meant to be a limited anti-PLO operation into a grandiose regime change plan that blew up big time.
The other main reason was the death of Begin’s wife Aliza, to whom he was deeply devoted.

Looking around: New map of the US revealed (satire); China’s banking system near collapse?; children of CCP officials brag on social media about how rich daddy gets from corruption; Russian airline Aeroflot cannibalizing almost-new Airbus A350 for spare parts

(a) Harsh, but fair (from Powerline’s Week in Pictures):

Also there:

Some derpseals are claiming Merrick Garland is being attacked because he’s Jewish. Ace of Spades said in response he didn’t even have an idea, since the name Merrick Garland “is so WASP he could be a character in Bonfire of the Vanities“.

My advice to Merrick Garland is the age-old wisdom: “A Jew can be an idiot, but it’s not a thou shalt commandment”.

(b) This channel sounds a bit alarmist, but I suspect this claim is closer to the truth than what the CCP regime is claiming: namely, that the Chinese banking system is close to collapse.

(c) The flipside of the “lie flat” phenomenon in China is apparently social media “influencers” who are children of government and CCP (BIRM) officials bragging about their monstruously expensive lyxury clothes, watches, lifestyle,… while bragging “my father gets more in a day from corruption than each of you suckers will earn in a year”.

Gee, I have no idea why people would get the idea the system is hopelessly rigged… and start “lying flat” (i.e., move to a minimal expenditure and labor lifestyle)….

(d) Meanwhile in Russia, flag carrier airline Aeroflot is starting to cannibalize planes for spare parts (including a basically brand-new Airbus A350).

ADDENDUM: UC system introducing loyalty oaths to the DIE (fauxversity, exclusion, and iniquity “diversity, inclusion, and equity”) religion? (Via Instapundit.)

ADDENDUM 2: are Arab youth views on Israel changing as Iran’s proxies increasingly reveal themselves as the banu sharmuteh they are?

Sabbath musical delight: Scarlatti sonatas played by Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy

I had never heard of this performer, but this showed up in my YT feed. I was very pleasantly surprised by some of the interpretations. Judge for yourself.

Harpsichordist and composer Domenico Scarlatti (son of the Italian baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti) was born in the “annus mirabilis” of classical music, 1685, like Händel and Bach. He wrote for various instruments and ensembles, but is today mostly known for his 555 keyboard sonatas, most of them written in his capacity as keyboard tutor to the Infanta Barbara of Portugal (later Queen-Consort of King Ferdinand VI of Spain), by all accounts not just an avid music lover but an unusually talented keyboardist herself. Scarlatti tutored her from age 9 or 10 until his death (one year before hers).

The above album contains some of his best-known and some of his early sonatas.

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat shalom!

China fired missiles into… Japanese maritime territory; Garland disowning Mar A Lago raid; “Islamophobic” attack turns out to be internecine violence

(A) Many people are worried that the CCP regime will try to invade Taiwan. As I’ve blogged here before, actually trying this might give the Chinese military a major case of indigestion, on the scale of the USSR invading Finland. But China Insights points out that China has actually been firing missiles into… Japanese maritime territory. (Not territorial waters, but the economic exploitation zone.) Also, diplomatic relations between the two countries seem to be at an all-time low.

I continue to see this type of saber-rattling as meant for domestic consumption — as a distraction from the progressive crumbling of the economic house of cards that the CCP has been building.

As for Pelosi: as much as I despise her, it seems that (for whatever reasons) she has been fairly consistent on China. She may be an awful human being and a “party über Alles” politician, but unlike some of the bong water drinkers in the “Democratic” party, she can read an electoral map as well as anyone, and she knows she’ll be out as Speaker of the House in November. So, while I would not discount more nefarious motives, she may well be trying to leave some sort of foreign policy legacy before she retires. Who knows…

(B) The bizarre FBI raid on Trump’s mansion: John Sexton (via Insty) reports that either Garland didn’t sign off on it, or that his underlings are trying to protect him from the blowback by falsely claiming he didn’t. The source is blaming FBI director Christopher Wray, ironically himself a Trump appointee.

Meanwhile, Fox Business had a former FBI assistant director on who explains that such a raid would have to go through so many levels of review that it would only be possible if “the highest levels” (read: the FBI director) signed off on it. He discusses (without naming the people involved) a previous case where a Congressman (D) [during a GOP administration] failed to return some archival material, a raid was executed, and the material had to be placed in escrow with a Federal judge so no unrelated material would be released. He does not understand why the FBI director would have signed off on this raid, given the “terrible optics”.

Desperate pressure to come up with something, anything to not make the Jan. 6 hearings look like the clown show they are? Or to generate a distraction from the Abu Hunter administration’s miserable failures, and at least mitigate the losses?

Judging from reactions on the ‘net, Trump couldn’t have hoped for a better (unintentional) in-kind campaign donation.

