“Liberal” bigotry at the New York Times

April 29, 2019

Published under pressure by the New York Times.

An opinion piece by Bret Stephens – where the publishing of a critical article is supposed to balance the blatant and bigoted propaganda that went before.

As prejudices go, anti-Semitism can sometimes be hard to pin down, but on Thursday the opinion pages of The New York Times international editionprovided a textbook illustration of it.

Except that The Times wasn’t explaining anti-Semitism. It was purveying it.

It did so in the form of a cartoon, provided to the newspaper by a wire service and published directly above an unrelated column by Tom Friedman, in which a guide dog with a prideful countenance and the face of Benjamin Netanyahu leads a blind, fat Donald Trump wearing dark glasses and a black yarmulke. Lest there be any doubt as to the identity of the dog-man, it wears a collar from which hangs a Star of David.

Here was an image that, in another age, might have been published in the pages of Der Stürmer. The Jew in the form of a dog. The small but wily Jew leading the dumb and trusting American. The hated Trump being Judaized with a skullcap. The nominal servant acting as the true master. The cartoon checked so many anti-Semitic boxes that the only thing missing was a dollar sign.

The image also had an obvious political message: Namely, that in the current administration, the United States follows wherever Israel wants to go. This is false — consider Israel’s horrified reaction to Trump’s announcement last year that he intended to withdraw U.S. forces from Syria — but it’s beside the point. There are legitimate ways to criticize Trump’s approach to Israel, in pictures as well as words. But there was nothing legitimate about this cartoon.

So what was it doing in The Times?

For some Times readers — or, as often, former readers — the answer is clear: The Times has a longstanding Jewish problem, dating back to World War II, when it mostly buried news about the Holocaust, and continuing into the present day in the form of intensely adversarial coverage of Israel. The criticism goes double when it comes to the editorial pages, whose overall approach toward the Jewish state tends to range, with some notable exceptions, from tut-tutting disappointment to thunderous condemnation.

For these readers, the cartoon would have come like the slip of the tongue that reveals the deeper institutional prejudice. What was long suspected is, at last, revealed.

The real story is a bit different, though not in ways that acquit The Times. The cartoon appeared in the print version of the international edition, which has a limited overseas circulation, a much smaller staff, and far less oversight than the regular edition. Incredibly, the cartoon itself was selected and seen by just one midlevel editor right before the paper went to press.

An initial editor’s note acknowledged that the cartoon “included anti-Semitic tropes,” “was offensive,” and that “it was an error of judgment to publish it.” On Sunday, The Times issued an additional statement saying it was “deeply sorry” for the cartoon and that “significant changes” would be made in terms of internal processes and training.

In other words, the paper’s position is that it is guilty of a serious screw-up but not a cardinal sin. Not quite.

Imagine, for instance, if the dog on a leash in the image hadn’t been the Israeli prime minister but instead a prominent woman such as Nancy Pelosi, a person of color such as John Lewis, or a Muslim such as Ilhan Omar. Would that have gone unnoticed by either the wire service that provides the Times with images or the editor who, even if he were working in haste, selected it?

The question answers itself. And it raises a follow-on: How have even the most blatant expressions of anti-Semitism become almost undetectable to editors who think it’s part of their job to stand up to bigotry?

The reason is the almost torrential criticism of Israel and the mainstreaming of anti-Zionism, including by this paper, which has become so common that people have been desensitized to its inherent bigotry. So long as anti-Semitic arguments or images are framed, however speciously, as commentary about Israel, there will be a tendency to view them as a form of political opinion, not ethnic prejudice. But as I noted in a Sunday Review essay in February, anti-Zionism is all but indistinguishable from anti-Semitism in practice and often in intent, however much progressives try to deny this.

Add to the mix the media’s routine demonization of Netanyahu, and it is easy to see how the cartoon came to be drawn and published: Already depicted as a malevolent Jewish leader, it’s just a short step to depict him as a malevolent Jew.

I’m writing this column conscious of the fact that it is unusually critical of the newspaper in which it appears, and it is a credit to the paper that it is publishing it. I have now been with The Times for two years and I’m certain that the charge that the institution is in any way anti-Semitic is a calumny.

But the publication of the cartoon isn’t just an “error of judgment,” either. The paper owes the Israeli prime minister an apology. It owes itself some serious reflection as to how it came to publish that cartoon — and how its publication came, to many longtime readers, as a shock but not a surprise.

“Liberal” bigotry is bigotry masquerading under the cloak of self-righteous, and sanctimonious pretense. It is corruption when the New York Times uses its reputation for integrity to tout propaganda.


 

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Euthanasia takes off in Canada

April 28, 2019

I don’t believe there are ethical problems here.

Maybe it’s just because I’m getting older, but when there is great suffering or no quality of life left, there is much to recommend an assisted peaceful end.

Reblogged from BioEdge.

At least 1.12% of deaths in Canada are due to euthanasia

According to the latest figures, about 3,000 Canadians were euthanised in 2018. According to the Fourth Interim Report on Medical Assistance in Dying there were at least 2,614 medically assisted deaths in Canada between January 1 and October 31.

