Saturday, March 25th, 2023
- its core demand: are you going to believe me or your lying eyes?
- describes the ongoing cultural revolution which defines reality by its usefulness in achieving left-wing goals
Wednesday, March 15th, 2023
Dean of American foreign policy Walter Russell Mead has lately abandoned his on-the-other-handism — to wit, the stentorian moral tone of his book Arc of a Covenant and its politely scathing attack on Mearsheimer and the like. In his latest Wall Street Journal piece, “Netanyahu’s Bid for a Role in Zionist History”, WRM casts his lot, characterizing Israel’s protests as rear-guard snobbery and prejudice, and ending with the audacity of hope that Bibi will find a way out of the current conundrum by means of sagacity beyond that even of Ben-Gurion.
Friday, March 10th, 2023
Finally, the primer we’ve been waiting for: in Mosaic Magazine the redoubtable Evelyn Gordon lays out the issue of Israel’s judicial reform.
Sunday, March 5th, 2023
Prof. Nir Keidar, legal historian and President of Sapir College, appears on the predictably leftist podcast The Tel Aviv Review ostensibly to discuss his book David Ben Gurion and the Foundation of Israeli Democracy but the conversation is mostly about today’s judicial reform, and he is reasonable and helpful.
Saturday, March 4th, 2023
As interviewed by Netael Bandel in Israel Hayom, Professor Yoav Dotan opposes judicial activism:
The High Court took the accepted understanding of reasonableness – intervening when a government authority harms the citizen in an absurd and capricious manner – and turned it into something else entirely. Everyone must be reasonable, the government and the prime minister, except that they always think they are acting reasonably. The court’s reasonableness approach states that the government will balance its own considerations and that the court will reverse-engineer the government’s determination. In effect, the court becomes a second government that oversees the elected government, and in instances that have no bearing whatsoever on personal liberties.
Thursday, March 2nd, 2023
Sunday, October 16th, 2022
At the Washington Institute, Rahim Hamid and Ruth Riegler argue that the Iranian uprising must have a plan for the various ethnicities.
Friday, October 7th, 2022
Oh my, Walter Russell Mead joins Tyler Cowen for a rich brief hour, and they barely mention WRM’s new book Arc. While in print WRM can seem a bit mealy-mouthed, often it seems throat-clearing to not alienate those with whom he basically disagrees, here he comes out strong and hearty. And TC’s idiosyncratic method of firing off questions works with WRM because each one prompts such a rich answer that there’s little need for normal back and forth.
Wednesday, October 5th, 2022
Watch these Balochi Iranian schoolgirls stomp on the classroom pic of the Dictator Khamenei. Amazing.
Monday, October 3rd, 2022
For the first time, Iranian protests are nationwide, multi-ethnic, political and non-clerical, so much so that this could finally be the end for the mad mullahs.
Sunday, October 2nd, 2022
The Arc of a Covenant: The United States, Israel, and the Fate of the Jewish People
Walter Russell Mead
Mearsheimer and Walt — three words that do not appear once in this 1045-page book but are clearly its raison d’etre. John Mearsheimer is Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago; Stephen Walt is Professor of International Relations at Harvard Kennedy School; together they are the respectable face of American anti-Semitism, reputable enough that Walter Russell Mead seems unwilling to criticize them by name, despicable enough that their book The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy infuriated our southern-born dean of foreign relations to work on this book for a dozen years or so.
The Wikipedia article on the Lobby book illustrates Mead’s Southern Gentleman approach; whereas Israeli historian Benny Morris says “their work is riddled with shoddiness and defiled by mendacity,” Mead applauds the authors for “admirably and courageously” initiating a conversation on a difficult subject, but more in sorrow than in anger laments that while their intentions are surely strictly honorable, they commit “easily avoidable lapses in judgment and expression.”
Making multiple approaches from multiple angles, Mead demolishes their central notion, giving it the withering moniker of Vulcanist thinking. (Actually I take issue a little with this label, because since the book is so long I forgot the elegant historical anecdote that originates it — a theory of astronomy that attempted to explain celestial workings by means of an undetected planet that doesn’t actually exis. Instead I mentally defaulted to popular culture, where Star Trek’s Vulcan is a stand-in for excessive logic — a characterization quite antithetical to his notion of Vulcanist thinking. This is a shame because the term therefore probably won’t catch on, which it could have perhaps as a shorthand for tendentious yet respectable and therefore ultimately even more ridiculous thinking.)
