Here, there, everywhere: Israel-Egypt border incident; oligopolies beget high cost of living; hand-wringing in Germany over rise of AfD; Israel’s “drone force”

Three stories from the Times of Israel that merit a better look:

(a) Developing: border incident with Egypt, 3 Israeli soldiers (two male, one female) killed. Egypt is trying to distance itself from the shooter.

(b) An interview with consumer lobbyist Rachel Gur, on how oligopolies drive up the cost of groceries in Israel. To those who come with the excuse that Israel is an ‘island economy’, she retorts that some of these same companies also operate in New Zealand, an island economy if there ever were one — and yet, sell at much lower prices there.

(c) lots of hand-wringing in Germany as polls predict 18% for the far-right AfD (alternative for Germany).

As foretold in the prophecy: when a party immiserates the average Hans or Erika because of climate BS, open borders, and whatnot, and all established parties are perceived as being deaf to the concerns of normative people, don’t be surprised when the latter turn to the only party that at least pretends to listen to them…

Also, “liberal” politicians and activists who lionize the Weimar Era keep forgetting that without Weimar (and without Marxism more broadly), Adolf H. [y”sh] would likely have ended his life as an obscure hack painter who wrote some rants that nobody bothered to read…

Incidentally, the AfD’s current leader Alice Weidel lives in a domestic partnership with another woman, with whom she is raising two sons.

(d) elsewhere, in the Jerusalem Post Magazine, an extended look at the IDF’s use of drones.

Sabbath musical delight: The Buggles, “Elstree”

The short-lived band The Buggles — consisting of singer and bassist Trevor Horn and classically trained keyboard wizard Geoff Downes — had one major #1 hit with Video Killed The Radio Star, but moved on after just one album “The Age Of Plastic”. The duo briefly replaced Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman in Yes for the “Drama” album, then they went their (musically) separate ways. Geoff went on to become the keyboardist first of the supergroup ASIA (with an initial line-up of John Wetton [ex-King Crimson and UK] on vocals and bass, Steve Howe [of Yes] on guitars, and Carl Palmer [of Emerson, Lake & Palmer] on drums), then ultimately again of the band that currently performs under the name Yes (while Anderson.

Trevor Horn, on the other hand, would become the pre-eminent producer and arranger of the 1980 in England, scoring one chart topper after another with acts as diverse as Seal, Grace Jones, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Art Of Noise, [much later] LeAnn Rimes … and Yes (for whom he produced their only #1 hit, the Trevor Rabin-penned “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”, which is a mediocre song by the standards of Yes on their heyday but clearly’resonated’ with the wider public. Whether you care for the music he made or not, his work is required study for anybody seriously interested in music production.

The Age Of Plastic has several great tracks on it other than the biggest hit: this piece of nostalgia about Elstree Studios — England’s “poor man’s Hollywood” near London — is one of my favorites. Musically, it’s layered keyboards all the way: piano, Solina String Ensemble [*], a synthesized oboe sound, and harmony synth flutes that could be any number of early polyphonic synths.

Have a great weekend and Shabbat shalom.

[*] The Dutch Eminent/Solina electric organ company built this version of the ARP String Ensemble under license. Jean-Michel Jarre fans will know it as the instrument responsible for the string pads and melodies on the “Oxygène” and “Équinoxe” albums, the signal usually sent through a Small Stone phaser.

Must-read: “Banks and you” by Francis Turner — why banks can close you down for “suspicious activity” while real major crooks

Guest-blogging at Sarah Hoyt’s place. TL;DR summary: if an account generates “suspicious activity reports”, the compliance of processing them will cost several times what a typical account by, say, some heterodox youtube host generates. In contrast, a Hunter Biden type makes the bank rich enough that it is worth their while.

And an SAR is easy enough to generate by a few determined [anti-]”social” [perversion of] “justice” zealots…

Go read the whole thing.

ADDENDUM: if you ever wondered how the “Sullivan vs. New York” standard for libel in the USA came to be, read this fascinating book review by Insta. In plain English, the “Sullivan standard” for libel means:

  • the allegation has to be materially false(i.e., in substance, not merely in details)[*]
  • the allegation has to have caused actual damage to the plaintiff
  • in addition, if the plaintiff is a “public figure” in the eyes of the law (politician, government official,…) the allegations have to have been made with “actual malice” (i.e., knowingly spreading falsehoods) or “with reckless disregard for the truth”. It is this third part of the “Sullivan standard” that is very tough to prove, and hence that is making it very difficult to secure a libel conviction against a media organization even if the plaintiff was clearly libeled (as Ariel Sharon z”l learned to his chagrin in Sharon v. Time, Inc.)

ADDENDUM 2: good and bad news from the Senate: the miserable “debt ceiling compromise” passed, but the Biden bubatron‘s risible giveaway of middle class money to the New Class, “student loan forgiveness” was struck down 52-48, with all 49 Republicans being joined by Jon Tester (D-MT), Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ, formerly D-AZ) and Joe Manchin (D-WV).

[*] Mrs. Arbel asked to clarify the meaning. Paraphrasing and slightly cleaning up a colorful explanation by an expat Belgian: if you print “So-and-so is a [prostitute] who [services men] for $100” then “This is libel, I charge $200” does not meet the standard (since “you’re only arguing about the price” — the substance of the allegation, namely [“relations”] for money, remains true) but “This is libel, I’ve never [serviced] anyone for money” does meet the standard. If the defendant has proof that the plaintiff indeed did on at least one occasion “service” someone for money: the truth is a complete defense, no matter how damaging or malicious otherwise.

