John Oliver on the Confederacy

John Oliver’s in-depth issue this week was the Confederacy on “Last Week Tonight.”  Oliver condemned the Confederacy and everything connected to it because one of the things it fought for was the maintenance of slavery.  According to him, this justified getting rid of all public monuments to, and statues of, anything or anybody connected to the Confederacy.  

If slavery is what condemns a civilization, then clearly the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians must be condemned, and all artifacts, statues, buildings, and other monuments must be removed from public view.  That would mean that the Roman forum, the Acropolis, the Parthenon and the Egyptian pyramids would have to be destroyed, along with the many other Roman ruins spread across Europe and North Africa. By the same reasoning, Oliver, the Democratic Party and other anti-Confederate hate groups must applaud the destruction by ISIS of the ancient city of Palmyra in Syria and the destruction of the Bamiyan cliff buddhas by the Taliban in Afghanistan.  Can you imagine the horror that would ensue if the mayor of Charlottesville were the mayor of Rome, destroying thousands of monuments?  

Of course the Confederates got their moral guidance on slavery from the books of Moses in the Bible.  Abraham, Moses, David and Solomon all had slaves and lived in a society where slavery was an ordinary fact of life.  Abraham had a son, Ishmael, by his family’s female slave Hagar.  Moses freed the Jews from slavery in Egypt, but he wrote the Jewish law authorizing slavery and describing how Jews should treat their own slaves, particularly in Leviticus.  It describes different treatment for Jews enslaved to other Jews, and for non-Jewish slaves.  It seems likely that Solomon’s temple was built with slave labor.  If they were going to be consistent, Oliver and the Democrats should call for the destruction of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  And because Moses and King David had slaves, they should call for the destruction of Michelangelo’s statues of Moses and David.  

Of course any statues or monuments to any famous people of these countries would have to be destroyed — statues of Plato, Aristotle, all Roman emperors, and statues of all Egyptian Pharaohs.  History is unimportant.  Only morality as defined by Oliver is important.  People who lived in societies that condoned slavery were evil, and any image of them must be destroyed according to Oliver and the Democrats.  

They really do have much in common with ISIS and the Taliban, believing that a tangible representation of anything they think is morally repugnant must be destroyed.  They believe that their morals are supreme and unimpeachable and that no other ideas can be allowed to be expressed.  They are not chopping off heads yet, but that may be coming.  HBO is preaching the ideology of ISIS and the Taliban in the US while American troops are fighting against it in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It is sad to see such fundamentalist religious intolerance being preached in the US.  



Kurdish Independence Vote

The results of the vote on Kurdish independence are not yet in, but are almost certainly to be in favor of independence, according to the Washington Post.  While the Kurds have been great allies of the US in Middle East, the creation of a Kurdish state is certain to create problems among the four countries with large Kurdish populations – Iraq, Iran, Turkey, and Syria.  Each of these countries view the creation of a Kurdish state differently, but none of them entirely favorably.  The most strongly opposed is Turkey, which views some Kurdish organizations as terrorists, and for that reason is suspicious of all Kurds.  Iraq has enough problems with ISIS and the Sunni-Shiite split without adding Kurdish independence or autonomy to its inbox.  In Syria the Kurds pursue their own self-interest in creating a Kurdish state, but sometimes this means fighting against the Syrian government and in some cases fighting for it, or at least fighting its enemies.  Assad has many more important problems on his plate than Kurdistan, although Kurdistan would occupy a significant part of Syria, about one-quarter of it.  Iran opposed the vote on Kurdish independence, but it too has not put Kurdish issues at the top of its agenda; the Kurds seem to have a better relationship with the Iranian government than with the governments of the other three countries affected.  The US is also upset by the vote because of the confusion it may create in the region, although the Kurds have been America’s best ally in the fight against ISIS.  