Although euthanasia was only legalised in Canada in June 2016, it has quickly become widespread. In the 10 months covered by the report, euthanasia accounted for 1.12% of all deaths in Canada. Cancer was the most frequently cited underlying medical condition, accounting for approximately 64% of all deaths. 

According to the report, “The percentage of deaths due to MAID in Canada also continues to remain within the percentage of medically assisted deaths provided in other countries where 0.4% (Oregon, USA, 2017) to 4% (Netherlands, 2017) of total deaths has been attributed to a medically assisted death.”

There have been at least 6,749 medically assisted deaths since June 2016. However, this does not include data from the Yukon, Northwest Territories and Nunavut. Some figures are also missing from Quebec. Most people who were euthanised were between 56 and 90, with an average age of 72. Most deaths occurred in a hospital (44%) or in a patient’s home (42%). Doctors were the main agents (93%), with nurse practitioners providing the rest.

This is the last interim report now thatregulations standardising euthanasia statistics across Canada have come into force.

It is interesting to note that only 6 of all reported MAID deaths were attributable to assisted suicide. Nearly all patients wanted their doctors to administer a lethal injection.

The release of the figures did not create a big splash in the media. But Wesley J. Smith commented in the National Review: “This means well over 3,000 people are killed by their doctors each year in Canada, which — if my math is correct — is more than 250 a month, more than 58 a week, and more than eight per day. Heck, that’s about one every three hours.”


 

Understanding why two Boeing 737-800 Max planes crashed

April 23, 2019

Understanding why two Boeing 737-800 Max planes crashed.

Trying to use software to compensate for a bad design did not work.

Nice video.


 

Cleansing the “the”

April 20, 2019

The alphabet gives us the possibility to create a limitless number of words.

In any alphabet where the length of a word is not restricted, there are an infinite variety of ways of creating combinations of letters to be words. In practice most languages have working vocabularies of a few hundred thousands and even if all possible variations and forms, past and present, are counted, the vocabulary may be around one million words. The Oxford English Dictionary has around 177,000 words as being in current usage and another 50,000 as obsolete. Similarly German has around 150,000 words as being in current use and Swedish has around 125,000. However current usage is not the whole story. Current usage is only a part of the total number of words available in a language where the total number depends on the age of the language. It is said that Japanese has around 100,000 active words in a total vocabulary of around 500,000. The OED estimates the total number of words in English to be around 750,000. Other estimates put the total English vocabulary at just over one million words.

So there is no need to include the definite article to create a word. The the atre is so unnecessary. Stripping away the initial “the” is required, if nothing else, on the grounds of language parsimony. Words beginning with “therm” are excused as are those where the remnant is an existing word. Excluding derivatives, the list of commonly used words which could happily lose their “the”s is not so long. Pronouncing “ft” might be a challenge.

Removing the indefinite article would not work especially as an initial “a” is so often used to create the opposite of a word or a negation.


 

 

It’s a Long, Good, Silent, Mourning or Great Friday today.

April 19, 2019

Today is the Friday of the Passion and Death of Jesus Christ. “Good Friday” is probably derived from “God Friday” with “God” being used as an adjective meaning godly or pious. In the Nordic countries it is the Long Friday (Långfredagen). In German-speaking countries, it is Karfreitag (Mourning Friday) or Silent Friday (Stiller Freitag). In Greece and Eastern Europe it is Great Friday.

Fifty years ago, in all countries with a Christian tradition, all signs of merriment or happiness were forbidden by the church and by civil law. There were penalties for smiling and eating meat and dancing. If you were anybody of note you dressed in black. Most of the legal prohibitions for Easter and the period leading up to Easter have disappeared. Some still persist. In Ireland, the sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited. In Germany, dancing and sports and gambling and the showing of “irreligious” movies is banned (Mary Poppins and Ghostbusters as examples). In the UK, horse racing is banned. In the Philippines, political campaigning is not allowed today.

In the Catholic tradition, all Fridays and the period of Lent are “penitential” days and penance in the form of abstinence and fasting is considered appropriate. Abstinence generally means refraining from any pleasurable activity. Abstinence from eating meat is to be observed on Fridays throughout the year, while abstinence and fasting are to be observed on Ash Wednesday and on the Friday of the Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The abstinence requirements apply to all Catholics over 14 years of age until death. Fasting is not required if you are under 18 or over 60. Traditionally milk and alcoholic drinks do not break the fast but milk shakes do.

Abstinence

The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Meat is considered to be the flesh and organs of mammals and fowl. Also forbidden are soups or gravies made from them. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted, as are animal derived products such as margarine and gelatin which do not have any meat taste.

Fasting

The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal in quantity. Such fasting is obligatory on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday. The fast is broken by eating between meals and by drinks which could be considered food (milk shakes, but not milk). Alcoholic beverages do not break the fast; however, they seem to be contrary to the spirit of doing penance.