(C) Epic narrative fail: Abu Hunter and Klueless Kackling Kamala condemn “Islamophobic hate crime” — but the “Islamophobic” killer turns out to be a fellow Muslim, with the typical Zionist-white supremacist name Muhammad Syed, and any “hate crime” to be part of Sunni-Shiite internecine feuds.

Must-hear: Gad Saad on what the FBI raid on Trump’s home says about the West

There’s a lot to unpack, but if you don’t have 17 minutes to listen to Gad Saad (as usual with him, it’s more a “podcast where you can see the speaker” than an actual video) let me paraphrase the gist of his argument:

One of the reasons the West got as far as it did was the separation of religion and state. (Gad Saad, a childhood refugee from the Lebanese civil war, has his own very personal experience and perspective on that.)

But another one, a mainstay of democracies, is the separation wall between ideology (g-dless religion, if you like) on the one hand, and on the other hand the judiciary, the medical profession, academia,… and the other institutions that make up our society.

In its obsessive determination to retain power at all costs, the US left (and, to greater or lesser extent, its peers in other Western countries) is tearing down these walls left, right, and center. But when the judiciary has been turned into enforcers for the apparat, the medical profession places wokeness and “racial justice” over competence, academia trades the pursuit of knowledge and understanding for indoctrination into a g-dless religion, and for neo-sophist verbal power games… Ultimately, democracy will die, unless this process is stopped.

On a personal note: we can only hope, with the pig’s breakfast that the Brahmandarin neo-feudal gentry is turning things into everywhere on blatant display for all to see (and feel in their wallets and homes), there will be a fierce backlash that will sweep them out of power for at least a generation.

Bizarre White House self-own: “Dark Brandon Returns”

I’m wondering if all of the Derp State [sic] – antiDemocrat Party axis in DC is high on its own supply.

I mean, printing a pile of money to stop inflation; quintupling the budget of the Incredible Reaming Service while admitting off the record the “profits” from audits will not come from “the rich”; and now sending the FBI to raid the mansion of the ex-POTUS — this is starting to look like a stoner version of the CCP regime.

But nothing more illustrates the bizarre nature of the current regime as the deputy WH communications director, Andrew “Master” Bates[*], tweeting out a “Dark Brandon Returns” meme depicting Biden as the “Dark Knight” from the Batmanverse [¿qué?] superimposed on a Third Reich-esque version of the Reichsadler

As shown above, intrepid internet sleuths discovered that it was photoshopped from a Chinese [!] anti-Biden meme. (Yes, there are CCP tools who think Xi’s favorite turtle-boy isn’t enough in the pay of the CCP, or that he’s not staying bought.)

I know that reappropriation of slurs thrown at you by an opponent (I have blogged about this “Geuzennaam” phenomenon before) is an age-old phenomenon, and I’m old enough to remember when an anti-National Front song by British punk band Stiff Little Fingers was adopted as a party hymn by the same WN party, but… This sort of propaganda ju-jitsu flies like a lead Zeppelin unless it’s done skilfully and “on the money”.

What this effort reminded me most of is the laughable attempt by the Third Reich occupiers of the Lowlands to reappropriate the “V for Victory” symbol — with about as much success as you can expect.

“V: The German Victory Sign” (caption in Dutch and French) hanging from the Brussels Stock Exchange. From an online collection at the University of Ghent http://tw06v074.ugent.be/images/97/

I suspect it was too much good booze at work then, and Emperor Bong at work today…

[*] I couldn’t resist the reference to a minor character in Oliver Twist

Amnesia [sic] International “report” on Ukraine: flush it down where AI itself belongs

Had an insane day at work and more left on my plate, but really have to share some responses to the despicable report on “Ukrainian war crimes” by Amnesty International.

The “leadership” of this once respected organization — I remember participating in their letter writing campaigns back in my college days — these days appears to have become useful idiots, objective allies, or outright stooges of anti-Western authoritarianism and totalitarianisms.

Apparently libeling Israel became too boring and repetitive, so they had to throw Ukraine into the mix.

In both the cases of Israel and Ukraine, the local Amnesty staff are furious at the “mothership”: https://www.timesofisrael.com/amnestys-ukraine-chief-quits-over-report-accusing-country-of-using-human-shields/ and https://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2022-08-06/ukraine-amnesty-intl-report-sparks-furor-resignation

Once again, we see Conquest’s Second Law (a.k.a. O’Sullivan’s First Law) in action, which I will paraphrase as “any organization will over time inevitably become left-wing, unless it is explicitly and constitutionally right-wing”, as well as Hoffer’s Law (“every great cause begins as a movement, becomes a business, and ends as a racket”).

But perhaps a more relevant quote are the words spoken by Leo Amery[*] to Neville Chamberlain in the House of Commons on May 7, 1940:

You have sat too long here for any good you have been doing. Depart I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of G-d, go!

In fact, the Times editorialists are not far off:

While in any serious non-governmental organisation [secretary-general] Ms Callamard would stand down, no recourse can salvage Amnesty’s reputation. Members of the public who generously donate money and time to it in the belief that they are aiding victims of persecution should stop. A once-respected humanitarian campaign, Amnesty now evinces a deplorable indifference to oppression. Having shown itself soft on crime and soft on fascism, it should have the decency to depart the stage.

