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.

Why for the Brahmandarins, populism is good in the Arab world but “dangerous” in the West

Continuing to read Walter Russell Mead’s great new book, of which I reviewed the first chunk here. When he gets up to the so-called Arab Spring, he has this reflection:

Of course, these “many Westerners” are New Class/Brahmandarin elements concerned primarily with their own status and with the collective self-interest of their class. Populist democracy in the West means they lose power and influence (which in much of Europe amounts to a stranglehold). By contrast, except as representatives of various quaNGOs, they have none really to lose in the Middle East (outside Israel), and therefore their status there has nowhere to go but up. And if Israel hangs on somehow and becomes wholly dependent on them, well, they’d regard that as a nice bonus…

Yes, I’m an inveterate cynic as well as a mad scientist…

ADDENDUM: Gad Saad tells a story from his childhood in Lebanon that drives home a powerful truth: the rule of law is one of the foundation pillars of democracy, not a fringe benefit of it. In a society where rule of law does not exist, democracy cannot endure.

White House discovers new elementary particle, the “peson” [sic]

(a) Or was that a freudian slip for “peon”? 😉 Or is the idea that the dollars they pay in will ultimately be worth as much as the peso?

Earlier, they had a sign for Klueless Kackling Kamala where she was appearing in the state of “Lousiana” [sic].

And yes, I realize this wasn’t Abu Hunter’s or Kackles’s own doing: probably that of the several Generation Z’ers [*] manning his Tw*tter account, warehousededucated in a school system that regarded correct spelling and grammar as optional. (This is not just an American phenomenon, alas.) And don’t even get me started on the utterly incompetent triple AA case currently acting as WH spokesflack. Because at the end of the day, cringe-worthy as all this is, not even the love child of Winston Churchill and Demosthenes would be able to defend the fustercluckfest that is Abu Hunter’s presidency.

Needless to say, commenters let them have it – not just over the spelling mistakes, but over taking credit for a slight drop in oil prices while shifting the blame for steep increases — as much as I despise Putin, 80% of the increase happened before he started channeling his inner Dzhugashvili.

Perhaps this is the time to define the “peson” as the elementary particle of self-righteous incompetence.

Bismarck is supposed to have said that G-d watches over fools, drunks, and the United States of America. Boy, do they ever need it.

(b) Meanwhile, the Daily Telegraph reports that even Abu Hunter’s paymaster Xi the chelonian-lover seems to be backing away from his frenemy Putin:

(paywalled; cached copy)

[*] It sounds worse in Hebrew: “dor zayin” (generation penis; idiomatically, as zayin is the seventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet, “seventh-rate generation” (cf. “oman sug zayin”=seventh-rate artist, “seret sug zayin”=”grade Z movie”)

ADDENDUM: [Best Capt. Renault voice on:] I am shocked, shocked! That GreenPeace and other “green” groups would be objective allies of Putin and other anti-Western potentates.

(cached copy: )

ADDENDUM 2: Natan Sharansky (née Anatoli Shcharansky in Donbass): Russia’s recent threats to ban the Jewish Agency are attempts to sow discord in the West.

With Russian President Vladimir Putin unable to travel to Washington, London, or Finland, he can only go to Iran, and in order to break his isolation is looking for points of weakness, whereby he can pressure other countries to opt out of the campaign against Russia, according to Sharansky.

“And he believes that for Israel the Jewish Agency is very important, and it is very easy to attack,” he added, referring to the Russian law on “foreign agents” that targets anyone who receives support from abroad.

Sharansky spent nine years in Soviet prisons in the 1970s and 1980s, and served as the Jewish Agency’s chairman from 2009 to 2018.

ADDENDUM 3: oh dear:

Here, there, everywhere: UK reduced to begging Belgium for electricity; natural vs. vaccine vs. hybrid COVID immunity

(a) The Daily Telegraph reports that during the latest brief, but record-breaking, heatwave, the UK was forced to ask Belgium for emergency electricity.

By percentage of total electricity production, France and Belgium are #1 and #2 in the world, respectively. While Belgium’s “leadership” intends to phase out nuclear power, France’s Macron actually is moving in the opposite direction as we reported here previously. But many French plants were down for maintenance.

National Grid was forced to issue an emergency appeal to Belgium to keep Britain’s lights on as the market was roiled by surging prices ahead of a looming winter crisis.

The power network’s electricity system operator (ESO) issued an emergency instruction to operators of the Nemo cable running between Belgium and the UK to make sure supplies were sent to Britain last week, after failing to secure enough in the normal market.