In any case the creation of a new Kurdish state out of portions of four existing nations is almost certainly to be problematic.  The most recent example is the creation of South Sudan, which has led to civil war, famine, and thousands of deaths.  Arguably the creation earlier creation of several nations from the disintegrating Yugoslavia should have been peaceful, but it led to a terrible Balkan war among the new states – Serbia, Croatia, Macedonia, Kosovo, and Montenegro.  The split up of Czechoslovakia into Czech and Slovakia went somewhat more smoothly. The creation of Israel has led to seventy years of violence and unrest in the Middle East.  Given the existing conflict in the Middle East and the countries involved in the creation of Kurdistan, it seems likely that it would be violent.  

Iraq has said that it will not recognize the results of the vote, but the Kurds may not allow the Iraqis to ignore it.  Iraqi Kurdistan is rich in oil; the Kurds will want it, and the Iraqis will not want to give it up.  Turkey will not want to do anything that it perceives as strengthening the hand of Kurdish separatists in Turkey.  This already appears to mean closing the border to shipments of oil, according to the NYT.  

As a sign of things to come, Iraq has demanded that Kurdistan surrender its airports.  Iraq asked other countries’ airlines not fly into Kurdistan.  Kurdistan does not have its own airline.

Joint Resolution Attack on White Southerners

I am disappointed to see that you were a cosponsor of S. J. Res. 49 condemning Southern white men as racists.  As a Southern white man, born in Florida and raised in Alabama, I take offense at your racist bigotry.  I am not a “White supremacist” or a “neo-Nazi,” but my great-grandfather, James M. Williams, did fight for the Confederacy in the Civil War.  There is a book about his exploits, “From that Terrible Field.”  The title refers to the Battle of Shiloh, where he fought and where he best friend, George Dixon, was wounded.  My great-grandfather returned to Mobile, Alabama, to command Fort Powell in the Battle of Mobile Bay.  George Dixon went on to command the Confederate submarine Hunley which sank the Housatonic in Charleston harbor.  My great-grandfather named his first son George Dixon Williams in memory of his friend.

In addition to my great-grandfather’s Civil War service, my grandfather served in the Spanish-American War and World War I.  My father served in World War II and the Korean War.  He was awarded the Bronze Star for his service in Korea.  I served in Vietnam in an Army artillery battery along the DMZ and on the Laotian border. The names of two of the men I served with are on the wall of the Vietnam Memorial.  After Vietnam, I served twenty-five years in the Foreign Service of the US Department of State.

I became a confirmed Democrat when I was serving as Science Counselor at the American Embassy in Warsaw, Poland.  One of my main jobs was to oversee a science cooperation agreement between the US and Poland that was to last five years.  Newt Gingrich and the Republicans were elected while I was there, and one of their first actions was to end US funding for the science cooperation after three years, although there was a signed agreement stating that it was to last for five years.  From Poland I went to Rome, where I again handled scientific affairs.  The Republicans refused to fund appropriations to buy oil for North Korea that the US had promised under the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization agreement.  One of my jobs became to ask the European Union, for which Italy then held the rotating presidency, to contribute enough money to KEDO to honor the US agreement, so that the US would not be the first party to violate it.  I was extremely upset that the US would give North Korea a legitimate excuse to restart its nuclear weapons program.  Finally, while I was at a cocktail party celebrating the launch by the US of an Italian communications satellite, an executive of the Italian telephone company came up to me and said, “You Americans must really hate me.”  It turned out that his daughter had been denied a visa to visit Disney World because his company had some connection with the Mexican telephone company that had some connection with the Cuban telephone company that was banned by the Helms-Burton Act.  In the fictional series The Winds of War by Herman Wouk, the Jewish heroine was prevented by the Nazis from leaving Italy for Israel by denying a visa to her child.  The situation I found in Rome was too similar.  I decided that I would retire from the Foreign Service because US foreign policy did not come up to my standards of decency.  I did not make it a political issue; I just retired in disgust.

I voted almost a straight Democratic ticket from then on, for the next twenty years, until the 2016 election. I voted for Bernie Sanders at the last Democratic caucuses.  But that changed with Hillary Clinton’s nomination and her characterization of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” clearly meaning Southern white men like me.   Ironically, I had been the Warsaw embassy officer responsible for organizing President and Hillary Clinton’s visit to the site of the old Warsaw ghetto during Clinton’s visit to Warsaw to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the end of World War II.

