Book Review: Fire and Fury (2018)

Inside the Trump White House
By Michael Wolff

This one is a very popular, stand-in-a-long-waiting-list-at-your-library narrative from an individual who had remarkable access or at least implicit fly-on-the-wall observation authority during many of the turbulent hours of the Trump presidency for the first 100 days and then some. Michael Wolff is an unabashed part of the Mainstream ‘Program,’ yet withal IMHO a mostly objective reporter—at least within hailing distance of the Hunter S. Thompson ‘gonzo journalism’ model—of what all went  on. Plus, he writes clearly with understated, therefore, occasionally ROFL humor.

To use a phrase that comes to mind, “nobody could make this s**t up.” And Wolff’s timing and level of description are impeccable. It’s quite easy for someone who is only vaguely familiar with the mainstream noise—I cancelled my cable and rarely watch broadcast channels—to follow who’s doing what to whom and where they’re coming from in their careers and motivations.

For instance, I had no idea that Trump’s chief of staff is or was, like, a triumvirate:

  • Steve Bannon (the, some would say, alt-right ideologue who fashioned himself as the Rasputin to the Donald)
  • Rience Priebus (from the Republican National Committee), and
  • Jared/Ivanka (Jarvanka: Ivanka is Trump’s daughter and Jared is a rip-roarin’ member of the ultra-Jewish-supremacist cult, Chabad Lubavitch).

One wonders why Wolff was able to enjoy such a ring side seat in the Trump White House, but as he points out, the lack of structure in that bizarre environment enabled him to simply hang out there with nobody questioning his credentials. Still I would take about 30% of his blow by blows with a wheel-barrow-sized grain of salt: they just read too akin to creative fiction. But it’s DYNAMITE creative fiction, for the most part, especially when Wolff gives wording to Trump’s range of the moment states of mind. For example, here’s a segment of the speech—obviously not fiction—Trump delivered to 300 CIA personnel at their Langley, VA, headquarters on January 21, 2017 (his first presidential act, throwing away a carefully prepared text): Continue reading

Book Review: The Wandering Who? (2011)

A study of Jewish Identity politics, by Gilad Atzmon
Perhaps the most significant book on the power metapolitics of our age
Reviewed by Brian R. Wright

The Wandering Who? is one of those wholly extraordinary and intellectually sharp, even entertaining, missives in which readers will want to place a highlight on every other page. It is simply the most enlightening book you will read in the next decade or two about one of the most important subjects affecting the modern course of our species: the origin and rationale of “Jewish-ness” and its manifestations.

For roughly a decade, I’ve read a number of articles and books about and given thought to the puzzle. What is a Jew, fair and proper? Need I be concerned one way or the other? Friend or foe? Pro liberty or anti? Are Jews merely practitioners of a faith, a religion—if so, how does the fundamental doctrine square with humanitarian norms or my own secular Trumanism? Or are they, themselves, an ethnic identity, a ‘people’ who have generally been suppressed by conventional Christian society thru the ages? Or have they self-ostracized from surrounding culture, feeling chosen by God? Do they disdain, despise, and/or work to harness the non-Jew? Do they have an affinity for collectivism/communism? Further, how do we figure the genealogy? What percentage of  modern Jews, for example, descend, not from the Holy Land, rather from the Khazars of  the 8th Century? [Ref. Arthur Koestler, The Thirteenth Tribe (1976).]

Gilad Atzmon, perhaps the most unlikely of sources, yet a truly exceptional intellect, has laid all the answers bare… in terms that, well, a fairly conceptually oriented mind will find simple and straightforward. The material is not difficult, but does presuppose an interest in reading sparkling, independent scholarly treatises.

Since reading Alison Weir’s equally vital work on Zionism and Israel several years ago, Against Our Better Judgment: How the United States was used to create Israel, I have thought, along with Ms. Weir and many others, that the essential problem is that many Jews embrace the political philosophy/movement of Zionism and its resulting apartheid state of Israel. I still lean that way, but Atzmon suggests that these notions are facile, unrooted, or, at least, incomplete.

Continue reading

Guest Column: The Israel Lobby

Time for a second edition
By Paul Craig Roberts [full original column here]

A decade ago in 2007 John J. Mearsheimer, the R. Wendell Harrison Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and codirector of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago, and Stephen M. Walt, the Robert and Renee Belfer Professor of International Affairs at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and Academic Dean of the Kennedy School from 2002-2006, published The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy. The publisher was the prestigious publishing house, Farrar, Straus and Giroux. The authors made a convincing case that Israel operating through its American lobbies, which are not registered as foreign agents, succeeds in using US foreign policy in Israel’s interests. The authors conclude that the use of US foreign policy in Israel’s interests is damaging to both America’s national interests and to Israel’s long-term security.

Many were pleased that two distinguished experts had breached a taboo issue. But the Israel Lobby was not among them. Instantly, the authors and the book were denounced as anti-semitic. The demonstration that Israel had influence was misrepresented as the claim that Israel controlled the US government. The authors were denounced for their “extremism” which some alleged could result in a new holocaust.

Other critics took a different approach and claimed that there was no difference between Israeli and US interests and that anything that served Israel also served America. Some evangelicals added: “and also serves God.” Continue reading

Guest Column: Speak Ill of Israel, go to Jail

International campaign is criminalizing criticism of Israel as ‘antisemitism’
By Alison Weir (of If Americans Knew) [original with links here]

As the world has witnessed the oppression and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians, many people have risen in protest. In response, the Israeli government and certain of its advocates have conducted a campaign to crack down on this activism, running roughshod over civil liberties (and the English language) in the process.

The mechanism of this crackdown is the redefinition of “antisemitism”[1] to include criticism of Israel, and the insertion of this definition into the bodies of law of various countries.

Where most people would consider “antisemitism” to mean bigotry against Jewish people (and rightly consider it abhorrent), for two decades a campaign has been underway to replace that definition with an Israel-centric definition. That definition can then be used to block speech and activism in support of Palestinian human rights as “hate.” Various groups are applying this definition in law enforcement evaluations of possible crimes.

Proponents of this Israel-centric definition have promoted it step by step in various arenas, from the U.S. State Department and European governments to local governments around the U.S. and universities.

While this effort has taken place over the last two decades, it is snowballing rapidly at this time. The definition is increasingly being used to curtail free speech and academic freedom, as well as political activism. Continue reading