There was a certain biographer with a stereotypically Ashkenazi last name who wrote scandalous biographies of such figures as Lenny Bruce, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon, which contained all sorts of outrageous stories about drugs, violence, and eccentric sexual behaviors. However, he was always pretty careful to attribute them to (named or unnamed) third parties or rumors, insinuating rather than asserting their veracity. This may have been the reason why (AFAIK) he was never successfully sued for libel.

June came upon us much too soon…

Came upon us much too soon
Then was gone
Like the mountains of the moon
At dawn

Then the sun came up on a sleepy day
And never went down at night
And the crowd kept on singin’ Waste Away
But it just didn’t feel right
And the prince and the drummer and the fire girls
Couldn’t get our guitars in tune
And I knew it was over when the sound man said
I wish we were still in June…

Arnold Kling’s ideological triangle as a “ternary phase diagram” of politics

About a decade ago, economist Arnold Kling first started talking about an “ideological triangle” as a better model of American politics than the left-right axis. He later elaborated this in a short book called The Three Languages Of Politics, that for all its brevity is probably the most insightful thing I’ve ever read on the subject.

Paraphrasing his argument in different terms: just like any color we can see can be created as a blend of three primary colors (red, green, blue), thus every political position in the US can be represented as a blend of three “primary colors”: Progressive, Libertarian, and Conservative.

The primary Progressive sees everything through the lens of Oppressed vs. Oppressor.

The primary Libertarian: of individual freedom vs. state coercion.

The primary Conservative: of order vs. chaos, or civilization vs. barbarism.

Elsewhere, in an earlier article, Dr. Kling gave a slightly different description:

[…]Think of three points on an ideological triangle:

1. Point L, where you believe that markets are effective at processing information and solving problems. This position is to take a radically pro-market view, and to let markets fix their own failures.

2. Point C, where you believe that tradition incorporates the evolved use of information to solve problems. This position is to be very cautious about overthrowing existing institutional arrangements.

3. Point P, where you believe that expert technocrats should be in charge. You are comfortable with throwing out tradition and markets in order to cede power to experts.[…]

Aside from primary colors, another metaphor that comes to mind is that of a ternary phase diagram in chemistry or materials science.

For example, suppose you have different alloys of three metals (“ternary alloys”): copper, tin, and zinc. (For a binary alloy of just two metals, a line would suffice, as the fraction of the second metal is always one minus the fraction of the first.) By construction, Pure copper, pure tin, and pure zinc would be the three points of the triangle. The vertex between copper and tin would represent the various bronze alloys; the vertex between copper and zinc the various brass alloys; for the third vertex, tin-zinc, I can’t think of a trivial name right now.

So what’s inside the triangle? So-called “gunmetal” would be, as it is a true ternary alloy of all three metals.

Coming back to politics. Arnold Kling’s “progressive” (P), “libertarian” (L), and “conservative” (C) archetypes are the three points of the triangle there. On the C–L vertex (call it the “bronze of politics”) you have various blends of “conservatarianism”, which is actually where many so-called “right-wingers” in the US are.

On the P-L vertex (call it the “brass of politics”) you might find people variously called “left-libertarians”, “weedertarians”, or libertines. Classical liberalism I would place near the P-L vertex, albeit more toward the middle of the triangle as it is generally not completely averse to tradition.

Finally, a certain type of “theocon” to my jaundiced eye looks like they are close to the C-P vertex. For example, those who appeal to religious tradition while framing themselves as an oppressed minority who need to be supported by the state [in the Israeli context, I’m looking at you, Shas and UTJ ;)] or those who support “degrowth” and “climate” policies from a traditional religious perspective.

Most real people, however, are somewhere in the middle — in the “gunmetal zone”, if you like.

I was put in mind of this metaphor as I see the ever more bizarre “alphabet soup” corporate activism in action in the USA. If your worldview is close to the “P” corner, then it depends on there being one or more victim groups that one can champion. One can talk about oppression of women and “the patriarchy” — but in an era where college graduates are majority female and essentially all professions are open to women, it doesn’t cut the way it used to. Homosexuality, once seen as deviant, is now so widely accepted that even in pretty hardcore conservative circles, people like Douglas Murray or Dave Rubin are basically accepted for who they are. As various formerly discriminated-against minorities become mainstream, do the primary “P”, in order to remain relevant, have to pivot to ever more exotic and niche minorities that they can “defend” against “oppression” by the “benighted” majority?


ADDENDUM: what about communism and fascism, let alone National Socialism? In the Euro spectrum, the political left-right axis basically runs from international socialism to ethnic hypernationalism, which places fascism on the extreme right, NS even further right, and communism far left. In the US spectrum, which basically runs from collectivist statism to individualist anti-statism, all three totalitarian ideologies are on the far left. (Anarcho-capitalism would be “far right” in the real US meaning of the word.)

Pournelle’s Chart has two axes: one that’s essentially the US left-right axis, and another that represents optimism vs. pessimism toward planned social progress. Here, Marxism with its belief in complete malleability of human nature would represent the extreme optimist position, and fascism and National Socialism especially National Socialism would be on opposite sides of the second axis.

But what in Kling’s “ternary phase diagram”? Marxism is almost paradigmatically “P”, but I would place fascism and NS near the “C-P” vertex — utterly distrusting in the wisdom of the market (i.e., anti-L) but, where the dream of communism is “year zero”, fascists and NS pay at least lip service to a “purer” past. Be mindful however that, contrary to received wisdom, dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist conservatives could be among the most implacable opponents of both fascism and NS — from Winston Churchill to the would-be assassins of Hitler [y”sh].