[*] They were themselves a paraphrase of Oliver Cromwell’s dismissal of the Rump Parliament: “You are no Parliament. You are no Parliament! …. It is not fit that you sit here any longer! You should now give place to better men.”

Chamberlain narrowly won the vote of confidence that followed — but it was a Pyrrhic victory, with many MPs of his own party crossing the aisle to vote against. He then resigned, and after it became clear that the only Conservative under which Labour would be willing to join a National Unity government was Winston Churchill, King George VI sent for him. The rest is history.

Signal boost: How Israel shot down false reports on Jabaliya explosion


“As it soon became apparent, the children’s tragic death was not at Israel’s hands.” by Lahav Harkov

At about 9 p.m. on Saturday, an explosion in Jabalya in the Gaza Strip killed, among others, four children.[…]

However, as it soon became apparent, the children’s tragic deaths were not at Israel’s hands. One of the hundreds of rockets Palestinian Islamic Jihad launched toward Israelis backfired, falling and exploding in Gaza itself. This time it was fired from a mosque, compounding the war crime of acting from civilian populations onto the war crime of attacking them. Two videos, one from Palestinian sources spread on social media and another grainy, black-and-white one from the IDF, showed what actually took place.

Still, the explosion, like so many other unfortunate occurrences over the years, had the potential to become one that the media and activists would latch onto, with invective about Israel intentionally killing children spreading on social media, and moving up into such claims being made more subtly in the mainstream international press, and then ultimately condemnation by governments. That could turn into pressure on Jerusalem to wrap up the operation, whether it was really ready to do so or not.

But what really happened was the opposite of the bleak scenario that Israelis have come to expect. […]

The headline in Germany’s Bild newspaper on Sunday morning read, “Palestinian missile kills civilians in Gaza: Terror bullets explode on their own territory.”

Outside of the Arab world – and in some cases, inside it – other media didn’t focus on the deaths in Jabalya.

Three paragraphs into its article headlined “Gaza escalation continues into second day,” CNN noted that, “In one incident Saturday, four children were among seven people killed in an explosion in Jabalya. The Palestinian Health Ministry initially said the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike. Israel rejected the claim and said it was the result of errant rocket fire, and released a video showing what it said was the Islamic Jihad rocket sharply changing course in the air and hitting the building.”

Major news agencies like Agence France-Press, the Associated Press and Reuters reported what happened in a similar manner.

In another example, the Abu Dhabi-based English-language outlet The National wrote about midway through its article on the violence in the coastal enclave that “Gaza’s health authorities said six children were among 32 people killed so far in the Israeli strikes…. Israel said it had ‘irrefutable’ evidence that some of the children were killed when a rocket fired by Islamic Jihad landed in the Jabalya area in northern Gaza on Saturday. The military shared a video on its Twitter [account] that appeared to show a rocket falling to earth shortly after launch.”

The article featured the IDF tweet with the video.

How did this quick turnaround happen? 

How did this quick turnaround happen? Though many of Israel’s supporters lament Jerusalem’s poor public relations efforts, this was an occasion where the system actually worked.

“We identified the potential for damage from this incident very quickly,” Public Diplomacy Directorate head Lior Haiat said on Sunday. “We understood it could be a public diplomacy catastrophe that could lead to diplomatic harm, which could change the direction of the campaign.”

Within minutes, Haiat, IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen.  Ran Kohav and representatives of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), the Prime Minister’s Office and Foreign Ministry discussed the incident. Defense officials were quickly able to determine not only that the IDF was not responsible, but that Islamic Jihad very clearly was.

Haiat was able to coordinate a media plan with the others within an hour. He released a statement that said Israel had “in our possession videos that prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that this incident was not the result of an Israel Defense Forces’ strike. Israeli security forces did not strike in Jabalya in the past few hours.

“It has been irrefutably proven that this incident was the result of the misfiring of a rocket launched by Islamic Jihad,” he stated. “Following reports in Palestinian and international media, an investigation took place which unequivocally showed that this was not an Israeli strike but rather, a rocket launched from within the Gaza Strip which fell in the heart of Jabalya. All fire by the Islamic Jihad terrorist organization is a double war crime: it is shooting at civilians, and using Gazan civilians as human shields,” he said.

Read the whole thing.

ADDENDUM: the video:

See also:

Tisha be-Av: connection to the outbreak of WW I; Rachel’s Tears

Tonight and tomorrow we mark the fast and mourning day of Tisha be-Av (the ninth of the month of Av), the saddest day on the Jewish calendar. On or around 9 Av, a long list of calamities befell the Jewish people (excerpted from a previous post).

