END OF DECENCY
The end of decency has been proclaimed over and over again throughout the 20th century. There's no way to pin down just when that line was crossed, but in public discourse it was crossed long ago. The last week or two are testimony to that. The slow death of the newspaper has not put an end to the tabloid spectacle. Instead it universalized it. Self-degradation turns into a public media orgy, in which all the participants, the promoters, the reporters and finally the readers become degraded. One man walks away completely disgraced from Weinergate, but all of us have been degraded in the process.
The difference between reform and scandal is that reform elevates the institution, scandal only further degrades it. When scandal loses the ability to reform, then decency is hopelessly left behind. The purpose of a scandal becomes the spectacle itself.
WHILE WE SLEPT
Some minor and irrelevant stories happened around the same time.
China ratings house says US defaulting
World Powers Fear Iran's Plan to Expand Nuclear Capability
Median period of unemployment hits 40 weeks
Also there are Iranian subs in the Red Sea, Yemen is falling to Al-Qaeda and the Republican race is a drawn out disaster. The situation in 2011 is worse than it has ever been. 2012 may be the turning point that decides if America and civilization survive.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN
This isn't the first time Dagong has lowered Western ratings and boosted its own. China's economy is an oligarchy with all that implies.
Dagong Global Credit Rating Co used its first foray into sovereign debt to paint a revolutionary picture of creditworthiness around the world, giving much greater weight to "wealth creating capacity" and foreign reserves than Fitch, Standard & Poor's, or Moody's.
Call it significantly insignificant, the key argument here is currency based. China wants an overvalued dollar so it can continue pumping its own products into the US, and using the profits to buy more dollars. The US has clumsily responded to the situation by weakening the dollar, which slightly helped salvage the economy by boosting exports until 08 at least, and infuriating China.
China says the US is not committed to the strength of its currency. The US says China's currency is artificially undervalued. The real problem is that both the US and China are relying on weakened currencies to maintain their exports. This is a bad strategy with negative long term implications. It's worse for the US which trashed the dollar for short term economic gains. China at least has a currency strategy.
Dagong's move is not too significant at this stage. The US is not actually defaulting. But Dagong succeeds in getting certified in the states alongside S&P and Moody's, then China will have a chance to play an even bigger role in the US economy than it does now.
Arctic Patriot sees a possible armed conflict coming (Via Western Rifle Shooters) I think we're more likely to get straight up colonization. Shift the currencies enough, put enough financial institutions into the hands of the PRC, and Americans become nothing more than cheap labor. That's already the situation in Africa where Chinese companies have set up shop using the local workforce to do the dirty work for them.
Colonization of that kind will happen more slowly, but if things go on as they are, then it will happen. It already is. Slowly.
Liu Keli couldn't tell you much about South Carolina, not even where it is in the United States. It's as obscure to him as his home region, Shanxi province, is to most Americans.
But Liu is investing $10 million in the Palmetto State, building a printing-plate factory that will open this fall and hire 120 workers. His main aim is to tap the large American market, but when his finance staff penciled out the costs, he was stunned to learn how they compared with those in China.
Liu spent about $500,000 for seven acres in Spartanburg -- less than one-fourth what it would cost to buy the same amount of land in Dongguan, a city in southeast China where he runs three plants. U.S. electricity rates are about 75% lower, and in South Carolina, Liu doesn't have to put up with frequent blackouts.
About the only major thing that's more expensive in Spartanburg is labor. Liu is looking to offer $12 to $13 an hour there, versus about $2 an hour in Dongguan, not including room and board. But Liu expects to offset some of the higher labor costs with a payroll tax credit of $1,500 per employee from South Carolina.
Large parts of the United States are underdeveloped. There's sizable unemployment. And a large decaying manufacturing infrastructure. And generous tax credits. Which means we get tax subsidized Chinese companies replacing the US companies that went to China.
The picture gets even prettier.
This year Zheng saw an opportunity in the US: The Obama administration decided to invest $50 billion in the smart grid and $40 billion in updating the tap-water system. In both projects, new meters will be needed.
Before Zheng left for the US, he talked with managers of PG&E Corp and the Southern Co, two power companies in the US that are participants in the projects.
"They suggested that I produce spare parts for GE, then export them to the US under the GE brand name. But I want my brand to be sold there, so I would have to set up my factory in the US," he said.
After visiting several states, Zheng put Georgia and California on his short list.