Experts said it cast doubt on the Grid’s ability to cope during the “looming iceberg” of winter, when gas supplies are expected to be under far more severe pressure and Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, may cut off shipments to Europe altogether.

The Grid’s notice, issued at lunchtime on Wednesday, came as high demand in the UK and constraints moving power into the south-east of England coincided with high demand on the continent and outages in France’s nuclear fleet. 

The ESO at one point on Wednesday paid an all-time high of £9,724 per MWh to import power over the Nemo cable amid a scramble for electricity around Europe, data from market analyst EnAppSys shows.  

Two days of record-breaking temperatures last Monday and Tuesday also put power supplies under strain. Heat reduced the efficiency of solar panels and other generators and disrupted transmission lines, just as demand rose and wind power fell. 

The strain triggered two automatic warning notices to the market last Monday calling for more generation to come online, with analysts at Cornwall Insight warning that demand came “very close” to outstripping supply. 

The ESO said automatic market signals did not take into account all of its data and tools, and it was confident that electricity margins were sufficient.

It comes as the ESO is this week set to publish its early forecast for power supply and demand this winter, amid heightened concern over energy security owing to Russia’s war on Ukraine. 

While the heat created particular challenges last week, demand for energy is typically higher during winter. Cold snaps in particular can cause havoc with infrastructure. 

Kathryn Porter, an energy consultant at Watt-Logic, said: “The warnings from National Grid this week during hot, still weather are a sign of worse to come in winter when cold, still weather will stress the system even further.”

Britain gets most of its electricity from its own gas-fired power stations, nuclear plants, wind turbines, biomass and solar plants.

(b) So right now, all of Casa Arbel should have “hybrid immunity” to COVID, as we’ve all been triple-Pfizered (in the case of Mrs. Arbel, who is in a risk group, even quadruple-Pfizered) and have had omicron infections. (Mrs. and mine were bad cold/mild flu level, daughter’s a bit nastier.)

According to figures quoted by Dr. John Campbell from survey studies in the UK, 97.5% of the population has antibodies from either vaccination or recovery, and as many as 85% have had an actual (symptomatic or asymptomatic) infection. So the debate in the omicron era [**} is not about further vaccination — 2.5% “immuno-naïve” [*] population is not going to be “make or break”.

Now our public health system in Israel has always had the working assumption that “natural immunity” (i.e., recovery from the infection) is about as protective as vaccination, if not more so. Yes, things that could get you censored on social media in the US were commonplace here. But in the beginning this was more an “educated guess”.

Considering how many mutations separate the “wild type” (a.k.a. Wuhan Classic ;)) from the omicron lineages, it is not entirely surprising that vaccines still based on “wild type” would provide ever less protection against infection (if rather more against severe disease). And thus we now have a large population of people who have had both the vaccine and a (usually omicron) infection.

Very recently, an Israeli team around Prof. Ron Milo from the Weizmann Institute, national Director of Public Health Prof. Sharon Alroy-Preis, and former “covid czar” Prof. Nachman Ash, went on a statistical deep-dive in the Ministry of Health database. (All Israelis, by law, are required to be enrolled in one of the four licensed HMOs, paid for by our Health Insurance Tax. All keep centralized medical records, which are automatically carried over if you switch HMOs — which somewhat compete on quality and local services. Researchers can access anonymized versions of these databases, subject to ethical review.)

This is not your garden-variety study with a few hundred subject, but a retrospective analysis of over five million patient records that would be well-nigh impossible in the US. Anyway, this is the paper:

Goldberg, Y.; Mandel, M.; Bar-On, Y. M.; Bodenheimer, O.; Freedman, L. S.; Ash, N.; Alroy-Preis, S.; Huppert, A.; Milo, R. Protection and Waning of Natural and Hybrid Immunity to SARS-CoV-2. N. Engl. J. Med. 2022, 386 (23), 2201–2212. (The paper is Open Access.)

Perhaps the “money-graph” of the paper is Figure 3:

Figure 3. Estimated Covariate-Adjusted Rates of Confirmed Infections per 100,000 Person-Days at Risk. Data were obtained from the Poisson regression analysis for the study period, stratified according to subcohorts. Confidence intervals are not adjusted for multiplicity. The error bars denote 95% confidence intervals.

So let me give you the TL;DR summary:

  • vaccine-only immunity is very strong at first, then wanes fairly rapidly
  • in contrast, recovery-only (“natural”) immunity decays much more slowly
  • the combination (“hybrid immunity”) is both stronger and persistent

The major limitation of the study is that data apply to a time frame where delta, rather than omicron, was persistent. I suspect the authors will want to follow this up with an omicron paper: that will be somewhat hampered by many people with mild omicron infections not bothering to report them (I have a fair amount of anecdotal evidence of this).