  • 586 BCE: destruction of the First Temple at the hands of the Babylonians, which (after a brief interval under a Jewish governor named Gedalia, later assassinated) would usher in the Babylonian Exile
  • 70 CE: destruction of the Second Temple at the hands of the Roman legions under Vespasian and his son Titus
  • August 4, 135 OS (9 Av, 3895): the crushing of the Bar-Kochba rebellion by the Roman occupiers. The last Jewish stronghold at Betar was reduced, the site of the former Temple plowed over by order of the Roman Emperor Hadrian, and the land that was hitherto known as Provincia Judea punitively renamed Palestina. [This is, BTW, the first recorded usage of that term, taken from the seafaring people known as the Pelishtim or Philistines who used to dwell in the Ashdod/Ashkelon/Gaza region of the coastal plain.]
  • July 18, 1290 OS (9 Av, 5050): expulsion of the Jews from England
  • July 22, 1306 OS (9 Av, 5066): ditto from France
  • July 31, 1492 OS (7 Av, 5252): Gerush Sefarad: a royal decree gave the many Jews of Spain the choice between expulsion and conversion to Catholicism. Many of those who did convert (Conversos or Nuevos Cristianos) secretly continued to adhere to Jewish customs: these so-called Marranos faced torture or death when caught.  Many others found temporary refuge in Portugal, only to be faced with the same choice five years later. Sephardic Jewish communities around the Mediterranean basin, as well as in some northern European port and trading cities, were founded by refugees who left wherever ships would take them. The oldest synagogue on US soil was, in fact, established in 1654 by Marranos “come out of the closet”.
  • […] July 31, 1941 (7 Av, 5701): Reich Marshal (and de facto deputy Führer) Hermann Göring (y”sh) issues a written order to SD-chief Heydrich (y”sh) to “Expanding on your earlier orders […] I order you to submit to me soonest, a comprehensive plan for the organizational, practical, and material preparations for the sought-after Final Solution of the Jewish Question“. [To the best of my knowledge, this is the first time this phrase appears in an official document.]
  • July 23, 1942 (9 Av 5702):  the first deportations from the Warsaw Ghetto to the extermination camp at Treblinka took place.

Below, however, Dr. Henry Abramson talks about a more general calamity: the outbreak of World War One, or the Great War as it used to be known until some time into World War Two. One could argue that the true beginning was the assassination of the Habsburg Crown Prince Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo on June 28, 1914, [ADDENDUM: or the Habsburg declaration of war on Serbia on July 28, 1914] — but the conflagration switched into a much higher gear when Imperial Germany declared war, on August 1, 1914 (9 Av 5664). Three days later, on August 4, 1914, the Kaiser’s armies would invade neutral Belgium on its way to France, France and England would come to the aid of Belgium, and the war on the Western front would begin in earnest.

As Dr. Abramson points out, WW I saw Jewish soldiers and officers on both sides of the conflict. Ultimately, the aftermath of the war, in particular the treaties of Versailles, Trianon, … would sow the seeds of the next, even bloodier one. And of course, without World War One, a certain obscure wannabe artist would likely have died in obscurity rather than have become a by-word for evil despotism — as well as the worst persecutor of the Jewish people in history.

Below is a more spiritual deep-dive by Rabbi David Fohrman into the meaning of the day. (H/t: Mrs. Arbel.)

ADDENDUM: American readers may wonder just how the US ended up in World War One. You probably have heard of the “Zimmermann Telegram” and of Germany engaging in unrestricted submarine warfare on the USA. What I did not realize, however, was that Germany’s military leadership did so knowing full well it was bound to bring the USA into the war — they were just hoping they could force a decision before the USA was properly mobilized.

Quoting from: Goemans, H. E.; Fey, M. Risky but Rational: War as an Institutionally Induced Gamble. J. Polit. 2009, 71 (1), 35–54 DOI: 10.1017/S0022381608090038. [non-paywalled preprint available on the lead author’s Academia.edu page] [EDIT: Wikilink for “va banque” added]

[…] When Quartermaster-General Ludendorff estimated Germany’s chances for 1917 he com-
pared “the problem of obtaining peace, the chance of defeat without unrestricted submarine warfare and the possibility of victory by means of such a campaign, accompanied by an at- tack by our surface fleet and a defensive war on land.” As a result of his deliberations, he concluded that “unrestricted submarine warfare was now the only means left to secure a victorious end to the war within a reasonable time” (Ludendorff, 1919, I: 308, 312). In the third week of December 1916, Ludendorff and Hindenburg told Bethmann Hollweg that unrestricted submarine warfare was “the only means to bring the war to a rapid end” (Bethmann Hollweg, 1921, II: 130, 133-4). Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg had steadfastly opposed unrestricted submarine warfare as a “Vabanque-spiel”—an all-or-nothing gamble—in which the stakes would be Germany’s existence as a major power and her national future (Birnbaum, 1958, 59-60, see also 346-7). However, Ludendorff and Hindenburg’s conclusion that Germany would probably lose the war without unrestricted submarine warfare now forced the Chancellor’s hand. […]

On 8 January 1917, the day before the fateful decisions was finally made, Admiral von Holtzendorff, Chief of the General Staff of the Admiralty, Quartermaster General Ludendorff and Marshall von Hindenburg held a meeting to come to an understanding and agreement regarding the inauguration of unrestricted submarine warfare. In his summary of the results of their negotiations, Hindenburg noted: “So we hold together. It must be. We count upon war with America and have taken all precautions” (Birnbaum, 1958, 315). […]

Sabbath musical delight: a brief musical biography of Joseph Haydn; Haydn’s masterpiece, Die Schöpfung/The Creation

Among the composers of the Classicist period, Mozart has tended to overshadow his onetime teacher Haydn.