Zheng doesn't speak any English, nor does he have any American social pleasantries. However, he impressed everyone with his warm smile and manners, as well as his frequent invitations - through an interpreter - to be photographed with local officials. In San Francisco, government officials even raised the Chinese national flag to greet him.
I've got news for San Francisco officials, one day that flag won't be coming down. Butt he good news is that the Obama Administration is creating jobs. The bad news is that they're doing it by using protectionism to bring over Chinese companies. But that protectionism depends on government subsidized spending, which is borrowed from China, and then give back to Chinese companies to create American jobs.
It's the worst economic program imaginable. We are borrowing money from China to give to Chinese companies to create jobs in the United States. The entire process destroys what leverage we have and brings forward the day when Chinese companies will dictate the terms on which they will do business here.
WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN II
While well meaning people were marveling over Stuxnet, Iran's nuclear program kept moving forward. The Obama Administration has helped topple most of the pro-US regimes in the region. Iranian subs are in the Red Sea for a reason. A thumb in the eye to the US.
But we don't need to worry about all that, for we have a weapon mightier than submarines. We have sanctions. That's right. Sanctions!
And Iran just got a new shipment of sanctions from us.
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Thursday’s new sanctions directly hit Iran’s national police force and the police chief, Ismail Ahmadi Moghadam, as well as the Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Basiji militia. They freeze any of their assets under US jurisdiction and prohibit any US citizens or institutions from doing business with them and could restrict visa issuance.
And then Obama threw a pie in his own face. If this were any more pathetic, the soundtrack would be a cowbell. Khamanei's response was the usual cheerful thing.
The Great Satan, since the early days of the Revolution, has mobilized its military, financial, propaganda, and political empire to defeat the Islamic Revolution and the Iranian nation, but the political realities in Iran and the region show that the U.S. has been brought to its knees by the Islamic Revolution.
The problem is he has a point. The US isn't on its knees, but the Middle East is fast sliding the other way. And the Obama Administration somehow keeps making it worse. But they're not the only ones.
Half of Israel's ex top people in Shabak and Mossad turned out to be working for someone else. Oh it's not actually official. The official position is that Meir Dagan is a sincere critic. Along with Avi Dichter and who knows how many others. But the bottom line is the bottom line.
At the rate we're going, Iran may have Middle Eastern hegemony before it even detonates a nuclear bomb.
Bonus, US hikers tell about abuse in Iran prison. Though what they call abuse would be light fare to many Iranians.
HERE'S WHERE IT GETS UGLY
So who gets to counter Iran? Apparently Turkey. Turkey appears to be backing the Muslim Brotherhood's attempt to take over Syria. Which Iran might be on board with if Assad wasn't a client of Iran.
I wouldn't call this a major showdown yet. Syria and Turkey have been at odds for a long time, they recently bonded over their mutual hatred of the Great and Little Satan, but now they're back to their old selves.
Turkey is mulling a buffer zone with Syria. Turkish fighters are operating in Syria. But Iran and Turkey are also deeply intertwined with Iran now serving as Turkey's oil supplier.
Syria represents a breach between Iran and Turkey. But so far Iran has avoided a full bore defense of Assad. The Iranian government has provided a limited amount of cover and some support, but it hasn't gone to the mattresses. And it probably won't.
A Muslim Brotherhood takeover in Syria would still serve Iran's interests. Just as it does in Egypt. But before long term, Iran would itself contending with an Islamist superstate run by the Brotherhood for the ultimate Sunni-Shiite showdown.
The Islamist AKP is moving full speed ahead to another stolen election in Turkey. with the full approval of Europe and America.
That gives us three players in the game. The Ayatollahs. The Brotherhood. And their Islamist Neo-Ottomanist allies in Turkey. They agree on some points. Like the need to grind non-Muslims into the dirt at their feet. But they all dream of dominating the region. And beyond religion, Turkish and Persian nationalism is going to collide with Arab nationalism all over again. Factor in a rising Kurdish presence and the game gets more complicated.
Syria just got a reason to back the PKK in its bid for freedom from Turkey. And Syria has a certain amount of experience backing terrorists. Turkey needs to keep the situation under wraps if it wants to get into the EU. If the Syrian uprising fails, then Syria will be sure to deliver some payback. And the border wars already going on are going to heat up.
Turkey is already invading Iraq to hit the Kurds. If the Syrian border heats up with insurgents operating on both sides, then things really start getting interesting. And that's without even mentioning Turkey's promotion of terrorism against Israel. Or the situation in Lebanon if Assad falls.