Dispatches from Clown World: Lululemon employees fired for… calling police on looters; Schumer thinks 9-0 ruling is evidence of a “MAGA Supreme Court”; Harvard prof on the ChiCom payroll gets slap on the wrist

(a) Hat tip to Mrs. Arbel for this unreal story.

A couple of hoodied and masked looters come into a Lululemon store and start “helping themselves to product” until they can’t carry more… and the employees calling the police on them get fired for “violating company policy”.

(b) Chuck Schumer seems to have become Shuck Choomer, or his niece Amy is tweeting for him now, or both. In the wake of a 9-0 SCOTUS decision that whistles back EPA [=Environmental Protection Agency, for non-US readers] overreach, he starts ranting about a “MAGA Supreme Court”.

Facebook friend “Tully R.” drew my attention to an image of the enormous “protected wetland” at stake [here is a freely available version from the Pacific Legal Foundation]:

As Tully explains, the gravel rock portion channels a bit of water downhill in heavy rain, and the EPA risibly claimed that this constituted ‘navigable waters’.

Evil *ssclown world, indeed.

(c) And speaking of the latter, the Harvard Dept. Chair who not only was massively in the pay of the ChiComs (to the tune of $50K/month) finally was sentenced

Former Harvard chemistry chair Charles Lieber received two days in prison, six months house arrest, and a fine for hiding Chinese government affiliations and a $50,000 monthly salary.

Harvard also allowed him to retire quietly.

“The former Chair of Harvard University’s Chemistry and Chemical Biology Department was sentenced…in federal court in Boston for lying to federal authorities about his affiliation with People’s Republic of China’s Thousand Talents Program and the Wuhan University of Technology,” […]

Lieber “was sentenced by U.S. Senior District Court Judge Rya W. Zobel to time served (two days) in prison; two years of supervised release with six months of home confinement; a fine of $50,000; and $33,600 in restitution to the IRS,” the release stated. […]

Harvard had apparently been unaware of Lieber’s connections to China, according to documents and testimony from the trial, The Crimson reported.

Lieber was indicted in June 2020 for filing false information on his tax returns, failing to report overseas bank accounts to the IRS, and making false statements to federal officials, The College Fix reported.

Lieber “quietly retired” in February of this year, according to The Crimson.

On the day of his arrest, Lieber told FBI agents that money is “one of the things China uses to seduce people,” The New York Times reported.

His lawyers had asked for no prison time ahead of sentencing, citing the professor’s diagnosis of advanced lymphoma.

China’s Thousand Talents Program, a “government recruitment scheme to attract foreign scientists,” hired Lieber in 2011, according to The Economist.

China designed the program “in furtherance of China’s scientific development, economic prosperity and national security,” according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Lieber also collaborated with Wuhan University in China on “fundamental research in nanotechnology, his area of expertise,” according to The Economist.

The Wuhan Institute paid Lieber $50,000 a month plus living expenses, with some payments, prosecutors allege, in the form of “$100 bills in brown paper packaging,” the BBC reported.

While the relationship with the Chinese university itself was not prohibited by law, the Boston court found Lieber illegally lied about it and failed to report income to the IRS, according to the DOJ.

As one of Harvard’s preeminent researchers, Lieber partnered with the National Institutes of Health and the U.S. Department of Defense, receiving over $15,000,000 in research grants from these organizations from 2008 to 2019, the DOJ stated.

“These grants require the disclosure of significant foreign financial conflicts of interest, including financial support from foreign governments or foreign entities,” the department added.

Predictably, the comments are full of remarks about how walking around Capitol Hill on the wrong day can get you two decades in prison. Also predictably, they make a bogus connection to the Wuhan Institute of Virology rather than the university — Lieber is a nanotech specialist, not a virologist.

ADDENDUM: Evil A**clown World, United [abomi]Nations style: UN accused Israel of recruiting “Palestinian” child soldiers. Sadly, that an accusation is patently ridiculous (ridonkulous?) doesn’t stop people from believing it and acting on it, as Jews sadly learned from the Blood Libel.

US Memorial Day video II: Sabaton’s “82nd All The Way” about Sgt. Alvin York

From Christian conscientious objector to proud (and still Christian) soldier, Private (later Sergeant) Alvin C. York was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for almost single-handedly neutralizing an entire German battalion (and particularly its machine guns) during the Battle of the Argonne (where my grandfather-in-law z”l also fought).

The 82nd wasn’t yet Airborne then, of course. Sgt. York refused to derive personal gain from his fame, although he repeatedly lent his name to charitable fundraisers. Ultimately, his story was turned into a blockbuster 1941 movie starring Gary Cooper in the title role (which earned Cooper an Academy Award).

Above are two history videos, one of them by Sabaton’s “house historian” Indy Naidell . And finally, a lyric video of Sabaton’s song honoring Sgt. York: “82nd All The Way”.

US Memorial Day video: Iron Maiden, “Passchendaele” (a.k.a. Third Ypres)

The lyrics are about the Battle of Passchendaele (a.k.a. the Third Battle of Ypres) during WW I:

In a foreign field he lay
Lonely soldier, unknown grave
On his dying words he prays
Tell the world of Paschendale

Relive all that he’s been through
Last communion of his soul
Rust your bullets with his tears
Let me tell you ’bout his years

Laying low in a blood filled trench
Kill time ’til my very own death
On my face I can feel the falling rain
Never see my friends again

In the smoke, in the mud and lead
Smell the fear and the feeling of dread
Soon be time to go over the wall
Rapid fire and end of us all

Whistles, shouts and more gun fire
Lifeless bodies hang on barbed wire
Battlefield nothing but a bloody tomb
Be reunited with my dead friends soon