I became disillusioned with the Republican Party for failing to appropriate funds to meet America’s international commitments.  Now I am disillusioned with the Democratic Party for passing hateful, bigoted legislation condemning me as a racist.  You are free to hate me.  There is no law against hate, as long as you do not act on it.  However, politicians are in a position to act on it.  I see this Resolution as a sign that race-based discriminatory legislation is coming.  It is strange that you, Sen. Schumer and Rep. Pelosi would replace Sen. Jesse Helms, Rep. Dan Burton, and their ilk as the new racists in Congress.


PBS News Hour on North Korea

Bob Gallucci and Michael Pillsbury were on the PBS News Hour as the hawk and the dove on North Korea.  Pillsbury, the hawk, is a Pillsbury doughboy heir, and worked in the Pentagon back 30 years ago.  Of course, the Pentagon was almost always the enemy of the State Dept, and Pillsbury was the enemy.  I can’t remember exactly what issue he was involved in, probably missile proliferation and North Korea, but he was affiliated with Asst. Sec. of Defense Richard Perle under Reagan and Steve Hadley, who replaced Perle under G.H.W. Bush.  

To PBS’ credit, in the run-up to the panel, they talked to Sigfried Hecker, the former head of the Livermore National Lab.  Like Los Alamos, Livermore builds America’s bombs.  For some reason the North Korean’s liked Hecker and showed him all kinds of stuff when he visited years ago.  Maybe it was  just scientists showing off.  But because he builds bombs, he understood it all.  I think he probably knows more about North Korea’s bombs than anybody outside of North Korea, but people seldom talk to him.  On PBS he was less alarmist on N.K.’s bomb, saying they probably still have a few years to go to develop one for a missile.  

Of course, the Missile Technology Control Regime, which I worked on off and on for five or  more years was supposed to prevent countries like N.K. from getting strategic missiles.  But it was only an export control regime, and the Chinese have never fully committed to it.  It may have helped slow down N.K., but now I think they probably have the national capability to develop long range missiles without outside help.  So, export control doesn’t help much.  

I found this interesting old article about Michael Pillsbury.

NYT on Anti-Semitism and the Holocaust

The New York Times has cast off its staid image as the “newspaper of record” or the “old gray lady” in its effort to unseat Donald Trump as President.  It has become much more of a tabloid scandal sheet, printing and reprinting scandalous accusations against the President and his family.  A recent example is the NYT article about the Senate parliamentarian’s saying that certain parts of the Senate healthcare bill violate the rules of the Senate. The reason the parliamentarian’s views are important is because the Senate is working on the healthcare bill under a set of arcane Senate rules dealing with “reconciliation.”   The NYT article does not even mention the word “reconciliation.”  Surprisingly, the Huffington Post article about the parliamentarian has a much better description of “reconciliation” and why it is important.  Basically, the reconciliation process is allowed only for financial bills that do not have a long term impact.  Thus, a provision dealing with abortion would presumably not be “financial” and thus would not be appropriate to handle under reconciliation rules.  The NYT just says the parliamentarian’s objections are only one more example of how bad the GOP health care bill is, and then it rehashes political arguments against the bill that have been printed in dozens or hundreds of other NYT articles criticizing the bill.  

This is just one example of what I perceive as the New York Times’ loss of objectivity regarding the Trump administration.  It’s circulation is up because it has become so biased against Trump in its reporting.  As Democrats and liberals sign up for new subscriptions, it becomes another example of people listening only to people who agree with them.  The NYT no longer prints “all the news that’s fit to print.”  It prints news that attacks the Republican-led government, in the House, Senate, and Executive.  It used to be that Times policy views came out only on the editorial and op-ed pages; now, opinion pervades the news pages, at least in deciding what stories to run, and how to phrase them, if not in overt statements of opinion in the stories.  