(c) also from here, the bottom health story of the day: doctors declare monkeypox “a new kind of STD”

[*] Yes, that is an actual technical term — referring to somebody who’s never been exposed to the infection and never had a vaccine for it — in other words, their immune systems are “naïve” about the pathogen.

[**] According to this recent review article in Nature Reviews Immunology, omicron has about five times lower

Sigal, A., Milo, R. & Jassat, W. Estimating disease severity of Omicron and Delta SARS-CoV-2 infections. Nat Rev Immunol 22, 267–269 (2022). (The paper is Open Access.)

The “Vulcan hypothesis”: Walter Russell Mead’s metaphor for conspiracy theories about “the Jewish lobby”

Am greatly enjoying the latest book (and apparently magnum opus) of Walter Russell Mead, “Arc of a Covenant”, about the US-Israel relationship.

While Mead has his personal sympathies in the Arab-Israeli conflict (way to the left of mine, very far to the right of Roger W*nkers), he tries to put them to one side and to analyze events in an attempt to understand what actually happened, — in particular, who took which decision and for what reason.

I’m about halfway in. A constantly reiterated theme is that one cannot look at, e.g., the White House’s response to the Arab-Israeli conflict in isolation — he takes both Zionist advocates and so-called “anti-Zionists” to task for doing so — without considering the broader context, in which Israel and/or the Jews are not just one factor among many, but may not even be the most important factor.

For instance, once cannot truly understand Harry S Truman’s decisions concerning the British Mandate, UNSCOP (“United Nations Special Commission on Palestine”), UN Resolution 181, and ultimately Israel’s de facto recognition as if said decisions were made in a vacuum in which there was no Cold War, in which the US wasn’t using every available transport plane for the Berlin Airlift; in which Truman wasn’t dealing with a liberal internationalist wing of his party (led by Eleanor Roosevelt; Henry Wallace would ultimately run for POTUS on the third-party Progressive ticket) that saw the United Nations as the great white hope for the nonviolent resolution of international conflicts, and for which UNSCOP and the implementation of UN Resolution 181 became touchstones; and in which there wasn’t a decades-long US tradition of encouraging self-determination of peoples abroad as an alternative preferred to their mass immigration to the USA.[*]

Likewise, that Stalin [y”sh] briefly allowed Czechoslovakia [only turned into a full satellite state by the February 1948 coup] to ship arms (originally produced under duress for the Wehrmacht) to what is now Israel cannot be understood except as a chess move in a geopolitical game in which he sought to drive a wedge between the UK and the US, and to create instability that would force the British to abandon their Arab client states, driving them into the arms of the USSR and thus indirectly strengthening Soviet/Russian hold on the Eastern Mediterranean (a long-term geopolitical goal of Russia since Tsarist times).

Also likewise, the US subsidies to Egypt were not created as some sort of “compensation” for US military aid to Israel, but as a calculated (and ultimately successful) effort to pry loose the largest Arab nation from the Soviet bloc and move it into the Western bloc.

In many cases, decisions that ended up benefiting Israel were taken despite, rather than because of, lobbying by the Jewish community and/or indeed by Israel itself.

So why do both detractors and supporters of Israel attach such oversized power to “the Jewish lobby”? He has a rather interesting metaphor for this, the “Vulcan hypothesis”.

In the late 1840s, the French astronomer Le Verrier (and, unmentioned by Mead, his colleague Adams at Cambridge) had concluded that irregularities in the orbit of planet Uranus could only be explained as perturbations by another large planet further outward. They predicted its location and it was promptly found by astronomers and named Neptune.

“Dizzy with success”, Le Verrier now turned his attention to Mercury. He likewise found anomalies in the observed orbit, and after a lot of calculation conjectured that there was another, undiscovered planet even closer to the sun, which he named Vulcan[**] after the Roman idol of fire and metalworking[***]. Astronomers “found” this planet crossing the disc of the sun, but could make rhyme nor reason of its paths. Later these “sightings” of Vulcan were found to be sunspots.

The anomalies in Mercury’s orbit were explained much later by Albert Einstein as general relativity phenomena, i.e., effects of the sun’s gravitational field on the observed light. The planet Vulcan was a figment of the astronomers’ imagination, as they did not know the full picture/the broader context.

Likewise, Mead says, “the all-powerful Jewish lobby” is the Planet Vulcan of international politics. [****]

(for the Greeks: Hephaestos).

