"Never Again" is Now

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That's the translaation of our Amazon Product du Jour.

But I fear Betteridge's Law of Headlines applies to Jim Geraghty's column from yesterday: Will the Killing of a Jewish Protester Start a National Conversation?. Paul Kessler is the victim, and it's been ruled a homicide.

But for my excerpt, I liked this bit, way down from the top:

In my world, “I’m anti-Zionist” is code for, “I’m antisemitic, but prefer a more socially acceptable label for my irrational demonization of Jewish people and the world’s lone Jewish state.” (The notion that allegedly respectable intellectuals and elites who insist they merely oppose Israeli policies might actually be driven by much darker, much vaster and more sinister ambitions, popped up here.) These folks might offer some check-the-box tsk-tsking of Hamas, but they all agree that Israel should not exist as a Jewish state. And just like their chant, “from the river to the sea,” they never quite get around to elaborating what happens to all the Israelis currently living there.

A comment I could have appended to my commentary on Robert Azzi's column yesterday.

Also of note:

  • In even more depressing news… Michael J. Ard and Michael Puttré claim: Hamas Is Winning the Information War.

    Mainstream media in the U.S. are stepping up the attacks on Israel. The Intercept’s coverage is dedicated to exposing Israeli war crimes in Gaza—ignoring Hamas’ many war crimes so far. U.S. media outlets helped the Hamas cause with sloppy reporting on rocket casualties at a Gaza hospital. Likewise, the state-run media of authoritarian regimes worldwide have broadcast Hamas’ message accusing Israel of war crimes, which has been amplified by Western outlets and Hamas’ activist networks in Western countries. According to The New York Times, Israel has been surprised by the ferocity and success of this messaging.

    Initially, it seemed the methods used in the terror attacks of Oct. 7 would drain Hamas’ supporters of power to influence subsequent events. Like a game of “red light, green light,” the current war has exposed the bloodily enthusiastic Hamas supporters in the West. They have identified themselves with their paragliding logos and expressions of exhilaration at the actions of the attackers. They can’t put that genie back in the bottle, even if they subsequently try to wriggle back out of the spotlight to save their careers. They exposed what they believe before hearing the “red light” command from top hiring firms and deep-pocketed donors who opposed the attacks.

    I'm pretty sure that even if Israel did succumb to international "pressure", it would not satisfy the chin-pullers who pontificate from the safety of their comfy remote offices, newsrooms, and studies. They would take that victory, and demand more.

  • Orwell saw it coming. Gerard Baker observes that Hamas Defenders Wield Words as Weapons.

    John F. Kennedy said of Winston Churchill that he “mobilized the English language and sent it into battle.” From Pericles to Abraham Lincoln, words have often been as effective as armaments in shoring up a people’s defenses, reinforcing an army’s resolve, or inspiring a unit’s bravery.

    But in war, as in peace, words can also be used to demoralize and disorient. They can be used—and have been—more deviously by the enemy, and its quill-, microphone- and laptop-carrying enablers and propagandists, to obfuscate and confuse, to seed doubt in a just cause.

    The war in the Middle East is a month old but it is producing plenty of the latter. From the streets of American and European cities, television studios, newspaper columns and legislatures, we are being bombarded with rhetoric that seeks to persuade us not to believe what we see, to convince us that right is wrong, justice is tyranny, terrorism is heroism.

    Click through for Baker's examples of weaponization: "cease fire", "genocide", "decolonization", and "context".

  • Sounds like clickbait! And it was! For me, anyway. Eric Boehm reveals the One Simple Trick Lina Khan is using to waste time and taxpayer money, and possibly wreck a successful company: The Wildly Misleading Statistic at the Center of the FTC's Antitrust Case Against Amazon.

    One of the central arguments in the Federal Trade Commission's (FTC) antitrust lawsuit against Amazon is that the online retailing giant has stunted the growth of potential competition by forcing small businesses and other independent sellers to funnel their products through Amazon's own in-house distribution system.

    Much of that argument seems to hinge on a single statistic—one that top officials at the FTC have cited in interviews and on Twitter and that pops up in a newly unredacted part of the FTC's lawsuit. There's just one problem: that stat doesn't say what the FTC keeps claiming it does.

    At issue (you'll have to click over for the details) is Amazon's shutdown of its "Seller Fulfilled Prime" (SFP) program in 2019. That program allowed independent vendors selling to Amazon Prime members to do their own shipping. Amazon claimed deliveries weren't happening on Prime-promised time. The "statistic" the FTC points to with horror is that Amazon internal documents show 95% were on time.

    But, Boehm says, that's not true at all.

  • Bad news for us ants. Scott Sumner brings it: The Grasshoppers are Coming for your Savings. He points out something disturbing about the Reason story we looked at last week where various schemes of "fixing" Social Security were floated in an opinion poll. That story's headline: "87% of Americans Want Politicians To Do Something Before Social Security Runs Out of Money".

    Sumner notes that (combined) the most popular "Somethings" are "cut/eliminate benefits for higher income and wealthier beneficiaries".

    When I see this sort of poll my initial (visceral) reaction is that those spendthrift grasshoppers that didn’t save very much wish to take away the social security benefits of thriftier people (like me.)   But I doubt whether these answers can be trusted.  I doubt whether people understand that limiting the benefits of wealthy people would only make a dent in the problem if “wealthy” were defined to include “middle class people who were thrifty”.  There aren’t many truly wealthy American retirees, but there are a whole lot of middle class retirees with substantial 401k plans (like me.)  That’s an influential political bloc, and won’t take kindly to major cuts in their social security.  It’s not politically feasible to take away the social security benefits of the top 20% of retirees—they are too powerful.  Perhaps you could give then a 10% haircut, but that wouldn’t be enough to solve the problem.  We need some combination of more immigration, higher tax rates and/or cuts in other federal programs.

    I'm sticking with my prediction of the likely actual "reform": "Do nothing until those automatic cuts are imminent, then panic and do something stupid."

Last Modified 2024-01-09 6:47 PM EDT