The one Haydn composition that has remained popular since he wrote it was the oratorio The Creation (German: Die Schöpfung), but he left a large body of keyboard and string quartet music that saw a re-appreciation later. More importantly perhaps, he was the father of the [orchestral] symphony as the term is generally understood, paving the way for Mozart and Beethoven in this regard.

Haydn had a long if in some ways unhappy life, and saw great fame in his twilight years. Aside from Mozart, his most famous pupil was a young Beethoven, whose “violent” music he professed not to understand. (This did not stop Beethoven from dedicating his first published piano sonata, Opus 2 Nr. 1 in F minor, to Haydn — while it’s already definitely Beethoven rather than “Beethoven does Haydn”, anyone who’s ever played it and learned a few Haydn sonatas can tell Haydn’s influence.)

Here is a brief musical biography from the “Inside the Score” channel.

Haydn’s own chief musical influence was C. P. E. Bach, son of the incomparable J. S. Bach. But as always, while good artists imitate, great artists transform — the true meaning of “good artists copy, great artists steal”. Haydn’s writing of “The Creation” was itself inspired by Händel’s many oratorios, to which Haydn was exposed during his fruitful and lucrative London period — but it’s unmistakably Haydn, not “Haydn goes Händel”.

And here is the performance of “Die Schöpfung”/The Creation that the channel recommend. As today is the Sabbath, commemorating the seventh day [=not literally a 24-hour period] on which G-d rested from His Act of Creation, could I find a more appropriate composition?

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat Shalom!

NB: technically today is Tisha be-Av (9 Av) on the Jewish calendar, but as the joy of the Sabbath [commanded in the Torah] takes precedence over observing the saddest day of fasting and mourning on the Jewish calendar, Tisha be-Av is deferred one day.

The times, they are a-changing: Workplace amenities at apex hi-tech companies on the way out; Gen-Z embracing “dumb phones”?!

Two tech stories today.

We’ve all heard stories about all the perks employees are given at hi-tech companies at the top of the food chain: massage therapists, gourmet chefs, gourmet snacks at one’s beck and call, massage therapists, relaxation corners, game rooms…

The main purpose of them was to entice their most productive staff to stay at work as long as possible and only go home to sleep (if that).

Now, as the pandemic has normalized remote working, these perks are losing a lot of their relevance, and indeed many employees (especially those married with children and/or those facing long commutes) prefer working from home over even the perks at the workplace.

In addition, while many of these companies saw bumper profits during COVID as people embraced online everything, a market correction was unavoidable once we started entering the post-pandemic phase.

So no surprise that these kind of perks are now on the chopping block.

(b) “Dumb phones” (a.k.a., “feature phones”, or “non-smartphones”) used to be for people “too old for all this internet stuff” and for certain niche markets like chareidi (“ultra-Orthodox”) Jews who feared being exposed to salubrious content.

But now, as explained in this ColdFusion video, a growing cohort of Gen Z are embracing “feature phones” as a way to escape the pressure of constant social media notifications. Note that many of these users do still seek to retain other features not related to calling or text messaging, such as their favorite music streaming platform.

Obviously, I’m in neither cohort — and there are other ways to mitigate the notification flow (such as uninstalling social media apps on one’s phone and configuring Email etc. notifications for minimal intrusiveness) without giving up other smartphone capabilities such as a good camera, book reader, navigation app,…. So this is exactly what I did — the single biggest improvement was throwing F*cesbook and Tw*tter off my phone…

ADDENDUM: “Meta” (read: F*cesbook/Instagram/WhatsFap) executives leaving in droves as company “directionless”. More here. And more from The Telegraph (paywalled; cached copy). Many of the senior execs who do stay with the company have relocated internally to the London offices of Meta — including global head of marketing Nick Clegg, onetime head of the Liberal Democratic Party.

Ted Cruz rips Schumer-Manchin bill; WH spokestool calls Supreme Court overruling its own decision “unconstitutional”; Burisma-Hunter Biden smoking gun emails; New York magazine [!] turning on Klueless Kackling Kamala

(a) Ted Cruz takes the Schumer-Manchin bill to the woodshed. Go watch it—worth your time.

Cartoonist Michael Ramirez is his usual subtle self:

Though if I had any drawing talent, I would probably have shown it as a box van labeled “Gemeinnütziges Krankentransport” (Ambulance for the Common Good) 😉

(b) Should I call this post “Heinlein’s Crazy Years” (too much competition, such as LenaDunham’s new “abortion baby shower” in a movie) or “great moments in Mobius Dickery”? The WH’s spokestool claims that SCOTUS overruling its own decision is “unconstitutional”.