Especially enriching are his fleshing out of the geopolitical maneouverings among the US, Britain and Russia at the time of Israel’s founding. Important here for Mead’s thesis is that the legend of Truman’s Jewish friend from back in Missouri inveighing on the flummoxed President to recognize Israel be relegated to Queen Esther-echoing myth. For it is WRM’s contention in his chapter “Cyrus Agonistes” that American support for Israel is endemic to the United States, rather than due to the influence of the American Jewish lobby qua Walt and Mearsheimer — moreover it’s despite American Jews, whose leaders have for most of Israel’s history been actively working against a Jewish state, their energies only turning once America as a whole pursued full-throated support for Israel after it became the Middle East’s unambiguous Six Day War strong horse.
It’s also a helpful historical insight that WRM groups 19th century American support for Jewish return to Israel with support for the birth of the Italian and Greek nationstates:
In the ancient world, as Americans saw it, the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews had been much like Americans of the nineteenth century. They were mostly agrarian people, nations of family-owned farms. They had free institutions and their societies were grounded in virtue. But corruption, urbanization, and monarchy had wreaked their ugly work; in time, all three of the ancient peoples fell from their virtue and freedom into slavery, superstition, and oppression.
As the nineteenth century progressed, and the Greek and Italian independence movements advanced, the possibility of a restored Jewish commonwealth also began to gleam on the horizon.
In fact the discussion of nationalism’s birth pangs from the empires of eastern Europe, the chapter entitled “Maelstrom”, is perhaps the richest part of the book.
As a columnist I have been irritated by what I perceive as WRM’s intellectual mealy-mouthedness. But as a full-throated podcast guest I realize this is merely his print persona, a tic I suppose similar to what he probably views as his Straussian icy politeness regarding Mearsheimer and Walt. That said, I took umbrage when in the book he referred to the Second Intifada, a wave of despicable terror attacks against Israel in the wake of the Oslo Agreements, using the BBC-like passive even-handed term: “violence flared”. I instantly recalled eyewitnessing the shellshock in the hours after the Dolphinarium suicide bombing that killed and maimed dozens of partying teenagers. I was only somewhat mollified later in the book when he mentioned this particular bombing by name, without mentioning that the victims were teenagers.
This is a book about America not Israel, and as well as constituting a scathing retort to Mearsheimer and Walt, is a continuation by other means of his 2001 book Special Providence that classifies the various streams of America’s foreign policy; in portraying America’s relationship with Israel, Arc explicates the fullest expression of the Jacksonian stream, a Meadian classification that, unlike Vulcanism, does seem to be sticking.
Tuesday, September 27th, 2022
The American model appeared to demonstrate that capitalism plus democracy led to mass prosperity and deep social stability.
Walter Russell Mead, The Arc of a Covenant
Thursday, September 22nd, 2022
Israel’s patience and humility is rewarded first by Trump and now by Truss: the UK may follow the US in relocating its embassy from Tel Aviv the seafront metropolis to Jerusalem the capital.
Friday, September 16th, 2022
At Nat Con 3, Peter Thiel argues in a speech entitled “The Tech Curse” that while the Democrats have nothing to offer but the California model of gutting the middle classes except state employees, the Republicans nonetheless need something more than simply a negation of it.
One heuristic he offers in order to measure societal success in contrast to California is cheap real estate, but offers no path to get there.
My monomaniacal suggestion: flying cars/eVTOLs, which increase the human daily commute distance from about 50 to 250 miles, multiplying our practicable habitable area by likely an order of magnitude. As well as other unforeseeable boons, surely this would radically lower the cost of homes.
But it requires government support. “If the U.S. doesn’t take a leadership role, either someone else will do it or it won’t get done at all,” said Rep. Jay Obernolte (R-California), co-chair of the Congressional AAM Caucus, along with Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D-California), at Honeywell’s Air Mobility Summit. “We are really at an inflection point in the industry. It’s such a critical time for Congress to get involved.”