Many soldiers eighteen years
Drown in mud, no more tears
Surely a war no-one can win
Killing time about to begin

Home, far away
From the war, a chance to live again
Home, far away
But the war, no chance to live again

The bodies of ours and our foes
The sea of death it overflows
In no man’s land, God only knows
Into jaws of death we go

Crucified as if on a cross
Allied troops they mourn their loss
German war propaganda machine
Such before has never been seen

Swear I heard the angels cry
Pray to god no more may die
So that people know the truth
Tell the tale of Paschendale

Cruelty has a human heart
Every man does play his part
Terror of the men we kill
The human heart is hungry still

I stand my ground for the very last time
Gun is ready as I stand in line
Nervous wait for the whistle to blow
Rush of blood and over we go

Blood is falling like the rain
Its crimson cloak unveils again
The sound of guns can’t hide their shame
And so we die on Paschendale

Dodging shrapnel and barbed wire
Running straight at cannon fire
Running blind as I hold my breath
Say a prayer symphony of death

As we charge the enemy lines
A burst of fire and we go down
I choke a cry but no-one hears
Feel the blood go down my throat

Home, far away
From the war, a chance to live again
Home, far away
But the war, no chance to live again

Home, far away
From the war, a chance to live again
Home, far away
But the war, no chance to live again

See my spirit on the wind
Across the lines, beyond the hill
Friend and foe will meet again
Those who died at Paschendale

Breaking: Erdogan wins 3rd term in runoff election. Also: Netanyahy shelves several radical proposals

Quick update as I have a very busy day ahead. (A US Memorial Day post may follow later today.)

(a) According to the Daily Telegraph, Turkey’s “democratic” Islamist leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the runoff election with a 52-48 margin over his secular opponent  Kemal Kilicdaroglu, who already gave a concession speech.

Speaking outside his house on the Asian side of Istanbul, an ecstatic Mr Erdogan hailed the elections as a “feast of democracy” but failed to mention that he lost in the country’s three largest cities including Istanbul.

[…] Mr Kilicdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People’s Party, in a concession speech hailed about 25 million people who voted not only for him but for the promise to stem Turkey’s further decline into an autocracy.

“The main reason for my sadness is the much bigger problems that are in store for this country,” he said at the party headquarters in Ankara. “Our march will continue. We’re not going away,” he said.

(b) Meanwhile, in Israel, several laws proposed by far-right coalition partners were shelved outright by Netanyahu. As much as I consider anyone flying a “Palestinian” flag on an Israeli campus to be somewhere between dog excrement and Roger Waters (p*ss be upon him), I do not believe a law prohibiting its display and making it punishable by jail achieves more than moral self-gratification. The (now shelved) law curtailing foreign funding to “activist” organizations in Israel is one I personally support in principle, just at an inopportune moment.

The “judicial reform” is not officially off the menu yet, but Likud MK David Bitan claimed that its current form is dead on arrival, and that what ultimately will pass will be something much more moderate.

Jeremy Sharon in the Times of Israel sees something broader: that the number one concern of Israeli voters at present is the rising cost of living, and that Bibi is politically astute enough to see this and grabs the opportunity to pivot to that issue — and use them as a pretext to shelve or postpone the controversial and diplomatically costly.

Is the “Democratic” party machine looking to put Biden on an ice floe? [ADDENDUM: how universities operate in the liminal space between public and private sector]

Thus wonders Thomas Lifson in the American Thinker. He doesn’t get why in the middle of a debt ceiling crisis, “Dr.” Demiculo Jill Biden and Abu Hunter are spending the Memorial Day long weekend [for non-American readers: the US commemorates its fallen in wars every last Monday of May] away from Washington, at Camp David and in Delaware (where they own two properties, a mansion formerly belonging to the Du Pont de Nemours chemical industry dynasty, and a beach house in Rehoboth Beach).

What was so urgent about getting out of town during a “crisis” – even if the crisis is overhyped? Is it just the need for exotic medications to keep his dementia less visible? Or is it, I speculated today here, a matter of another crisis, a secret one? The possibility that Joe is being blackmailed by other Democrats to get out of the 2024 race, where his obvious infirmities and horrendous track record would make it hard to cheat enough to hand Democrats the White House and both houses of Congress, which they need to complete their subversion of the constitutional order into a one-party state.

The fact that a longstanding pillar of the legacy media, CBS, chose to end the blackout of news about the burgeoning IRS scandal related to foreign payments to the Biden family had to have sent a signal to Joe and Jill that their immunity to full blown media coverage could end.  If my theory is correct, Joe and Jill would want to meet and discuss how to proceed with a lot of advisors (and some enemies within the party) with no public disclosure of whom they are meeting. We already know that that the Secret Service is keeping secrets about who visits the Bidens in Delaware. So, one weekend destination would not be enough if Camp David were to be the getaway.

It’s only a theory at this point, but I have a hard time believing that the power-seeking Democrats are comfortable with Joe Biden’s announced decision to run again, given the probability of losing. This is a party that pulled all sorts of strings to keep Bernie Sanders away from the nomination because of an impending electoral disaster if he were to be the 2020 nominee. Why would Joe Biden, a clearly spent force, get any better treatment than Sanders?

This of course prompts the question who they are going to field instead. If they were totally confident they could cheat their way to victory, they could try Kamala Harris despite her obviously not being up for the job. [Monica Lewinsky must be hitting herself why she didn’t offer her services to Willie Brown instead of Bill Clinton 😉 ]

If they want to “tick DEI boxes” and add celebrity appeal [vomit], they could go with Mpichelle 0bama [barf] or try to convince Oprah Winfrey to run.