[*] Mead also points out that the mass migration from the three decaying empires — Tsarist, Ottoman, and Habsburg — between 1880 and the 1924 restrictions was only about 9% Jewish — the WASP ascendancy of the day was equally concerned with Catholic and Eastern Orthodox immigrants changing the country’s complexion.

[**] No relation to the homeworld of Mr. Spock in the “Star Trek” storyverse!

[***] The Greek equivalent of Vulcanus was called Hephaestos. Our word “volcano” comes from Vulcanus as well.

[****] Though I must admit that I find another planetary hypothesis — that the homeworld of Israel-bashers and of leftist “useful idiots” more generally is planet Uranus — to be strangely compelling 😉

Sabbath musical delight: Hania Rani live on Piano Day

This is a live concert by Polish pianist and composer Hanna Raniszewska, who uses the stage name Hania Rani. Born in Gdańsk/Danzig and classically trained at the Chopin Conservatory in Warsaw, I would call her music post-minimalist, with touches of jazz, Berlin School electronics, and even the more meditative edge of progressive rock.

Her primary instrumentation is acoustic piano (sometimes veering into “prepared piano” techniques), but she extensively uses electronics to loop and manipulate the sound.

Anyway, something a bit outside my usual offerings on Saturday. Have a nice weekend, and Shabbat shalom!

The times, they are a-changing: Former 0bama DOE official Steven Koonin: “climate is a problem, but not an existential crisis”; surprisingly fair article in Saudi papers about Israeli Arabs serving in the IDF

(A) In response to F. Joe Biden’s claims that climate is an “existential threat” in response to which he needs to take executive action, Larry Kudlow interviews former Assistant Secretary of the Department of Energy Steven E. Koonin. Koonin, a theoretical physicist from academia, served under Steven Chu in the 0bama (mis)administration, and does see global warming as a problem, but not as an existential threat.

If F. Joe Biden wants to see an existential threat, he need but look at the lunatics in his own party.

(B) So just after I joked about FJB having “COVID of the brain”. It’s reported that he actually has COVID — presumably the omicron BA.5 subvariant which is contagious as heck, and which lots of us at work (including yours truly) got infected with at conferences and on planes. And yes, anecdotally I know people in their mid-80s who had a mild disease course like myself (two days mild flu-level sick, two more days under the weather) — and two younger people in their late twenties (including my daughter, who is athletic and in perfect health) who had a nastier disease progression (but neither needed hospitalization).

Indeed, I know a number of people who caught BA.5 this wave after recovering from the original omicron earlier this year. Neither vaccines (all of them, except the recent Moderna booster, based on “Wuhan Classic” ;)) nor recovery from previous infection with a variant other than BA.5, seem to impart solid protection against infection with BA.5. However, hospitalization levels here, while they went up, are nowhere near those at the peaks of previous wave here. Does this mean BA.5 is mild in general, or (as I suspect) that widespread T-cell immunity (from vaccination, recovery, or both) limits duration and severity of infections? There are fewer and fewer “immuno-naive” (yes, that is an actual term I learned from Dr. John Campbell; it refers to people who have never been infected with, nor vaccinated against, a particular pathogen) people around to use as a control group.

(C) MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute) has been doing the L-rd’s work translating Arabic- and Farsi-language media writing things that are meant for their own audience and not for Western consumption. (As a sign of shifting perceptions, they have started doing so for Russian and Chinese as well.) A rather surprising sign of changing times was this long article in the Saudi magazine al-Majallah about the increasing number of Israeli Arabs and especially Bedouin who chose to do military service in the IDF. (Unlike Jews and [at that community’s own request] Druse, Arabs are not subject to conscription.) I knew pretty much everything in the article: the surprising part to me was how factual and fair the piece was. If journalists had sent this in to an editor at the BBC or the Guardian, they would have been eviscerated for “Zionist propaganda”. Indeed, among other things, the article is at pains to point out that Arabs in the IDF experience no discrimination in any form, and that no institution in Israel is fairer between population groups. It also discusses the Druse, a minority of 150,000 out of a population of “almost ten million”, which has a higher enlistment rate than the Jewish majority.

Go read the whole thing. I was amazed. Keep in mind: this could not have been published as it was if it were unacceptable to the Saudi regime… “The times, they are a-changing…”

ADDENDUM (h/t: Mrs. Arbel): House ‘Democrats’ vote en bloc against a GOP proposal that would block the FJB regime from selling oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to China. I have been saying for years, as a form of hyperbole, that one of the US’s two major parties is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the ChiComs (as are at least some politicians on the other side of the aisle). I’m not sure anymore this is hyperbole.

COVID of the brain and Joe Biden; Russia-Iran alliance; “Palestinian intellectual” claims Jews actually Aryans, not semites; the woke purity spiral

So much insanity to write about, so little time.