Tuesday, September 6th, 2022
The Mufti, Qadaffi, King Hussein — I’m vastly enjoying season 2 of the Israeli TV documentary series Enemies (streaming requires an Israeli IP). One thing I can’t help but notice is the impressive living rooms in which the interviewees — mostly military intelligence vets — sit. None of them are in apartments, all have leafy window views, there’s a lot of wood, and most of them aren’t furnished like typical Israeli dwellings. I guess these aren’t military men, they’re men and women of the world.
I can’t tell if I enjoy Israeli docs because they’re so good, or merely because I’m the target audience. If it’s the former, and I think it is, they really should be selling them subtitled to wider audiences, say to Netflix and Amazon Prime.
It’s great, this pounding away at Israeli history, each episode a different prism.
Thursday, July 21st, 2022
On Israeli Policy Pod, Ehud Yaari for the (more or less) hour. When asked who is the greatest of the many great men he met, he is unequivocal: Sadat.
Saturday, July 9th, 2022
As I learned from an emigre last night in at a meetup in London, Belarusians have taken to Telegram for news for anonymity.
Friday, July 8th, 2022
Melanie Philips soberly points out the parallels between Britain’s Johnson, America’s Trump, and Israel’s Netanyahu:
Despite the singular characteristics of this British implosion, there are striking similarities between Johnson and two other extraordinary world leaders—Israel’s former prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and America’s former president, Donald Trump. All three were brought to power by voters repudiating the defeatist and self-destructive story being told about their nation by a progressive elite that had lost touch with reality.
In these different contexts, Johnson, Netanyahu and Trump were all seen to deliver what the public had so desperately sought but been denied for so long. All three, however, are flawed characters.
Tuesday, May 17th, 2022
Hispanics: the new world-historic anchor whilst America’s Whites flounder.
Religious liberty, always. Parental rights, always. Right to life, always. Free markets, always. Compassionate but firm on immigration, always.
Tuesday, March 15th, 2022
The BoJo Doctrine: Exploit the potential of all renewable energy technologies in this country, from tidal power to hydro to geothermal … Make a series of big new bets on nuclear power.”
Saturday, February 19th, 2022
Following Tyler Cowen’s growing presence of a web-surfing morning, I note that although the elite is Leftist, the most eminent and influential public thinkers are not. As well as TC I’m thinking of Peter Thiel, Marc Andreessen, Niall Ferguson, Elon Musk. Maybe now even Joe Rogan?
Perhaps it’s a question of age; these guys are all Gen Xers more or less, and all would probably have considered themselves socially liberal and economically conservative by the standards of their youth and early adulthood in the 80s and 90s. There is also a large swathe of others in their wake.
Who on the dominant Left has their stature? Paul Krugman? Is it still Noam Chomsky?
Three of the five I mention are or were known first as builders of enterprises, and TC is now getting into that game, as is Ferguson with the new University of Austin.
Monday, January 31st, 2022
One main worry exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic is erosion in faith in science. While some of our denizens have pursued wantonly contrarian beliefs, others got busy blithely eroding core tenets. The Royal Society is warning that all this is dangerous. Its first prescription: “investing in lifelong information literacy programmes”.
The solutions are deep because the problems are; we live in an information glut yet there has been no parallel explosion in education — indeed rigor has likely lessened alongside national priorities skewered due to intemperate new orthodoxies which are due in turn to I know not what.
Yet some heartening news, as related in “Inside Operation Warp Speed: A New Model for Industrial Policy”, which happened under Trump. If we can optimistically harness the former President as a metaphor for Western civilization, perhaps the outlandish demeanor belies sound and enterprising deeds.
At any rate, this is the big shit.
Friday, January 28th, 2022
The New York Post appears to be cruisin’ for another cancellin’, what with their Peter Schweizer reporting that the Biden family has done five deals in China arranged by individuals with ties to Chinese intelligence. Such poor taste, reporting on this sort of distraction from the real issues.
Friday, January 14th, 2022
Where Is My Flying Car?