In its opinion section, there is a strong prepoderance of Jewish writers.  This includes regular columnists David Brooks, Tom Friedman, Roger Cohen, Paul Krugman. Bret Stephens, and Andrew Rosenthal (partly Jewish).  In addition, many of the columns written by contributors are by Jewish authors.  Today there is an op-ed by Jewish Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.  On Sunday there was an op-ed on torture by Ariel Dorfman.  In the July 9 Sunday Review there was an op-ed entitled, “Why Does Trump Keep Dissing Jews?” ; one entitled, “Goodbye to the Swastika in the Attic,” and one entitled, “Germany’s Newest Intellectual Antihero,” Rolf Peter Sieferle, who wrote, “The First Commandment is ‘Thou shalt have no Holocaust before me.’”  

Ever since the election campaign between Hillary Clinton and Trump, I have been concerned about the prominence of Jews in the Clinton campaign, and in the Democratic Party.  Trump has some Jewish support, notably from his son-in-law Jared, now under withering attack from the left, much of it from Jewish media.  But with a few exceptions — Mnuchin, Cohn — the Jewish “big money” backed Hillary and continues to back the Democrats.  The last eight years under Obama have been very good for wealthy Jews (and gentiles).  In the wake of the Great Recession of 2008, the US bailed out most of the big banks, many of which are run by Jews.  Then, interest rates stayed at almost zero for years, giving speculators free money to speculate with, and they did.  The tax laws significantly benefit people who speculate in financial instruments and real estate, taxing paper gains from buying and selling at much lower real rates than taxes on people who work for a living.  Of course, many who work for a living, work off the grid and may not pay taxes on all that they make, but that’s small potatoes compared to Wall Street and Silicon Valley profits.  As Warren Buffett often points out, the law effectively taxes rich people at a lower rate than middle class people who have a salaried income.  

Because such a high percentage of people working in the financial markets are Jewish, things that significantly benefit the financial community have a racial impact as well.  I haven’t researched it thoroughly, but I think something like this went on Germany in the 1930s, as Germany was trying to recover from the reparations imposed after World War I.  The New York Times frequently reports on how many priceless paintings the Nazis took from Jews during World War II, which are now being restored to descendants of the owners.  How did German Jews happen to own in the 1930s a substantial percentage of all the most valuable art in the world?  A few examples of the value of Nazi-confiscated, Jewish-owned artwork is listed at the end of this blog.  A recent example of pre-war Jewish wealth is the movie, “The Woman in Gold” about a painting by Gustav Klimt called “Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer.”  Although the descendant  who won the return of the painting lived very simply in Los Angeles, her family had lived extravagantly in Austria before World War II.  The movie shows her father playing a Stradivarius cello in a lavish apartment adorned with great art.    

The Jewish families of Germany and Austria were acquiring this valuable art while ordinary citizens were trying to stay alive during a vicious economic depression and great inflation following World War I.  The Economist, quoting Der Spiegel said:

 “It’s no coincidence that Adolf Hitler’s inexorable rise to power began in November 1923, the highpoint of Germany’s inflation, when he organized the abortive Beer Hall Putsch in Munich….  Hitler claimed the high cost of living was Germany’s biggest problem, promising “We intend to make life cheaper.” To this end he demanded that shops—many of which were in Jewish hands—be brought under state control. And he stressed, ‘We expect all kinds of miracles of these national stores.’”

The Economist goes on to argue that contrary to Der Spiegel’s hypothesis about 1920s inflation, it was the deflation of the 1930s that brought Hitler to power.  

The experience of deflation made Hitler’s promises to conquer unemployment and stabilise prices by any means necessary attractive to a wide range of groups in German society, making it into a mass political movement across Germany for the first ever time in the early-1930s. The rest, as they say, is history.

In any case, Jews seem to have survived the German economic crises better than most ethnic Germans, and the rest is history.  

I am concerned that once again, like in Germany between the wars, Jews in America are identified with large and growing economic inequality.  This comes at time when Jews have been chairs of the Federal Reserve for over thirty years, keeping interest rates near zero for the last ten, thus giving huge amounts of ammunition to Jewish financial speculators.  Of course, Jewish speculators might have made huge amounts of money from high interest rates, just as the Economist and Der Spiegel differ over whether it was inflation of deflation that helped Hitler.  In any case, Jews have made great strides in leaving their gentile competitors behind during the last generation.  