Alternatively, they could go for a COVID “Karen” like Gretchen Whitmer (coupled with massive rewriting of history) or…

They might go with the governor of the biggest state, who is also possibly the biggest BS artist of the lot: Gavin Newsom.

And of course, ¡Hillary! will still go all Norma Desmond.

It’s still early. That time in the 2008 presidential election cycle, lots of people around me were convinced the election was Rudy Giuliani’s to lose, and we all assumed he’d trounce Hillary. In the end, neither got the nomination of their respective parties.

So while it now looks like a rematch between Abu Hunter and Trump, I would not be at all surprised if it ended up being… CA vs. FL governors.

ADDENDUM ITEM: Universities only engage with capitalism/the market when it is convenient for them.

Arizona State University is an example of how revenue and spending trends affect campus environments. Since 2013, ASU has experienced a 68% increase in “private and capital gifts” and currently has as many DEI officers as history professors. Additionally, the National Association of Scholars accuses the school of failing to meet state standards for civics education because it chooses to prioritize DEI spending.

Universities have learned to adapt to market forces but consider themselves apart from the capitalist system. They champion new investments and rely on profitable endowments but continue to hike up tuition rates without trying to cut costs. 

American colleges and universities keep one foot in the market and one foot outside of it, as is convenient for them. Students are their revenue source, and much of their spending responds to undergraduate and applicant demands for an equitable and inclusive campus. But the free market also incentivizes cost-cutting measures to reduce overhead costs that would make goods otherwise prohibitively expensive. Smaller food packaging, discontinued travel perks, and outsourced call centers are examples of these measures.  

Campuses are not doing that. Practically no one in higher education is saying no to another diversity or sexuality center, or at least demanding curtailed in exchange for leftist initiatives. Operating in that liminal space between a business and a truly isolated ivory tower, universities can evade accountability for their political and fiscal misdeeds.  


Shavuot musical delight: César Franck, excerpts from oratorio “Ruth”

Happy Shavuot to my fellow Jews. The holiday takes place on the fiftieth (pentekoste in Greek) day after Passover, the way Pentecost (also known as Whitsun in the UK) takes place fifty days after Easter in Christianity.

Where Passover celebrates the liberation from bondage in Egypt, Shavuot celebrates the giving of the Torah (usually translated as “Law”, but more literally “Teaching”) on Mount Sinai. There is another, related story: that of the Moabite woman Ruth who embraced the faith of the Hebrews, married Boaz, and became the ancestor of King David. Hence, the Book of Ruth is read as the Haftarah on Shavuot.

I did not realize that an early work — his first composition for a large ensemble — by the 19th century Belgian-French composer of German ancestry[*] César Franck [*] was an oratorio based on the book. It was not well received at the time; while he would later see acclaim for some orchestral compositions, his fame as a composer largely rests on chamber music and composition for organ (on which he was a famous improviser). [**]

Below are some excerpts from the oratorio on YouTube.

Enjoy and chag shavuot sameach!

[*] Franck was born and until age 13 raised in Liège (also known as Luik in Dutch and Lüttich in German) in the French-speaking part of what was soon to become Belgium, and would soon be its Pittsburgh or Birmingham, as the nearby coal deposits facilitated steel manufacture. His mother was from Aachen in present-day Germany, while his father was born in a town on the border with the German Confederation. Liège itself had been the seat of the Prince-Bishopric of Liège within the Holy Roman Empire until its dissolution in 1806. After piano child prodigy César had graduated from the Liège conservatory at age 13 (!), the family relocated to Paris so he could get advanced instruction, in tandem with his burgeoning concert career.

[**] While he had written a lot of solo piano music in his younger days, for his own use on the concert stage, he disowned most of it later as his mature compositional style had taken shape. Franck’s mature works are praised for their depth and formal unity

The UK’s “Deep State” and “quangocracy” as a 4th branch of government, and how it cripples any meaningful conservative policies. Also: looking at Ron DeSantis as an example how to fight this

Eye-opening article by Allister Heath in the Telegraph, for anyone thinking the “Deep State” is a strictly American phenomenon – it exists elsewhere under different names, such as The Permanent Bureaucracy.

The author also speaks of the related “quangocracy” (quango is a mostly British shorthand for quasi-autonomous NGOs, that is, non-governmental organizations to which the government has devolved some responsibilities). (paywalled; archived copy here

Our Civil Service and technocracy has been overrated for decades, if not generations, but the average calibre of Whitehall and quango staff has drastically declined over the past 20 years. The best companies have made huge strides in productivity and technology; state capacity has deteriorated in almost all respects, from pandemic management to the ability to run infrastructure projects, hence the obscenity that is HS2. So much for the myth of the Rolls-Royce Civil Service.

In The Road to Serfdom, published in 1944, FA Hayek argued that the “worst get on top” in collectivist societies. This is exactly what is happening in Britain: with a few laudable exceptions, today’s civil servants are less competent than their predecessors, but have more power and an inflated sense of their own importance. Buoyed by the Blairite legal revolution that Brexit has only partly undone, and encouraged by the intellectual weakness of the Conservative Government, their psychology has shifted dangerously.

Rather than working for political masters, much of the bureaucracy now works with them, if not against them. The Civil Service, together with its allies in the quangocracy, all too often considers itself to be a separate branch of government in a US-style system of checks and balances, with a duty to “tell truth to power” (or more precisely, to elected MPs and ministers) and to use semi-constitutional laws (such as the Equalities Act, net zero commitments, and membership of the EHRC) as tools to enforce its agenda.

The Ministerial Code and other codes of conduct are leveraged to stymie democracy. Labour market rules and HR wokery (with their wilful mischaracterisation of legitimate requests and ordinary workings of hierarchical relationships as “bullying”) are weaponised, as in the case of Baroness Falkner, the great chairman of the equalities watchdog.