Yet at least some of it puts me in mind of Marx’s quip: “History occurs twice: once as tragedy, the second time as farce”.

(a) It is now patently obvious to everyone but the most deluded follower of the TASSmedia (TASS was the press agency of the USSR) that F. Joe Biden is unfit for office. Aside from corruption and intellectual shallowness that were always there, his cognitive decline has become blatant for all to see. I’ve been following that hack’s career for quite a while, and yes, he’s always been a gaffe machine and a fabulist, but it’s most definitely gotten much worse in the past several years.[*]

Barring a massive electoral fraud (a new pandemic to the rescue?), the [anti-]Democratic establishment know that if Biden runs again, they’re toast. On the other hand, Kamala the Klueless Kackler is possibly the only politician who would make Biden look adult in comparison. So there is increasing talk of easing Biden out of office and squaring away Kamala with a SCOTUS seat or a plum sinecure. But then what?

Leaving aside the chronic intellectual and moral bankruptcy of the party, it is in a double crisis:

  • they have no “bench” worth speaking of, unless you count failed mayors with trendy s3xual identities, unsympathetic wives of ex-presidents, and poster boys for limousine liberalism who preach one thing and do the opposite. The very fact that some seriously want to flog the dead horse Hillary should tell you all.
  • the (older-school) liberals are fighting a rearguard battle against the “identity politics ueber Alles” extremists, whose obsessions earn plaudits among the hipster doucheoisie (and among the ultra-rich looking to distract the sheeple from “green” policies that not merely discriminate against, but immiserate, the working and middle classes for the benefit of the Brahmandarin “patron class” and its client class and their neo-Dalit clients) but alienate much of the electoral base.

Hence the noteworthy bit at the bottom here:

Donald Trump apparently has been telling reporters that the big question on his mind is not whether he should run again for president in 2024, but whether he should announce it before or after the midterms.

It’s not a hard question. Put it this way: Nancy Pelosi is dying for him to announce as soon as possible.

The one thing that could derail a big red wave in November is for Trump to make it all about him.

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake” is an old adage in politics.
One look at Joe Biden’s polls and his party’s failed policy platform should tell Republicans to leave well enough alone.

Related link dump:

This one is a must-read

(b) About this “derpseal of the month”, a facebook friend asked me why clubbing derpseals is illegal.

“Palestinian National Council” member Faisal abu Khameer, er, Khadra claims that Jews are not Semites at all but of Aryan origin., reports MEMRI from Arabic-language media. Did the onetime “grand mufti of Jerusalem” explain that to his ideological bosom buddy?

Left: Haj Amin al-Husseini; Right: AH. Yemach shmam/may their names be erased

Though to be fair, one Iranian Jew told me deadpan that he was an Aryan, since he was born in Iran… 😉

(The “Indo-Aryans” of antiquity, BTW, were a cultural, linguistic, and religious [Zoroastrianism] group that had nothing to do with the “Aryan race” of 19th-century racist pseudoscience.)

(c) Speaking of Iran: so Vlad the Invader, in his desperation to replenish his dwindling and crumbling military hardware stocks, is now palling it up with the mad mullahs of Iran. Predictable and beyond pathetic.

(d) And speaking of Putin: it seems that the tentacles of his corrupt siloviki apparatus reach all the way to… Hunter Biden.

(e) And this would be hilarious if it weren’t so sad.

DISPATCHES FROM THE INTERSECTION OF ANNALS OF LEFTIST AUTOPHAGY AND PORTLANDIA: Portland Lesbian bar shuts down one week after opening because they weren’t woke enough.

Doc Marie’s is a lesbian bar that opened on July 1st of this year with the hope of bringing more inclusivity to the city of Portland. But just one week after their grand opening they were forced to shut down because of complaints that the bar was not a “safe space.” Similar to the story I wrote a few weeks ago about the queer-owned cafe in Philadelphia that was shut down by employees for not being woke enough, Doc Marie’s was cannibalized by the woke mob.

The crowd on opening day was huge. One woman said that the line for entry on opening night was “wrapped around the block” with “literally 200 lesbians” waiting to get in.

But the excitement about a new progressive hangout dissipated quickly. Within days, Doc Marie’s found itself on the receiving end of accusations of not being inclusive enough for trans people and people of color. Despite mask mandates being lifted in Portland, patrons accused the bar of not implementing enough COVID safety measures. Patrons also claimed that Doc Marie’s had “culturally appropriative art” on the walls.

Exit quote: “Surrendering to the woke mob doesn’t appear to be working out in Doc Marie’s favor, as the bar remains closed with no public plan to reopen.”