J. Storrs Hall
Where is My Flying Car, what author and nanotechnologist J. Storrs Hall refers to as his intellectual memoir, is the first book I can remember hoping that everyone would read. Graceful, witty, we cut through the blather to the chase of social good: technology, always and forever, and where and how we got off this crystal ship, and how we can get back on it. Consider this the truer, more resonant, more actionable big brother of Tyler Cowen’s Great Stagnation. A random excerpt from 40% in:
Gyros of perfectly usable specs are being built now. This is mostly in Europe, because the EU has an approved rotorcraft classification that is similar to the light-sport fixed-wings you can buy here, but the US does not. That means that in Europe, you can buy a gyro built in a factory, but if you want one here you have to build it yourself. A typical gyro goes for about a third the price of a helicopter and can use a 200-foot runway. The Dutch company PAL-V is in the process of launching a new design roadable autogyro. It has the same advantages as the Pitcairn designs of the 1930s, but updated with modern materials and technology. It also has to face a lot more regulatory hurdles, as a car as well as an aircraft, than there were in the 30s. As a result its roadable configuration is three-wheeled so that it comes under motorcycle regulations instead of car ones. The rotor, tail, and propeller retract and/or fold up and it becomes an enclosed trike-style motorcycle on the road. It’s listed at better than 100mph both on the road and in the air.
This is fascinating and exciting — especially today when one can simply search the the company name (PAL-V) and instantly see the company’s news and promotional materials. But the book is not just a catalog, it’s a manifesto. And it’s not just a manifesto, it’s a history. I’m not doing it justice. I’ll come back and write more and differently on it.
[Update 2022 Jan 27: The book has been out a couple of years, so it’s suprising that just a month ago we have The Wall Street Journal’s review by Philip Dewlves Broughton.
Thursday, January 13th, 2022
The zero-sum society is a recipe for evil.
J. Storrs Hall, Where is My Flying Car?
Having already had the worst thrown at him (not without some reason), Lord Black of Crossharbour need make no bones about it:
In an election of 156 million voters and more than 40 million harvested ballots (i.e. those of unverifiable validity and cast by people other than those to whom the votes ostensibly belonged), where a shift of 46,000 votes in Pennsylvania and any two of Arizona, Georgia, and Wisconsin would have flipped the election to Trump in the Electoral College, 2020 takes its place along with the highly contested contests of 1876 (Hayes-Tilden), 1960 (Kennedy-Nixon), and 2000 (George W. Bush-Gore).
Sunday, January 2nd, 2022
Counting watts is a better way to measure a people’s standard of living than counting dollars.
J. Storrs Hall, Where is My Flying Car
Thursday, December 23rd, 2021
Israel Hayom reports that Israel has paused offshore gas exploration with Energy Minister Karine Elharrar intoning: “2022 will be the year of renewable energy.”
Israel should keep in mind that her modern Achilles’ Heel is not disunity but overconfidence; and, previous Trojan War reference notwithstanding, should not be looking the gift horse of natural gas in the mouth. Because a prudent energy policy demands a short-, mid- and long-term strategy.
Tuesday, October 26th, 2021
Hijinks for the practicing intellectualoid: Mansfield on Machiavelli, acknowledging the Florentin’s modernity paternity.
Thursday, October 7th, 2021
Human egalitarianism was a social revolution within the primate order.
Sarah Chayes, Everybody Knows: Corruption in America
Angry divides over cultural and identity-group issues often mask—in fact may be deliberately used to mask—unanimity at the top of the system when it comes to condoning or participating in corruption.
Sarah Chayes, Everybody Knows: Corruption in America
Wednesday, October 6th, 2021
Criminalizing the criminalization of politics is akin to the wonder performed by Aeschylus’ Eumenides, which turned revenge into law—high statesmanship.
Angelo Codevilla, The Ruling Class
Sunday, October 3rd, 2021
Leaked papers reveal King Abdullah of Jordan has spent some $106m on Anglospherian homes. While it’s nice he chooses Malibu and London — and why not — might the story spur domestic unrest?
Sunday, September 26th, 2021
The ruling class’s campaign regarding public health, global warming, race, the rights of women, homosexuals, micro-aggressions, the Palestinians, etc. etc. have far less to do with any of these matters than with seizing ever more power for itself.
Angelo Codevilla, “The Covid Coup”
Saturday, August 7th, 2021
In this Al-Jazeera coverage of the protests comprising the anniversary of the Beirut explosion, the word “Hezbollah” doesn’t appear at all.