I think that his group of enormously wealthy Jews threw its weight behind Hillary Clinton in the last election.  They thought it was still too early for a Jewish President, but they could be the power behind Hillary’s throne.  They (and Hillary) believed that they could use all of that money to buy the votes of blacks and hispanics, and that they could buy enough of those votes to offset the votes of the white middle class, which the Democrats has largely given up on.  Obama had alienated them by giving so much government largess to blacks and hispanics.  If anything, Hillary’s campaign emphasized that predilection for blacks and hispanics over whites, despite Hillary being white.  Her Jewish backers thought she was reliable, and that she would do what they wanted once she was elected.  Bill Clinton’s pursuit of Jewish interests in the financial and social policy worlds helped convince her Jewish backers that Hillary would, too.  However, some of the smartest people in politics miscalculated the unhappiness of ordinary white people, and the fact that Obama and the Democrats had not yet let in enough hispanic immigrants to completely offset the white vote of people who had lived in the United States for generations.  The resulting debacle made the leaders of the Democratic Party look like lazy. incompetent failures.  

But the Democrats, led primarily by Jews, are still trying to destroy the white middle class, and they may succeed in another generation, or less.  The Jews believe they will then be able to manipulate the blacks and hispanics into accepting policies that the Jews want to pursue.  Number one is, and will be, the strengthening of Israel, since most American Jews are automatically dual citizens of both the US and Israel.  Israel will continue to be their emergency exit until they have locked down control of the American government.  I think that many Jews in politics, the media and business are working toward this goal.  In some cases, they may not be conscious that they are doing so.  They may simply be doing things that their friends and colleagues like and approve of without perceiving an ultimate goal.  Of course there are many exceptions to this scenario: Jews in the Trump administration, Jewish politicians like Bernie Sanders, and many ordinary Jewish Americans, who are perfectly happy to be ordinary Americans.  

Speaking of ordinary Jewish Americans brings up a sore point for me.  I think the elite Jewish leadership abandoned their ordinary Jewish brothers before World War II.  Many of those wealthy Jews left Germany and the rest of Europe, but left behind those who could not leave.  The best and brightest abandoned their fellows.  The Jews left behind did little to resist the German holocaust because their leaders were gone.  Even in Poland, the Jewish ghetto uprising was nothing compared to the Warsaw uprising by the ethnic Poles.  The Warsaw uprising might have had some chance of success if the conquering Soviets had not waited patiently outside Warsaw for the Germans to crush the uprising, before coming in to occupy a defeated Warsaw.  Where were the Jewish community leaders from France, the Netherlands, and even Germany?  They were in London, New York, or Palestine.  The ordinary Jews were in Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Dachau, and Majdanek.  Another unfortunate question about the honored survivors of the holocaust camps is how many of them were kapos who cooperated with the Germans in order to survive.  

When someone brings up points like this, the Jews scream, “Anti-Semitism.”  It’s only anti-Semitism if there is no factual basis for it.  I think these are facts that Jews need to address if they want the confidence of gentile Americans like me.  

I must admit that the average Jewish politician appears much more civilized, trustworthy, and likeable than Donald Trump.  But I worry that they have an agenda that is potentially harmful to me.  Politics does not have to be a zero sum game, but if one side plays it as a zero sum game, then it becomes one.  Certainly, the Tea Party and other conservative politicians can be very unpleasant and can pursue policies that are harmful to the country, such as shutting down the government.  On the other hand, the do-gooder Democrats, who include many Jews, often pursue policies that may benefit some groups, but are antithetical to most ordinary, white people.  

Sample NYT articles about Jewish-owned art stolen by the Nazis

July 21, 2017 report

Goering’s vast collection, much of which was looted from Jews, was seized by the United States military at the end of World War II and stored in Munich. About 200 of the works, including “The Raising of Lazarus,” were later turned over to the regional government of Bavaria. Nearly 80 years after it was stolen from the family, the painting, valued at about $250,000, was returned to Frank Winkel at a ceremony in Munich.