(c) (via Instapundit) “Just The Facts” went through Hunter Biden’s laptop contents and found smoking gun emails about his links to Burisma and attempts to suborn US politicians for the benefit of the corrupt, Ukrainian but Russian-connected, oligarch running Burisma. Also, that Abu Hunter (a.k.a. Buck Joe Fiden) was engaged in obstruction of justice. Go read it all.

(d) Tim Pool is more anxious about the possible consequences of Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan than I am (though we’re both equally disgusted with the antiDemocrat regime):

I’ve told you yesterday that I suspect the reaction to the trip is actually a charade since Xi knows he’ll never get a more faithful turtleboy in the White House than Abu Hunter and knows he needs some boost from fake ‘achievements’ if he isn’t to be turned into a complete lame duck in November…

(e) and now even New York Magazine is turning against Klueless Kackling Kamala (whom Quinnipiac has polling at 26%, worse even than Abu Hunter)

(f) Oh, and the would-be assassin of Justice Brett Kavanaugh had an “interesting” secret that the PravdaMedia won’t touch.

So much insanity, so little time to chronicle it. I take comfort in the words of Victor Davis Hanson, who reminded a Telegraph editor that Romans living in the days of Nero, and through the “Year of Four Emperors” that followed his demise must have thought Rome was done for… but then the able general Vespasian took over, and a few decades later, the empire arguably was at its strongest during the reign of the Five Good Emperors — Nerva, Trajan [during whose reign Imperial Rome reached its greatest extent], Hadrian, Antoninus Pius, and philosopher-emperor Marcus Aurelius. Though this close to Tisha be-Av, I can’t bring myself to call Titus (destroyer of the Second Temple) and Hadrian (who ruthlessly suppressed the Bar-Kochba Rebellion) “good” emperors…

Pelosi’s trip to Taiwan: brinkmanship, courageous support for a democracy, or just for show?

So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan and meanwhile left. “During her meeting Wednesday with Ms. Tsai at Taiwan’s presidential office, the California Democrat was conferred with a civilian award, the Order of Propitious Clouds with Special Grand Cordon,” reports the Wall Street Journal [paywalled; cached copy]. (h/t: Mrs. Arbel).

From https://www.barrons.com/news/taiwan-s-tsai-confers-order-of-propitious-clouds-to-us-speaker-pelosi-01659499821

Seth Frantzman in the Jerusalem Post has more:

Meanwhile, the usual suspects on the far Left and far Right in the West were mobilized to sabotage the trip, among them some think tanks and “realist” commentators. Articles appeared warning of a new “crisis” and “escalation.” […]

The overall point of Pelosi’s trip is that she went. It doesn’t matter necessarily what got done or what she said, but that once there was talk of a “military response” and “red line,” the US had to show that its historic commitment to Asia, and Taiwan in particular, would continue. This is no minor thing.

The US has played a role in the Pacific for over 150 years. Back in 1853, American Commodore Matthew Perry led four ships into the harbor at Tokyo Bay in Japan. US missionaries, whale boats and traders played a key role in the Pacific, culminating in the role of men like John Birch, who one publication called a “fighting missionary.”  

After 1945, key US figures like Douglas MacArthur played a role in shaping America’s commitment to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines. This was no small endeavor. Leaders from the region were educated in the US and influenced by American cultural exports, and the post-war economic boom was tied to the US. It’s easy to think of the US role in Europe as one that is important, but in reality, it is the US role in Asia that was paramount for a century and it is only an accident of history that some of this is forgotten.

US-China relations have also ebbed and flowed over the years; from the era of the Korean war to Richard Nixon’s famous visit. What matters today is that the US still decides where Navy ships will sail and where congressional delegations will go. The US Coast Guard helps ships in Oceania through operations like Blue Pacific who patrol economic zones in the area.

As such, Pelosi had to go to Taiwan once news of the potential trip became public and Beijing began a campaign that appeared aimed at preventing it. Her trip matters for the fact it took place.

The US has to decide who will draw the red lines. Will America have policies dictated to it, or will it continue the status quo? Countries are watching, from South Korea to Japan, Australia and India. Smaller countries are also watching, and they want to know if the US is committed.

Of course, with Mrs. Arbel (a card-carrying Reagan Democrat) increasingly joining me in inveterate cynicism, we both were wondering if the trip isn’t really a charade, a “eminence front, a put-on” where Xi (protesting for show) throws his favorite bought-and-paid-for turtleboy Abu Hunter a bone such that he might go into the November elections with some achievements rather than the across-the-board record of embarrassing failure at present. After all, if control of the House and the Senate flip, US foreign policy might take a turn that Xi would not be able to control anymore — while I’m sure he has some GOP politicians on his payroll, I suspect nearly the entire “Democratic” party establishment is either a useful idiot for the CCP or outright in debt to it.