Ministers are catastrophically ill-equipped: they are parachuted into openly hostile departments such as the Home Office with a handful of youthful, under-paid advisers, and immediately placed at the mercy of Whitehall calendars and information flows. They can’t hire or fire, and anybody keen to take on the Left-liberal status quo is undermined by leaks and negative briefings, as we have seen in the case of Priti Patel and Suella Braverman.

It is easier for less brave or principled ministers to focus on “mastering their briefs”, as the mandarins love to put it, and become their departments’ spokesmen. Laughably, we still have Tory cabinet ministers defending this absurd pantomime: many feel the need to endlessly thank their “brilliant” and “hard-working” civil servants. It is a form of bureaucratic Stockholm syndrome.

Why can’t the Tories see through the technocrats’ incompetence? Since Liz Truss’s defenestration, Treasury and Bank of England orthodoxy have prevailed. The result? Growth is abysmal. Inflation remains far too high at 8.7 per cent, with core inflation going up, and the markets now expect interest rates to peak at 5.5 per cent. Gilt yields have surged almost all the way back to where they were during the LDI-panic that toppled Truss. So much for the “competence” of the “sensibles”. Why is nobody now talking of a “moron premium” on UK debt? Is it because it’s taboo to call out Bank governors and Treasury officials?

One man who gets it, and who has shown how centre-Right politicians can defy the Blob, is Ron DeSantis, governor of Florida, who is declaring his candidacy for the Republican nomination for US president.

As it immediately became obvious when I interviewed him, he is pioneering a new, more robust form of conservatism that recognises that winning elections and then tweaking a few laws isn’t enough to truly make a difference. Trump tried that, and shouted loudly, but achieved little. The Left has changed the rules of the game, and the Right must adapt or die. It has now become essential to reverse the Left-wing capture of public and private institutions to truly shift the culture in a more conservative direction.

DeSantis controls the apparatus of state in Florida. He realises that in a modern society political power is also exercised by state-funded institutions such as the universities, and by the private sector via woke capital. He sees that all these Left-wing power centres need to be confronted, or else victory at the ballot box means nothing, a lesson the Conservatives must urgently learn if they are ever to rule again.

So how can a future Tory Britain be more like Florida? It is madness that ministers have to act as guerrilla fighters parachuted behind enemy lines – and when a prime minister must do that, as Truss did, it cannot end well. The next Tory government will need to legislate to end the Northcote-Trevelyan Civil Service on its first day in office, and appoint new management teams on short-term, performance-related contracts to run every single government department and quango. These new teams would report directly to ministers, and take instructions from them. All would be contractually bound to deliver the Government’s agenda.

A change of this magnitude would require detailed long-term planning; the Tories should use their time in opposition to work on a blueprint to take over the state, draft omnibus legislation, and draw up a list of several thousand personnel to appoint, including private sector chief executives, entrepreneurs, economists, lawyers, bankers, turnaround specialists, management consultants and tech experts.

The next Tory government will also need to ensure that we end up with a drastically more ideologically diverse university, cultural and charitable sector. As DeSantis realised, simply preventing the cancellation of the last remaining non-Left wing holdouts isn’t enough: defeating wokery must become official policy across Government. The job of private firms should be to make money legally, not to engage in political campaigning. In a world where followers of Gramsci have seized control of virtually all institutions, winning elections or referenda isn’t enough. The blob must be defeated.

Addendum: the DNC’s yevsektsia (=the Jewish department of the CPUSSR) is out in full force painting Ron DeSantis as some sort of racist judeophobe. How pathetic that the Jerusalem Post, a shadow of the newspaper it once was, is so desperate for content that it print this garbage by the once-proud, now pure DNC yevsektsia, Jewish Telegraphic Agency .

Related: NAACP warns blacks against visiting that state that’s #2 nationwide for black businesses. Again, how predictable and how pathetic.

Biden says Pelosi helped rescue the economy in the Great Depression; Ron DeSantis officially declared candidacy

Am traveling for work with terrible internet, and seem to only be able to access WordPress from my phone, but gotta share this one:

In related news, Ron DeSantis officially declared his Presidential candidacy.

ADDENDUM: the Israeli national budget got passed just days before the deadline that would have triggered new elections. Predictably given who has the PM by the beitzim, the budget includes lots more gimmes to the Chareidi parties. Chaviv Rettig Gur has analysis, and explains why the situation where about half of “ultra-Orthodox men” study full time at religious academies rather than work is not some intrinsic feature of that society but a relatively recent situation in response to financial perverse incentives created by Israeli governments.

The bottom line is astonishing: Haredi yeshiva students are so heavily subsidized that it simply isn’t worthwhile to go to work.

According to [conservative think tank] Kohelet, a Haredi man who starts working at a salary of NIS 8,800 (some $2,400) per month (30% higher than minimum wage) will increase his household’s net income by barely a third of that amount, or just NIS 3,000 ($810) per month, because of the many benefits he will no longer be qualified to receive after finding work.

In contrast, a non-Haredi man who makes the same move from unemployment to work at the same 8,800/month salary boosts his net household income, after lost benefits and new taxes and expenses are factored in, by twice as much, or some NIS 5,900 ($1,600). He simply has fewer benefits to lose.

A Great Wall of financial disincentives has helped drive the astonishing growth of full-time Haredi yeshiva learning, and helped keep vast numbers of Haredi men out of the workforce. It is a system that traps Haredi men in a gilded cage of entitlements pegged to yeshiva study and designed to incentivize it.