May 28, 2017 NYT report

It was 1937, Vienna, when a Jewish couple named Heinrich and Anna Maria Graf bought a vibrant 18th-century oil painting of the Grand Canal in Venice with the Punta Della Dogana in the background. The work held pride of place in their living room, the highlight of their small but treasured art collection….  Sotheby’s in London is preparing to sell the work, by the artist Michele Marieschi, at an old masters auction in July, following a restitution settlement between the heirs and a trust on behalf of the now-deceased owner, whose identity has not been released. The auction house has estimated the painting’s value at $650,000 to $905,000.

April 26, 2017

The owner of a 17th-century Dutch portrait that Nazi authorities looted from its German Jewish owner pulled the work on Wednesday, hours before it was to be auctioned in Austria, following an outcry and anonymous threats. The painting, “Portrait of a Man” (1647) by Bartholomeus van der Helst, is one of 333 works that were seized by French auxiliaries of the Gestapo in 1943 from the collection of Adolphe Schloss, a German Jew who had lived in France and amassed a collection of Dutch Golden Age masterworks.

March 14, 2017

Mr. Gurlitt had inherited the art from his father, a dealer for the Nazis who purchased works that had been seized from Jewish households or sold under duress by Jews desperate to flee. The case brought the issue of tainted art in private collections to the fore, raising the specter that thousands of plundered artworks might be lurking in attics and cellars….  Given German law, the heirs of the original Jewish owners must rely on the goodwill of private collectors. While museums are bound by the international Washington Principles — which require them to reach “just and fair solutions” with the heirs if they identify Nazi-looted art in their possession — those principles do not apply to corporate collections or private individuals, and the law protects the current holders of stolen art with statutes of limitation and other defenses.

February 27, 2017

When the Holocaust Expropriated Art Recovery Act was adopted unanimously by Congress in December, it was widely praised as a necessary tool to help the heirs of Holocaust victims recover art stolen from their families during World War II….  Now the efficacy of the HEAR Act, as it is known, may get an early test in New York State Court, where the heirs of Fritz Grunbaum, an Austrian Jewish entertainer, are citing it in efforts to claim two valuable colorful drawings by Egon Schiele.

December 6, 2016

The heirs of Alfred Flechtheim, a German-Jewish art dealer and collector, sued the German state of Bavaria on Monday, arguing in court papers that it has refused to turn over works of art that the heirs say were looted by the Nazis before World War II.

November 28, 2016

France on Monday officially returned a 16th-century portrait, attributed to Joos van Cleve or his son, to the descendants of Hertha and Henry Bromberg, a German-Jewish couple who were forced to sell the work of art in Paris when they fled Germany before World War II.

September 30, 2016

The estate of a German Jewish businessman sued the Metropolitan Museum of Art on Friday in an effort to claim one of its most valuable Picassos, “The Actor,” asserting in court papers that the museum does not hold good title to the painting because the businessman was forced to sell it at a low price after fleeing the Nazis.

September 27, 2016

The Neue Galerie of New York has reached a restitution settlement for “Nude,” a 1914 painting by Karl Schmidt-Rottluff, with the heirs of a Jewish shoe manufacturer and art collector whose artworks were taken when his wife and son were forced to flee Germany by the Nazis in the 1930s, the museum announced Tuesday.

July 15,2016

Years after World War II, American officials here entrusted more than 10,000 confiscated artworks to Bavarian authorities to return to the rightful owners, many of them Jews whose property had been plundered.  But new research in the yellowing archives here makes clear how relentlessly Nazi families pursued the Bavarian officials, badgering them, often successfully, to return art they brazenly continued to view as their property.

History Stories, November 5, 2013

On February 28, 2012, German customs officials and police armed with a search warrant raided the darkened Munich apartment of Cornelius Gurlitt as part of a tax evasion investigation…. The stash, valued by investigators at $1.35 billion, included 121 framed pieces stacked on a shelf and 1,258 unframed works piled in drawers. The find, kept secret for a year-and-a-half by authorities and first reported this past weekend by German newsmagazine Focus, included works by Pablo Picasso, Pierre-Auguste Renoir and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and previously unknown pieces by Marc Chagall, Otto Dix and Henri Matisse. The oldest of the pieces, including an engraving by Albrecht Dürer, date from the 1500s.