And I was amused that a bunch of commenters in Seth Frantzman’s article had reached the same conclusion… One is even suggesting that Xiden is deliberately engineering an incident that Xi could use as a casus belli to invade Taiwan. One “Michael Newton” has a slightly different take:

Her visit is important for the following. Joe Biden is increasingly feeble and senile and it is only a matter of time before he just collapses. The White House team is trying to keep him on life support but there are limitations to what they can do. Biden is in his second week of “COVID” lockdown (yeah, right) and the White House is trying to keep him out of sight. He national speech on Monday night was full of slurred words and word salad. Obviously this can’t go on forever. Kamala who is next in line for the Presidency is absolutely out of the question. Giggles. Cackles and word salad. (It seems Karine Jean-Pierre has been replaced). So Pelosi is the obvious choice. It seems she has made the trip to Asia (and Taiwan) on her own initiative (and not initially with the blessing of Biden). She is burnishing her credentials for the Presidency. A combination of Machiavelli, Lady Macbeth and Lucrezia Borgia, she will stop at nothing. Y[ou] can bet that H[i]llary is gnashing her [teeth].

ADDENDUM: and now for something completely different (via Instapundit):


Looking around: first ship leaves Odessa under Turkey-brokered agreement; Biden regime quietly resumes construction of Trump’s “racist border wall”; the untold side of the Hollywood “Red Scare” story; rich Chinese trying to exfiltrate their money and themselves; unintended consequences at the BBC

(A) https://lloydslist.maritimeintelligence.informa.com/LL1141773/First-Ukraine-grain-ship-leaves-Odesa-bound-for-Lebanon The Razoni, a Sierra Leone-flagged cargo ship, left Odessa with 26,000 tons of corn, bound for Lebanon.

This is an important test case, as the harvest season is here

(B) John Hinderaker of Powerline interviewed on Australian TV

The best part for me is where he discussed how the Biden bubatron [=puppet show] is now quietly resuming construction of the “racist Trump wall” in Arizona — citing concerns for the safety of illegal border crossers. These concerns are very real (people dying of thirst in the desert, getting scr*wed over by “coyotes”,…) but somehow didn’t matter to the antiDemocrats when Trump was president. But now, as they’re afraid of losing a purple state in the midterms… la politique politicienne at work.

(C) An intriguing interview with “Razorfist” about Hollywood and the “Red Scare” — putting it in a very different light from the official Hollywood narrative. Razorfist, when not in his channel persona, does know how to speak without dropping colorfully NSFW expletives.

(D) Meanwhile in China, the rich are trying to move their wealth and themselves out, and hitting snags.

(E) And as foretold in the prophecy: the Telegraph reports that women are getting crowded out at the BBC, as the gender quota is filled with men who identify as women.

No, the kids aren’t alright

I got my first glimpse of how addictive “instant” social media would be back in the 1990s. There were Usenet news groups (I spent a fair amount of time on some of them, learning a lot in the process), but there was also a twitter- like public chat relay called IRC (for internet relay chat). Some IT people at work got into this to the point that they were “IRClejerking”, as a potty-mouthed colleague referred to it, all day.

The metaphor may have been crude, but it effectively painted the instant self-gratification “empty calories” nature of the activity.

Fast forward to today, where an entire generation is growing up effectively slaves to Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Tw*tter, and what have you – and mistaking this for having a life. And mistaking life for this instant messaging universe. The ceaseless climate doom propaganda and woke brainwashing for sure don’t help, but I agree with the author of the article below that social media addiction is a chief reason why no generation seems to be more depressed and anxious, and worse prepared to face real life.

(Via Instapundit)


Biden polls worst in modern history of polling; Eminem parody, “Sniff Sleepy”; great interview with Victor Davis Hanson: “threat to democracy”=left code-speak for “we’re not getting our way”; Chinese real estate collapse spreading to its steel industry

(A) Abu Hunter’s polls are the worst in the history of modern polling. And, as Insty points out, that’s with all institutions trying to cover up for Biden.

(B) Forget Eminem’s “Slim Shady”, here’s “Sniff Sleepy”

(C) Great, wide-ranging interview of Victor Davis Hanson by The Daily Telegraph. It touches on all sorts of subjects, but near the beginning, I was quite amused to hear him say (my paraphrase): “democracy is under threat” is leftist code-speak for “democracy is no longer giving us our way”, and hence the push for SCOTUS packing, abolishing the filibuster (and later recreate it, once they have packed the court),…

I wrote earlier that rule of law is not a result or emanation of democracy, but a foundation pillar — indeed, arguably a precondition for it. Once you lose that, you enter into “banana republic without bananas” territory at best, and into Weimar Republic (and, G-d forbid, what came after it) at worst.

(D) Meanwhile in China, the collapse of the massive real estate bubble is spreading to other sectors of the economy, particularly the steel industry, and causing massive unemployment.

No wonder Xi the Chelonian-Attracted is saber-rattling over Taiwan — anything to distract people’s attention from the failures of his regime.

Sabbath musical delight: “America”, original by Simon & Garfunkel and cover by Yes

The original song by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel is a beauty in its wistful way.