Wednesday, August 4th, 2021
As Israel finally passes a budget, Mansour Abbas, leader of the Islamist Raam party, appears to have been the kingmaker, is budgeted an unprecedented $16b for infrastructure, crime, healthcare, education and transport.
Saturday, May 8th, 2021
Sometimes a cool story is strong enough to override my current aversion to The New York Times, and this interactive piece about Oval Office art qualifies.
Thursday, April 1st, 2021
In his Telegraph column, the invaluable Ambrose Evans-Pritchard lays it out that the UK has actually handled Covid pretty well:
We can see in hindsight that the UK began the war on Covid much as it has begun almost every major war over recent centuries: half asleep, in utter shambles, with obsolete contingency plans. The first wave had echoes of the Norway campaign in 1940, or the great retreat of the British Expeditionary Force in August 1914. It always seems to take time for Britons to pull themselves together. Ultimately they do. By the end of the First World War, the British armed forces were arguably the best-run logistical machine on the planet.
Monday, February 15th, 2021
Meaningless repetition of another person’s spoken words as a symptom of psychiatric disorder
The politicians are engaged in endless echolalia. The governor here (cum-Secretary of Commerce) actually had the _chutzpah_ to say, "I know you're all unhappy with the speed of vaccination, but our strategy is working."
Wednesday, January 27th, 2021
Like Anna Karenina’s brother, it’s not that the United States media has a bad memory, rather it has acquired an excellent forgettery. Victor Davis Hanson remembers nonetheless.
Friday, January 1st, 2021
2020, the good news, by Doron Peskin at Israel’s Calcalist
Friday, December 11th, 2020
I’ve been surprised and disappointed by just how many people are hesitant to take up the COVID-19 vaccines now coming online. In this concerned Nautilus article “How to Build Trust in Covid-19 Vaccines”, the authors take on the issue with sober good sense, eg:
Mandatory vaccination policies should be avoided because they could backfire. More acceptable would be tying vaccination status to travel or access to public places.
Wednesday, November 18th, 2020
The 2020 US election is apparently not yet over. “It is indeed a very foul mess,” states Sidney Powell, a former federal prosecutor now Trump legal team member, whom people speak of respectfully in the comments. “It is farther and wider and deeper than we ever thought but we are going to go after it and I am going to expose every one of them.” [Update 2020 Nov 23: So much for that! “Trump Legal Team Distances Itself From Sidney Powell After Unproven Claims” in The Daily Wire.]
Wednesday, November 4th, 2020
“How Israel Helped Win the Cold War” by Joshua Muravchik in Commentary Magazine. Great piece, great service. How I wish every American who writes anti-Israel comments in online threads all over — remember the Liberty, stop making us fight your wars for you, etc — would read this — very slowly.
Sunday, November 1st, 2020
“Because the Republic is at stake”: David Goldman for Trump. Allow me to also attest: as president, Donald Trump has passed George Gilder’s Israel test with colors so stratospheric it almost makes one cynical about cynicism.
Friday, August 7th, 2020
Shamefully kowtowing to China, Israel has withdrawn a Ministry of Health public service video that humorously refers to the coronavirus as “Made in China (yet works properly)”. This isn’t going well is it?
Thursday, August 6th, 2020
The Daily Mail has 8:38 minutes of police bodycam footage of the George Floyd arrest.
Thursday, June 4th, 2020
Rejecting “false equivalency between rule of law and rule by law”, the USA has published its Strategic Approach to the People’s Republic of China.
Saturday, May 30th, 2020
The editor of Spiked castigates the media for misreporting facts on Dominic Cummings’ lockdown behavior. But Brendan O’Neill’s focus on possibly disingenuous facts misses the larger disheartening truth.
Which is that a senior head needs to roll for the UK Government’s humiliating and deadly botching of its initial response to the pandemic. (That many of the leaders themselves contracted the disease is emblematic of this failure.)
Since elections will not be held for years, the next best thing to the PM’s head is that of his high-profile advisor. And this is fitting: as the great visionary and strategist, Cummings should have been the one who got the PM to take the pandemic seriously in good time.
So the details of Cummings’ hypocritical behaviours under lockdown are merely the pretext for some just humiliation for him and this Government. His firing would be the catharsis that marks entry into the next phase of this pandemic; indeed these are political norms. Instead however we slouch further into uncharted territory — political as well as medical and economic.