Only 3% of Haredi men aged 22 to 44 are eligible for high school matriculation, compared to 79% of non-Haredi Jewish men. Just 2% take the psychometric exam (Israel’s equivalent to the American SATs), compared to 40% of non-Haredi Jewish men.

Haredim who take the exam score higher in verbal skills than their non-Haredi counterparts, but dramatically lower on math and abysmally low in English. It’s a point of optimism, but also of frustration. It suggests that what the Haredi education system teaches — reading and comprehension are essential parts of the Haredi curriculum — it teaches well.

Israel’s President Shimon Peres visits the Haredi College of Jerusalem, November 20, 2011. (Uri Lenz/Flash90)

The few Haredim who seek out college or university studies are relegated to the lowest-ranked colleges because of these educational lacunae, and fully 47% end up dropping out, twice the 23% rate of non-Haredim.

This vast educational gap isn’t merely a question of culture or ethics. It is the major reason that Haredi men earn much less than their non-Haredi counterparts even when they do enter the workforce. Haredi men make on average less than 60% as much as their non-Haredi peers in their first year of work and some 70% of their non-Haredi peers’ salaries throughout their working life. That gap correlates very closely to education and work experience, suggesting the gap is not a function of, for example, employer prejudice.

The lower wages are partly due to the large numbers of Haredi men employed in the Haredi education system itself, where salaries are low. But even among financially successful Haredi men, such as the 4.1% who find work in Israel’s large and flourishing high-tech industry (which employs 19% of non-Haredi Jewish men), their salaries are 38% lower on average than their non-Haredi colleagues’.

No wonder Haredi men are less likely to stay in the workforce once they have a job. By age 44, after 26 years of adulthood, the average workingHaredi man has just 10.1 years of work experience. When nonworkingHaredi men are added to the count, the figure drops to just over six years.

[…] in 1979, some 85% of Haredi men had jobs. By 1998, the figure had fallen below 50%.

The point is simple. The things that frustrate and anger other Israelis about present-day Israeli Haredism are not intrinsic to Haredi Judaism or society. They are a recent development spawned by Israeli government policy.

[…] It’s no accident that the figures cited above all come from Kohelet, a conservative think tank that largely supports the current government and helped create and push its judicial overhaul. The concern about the unsustainable economic future toward which the Haredi community is now pulling the country leaped long ago beyond the bounds of the secular left.

Looking around: why reparations will never be implemented; illustrative video of media all parroting from the same script; Jean-Fraud Kerry says land confiscations “not off the table”

(a) Somebody on Bari Weiss’s Free Press half-seriously defends the concept of reparations, then explains why they will never be implemented.

“But here’s why reparations (I’m serious, a good idea!) will never happen: simply cutting checks to the descendants of slaves means shuttering all the thousands of racial justice nonprofits that serve as an employment program for America’s white grad students. You do not simply give people money. Maybe Cori Bush could propose something where the government cuts a check and then pays a handful of white PhDs to pass that check back and forth, taking 5 percent each time, then when they each have enough money for a brownstone plus enough left over for a very tasteful remodel, the remainder goes to a descendant of slaves? Still workshopping this one, but I can see us getting somewhere. “

My FB friend Erik W. recalls his shock when he first found out that the “food stamps” program cost the taxpayer four times more than the value of the actual “food stamps” distributed. See also who is perpetuating the homelessness problem in L.A.: those whose continued plum jobs depend on its existence.

(b) If you want an illustration why I refer to the US mainstream media as the US Olympic Synchronized Turntabling Team (they all spin the same vinyls sent to them by the DNC), check out this video

(c) The centrist and usually astute Jerusalem Post columnist Amotz Asa-El gets his derriere handed to him in the comments when he tries to claim that all Jews should stand by “Soros Of Puppets” (as I call him). Upcoming pieces in his series: why all Jews should stand by Bernie Madoff; why all Jews should stand by Meyer Lansky. (Not even Asa-El will try to write a defense of Stella Goldschlag, may I hope.)

(d) “Climate Czar” Jean-Fraud Kerry (known to some as John F***ateshimself Kerry) claims farm confiscations “not off the table” in the US.

BONUS: don’t miss this edition of Powerline’s “This Week In Pictures”: not “G-men” but “F-men”.

Speaking of which… (via Insty)

Sabbath musical delight: The Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” #PeteTownshend78

I was worried because #PeteTownshend was trending on twitter, but it turns out it’s just the 78th birthday of The Who’s chief songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. I’m a big fan of The Who (particularly of bassist Jon Entwistle (RIP)), and this is possibly the most powerful tune they ever recorded, the anti-revolutionary, cynical, “Won’t Get Fooled Again”.


Change it had to come
We knew it all along
We were liberated from the fall that’s all
But the world looks just the same
And history ain’t changed
‘Cause the banners, they all flown in the last war

I‘ll tip my hat to the new constitution
Take a bow for the new revolution
Smile and grin at the change all around me
Pick up my guitar and play
Just like yesterday
And I’ll get on my knees and pray
We don’t get fooled again


Have a great weekend and Shabbat Shalom!

Why the lights are going out in South Africa; racialized “justice” in Canada

(a) I count a number of recent South African expats among my Facebook friends,[*] so I am not exactly unaware on how the cronyism and incompetence of the ANC regime are the bane of the country’s infrastructure. What surprised me was how blunt and even-handed this BBC segment was about it.

(b) Meanwhile in Canada, “in the depths of a mind insane“, the quest for “racial justice” has reached the absurdity of ax explicit recommendation that judges factor the race of the defendant into sentencing.