REMEMBER THAT TIME WE WERE AT WAR WITH IRELAND
At Commentary, Pete Wehner attacks Cain, because Cain suggested that Muslims should have to state their loyalty before any cabinet appointment.
Now Cain, in an interview with Glenn Beck, says he wants to impose a “loyalty proof” on Muslims but not on Catholics or Mormons or any other religious group.It’s worth recalling that a half-century ago, John F. Kennedy’s Catholic faith was a source of concern, with some people believing that if he was president he would be loyal to the Pope rather than the Constitution.
The comparison falls down in the obvious place. We weren't at war with Ireland or the Vatican during the 1960 election. If we were, then the issue would have had some legs.
We are at war with Islam. Or rather Islam is at war with us, while we insist that nothing of the kind is going on. The concern about Islam is not theological, it's practical. It's easy to dismiss such concerns using the endlessly extensible rhetoric of tolerance and the wagging finger, but it would be just as ridiculous not to apply a loyalist test to a follower of a theology that calls for war with non-Muslims, as it would have been to members or former members of the Nazi or Communist party during WW2.
Istanbul Vs Jerusalem is one of the blunter articles on the Turkish standoff.
Last week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan addressed a local crowd in Diyarbakır, saying that: “We are the grandchildren of Saladin Ayyubi’s army [soldiers] that conquered Jerusalem.” So, says the prime minister, the ancient capital of Judaism had been conquered by Muslims.
But, then, why would something taken by force from someone else belong to its occupier? Why is Jerusalem Palestinian if it had been conquered from its ancient possessors? And why should we be proud to be the grandchildren of someone whose army conquered other people’s territories?
A few days earlier, Mr Erdoğan, this time in Trabzon, reminded his party’s supporters that on May 29 “We proudly celebrated the 558th anniversary of the conquest of Istanbul.” And, he said, without the conquest of Trabzon, the conquest of Anatolia would have been incomplete.
It is not a coincidence that Fatih (conqueror) is a very common male name in Turkish. The Turks are proud to be the evlad-i fatihan (the descendants of conquerors). They are too happy to be living in the territories that once belonged to other nations. But all that is understandable since they are not the only nation which does so, with or without the others naming their children “conqueror.” All the same, there is a problem with the Turkish/Islamist case.
If we are talking about universal justice and legality, why are the conquests of Istanbul, Trabzon and Anatolia by the Turks, and of Jerusalem by Ayyubi good; but the repatriation of Jerusalem to Israel by re-conquest bad? Especially when the re-conquest was the result of self-defense in the face of eight enemy armies who attack to annihilate a legitimate state.
More questions. If Jerusalem should be the capital of “free Palestine,” why should Istanbul not become the capital of “freer Greece?” Why is Nicosia a divided capital? What were the Turks doing at the gates of Vienna in 1683? Was Süleyman the Magnificent’s army there to distribute humanitarian aid to the Viennese, like the İHH claims its Gaza mission is?
Forty-four years ago, the Arabs dreamed of “having lunch in Tel Aviv.” The dream cost them a major humiliation and Jerusalem, and the Middle East, peace. Today, the Turkish leaders dream of praying in the “Palestinian capital” Jerusalem while denying the Orthodox Patriarch of Istanbul his ecumenical designation. Luckily, the Turks, unlike Arabs, are the grandchildren of conquerors.
Keeping the ancient capital of Orthodoxy as the biggest Turkish city is fine. But please, Mssrs Erdoğan and Davutoğlu, at least try not to make too much noise in commemorating the day when we took it by force from another nation. And remember, gentlemen, claiming that Istanbul is a Turkish city by origin and Jerusalem is Palestinian sounds like too-dark black humor.
From Boker Tov Boulder, an oldie but a goodie
J.E. Dyer carries on the Iranian apocalypse watch at The Optimistic Conservative, with her always timely and important analysis.
Edgar has the depressingly accurate Rules and Guidelines for Westerners reporting on the Middle East
If Israelis are killed in a terrorist attack, then treat this as an opportunity to take a vacation from reporting.
However, you should immediately return from your vacation if it is discovered that an Israeli family in Jerusalem is planning to build an extra bedroom to accommodate their new baby. In that case you should write a story with the headline
Israelis destroy chance of peace by announcing new West Bank settlement plans.
The latest council results are up at Watcher of Weasels.
My article on the not so infinite race card is up at Front Page Magazine.
For those in the Los Angeles area, the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Children of Jewish Holocaust Survivors will be holding an event with Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch. Find out more here.