The modus operandi of the woke “purity spiral” was best described by the band Tool in the track that does not contain a single unprintable word, but had to be renamed “Track #1” in some jurisdictions. (Warning: graphic metaphor for “we are amusing ourselves to death”.)

(f) Meanwhile in the UK, where for a few days the news cycle was dominated by unprecedentedly hot weather of a variety that in Texas would be called “Tuesday” [**], the race for Boris Johnson’s replacement is down to the final two. Chancellor of the Exchequer [***] “Dishy” Rishi Sunak, a rich banker of Hindu background, is one candidate; Foreign Secretary Liz Truss the other. The former has presided over the largest tax increases in 70 years, the latter is clearly competent but lacking in charisma. Nigerian anti-woke immigrant Kemi Badenoch came in fourth, while centrist Penny Mordaunt placed a respectable third.

Sunak and Truss will now have to make their case before the Tory faithful, rather than before fellow MPs. The current government has another two years to go, with a comfortable majority, unless brought down by a successful Motion of Non-Confidence in the House of Commons.

[*] Full disclosure: I saw my mother (z”l) slip away from vascular dementia, and it is a heart-rending thing to see in a loved one. Alternation between phases of mental debility and of (objective or relative) lucidity is characteristic.

[**] It is always the “black swan weather” that gets you. 100+ days straight of weather above 100 degrees Fahrenheit, as I’ve experienced myself in Dallas, is a mere nuisance when power and air conditioning are abundant and everyone builds for it — but the same city was thrown in disarray by a few inches of snow and ice in the following unseasonably cold winter, while Chicago where we lived previously would have laughed off the latter. I vividly remember how people in Tel-Aviv went doolally over the first snow in 70 years, as houses and infrastructure were not built to cope with a few days of what is normal autumn weather in northern Europe. “A few days, once in a blue moon” being the key reason why.

[***] The quaint British name for what Americans would call the Secretary of the Treasury, and others the Finance Minister. The Prime Minister, BTW, is also by convention the First Lord of the Treasury, hence the government bench in the House of Commons is called the Treasury Bench. The Second Lord of the Treasury, with official residence at 11 Downing Street, is typically (and has been continuously since 1827) the Chancellor of the Exchequer. [Speaking of First Lords: Archaically, the UK equivalent of the Naval Secretary was known as the First Lord of the Admiralty — an office held, among others, by a young Winston Churchill.]

ADDENDUM (via Instapundit; I mostly stay away from Tw*tter):

Erich Fellgiebel, his role in “Valkyrie”, and how it was misrepresented in the movie

Blast from the past in honor of Valkyrie Day

Spin, strangeness, and charm

The Hollywood movie “Valkyrie”, featuring Tom Cruise as Col. von Stauffenberg, is a pretty good dramatization of the abortive July 20, 1944 plot. The movie scores high marks for historical accuracy by Hollywood standards — but that would ordinarily be damning with very faint praise. It is not an easy tale to compress into a 2-hour movie without at least some dramatic license: the latter included having some composite characters, such as Henning von Tresckow (played by Kenneth Branagh) carrying out some actions that in real life were those of his adjutant Fabian von Schlabrendorff (one of the few survivors). The single weakest point about the movie was the portrayal of Gen. Erich Fellgiebel, the head of the Signals Corps, as a weak, hesitant drunkard who had to be strong-armed by Stauffenberg into going along with the plot. (It appears the script made a composite of Fellgiebel, Helmut Stieff…

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Looking around: Zelensky fires security chief?!; Michael Shellenberger on farmer pushback against eco-lunacy; Walter Russell Mead’s new book on the US-Israel relationship

(a) Ukraine has kind-of dropped off page one news (much to F. Joe Biden’s chagrin, as his handlers are desperate for any distraction from all the disasters caused by senility and wokebaggery) but this item piqued my curiosity:

(b) Michael Shellenberger, a former leftie and renegade environmentalist, interviewed by Sky News about the insanity of climate mandates on farmers, and why they are pushing back:

(c) Tony Badran looks at F. Joe Biden’s foreign policy, and sees the third term of 0bama, nothing more or less.

(d) Walter Russell Mead explains how the “insanity” and misbegotten “received wisdom” on the history of US-Israel relations prompted him to write this just-released book on the US-Israel relationship.

I got my copy and will post a review when I finished it. WRM is a very insightful writer and it is sure to be a good read.

Looking around: how the European Commission “rules” the world; media’s attempted “killing with silence”of global populist protests; meanwhile in China…

(A) a look at the outsized regulatory power of the European Union (read: the unelected body that runs it, the European Commission). As the EU single market is not just large but on average wealthy, everybody wants to do business with it — and that can only happen if one abides by the EU regulatory regime.