Gad Saad explicitly makes the comparison with Sharia law, which factors in the religious status of plaintiffs, defendants, and witnesses. Congratulations, feckwits.

(c) And speaking of reverse-racist shamocracies, Insty on the “Democrats” cognitive problem. John Fetterman spewing incomprehensible word salad at a Senate hearing on banking, Dianne Feinstein claiming she’d never been away from the Senate in the three months she was in hospital, and of course the daily proof that Abu Hunter’s brain has turned to tapioca…

Oh, and speaking of waterheads, Debbie Wasserkopf Shtuss warns that Ron DeSantis’s illegal immigration cracksdown will lead to fields of rotting vegetables. “HERE’S YOUR ‘SUPREMACY:’, Insty snarks.

[*] The South African Jewish community here in Israel generally got here decades ago, during the worst of the Apartheid regime. South African Jews are/were almost 100% of Litvak origins, which makes them a little different from other “Anglos” here. For one, they are almost as direct as the Dutch — comfortably familiar to someone with my upbringing, very different from other “Anglos”.

Is China’s true GDP 60% smaller than the official GDP?; why the French Foreign Legion has no recruitment problems

Very busy day ahead, but just a few interesting videos.

(a) Is China’s official GDP figure actually inflated? This video makes the case that the official figure is over twice the actual GDP.

(b) The US and Canadian armies are going woke, and surprise, have major trouble filling their recruitment quotas. Because of anti-militarism?

Well, explain to me then the French Foreign Legion. It’s stubbornly saying no to wokebaggery, doubling down on its traditions, and… not only has no trouble filling recruitment quotas, but has had to raise the bar because of increasing applications.

It’s actually very similar to mainstream Protestant denominations shrinking despite — or because of — going ever more liberal and now “woke”, while more fundamentalist groups see their number increase. Or, closer to home, why Reform and especially “Conservative” Judaism[*] are shrinking while Orthodox Judaism only keeps growing.

ADDENDUM: via Powerline, older tweet that I missed, but one that lays out a basic truth even if you can quibble about the uncertainty intervals in his numbers:

[*] The movement (known in Israel and the UK as Masorti Judaism — masoret=”tradition” in Hebrew) was originally called “historical-positive Judaism” and was an attempt to find a middle ground between the radical 19th century “classical German Reform” “Judaism” and Orthodoxy. It actually is getting squeezed from both sides nowadays as — in addition to the growth of Orthodoxy on its right — Reform over time re-embraced more of traditional Jewish ritual even as it got ever woker.

BREAKING: Durham report released, and it’s damning

(A) Remember “Russia! Russia! Trump! Trump!” Being screeched 24/7/365 by the DNC’s Olympic Synchronized Turntabling Team, a.k.a. The mainstream media. Well, the long-awaited Durham Report on his special investigation has been released, and wow…

The full text of the report can be read here:

Commentary by “The Five” below. In polite language, Durham is saying that the FBI convinced themselves that Orange Man Bad was the greatest danger to “US democracy” ever, and in their eagerness to find something, anything to pin on him, they threw all caution to the wind. “The Five” comment below:

ADDENDUM: Powerline digs into the report. Good grief.

While measured in tone, the report’s Executive Summary is harshly critical of the FBI. Much of what it details has already been in the public domain, but quite a bit is, I think, new. It is obvious from Durham’s narrative that the FBI signed on with the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign, and used its powers to try to swing the election her way. Failing that, the FBI despicably did its best to destroy the incoming Trump administration, and in great part succeeded.

There was never any reason to believe that the allegations in the Steele reports, which were opposition “research” paid for by the Clinton campaign, were true, and at an early date the FBI knew that the so-called dossier was baseless, and in some instances was admittedly fabricated. The FBI and the Department of Justice lied to the FISA court to obtain search warrants relating to the wholly innocent Carter Page, as part of their clandestine effort to destroy Trump. The FBI went so far as to offer the thoroughly discredited Christopher Steele $1 million if he could come up with dirt on Trump–and this was after Steele had admitted to the Bureau that he had no evidence to support the fantasies set forth in his reports.

[…] It turns out that some of the key allegations of the Steele reports actually came from a Democratic National Committee staffer with close ties to Russian officials, who initially lied to the FBI […]

The FBI didn’t investigate because it wasn’t looking for the truth, it was trying to help Democrats win the presidency. As the Durham report shows, the Bureau immediately launched Crossfire Hurricane on the flimsiest pretext, in sharp contrast to its conduct with respect to other issues that put Democrats in a bad light, which the Bureau simply buried.

The Clinton campaign’s fabrication of the Steele “dossier” and the promotion of its fabrications by the FBI, the CIA and the American press represent the worst scandal in the history of American politics, by a wide margin. Heads should roll, but they won’t. The Democrats have circled the wagons, almost entirely successfully. Corruption at a level never before seen in our country will go unpunished. But at least, the Durham Report will stand as historical documentation of what went wrong.

(B) A noteworthy new op-ed by Insty in the NYPost on how the “democratic” party is increasingly throwing black voters under the bus in favor of illegal immigrants and other aspects of the woke “anointed”agenda.

He also points out that if a constituency blindly votes knee jerk in lockstep for party A (like the district in Chicago that votes 97% D), then the party will take it for granted and neglect it to go court other saps. (I have been telling American Jews the same for many years.)

Insty concludes:

The truth is the Democratic Party is no longer the party of the working class and the poor.

It’s the party of well-off woke white people and the billionaires who fund their nonprofits and control their corporate employers.

The GOP is now the multiracial party representing the interests of working-class Americans of all extractions.

The Democrats’ nightmare is that black voters will figure that out before 2024.

Read the whole thing, as always with Insty.