 

Staggering from one false environmental catastrophe to the next

April 17, 2019

Throughout my life (and I am now 71), humanity has always been facing some environmental catastrophe or the other. Each has been a “consensus position” of “scientists” primarily concerned with drumming up funding or earning brownie points or securing TV careers. Not a single one of the supposedly imminent catastrophes has ever come within light-years of ever occurring.

Nobody seems prepared to carry out sanity checks on the doomsday scenarios any longer. This is partly because the headlines and funding and fame that can be generated by alarmism is so lucrative. The key ingredients for any “successful” alarmist theme are:

  1. that the catastrophe should be at least one decade away,
  2. not more than 3 decades away, and
  3. that the onset of the catastrophe be either undetectable or not measurable.

The list of environmental catastrophes that humanity has faced just in my lifetime:


 

Thinking oneself into existence

April 16, 2019

Cogito, ergo sum is a philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as “I think, therefore I am”.

In no philosophy is thinking a prerequisite for existence. Of course, Descartes’ formulation is just tautology since it presupposes the “I” and the “think” and the “am”. Thinking is taken here as proof of existence, but is nothing more than an assertion of existence.

But what could prove existence?

That question in itself requires what constitutes “proof” to be defined and requires criteria specifying “existence”. An that leads only to circular arguments.

  • Existence refers to the ontological property of being.
  • “To be” does not require the capability of being observed or an observer with a consciousness.
  • “To exist” does not require proof of existence.
  • However “proof” of existence requires an observer and therefore no “proof” can be anything other than subjective to the observer.
  • Existence is not caused by an observers perception of proof.

I always end up with the case of the tree falling in the forest, creating a pressure wave and whether or not there is a brain to detect the pressure wave and perceive sound. A perception of existence is not the same as existence. The perception may be true or false. The perception requires an observer and a consciousness.

The real conundrum is the existence, not of a bunch of atoms which look like me but, of the “I” of me.

  • The “I” exists as long as – and only when – I think I think.
  • The existence of other things is not dependent upon my perception of proof of existence.

But I still cannot quite come to grips with what “thinking” is.


 

 

“Some people did something”

April 11, 2019

Some are tone-deaf, but some others are just stupid.

Democrat Congresswoman Ilhan Omar “… after 9/11 because they recognized that some people did something ….”

Some people


 

Actually, Netanyahu has just had his best ever election result

April 10, 2019

I am no great student of Israeli domestic politics and my perceptions/knowledge of the Israeli elections are only what I have gleaned from media reports. However, I do try to also read reports from the Israeli media and not just from the western mainstream media. Over the last few weeks the “liberal” mainstream media have been supporting an anti-Netanyahu position and most of their reporting has been critical of Netanyahu and his chances in the 2019 general election.

Last night, just before I went to bed, the exit polls were showing a close race between Likud and Blue & White. The “liberal” press had started putting out headlines about a “setback for Netanyahu”. The New York Times – among others – has been hoping for a Netanyahu defeat.

NYT dislikes Netanyahu – and it shows

This morning, as exit polls are replaced by vote counts, I find that Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party narrowly won the Israeli election. With 97% of the votes counted former Israel Defense Forces (IDF) chief of staff Benny Gantz, led the opposition Blue & White party to a strong showing. Both parties will receive 35 seats (out of 120) in the next Knesset. Likud received 26.3% of the vote and only just exceeded Blue and White’s 25.95%. No single party has ever won an overall majority on its own. The right parties are expected to have 65 seats and the left parties 55. It is virtually certain that Netanyahu will form the next coalition government.

But the reality is that Likud have won more seats this time than they ever have under Netanyahu. Likud has won 5 more seats than in the outgoing Knesset.

Netanyahu’s record

The only time Likud have done better in an election was in 2003 with Ariel Sharon when they received 29.39% of the votes and 38 seats in the Knesset.

The “liberal” media have become peddlers of opinions and cannot be relied upon to be purveyors of facts. The Fake News phenomenon starts with their increasing presentation of opinion and wishful thinking as fact.


 

 

All the Democrats vying to lose to Trump in 2020

April 9, 2019

It seems that every new day brings a new Democrat into the race (or who says that he or she might enter the race) to be chosen as the Democratic candidate for President in 2020 to stand against Donald Trump (if he does indeed seek reelection).

Many of them are only doing so in a desperate attempt just to get themselves some free publicity. The media can no longer afford to ignore any one who might conceivably stand. They are still smarting from the ridicule they still enjoy for their gross miscalculation with Trump. They are too scared now to ignore or trivialise anybody.

At the latest count there are 25 potential Democratic candidates. The Rolling Stone ranking puts Bernie Sanders and Kamala Harris at the top of the list. Hillary Clinton is not on the list (yet).

With ISIS almost eradicated, the N Korea threat apparently neutralised, the challenge to China on trade, the increasing isolation of Iran and with booming jobs and a strong economy at home, the indications are that Trump will return for another term.

as of April 2019


 

 


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