Progressive rock legends YES started out their career playing elaborate covers of popular rock and pop tunes of the day, often using the originals as jumpoff points for elaborate instrumental fireworks. Only one song from that early period remained on the band’s setlist, as it was so popular with the band’s fans: their cover of “America”. Its “vibe” is completely different from the original — alternately playful and strutting. As it were, setting out on a search that is itself more fulfilling than any destination.

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat shalom!

Two stories about shameless lying liars: (1) a recession is “no recession”; (2) Arafat is seeking peace

(1) This screen cap says it all. The technical definition of a recession was two consecutive quarters of negative growth, until… that became inconvenient for the Biden puppet show.

Insty’ s op-ed in the NYPost rhetorically wonders why Americans don’t believe in institutions anymore

The news is bad on the lack of trust. A recent University of Chicago Institute of Politics poll found that a majority of Americans think that the government is “corrupt and rigged against people like me.” Two-thirds of Republicans and independents felt that way, but things weren’t much better among liberals, 51% of whom agreed. So this isn’t the usual sour grapes from the party out of power — it’s a general sentiment.

Why do people feel that way? Well, that’s a real poser, but I’m going to offer a suggestion: They feel that way because they’ve noticed that the government is corrupt and rigged against people like them.

Those in government live in a world of revolving doors and no consequences. Fail in protecting or serving the public? You’ll likely get off scot-free and land in a cushy private-sector position after your “public service” is over. Then, next time your party is in power, you’ll likely move back into another government position that will set you up for an even cushier private-sector job later.


They’ll say anything to retain power. There used to be a certain amount of shame there to limit their excesses, but the political class is utterly shameless now, and people see it.

Read the whole thing.

(B) in an interview in Hebrew, Arabist and former Military Intelligence officer Prof. Mordechai Kedar explains how he crossed the aisle, politically. Let me paraphrase in English.

He was originally a member of Netivot shalom (“paths of peace”), a religious satellite movement of Peace Now. During the Oslo Process (called “peace process” by its supporters, “piece-by-piece process” by its detractors), In the aftermath of the Rabin (z”l) assassination, he took part in a meeting of representatives of Israeli “peace camp” organizations with Yasser Arafat (y”sh). The group decided, as Keidar was the only one fluent in Arabic, that he should sit next to Arafat.

So it happened. But as the group was speaking English (with stronger or lesser Hebrew accents), Arafat and his advisor Nabil Abu Rudeineh did not realize Kedar understood Arabic.

There was a quick spoken exchange between them:

Arafat: “Who are these guys?” (He’d been shuttling from one meeting to the next.)

NAR, in a mocking tone: “Oh, a group of Israeli peace activists, nudge nudge wink wink.”

Arafat: “So what do I tell them?”

NAR: “Oh, you know, the usual nonsense.” Kedar translated the Arabic phrase into Hebrew as somewhere between “shtuyot” (nonsense) and “kishkush” (balderdash).

And as the unctuous phrases for public consumption kept rolling off Arafat’s tongue, the scales fell off Keidar’s eyes, so to speak.

ADDENDUM: how could I have forgotten to add this classic book title:

Looking around: Trump sues CNN for defamation; Goodfellows on whether a China-Russia-Iran axis is emerging?; disaffected moderate D and R form third party

(A) So Donald Trump is threatening to sue CNN for defamation.

I don’t think he will ever secure a conviction. Since the Sullivan decision of SCOTUS, the burden of proof for a public figure (not for Joe Q. Schmoe[*]) to secure a libel conviction is extremely high — the “actual malice” standard basically means you have to prove that the paper/the channel/… knowingly repeated falsehoods.

Good luck with that, as Gen Ariel Sharon z”l learned to his chagrin when TIME magazine falsely accused him of orchestrating the Sabra and Shatila massacre. (The court decision regarded as proven that the allegations were (1) false and (2) damaging, but regarded (3) actual malice as not proven.)

But boy, do I wish for CNN to be taken to the cleaners pour encourager les autres. Although, if I were the judge, I would likely impose, in lieu of damages, a “creative” name change… <evil grin>

(B) the Goodfellows (Niall Ferguson, H. R. McMaster, John Cochrane) in their regular wide-ranging discussion, bring up the emergence of a loose China-Russia-Iran axis. Each of these three dictatorships/oligarchies has its own agenda, and there are lots of mutual differences (Russia and China could be called “frenemies”) but their shared opposition to a Western-led international order makes them bedfellows.

(C) Meanwhile, as “Abu Hunter” is increasingly despised by his own party, Hunter himself is arguably at the center of the greatest corruption scandal in US history.

(D) And meanwhile, centrist politicians like Andrew Yang (D) and Christine Todd Whitman (R) are forming a new third party. With especially the D party being in the grip of competitive insanity, I would wish them well. However, they have Duverger’s Law working against them.

[*] For an ordinary private citizen suing for libel, it suffices to prove that the allegations are materially untrue (i.e., in substance, not just in details) and damaging — no ‘actual malice’ standard applies.