A lot of the ESG (environmentalist socialist garbage) comes straight from there, not just from CEOs quaking in their boots for a tiny minority of woke tw*tterati.

Not all of the EU’s regulations are malign, BTW: anti-trust laws and data privacy laws come to mind.

(B) Ralph Schoellhammer interviewed on Sky News Australia about the global[ist] media’s killing with silence of global protests against elite policies that immiserate the working and middle classes for the benefit of the elites and their mascots.

My native Dutch has a verb for “killing something with silence”, as does German: “doodzwijgen” and “totschweigen”, respectively.

However, Schoellhammer’s essay was published not just in a random blog, but in… Newsweek which seems to increasingly profile itself as an outlet for heterodox opinion.

(C) Meanwhile, what’s happening in China? Banks are collapsing sending people’s investments down the drain; mortgage holders go into repayment strike. And people trying to protest whatever is the latest machination by the local government/viceroy of Beijing, or by a company with good CCP connections suddenly find the COVID health codes on their phones changed to… red.

See also:

ADDENDUM: unrelated, a look at the HIMARS rocket artillery system the US has been sending to Ukraine. Don’t miss the comments.

Sabbath musical delight: Egberto Gismonti, “Palhaço”

I first heard this melancholy, longing tune 30 years ago on a jazz trio album by Jan Garbarek (sax), Charlie Haden (double bass), and Egberto Gismonti (piano), and immediately was smitten by it.

Not having been properly introduced to the Portuguese language yet, I read the title as “Palace” and in my head made all sorts of association with “dwelling in the palace of the L-rd”. Of course, “palhaço” actually means “clown”[*].

The sweet-yet-sad nature of the melody then of course more evokes the “tears of a clown” sense.

Here is a sketch of a transcription of the piano part. It can be at least a starting point to learn the tune, or to jam over.

And this is an older (1976) live solo piano performance by the composer.

Enjoy, have a nice weekend, and Shabbat shalom

[*] Palhaço is a cognate of “payaso” in Spanish and “pagliacco” in Italian, as well as of the “Flemish” [Dutch] slang “paljas” (meaning “bozo”, clown in the metaphorical sense of the word: “diene paljas Biden”=”that clown Biden”).

(1) Corporate American tech as adult day care?!; (2) Black metal without distortion=surf rock?! (3) The amazing story of Qantas flight 32

Catching up on work stuff that piled up while I was away, then down with COVID… Meanwhile,

(a) Carl Benjamin, a.k.a. “Sargon of Akkad”, comments on a “day in the work life” of a 22-year old intern with LinkedIn. If you find yourselves scratching your head… I’m familiar with what goes on inside the doors of the “big fish” in the web economy here, and there are definite similarities.

(b) Kevin Balke here plays a number of “Black Metal” songs, but without any distortion… and the result undeniably reminds one of Dick Dale (RIP) and his Surfaris

(c) Imagine being on board of that flying behemoth, the Airbus 380, and one of the engines blows out. Thanks to an experienced and cool-headed crew, all arrived in one piece. Two pilot channels give their analysis. (Petter of Mentour Pilot, by the way, is also a trainer and type certifier.)

ADDENDUM: Icelandair now send two baggage handlers on each flight to Frankfurt to do the job understaffed Fraport cannot do.

The I2U2 forum: India, Israel, UAE, and USA. BONUS: podcast interview with crime novelist Faye Kellerman

(a) In reporting on Biden’s visit here, the Times of Israel’s Jacob Magid brought up something that may be new to readers:

The leaders of Israel, India, the United States and the United Arab Emirates announce a pair of massive collaborative projects in the fields of food security and clean energy as they meet virtually during US President Joe Biden’s visit to Jerusalem.

Biden, Prime Minister Yair Lapid, UAE President Mohamed bin Zayed and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi make the announcement in a joint statement their offices issued during their virtual meeting — the highest level gathering to date of the new, US-formulated I2U2 forum.

The joint statement says the four countries would aim to “harness the vibrancy of our societies and entrepreneurial spirit to tackle some of the greatest challenges confronting our world, with a particular focus on joint investments and new initiatives in water, energy, transportation, space, health and food security.”

The I2U2 countries also will utilize their respective private sectors to advance low carbon development pathways, improve public health and access to vaccines, jointly create new solutions for waste treatment, and promote the development of green technologies, the communique says.

The countries stress their support for Israel’s integration in the region, drawing a connection between the Abraham Accords normalization agreements and the formation of forums such as the I2U2.

They also welcome other new regional groupings such as the Negev Forum, which consists of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, Egypt and the US.

Notably, the joint statement makes no mention of the Palestinians. The US in the past has pressed for inclusion of a commitment to advance the two-state solution in such documents, though it might have been outnumbered by the three other countries whose leaders have expressed less interest in publicly promoting the issue.

The leaders “discussed innovative ways to ensure longer-term, more diversified food production and food delivery systems that can better manage global food shocks,” the communique says.

As for the two projects, the first will see the UAE invest $2 billion to develop a series of food parks across India that will incorporate green technologies to reduce food waste, conserve fresh water and employ renewable energy sources.

The collaboration will see India provide land and integrate its farmers into the project, and the US and Israel will encourage their respective private sectors to offer their expertise for the initiative, which will help address food insecurity in South Asia and the Middle East.

The second initiative will be the creation of a hybrid renewable energy project in “India’s Gujarat State of 300 megawatts (MW) of wind and solar capacity complemented by a battery energy storage system,” the joint statement says.

The US Trade and Development Agency footed a $330 million feasibility study for the project and Emirati companies are exploring investment opportunities, with the encouragement of the US and Israeli governments.

The project will help advance India’s goal of achieving 500 GW of non-fossil fuel capacity by 2030 and transform the country into a global hub for renewable energy.

The I2U2 leaders stress that the two projects were only the beginning of a “long-term strategic partnership that… improve the movement of people and goods across hemispheres and increase sustainability… [through] collaborative science and technology partnerships.”

ADDENDUM: article now on the main site

ADDENDUM 2: (b) Also at the Times of Israel, a fascinating podcast interview with crime novelist Faye Kellerman (wife of her colleague Jonathan Kellerman, mother of their son Jesse Kellerman), about her family, about her protagonists Lt. Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus. She is turning 70 and will mark this by taking an extended break from writing — hence “The Hunt” will be the last Decker & Lazarus novel for a while.

Looking around: Economics of YouTube creation; an inside look at airline pilot and staff shortages

Getting well enough that I can work from home while quarantined. Piles of stuff waiting for me. But a couple of videos I watched over breakfast that I want to share with you:

(A) Wendover Productions with fascinating insights on the economics of being a YouTube creator

(B) Mentour Pilot on the great pilot and airline staff shortage. This wasn’t so much _caused_ by COVID and the response to it, as _exacerbated_. : here is a video from 3 years ago, “Why the world is running out of airline pilots”. Once upon a time, being an airline pilot was a profession that not only earned great money but had social cachet, so getting people to pony up big bucks to go to flight training and then get enough flying hours to make their commercial licenses used to be fairly easy. Nowadays? With the massive expansion of airline travel and the “race to the bottom” in ticket prices, the profession has been commoditized, with pilots being treated like replaceable widgets. A beginning pilot with a regional airline will make a pitiful wage, and face many years of “eating straw to prove you can be a cow” (Hebrew expression) until they reach the seniority level where they can get the most lucrative routes. (Hmm, why does this sound a lot like medical school and the looming shortage of doctors?)

Pre-COVID, briskly expanding Emirates/Qatar/Etihad/.. and Chinese airlines would attracts Western pilots with huge starting salaries, further drying up supply. Then, as Mentour explains: when COVID came around, airlines encouraged (or forced) their oldest and most senior pilots to retire as well as to keep only the newest and most fuel-efficient planes flying, and a number of older pilots decided that it wasn’t worth it for them to get type-certified on these newer types, so they took their golden handshakes.

Now, of course, everybody wants to travel again, the retired pilots won’t come back, and there aren’t enough medical students, er, trainee pilots to go around.

In response, Lufthansa and United have started their own pilot schools, presumably free or at highly subsidized tuition if you commit to flying for them for X time. But it will take two years for the first class to graduate…

And that is just pilots.

As Mentour explains above, many airport management companies laid off personnel during COVID, and now cannot hire them anew. Because, you guessed it: crummy wages no better than filling aisles at the local supermarket, on top of irregular and unpleasant working hours in sometimes very inclement outdoor weather, and… if you find somebody wanting to do the job at all, they need to pass a security clearance that currently can take months (because of the backlog).

So then you have situations like, quoting exasperated flight attendant “Isolde”: “thousands of lost suitcases at Frankfurt airport that have been sitting there for weeks and are starting to smell bad, and they blame us airlines for the ground handling company not being able to function anymore”. I heard stories all around of travelers waiting for their luggage that never arrived: as I’d foreseen nothing but trouble, I’d traveled with just hand luggage so only had to cope with unexpected delays…